Work Smarter, Not Harder: How To Manage Your Time More Effectively + Be More Productive Using the Pomodoro Technique

I am not somebody who is particularly good at managing their time. I get distracted easily, have too many competing interests, and like everyone else, am being pulled in too many directions at any given time. Determined to GSD, I have tricked myself into being productive by using the Pomodoro Technique.

CHAOTIC GOOD

What does that look like? Well, personally, it tends to look like a perpetually half-cleaned house (as in, I put all my clothes in a laundry basket but forgot to actually wash them), a million half-baked ideas and half-finished projects, and a constant sense that I am always doing something but never finishing anything.

THE PROBLEM

I’ve been like this essentially my whole life. I know that I am capable of managing my time better because I did as a student and I do it as a professional every single day. I have meticulous to-do lists, color-coded calendars and regularly scheduled appointments with myself dedicated to getting work done.

Part of the problem, likely, is that I expend so much time and effort trying to keep my shit together as a professional, that when I have time to do personal things I am tired and have no real reason to want to do better. (Listen—I am nothing if not honest, okay?)

THE SOLUTION

I’ve known, for years, that time management is something I could improve on. But having a mile long to-do list is overwhelming and makes me want to shut down before I even get started. A while ago, I started essentially bargaining with myself. I would set a timer, and if I could stay on-task for 10-20 minutes straight, I would consider that an accomplishment. It turns out, this is an actual time management technique called the Pomodoro Technique.

THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management system that encourages people to work with the time they have—rather than against it. Using this method, you break your work into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks to promote sustained concentration and stave off mental fatigue. These intervals are referred to as pomodoros. After about four pomodoros, you take a longer break of about 15 to 20 minutes.

The idea behind the technique is that the timer instills a sense of urgency. Rather than feeling like you have endless time in the workday to get things done and then ultimately squandering those precious work hours on distractions, you know you only have 25 minutes to make as much progress on a task as possible.

Fun fact:  Pomodoro means tomato in Italian. It’s called the Pomodoro technique because in the late 1980s Francesco Cirillo, an Italian college student, was struggling to focus on his studies and complete assignments. Feeling overwhelmed, he asked himself to commit to just 10 minutes of focused study time. Encouraged by the challenge, he found a tomato (pomodoro in Italian) shaped kitchen timer, and the Pomodoro technique was born.

WHY IT WORKS

The biggest reason that this works is because it’s eliminating distractions. Rather than doing a little bit of work and pausing to scroll Instagram, you’re all in for 25 minutes. If you choose to use your Pomodoro to scroll Instagram, that’s okay. But for 25 minutes, the task at hand  has your complete and undivided attention. 

If you’re like me and your daunting to-do lists inspires procrastination, this works because it breaks everything down into small, practical chunks. A little tidbit of knowledge for my fellow procrastinators: research has shown that procrastination has little to do with laziness or lack of self-control. Rather, we put things off to avoid negative feelings and instead, turn to Twitter or Netflix instead to boost our mood, if only temporarily. However, when I break things down into smaller chunks, it doesn’t feel so overwhelming and I’m not as likely to put it off.

Another reason this works for me is because I am very competitive and this essentially gamifies your to-do list. (I kind of hate saying that because I think “gamify” is a current buzzword and I am finding it increasingly annoying.)

MY OWN TWIST

This works insanely well for me. For one, you’d be amazed at all the things you can get done in 25 minutes when you focus on only one thing and do it, uninterrupted, for that entire duration. However, once the timer goes off, I tend to just keep going. Once I see all that I’ve accomplished in 25 minutes, not only am I impressed with myself and my newfound time management skills, I’m determined to get even more done.

I’m not alone in customizing my pomodoros. If something seems really daunting, I’ll set a timer for 10 minutes. If I know a task is going to require more time, I’ll set it for longer—maybe 30-40 minutes. A DeskTime study found that a 52-minute focus and 17-minute break is the perfect balance. Others prefer 90 full minutes with a 20-30-minute break, based on Ultradian rhythms.

Bottom line: break them up into whatever way works best for you!

TL;DR

The Pomodoro Technique has helped me GSD both personally and professionally, and I hope that it can help you too. If you’re struggling to productive right now, you’re not the only one—and please know that your worth as a human being is not defined by the amount of things you can get done in a day.

