If You Have Just Five Minutes …

My current living situation isn’t exactly the most glamorous.

I live in a building with many other families that are all living there for the purpose of someone completing a higher education degree.  It is a season of scrimping and saving, constant transition (as there is a moving truck in front of our building at least once every two months), and general uncertainty.  Many of the women in my building are busy raising three or four young children; others are plugging away at their own coursework or job responsibilities.  Any you way it slice it, it’s not exactly the place where you’ll see lots of false lashes or makeup brushes lying around.

That being said, all this doesn’t mean the lashes and brushes have been tossed to the wayside here, rejected as some sort of earthly frill without any value.  For so many of my neighbors, there just isn’t time, and one’s mind is simply preoccupied with other things besides finding the perfect highlighter that’s right for your skin.  I guess the same could be said for many folks in various stages of life- we often find ourselves without time, or living in seasons when we’re just distracted, and little things that brought joy are the first to go.  Something like makeup or skincare becomes more of a tedious effort than a delightful ritual.  One of my most restful activities has always been doing my makeup and hair, and even without children, I’ve already found myself slowing down and not wanting to take the time that I used to for these things.

But for me, my putting aside of makeup says more about the state of my mind and heart than about busyness.  I could take the time to do a little something, but when my mind and heart are clouded with worry or feelings of ungratefulness, I can’t enjoy something like makeup.  In moments like that it’s hard to sit down, take a deep breath, and choose which couple eyeshadows I’d like to wear.  It’s a challenge to let go of the worries of the moment and say, “You know, things are going to be okay.  Worrying truly solves nothing, so let’s choose joy and put on the makeup I love.”

But something funny happens when I do surrender those worries, when I say “no” to the seemingly looming cares of tomorrow- I find myself picking up the brushes, turning on the curling iron, and taking joy.  I find myself putting in the “work” of makeup out of thankfulness, out of delight.  And suddenly, makeup stops feeling so much like work, but rather like the pleasure it’s been for me since I was twelve.  You could almost call it worship.  I sometimes manage to get so caught up in this delight that I end up with full-face look, complete with primer, contouring, something colorful, and maybe even false lashes.  When I say no to worry and fear, I am able to take delight in beauty and creativity.

Think about that.

So for those of us that are busy, worried, tired, or feeling unsure of whatever it is in the season you’re in, I’d encourage you to choose joy and put on those false lashes.  Or mascara.  Or lash extensions if you’re especially busy!  Release those fears and bust out your exfoliant.  Surrender your anxieties and decide which color you’re going to paint your nails.  Say no to the fear and choose rest.  So if you have even just five minutes, here are a couple strategies for pursuing this very specific practice of joy and rest effectively:

