What I’m Using: January 2019

I hadn’t planned on creating this post but the 2019 Polar Vortex practically made me do it. And when I think about it, it’s been a month of heavy product usage in order to combat dryness among other things, so it’s worth sharing!

IMG_7391.jpg

The dry skin saver: Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich

I’m just about out of this stuff, and it’s been a huge lifesaver for my skin in near sub-zero January temps. While currently out of stock (will probably be replenished in February), Priming Moisturizer Rich is maybe one of the best recommendations I can give for those in need of a serious grandma-style face cream. It lives up to its name: it’s incredibly rich, and my skin just drinks it up at night and still feels soft and supple in the morning. It’s got a wee bit of lavender oil in it so ensure you don’t have sensitivities to it before using.

The new launch: Kristin Ess In-Shower Gloss

This woman’s line of hair products, tools, and accessories at Target is like catnip for me. Her products look and feel professional (she is, after all, a celeb hairstylist), but they come at little more than $15 a pop and address a wide range of needs and styling desires. She deliver things like bubbling scalp masks, similar to Bumble and Bumble’s Scalp Detox, for half the price of legacy brands. Her latest launch- the In-Shower Gloss- was an easy pick-up for me (especially as an indoors activity idea on a frigid day). I chose Chocolate Cosmo to add some overall shine and warmth to my midlengths and ends as my color’s fairly grown out. Loved the results!

img_7386

The glow giver: Sephora Pro Angled Blush #49

I’m not entirely sure how others do it, but I can’t seem to apply blush without an angled brush. I have to have that angle for everything. I use an angled brush for contouring, bronzer, and highlighter too. This one in particular I’ve been loving for blush. Tip: Don’t “sweep” or “swipe” on your blush as that can leave a streaky, harsh look on the face. I like to tap on my blush while smiling (smile big!) so the apples of my cheeks are really prominent, where you flush naturally.

The yummy excuse for a double cleanse: Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm

I was gifted this by a friend and wow– this stuff is all the motivation I need to put on makeup, just so I can take it off. It melts from a solid balm in a jar to an oily cleanser in your hands, and removes virtually all makeup. And according to Sephora’s Clean Seal, it has less than one percent of synthetic ingredients. Oh aaaand it smells like heaven. I like to do a double cleanse with this and Glossier Milky Jelly for a yummy, extra moisturizing experience.

Bonus! The winter cabin fever fix: Yoga with Adriene’s “Yoga for a Dull Moment”

Adriene’s yoga videos are comforting year round (the sleepy time ones! the ones for stress!), but I love a 15-minute little pick-me-up that I can do in my living room even when I’m just having a moment of boredom. Going through one of her routines feels so much better than doing a random bunch of jumping jacks just to get my blood pumping. I still end my Adriene with some sweat, but also feeling stretched and content.

Advertisements

My Three Very Favorite Makeup Brands

I’m not known for being loyal to one brand in beauty.  This goes for the haircare variety, skincare, makeup, perfume, whatever.  I will try anything, from any brand, whether it costs five dollars or five hundred (and no, I’ve yet to try any five-hundred-dollar products yet because cash money).  But if you look in my train case, you’ll see the Revlon mixed with the Dior and I like it that way.  I’ve used drugstore products on brides and they have worked.  I’ve also invested in a couple pricy eyeshadow quads that nearly every one of my brides has worn as well.  I’m game for nearly anything in makeup, and my brand allegiance goes about as deep as that of the sweet ladies that Chris Brown likes to sing about.  And I don’t plan on changing.

This is also one of the reasons why I never intend to become an associate for any direct sales cosmetic or skincare line- I could make all the money in the world and I know I still won’t be loyal.  I don’t want to be tied down to or obligated to rep any one name.  That is, unless I create a line of my own one day …

But every so often, I am asked to name my very favorite makeup brands.  That’s honestly a hard thing for me to nail down, but I’ve got a few.  You’ve probably got items from each of these brands in your own makeup bag because they’re so popular, but they’re popular for a reason, and you don’t make a bajillion dollars from bad product.  Each of these companies is over twenty years old, and all of them possess a single, brilliant founder that inspires me with both their creativity and entrepreneurial savvy.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Bobbi Brown– This makeup brand is responsible for allowing me to have peace with my own aesthetic as an artist.

