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

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Short and Back Again: A Hair Addict’s Tale

And if you don’t get the Tolkien reference in the title, I can’t help you with life.

If you have known me personally, you have known that I have been on nothing short of a hair quest, a hair saga, a hair journey to the Misty Mountains and back again, since about 2010.  It has been bizarre, to say the least.  I have reached the heights of beach waved, ombre’d glory, only to somehow look in the mirror on some depressed afternoon a month later and not like what I see.  For no good reason.

That’s what’s been bizarre about it.  I’ve been chasing down something with my hair for years, and yet when I look back at pictures from just two months prior I think Good God, Lemon!  Why did you ever complain?!  And yet, there’s still that hair moment that I haven’t landed on.  And it’s strange because I truly feel that I’ve had so many great hair moments!  I don’t know what I’m waiting for.  Maybe the cause is ungratefulness.  Maybe it’s comparison.  Maybe the dissatisfaction comes from an itch for change that doesn’t actually need to be scratched.  I think if I could sum up my hair chronicles in a song it would probably be U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.  It’s been DRAMA, guys.  I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled these city walls …

But anyhow, Bono and I digress.

So let me just recount my hair journey from the past six months.  That’s it.  And that’s probably all you can handle; you would hate me otherwise.  I can go on and on about my own hair chronicles.  Trust me- my friends know it.  It’s one of my more narcissistic habits that I’m ashamed of until I get started (and then I can’t stop).  But then again, I could go on and on about your hair too, probably.  Man, I reeeeally wanna braid someone’s hair right now.

In January of 2015, I had long, brown hair.  I would put it in ponytails.  I would curl it.  I would put it up in topknots.  I will never again complain about long hair simply for the fact that you can do so much with it.  I miss sleek, long ponytails that feel very fashion forward.  I miss pretending to be a Victoria’s Secret model (a nice little game to play with yourself).  But as is common, I had an itch for change.  Pinterest, friends’ haircuts, and trends will do that to you.  And sure enough, in either late January, Justin Kamm cut my hair into a lob and lightened it up as well.  I keep trying to make a permanent mental note that I ultimately don’t feel like myself with completely dark hair, but about every 16 months or so, I forget and then return to my senses a few months later.  It’s not that I hate it or think it’s a bad look; I just think the lighter bits are more flattering.

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But then, on Friday, April 3rd, I decided to go for the most drastic haircut I’ve ever had.  By that point I’d known for about one month that we would be moving to Chicagoland, and something in me just needed to go for it.  I had always wished that I could see what my hair would look like short, but fear always kept me from making the chop.  I’d been comfortable and at ease with my long-ish hair that I’d had all my life, but I sort of came to the realization that it’s just hair (and not my identity), and it can grow back.  Moreover, I felt that if I can make the push out to the Midwest, I can also make the push to cut my hair.  It was time to face the unknown.

And so, once again, Justin worked his magic.

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The cut was a bit of a shock for me.  I was in foreign territory.  I know it’s not the shortest cut you’ve ever seen (obvi), but it’s a funny thing when you suddenly become conscious of just how much you’ve been hiding behind your hair your whole life.  When you feel that breeze on your bare neck and reach back only to find nothing to sweep over your shoulder, you feel vulnerable and exposed.  It’s just your face sticking out there!  No long princess curls or beachy waves to toss around and taut as your pride and joy; no feeling of safety that Oh, I don’t feel confident about my face today, but at least I’ve got my long hair.  Nope.  And even while the cut may be a lovely expression in itself, when people look at you, they’re really not seeing all your hair like before (or at least that’s how we tend to perceive these things on ourselves).  There’s some hair, but what the eye now sees from the clavicle and up is pretty much just your face.

And with that, I found that when you cut your hair short, you really have to own it.  Like, you have to own the crap out of short hair.  You have to own it like it’s your job and like it’s the best haircut people have ever seen, even on days when you’re feeling unsure and you actually have no idea what other people are thinking.  You have to be intentional about it and go with it when it’s messy and when it’s styled.  In the weeks following the cut, there were moments when I felt so cool and so French in a way I’d never felt with long hair.  And then there were days when I sensed people were trying to backhandedly tell me that my hair was the most unprofessional, unkempt mess they’d ever seen.  And you know what happens when you own it both days, either way?  You love it.  You really, really love it.

