#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.

IMG_2051

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

 

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Old Reliables

I’ve been wearing some ugly clothes lately.  Mom jeans (hear me, they were literally labeled as mom jeans), Birkenstocks (the originals), and tapered track pants with mules.  There’s something freeing about forcing yourself to try and make good out of something known as “ugly” by conventional standards.  It’s a good challenge in personal creativity, and you sort of give up on how others feel about what you’re wearing.

One trend I haven’t been dabbling in, however, would be the return of overalls.  And by gosh by golly, even Olivia Palermo’s been wearing those and Lord knows how I drool over her!  I don’t know, I think it has to do with the fact that they bring back old memories of the cool girls in middle school who would wear their overalls (which were nothing short of a staple back in the day) with … tube tops.  Yep.  Hot pink tube top, overalls from some place now deceased like Anchor blue, top it off with an Etnies skater jacket, and you’re good to go.  Did we want to be Fred Durst video girls or farmers?  We didn’t know, but we had to have the best of both worlds or God strike us dead!

So, I’ll try a trend here and there (or in my case, more like here, there, and everywhere), but I’d say I’ve now managed to round up my set of old wardrobe reliables that I’ll probably keep in rotation until I die or my then-20-year-old child tells me it’s time to stop.  Such items include leather jackets, striped tees, a lot of denim, and a pair of leopard print pumps.

Now what, may I ask, would be the beauty equivalent of these items?

Old faithfuls

I’ve mentioned all of these items in previous posts, but if I’m buying them multiple times then they’re worth mentioning again.

I’ve used Bumble&bumble’s Prep Spray for years as a detangler once I hop out of the shower after washing my hair.  Speaking of washing my hair, it’s very likely that I’ve also just used Davines’ Momo conditioner for dry hair.  The scent (sort of gummy and cotton-y, yet addicting), the texture, and the long-term effectiveness of this balm have managed to give it a top space at an extremely long list of conditioners that I’ve tried.  I try to focus more on moisture with my wash as opposed to “damage repair” or protein (which I do every so often), because it can lead to more breakage as I’ve previously discussed.

So anyhow, after washing, I give a few sprays of Prep directly into my roots, sort of massage my scalp a bit, and then gently comb through with (only!) a wide-tooth comb.  I appreciate Prep for the vitamins and, again, the detangling qualities, but I don’t think it really serves a styling purpose.  That’s fine with me considering I tend to let me hair air-dry completely most of the time before laying any heat on it.

I keep a couple shampoos in rotation, but Rahua has been in my shower for two-and-a-half years now.  It is completely free of detergents and soap, is safe for color-treated hair, and has an almost wholly natural ingredients list.  It is not particularly cheap, but I love it so much.  My hair is noticeably less dry after using it, thanks to the lack of ingredients in drugstore shampoo that ironically do more harm than good for dry hair.  I love it, and it gives me an excuse to go to Bloomingdale’s.

Once my hair is dry and I decide to break out the hot tools, I spray a liberal amount of Sally Hershberger’s Hyper Hydration Super Keratin Spray on each section.  It works as a heat protectant, but also serves as an argan oil spray to smooth for blowouts.  The scent is phenomenal, and I love spraying it all over my hair once I’ve twisted it up in a bun at the beach, just to keep it hydrated.  The more concentrated versions of argan oil tend to be too heavy for me, unless I’m going for a pin-straight, shiney look.

And finally, once my hair is taken care of I move on to face and body.  I’ve often sung the praises of Desert Essence’s Tea Tree Oil Deodorant for the fact that it has no aluminum (which means it’s not an antiperspirant, and yes, your body can acclimate to this as all bodies once did a few decades ago), and it contains no propylene glycol.  Tom’s of Maine’s natural deodorant worked for a couple years before I found myself with red, peeling, burning rashes in both of my armpits that would not stop itching.  I discovered this to be the fault of propylene glycol.  Desert Essence is pretty much all oil, and yes, I do not go through my day sweat-free when I wear this stuff but you’re seriously not supposed to go through any day sweat-free.  Bad.

Once I’ve moisturized with some kind of somethin’ (still trying to nail down a favorite), I’ll move on to my precious BB cream from Boscia.  I loooooove this stuff like no other.  This will sound hilarious, but I cannot believe how good my skin looks after putting just a dab of this on!  I like to mix it with some kind of face lotion because it isn’t super spreadable, but I love how even and luminous it makes my skin.  There is a lighter version, a bronze version, and it contains SPF 27.  I recommend this one to anyone with a face.  Anyone.

Any mainstays in your own repertoire?  Holler at me; I’m always curious to know what others can’t live without, whether it’s a tube top or a good nail polish remover.  xo, MR

How to wash your hair like a crazy obsessive person.