When I’ve done brides (or myself, anyone really), I’ve always felt a little less-than for not wanting to go all out with the theatrical, transformative kinds of makeup that is so popular these days. It’s true that I simply do not possess some of the skills for really dramatic makeup, but honestly, I don’t really like that kind of makeup and I don’t know if I’d use those skills much even if I had them! At times, this has left me feeling a little incapable and “uncool” in the world of contouring, baking, YouTubing, color correcting, strobing, spackling, and champagne-popping.

However, in 1991, Bobbi Brown apparently felt the same way. “To be honest,” she says, “I wasn’t really a great makeup artist—I wasn’t one of these makeup artists who could transform a face. I just always had shortcuts to make things work because I loved it so much.” That year she debuted a line of ten natural lipstick shades as the very first part of her mission to create “a great collection of edited, natural-looking makeup”. The rest is history that you can see at Nordstrom, Sephora, or Bloomingdale’s the next time you happen to wander in. The brand that Bobbi Brown single-handedly founded is very much what I’m about in life and in beauty- perfected basics. Nothing crazy, nothing fancy, no circus tricks- just really beautiful, classic makeup. Her eyeshadows share nowhere near the same range as say, MAC, but they are just what you need (and yes, her “Taupe” shade really is the perfect taupe!). Her lip shades are flawless, her concealers (in cream or stick form) are legendary, and her Long-Wear Gel Liner is not to be matched. And let’s face it- when Kate Middleton decides to do her entire face in Bobbi Brown for her own wedding day, you know it’s legit. Bobbi is a huge inspiration to me as a female entrepreneur, and she has made me feel like there’s room for me in the beauty world.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

NARS – And now for a favorite brand that is near polar opposite of the aforementioned.

The packaging for NARS is sleek and modern, but their color offerings are even more so.  NARS has the absolute best range of blushes I’ve ever seen, and no other brand I’ve tried seems to match the innovativeness and quality of their shades.  Their basics such as the Creamy Radiance Concealer, Bronzing Powder in Laguna, and All Day Luminous Foundation are amazing, but they’ll go for the shocking color makeup, too: a shadow duo featuring lime green paired with cobalt (“Rated R”), a matte purple-black lip pencil (“Train Bleu”), and a vermillion red blush that looks like it belongs on a clown (and that very blush, called “Exhibit A”, was the inspiration for this blog’s title).  However, it’s not as if NARS is cranking out any and every eyeshadow shade you can imagine; you can tell there’s still a thoughtful editing process behind the collection.  In the end, you sort of feel like Rihanna when wearing NARS- really, really pretty, very fashion-forward, and kinda naughty.

Founder Francois Nars continues to be one of my major inspirations in makeup.  You can definitely sense the fashion influence in his brand; Nars’ personal eye for photography and his background in fashion make his line feel sexy and provocative.  His collaborations with more controversial artists like Steven Klein and Andy Warhol give the line an unmistakable edge, and yet as an artist Francois Nars has always seemed very grounded.  I have one of his more famous quotes pinned to my inspiration board at home: “Do not be too serious.  It’s only makeup!”

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

bareMinerals– Every time I think I’m going to graduate from this brand, I get sucked back in.  I can’t help it.

A couple months ago, I was speaking to an associate at Sephora about bareMinerals.  She stated that she felt the brand was sort of for beginners, for those that are just starting to get into makeup, but that it wasn’t something you stick with forever.  I was contemplating a new foundation, and I considered moving on to something else besides the SPF 15 Original Foundation of theirs that I’d used for SO long. This loose-powder mineral foundation saw a miraculous kind of overnight success when bareMinerals founder Leslie Blodgett was given a spot on QVC to pitch it back in 1997.  I was sort of sad at the thought of quitting this beloved brand’s foundation because it’s also one of the most high quality natural lines you will find (seriously, the foundation has just five mineral ingredients), but I figured it was time to be an adult and move on!

