What I’m Using: February 2019

So it turns out, by happy accident, all the selected items I’m using this month are clean. But what do I mean by clean? Three of the four products I’m listing here can be found at Whole Foods, so we’ll start with their own Body Care Quality Standards linked here. The other product I’ve chosen is categorized as Clean at Sephora™, which, according to their site, means it’s formulated without the following: Sulfates SLS and SLES, parabens, formaldehydes, formaldehyde-releasing agents, phthalates, mineral oil, retinyl palmitate, oxybenzone, coal tar, hydroquinone, triclosan, triclocarban.

Do I have time to explain how I know each of these aforementioned ingredients are harmful, and in what quantities, over what length of time? Nope. Would I want to even if I did have the time? Nope. You get to do the work on that. I just get to talk about the stuff I like.


The everyday lipstick: Kosas Weightless Lip Color in Rosewater

I kept hearing about this brand around the Gram and on IntoTheGloss, and so I hopped over to their Sephora page to look at their oft-praised lipsticks. Lo and behold, there’s a cute lil video that explains how each shade (a seemingly perfect, approachable and ultra-flattering range of just eight) is meant to fit into your beauty wardrobe. And since I’m a sucker for the whole “your lips but better” thing, I went with the first lipstick described- Rosewater. It’s a cool-toned pink nude described as being the lightest of the bunch and kind of like your favorite t-shirt. I’m very familiar with the favorite t-shirt situation because, as my friends can attest, I’ve been wearing the same Bane t-shirt for about seven years now.

The formula is incredibly moisturizing and it’s so natural and wearable that I can treat it like a balm. I’m already eyeing Undone as a potential new addition once I run out of something else.

The obligation: Evanhealy Lavender Facial Tonic Hydrosoul

So I ran out of my Aveda toner and decided to pursue a much greener replacement. And you thought Aveda was green! Did you know Aveda is owned by Esteé Lauder?! And that since that ownership has taken place, that Aveda’s typically “green” character has very much changed? Don’t get me wrong- Aveda’s Dry Remedy line will probably be an on-and-off staple of mine for life (so long as they don’t change the formula, which they’ve made a habit of doing lately), but when I foolishly picked up a bottle of their new Cherry Almond shampoo a couple months ago without first looking at the ingredients, I was so disappointed to find it full of sulfates and all kinds of other ingredients typical of cheap drugstore shampoos.

But none of this really has anything to do with the Evanhealy toner. I’d eyed these Evanhealy “tonic hydrosoul” formulas at Whole Foods but never managed to smell the lavender one. I used an Amazon gift card to make this purchase from home one night and while I originally wanted the rose one, it was out of stock. Lavender is an ingredient I’ve used before and my skin has taken well to it, so I pulled the trigger. The reviews didn’t mention anything odd, though one girl said it smelled “more like vanilla.”

I have never smelled a nastier smell in all of skincare. I nearly gagged. This stuff smells like old milk. Get excited about the exclusively USDA organic lavender all you want- the stuff smells like garbage. And in case you haven’t gotten truly angry at a hypocrite today … I’m continuing to use it here and there. What?! Just because something smells funky to you doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad product! But truthfully, I’m continuing to use it because I wasted half a gift card on this and I now feel obligated as I can’t send it back. As to whether it’s effective or not, well, it’s toner. You pretty much don’t need it anyways. Hooray for that “green” Aveda replacement.

The secret to amazing foundation: Weleda Skin Food

About ten years ago in a fit of hypervigilance, I started “greening” over my entire face and hair routines. I read about three books, researched questionable ingredients for the ones most commonly agreed to be harmful, and scoured natural grocery stores in southern California for the best that natural beauty had to offer. It was around this time that I discovered Weleda Skin Food, an extremely rich moisturizer with a thick base of oils and beeswax meant as a cure-all for dry skin. I couldn’t imagine slathering the stuff on regularly (a little goes a really long way), but what did make sense was mixing it with makeup. Or at the very least, applying and massaging in a thin layer before applying foundation.

I had the fortune of doing a good amount of bridal makeup in my late twenties, and Skin Food was a staple on wedding days. It’s the perfect tool for giving a long-lasting glow under makeup, and everyone’s skin seems to take to it so well. I kind of forgot about Skin Food for a couple years as I experimented with other things, but I picked up a tube last month on Amazon and mixed it with a Lancome Teint Idole stick foundation for this look. How I’d missed the stuff! Oh also, I’m wearing the Kosas Rosewater here!


