What I’m Using: An AM Routine

The last four years in Illinois really enabled me to think through the little things that make me, me. What do I like and don’t like? What kind of routine am I currently capable of, and what kind of routine do I wish I could have? How healthy am I, and what could make me healthier? It was all sort of laid bare before me. We’ve only been back in California for two months but we’ve jumped head-first into an extremely busy season. And my routines have shifted dramatically, partly out of obligation and partly because I think I’m just healthier. My job has me starting work at 7AM, but I see a lot of faces each day and need to look more presentable than not. I also have a kitten that practically tries to murder me once the lights turn on and she gets in the room, so once I’m up, I am up. Whereas in years past a 5:50am alarm would’ve been a real struggle, I’m managing to make something out of the half hour of consciousness I’ve got before driving to work.

If I’m lucky, I’ve gotten up early enough to quickly rinse. I’m a night shower-er but if I can throw myself under some water in the AM I feel my absolute best and most awake. It’s not necessary to me, but going to work feeling totally clean is the best. It’s the ultimate feeling of preparedness. I’ll cleanse with Glossier Milky Jelly and spritz on a Lush toner while my face is still wet. I wait for that to dry a bit and pat on some of Fresh Black Tea Kombucha Essence- very expensive but I hate to say it, I think it’s making the biggest long-term difference in my skin. I’ll wait for makeup after that and not add any more skincare layers. Otherwise my face feels too moist and I feel like I’m sweating.

Makeup is fast in the morning. I put a bit of NARS Creamy Radiant concealer on my undereyes and on the inner corners of my eyes, along the sides of the bridge of my nose where it’s always really dark. I call those the little “caves” of your eyes- they get so dark and that’s the key spot to brightening them. I also put some under my nostrils and a tiny bit around my lips where things are discolored. I blend that all out with my fingers and maybe add some BareMinerals Complexion Rescue around the rest of my face. If you like that dewy, glowy look, this is the stuff for you. Or instead I just blend out some Glossier Stretch concealer where it’s needed. I go by the KatieJane Hughes method and treat that stuff like a solid tinted moisturizer.

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Eyeshadow is typically something I skip because I get too ambitious too quickly with it, but if I have two minutes I’ll buff out a couple creamy, sparkly brown shadows with a cream shadow brush. I love Maybelline’s Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze mixed with Trish McEvoy’s cream shadow stick in Topaz. They’re really pretty blended out together all around the eye. I’ve also just tried the crystal-infused eyeshadow from Victoria Beckham’s new line in Mink and it’s crazy sparkly and flattering. Basically anything brown or bronze with sparkle works. The mascara that packs the fastest punch is Flower Beauty’s Warrior Princess one. I’ll use CoverGirl Clump Crusher to separate and define a bit, but the Flower one gives all the impact. And I never use eyeliner in the morning. That requires like, three products for it to be perfect.

Blush is either a cooler pink or a warmer shade, which then determines my lip color because we can’t have things clashing too much. NARS Exhibit A gives the most impact with the least amount of product. Anyone else weird about using only the least amount of product possible? I feel like I’m trying not to run out of things but then I end up with makeup that’s three years old and still looks unused. It’s like a weird compulsion of mine.  But anyways, I could pick literally any blush and I’ll be happy with it. My lips usually end up with Glossier Generation G lipstick in Cake or Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Hibiscus. I like Charlotte Tilbury’s Matte Revolution lipstick in Very Victoria, too. I prefer lips without much shine for everyday. Gloss is a such a look to me.

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If I have any more time left I’ll add highlight with MAC’s Mineralize powder in Soft and Gentle and maybe some contour with Kat Von D’s Shade and Light palette. I’ve had this angled brush from Sonia Kashuk forever that absolutely perfect for contouring. It’s old and there’s nothing like it.

Oh and almost forgot- eyebrows. If I leave the house without any other makeup on, it’s fine- but my brows are always fixed up. I use Maybelline’s Brow Drama crayon to fill in any sparse spots and set them with Glossier Boy Brow. I don’t pluck them, I don’t do anything to them other that.

Beyond all this I just add perfume. That and eyebrows are the essentials for me. There’s something humanizing about perfume; it makes you feel like you have a personality and perspective. Everyone says things like, “That’s a mood” or “That’s a vibe” but my mind always wants to say, “That’s a perspective.” I have several different roller balls so I just sort of choose what suits me that day, but nothing too powerful. I’m finishing off My Burberry Black right now and just bought a bottle of Hugo Boss The Scent Private Accord. It’s sweet but very warm.

If you’re interested in seeing the full look put together, my July post features a selfie. But be aware- my hair is also done, which really doesn’t happen on weekday mornings. That would require something like a 5:15am alarm, and we all know that’ll never happen. xo, MR

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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

#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

 

The Truth About Cat Eyeliner

Some things are not quite what they seem.

For instance, spring in Chicago.  You may imagine a fairly sunny season full of warmth, flowers, and the occasional rain shower because that’s what spring is always pictured to be, but it definitely snowed all day last Friday and dipped into the 20s.  Or it can happen with plot twists in a movie- you see things one way, and then you’re thrown for a loop and it turns it HE’S ACTUALLY A DEAD PERSON, TOO.

No spoilers.