However, I randomly popped into a bareMinerals flagship store the other day and had one of the employees go crazy on me, just for fun.  It turned out that the foundation shade I’d been using was now too dark (thank you, Illinois), and she matched me with my correct shade tested it on my face.  And there it was, the reason that I’d loved bareMinerals for so long- my skin looked perfect.  The associate had cleansed my face using their new skincare line (a gorgeous oil cleanser that I’d totally consider for myself, by the way), applied primer, then applied the makeup, and my adoration for the brand was suddenly renewed.  After some decent skin prep, this line’s original foundation just makes your skin look so unbelievably fantastic that I cannot stop singing its praises even at 28.  Their blushes possess the same qualities, their primer receives remarkable ratings, their concealers are all over Instagram, and their variations on foundation are unique and great for all skin types (and I personally love their Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel for warmer weather).  Whether the brand is actually for “beginners” or not, I say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

And there you have it.  Like I said earlier, I honestly have no loyalties, but if I had to choose three, these would be the three.  At first I thought it was funny that my favorite brands are a bunch that seemed to have absolutely nothing in common with one another, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that they all share a significant, common thread- they all place a strong emphasis on good skincare.  Bobbi Brown, NARS, and bareMinerals all feature their own beautiful skincare lines, and each brand very much emphasizes the importance of a canvas that is well taken care of.  Bobbi’s luxurious creams and oils have been around for a long time, bareMinerals has always been about makeup that is good for the skin even though they only just debuted a full-range skincare line of their own, and Francois NARS himself said, “If the skin looks beautiful, everything else will look great.  Skin is the most important part of makeup.”

There are some really great makeup brands out there that turn out incredible color product, but the skin isn’t made to be the priority.  Kat Von D, Urban Decay, TooFaced, and Stila all are incredible makeup brands, but they’re not about the skin and they don’t feature skincare.  My personal makeup philosophy has always been about putting the skin first, and so I’m rather pleased to see that my most favorite brands come from a similar line of thinking.  I would probably include Glossier on this list as well, but they only have skincare at this point (except for BoyBrow) and have yet to debut their color makeup.  Well, I mean, they are debuting color makeup this Monday, so this list may grow a lot sooner than later.

Let me know if you concur, what your favorites are, and what you’re trying these days!  Have fun!  xo, MR

#EmptiesChallenge Update 2

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

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

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

FullSizeRender

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

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

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

IMG_1571

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

IMG_1374

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.

IMG_1439

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.

IMG_1440

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.

IMG_1437

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.

IMG_1416

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

Five (Truly) Small Christmas Gift Ideas

I absolutely love shopping for gifts.  I love finding practical things, or things that remind me of the recipient, or items that might be trendy and push the receiver’s boundaries a little, even if they decide to take it back.

In general, I really enjoy the gift-buying process.  However, in years past, my spending has easily snowballed because of how much I tend to find or wanting to match the value of everyone’s gifts.  That can’t happen this year, though.  The gifts need to be much smaller, and yet I’d still like to have some fun putting them together.  So, what I have here is a list of five different, very small gift ideas you can give to the beauty or bath enthusiast you know that will provide them with a luxurious experience.  And the best part?  They’re all under twenty bucks (not including tax).

vintage-christmas-shopping1

Your own version of a “beauty sampler” or “beauty emergency kit”

Stores like Sephora like to sell their own beauty “emergency” kits, but they can still cost quite a few bucks even for the value they might have.  Beauty box subscriptions can also be really fun, but they certainly cost more than a flat rate of twenty bucks.  If I were to create my own version of sampler for a friend, I might think of it as a “day to night” kit and include the following: a pair of false lashes, a perfume sample, a pack of blotting sheets, a travel-size dry shampoo, and maybe a mini version of some kind of lip color I like.

The fun thing about this idea is that you can really make it your own.  And it may sound incredibly cheap, but if you’ve acquired a lot of beauty samples over the past year, perhaps you can select a few of them based on what you know your friend enjoys, package them nicely, and there you go! Done.  This is an idea that could potentially cost you under five dollars.