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Once the cut started growing out a bit, it really hit the sweet spot. It gained a little more bounce and I started finding my own way around it.  With short hair you discover that just the smallest changes make a big impact- tucking it behind the ear on one side, a change in part, flipping it all the way over the opposite side a’ la Riawna Capri and all the bajillions of LA-based platinum blonde mid-lengthers that she inspired with Julianne Hough (and yes, if you’re from LA and you’ve gone white-platinum mid-length and flipped your hair to one side, you can thank Riawna Capri for that – not kidding).

But sure as the sun rises, I came to find that the longer my hair grew, the more excited I would get about styling it.  I think I just love the process of growing it out and playing with it.  Even in writing this, I’m coming to find that when it comes to hair I sort of live for the journey.  In most things, I actually do try to live for the destination as I believe that a journey doesn’t amount to much without a meaningful endpoint, but with hair, I’m different.  With hair, it’s all about the cliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimb.

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However, with the impending move, I knew that I’d need to stop by Salon 9 one final time for updated color.  I wanted to add more blonde, and in preparation for growing it out long I also wanted to even out the a-line so the back wasn’t too much shorter than the front.  And with that …

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Blonder, a little more even, and ready to grow through autumn.  I loved the texture of this cut and I can only hope that it isn’t lost in the growth or by some poor hair stylist who gives me a trim out here and hacks it into oblivion.  That being said, I do have a couple helpers that have been upping my texture and styling game lately.

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I’ve been using Bumble and bumble’s Thickening DrySpun Finish for a long time now.  It does basically the same thing as Oribe’s Dry Texture but costs half the price.  The scent is amazing (and I know, Oribe’s is amazing too) and it works as a hybrid of dry shampoo, hair spray, and volumizer.  I love it.  Their Don’t Blow It creme is pretty good for me these days, too.  It apparently doesn’t work well on hair that’s already curly or frizzy, but it’s pretty good for my natural texture.  A little scrunching helps, and my natural wave is enhanced without the frizz (or ANY effort).  And the R&Co Jackpot styling creme is what I use for smooth looks right now.  I bought this half-used bottle from a hairstylist at Salon 9 for five bucks.  I use it on blowouts or when I’m sleeking back my hair, but it’s also good for men’s styles.  Just be careful- the scent is nice but powerful, and too much can be a bit overwhelming.  I also continue to use Living Proof’s Instant Texture Mist, but you’ve heard me blab about that on here before.

I’m excited to continue my growth process and see where the road leads me, but for now, I’m trying to enjoy my just-above-shoulder length.  Cheers to enjoying what you have!  xo, MR

An Autobiographical Top Shelf

This post is done in the style of Into The Gloss’s Top Shelf feature, which I’ve been obsessed with for about five years now.  So basically, I’m pretending I’m being interviewed by Emily Weiss on all the products I love, in my own home, complete with “professional” photos/selfies.  Fake it ’till you make it, right?

My routine is hard to explain briefly.  I’ll say this, though- I am not low maintenance when I don’t have to be.  There’s no shame in that.  I’m addicted to haircare, skincare, makeup, all that, but I really don’t afford myself much time to enjoy it on a daily basis.  I either want to spend an hour getting ready just the way I like, or I want to be out the door in five minutes.  All or nothing.  It’s part of how I appreciate beauty- I hate doing any of it halfheartedly.  One of my least favorite things is when I try to quickly wiggle on some mascara in the morning on the way to work and then it turns out all sloppy and incomplete by my standards.  It’s not worth it.  I’d rather bite the bullet and go bare.

SKINCARE

So, what I do depends on the day.  If I have time, I start from the bottom layer and work up, though I try to make the skincare thing happen every day.  I typically begin with a serum, and I’ve decided Caudalie’s S.O.S Thirst Quenching Serum is the best.  I tried Shiseido’s Ultimune, but I like Caudalie’s better for the money.  It feels so fresh on my skin, sometimes I forget to put on moisturizer afterwards.  It’s been hard to pin down a great moisturizer for me because I’m always looking for something natural, but effective and with SPF that doesn’t leave a weird residue.  I’ve been using Origins A Perfect World Moisturizer these past couple months.  It smells amazing and has SPF 25.  I’ve also like Desert Essence’s Daily Essential Defense Moisturizer from Sprout’s or Whole Foods, but it wouldn’t absorb well when it was hot out so I continued my hunt.  When I checked out Origins, the lady helping me gave me a quick facial and she talked me into the toner from the same line.  I haven’t used toner in forever because I feel it’s unnecessary and drying, but this stuff felt tingly and actually left my skin moisturized.  There’s a lot of white tea in it.  We’ll see if I keep it up.

