Buy or Bye: Fenty Slip Shine Sheer Shiny Lipstick

There are certain things in life that I just can’t resist—a fresh-baked cookie; a cold drink on a hot day; a sheer, glossy lipstick. It doesn’t matter how many I have—or how similar they are—I just can’t say no.

I had that Fenty was going to be releasing a new sheer lipstick formula a few months ago on the Trendmood Instagram page. It was supposed to launch in stores in early June—but, obviously, that didn’t happen. The new lipsticks finally launched online late last month (or maybe early this month? Who knows at this point, everything runs together). I really didn’t want to buy them before I  was able to see/swatch them. TBH, that wasn’t a very well-thought-out plan since swatching is pretty much a relic of days gone by, so I ended up buying them in-store without swatching them. I could have had them sooner, but oh well!

THE COLLECTION

Aside from being a tongue twister, Fenty’s new Slip Shine Sheer Shiny Lipstick comes in 10 different ultra-comfortable sheer shades. On top of being comfortable, they’re nourishing (they’re infused with pomegranate butter) and have the perfect amount of color. The brand compares the lipsticks to your favorite pair of jeans—effortless, sexy and good-looking without trying too hard. (I see where they were going with the analogy but jeans are a no from me, dawg).

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Photo courtesy of Fenty Beauty

TOP LEVEL CLAIMS

  • Clinically proven to lock in moisture
  • Lightweight, nourishing lipstick formula
  • Infused with hydrating pomegranate oil
  • Instantly conditions in just one swipe
  • Shiny, builable, creamy texture
  • Available in 10 easy-to-wear shades

MY THOUGHTS

I had high hopes for this product and, naturally, I was not let down. This is the perfect lip product to just throw in your bag and go (I mean, it would have been the perfect product to throw in your bag and go before we were gripped by a deadly pandemic that requires wearing a mask everywhere). It’s like a chapstick in that you can just haphazardly apply it (no mirror required) but it leaves the most gorgeous sheen. It makes your lips look hydrated and glossy but doesn’t feel sticky at all. And, one of the biggest bonuses of all, is that it actually leaves your lips feeling hydrated and softer when you take it off. As someone who wore liquid lipsticks religously and had crusty lips for the better part of a decade, I am 100 percent on board with this gloss trend.

I bought three shades: Makeout Break (a latte nude), Glazed (peachy pink) and Thang Thang (a red orange).

I really just took a shot in the dark when choosing shades but I love all three. I knew that I wanted a nude, and Makeout Break is the perfect nude. If I were to design my own lip product, it would be this formula and this shade. My second favorite color is Thang Thang because I am obsessed with red orange lipsticks right now (I have a blog post on my favorites coming soon). There are 7 more shades that I don’t have that I need to get in my possession immediately:

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Photo courtesy of Fenty Beauty

  • Quarts Candy (clear with pink iridesence)
  • $uga Kiss (Bubblegum pink)
  • Retro Rose (dusty pink)
  • Goji Gang (rosey mauve)
  • Cookies and Cocoa (cocoa berry)
  • Bubblerum (chocolate brown)
  • Vamps who brunch (plum withblue irridesence)

INCLUSION

Rihanna doesn’t fuck around when it comes to inclusivity. There is something for everyone in this collection—because of course there is. There are shades that will work as a “your lips but better” shade on any skintone, as well as a clear gloss and a couple fun pops of color.

TL;DR

Rihanna’s new lip products are amazing and if you don’t own any, you should.

*I bought these lipsticks with my own money, however this post does contain affiliate links meaning I will make a small comission in the event that you choose to purchase anything. 

Brows for Beginners: Tips & Tricks for Filling in Your Brows

Like most people, I have been on a brow ~journey.~ I started tweezing my brows when I was in the fifth grade. Not necessarily because I needed to but because I had read about it in a People magazine I was skimming in line at the grocery store and was fascinated by it. No one in my family tweezed their eyebrows. The fact that people groomed their brow hair was mesmerizing to me. Little did I know that brows would be a billion-dollar business in just a few years time.

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

I tweezed my own brow hair religiously from fifth grade until I was a freshman in high school, which was when I lost my waxing virginity. We took a trip to the local career center where I obviously spent my day shadowing the cosmetology students. Someone offered to wax my eyebrows and I reluctantly agreed. While it did seem to be a much quicker method of hair removal, I was maimed and spent the next few weeks looking perpetually perplexed until my brow hair grew back. I vowed to never let anyone else wax my brows again.

Fast forward a few years and I’m a freshman in college looking for a cheap way to indulge in a little self-care. Some people (probably men) might think it’s weird that having hot wax applied directly to your skin in order to pull your facial hair out by the root is considered self-care, but it is. If you know, you know. I ended up at the newly-opened Ulta Beauty in Okemos where a Benefit Brow Artist, who actually happened to be now-famous YouTuber Alex Garza, waxed my eyebrows. When I left I had amazing looking brows and felt like a million bucks.

TRIAL AND ERROR

The day that Alex Garza waxed my eyebrows was the first day I ever had any makeup in them. She filled them in with a Benefit powder and I remember thinking “I kind of like this but also maybe a little too bold?” At that time, bold brows were not the trend. I did, however,  like how filling them in made them frame my face a little more clearly. And so began my years-long process of trial and error. I never remember looking in the mirror and thinking, “wow, those look terrible.” Quite the contrary, I remember looking in the mirror and thinking, “Wow. Those look great.” But they didn’t. Learn from my mistakes.

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Dear God in heaven, what was I thinking?