Three of your favorite drugstore mascaras

Come on, what girl doesn’t love opening a new, fresh tube of drugstore mascara?  Now, if you go to Target, the prices on cosmetics will be cheaper so I’d suggest shopping there (or Wal-Mart, if you can manage the chaos).  Maybe you could determine your gift recipient’s favorite kind of mascara first and include that within the three.  What I’d probably do is choose one kind I know they like, one kind I know I like, and maybe a “wildcard”, like a new kind that perhaps neither of you have tried.  If you play it right and shop around enough, you can still come out under $20.

For instance, if I swing by Wal-Mart and purchase a tube of Cover Girl’s The Super Sizer by LashBlast ($5.94), Maybelline Lash Sensational ($6.94), and Maybelline Volum’ Express The Falsies ($5.94), I’m at a total of $18.82.  Easy.

A couple Korean sheet masks

Korean sheet masks are super trendy these days, but what’s fun about giving them is that you can choose a couple different kinds for different skin needs.  For instance, Tony Moly (sold at Sephora, along with a myriad of other brands) sells sheet masks in packs of two and there is huge variety to choose from within this line alone.  They have masks for radiance, clarity, hydration, pore care, and many others.  One pack of two costs $7.50, bringing your total to just fifteen bucks if you choose to give two packs.

A sheet mask is a nice little end-of-the-day thing to enjoy with a glass of wine and Netflix, or a soothing treatment to use on a plane ride that can prevent dryness.  And, the fact that many of your friends may not have tried them makes them a fun novelty that beats another bottle of lotion.

A couple bath bombs or beautiful soaps

Now, I know that not everyone takes baths so you may want to investigate your friend’s bathing habits first, but bath bombs are my current fave form of entertainment that doesn’t involve Cheetos or spending more money (although I guess you can always eat Cheetos while taking a bath- I’m not quite there yet).  Lush Cosmetics makes fantastic, completely natural bath bombs that turn sitting in a tub into a fizzy, whimsical, almost chic experience.  They all smell amazing in their own way, leave your skin feeling great, and have their own unique qualities that makes choosing just one such a difficult ordeal.  Bath bombs, I might add, are also very Instagram-able once they hit water.  None of Lush’s bath bombs cost over $7; you could choose one of the bigger ones as a single gift or two smaller ones.

Another similar idea is to give a couple lovely soaps.  I know that Cost Plus World Market carries a huge variety of beautifully-packaged soaps for around five or six bucks each, and I personally love displaying them in their pretty packaging or on a cute soapdish to use.  Whole Foods carries a nice variety of ethically-made and ethically-traded soaps too for around the same prices.

A single, awesome candle

You can find great candles – and even better, soy candles – everywhere, for a whole range of prices.  My favorite thing for candles is to find a small business that carries a few different kinds to choose from.  The city I used to live in had an amazing old town area where you could find lots of unique ones; I’d suggest digging within your area for the small businesses and see what they have first.  However, you can always go to Target and choose a big soy candle with great packaging that your recipient will enjoy displaying.

Nowadays I get all my candles from Target (as I haven’t explored too many small businesses yet), and they’re the easiest way to make your home feel just a bit more luxurious.  Even if I don’t actually like the scent of a candle I receive, I can still burn it outside on my patio or in the bathroom when guests are over.  They are always useful, no matter what.

Let me know of any reasonably-priced gift ideas you’ve had for the beauty addicts in your life.  A great beauty gift doesn’t always have to be the latest Naked palette or a full-size bottle of perfume.  If you offer beauty services yourself, you can even gift a free blowout to a friend, a free mini makeover, or whatever you feel suited to give.  I mean, this is always an option:

d6a9c55a761d217f0491197c3f604ebe

Merry Christmas!  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

 

What great new mystery is THIS?!

I am a Sephora regular.  And by that, I mean that when I present my Sephora “Beauty Insider” card to be swiped with every purchase, the sales clerk always laughs when he or she reads the amount of points that I have.  It’s ridiculous.  And my points have just amassed to such an absurd amount because I never redeem them.  You can always redeem them for travel-size products and the like, but if you know me you know that I hate samples and travel-size items.  There’s just something in my psyche that won’t let me enjoy a beauty product when it isn’t full-size.  I have a hard time explaining it.  So basically, I’ve accumulated a humongous amount of points at Sephora, and to say the least, I am a valued customer.