  1. Choose a bold lipstick and strong eyebrows – Stop thinking of lipstick as overly glamorous and formal, and start thinking of it as your best femme-friend that can go with you anywhere to give things a little sunshine and “Yeah, girl!”.  A great lipstick is like carrying around Leslie Knope in your bag.  One of the easiest signature looks you can adapt is that of a striking lip color paired with gorgeous, groomed brows.  Have your face moisturized, and use one or two brow products to fill them in, brush them up, and tame them in place.  As you know, I like Glossier’s Boy Brow for a really quick fix, but Bobbi Brown’s Perfectly Defined Long-Wear Brow Pencil comes in a good variety of shades, is tapered as a pencil, and comes with a spooly brush.  You can always use clear mascara or Boy Brow to then set things in place.  Next, have your lips moisturized with your fave balm and then apply whatever awesome lipstick your heart desires.  Choose something that feels like you, but is perhaps a small step beyond your comfort zone. I love wearing MAC’s Russian Red by itself, but there are also some seriously amazing shades by Bite Beauty that I love staring at.  Colors like Jam, Tannin, or Dragonfruit would make amazing signature shades.  Moisturizer + eyebrows + lipstick = very French and very pulled together, probably within five minutes.  Below, my current look of choice.
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  2. Choose a perfectly-cleansed fresh face – Do your whole routine of a little exfoliating, a little cleansing, a quick spritz of toner, and a yummy moisturizer for a quick-but-indulgent accomplishment.  A bare but glowing face these days is widely accepted as a chic substitute for makeup (though I always recommend giving your brows a wee bit of love, too).  I use a small bit of Kate Somerville’s ExfoliKate as a mini peel for one minute (and I treat this stuff like golden elixir as it was a gift), and then I rinse and follow up with Ole Henriksen’s Empower Foaming Milk Cleanser.  After I rinse off the cleanser and pat my face dry, I spritz on Lush’s Eau Roma Toning Water.  I love that this is in a spray bottle as opposed to a needing a cotton pad for application- so fast and easy.  I follow up with Origin’s A Perfect World SPF 25 Age-Defense Moisturizer with White Tea, and I’m glowing like the sun!  A little brow gel to complete the look, a quick pull back of the hair into a low bun, and you’re basically ready for New York Fashion Week.
  3. Choose mega lashes and flushed cheeks – Mascara takes me the longest time of any other makeup product to apply, so if you’re short on time or patience but you really want lashes, choose to focus on only that and perhaps one more thing.  Use an eyelash curler like Kevyn Aucoin’s to gently curl and lift your lashes.  Lash curlers are really underrated in my opinion; they do so much to open up the eye and ease the application of mascara.  Next, pick a couple favorite kinds of mascara that thicken and lengthen (or if you can manage just one, props to you).  I like almost any kind from CoverGirl’s LashBlast line– the orange tube (LashBlast), the purply-blue tube (LashBlast Fusion), the lime green tube (The Clump Crusher), or the turquoise tube (The Super Sizer).  I could use any combination of these babies and get really black, super thick lashes that you can carefully build for length.  Once you’re happy with the outcome, do a quick dusting of a blush that you’ve found to be most flattering (and by flattering, I mean it suits your face nearly every day of the year).  An easy pick is NARS Orgasm, long hailed as universally flattering on all skintones.  The name may make your eyes roll, but the stuff is no joke.  If that’s out of your budget, Milani has a good variety of really pretty blushes that are super concentrated in both matte and shimmery finishes.  These get a ton of buzz on Pinterest and Instagram; I used on once on a bridesmaid who owned one and wanted to wear her own blush and I was really impressed.

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Whatever your plans involve this weekend, whether it’s a lot of running around, getting things done, or just sitting on the couch trying to catch your breath, be sure to open the door to joy.  And if that means exfoliating or applying lipstick in a shameless shade of merlot, to that I say, “Yes and more please”.  xo, MR

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#EmptiesChallenge Update 3

Yes, I am still trying to keep this up!

However, you could probably drop the “empties” term from the whole thing and just call it an “empties update” from now on. Because there really was no particular end goal in mind for this, my so-called Empties Challenge has developed into more of a general tracking and analyzing of spending habits.  So, this may be a little boring for you as a reader, but I’m basically going to lay out what my beauty spending has looked like for roughly the past three months and discuss what can be improved and what expenses lie ahead.  I’ll also match it against what I’ve used up and finished at home.

My last update was on January 29th, so I’m just going to focus on purchases and empties for February through April.

I’ve only had five complete empties for this entire time period, and they don’t amount to much: a mini Kerastase Masquintense, Davines Momo conditioner, Burt’s Bees Sensitive facial towelettes, another CoverGirl Clump Crusher mascara, and finally the Sally Hershberger keratin spray.  I am still almost out of a lot of things, like my Acure night cream, Clarins Beauty Flash Balm, UNITE 7 Seconds conditioner spray, my first Glossier Boy Brow, and my Shiseido Ultimune serum that I use at night.  My NARS concealer is still holding on for dear life, too.