TIPS

START WITH THE SPARSE SPOTS

If you’ve never filled your brows in before, the best place to start is looking in the mirror and identifying the sparse places in your brows, filling those in and going from there. You can always add more product—taking it away is a little trickier.

USE HAIR LIKE STROKES

Even if you choose to use a pencil, filling your brows in shouldn’t be like coloring. It’s much more artful and intentional than that. Create short, hair-like strokes in the direction that your hair naturally grows by making a gentle flicking motion with your wrist. Practice makes perfect!

PAY ATTENTION TO THE TAIL

Whether you’ve overplucked or had a wax mishap like yours truly, extending your eyebrow a little bit can make a world of difference. Be careful when you do this though, because drawing it in a downward slant brings the focus of the eye down, making you look older, sad and kind of saggy. Try to draw it out in more of a straight line for a lifted effect.

SOFTEN ANY HARSH LINES/EDGES

I bared my soul (well at least an embarrassing picture) so you can all see what it looks like when you throw caution to the wind and don’t BLEND. Make sure that you brush through your brows with a spoolie after you’re done applying product to avoid looking boxy eyebrows like I had.

ACCENTUATE YOUR SHAPE

The point of filling in your brows is to accentuate the shape that you already have. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. If you want to alter the shape of your brow or change the arch, I highly suggest visiting a professional who can help you. In this case, we’re merely accentuating what we already have by following our brow shape.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT COLOR

Aside from haphazardly color blocking your brows, the quickest way to mess this up is to choose the wrong color. I always try to match my brows to my natural hair color, which is a dark, neutral brown shade. If you’re blonde, a taupe color will probably work best. Taupe is probably the best shade for redheads as well, although there are auburn pencils available!

HIGHLIGHT THAT BROW BONE

This isn’t technically a tip for filling in your brows, but throwing a pop of shimmery eyeshadow or highlighter on your brow bone directly under your arch gives a really pretty lifting effect.

PRODUCTS

There are a million different brow products on the market. From powders to pencils, pomades to fibers, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what product will help you achieve your desired look.

Let’s break it down:

GEL

Eyebrow gels are my favorite eyebrow product of all time because it’s the quickest and easiest way to add color, hold and fullness to the brow.  After getting my eyebrows microbladed (you can read a detailed account of that process here), I sometimes just throw some gel in my eyebrows and call it a day.

In order to use a gel, the first thing you’re going to want to do is take the wand out and wipe off any excess product—the same way you would with mascara. Once you’ve done that, you just swipe the wand through your brow hair. I like to start at the front and brush the hairs up and then brush them in the direction of the natural hair growth once I reach the arch.

I use brow gel every single day, without question. Whether or not I use pencil, soap, pomade (or a combination of all three) beforehand, I always, always finish with a swipe of brow gel. It’s a great way to get your brows to stay in place all day.

PRO TIP: If you really want to pump up the volume of your brows, take the spoolie and brush AGAINST your natural hair growth. It picks up the hairs and coats each individual hair in product, making them fuller and fluffier.

MY GEL PICKS

Uoma Beauty Brow Fro Blow Out Gel*

Glossier Boy Brow

Hourglass Arch Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel

Benefit Gimme Brow

Milk Makeup Kush Fiber Gel

*my favorite gel

PENCIL

Brow pencils are probably the most common and easiest brow products you can use. Whether you already have full brows or are looking to fill in sparse areas or add definition to your tail, a pencil can help you achieve a soft, natural-looking brow.

The first step to using a pencil is to brush through your brows with a spoolie. Make sure that all your front brows hair are brushed up and then brush all the hairs after the arch down. Start by filling in any sparse patches with short, feather-like strokes and THEN go in and define the front of your brows.

I’ve tried every brow pencil under the sun and, honestly, most of them are very very similar. My favorite brow pencil is the Anastasia Brow Whiz but if you’re on a budget, I highly recommend this Morphe one.

PRO TIP: If you mess up and end up looking boxy, take a fluffy eyeshadow brush and blend out the product the same way you would eyeshadow.

MY PENCIL PICKS:

Anastasia Brow Wiz*

Benefit Cosmetics Precisely, My Brow Ultra Fine Shape & Define

Fenty Beauty Brow VMP

Morphe Micro Brow Pencil**

e.l.f Instant Lift Eyebrow Pencil

*my favorite pencil, **my drugstore favorite

POWDER

The first time I ever filled my eyebrows in, I used a Benefit powder. Powders tend to result in a softer look, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go overboard. I am living proof of that.

Just like pencils, powders are used to fill in sparse areas of the brows. To use a powder, you’re also going to need an angled brush. I really like this brush from Anastasia Beverly Hills. Coat the brush with the powder and tap it on your hand to get off any excess product. Then, sweep it in the direction of your hair growth with a light hand. Once you’re done, be sure to comb through with a spoolie to soften the edges and avoid looking harsh.

PRO TIP: You can also use brow powder to set anything you’ve done with a different brow product. And, since the brow powder is probably going to match the color of your natural hair, you can use it to fill in any sparse spots on your hairline, too. This works especially well if you’re wearing your hair pulled back or in a ponytail. You’re welcome.

MY POWDER PICKS

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo*

Benefit Cosmetics Fool Proof Brow Powder

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brush #12

*my favorite powder because it comes with two colors for a natural, gradient brow

POMADE

You know the infamous “Instagram brows?” That’s pomade.

If you’re a beginner, I would skip pomade. It gives a dramatic, defined look and, of all the brow products discussed, this is the most difficult to work with and the easiest to screw up. However, if you have very, very sparse brow hair or you purposefully want a bold brow, then pomade is what you’re looking for.