If you think you are unable to focus or stay on task may be because of depression or other mental illness, please seek professional help

WHY I GAVE UP ON NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS AND YOU SHOULD TOO

I have a confession to make. I hate the beginning of the year. From New Year’s Eve to resolutions—I despise all of it. Last year, perhaps for the first time I can remember, I decided to totally eschew New Year’s Resolutions in the traditional sense. Here’s how I’m making the most of the New Year without falling victim to stupid bullshit.

NO EXPECTATIONS, NO LET DOWNS

I don’t really get caught up in the hype surrounding the passage of a New Year. For years, I was swept up in the annual appeal of the holiday and all that came with it. From planning a special night, centered around the ball drop to choosing resolutions, I was all in, hook, line and sinker—and I was always, inevitably, let down. When I recently shared on Instagram Stories that I dislike New Year’s Eve (to which almost 80% of polltakers agreed!), someone responded and said it’s like adult prom. Way too hyped up and always disappointing. I can’t think of a better analogy.

The problem with New Year’s Eve and the first part of the year, for me at least, center around the big expectations. NYE is supposed to be the biggest, most fun night of the year—a farewell to the last twelve months and an opening ceremony for the next 12 that lie ahead. Resolutions are supposed to propel you into the New Year as a better version of yourself. However, at least for me, they last about two measly weeks before I fail and end up feeling worse about myself than I did before.

In recent years, I have started doing what I want on NYE instead of what I’m societally expected to do and it makes me much happier. I also no longer set lofty, nonspecific, unattainable goals as my New Year’s Resolutions. In fact, my new rule is that I don’t let social convention dictate what I do with my life, at the beginning of a new year or at any time.

REFLECTING + LOOKING AHEAD

There are some things that I like about the end of the year and the start of a fresh one. I get very retrospective and introspective around this time and having a December birthday only amplifies that. What was the year like? Did I accomplish everything I wanted to? What did I fail at? Am I happy with where I’m at? How can I be better? Do better?

This is something I have done for years and years—honestly as long as I can remember. Most of the time, my reflection is totally organic and just happens. However, there are certain exercises and apps that you can use if you’re interested in doing the same but not sure how or where to start. Reflection.App makes a good annual review—and this piece from Medium can really help, too.

In my opinion, reflecting on the past year is more valuable than making vague resolutions that will expire quicker than the milk in your fridge.

IF THE CULTURE DOESN’T WORK, DON’T BUY IT

Arguably my biggest gripe with New Year’s is the marketing. I hate how we are bombarded with messages from October-December that the holiday season is upon us and we should indulge and enjoy ourselves. Then Jan. 1 hits and the messaging changes to, “time to drop that holiday weight, you fat piece of shit!” Even now, in the middle of pandemic!

I’m a proponent of people doing whatever they want/need to in order to feel good about themselves, but please be kind to your body. It has carried you through a pandemic. Who cares if you have a few dimples on your ass?

New Year’s is centered around cultural institutions that are in place to make you feel bad about yourself—and the companies that benefit from you doing so. I simply don’t buy into them anymore. Am I perfect? No. Are there things I want to change about myself? Of course. We all have room for improvement, in one way or another. But someone is benefitting from making you feel like shit—and spoiler alert—it isn’t you.

SET SMALL, REALISTIC GOALS

If you are someone who loves New Year’s Resolutions and is reading this and getting offended because I’m shitting on them, please don’t be. I love goals. I, myself, am an extremely goal-oriented person. So much so, that I wholeheartedly believe that you don’t need a new year or a new week to start something. Just do it! In the past, I have set really big goals for myself and ended up getting discouraged because I don’t reach them.

“Meaningful change doesn’t require radical change.”

James Clear – Atomic Habits

One of my favorite lines from the book Atomic Habits is, “meaningful change doesn’t require radical change.” I have adopted that mindset and it has totally changed my perspective. Instead of setting really lofty, unattainable goals, I am a big proponent of setting smaller ones that are actually achievable. Reaching those goals gives me a sense of accomplishment and boosts my confidence, and little by little, you can chip away at whatever pie-in-the-sky idea you originally sought after.

BE KIND TO YOURSELF

The truth of the matter is that the holiday season itself can be really hard—even during a normal year. This year, the pandemic amplifies those already big feelings, making everything feel worse and harder. New Year’s is a different kind of beast because of the emphasis on reflection. If you had a hard year—which so many have—ruminating on that is not pleasant. It makes things worse when your social feed is full of people celebrating their success. From promotions to engagements and everything in between, it can be hard to not feel bad about yourself and where you are in life. And if you feel that way, that’s okay.