Over the years, as I’ve become more and more conscious of how precious healthy hair is, I’ve developed some … what shall we call this … neuroticisms when it comes to my hair.  Those who’ve touched my hair and had the pleasure(?) of working with it know that I am what I like to call a hair hypochondriac.  If there were ever such a thing, I AM IT.  I always think my hair’s damaged.  I always think it’s falling out.  I always want it to be two inches longer than it is, but I can’t bear the idea of damaged ends and so I give in and go in for a trim anyhow.  And then I always think that too much is being trimmed off and now a whole foot of hair has been lopped away (and yes, you wouldn’t believe the things my brain sees that aren’t actually there).  I always ask my friends trained in cosmetology to feel it and tell me if it feels “porous”.  I always look at my coworkers’ and friends’ hair to see if their ends look less healthy than mine (and yes, I literally stare at the ends of your hair when I’m checking you out … sorry if you thought it was a more exciting part of your body).  I always have this idea of what my hair should look like, and as my friend pointed out to me just a couple weeks ago, I think I’m always a little dissatisfied because my face doesn’t match the hair inspiration pictures I always refer to (as opposed to just the hair).

Sometimes it’s a fun game I play with myself, to see just how healthy and how long I can get my hair to be.  But at other times, it’s nothing short of a neurotic fixation that causes anxiety and an endless amount of comparison.  Which, of course, will truly make my hair fall out.  But for now, I felt it may be fascinating to at least let you in on my … hair cleansing routine.

First, start with what you’d expect:  a good wash and condition.  And of course, it has been at least three days since the last wash and condition (right????).  Use a shampoo with as few sulfates as possible, and as many natural ingredients as possible (read: ingredients that you can understand, pronounce easily, and aren’t chemical-synthetic compounds).  I happen to rotate between two shampoos and two conditioners.  Be sure that once you’re in the shower, you wash your hair first so that you can immediately move on to conditioner (as Matt Damon discusses in The Informant!).  Remember not to worry about conditioning your roots; just cover your hair from mid-shaft downward to the ends.  Put your hair up in a clip so you can go about the rest of your showering business without accidentally rinsing out the conditioner, and so that any steam and heat help along the conditioning process (but do remember that it’s best to shower in tepid or even cold water if possible, as it’s better for your endocrine system and less harsh on your strands).

Once you’ve rinsed out your conditioner, blot your hair with your towel to gently dry it (and do not wring it or throw it up in a turban-style towel, as this promotes breakage in your hair’s wet, weak state).  Then, using a wide-tooth comb, detangle slowly by running the comb through your hair, with assistance from a detangling spray if you so choose. And after that, you wait.  You do some Netflix time, make some tea, let it air-dry and lay not a watt of heat to your head.  And ideally, you do not touch it with your fingers either as that promotes frizz.

Perhaps when your hair is 60% dry, you apply some kind of repairing or smoothing product, concentrating specifically on the ends.  This may be an oil, a serum, a cream, or who knows what at this point.  If your product is heat-activated, perhaps you’ll apply just a bit of warmth from a blow-dryer to produce it’s most effective results.

before

Whew!  Talk about “before”.  This is how my hair dries naturally after doing just the aforementioned.  I suppose it’s “wavy”, but it’s a little wonky, you know?  Could be worse, but not the most flattering.

After your hair is almost totally dry, see what sections need help from a curling iron or flat iron.  If you’re satisfied (because perhaps your hair is curly), then you’re done!  If not, then fix whatever kinks or create whatever waves as you see fit.  I use a 1.25′ Hot Tool Professional Ceramic + Titanium spring curling iron.  I just wrap sections around the rod and skip the clamp all together.  If I think any section of hair can forego the heat treatment, I leave it be.    What comes next all depends on my mood, quite honestly.  It’s usually a tad of Frederic Fekkai’s Glossing Creme to impart just a touch of shine and to shut down any tameable frizzies, but I usually finish by flipping my head upside-down and sort of mussing up the roots for a bit of volume and to avoid looking too neat.  A bit of dry shampoo to the roots perfects the look on day two and day three of a wash (and by day four, it’s probably up in a bun and perhaps covered in oils, treating it for the next wash).

after

Sooooo much better.  And let this be a lesson: don’t get too discouraged by how your skin looks if you’re standing in horrible bathroom lighting.  Look for some natural light for a real assessment.  And that whole makeup thing always helps, too.

So anyhow, this is what I do.  Sometimes whatever particular combination of products I’ll use will just produce a really great response from my hair, and I’ll have a great hair week.  I have to take into account what I’ve eaten too, or if I’ve worked out.  Other times, my hair will get oily quickly, or my scalp will itch.  The weather is even a factor at times.  My point is, no matter what I do to try and control my hair’s condition and growth, it just tends to operate like the rest of our bodies do- sometimes it needs a little of this, and sometimes a little of that.  Rarely will it always need the same exact same things forever.  And it’s not always going to do what I tell it to do.  So with that said, I’ll just keep up with my bi-weekly washes (and they really are some of the best parts of my week), keep eating my salmon and berries, and … oh yeah … sleep with it up in a scrunchy and on a satin pillowcase.  Less damage that way.  xo, MR

P.S. And the following is a list of my absolute favorite products that I use for my routine (and again, I alternate my use of the shampoos and conditioners, and I don’t use all the treatment/styling products at the same time):

Rahua Shampoo

Davines Momo conditioner

Aveda Color Conserve shampoo and conditioner

Davines Oi

Alterna Caviar Photo-Age Defense (YES MARIA I BIT THE BULLET SHUT UP.)

Bumble&bumble Prep.

Weleda Rosemary hair oil

Frederic Fekkai Glossing Cream