My favorite pomade is the Anastasia Beverly Hills Dip Brow. I have used this on and off for probably 7 years and have only had to repurchase it once—and that was only because it dried up. You really have to use such a small amount of this product.

Just like with powder, you’ll need a brush to apply this. I like to delicately dip my brush ever so daintily into the pot, and then wipe the excess off on the inside of the lid. Then, start with small, hair-like strokes at the arch of your brow. Fill in sparse spots, elongate your tail and then, once you’re almost done, go in and define the front of your brow. Finish by brushing out with a spoolie to soften the edges.

PRO TIP:

My POMADE PICKS

Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade

NYX Tame and Frame Tinted Brow Pomade

SOAP

You might be thinking to yourself, “WTF are soap brows?” You might be surprised to learn that it’s literally just soap in your brows. I started experimenting with soap brows during the early days of quarantine (remember when we thought it was only going to last for two weeks LOLOL). There are products specifically meant for this purpose and I did purchase one, but a good ‘ol 99 cent bar of glycerin soap will work just fine.

To start, you brush your brows out the way that you want them. For me, that’s brushing the front hairs up, and the hairs after the arch in the natural direction they grow in. Then you’re going to wet your product with some water or any kind of facial mist, twirl your brush so it’s coated with product and repeat the same steps you just did: brush the front hairs up and the rest in the direction of natural growth.

This creates a really full, fluffy and natural look—but you can definitely go for a more dramatic, editorial vibe if that’s your thing.

I follow by filling in any sparse patches with pomade or pencil, then set everything in place with a gel.

PRO TIP: Considering brow lamination? Try this first to see what your result will look like.

MY SOAP PICKS

ARTIFUN Clear Waterproof Long Lasting Shaping Soap

Pears Glycerin Soap 2-pack 

TL;DR

Eyebrows are important and incredibly easy to mess up. Try different products and find what works for you. What are your fail-proof eyebrow tips?

 

 

Splurge vs. Save: Are Expensive Candles Worth It?

If you think about it, burning candles is basically just lighting your money on fire.

In spite of that sobering fact, I love candles and have been obsessed with them for years. When I lived with my parents, they wouldn’t let me burn candles because my dad they insisted the smoke makes the walls/ceilings black. Instead, my mom uses wax burners and diffusers, which to me, just aren’t the same.

SPLURGE VS. SAVE

As soon as I got my own apartment I was hell-bent on burning as many candles as I could. The only problem is that candles are expensive. I would plan my purchases around Bath and Body Works’ three-wick candle sales. If I was feeling saucy, I would splurge on a Yankee Candle and if I was feeling particularly frugal, I would shop places like Home Goods, Marshalls or Target.

Fast forward about 10 years. I have evolved from purchasing candles from chains and big-box stores to dipping my toes into the world of ~luxury~ candles. That’s right—brands like Le Labo and Diptyque which charge upwards of $75 per candle. PER CANDLE. It’s insane I know. Is it worth it? Let’s discuss.

THE APPEAL

For most of my life, Yankee candles were the splurge candles. Three wick candles at B&BW are $24.50 full price but you can routinely snag them on sale for around 10 bucks—a Yankee jar candle will set you back $30. I distinctly remember a time I went to Bed Bath and Beyond and cashed in one of those 20% off coupons on a Yankee candle. I felt like the fanciest bitch in East Lansing and reveled in my ~wealth~ as the sickeningly sweet aroma of my Vanilla Cupcake Original Large Jae Candle filled my dingy college apartment.

I don’t remember exactly the first time I was introduced to luxury candles but I am pretty certain it was on Instagram (where consumerism flourishes and money management goes to die). Unless you live under a rock, you’re probably familiar with the Diptyque Baies* candle that every blogger under the sun has, at one point or another, strategically positioned in a perfectly lighted, perfectly staged photo.

I am someone who loves the finer things in life. I don’t know why I am the way that I am—I certainly wasn’t raised that way. But when I learned that the upper echelon was burning these exorbitantly overpriced candles, I immediately believed that they were somehow better and that I would die if I didn’t get my hands on one.

Now that I’ve purchased these candles, burned them and had some time to objectively think about them, I feel like I can offer some insight.

THE SPECIFICS

In case you’re wondering what candles exactly I’ve tried, I’ll tell you. I purchased the 6.5-ounce Diptyque Vanille candle, the 2.5-ounce Diptyque Amber candle and the 8.6-ounce  Le Labo Santal 26 candle. I  like spicy, sexy scents if you can’t tell.

THE SMOKE

Listen. I don’t like admitting that my dad is right but, in this instance, he is. A lot of my cheaper candles are notorious for producing plumes of black smoke either while burning or when blown out. I used always keep a three-wick Bath and Body Works candle on my bathroom sink and realized one day that there was an actual film of soot from the candles that I could run my finger through. It was disgusting and I scrubbed the wall with a Magic Eraser immediately. My expensive candles don’t put off smoke when they burn AND they don’t produce black smoke when blown out, either. That’s a big vantage point for me.

THE SCENT

The biggest difference between cheap and expensive candles is the quality of the scent. What does that mean? Fragrant oils are what make candles (and perfumes) smell good. When it comes to candles, oils can’t just smell good—they have to burn well. Not only are poor quality oils going to result in a less quality fragrance, they result in black smoke which, like my parents told me, will ruin your house (and are not good to breathe in, especially for an asthmatic like me).

THE BURN TIME

Because expensive candles use a better quality of fragrance, you don’t have to burn them for very long to fill your entire space with the fragrant aroma of your absurdly over-priced candle. In fact, sometimes you don’t even have to burn them at all! The candles that I have are actually so fragrant that they fill up my rooms with scent just by sitting on a shelf. I love that for me.