Last holiday season I was so incredibly depressed I could barely get out of bed. Little did I know that life was going to get exponentially worse before it got any better. We are coming out of, arguably, the worst year in our collective existence. If you are not where you want to be career-wise, physique, money-wise, or in any other way that is okay. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Stop with the negative self-talk, have some compassion for yourself and take 2021 one day at a time. We’ll all to where we’re supposed to be, eventually.

TL;DR

What are your feelings on New Year’s? If you hate it, you’re not alone. Do you set resolutions? Let me know!

Best of Beauty 2020

2020 was a crazy year. Despite spending almost 10 months of the year quarantined alone at home, I somehow managed to still shop at Sephora on 58 separate occasions. I am nothing if not consistent, I guess?

Without further ado, here are my favorite makeup products of 2020

PRIMER

Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Hydrating Makeup Primer – $42

My skin has changed a little in the past year and I have been dealing with dry skin for the first time in my life. This stuff gives you a really healthy, beautiful glow. Primers can be hit or miss, but this sits well underneath all my other products, and seems to also increase the longevity of my makeup. The other downside is that you’re paying $42 for 1 fluid ounce.

Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer – $30

If you want your makeup to last forever, this is the product for you. Apply to clean, dry skin and wait a minute or two before going in with any other makeup products. In that time, the product is activated and actually becomes tacky. Not only does this stuff grip to your makeup all day, but it makes products go on very smoothly. It took me some time to get used to, but I love this stuff.

Tatcha The Liquid Silk Canvas: Featherweight Protective Primer – $52

This a weightless, oil free liquid primer that helps your makeup go on better and last longer. It’s expensive but it lasts a long time, truly works and is great for any skin type.

FOUNDATION

Uoma Beauty Say What?! Foundation – $39

This foundation quickly became one of my favorites because it’s just so good. It has great coverage, a beautiful finish and stays put all day. The shade range is amazing (51 shades!!). Despite the fact that I am a very boring shade of beige, not super pale, not super deep, I have a difficult time finding a foundation that matches my undertone without giving me a stark line of demarkation between my face and neck. This is the best shade match I have found, hands down. Bonus: Uoma Beauty is a black, woman owned business.

Dior Airflash Spray Foundation – $62

I know, I know. This is crazy expensive but I love it. I tried it this year on a whim and it’s so good. I only use it for special occasions though, like trips to the grocery store or maybe an invasive vaginal examine at the gynecologist (the second part is a joke, but leaving the house at all is a special occasion in 2020, let’s be real). I spray it on a brush vs. directly on my face and the finish is just *chefs kiss.*

beautyblender Bounce Liquid Whip Long Wear Foundation – $40

GAH, I see this is half off on Sephora’s website which makes me wonder if it’s being discontinued. This is one of my ride or die foundations. The shade range is great, transfer proof, long wearing, great coverage. This won’t let you down—it’s going to look great every time I use it. BRB, stocking up.

CONCEALER

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Away Concealer – $32

This somehow only has 3 stars on the Sephora website which is absolutely blasphemy. I would die for this concealer. I have used it religiously since I first purchased it and have repurchased it at least four times. Dark circles? We don’t know her!

Nars Soft Matte Complete Concealer – $30

If you have anything on your face you want to disappear—blemishes, scars, veins, etc.,—this concealer is a God send. I have lots of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation on my face (like, a lot) and you would never know it because this concealer works wonders. It’s a little too dry for underneath the eyes, but anywhere else on the face it’s amazing. Will cover all your sins. I am never without it.

Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Face and Under Eye Concealer – $38

I bought this on a whim one of the first times I was back in Sephora post-shelter in place. I spent a ton of money that day because it felt so good to be back inside the store, seeing makeup in person (although not touching or swatching it, since that is a relic of times past). I really enjoy this concealer. It does a good job of hiding dark circles under my eyes but doesn’t crease or look bad. Still comes in second place to my beloved Charlotte Tilbury, though.

POWDER

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powder – $45

This is the best product on the market. Mattifies (but not too much), blurs pores, makes you look like you’ve been FaceTuned in real life (but a good amount, not like into oblivion). Throw away all your other powders, this is the only one you’ll need from here on out.

Pat McGrath Labs Sublime Perfection Blurring Under Eye Setting Powder – $30

Let’s be honest—this is not as good as the CT powder. Especially for the price per ounce. But I like it for setting my undereye concealer. It’s lightweight, blurring, doesn’t crease. I have used it virtually every time I have worn makeup in 2020 and I have not hit pan yet. However, if you were going to buy one powder buy the Charlotte Tilbury.