It’s frustrating how slowly I manage to go through things (except the Shiseido- I manage to go through serums like water).  Part of what’s happened though is I’ve been trying to use other, lesser-used items in my possession, so that’s put some of the almost-finished ones on hold (especially in the hair department).  I’ve also been going through lots of samples like Kerastase’s Elixir Ultime conditioning mask, but I couldn’t abide the scent of it so I discarded it after one use.  Nevertheless, going through samples has slowed things down too.

This right is here is what a full, daytime skincare routine consists of for me if I’m firing on all cylinders.  Three of these items were gifted to me, two were purchases of the past few months, and one has been with me for a while and is nearly finished.  It’s just a mix of stuff I have going on, so getting through some of the bigger products without being wasteful is a challenge.

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Now, let’s look at what I’ve purchased.  And I’ve kind of blown it.  Or at least, it feels that way.

February was the worst.  I bought a BeautyBlender, cleanser for the BeautyBlender, a Becca Mineral blush, and a new Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Longwear Foundation Stick.  That may not sound like much, but it adds up.  I also bought my husband a fancy new beard oil to replace the nice IPA one that my mom got him for Christmas (Go Mom, and yes, IPA beard oils exist!).

March was a little better.  I got a bang trim and a blowout (booked an assistant stylist for a much cheaper price!), but I walked out of the salon with a new Denman brush.  Now, that brush has been exactly what I’ve needed for my bangs, but it was still something like eighteen bucks.  I also purchased the Phase 2 Glossier kit on the day it debuted.  Curse you, Glossier!!!

This month in April I’ve purchased an Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Vitamin C Collagen Booster, and that’s it.  Whew.  My mom and I went out for birthday mani-pedis while she and my dad came out to visit, but I don’t really count that toward this challenge.  Beyond this, I’m declaring a full moratorium on all unnecessary expenses for three weeks (beginning with this past Monday).  The moratorium will end on Monday, May 9th, just in time for  … my dental appointment.

I’m kidding; a dental appointment isn’t exactly a frivolity.  What I’m really saving for is my birthday in the middle of May; specifically, the hair appointment I’ve been thinking of gifting myself with once I’ve saved a little.  And because it’s now about that time, I’ll be needing to book for color, and that has got me a wee bit terrified.  Justin Kamm is the only stylist that has ever colored my hair and since he’s back in CA, I’ve been researching all kinds of options in Chicagoland for weeks.  We’ll see what actually happens within the next couple months, but it’s worth it to nail down a salon out here that I can trust either way.

There aren’t a ton of Davines salons out in this area, so I’ve been looking into a couple Aveda ones since I really love and trust the brand.  Then there’s the question of Do I go big and book a high-end salon in the city?  Or is it more a thing of Trust the junior stylist that did a great job with your bangs/blowout and just say a few prayers?  The junior stylist’s prices will obviously be much more reasonable, but there’s also the fact that if it doesn’t turn out the way I’d hoped, the loss wouldn’t feel so detrimental.  It’s one thing to have a junior stylist in the next town over make some boo-boos with your hair that you can easily have corrected, and that you paid a discount price for; it’s another thing to book an expensive salon an hour away, have crazy high expectations, pay a ton of money, and then, if the worst happens, have to awkwardly try and tell these highly-reputed folks that you don’t like what they’ve done.  And then if I had to make a second trip back into the city for corrections?  Quelle horreur!  But like I said before, we’ll see what happens.

All that to say, I’m still attempting to plug away at my current stash of goods and put off appointments when I can afford to.  Even though it’s hard and purchases have cropped up here and there, it’s going to feel good to get through these next three weeks without buying anything.  Along with the hair appointment, I’m hoping to save for Alterna’s Caviar CC Cream, Laura Mercier’s Secret Brightening Powder, and perhaps a lighter fragrance for summer.  You feel the sunshine coming out from hiding in such a powerful way out here; you can’t help but want to celebrate with all five of your senses!  xo, MR

 

#EmptiesChallenge Update 2

Let’s see.  When we last talked about my empties challenge, I’d forgotten that I was doing it in the first place and got a blowout that wasn’t even worth it.  Kudos to me.  Over the past two months, I’ve managed to remember my challenge but Christmas, Sephora gift cards, and an appointment with my home hairstylist happened.  Yikes.  And I was silly and decided that I wanted to try ColourPop cosmetics, too.  I felt like I could justify it because ColourPop items are six bucks each, but add in the shipping and you’re basically at eleven bucks.  Oh well.