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For face wash, I alternate between Origins and Desert Essence, which is entirely made of oils and some castile soap.  It sounds basic, but there’s a ton of random stuff in it like bladderwrack extract and goldenseal root extract that I hadn’t even heard of before using it.  For a night cream, I’ve been using Acure’s for a couple years and it’s really rich with lavender and chamomile.  It’s very calming.  I think they sell it at Target now, but it’s been at Whole Foods forever.  For zits, I’m pretty faithful to Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion.  My husband loves it too.  I try to just leave zits alone for the most part these days; I find that doing anything to try and “heal” them just aggravates them or doesn’t quicken their disappearance.  Sometimes I’ll do a mask if I’m just watching Netflix late at night.  I’ll use Lancome’s Hydra Intense Masque.  It’s super cooling and smells amazing; I love putting on some I Love Lucy and having a late-night snack when I do a mask.  Best ritual ever!  I’ll also use Origins’ Clear Improvement charcoal mask for porous areas; the lady who gave me the facial at Origins gave it to me for free!  I like face wipes too, and my favorite are the Yes To Cucumbers kind.  I can’t tell you how many packs of those my mom has jammed into my Christmas stocking over the years.  I buy them in bulk at Target.

The one thing that’s still sort of a mystery to me is eye cream.  I like ones that are cooling and depuffing, and I like rollerball kinds best because they’re more sanitary than dabbing your finger into a jar of cream and then putting it on your eye.  Simple Skincare makes a good one, as does First Aid Beauty, but I don’t know.  I’m just not there yet.

HAIR

My hair stylist knows I’m a major product addict.  The funniest thing has been when I’ve asked him about products from lines that he uses before they’re even out yet or before he’s heard about them!  I read about hair stuff in magazines and then I want to go out and try it.  New hair products are what I get most excited about, so I’ve tried a lot but I can finally say I have favorites.  I wash my hair every three or four days, and I alternate between two shampoos.  I’ve been using Rahua’s shampoo for over three years now, and it’s pricey but I feel absolutely no guilt using or purchasing it because it’s so natural.  There’s really no soap in it.  It’s another product made up mostly of oils.  I’ll use another shampoo every other wash, typically an Aveda one like their Color Conserve or Dry Remedy.  I’ll try anything for conditioner.  I’ve been obsessed with conditioners since my late teens because I was always trying to find ones that would make my hair grow or repair it, but I don’t really believe conditioner does that anymore.  I’ve used one from Davines for a long time called Momo; I love it.  I’ll also ask for Kerastase samples from my friend who works at a L’Oreal salon because I can’t afford Kerastase, but their deep conditioners have the craziest reputations so I’m always desperate to try them.  I also like Alterna, mostly their treatments from their Caviar line.  They’re good for when I want to grow my hair out.  I use Unite’s 7 Seconds Leave-In Conditioner to detangle with a wide-tooth comb after I wash, but I think I like Bumble and Bumble’s Prep spray better for this.  I’ll go back to it after I run out of the Unite.  The Prep spray has hops and rosemary, the latter of which is good for lice prevention.  I work around kids, and lice is one of those things that you can’t really avoid if you’re in that environment.  It’s part of life, so you just have to do what you can.  Tea tree oil works well for this too, by the way.

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For styling, I’m a sucker for anything to do with texture.  Living Proof’s Instant Texture Mist is great for giving that pliable “chunk” feel that I love for hair, and I also like Bumble And Bumble’s stylers like their Dryspun Finish and Cityswept Finish.  If it mattifies, gives texture, or extends a blowout, I’ll try it.  Anything for the second- or third-day hair look.  I like Oribe’s Apres Beach Wave And Shine Hairspray too, though my hair does “beachy” really well on it’s own.  I love Oribe’s products for their scent.  And the best dry shampoo in the world is Klorane’s, hands down.  The non-aerosol kind has stretched out so much time between washes for me.  It can make your scalp itchy if you put too much on and don’t brush it out, but it’s still the best.  The drugstore kinds suck.  If I want a smooth or blown-out look I’ll use R&Co’s Jackpot Styling Creme.  The scent is intense but it stretches out my hair beautifully, and the effect lasts around three days.