The intoxicating fragrance: Nubian Heritage Goat’s Milk and Chai Body Lotion

This is another Whole Foods find I discovered via IntoTheGloss. Putting on lotion is one of the most boring things on Earth to me. You’d think something like data entry would be the height of tedium, not putting on lotion. But for whatever reason, if I have to put it on, I’ve got either do one of those in-shower lotion situations so it can be over quickly, or I’ve got to find a lotion I really love using.

Enter Nubian Heritage. Whenever I’m in Whole Foods I’ll always browse the body care section for anything that looks new and interesting, but lotion’s not typically one of those things. Very natural lotion formulas tend to separate and get messy or not moisturize as well as a couple drugstore lotions I’ve tried (yep- sorry), so I wasn’t sure how effective this stuff would be. But the smell!! Oh, the smell. The Goat’s Milk and Chai version of this lotion smells like … believe it or not … Viktor&Rolf Flowerbomb. You know, probably the world’s best-selling perfume that they pump through the vents at the Crystals shops in Las Vegas? I cover my legs in this lotion and it leaves the most pleasant dry-down on my blankets and sheets. And, what do you know, it’s moisturizes like a pro.

Bonus! The midcentury jazz icon you need to know: Wes Montgomery

You know how you’d be walking around a department store as a kid, listening to that jazz guitar “elevator” music in the background that you thought was cheesy at the time and had no appreciation for? Turns out Wes Montgomery- a sound I know I would’ve written off as “elevator” during childhood- is the moodiest mood of moods, and it’s a sound you could use in your life. If you have no clue where to start, just look up “Bumpin’ on Sunset” on Youtube or something. And because you’ll be hooked from there, you can head straight to Wes Montgomery on Spotify and let him gently accompany you on whatever task is at hand: cooking dinner, folding laundry, writing this post, sitting staring out a window, yelling at your kids, anything. It’ll work.

Pre-Fall 2015 Lip Picks

Lipstick is probably the most popular, most familiar member of the makeup family.  I mean, think about it.  Your brother or boyfriend might make all those lame jokes about not knowing what mascara is, or they act like they don’t know what you’re talking about when you mention foundation (and I submit that they are all liars and most guys actually could pass a basic makeup identification test if needed; they just needlessly feign ignorance for fear of looking less than ‘dude’), but every person on the planet knows what lipstick is.  Without question.  I’d venture a guess that most any person, in any country, anywhere, would know exactly what to do with that bright red bullet in a Revlon tube.  Now, how many of those red bullets we come across in a lifetime will vary from person to person, but generally speaking, lipstick is a globally known thing.

Which is why I think it’s so well loved.  Some form of lip rouge has been around forever, and it seems that every year there is some new shade, some new formula that the public goes absolutely nuts for.  MAC has their annual Viva Glam lipstick shade that always debuts with great anticipation.  People go on rabid Google searches for a certain lip color seen on a celebrity, causing it to sell out everywhere.  New long-wear formulas like Stila’s Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick and Kat Von D’s Everlasting Liquid Lipstick have introduced a cult-like frenzy, garnering the praises of countless beauty bloggers and Instagram-ers.  The new trend of blue, lavender, and pink hair has seemed to inspire a breaking of boundaries in lip color as well with shades of deep purple and dark blue showing up on both the runways and on the streets.

You don’t just buy your friend one shade of lipstick for her birthday; you buy her four.  Many women don’t merely purchase one shade of lip color in a formula they love; they purchase multiples, if not the whole line.  We seem to treat lipstick like candy.  We want every flavor, every kind.  I believe if we could eat lipstick, we would.  And while this strikes me ultimately as bizarre and animalistic, I admit that I’m part of all this.  I’ve never seemed to develop a loyalty toward one brand or one formula, but I can certainly play the game.  And I would definitely eat MAC’s Candy Yum-Yum if I could.

I have two lipsticks that are inspiring me for the moment.  One you could consider an easy, wear-everyday-if-you-wanted kind of color, and the other could be taken as your way to play with this fall’s trends.

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Too Faced has had this line of Melted Liquified Long Wear Lipstick for a couple years, and I’d avoided them until now because anything with the words “long wear” tends to really scare me and make my lips turn reptilian.  I harken back to my high school days when CoverGirl first introduced Outlast All Day Lip Color, and I remember feeling like I was literally painting cement on my lips with the comfort and ease of a brillo pad.  That first go round at long-lasting lipstick was god awful, truly.  I mean, how dry does something have to be to the point where they feel the need to include another product with it, a “moisturizing topcoat”?!  Lord, no.  And does anyone remember trying to remove that stuff?  Might as well have used paint stripper!