BRONZER

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer – $52

I remember the first time I bought this bronzer. I was in college, working at MSU IPF, and I snuck away on my lunch break for my yearly pilgrimage to Sephora for the holiday sale to score some things I otherwise couldn’t afford while they were 20% off. I have continued to repurchase it ever since. I use the shade Luminous Bronze and find that it works best with my skin tone. There are lighter shimmer shades veining through the bronzer that give the skin the prettiest sheen without looking glittery or sparkly.

Tower 28 Beauty – Bronzino Illuminating Bronzer – $20

I talked about my affinity for Tower 28 Beauty way back in the beginning of 2020 and, I have to say, they are probably my favorite brand of the year. This illuminating bronzer is unlike anything I had ever tried. It’s a balm that blends very seamlessly into your skin and provides a very natural sun-kissed sheen. I always set with powder as it does stay a little tacky, but a super innovative product that I reached for time and time again throughout 2020.

Gucci Poudre de Beaute Eclat Soleil Bronzing Powder – $62

I bought this because I really liked the packaging, let’s be real. At $62, thank God the product itself wasn’t bad either. I actually really like this bronzer. The brand claims that the product is designed to “deliver a luminous finish and a natural glow” and it does exactly that.

CONTOUR

Huda Beauty Tantour Contour and Bronzer Cream – $30

I feel like I’ve been using this product for years but in actuality, I purchased this on March 2, 2020. (I checked my Sephora order history, to be sure). I love this product. I use the lighter of the two shades and it gives the perfect cool-toned contour shade without looking muddy. It is insanely pigmented and looks very intense at first, but blends out like a dream. Huda Beauty is very hit or miss for me, but I absolutely love this product.

Kevyn Aucoin The Sculpting Contour Powder – $44

This matte, powder formula was created Kevyn Aucoin himself—the man, the myth, the legend. It combines brown, red, and gray pigments that work together to recreate natural shading and dimension on the face. The formula mimics the look of natural shadows, is crease-proof, and won’t settle into fine lines or pores. This is one thing that I have to have at my disposal at all times.

HIGHLIGHT

NUDESTIX Nudies All Over Face Color Bronze + Glow – $32

This was arguably my most-used highlighter all year. I thought for sure that if I rubbed this on my face all the product would lift off, but it didn’t. It’s super easy to use, very easy to blend out and gives a really beautiful, natural looking glow to the face. Highly recommend.

BLUSH

MAC Glow Play Blush – $30

The Glow Play blushes came out earlier this year (around summer, I want to say?). These blushes are unlike anything else I have tried. They have a really unique spongy texture, that almost feels like a hybrid between a gel and a powder. They go on beautifully and have a very natural finish with sheer-to-buildable color.

Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Liquid Blush – $20

I wrote an entire blog post about Rare Beauty—how I was, at first, entirely uninterested in even trying it and how I was, subsequently, really impressed by the quality and performance of everything I tried. The two products that stood out to me the most were the blushes and the lip products. Coming in at only $20 this is a pretty good deal (all things considered), too.

Tower 28 Beach Please Tinted Lip+Cheek Balm – $20

This is such a great cream blush. I got it in the shade Magic Hour and it’s such a gorgeous sun-kissed rosy nude. It’s buildable, very creamy and blends seamlessly into the skin.

BROWS

Benefit Precisely, My Brow – $24

This is a pretty straightforward, run-of-the-mill eyebrow pencil. They have a good shade range, have a very fine point that makes it easy to draw hairlike strokes and is long-lasting and smudge-proof. The exaggerated cap shape is annoying as it takes up extra space in a travel bag, but who is traveling right now anyway?

Got2Be Glued – $4.99

This is not technically an eyebrow product, but I’ve been using it on my eyebrows all the same. This like soap brows on steroids. Your eyebrow hair isn’t going anywhere with this shit. I am obsessed.

EYESHADOW

Makeup by Mario Master Mattes Eyeshadow Palette – $48

The other two palettes that I chose as my 2020 favorites are very specific to my taste because I love a warm, bronze eyeshadow look. This, however, is a palette that I think that every makeup enthusiast could stand to have in their arsenal. It has 12 universal matte shades that can be used to create any look on any skin tone. In fact, Mario said that this was inspired my human skin tones from light to deep. The formula is great, creamy and long lasting with very minimal fallout and amazing blendability.