I got into the R&Co stuff because my salon started carrying it.  I go to Salon 9 in Orange, and I’ve been going to Justin Kamm for nearly ten years!  He’s a genius.  He teaches workshops and is part of the cutting team for Davines.  We finally, FINALLY cut my hair past my shoulders just this weekend.  I’ve always had my hair long or mid-length, because I love long hair and I love playing with it.  I miss topknots and ponytails and long waves, but the bob that Justin gave me feels so right.  It’s good to do at least once, and I’m surprised at how comfortable I feel with it.  I feel reeeeeally French.  And the best part is, all those texture products work so well with this cut.  I still put a bit of wave in it with my Hot Tools iron, but roughing it up with some kind of product gives it that grit that I’m always after.

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MAKEUP

Makeup is tricky.  I’ve tried a ton, but over the years I’ve come to find that I’m actually really picky and haven’t tried quite as much as other people (which is encouraging).  Makeup is expensive, and I take forever to run out of anything so buying too much is a really wasteful choice for me.  I don’t use primer much, but I like BeneFit’s The Porefessional when I do makeup for brides.  It feels silky.  I like to use Clarins’ Beauty Flash Balm on myself and then immediately put on powder or foundation once it absorbs.  I prefer this to primer.  It sort of gives skin a brightening effect.  For foundation, I love Bare Minerals’ Original SPF Foundation because it still leaves a glow.  I don’t like a matte skin finish; I’m all about dewy skin and mattified hair.  The opposite feels too Vegas or Miss America for me.  If I want a liquid foundation, Lancome’s Teint Miracle is nice but I still haven’t landed on a favorite.  I just don’t think I like liquid foundation.  I even have a BB Cream that I like but I just don’t use it too often.  You can’t escape the feeling of liquid makeup on your face, which I hate.  I immediately want to take it off.  Concealer is nearly always Yves Saint Laurent’s Touche Eclat in Luminous Vanilla.  I used to hate it, and I’m not sure why.  It’s the most lightweight formula I can find that still gives coverage.  However, I’m not too concerned anymore with getting rid of dark circles anymore because for some reason, I like them now.  They seem to give a touch of character.  A heavy concealer under the eyes looks too finished for me.  You need that bit of wear in your face.

NARS Bronzer in Laguna is pretty standard, and I’ll try almost any blush.  NARS has the best ones.  I’ve liked their creme formula in Lokoum for a long time but I think it’s discontinued.  Their other powder shades are bonkers; I love Exhibit A and Liberte.  MAC has a gorgeous one from their Mineralize line called Warm Soul.  It super pretty for everyday, but mineral blush on top of mineral powder it can make your skin look funny.  I like it on bare skin.  MAC’s Plum Foolery is also good; I wore it for my wedding day and my mom wears it, too.  I have a couple Chanel blushes too, but I hate to admit that I bought them because they were honestly just too expensive and frankly, MAC and NARS make better ones.  The Chanel ones have perfume in them.  You feel glamorous putting them on, but they’re a murderous, stupid splurge.  Spend that kind of money on groceries or not at all, for God’s sake.

Eye makeup is a journey for me.  I take forever to decide what I’m going to do with my eyes.  Eyeshadow feels like such a commitment, which is probably why I wear it the least out of anything.  It’s takes me a lot of time and concentration, and I always need to put shadow primer on if I’m going to do it because it makes such an undeniable difference.  I think I like purple shadows on myself best.  It’s just enough of an interesting color to feel special, and it does wonders for brown eyes.  MAC’s Sketch and Embark are good.  I bought the Embark because it’s the closest thing I could find that matches this special edition Victoria’s Secret eyeshadow I have.  Christian Siriano from Project Runway did a collection for them a long time ago and it included this eyeshadow that is literally perfect.  It’s matte, smooth, has amazing concentration, and is this deep purple-brown shade called Royalty that, of course, ended with the collection.  I’m going through it really slowly, but I love using it for smokey eyes.  A lot of that stuff with a ton of MAC’s kohl liner in Feline, and boosh- I feel like Catwoman.  If I’m really going for it I’ll use Urban Decay’s eye pencil in Vice, too, and smudge it out.  The best is when a smokey eye looks sweaty and sparkly, like a hazy night at Studio 54 in 1978. This pencil does that.  Oh and my mascara is pretty much exclusively CoverGirl.  I swear, theirs are the best.