But I feel that such formulas have improved over the years in comfort and practicality, with Too Faced having introduced one improved version.  I can’t say that the shine lasts especially long, but the feel of ‘Melted’ is very pillowy and buttery.  My lips appeared fuller as well, a result of glossy, light reflecting properties.  I purchased this in a shade called “Melted Chihuahua” (insert mental picture of the Taco Bell dog being thrown into a volcano here), and it’s an easy color for everyday, a warm, nude-ish rose that’s “my lips but better”.  The highly saturated pigment did linger for quite a while (through morning coffee, church, and brunch more or less), and the scent is tart and sweet.  I would love to go for a full-on vampy look with the dark, purple-blue Melted Villain shade, but I’m playing it slightly safer when it comes to this fall’s deep berry trend.

Which brings me to the nearly-black bullet pictured beside the Too Faced.  Revlon has a number of lipstick shades that have become cult classics over the decades.  You’ve got Fire And Ice, Love That Red, and the color pictured here, Black Cherry.  And no, the color doesn’t swatch as black but rather as a deep plum-berry stain.   I love this color.  I really, really love it.  Darker colors do make your lips appear smaller, but I don’t mind.  I like it when lips show a merlot tinge after a couple glasses, and I like how lips show all of their cracks and crevices when stained.  I actually don’t prefer perfectly smooth, plump lips- there’s not as much character in that look for me.  Even Angelina Jolie’s full lips have a lot of crevices and irregularities about them.  So anyhow, the Black Cherry is a fun find.  And for less than ten bucks at Walgreen’s, it’s nice to save a trip to Sephora and some cash that would otherwise have been blown on a lipstick I won’t wear super often.


Pictured here- Black Cherry while out and about in the Midwest suburbs of Illinois.  Maybe the city will provide a better opportunity- I’ve always wanted to look like a wicked city woman (though I’m about as intimidating as a bulldog puppy).  xo, MR


So, picking favorites isn’t easy.  I get all crazy when magazines come out with their “Best in Beauty” issues each year and they list off what they’ve determined to be the best body lotion, best facial exfoliant, best taupe eyeshadow, best bright eyeshadow, best sexy fragrance (as compared to fruity, among others), and so on and so forth.  I guess what makes me go all batty when I read such things is the horrible itch that develops in my brain that says I need … to buy … all of it … now.  Seriously.  I will breach all of my own contracts I’ve made with myself about “Natural only!” and absolutely no parabens or mineral oil in my body products if Allure tells me that that big bottle of deliciously buttermilk-y thick-as-batter body cream that smells like Paula Deen’s house filled with cinnamon and sugar and the laughter of ten thousand happy children (for only $10!!) is uhhhhh-mazing, despite the 100% petrochemically-derived ingredients.  Give it to me.

It takes a lot of effort for me to sort out what my own favorite products really, really are. It’s difficult to sort through all the voices, suggestions, images, and reviews.  But we can start small.  We can start with … lipstick.

Now, I can really hang with all kinds of lip color.  This is only referring to lipstick, a kind of lip color that I probably wear the least.  I picked my favorites of four shades- red, pink, beige/nude, and dark.

MAC Lipstick in Russian Red–  I know their Ruby Woo shade is equally as popular, but it’s just too dry for me.  This gem of a red can be worn everyday with a decent amount of comfort, and it’s flattering on all skintones.  The “flattering” part is kind of big for me too, because I have this weird quirk of getting especially irritated at seeing the wrong shade of red on a girl.

CoverGirl LipPerfection Lipstick in Spellbound–  This is one hot shade of pink, and I love it paired with just black topliner and mascara.  It may seem scary in the tube, but just think of it as a happier alternative to red.  I like to wear it in the fall when it’s less expected, and it’s stunning against an all-black ensemble.

Yves Saint Laurent Volupte’ Sheer Candy in Lush Coconut–  I still haven’t nailed the beige/nude category to satisfaction. I feel that every kind I try is still just a little too pink, and I’m looking for that J.Lo beige that looks incredible on tan and olive skin.  For now, this one is sheer (more like a gloss stick) and smells like mango.  I wear it when I just want to add a little something to my lips besides balm.

L’Oreal Colour Riche Lipstick in Spice–  This stuff is just so … vampy.  I’ve been so inspired by Camilla Belle’s rich, daring lip color at the MET Gala this past year and this seems to get me pretty darn close to the look.  I like a slightly Twenties look with a dark lip, kind of costume-y.  And there’s no better season for color like this than autumn.

So tell me … any favorites of your own?  Brands you swear by?  Recommendations for me?  xo, MR