THE PRODUCTION

I recently wrote a blog about how I’m buying less jewelry but making sure it’s higher quality—the same applies to these candles, too. To be fair, I have no idea where the other candle brands I mentioned are made. However, I do know that brands like Diptyque and Le Labo are handmade in small batches. In fact, there was a notecard in my Le Labo box that said that the candle had been hand-poured by someone in the U.S. the day before it shipped to me. Buying things that are sourced responsibly and ethically—and made by someone in safe working conditions who is being paid a living wage is increasingly important to me.

THE APPEAL

Let’s be real—while the quality of fragrance does vary between cheap and expensive candles, a large part of what you’re paying for is the appeal. It’s just like buying designer coffee. Is there really that much difference between brewing a cup of Maxwell coffee in my own kitchen vs. buying it from Starbucks? Probably not. You’re paying for the experience.

THE VERDICT

Are expensive candles worth it? Yes and no. Just like everything else in life, it’s about what you prioritize spending your money on. If fragrance doesn’t matter to you, buy cheap candles and rock on with your bad self. If buying a bougie candle is a form of consumer-based self-care than that’s great, too.

TL;DR

There are definite differences between luxury candles and the cheap ones you can pick up at any home goods store. Are they worth upwards of $75? Realistically, no scented wax is worth that much money. It all comes down to what you want to spend your money on. And, after all that ~research~ my favorite candle of all time is still this cheap one from World Market. Go figure.

Do you buy expensive candles and, if so, what’s the most that you’ve spent on one? Let me know!

*Until about six months ago, I honestly thought that these candles said BABIES which I thought was really weird but whatever. It didn’t seem out of the realm of possibility for a pretentious and over-priced candle. Also, in my defense, babies do have their own very specific scent. It wasn’t until my friend Andrea casually mentioned that Baies means “berry” in French that I realized I had been hilariously and embarrassingly mistaken. 

My Favorite Online Jewelry Brands

I love jewelry. I always have. When I was younger, I wore a lot of big, bold jewelry. Big hoops, big diamond studs (fake obviously), statement rings, statement necklaces, etc. In recent years, my style has evolved and I’ve gravitated to a more subtle approach when it comes to accessories. Particularly, I am a sucker for dainty, barely-there gold jewels. It’s chic and timeless and there’s just something borderline magical about the glimmer of sparkle that appears when the light catches it. 

Until recently, the deciding factor for me when purchasing jewelry (or anything, really) was the price. I was totally ignorant about fast fashion and about the conditions that workers are subjected to, the fact they aren’t paid a living wage or the damage fast fashion does to the environment. These jewelry brands might cost a little more, but they are all incredibly high quality, and sourced with ethical and sustainable materials—and made by people who are paid a living wage and aren’t working in abysmal conditions.

Mejuri

I’m not sure there is a single Instagram user who hasn’t seen a Meijuri ad at this point. I lusted after the Mejuri Bold Chain Ring for months, but couldn’t justify spending the money. I ended up buying it for myself when I accepted a new job, and so not only is it gorgeous but it has a special meaning to me. I also decided to buy myself the Double Line ring, because why not? I deserve it. 

Of all the brands mentioned today, Mejuri is definitely the most expensive. It’s fine jewelry, so you get what you’re paying for (but when I say that know that I’m not in any way knocking any of the other brands). This jewelry will last forever and can withstand water, sweat, etc—which is important to me—especially right now when i wash my hands every two seconds.

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Ana Luisa

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Photo courtesy of brand

I saw an ad for Ana Luisa on Instagram (lol, are you starting to see a theme here?). It caught my attention because I had been wanting a dome ring like the one in the ad that was served to me—and also because of the name. My Grandma’s name was Maria Louisa and so it kind of caught me off guard. I was so impressed with my purchase, that I ended up make more purchases, including my favorite pair of earrings andthese cute celestial huggie hoops. 

I love that they are a sustainable, conscious brand so I can feel good about the jewelry I’m wearing and buying.

Soko 

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Photo courtesy of brand

I am obsessed with Soko jewelry—and with the brand. It’s a women-led ethical jewelry brand and manufacturing platform (also Black owned!). I was served an ad for them at a time when I was trying not to buy anything, but reminded of them when one of my favorite Michigan bloggers @whatkatefinds shared a square ring she had purchased from them.

Soko jewelry is slightly different than what I would normally gravitate to because, at least in my opinion, their pieces are a little more on the “statement” side—but they are so cool and chic. Every single piece of jewelry I’ve seen of their just exudes the most stylish, effortlessly cool vibe. A really cool thing I appreciate about the brand is that they offer the option of either brass or gold jewelry, so you can save some money if you’re on a tight budget. I have a number of different pieces saved to my current wish-list that I’m sure I’ll purchase over the next couple of months.  

Katie Dean

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Photo courtesy of brand

I met Katie Dean through my friend Andrea and she is one of the loveliest people you will ever meet. She’s originally from Michigan, but lives in LA now (which is where she designs all of her jewelry). I own many, many Katie Dean pieces, including rings, earrings and necklaces and have never seen a piece of her work that I didn’t absolutely adore and want to take home with me. Her Evil Eye ring is my favorite KDJ piece that I own and I will stop wearing it when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.

Poirier 

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Photo of Ashley Poirier wearing the Large Chain Ring, courtesy of shoppoirier.com.