Lips are simple.  I do very little, unless it’s something like a red lip.  I like lip colors that look like just a bit of something, because I usually like to focus on my eyes.  A lot of times it’s just a few swipes of Burt’s Bees.  Everything I like tends to be pinky-nude.  I’ve liked Dior’s Addict lipstick in Tulle, L’Oreal’s Colour Riche Balm in Nourishing Nude, and Yves Saint Laurent’s Rouge Pur Couture Glossy Stain in Nude Provocateur.  I guess I gravitate toward balm stains, or gloss balms, or all those hybrid formulas we see these days.  Nothing too lipstick-y.  An exception would be NARS’ lip pencils.  Those are brilliant.

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Oh!  I almost forgot about brows.  I use one thing- CK One’s Brow Pencil and Gel Duo in Crafty Raven.  I like thick, groomed eyebrows, but I hate how many rules and standards there are with them these days.  They have to be perfectly shaped, tapered, filled in, not too thin, all that.  I’m not into it, and same goes for the contouring craze.  It’s just too much, too Kim with all the banana powder and shading and all that.  I’m not into tricks that transform your face into another face, though it’s cool that it can be done.  I like to look like myself, but with a bit of a wink I guess.  That’s the best for me, at least.  xo, MR

Now Trending: Luxury Hair Goods

One thing I tend to tell people when I get into discussions over careers and such is that if I could “do it” all over again (meaning go back to school and choose another path of study), I’d major in journalism or communications and push for a career in fashion and beauty journalism.  I’d specifically pursue a career in writing for print magazines, but of course, digital magazines and blogs aren’t exactly inadequate these days either.  It’s funny, because most folks know that I love to do makeup and play with hair, but what I actually love most is just talking about it and researching it.  I have an incredibly talented hair stylist friend that recently returned from doing her first rounds at New York Fashion Week, and it sounded like it was as crazy as I’d imagined it would be.  But the thing is, she’s made for this kind of craft and can completely hack it in that kind of hectic environment that demands talent and skill.  Now, while it would be a dream of mine to attend any Fashion Week in any part of the globe, I can’t actually say that I’d want to do makeup or hair for it.  I love doing makeup, but I think what I’d rather do is get all the details on what the makeup artists did, take a couple photos, and then write about it.  I’ve been reading IntoTheGloss for years (way back when it was a well-kept secret of die-hards!), and Emily’s blog has perfectly captured my dream job- playing with beauty, with the ultimate goal of writing about it.

Now, a huge part of my love for beauty discussion revolves around product knowledge.  I tend to be known among friends as a sort of research guru that’s familiar with almost any product out there.  Like, any product.  Whether it’s hair, makeup, skin, perfume, or nails, I know about it.  I’d say it’s about a 98% guarantee.  Whether it’s from reading countless magazines, perusing countless reviews on MakeupAlley, or from one of my countless trips through a department store or drugstore beauty section, I have developed a vastly extensive comprehension of the stuff that’s out there.  I sometimes even know about products before salon stylists are familiar with them and then have to deal with the reality that I can’t buy them for at least another month or so.  The worst.

However, the downside of having this love for product is the inability to be satisfied with something that works.  I may manage to land on a blush that looks very pretty, but I can’t stick with just one.  Why would I ever do that?!  And hair conditioner has to be the worst- I don’t know when I’ve ever purchased the same conditioner twice, no matter how great the first bottle may have been.  I always seem to think that I might, just might be able to find one that works even better.  So, I’m terrible at being a brand loyalist, but I’m great at trying something new (for the most part).

So, here’s my latest batch of hair products that I’ve been giving a go.  Rest assured that I only paid full-price for one of these babies with my own money.  Each were purchased with giftcards or were given as swag!

products

I’ll address the Bumble and bumble Cityswept Finish first.  This full-size bottle was given to me for free at a party that I recently attended as a reward for receiving 500 points at Sephora.  The party was held at Vogue Salon in Newport Beach, and each guest was given a dry hair consultation with one of the stylists.  I was in and out of the chair in probably less than seven minutes, but somehow she managed to get four products on to my locks and curl all of my hair with a flat iron.  You can imagine my split-end hypochondria kicking into overdrive; I was clinching the chair with white knuckles.  However, the results were quite fun albeit VOLUMINOUS.

cityswept

Now, the Cityswept is difficult to define.  It’s “a supple hold finishing spray to create lived-in “street-styled” looks with separation and sheen”.  Because Manrepeller is so in right now.  It’s true, though.  The shiny, voluminous, perfectly coiffed blowout isn’t really the trend these days.  Kate Middleton’s hair is timeless, but it isn’t “of the moment” (not that Princess Honeybadger Kate really needs to give a damn).  Things are looking a little more Kurt Cobain than Kate Beckinsale when it comes to current hair trends, and Cityswept is meant to accommodate that.  I haven’t played around with it much myself, but the stylist advised to spray it in your hands and sort of scrunch it into your hair for separation and “chunkiness”.  Just think second- or third-day hair and you get the idea.