Natasha Denona Bronze Eyeshadow Palette – $65

I love a good bronze-y eyeshadow palette and I couldn’t resist buying this one when it came out over the summer. I used this almost exclusively for months on end. It has everything you need for a casual everyday look —but can also create some very intense night time looks, too. It’s smaller than most ND palettes, but also around half the price.

Juvias Place The Warrior Eyeshadow Palette – $20

This is honestly one of my favorite eyeshadow palettes that I have ever owned. Juvia’s Place pumps out extremely high quality, high performing products at an insanely low price point. This palette is full of beautiful rich, earthy, warm tones in a variety of finishes ranging from matte to shimmer. I used this throughout 2019 and 2020 and it shows. I finally hit pan on my favorite shade (these pan sizes are enormous, by the way).

LIP LINER

Victoria Beckham Beauty Lip Definer 02 – $26

Posh was my favorite Spice Girl and when I found out that Posh herself had a makeup line I couldn’t not try it out. Her lip looks defined an entire generation, okay? I got this lip definer in #2 which is one of those “my lips but better” shades but every-so-slightly more brown than my actual lip color. These go on so smoothy—absolutely no tugging—and enhance your lips in the most beautiful, delicate way. Amazing pigmentation. I cannot say enough good things about this lip liner.

em cosmetics Soft Blur Velvet Lip Liners – $22

I wrote an entire blog (née love letter) about my unwavering devotion and admiration to and for these lip liners and for good reason. They are so. good. I got two shades—Fawn and Kitten—and both go on smooth, no pulling or tugging, stay put all day (even under a mask!) and it matches my natural lip color. It’s truly everything you could ask for. The formula is definitely creamier than the VB liners. I can’t decide which I prefer.

LIPSTICK

Victoria Beckham Beauty Bitten Lip Tint in Cherie – $36

This is arguably the best lip product of 2020. It’s a gorgeous, subtle rosy tint that enhances your natural lip shade and stays put all day long. Seriously. For hours and hours and hours—even with a mask on. It’s a gorgeous and very interesting geleé formula unlike anything else I’ve tried. On top of being beautiful and lovely to wear, it’s made of hyaluronic acid squalane which plump your lips and leave them better than they were before you put it on. 12/10. Well done, Posh.

Rare Beauty Lip Souffle Matte Cream Lipstick – $20

As I wrote in my dedicated blog about Rare Beauty, this lipstick formula kind of blew me away. My liquid lipstick days are long gone and I much prefer wearing lip products that don’t give me insanely dry lips or make my mouth look like a butthole (if you’ve ever worn liquid lipstick, you know exactly what I’m talking about). This dries matte but is not drying in the least. I wore this to dinner with a friend one night and, despite the fact I wore the brightest red known to man, it’s so lightweight that I actually forgot that I had it on. It doesn’t flake off, doesn’t leave you with the dreaded ring and stays on for hours on end.

Pat McGrath Labs Lip Fetish Divinyl – $36

I got the shade Nude Venus and I love it. One of my favorite lipstick purchases of all time, honestly. It’s a light beige color but it deposits just the right amount of pigment. It has an extremely glossy, nearly glassy finish. It’s very sexy, IMO. I keep it in my purse at all times for the day when masks are no longer required and everyone can appreciate my beautiful lips (yes, they are beautiful. And they should be, I paid enough for them LOL).

LIP GLOSS

Tower 28 ShineOn Jelly Lip Gloss – $14

Hands down the best lip gloss of the year. I have this lip gloss in nearly every shade that Tower 28 makes. Chill (clear) and Fire (orange) are my favorites, by far. This is never sticky, extremely high shine and actually leaves your lips feeling moisturized. I am so obsessed.

Kosas Wet Oil Lip Gloss – $27

This comes in a close second. It’s an oil, so it truly has some moisturizing properties. I got it in the shade Jellyfish (clear). It also is extremely high shine and never sticky. But it costs twice as much as the Tower 28, so there’s a clear winner here and it isn’t Kosas 😦

LIP TREATMENT

Lucas’ PawPaw Ointment Lip Balm – $8.95

This is the best chapstick on the market, hands down. I use this every single night and every morning when I wake up my lips are so soft and supple. I cannot say enough good things about this and I will never be without it!