I don’t know what it is about a place that houses nothing but makeup and beauty products that makes women like myself go off their trolley.  I mean, yes, I am into makeup and beauty products in a way that you could call addictive, but what is it about that stuff, and in particular all that stuff under one roof, that feels so intoxicating?  The appeal of makeup itself is a funny thing.  Sometimes I think we’re attracted to it because it looks like treasure, because it’s shiny and bright and colorful and it fits into the palm of your hand.  I read an Allure article once claiming that some significant percentage of women would actually eat their makeup if they could, because of its “candy-like” appeal.  It’s true though, isn’t it?!  When you see a bright, hot pink lipstick just sitting there under the lights of a vanity mirror, don’t you just sort of want to bite it?  It’s like that scene in Aladdin when Abu decided to give in to temptation and snatch the forbidden treasure, and as he draws closer to that ruby the size of a basketball, what does he do?  He licks his lips!  Makeup is sensual, in that we want to touch it and play with it, see what it does to our face, know how it smells, and apparently we even want to eat it.

The aggregating of all things makeup into one giant spectacle of epicureanism, however, is another matter of genius entirely.  I mean, think about what you see when you go through the beauty department at Nordstrom.  The first thing I notice are the lights.  Everything is just glowing in the beauty department.  New perfume bottles displayed in glass cases with uplighting like they’re museum exhibits, everything laid out on trays with mirrors to look an old-Hollywood kind of expensive, and so much chrome.  It’s either lighting, mirrors, or chrome. And then they inundate you with so many choices that you feel both overwhelmed and excited, but like a kid in a candy store, you don’t want to leave.  You want to taste everything.  I’ve always wanted to just walk out into the middle of the Bloomingdale’s beauty floor, stretch out my arms, turn my gaze up towards that Great Beauty Department Up Yonder, and shout “PAINT ME UNTIL I’M BEYOND RECOGNITION!  TRANSFORM ME!  COVER ME!  I’M YOUUUURRRRSSS!!!”

So, what do you think my reaction was when I received an email announcing the opening of a *second* Sephora location at South Coast Plaza, the mega-luxury-mall that I most frequently frequent?!  You know when you get so excited about something that you almost throw up?  No?  Well, there you go.  And how lucky was I to discover that I’d actually be able to stop by the new store on it’s opening day?

Not that lucky.  There was a line.  Just to get in.

entrance

But don’t worry.  I was in line for maybe seven minutes.  No big deal.  It rightfully served the purpose of crowd control and enabling everyone to have an enjoyable experience.

interior

It was, admittedly, a bit crowded.  But it certainly wasn’t anywhere near what I’ve seen on a Black Friday.  Totally doable.  And there was the appeal of everything being perfectly clean and complete stocked.  Speaking of completely stocked …

nars

NARS blushes, relatively untouched by human hands, and almost fully stocked.  Do you ever get the urge to hit one with a little hammer and see it smash?  No?  Well I do.  I could’ve smashed all of ’em.

LM

A perfectly spotless new Laura Mercier counter.  It’s enough to make me flip my beanie.

lips

Unused, untouched, pristine NARS lipsticks, just waiting to be chewed on and smeared all over the faces of unattended four-year-olds.  Oh and hey, one of the sample lipsticks is already missing.  Ten bucks says someone lifted it.  I’m not kidding.  It would be a tempting thing to do, considering their mint condition.  I swear it wasn’t me … I swear.  No, really.  It wasn’t me.