I absolutely love Poirier. If I could design a jewelry line, I think it would look very similar to what Ashley Poirier has created. Aside from the fact that I swoon over the jewelry itself, I love that Poirier is size-inclusive. Finding jewelry that fits as a plus-size person can be difficult. Most rings stop at a size 8 (9 if you’re lucky!), leaving people with larger fingers and necks SOL when it comes to cute jewelry. Her rings go up to a size 13 and her necklaces come in longer lengths (with extenders) to fit anyone and everyone who wants to add a little sparkle to their life. More of this, please. (On top of all those things, Ashley is one of the nicest, most down-to-earth people I’ve ever interacted with on social media. Honestly, I can’t say enough good things.)

Meesha Farzeneh 

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I hate to sound like a broken record, but I found out about this brand on Instagram. Earlier this year I got super into snake motifs and started wearing a lot of snake jewelry (and pinning snake tattoos on Pinterest). Around that same time, I was served an ad for Meesha’s brand and thought her Medusa earrings were the coolest things I had ever laid eyes on. She recently came out with a smaller version, the Medusa Minis, which are scheduled to arrive at my doorstep on Wednesday before 9 p.m. Meesha makes her jewelry by hand in Austin, Texas—and it’s made ethically and sustainably. I’ve interacted with her on Instagram before and she’s so sweet and kind. How cool is it to be able to talk to the person who designed and created the jewelry you wear. I love it!

TL;DR

Spending more money on an item that you know was made ethically and sustainably—and you can even talk with the person who designed and created that piece—is so, so much better than buying something from a big box store, even if you have to save for a little while to afford it. It’s worth it, I promise.

Suffering from Maskne? Here’s How to Avoid & Treat It

Whether we like it or not, masks are here to stay (at least for the foreseeable future). If you, like me, are experiencing facial irritation or acne from wearing a mask, I worked with my esthetician on a list of products and tips you can use to stay safe.

WHAT IS IT?

Acne mechanica, the technical term for what is now appropriately (if not slightly cringe-inducingly) being referred to as “maskne,” is a type of acne that occurs after repetitive physical trauma to the skin. It’s the same kind of acne that athletes get from say, wearing a helmet or a tight fitting jersey. It’s pretty simple: masks trap dirt, bacteria, sweat, moisture and oil (yum!) close to our skin, which in turn results in pimples, irritation, sores, and more. 

Keep reading for tips on avoiding or getting rid of maskne. 

HOW DO I AVOID IT?

  • Consider the type of mask that you’re wearing. Jennifer recommends cotton masks because they are softer and allow your skin to breathe more. It’s important to note that they will need to be washed* often and, of course, depending on your risk and how much protection you need, you may want to opt for something different.
  • Avoid wearing makeup under your mask. Yeah, it’s true. You may have to break up with make up for a little while in order to save your skin. Or, if you really don’t want to say goodbye, consider wearing it only in places that aren’t rubbed by a mask (i.e., mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow, etc.)
  • Wash your face. Before applying your mask, wash your face with a gentle cleanser (we’re talking real simple, Cerave, Cetaphil, etc.). 

HOW DO I TREAT IT?

  • Professional services. I’ve been getting chemical peels about once every two weeks to combat acne. After suffering from horribly painful cystic acne for years (and then investing lots of money into getting rid of the evidence) I’m not messing around when it comes to combating the dreaded “maskne.” Jennifer can create a regimen that works for you and your budget.
  • Benzoyl peroxide. If you’re not able to spend the money on professional treatments, there are plenty of OTC treatments available at your local pharmacy or drugstore to help you say goodbye to those dreaded spots. Benzoyl peroxide is a common acne treatment and is a good option. I like this option from Target or this (more expensive) option from Sephora. 
  • Face masks. I have used this Peter Thomas Roth mask for years. It’s made of sulfur (another common acne fighting ingredient) and smells like farts (a huge selling point, right?). Another good choice is the Skinbetter Science Detoxifying Scrub that doubles as a mask. Can’t go wrong with a two for one!
  • Serums. I recently added two new products into my skin care routine because I’m hell bent on getting my skin cleared up and back to the glowy, wonderful condition that it was previously. I picked up the IS Clinical Active Serum which is supposed to help with acne (and fine lines and wrinkles) and the Biologique Recharche Lotion P50 which has a cult following. It’s smelly, but it’s touted as a magic potion so it’s worth suffering through.
  • Bonus. I’ve been using a Foreo Luna 2 to wash my face for almost a month now. It’s supposed to be more hygenic than a Clarisonic and I like that the back side is intended to use to push your products deeper into your skin, making them more effective. I might be drinking the Koolaid, but I think it helps!

All in all, I don’t mind wearing a mask. Acne is annoying but it’s preferable to getting COVID-19 (and potentially passing it on to someone who would fare worse than I would.) Are you suffering from maskne or irritation? Let me know how you’re doing!

*If you’re washing your mask by hand, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using 5 tablespoons of bleach per gallon of room-temperature water. Soak the mask in the solution for five minutes before rinsing with cool or room-temperature water and drying, in direct sunlight, if possible.

Black Lives Matter: Resources To Become A Better Ally

Racism is a problem in America all the time—just not when it’s a trending hashtag. Below you’ll find a compilation of organizations you can donate to, petitions you can sign, resources you can learn from & ways you can be a better ally.

ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR IMPLICIT BIASES

This is a widely-used tool developed by researchers to measure thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control.