TL;DR

2020 was a wild ride. Was spending money on makeup super “responsible” to do? Probably not. But it made me feel momentarily better to try something new, to spend time on myself, doing something that I really love—and that makes it worth it to me. What were your favorite products of 2020?

What I’m Watching: December 2020

I’ve been Home Alone with George and Kramer™ (which is also the name of my upcoming memoir. Lol, only joking) for a solid 9 months now. During that time I have watched a TON of tv shows and movies. However, if you know me, you’ll know that I’m not the best about actually WATCHING whatever I’m “watching.” This used to drive my ex-boyfriend insane, and probably, rightfully so. In the last month or so, I have made a concerted effort to pay attention and I have to say, I’m really enjoying it.

Here’s what I’ve watched, in no particular order:

The Undoing

Synopsis: A psychologist’s world falls apart when her husband is accused of murder.

I wouldn’t have previously considered myself someone who likes thrillers or dramas (I’m all about a good sitcom), but this show may have been a turning point for me. It was so good. I felt like I knew who it was all along, but also wasn’t willing to see what was right in front of my face. The English nerd in me thinks that this was an allegory, but maybe I’m just reading too much into things (both are very on-brand for me). Nicole Kidman’s coats are amazing (her Botox is not). It also reminded me how much I loathe Hugh Grant (but can’t put my finger on the reason why?).

The Flight Attendant

Synopsis: A flight attendant’s life gets turned upside down after she wakes up in a hotel room with a dead man but with no memory of what happened.

HBO Max did a hell of a job promoting this show. I only ended up watching it because it was being advertised everywhere I looked. I didn’t really think I would like it. For some reason, I thought it was going to be a little cheesy but it actually ended up being extremely good. It’s very suspenseful—lots and lots of twists and turns (most that I didn’t see coming, honestly). Cassie Bowden (Kaley Cuoco) is so self-sabotaging that I had a hard time not hating her until I understood why. Now I need to read the eponymous book by Chris Bohjalian and see which one is better.

Your Honor

Synopsis: A respected judge’s son is involved in a hit-and-run that leads to a high-stakes game of lies, deceit and impossible choices.

First things first: My God, Bryan Cranston is an amazing actor. His work in Your Honor is, of course, no different. There are only three episodes out so far, but every single one elevates my blood pressure to a level that is probably not even healthy. There are so many bombs that happen, so many lies to keep track of, the whole show reduces me to a ball of anxiety but I love it so much and need to know what happens. Also, I cannot stand the son in this show? He reminds me of Jesse Eisenberg and he pisses me off. Anyone else?

Euphoria

Synopsis: An American adaptation of the Israeli show of the same name, “Euphoria” follows the troubled life of 17-year-old Rue, a drug addict fresh from rehab with no plans to stay clean. Circling in Rue’s orbit are Jules, a transgender girl searching for where she belongs; Nate, a jock whose anger issues mask sexual insecurities; Chris, a football star who finds the adjustment from high school to college harder than expected; Cassie, whose sexual history continues to dog her; and Kat, a body-conscious teen exploring her sexuality. As the classmates struggle to make sense of their futures, the series tackles the teenage landscape of substance-enhanced parties and anxiety-ridden day-to-day life with empathy and candor.

I watched the entire season in one day because this show is so good. It made me a little uncomfortable because there’s lots of nudity, sex and substance use/abuse and the show is about teenagers, but it’s an excellent show nonetheless. If you struggle with substance abuse, I would suggest sitting this one out probably as it is likely triggering.

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown

Synopsis: Anthony Bourdain had no reservations about a move to CNN. Shortly after concluding an eight-season stint at the helm of his popular Travel Channel series, the equally popular Emmy-winning host came to the news network searching for “Parts Unknown.” In the hourlong weekend series — similar in premise to Travel’s “No Reservations” — Bourdain explores the world to, he says, “eat and drink with people without fear and prejudice … they open up to you in ways that somebody visiting who is driven by a story may not get.” Enticed by the opportunity to experience cultures rarely visited by American TV, such as in the Congo, Libya and Myanmar, the chef and best-selling author also takes viewers to Colombia, Peru, Morocco and, closer to home, Koreatown in Los Angeles.

I love Anthony Bourdain and I’m very sad about his untimely passing. He was a phenomenal storyteller and I love his dry, often very dark, sense of humor. Watching this actually inspired me to buy his first book, Kitchen Confidential. I fell asleep watching this the other night and I woke up around 4 a.m. to hear Mr. Bourdain and someone else having a spirited conversation about tentacle porn. I couldn’t tell if I was awake or having some sort of fever dream. (Actually, it reminded me of Friends when Monica think Chandler likes shark porn.) I have yet to rewatch that episode during waking hours.