My main expenses, when it comes down to it, were the hair appointment and the extra money I spent at Sephora on top of my gift card.  Because you know how getting one item for free at Sephora somehow makes purchasing two more seem okay?  Yeah, I don’t know how that works in the brain’s economy, but somehow it makes sense, kind of like the real estate bubble of 2008 and subprime mortgages.  Oh and I also stopped by Lush Cosmetics and picked up their Eau Roma Water Toner, because I had a staff lunch right next door and I wasn’t sure when I’d be there next.  I’m really exercising such a great sense of self-discipline.

Anyhow, I have run out of a couple things this past month.  I’ve finished off my Origins A Perfect World Age-Defense Treatment Lotion With White Tea, A Perfect World SPF25 Age-Defense Moisturizer With White Tea, and another CoverGirl Clump Crusher mascara.  I’m closing in on the following: NARS Creamy Radiance Concealer in Custard, Unite Eurotherapy 7 Second Condition Leave-In Detangler, Sally Hershberger Hyper Hydration Super Keratin Spray, Acure Organics Argan Chlorella Night Cream, Burt’s Bees Sensitive Facial Cleansing towelettes, and quite possibly my BareMinerals SPF15 Original Foundation in Light.  Still little progress on any color cosmetics, but I have been doing better at applying more frequently.  I don’t exactly blast through stuff like this blue and purple eyeshadow duo from NARS quickly.

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So if I’m going by the ratio of the challenge (and not counting any of the things I received as Christmas gifts, because it’s just too difficult), I’ve “paid” for my hair appointment by running out of the two Origins products.  I purchased some Simple Micellar Water again too, so the mascara and one of the others that I’m almost out of will pay for that.  The two other things I picked up at Sephora and the Lush toner, however, are unpaid for until I officially run out of the rest of the almost-empty products plus one additional item.  Time to keep working.  And notice I’m just not even counting the ColourPop, I’m just that over it.  Whatever.

All this to say, it’s very easy for non-necessities to accumulate.  It happens quickly, and we tend to make purchasing decisions impulsively.  I need to learn to take my time.  It’s becoming much easier to see what I really need though, which is kind of neat.  I found I couldn’t do without the micellar water as a makeup remover after a couple weeks, and I repurchased my same Origins moisturizer with my Sephora gift card after deciding not to spend it on something more frivolous.  So, I’m learning, but I’ll keep hammering away at the color cosmetics in the meantime.

I have to say that the ColourPop decision wasn’t exactly the worst, though.  I took my time figuring out what color of their UltraMatte liquid lipstick I wanted to try and I finally landed on a shade called “Chilly Chili”.  Like the Stila kind I’ve mentioned before, this stuff does not come off but the color payoff is pretty great.  I can’t wait to wear this plum-brown in the city, and I like it with my bangs.

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All right, I’ll probably be back soon with a SAG Awards post, so see you then.    xo, MR

#EmptiesChallenge Update

I began my Empties Challenge on September 25th.  It is now November 24th.  Let’s discuss the progress I’ve made(?) within the past two months.

As you may recall, my challenge involved a cease and desist of all beauty purchases unless I emptied out and finished two products that I already had first.  Many details and stipulations were involved in this challenge, and you can read the full run-down here.

During October, I managed to finish off one Origins A Perfect World face wash,and one Caudalie Vinosource eye cream.  My choice for my first beauty purchase?  A much needed hair trim.  I was very happy with myself for making the decision to choose a necessary service of maintenance and self-care as opposed to, say, a new shade of blush from Sephora that in all likelihood I do not need.