RESOURCES YOU CAN DONATE TO

TO THE VICTIMS

George Floyd Memorial Fund

Ahmaud Arbery

TO THE PROTESTORS

Minnesota Freedom Fund

Louisville Community Bail Fund

Atlanta Solidarity Fund

TO END POLICE BRUTALITY

National Police Accountability Project

Communities United Against Police Brutality

OTHER WORTHY CAUSES/ORGS

Black Lives Matter

NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Reclaim the Block

The Bail Project

Black Visions Minnesota

North Star Health Collective

Loveland Foundation Therapy Fund

Campaign Zero

ACLU

PETITIONS YOU CAN SIGN

Justice for George Floyd

Justice for Breonna Taylor

Justice for Ahmaud Arbery

Arrest All Four

Raise the Degree

LEARNING RESOURCES

PODCASTS

Radio Replay: Mind of the Village

Seeing White

#TellBlackStories 

Code Switch

About Race

Still Processing

BOOKS

How to Be an AntiRacist by Ibram X. Kendi

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

Beyond the Pale: White Women, Racism & History by Mikki Kendall

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson

Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice by Paul Kivel

The Emporer Has No Clothes: Teaching About Race and Racism to People Who Don’t Want to Know by Tema Okun

MOVIES

13th 

When They See Us

TL;DR

White people, we have to hold each other accountable. When we encounter racism, we have to speak up and confront it. Educate yourself, do research, ask questions, influence the people in your own life—but don’t be silent.

*I will continue to update this post on a rolling basis

 

 

Amazon Finds to Help You Stay Clean & Organized

I really detest clutter. Now that I’m both living and working in the same space 24/7, it’s imperative to me that I take care of it. I’ve really been trying to cleaner, more organized and less wasteful recently. Here are some Amazon purchases that have helped me!

Drillbrush Bathroom Surfaces Power Scrubber Cleaning Kit

This one might seem kind of weird but, honestly, it’s some of the best money I’ve ever spent. I have an older bathtub that perpetually looks kind of grungy (I’m pretty sure it needs to be reglazed) no matter how hard I scrub (I’m not very strong, so I’m not scrubbing that hard, let’s be real LOL). This takes literally zero elbow grease to use and makes my shower look cleaner than it ever has. I can’t wait to try the other attachments to clean my floors.

Takeya Patented Deluxe Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker

I purchased an expensive Nespresso coffee maker this past winter and while I do enjoy a nice homemade latte, I just prefer iced coffee. Since coffee shops are operating on limited hours and I’m trying to limit the amount of unnecessary trips, I found myself buying between 2-4 bottles of iced coffee every time I placed a grocery order, which a) is expensive and b) takes up a ton of space in my fridge. I ended up buying this at home cold brew maker to save money and fridge space. This ended up paying for itself in about a week. Highly recommend!

2 Pack 24 Cell Drawer Organizer

If there was one drawer in my entire house that needed to be organized and decluttered, it was my underwear drawer. Let’s be honest—there is no good way to fold underwear. That means that I just throw my underwear in the drawer all willy nilly and then I can never find what I’m looking for. It doesn’t help that I have apparently held on to every single bra and/or pair of underwear I’ve ever owned,  as well as storing random pieces of mail (why??) and random spare buttons that come with shirts in there. I took everything out and decluttered. Now everything is wonderfully organized and I feel much better about my underwear drawer (and my life).

12 Pack Silicone Stretch Lids for Cans/Bottles/Bowls

Full disclosure, I bought these because I saw another blogger (hey, Erins Inside Job!) share them. I hate tin foil. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. And for that reason, whenever I open a can, I typically end up throwing away whatever I don’t use. I know that is really shitty and awful of me and 

4 in One Drawer Organizer Stackable Jewelry Accessory

Like I said, I’m trying to be more organized. I own/wear a ton of jewelry and I have no organization system whatsoever, which results in me panicking and thinking I’ve lost something at least once a week. In a recent YouTube video, Allana Davison (allanarama) 

Shared her jewelry collection which was organized in the most beautiful, chic way in a drawer, safe and out of sight. This forced me to clean yet another drawer, so it was a win/win really. Now all my jewelry is safe and sound and in (mostly) one spot.

Shark Genius Hard Floor Cleaning System

If I had to choose a favorite recent purchase from this list, it would be this. I am obsessed with this and I wish I had known about it and bought it sooner. I used to use a regular ol’ Swiffer and when I was feeling really saucy a la Monica Gellar, I would get on my hands and knees and scrub my floor with a Scotch Brite scouring sponge. I really never felt that the Swiffer did much, plus the disposable pads are not environmentally friendly. This is so much easier and faster and makes your floors so wonderfully clean—and it comes with reusable, washable pads! Honestly, I can’t recommend this enough.

How do you stay organized and on top of household chores? Let me know!

Buy or Bye: Putting the Fenty Beauty #CheeksOut Blushes and Bronzers to the Test

I’ve talked more than once about my love of cream products. In fact, I’ve basically become a disciple for cream products, spreading the good word about the skin-like, feather-light quality of creams. I’ve convinced my friends and family to dip their toes into the wonderfully blendable world of creams with products like Nude Stix blushes and bronzers, as well as the cult favorite Chanel Soliel Tan de Chanel bronzer and the cheaper but just-as-good alternative, Milk Makeup matte bronzer in Baked. 

Naturally, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Fenty’s new #CHEEKSOUT cream bronzers and blushes.

RIHANNA CAN DO NO WRONG

Not only do I love cream products, I love Fenty Beauty. I have never tried a Fenty product that I didn’t like. Primer, foundation, lip gloss, highlighter—there isn’t a single bad product in the entire line. Another thing that I love about Fenty is how inclusive the brand is. As a white woman, I have nearly endless options when it comes to foundation, but I know that not everyone has that luxury. Fenty offers 40 different shades of foundation and 50 different shades of concealer. Now, with the launch of the #CheeksOut collection, people with darker skin tones will have more options when it comes to blushes and bronzers, too.