Crazy, Stupid Love

Synopsis: Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) is living the American dream. He has a good job, a beautiful house, great children and a beautiful wife, named Emily (Julianne Moore). Cal’s seemingly perfect life unravels, however, when he learns that Emily has been unfaithful and wants a divorce. Over 40 and suddenly single, Cal is adrift in the fickle world of dating. Enter, Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling), a self-styled player who takes Cal under his wing and teaches him how to be a hit with the ladies.

My friend Thomas recommended this movie to me and so I rented it on Amazon Prime one night when I had nothing better to do. I don’t normally like romantic movies and had been avoiding them like the plague for the last year and a half, but I found this one really endearing. I’m not someone who loses their mind over Ryan Gosling, but he was kind of an arrogant dick in this movie which made me like him more? Mhm, yes, I’ll jot that down for a future therapy session.

Goodwill Hunting

Synopsis: Will Hunting (Matt Damon) has a genius-level IQ but chooses to work as a janitor at MIT. When he solves a difficult graduate-level math problem, his talents are discovered by Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard), who decides to help the misguided youth reach his potential. When Will is arrested for attacking a police officer, Professor Lambeau makes a deal to get leniency for him if he will get treatment from therapist Sean Maguire (Robin Williams).

I started watching this once with someone and ended up falling asleep. I was awake for the scene where Robin Williams and Matt Damon are sitting near the water and I never forgot it. It’s one of the most poignant scenes I’ve ever seen and makes me cry, without fail, every single time. “You don’t know anything about loss because that only occurs when you love something more than you love yourself. I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much.” Oof. I watched this movie, without being on my phone, doing anything else or being distracted in any way, and loved it. One of my favorites, for sure.

The Titanic

Synopsis: James Cameron’s “Titanic” is an epic, action-packed romance set against the ill-fated maiden voyage of the R.M.S. Titanic; the pride and joy of the White Star Line and, at the time, the largest moving object ever built. She was the most luxurious liner of her era — the “ship of dreams” — which ultimately carried over 1,500 people to their death in the ice cold waters of the North Atlantic in the early hours of April 15, 1912.

I first saw the Titanic at a sleepover in 2002 when I was in third grade. I remember it very vividly for a few reasons: 1) the movie was so long it came on two separate VHS tapes and 2) there were boobies and I think that was the first time I saw nudity on screen. (I told my therapist I saw this when I was 9 and she responded, “you watched the Titanic when you were 9? So you were always going to end up in therapy, huh?”).

Despite the fact that I wish that I wasn’t, I am a hopeless romantic. I was rooting for Rose and Jack the entire time. Cal had money and could elevate Rose (and her mother’s) social status, but Rose and Jack really loved each other. I sobbed when Rose got off the lifeboat and ran to Jack and he said “you’re so stupid!” Also, despite what everyone on the internet thinks, there was NOT enough room on the door for both of them. It wasn’t an issue of room, it was an issue of weight. Not feasible. Case closed.

Forrest Gump

Synopsis: Slow-witted Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) has never thought of himself as disadvantaged, and thanks to his supportive mother (Sally Field), he leads anything but a restricted life. Whether dominating on the gridiron as a college football star, fighting in Vietnam or captaining a shrimp boat, Forrest inspires people with his childlike optimism. But one person Forrest cares about most may be the most difficult to save — his childhood love, the sweet but troubled Jenny (Robin Wright).

I’ve seen this movie many times but for some reason it affected me differently when I re-watched it this time? It made me so, so sad. Forrest loved Jenny so much and she just shits on him all the time. Everyone he loves leaves him. I was wrecked after watching it. Despite the fact that this movie heightened my clinical depression, it is a classic and was beautifully made. The single feather in the beginning and then the birds chirping at Jenny’s grave? Again. Wrecked. I did leave me with a question that I have been fixating on: Is Jenny a bad person? I can argue both for and against that case.

21 Jump Street

Synopsis: When cops Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) join the secret Jump Street unit, they use their youthful appearances to go under cover as high-school students. They trade in their guns and badges for backpacks, and set out to shut down a dangerous drug ring. But, as time goes on, Schmidt and Jenko discover that high school is nothing like it was just a few years earlier — and, what’s more, they must again confront the teenage terror and anxiety they thought they had left behind.

