My Christmas vacation this year consisted of a trip back to southern California, where the sun shined unbelievably for the full nine days that we were there. What a beautiful time it was. I had flapjacks with Dad, went on a traditional shopping excursion with Mom, laughed my butt off with my family as we celebrated Christmas, stood basking in the warmth of Laguna Beach, saw so many friends that I love, managed to squeeze in quality time with a few of them, and just had an all-around great time being around people and places that I’ve missed.
But of course, me being me, I couldn’t resist listing what I got out of this trip that pertains to the nature of this blog. Namely, what beauty experiences did I walk away with during my time in the Golden state?
A new appreciation for flying
This trip involved my first flying experience in over four years. While the flight into California was ridiculously turbulent (as in the-captain-issued-a-preemptive-apology kind of tubulent), the flight back was actually quite pleasant. I enjoyed a couple issues of Elle and InStyle, a Korean serum mask, and a very small glass of Bailey’s just for fun.
Adding the tiniest bit of luxury to my flight almost made it feel like a borderline chic experience. Hey, when you’re flying second class and your knees are touching the awkward, hungover twenty-one-year-old’s knees next to you, you kinda have to make it work, even if it means that twenty-one-year-old almost jumping out of his chair at the sight of you wearing a creepy Hannibal mask next to him.
A serious Sephora haul
Now that you’ve heard me complain a couple times about how dry my skin is over here, you’ll be glad to know that my mom-in-law came through with two products that I’m so excited for, and a couple that I picked up myself thanks to a generous gift card from my mom.
I’d wanted to try an oil cleanser since my skin starting drying out over here, and my mom-in-law came through for me with this one. I received Erborian’s Solid Oil Cleanser as one of my gifts. Out of curiosity, I took home a sample of this from Sephora and it is some dreamy stuff, let me tell you. It smells so fresh and relaxing, with a spa-like green tea fragrance. The unique consistency is that of a thick, stiff goop, but take a minute or two to really massage it into your dry skin. It is delicious.
According to the Korean double-cleanse method, you’re then supposed to follow an oil cleanser with a foaming cleanser (though I’m sure the oil cleanser is probably enough for most people). I’ll be using Ole Henriksen’s Empower Foaming Milk Cleanser (once I finish what I currently have), which also smells relaxing and calming. I’ve been so into finding scents that lift my spirits lately. Doing little things like enjoying a smell, or listening to soothing sounds, treating yourself to a coffee, or doing a relaxing yoga session in your apartment are things I used to right off as sad, temporary attempts at trying to avoid reality and ignore life’s troubles. Now I realize they’re just ways of enjoying your freaking life. And another small way of enjoying life- dry shampoo. The highly reputable Living Proof formula was also a Christmas gift, and it’s especially helpful for managing the new hairy addition to my forehead I came home with (see below).
My own Sephora picks include Alterna’s Caviar Replenishing Moisture Shampoo, Shiseido Ultimate Power Infusing Concentrate, and Origins A Perfect World SPF25 Age-Defense moisturizer. I’ve used all three of these items before and I enjoy each of them. After running out of my fourth bottle of Rahua shampoo, I’m choosing to give it a break and focus on intense moisture throughout the winter with my hair, especially as I grow it out. The Alterna is great for that. Concerning the Shiseido, I have said that I like Caudalie’s Vinosource serum better and I believe I still do. However, Caudalie is good for intense moisture but it doesn’t necessarily help with other areas of concern like spots, etc. The Shiseido is a little more geared toward all areas, so I’m going to see how well it multitasks. And the Origins moisturizer is a nice one that I’ve been using for a while now. I’ll stick with it.
My only bummer was having my new bottle of Fresh Seaberry Restorative Body Cream, a gift from my sis-in-law, detained by TSA because the bottle was too big. Poop. Once again Mom saves the day by sticking around just long enough at the airport for my husband to run it back to her so she can ship it out.
A super-dark manicure
Ever since growing my nails back, man, I am addicted to painting them. I do darks, nudes, or a true red. For my manicure that I got with my mama (thanks, Mom!!), I chose OPI’s Lincoln Park After Dark, a cult fave, for New Year’s and to go with my mostly basic wardrobe that I’d packed for the trip. It’s a really deep purple that is barely distinguishable from black, but that’s why I like it. Once you catch the color in the right light, you see the eggplant hue shining through. It can work as an interesting accessory (and yes, I consider painted nails an accessory).
So, here’s the best shot I got of them, which also happens to be the best shot I got of an extremely fancy-pants bathroom at the Montage in Laguna. Two for one.
Because I knew I’d be able to book an appointment with Justin at Salon 9, I had to take the opportunity. I’ve been rocking a mid-length, rather grown out ombre’d lob since summer, and I figured I could go for a couple small-ish changes. We darkened things a bit and went for a richer brunette while still leaving some shimmering highlights within the length. The real addition here though, is the new arrival of bangs. Whew. I had forgotten what a commitment they are, but I really want to make them work this time. I mean, really. I want long hair down to my chest like I had before, but now with long bangs. I want bangs to be part of my integral look for a while, so I’m in it for the long haul. And don’t make fun of my robe or slight-smeared eyeliner here. I’m wearing MAC’s kohl liner in Smolder, which I consider my Jack Sparrow liner because it always smears and you just have to roll with it. A pirate’s life for me.
What this has meant so far is styling them every day, somehow. I can’t get away with just throwing everything up in a bun and leaving the bangs scraggly and bent out of shape after getting out of bed; they have to be styled. I mean, there’s looking French, and then there’s looking hungover-French. Bangs cowlicked up past your forehead can put you in hungover-French territory, so styling them is a necessity. Sometimes this means just tweaking with a flat-iron, sometimes it means wetting and washing them and starting all over. It’s very difficult not to fuss with them throughout the day, but you have to remember that their shape doesn’t need to be perfect. Gone are the days when bangs needed to be precisely uniform and round brushed, so the look still isn’t as high-maintenance as it might’ve been, say, seven years ago. You can get away with a much more laissez-faire feel now, but you still need to make sure things look cohesive.
For me personally, I think bangs are a good exercise in self-maintenance and forming a consistent routine of trying. I very much look forward to the care and keeping of them. Cheers to caring more in 2016! xo, MR