YSL

A gorgeous new Yves Saint Laurent display, complete with it’s glorious, chromatic gold packaging.  We often wonder why we’re prone to desiring products like these over, say, Dr. Pepper LipSmackers at the drugstore, and the fact that it feels like you’re dropping a little piece of the Crown Jewels into your purse might have something to do with it.

perfume

An entire section of the store has been carved out just for fragrances.  I appreciated this considering every other location just has perfume and cologne set along the perimeter of the store.

leave

But you know, it’s not like I haven’t been here before and it’s not like I won’t be back again.  So I’m happy to say that I walked out of the store without a thing (and there’s also the fact that the line to the check-out was maybe twenty minutes long).  It’s funny because I somehow thought that this new location would offer a few different brands than the one across the way at the opposite end of South Coast Plaza, but nope.  It really was just more of the same (not that that’s really a deterrent in the end, anyhow).  And honestly, sometimes it just feels good to say ‘no’ to something that you normally have such a hard time resisting.

As I left, the attendants monitoring the line outside brought in the velvet rope and let all remaining guests in.  The chaos of the opening hours was over.  I guess when it comes down to it, it’s just another Sephora.  But somehow, it still carries the kind of intrigue and enchantment as if it’s something that I’ve never seen before in my entire life.  xo, MR

Some things and some stuff.

This post is going to be about exactly what the title says:  some things and some stuff.

I couldn’t think of some fancy, well-scripted intro where I blather on about the latest this and that without it simply sounding too contrived.  And so, to quote some nonexistent animated persons that I respect and admire deeply, I’m going to write about some things … and some stuff.

1.  I had Justin put some highlights back into my hair.  They’re subtle, ombre’d bits of caramel that provide just enough color to make me feel like summer is just around the corner.  I plan on going progressively lighter, but this was enough for now.  With my single-process hair color, I felt very one-dimensional (duh.) and I just didn’t have as much fun with my hair as I did when it had some lightness to it.  And so, it is with a heavy heart that I admit the possibility that a leeeeeeeeeeetle bit of blonde may help you have a leeeeeeeeetle bit more fun.  But hold your hosses thar!  I didn’t straight-up say that blondes unilaterally have more fun than brunettes.  Why, that would be plumb silly!  But I do believe that I am more satisfied with my hair when it’s provided with some colorful dimension, if only to use my hair as a metaphor for my life and provide the illustration that sometimes we need a little warmth and sunshine to shake us up out of the drab monotony of everyday existence.  This all sounds much better when you say it in the voice of Kenneth Parcell from 30 Rock.

Here is my hair as it was this spring, as colored and cut by Justin Kamm and as styled and photographed by Laura Licata:

943394_10200674809886852_428863034_n

I have to say, it was raining that afternoon.  How Laura managed to keep my hair from turning into this, I’ll never know.

And this is the best picture I have of my new highlights, as well as, ahem, my awesome nephew:

965574_10152838084725398_1249423765_o

2.  I graduated with my Master’s degree last Saturday, and received some gifts for doing so (and some may have been for my birthday as well, which was celebrated here).  Some of those gifts included Sephora giftcards, which burn bigger holes in my pockets than lit matches.  Seriously, I don’t know what it is but I will save gifts of cash and any other such cards for weeks or even months, but you designate a mere twenty bucks for me to spend at that magical house of facepaint and I just go cuhhhh-raaayyy-ZAY!  There may not be a thing I need, but I will haul my butt down to the nearest Sephora and just stand in front of the NARS counter for a solid fifteen minutes, looking like a freak, without a single expression on my face, doing absolutely nothing.  I just stare.  And touch EVERYTHING.  I’ll bring my own brushes and by the time I leave that place, it looks like Jackson Pollock came back from the dead and decided he just wanted to do a quick masterpiece on someone’s wrist.  I’m convinced that dead artists would have a thing for me.

3.  If I could look like this as a redhead, that would be an okay thing.

4.  This is what I came back with from my most recent Sephora trip.

Dior

Well, the one on the left I’ve actually had for a couple months, but the one on the right is brand spankin’ new.  I haven’t so much as smudged it with a finger.  It’s called Stylish Move, and I look forward to using the bottom right and top left shades for bridal makeup.  But really, this one was kind of more for me.  Dior 5-Couleur palettes are the holy grail of eyeshadows, and while they are quite expensive (I’ll never purchase one without some kind of gift card), they blend so well, coordinate so perfectly, are almost always universally flattering, and I make long-lasting use of them.  I’m breaking this sucker in tonight, so I’ll have to let you know how it goes (though hopefully not via an obnoxious Instagram selfie, but I have a bad feeling …). Honestly, if you’re not too sure about what eyeshadows are right for you but hate wasting time on a bunch of individual shades (that add up in cost anyhow and can be difficult to store and keep track of), I’d recommend looking into just one of these palettes and letting it be your one-step solution to your whole problem problem.  Might I suggest Rosy Tan or Earth Reflection?