Since then, I have managed to go through all of my Yes To Cucumbers cleansing face wipes, my Lancome Bi Facil eye makeup remover, and a travel-size Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet.  I’m also closing in on finishing my beloved Rahua shampoo, a couple of my favorite CoverGirl mascaras, and my Simple Micellar Water.

But here’s the problem that I’ve run into.  All of these things that I’m running out of are, well, things I already run out frequently because I use them frequently.  Makeup remover wipes?  Cleansing solution?  My favorite shampoo?  All things I use on a regular basis, at least three times a week.  I tend to use the micellar water to cleanse my face even when I haven’t worn makeup during the day.  So, when I run out of these things, I kind of need to repurchase these same items right away.  For example, I probably need to redeem two of those aforementioned almost-empties for a pack of face wipes this week because I use them so often.  And I know I won’t be able to last too long without a mascara that I trust.

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But this just keeps me locked into a pattern of buying the same items, and using the same items.  Which then keeps me from trying to use up my less-used products, like all my color makeup or nail polishes.  Which was one of the main objectives of this challenge in the first place- to use up my less-used products.  Which means I’ve kind of defeated the purpose of this challenge.

See my dilemma?  I mean, at least I’m not adding anything new to my collection of stuff and at least I’m not spending unnecessary cash, but I’m not exactly getting anywhere with all those unused lipsticks or that bottle of nice foundation.

So what’s the solution?  It’s actually pretty simple.  On top of using the things I normally use each day, I need to also make normal use of all my less-used stuff.  What does that look like?  It looks like not only washing my face each day, not only using my favorite moisturizer each day, but also wearing makeup each day!  The fact of the matter is that this challenge will only be an exercise in redundancy unless I begin to consistently use the products that I typically neglect.  I know I may just be restating my original objectives here, but that’s what you do with research data and experiments- you measure your progress against your original goals, determine what pitfalls you’re encountering, and regroup from there.

So the implications of all this are actually quite fun and something to look forward to- I need to wear more makeup on a daily basis.  I need to stop just using my Burt’s Bees and actually top it off with one of my glosses.  I need to add a little eyeshadow along with my common look of just mascara and liner.  Not the worst thing in the world, I suppose.

But this hasn’t been my only problem.  Here’s another speed bump I encountered- I completely forgot about my challenge one afternoon a couple weeks ago and got a blowout.  Yup.  It was after work, and I knew I was going to return to work just for a little bit that evening and I wanted something relaxing to do for an hour or two, and so I passed the time by getting a $25 blowout.  Can you believe it?  The stylist was literally massaging my scalp when I remembered, and I about cracked my skull against the ceramic tub.  Ugh.

See, those are the kinds of purchases that are just so unnecessary, and it wasn’t even fun or relaxing!  The stylist was stressed and annoyed because the salon had been having a champagne and Botox party (mind you, I had not been to this place before) and she’d hated interacting with the guests all day, so by the time she got to me she was at her wits end.  The poor girl couldn’t crack a single smile for the first twenty minutes of our time together, even when we were introduced.  Her irritated state was tangible, and I apologized to her a couple times because I knew I’d booked on short notice.

I ended up trying to talk and listen to her about life in general, what frustrates us as fellow introverts, and what kind of work environment and coworkers we enjoy most.  I even tipped her a full 20% because I felt bad and I encouraged her to ask her boss if she could be done for the day after finishing with me (a request that was granted).  In other words, I came in for a relaxing blowout and instead ended up trying to meet the emotional needs of the person who was supposed to be providing me with a paid service.  If you know me, you know that these are classic McKenna problems (read: extreme people pleaser, ISFJ, “I can’t be happy unless you’re happy”, assuming responsibility for others’ well-being, etc).  Not relaxing in the least.  Truth be told, I probably shouldn’t have tipped her at all.