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#CHEEKSOUT

The Cheeks Out Collection, which launched online and in-stores on April 17 has 10 different cream blush shades and seven different bronzer shades. I ordered them during the Sephora VIB sale but because of COVID-19, shipping was incredibly delayed and I just got them in the mail last week. I am so sad that Sephora is closed right now, because I would have loved to swatch these in store. I ended up taking a guess and getting the blush in the shade Summertime Wine and the bronzer in the shade Macchiato. 

BRONZER FORMULA

Beige Female Photo Instagram Post

I’ve done the leg work when it comes to cream bronzers—and this one is good. According to the brand, the bronzers are supposed to be non-greasy, sweat resistant, and easy to blend. While the brand claims that the bronzers are supposed to be sheer, I would say they are more sheer-to-medium coverage, depending on how they are applied. I’ve applied with my fingers, a dense brush and a duo-fibre brush and each application has come out slightly different. They are definitely buildable but can be applied lightly or blended out for a more sheer look. I’ve also applied both to naked skin and over makeup and it does not disturb any product underneath, which is a huge plus.

The branch launches two shades specifically for contouring, but I have more than enough cool-toned contour shades so I opted for Macchiato so I could use it to bronze my whole face.

BLUSH FORMULA

Beige Female Photo Instagram Post (1)

There has been a lot of talk online about the size of this blush. Some people are not happy about how small it is and, to be fair, it is pretty small. It doesn’t bother me that the product is small for two reasons: 1) cream products tend to expire much faster than powder products and 2) I’ve literally never used up a blush of any size

According to the brand, the formula is supposed to give a “fresh wash of color” that is “effortless” to blend with a “natural-looking” finish. The coverage is designed to be “sheer, buildable” with a “sweat- and water-resistant formula.” Fenty also released a new densely-packed angle brush with his launch, but I use my It Cosmetics blush brush to apply because it’s essentially the same thing and I already have it on hand. 

I’ve seen people complaining that the blushes are too sheer. I have not had that problem. I got the shade Summertime Wine, which is a really pretty soft berry color (in all honesty, I got this because the other colors I wanted were sold out, lol). You can apply it lightly for a sheer wash of color, but you can also really build this up to be quite bold. In fact, when you apply it with a dense brush like the one I mentioned, you get a pretty solid color payoff and I actually had to go over it with my foundation brush to avoid looking like Mimi from the Drew Carrey show.

HOW IT COMPARES

It has a slight edge over the Chanel bronzer for me, because it comes in so many more shades. Chanel has ONE cream bronzer and claims that it is universal. It is not. It’s different than the Huda Beauty Tantour bronzer in that I chose a shade that is more warm-toned, and Tantour leans cooler (it is used to contour, after all). It is probably most comparable to the Milk Makeup matte bronzer in Baked, but isn’t quite as warm despite the fact that it is a true bronzer. 

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PRICING

The bronzer retails for $32 and contains 0.22 oz. (making it $145.45 per oz.). The cream blush retails for $20 for 0.1 oz. of product (making it $200 per oz). Both products are available at both Sephora and the Fenty website.

TL;DR

The new blushes and bronzers from Fenty Beauty are great and worth the money, in my opinion. They have a sheer, buildable finish that blends effortlessly into the skin and wears evenly throughout the day. 10/10 definitely recommend.

How to Save Money When Shopping Online

There was a time when I didn’t want to shop online because I was wary about using my credit card on the internet for ~security~ reasons. Fast forward about 10 years and I basically place Amazon orders in my sleep and have all my credit card information saved in my browser.

If you, like me, have been doing a little too much online shopping during the quarantine, you might as well be earning cashback on it. I know that earning discounts by shopping online might sound too good to be true, but trust me. I spend money like I’m in an entirely different tax bracket, so I have to at least be smart about my shopping habits in some aspects, LOL.

HONEY

Honey is a free browser extension that scours the web to find every working promo code on the internet for you to use upon checkout. If you’ve ever paused checking out to Google “X promo code,” you need this. It works at over 28,000 different online retailers, including Target, Amazon, Sephora and more—including restaurants. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been checking out and saved a couple bucks because Honey found a coupon code I didn’t know existed. The other day, Honey found me a magical code that saved me TWENTY DOLLARS on a necklace at BaubleBar. That is impressive.

Also, I just learned this right now while writing this blog—you accumulate Honey Points that you cash in for gift cards to your favorite retailers. I apparently have 1,100 Honey Points which means I can get a gift card to any of my favorite places which are, of course, Sephora, Target and Amazon.

honey gift cards

Honey works on Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera. To download, go to their website and follow the directions. According to Honey, the average user saves $126 dollars annually, while the average savings is 17.29%.

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One of my favorite things about Honey is the “Save to Droplist” feature. It allows you to keep track of the items that you’re shopping for and will alert you if that product goes on sale within the next 60 days.

RAKUTEN

There are numerous ways to use Rakuten, but I think it’s the easiest to use the browser extension so that you’re automatically notified if the store you’re shopping at is one of the site’s participating retailers. I’ve been a member of Rakuten (formally known as eBates) since 2017.

welcome

For instance, right now during Sephora’s Spring Sale, you can save anywhere from 10-20% (based on whether you’re a Rouge, VIB or Beauty Insider) AND get an additional 2% back from Rakuten. If you don’t use it, you’re literally throwing money away.