5.  I smell bad and get sweaty.  Sometimes.  Maybe.  If so, it’s because I don’t wear antiperspirant.  And I haven’t done so in years.  Why?  Because what makes antiperspirant do its thing is something called aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex, a substance linked to early-onset Alzheimer’s as well as breast cancer.  Weird.  And we shave our armpits and layer on the stuff every day.  Weirder.  And our armpits are suspiciously situated quite near our breasts.  Weirdest.   So here’s the thing:  I use deodorant, but I don’t use antiperspirant (and no, there are no “natural” or “safe” kinds of antipersp; the aluminum ingredient is always the active one in antipersp).

For a couple years I used Tom’s of Maine’s Natural Unscented Deodorant Stick and my body adjusted well.  However, a couple months ago, my armpits started experiencing a burning and itching sensation that left my armpits peeling in a big ring and looking as if they’d been out in the sun with no protection.  At first I thought it was razor burn or something, but then I realized that the sensation was returning just minutes after applying the Tom’s.  And to my surprise, I found that many users had experienced the exact same symptoms after years of using Tom’s (Bless you, Internet only sometimes because mostly I hate you!).  Why all this burning and itching only started occurring after years of use, I’ll never know.

Anyhow, I discovered that Tom’s, while being free of aluminum and not an antiperspirant, still contains a chemical called propylene glycol.  PG, as we’ll call it, is meant to keep many body products from either melting or freezing, but it unfortunately also “alters the structure of the skin by allowing chemicals to penetrate deep beneath it while increasing their ability to reach the blood stream”.  Additionally, PG has also been linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive issues, allergy developments, and other bodily issues (as is the case with many substances in our body products).

So what do I use?

Deo

Desert Essence strikes again!  This brand is seriously so awesome.  My face and now my pits owe so much to it.  You can find Desert Essence’s deodorant at Sprout’s, Whole Foods, or any of your local hippie-dippie hotbeds, and it has no aluminum (and just realize if the product does not say it is an antiperspirant, it doesn’t have aluminum anyhow) nor any propylene glycol.  Excellent.

And now the inevitable question:  But don’t you have B.O.?

Yes.  Not all the time, and not every day, but sometimes, yes.  And do I care?  No.  Let me throw this out there:  Your body, as it naturally functions, is supposed to sweat.  It’s one of the processes that your body uses to eliminate toxins from your body.  Your skin operates like a third kidney, sweating out urea, metals, and minerals.  You get rid of about 30% of bodily wastes through sweating, with the other methods being pooping, peeing, and other glamorous things we talk about on beauty blogs where Kate Beckinsale and perfume are also talked about regularly.  I just said “poop” and “Kate Beckinsale” in the same sentence.

So anyhow, I’m honestly okay with sweating a bit through the day.  It’s literally meant to be.  And I’ll be straight with you- If I’m planning on wearing a delicate fabric or know that I’m going to have an anxious morning (interviews, standing up to rebelling freshmen in their math class, etc.), I do wear the clinical strength antiperspirant.  And I mean, like, the 25% aluminum kind (because if I’m going to wear the stuff, I’m going whole-sweaty-hog).  But I try to severely limit these occurrences.  And I’m trying to bulk up around the freshmen.

Anyhow, that’s my blabbering about some things and some stuff for now.  Until next time, stay sweaty, shop Dior, get your highlights on, and stay poopy Kate Beckinsale!

375030_10200674810406865_289465650_n

xo, MR

And thanks to thegoodhuman.com for the smarts on PG.

I smell so good all the time. And no, I’m not wearing ‘Justin Bieber’s Girlfriend’.