On to the Fekkai, which I purchased with an Ulta giftcard.  Thanks to my hair hypochondria, I think that my hair is always damaged.  Not just dry, but damaged.  I’m constantly looking for quick sources of protein and moisture for my scalp (which is just sad because I hardly ever drink water).  The Frederic Fekkai PrX Reparatives Intensive Fortifying Mask is meant as a hard-core recovery mask with keratin and silk proteins, and it smells like vanilla and feel like the thickest, butteriest sludge you’d ever find at Bath and Body Works.  It leaves your hair feeling very slippery and moist, and I can run a comb right through it post-treatment, but I actually have detected a bit more breakage than usual in my hair lately.  It may be because I use the mask twice a week and, combined with another keratin spray and protein-rich treatment I’ve been using, I’ve actually got too much protein action going on with my hair.  Did you know such a thing could happen?!  My friend (and some extra research!) has informed me that you need the right balance of protein and moisture to keep locks healthy and growing, and too much protein can actually cause more breakage in the long run.  So, I may need to lay off the protein-rich mask and stick with just once a week, while focusing more on moisture replenishment for the next month.

The Serge Normant Meta Silk Shampoo was a fun find.  I found it at Costco!  I’ve mostly known Serge as Julia Roberts’ hairstylist, and his hair line is something I’ve only seen sold at NKSpace at Bloomingdale’s.  His products are typically over twenty bucks each, but I found his shampoo at Costco for something like fourteen!  It’s sulfate free, great for color, smells luxurious, and is loaded with all kinds of interesting, natural ingredients.  Unless I get antsy as usual with hair products, I hope to purchase this again.

As far as beauty splurges go, a fancy beach wave spray has to be the silliest for me.  Especially considering the fact that I have natural waves.  Dumb.  However, what has sold me on any Oribe product, including his Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray, is the scent.  Oribe’s stuff (and this being the man who regularly styles red carpet folk including Jennifer Lopez) smells like luxury.  It’s the scent of your night out to a fancy dinner in your best garb, wearing your priciest perfume (or cologne in you’re a dude, and guys- I think you should spray your hair with this stuff).  I seriously picture myself in leather pants with a cozy sweater, sipping a glass of Cabernet in a giant, buttery-soft leather chair with a cashmere blanket on an outdoor patio when my hair has been misted with Après Beach.  It’s just that kind of experience.  Oribe’s Dry Texturizing Spray also comes with a similarly magnificent scent.  I do a lot of hair flipping when I use these products because I just can’t stop smelling myself!  Oh, and the wave creation ain’t so bad either.  The product is truly amazing for those I’ve-got-bedhead-and-I-need-to-be-intentional-about-it days.  Le freak so chic.

Lastly, we come to what may be a culprit of my recent split-end resurgence.  I purchased Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Photo Age Defense at the suggestion of Maria Menounos and once I’d acquired a Sephora giftcard.  I’d been looking for a true treatment product that didn’t just temporarily smooth hair and “conceal” split ends.   I wanted something that actually defended and repaired.  While I have stretched out my time between hair trims enormously (one quick trim over the past six months) and was seeing a difference during the first couple months, I think the combination of a few protein-heavy products has backfired as I mentioned earlier.  One of the main ingredients in Caviar is hydrolyzed soy protein, and so I’m thinking I’ll use this after every other wash as opposed to every one.  On every other wash, I’m trying my best to just get out of the shower after conditioning and not put anything else in my hair.  I want it to rebuild on its own, naturally.

Now, seriously- I want to know what you use.  Really.  What have you splurged on?  What’s the one treatment (hair or skin, anything!) that you won’t compromise on?  You’ve had enough of me yammering on and on- I want to hear from you.  So I can write about it.  Oh, and for more fun bits on hair and the like, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Pinterest; the handle is mcrish.  xo, MR