So, yeah.  Due consequences for me being mindless and spending money on frivolities, I suppose.  And now I’m down another two empties!  Oh well.  I can start over and look forward to the fact that the only way for this challenge to yield some exciting results will be by getting creative with my makeup on a regular basis.  And that’s certainly nothing to complain about.  xo, MR

What’s In My Makeup Bag. Like, Right Now.

The contents of my makeup bag vary on an almost daily basis.

Because I frequently switch up what it is I’m using from day to day, it’s hard to predict what I’ll want to take with me to work, or out on the weekend, or wherever I go.  I want everything with me, readily available, but it’s hard to be sure I’ve got it all as I’m dashing out the door and I’ve put on a different combination of things compared to what I used yesterday.  There’s usually something for my hair, some kind of rollerball or perfume sample, some kind of skincare item, and a variety of other things.  And Lord help me when I’m having a real “night out” and I put a full face on; I end up practically taking my entire kit with me, brushes and all!

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So what was in my makeup bag when I opened it up just before I began writing this post?  There’s almost always some kind of pinky-nude lip color.  Right now, it’s L’Oreal’s Colour Riche Balm in Nourishing Nude for a shiny look, and Burt’s Bees Lip Crayon in Sedona Sands for when I want a more matte look.  However, if I’m not wearing other makeup already (as was the case today), I typically don’t end up using these at all.

There’s really only two unchanging items that have been guaranteed to be in my bag over the past few years, and that’s the Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm and CoverGirl’s Clump Crusher mascara.  Those two are always there, and I have, like five more tubes of each floating around in other nooks and crannies of my life.  Glossier’s Boy Brow hasn’t moved from my bag since I got it either.  It’s so easy to show up at work without it on, dash into the bathroom, and emerge with my brows even and in place five seconds later.

The Alterna Caviar CC Cream has been good for flyaways, and is especially good for smoothing out a midlength cut when it looks a bit too frazzled or feels too dry.  However, when it’s volume I want with perhaps a little bit more texture, Oribe’s Dry Texturizing Spray provides a quick pick-me-up.  I spray my little travel-size bottle a couple times into my roots and then flip my head upside-down and shake it out.  It’s so hard to define exactly what this product does, but it gives hair that elusive, lived-in, cool girl look.  And it smells incredible.  It gives you a little luxurious moment of escape in your day when you use this stuff.

That Vitamin E eye cream by The Body Shop is pretty great.  I’ve used it before and I’ve tried a couple other kinds since, but I came back to this one.  I like that it’s not a pot, making it much more sanitary as opposed to dipping your dirty finger in the same pot over and over and then applying the contaminated product to your eye area (which can technically happen with a rollerball, too).  I think tubes are the most sanitary for eye cream.  And I commonly have bad dark circles, so the Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat is the fastest at getting rid of these without being too thick and cakey like some formulas.  Undereye concealer that’s too thick can sometimes make you look older, or even more tired.  That little Caudalie moisturizer is a deluxe-sized sample I’ve had, and its nice.  It’s very straightforward; it provides plenty of moisture and leaves my skin fairly dewy for the next couple hours.  No sun protection, but it’s easy to throw in my bag because it’s not in some giant jar like so many moisturizers are.

And that white perfume rollerball you see there is Elizabeth And James Nirvana White.  It’s a tea-based fragrance, and I love it.  It’s feminine and light, but very sophisticated.  They sell a dry shampoo of this fragrance now at Sephora, so maybe once I manage to use up ten more product in my empties challenge I’ll be able to get (because I have a list of like, five things I already want to purchase once I use up accumulate more empties).

One thing I notice that’s missing that usually isn’t is a blush compact.  I usually have some kind of blush on hand with a mirror, but there’s my point- I never know what I’ve managed to grab and throw in here until I have a minute to look later in the day.  I only used half the items pictured here today, anyhow!

For some girls I know, the contents of their makeup bags never changes, and it doesn’t change at all for years in the case of some.  I do have some admiration for that quality of consistency and knowing exactly what you like, but I on the other hand am a bit more unsure of my preferences.  And there’s always the fact that I just have too much to begin with.  xo, MR