But anyhow, I believe the same can be said for cat eyeliner.  Ah yes, cat eyeliner.  The sharp lines, the pitch black color, the precise and even wings.  The look of retro glamour and cool chicks everywhere (though I tend to prefer a small wing which I refer to as “kitten liner”, as seen in the picture below).  And cat eyeliner is an intimidating feat to pull off because it requires such precision and steady hands, right?  You see the look on a friend and you think Gee, how did she manage to not mess that up?

But you know, I’m convinced that the process of creating a great cat eye isn’t as bold or precise or perfect as the look itself.  I find that creating a cat eye requires a lot more resourcefulness and flexibility rather than the exactness of a surgeon.  And I believe the look is easier to achieve than we might think.  Below, a couple tips on giving it your very best shot, no med school required:

1.  I use a different method nearly every single time, and I use a different kind of liner nearly every single time.  There is no one right way to do cat eyeliner, and I mean this quite literally.  You can do the trick with the credit card, holding it up to the corner of your eye and drawing your “wing” along the edge of it.  You can do the trick with the angled brush where you essentially play connect-the-lines and make a sort of mini triangle on top of your lids that you then color in.  You can create your cat-eye with eyeshadow first and then go over it with liner.  You can do the weird trick with Scotch tape.  You can use liquid, shadow, pencil, or gel.  You can do whatever you want, and you can do it differently each time.  And for those that are able to create the perfect freehand cat eye, well, your hands are steady and I give you props for it.  But that’s not most of us.  And I can’t exactly give you my own tried and true method for cat eyeliner because the process is different for me almost every time I do it.

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I typically use about two products to create cat eyeliner that I’m happy with- one to create the precise lines, and one to color it all in, get the shade of black I want, and perhaps add thickness to the lines.  If I’m lucky, I can pull it off with just one of the two.  I almost always start with L’Oreal’s Infallible Super Slim Liner or Stila’s Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner because they’re skinny enough to make small moves and create tight, precise lines in my inner eye area.  What I use after that could be Bobbi Brown’s Long-Wear Gel Liner in Black (the most long-lasting of any I’ve tried and what I most frequently use) paired with an angled brush, Maybelline Eye Studio Master Graphic Liner (good color, capable of creating thick lines, but very messy), or occasionally an eye pencil like one from MAC.  I typically don’t use eye pencil for cat eyeliner because it’s hard to get a precise, neat look with pencil.  I may use one to color things in and add depth, though.

The eyeliner itself, however, isn’t my greatest and most useful tool when creating a cat eye.  And this brings me to my next point …

2.  Rather than trying to create perfect liner, just do your best and then erase or conceal what you don’t like.   My favorite trick involves a bit of working backwards- do your very best freehand cat eyeliner, and then take an Almay Makeup Eraser Stick and simply “erase” what you don’t want until it looks right.  This allows for editing and correcting your own mistakes without starting all over, and eliminates the painstaking effort of trying not to mess up.  Next, with a small concealer brush, touch up the area around the eyeliner with concealer to clean it up and keep the skin looking even.  The skin around my eyes can be very discolored, so concealer in a few select places really neatens things up when I have eye makeup on.  You can even do the “erasing” part of this trick with concealer itself, using it to cover up the parts of the wing you don’t want.

Speaking of discoloration around the eye area, I also like to add eyeshadow all across the lid in some kind of nude or neutral shade to even out that area, too.  When the undereye area looks even and clean but the lid looks greasy or reddish, it drives me bonkers.  I like to use MAC’s eyeshadow in Orb for this purpose.

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3.  But this all being said, you should quit when you’re ahead.  You know those memes where people start applying winged liner, only to look like Amy Winehouse five seconds later?  You know that’s happened to you.  It’s very easy to overshoot it with cat eyeliner because the perfectionist in you thinks just a little bit more will do the trick.  However, there have been times where my eyeliner has looked like a solid A- effort, and then my next couple moves have ruined it (especially when I try to make the wings longer or completely and visibly even), sending me into Winehouse territory and forcing me to start over.  So, my advice is if it’s looking pretty good, stop.  It’s good enough!  This is why the majority of times I end up with “kitten” liner, because I know that if I try to take it one step further I may screw up what’s already looking just fine.  But seriously, don’t sweat the little imperfections.  Cat eyeliner is almost never perfectly even.  Load up on the mascara and barely anyone will know the difference.  And if they do, well, they’re probably a makeup artist and they probably get paid to notice things like that.

4.  Lastly, do NOT forget about eyebrows.  Strong eyeliner paired with weak eyebrows creates an odd and noticeable imbalance.  It’s like a beautiful work of art without any kind of frame.  If you’re wearing cat eyeliner, at least use a gel or wax like Glossier’s Boy Brow to brush up your eyebrows and steady them in place.  You don’t necessarily need to stencil in big thick ones or do anything crazy, but just be sure they’re present.  A groomed eyebrow will complement cat eyeliner quite nicely.

So next time you give cat (or kitten!) eyeliner a try, tag me in your best selfie and show me how it turned out!  And if the whole effort goes to crap and you have to start all over again, relax- it’s only makeup.  xo, MR

What I Brought Home From My Vacation

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.

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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.

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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.

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BANGS

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.

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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.

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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

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