In addition to giving you cashback on the purchases you were going to make anyway, Rakuten compares prices and will tell you if the item that you’re looking at is available somewhere else for less money. For instance, I was looking at this cat groomer on Amazon and I got a little popup letting me know that I could save 10 cents if I purchased the same item from Petco. Obviously, in this case, 10 cents is a negligible difference. However, when making larger purchases, this comes in really useful.

cat groomer

MSUFCU PLATINUM PLUS CREDIT CARD

Another one of my favorite cashback hacks is using my MSUFCU Platinum Plus credit card. The first credit card that I ever got was from a credit union in Jackson and didn’t offer cashback, just rewards in the form of random items (it’s how I got my first vacuum, actually LOL) and gift cards—which, admittedly, is kind of fun doesn’t hold the same appeal as cash back.

I earn 3% cashback on all the purchases I make using my MSUFCU credit card and I love when I log in to my MSUFCU app every month and see the amount that I’m getting back. It’s like being rewarded for shopping (and paying bills, buying groceries, yadda, yadda, yadda).

I know there are likely other credit cards that offer more cashback/other perks but I have had such a wonderful experience with MSUFCU and, to be honest, I prefer to keep my money (the little bit I do have) in a local institution, especially one that gives back to the community the way that MSUFCU does.

ARRIVE

This doesn’t actually save you money but it helps you keep track of when all your online orders are arriving. It is amazing and I wish that I had known about this sooner. It’s a free app available on both iOS and Google Play that gives you accurate and timely updates on everything you order, across all online retailers. You literally get step-by-step notifications from checkout to delivery.

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TL;DR

If you’re just making online orders and not checking prices or getting cashback, what are you doing? Sign up for Honey and Rakuten and make your dollar go farther.

For example, if I’m shopping the Sephora sale right now, I’m getting 20% off at Sephora, 2% cashback with Rakuten, 3% back from MSUFCU and 1-4% with Honey, meaning I’m getting somewhere between 26 and 29% cash back. Insane!

This post is not sponsored (even though I wish it were), however, we both get something from both Honey & Rakuten if you use the links to sign up. Happy shopping 🙂

Are Online Lingerie Brands Worth the Hype? I Bought the Bra that Kept Following Me on Instagram

If you’re a woman who uses the internet, it’s likely that you’ve been targeted by one of the many up-and-coming direct to consumer lingerie brands that are all over social platforms. For months, I was bombarded by ad after ad for bras that promised to be unlike anything I’ve ever tried, supportive but not restrictive, comfortable but polished, etc, etc, etc. In short, Instagram hates nipples but loves bras.

In recent years, Big Lingerie™ has been disrupted by smaller start-up brands like Thinx, True & Co., Knixwear, ThirdLove, Cuup and many, many more that are leaning into body positivity, forgoing perfectly airbrushed models in favor of real women and embracing diversity and inclusivity.

Of all the bra brands that I have been targeted by, one in particular stood out to me: Cuup. Its chic, minimalist style was intriguing to me and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it comes in an impressive range of sizes and colors (with names like grass, merlot and blush). I went ahead and spent $68 on one their bras, for science.

THE ORDER

Bra sizes can be tricky and ordering them online doesn’t make it any easier. When I went to order, they were out of my size but a customer service rep let me in on a little secret about “sister sizes.” If you, like me, have no idea what that means, I’ll fill you in. Basically, there are four different bra sizes that fit the same. For example, 36 A is equivalent to 34 B, 32 C and 30 D. In other words, if you size up a cup size, you size down a band size. This came in handy for me when my usual 36 D was not in stock, but I was able to get a 34 E and have it fit equivalently.

THE BRA

I ordered the plunge bra in black. I was pleasantly surprised when this bra arrived in the mail 4 days after I placed my order (and I didn’t even pay for expedited shipping!). It was nicely packaged in a cute box and came with a lingerie bag so I can throw it in the washing machine without ruining it.

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Unfortunately, the buck stops there and I’m sorry to say that I hated this bra upon the first wear. Like, absolutely hated it. It looked great but it felt horrible—and since I’m single and the only person that sees my bras, I was on the verge of returning it.  It’s not that it was slightly uncomfortable,  it was digging into my skin every way possible. When I took it off, my skin was red, angry and marred with indentations where the fabric had cut into my flesh. I contacted customer service, who told me that the bra takes some time to stretch out and adjust to your body. Having done many painful things for the sake of vanity, I decided to stick it out but maintained a healthy dose of skepticism that it would ever be anything more than an expensive door hanger.

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I’m not sure when it happened but slowly, over the first couple of wears, the bra adjusted to my body and was no longer terrorizing my skin. In fact, much to my surprise, over the course of the past two and a half months, this has become my favorite bra. It’s comfortable, supportive and walks the line between being elegant and sexy. It’s made of mesh and ultra-thin underwire, which lends the feel of a bralette while simultaneously providing the support of a more traditional bra. After spending years wearing ugly, basic bras, it’s refreshing to find something that is feminine, attractive and supportive.

They offer five different bra styles: the Balconette, the Demi, the Plunge, the Scoop and the Triangle. As I mentioned before, I got the Plunge which is a mesh, unlined bra, and will not do anything to conceal your nipples, which I learned at my mom’s surprise birthday party. After perusing the website, I learned that some of the other styles offer more coverage, so make sure you do your research and know what you’re getting into.

THE BRAND

I really love what Cuup stands for. They acknowledge that bras are not a one-size-fits-all thing, that bras should be made to fit you, not the other way around. Their vision, according to their website, is: “a collection of flattering, comfortable, and unrestrictive bras built for all women; that doesn’t compromise comfort, fit, or aesthetic. A collection that lifts, shapes, and supports — without excess materials that pinch or bulk. Bras that look and feel great in every size.”

TL;DR

There are no shortage of online bra companies that want your business. If you’re in the market for a chic, minimalist bra that is both supportive and feminine, I highly recommend Cuup. But don’t be surprised if you have to break it in a little bit.