I have used a lot of fragrances in my lifetime. Those folks that have their “signature scent” and can stick to just one fragrance … yeah, I don’t get them. I wish I could do that, but I’m a smell-aholic. Or a smell-ophrenic. Or whatever.

I remember Roxy’s Hula being the scent of ‘hot female’ in middle school. Seriously, girl walks by on campus and you smell the Hula on her … you got jealous. The guys thought she was a babe and she’d probably blazed passed all us other girls in the puberty department. In other words, she was a true woman, tube top and all. I tried wearing Hula in middle school … it just didn’t work the same. I just couldn’t understand why no one wanted me as I stood there covered in my butterfly clips and wearing my Osh-Kosh holdovers from fourth grade (yes, things fit me for a very long time) on the black-top. As I picked my nose.

And then came high school, and I don’t quite remember what scents I wore then because all I can remember as far as the olfactory sensations go is a haze of fruit. That’s when you discovered Bath and Body Works and boy, did we all go to town. We were all trying to discover our inner sexiness, and apparently ‘sexy’ in high school smells like being shoved head-first into a can of fruit cocktail laced with sugar, marinaded in sugar, and paired with … hmm, brown sugar and Fruit Loops? Heck, my senior year I even started wearing a perfume called Pink Sugar. Man, that was the stuff. That’s the first scent I remember wearing and feeling like it was mine. I wore it strictly throughout my senior year, and was thus able to associate it with all the memories that came with those days. Even when I get a whiff of that stuff these days, Aquolina Pink Sugar is a potent memory-trigger.

Throughout college and up until today, I’ve had a hard time nailing down a favorite fragrance. I can’t pick just one. If I go to Sephora, I smell twenty and I like them all. I like the weird ones, the overly-saccharine ones, the musky, masculine ones, and the lighter, clean ones. I’m just as happy to smell like a forest as I am to smell like a Funfetti cake. And so, I’ve acquired a few over the years.

The Givenchy one (pronounced zhe-von-SHEE, to the best of my description) on the right is one I fell for as a result of … shocker … advertising. Uma Thurman was the model used for the Ange ou Demon Le Secret ads, and I smelled it in a magazine and couldn’t get over it. I’d never appreciated a scent that was more founded in tea notes rather than fruit notes, as this one is. I think of a blush wine mixed with white tea; it’s unique. The gold bottle, Gucci Guilty, I can’t say I really love. It’s a floral-oriental but it’s a bit too “rich, daring, powerful woman’ for me … and I am a poor, cautious, hesitant woman.

The D&G L’Imperatrice is a friend-favorite. It’s inspired some purchasing among my acquaintances (more on that in a minute), and I will say that it is pretty delicious. It’s lighter because it’s an eau de toilette (not an eau de parfum), but it still has plenty of fruity notes such as watermelon and kiwi accord. Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gioia is my newest, and it reminds me of the water. It’s a scent that makes me fantasize about places I’ve never been, places that are misty, cool, and clean. Rather than the beach, which one may usually think of with such a zesty fragrance, I think of the fjords in Norway. No joke. Calgon take me away!!!!!!

And here, we find the fragrances I carry with me when I’m teaching at high schools. Victoria’s Secret Bombshell keeps me feeling like a sophisticated woman in an arena so devastatingly dominated by Justin Bieber Someday, and Bath and Body Works’ Secret Wonderland so I can fit in with the sixteen-year-olds just a little bit (and it makes me think of Christmas!).

And so, that wraps up the current smelling sauces I’m drenching myself in these days. I should warn you though … I don’t do well with those that wear the same fragrance as myself (which, unfortunately, could eliminate perhaps five of your options at a time). Scent is one of the heaviest identifying factors that I associate with a person, and having anyone else smell like me is a huge pet-peeve of mine. I have a friend who wore Thierry Mugler’s Angel for years, and I refuse to wear it despite the fact that I could funnel that stuff straight down into my nostrils (because it smells that good). Why? Because that’s her scent. I want you to like how I smell, but I don’t want you to buy it. And sure, I may have used five scents within the past year, but, well, that’s just too bad for you. You can’t smell like me. My dad bought my mom my same fragrance one year for Christmas because he’d liked it so much on me. Just … no.