I saw this movie when it came out in 2012. It’s nothing life changing but it’s funny and silly and a good way to escape reality for an hour and half. I needed a break from heavy and serious movies and this did the trick. I did leave this movie still not quite understanding why women lose their minds over Channing Tatum? He does nothing for me, although I do enjoy his acting.

Crazy, Rich Asians

Synopsis: Rachel Chu is happy to accompany her longtime boyfriend, Nick, to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. She’s also surprised to learn that Nick’s family is extremely wealthy and he’s considered one of the country’s most eligible bachelors. Thrust into the spotlight, Rachel must now contend with jealous socialites, quirky relatives and something far, far worse — Nick’s disapproving mother.

I absolutely loved this movie. Give me more movies where white people are not the protagonists, please. This movie made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me angry (for Rachel). I will definitely be re-watching this at some point in the future.

Heavens Gate: The Cult of Cults

Synopsis: An examination of the UFO cult through the eyes of its former members and their loved ones; what starts with the disappearance of 20 people from an Oregon town, ends with the largest suicide on U.S. soil.

I am fascinated by cults. Actually, when I watched The Vow (another HBO cult doc), I realized that I am likely one very good marketing pitch away from being suckered into joining one. Heaven’s Gate blows my mind because unlike other cults like NXIVM which recruit members based on the ploy of personal and professional development this one recruits people who want to leave earth to be with other aliens? And the way to do that is to commit mass suicide. No, thanks. The movie itself was incredibly interesting, however.

TL;DR

I have watched a shameful amount of TV recently. If there is something I should watch that isn’t on here, please let me know!

Sephora Holiday Savings Event: My Purchases & Recommendations

This year has been insane—and this week is no exception. Honestly, I think I would argue that the first seven days of November have felt equally as long as the entire month of March. Anyone else?

If you’re doing some ~stress shopping~ like I have been, or just wanting to take advantage of the annual Sephora Holiday Savings event, here is a list of things that I bought or recommend.

The sale runs through Monday, 11/9, and you can use the code HOLIDAYFUN to save between 10-20% depending on what tier you are.

BIG TICKET ITEMS

This isn’t my first rodeo. By now I have the Sephora sales down to a science. If you’re really methodical, you should plan ahead and have all the stuff you want in your cart BEFORE the sale starts. Then once the code is active, simply checkout. That doesn’t really apply at this point, but is something to keep in mind for future sales.

The key to getting the most bang for your buck is to score expensive, big ticket items that do not normally go on sale. Here

DYSON SUPERSONIC HAIR DRYER

If you have been wanting to try a Dyson hair dryer, now is the time! These rarely go on sale. Most of the time when other things go on sale, Dyson products are excluded. I have had my Dyson hair dryer for over a year now and have nothing but wonderful things to say about it. It is expensive, it’s definitely an investment piece, but to me, taking care of my hair and limiting the amount of heat damage I do is important. If you’re on the fence, I say go for it.

FRAGRANCE

Fragrance is another thing that rarely goes on sale and it is crazy expensive. I absolutely love fragrance and so I always take advantage of the sale to snag some things while they are discounted 20% (come on, of course I’m Rouge). This sale I bought Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille because I love a sexy, smoky unisex fragrance. Some of my other favorite fragrances are: Replica By the Fireplace, Yves Saint Lauent Mon Paris, Armani Beauty Si and Jo Malone Vetivier and Golden Vanilla. If you have a man (or are a man!), the Dior Sauvage cologne is amazing—and so is this cologne sampler! You get nine samples and a coupon for a free full size bottle of whatever is your favorite.

WHAT I BOUGHT

I’ve written about my makeup recommendations many, many times and for the most part they don’t change (you can read my past recommendations here and here). I thought it would be more fun to talk about the things I bought during the sale and give them my honest review while there is still slightly over 24 hours left to shop.

Nécessaire The Body Serum

I love Necessaire products. I use both the body lotion and the body wash (unscented because I like wearing perfume) on a daily basis. I had been wanting to try this out for a while because hyalauronic acid is a magical, life changing thing. I use it on my face, why not use it on your body? So far this has not disappointed. I will definitely be repurchasing when it runs out.

Huda Beauty #FauxFilter Skin Finish Buildable Foundation Stick

Spoiler alert: I absolutely hated this product and already returned it. First of all, this product should have already been on my shit list for having the longest, most unnecessary name ever. I tried Huda’s other foundation, the liquid one, and didn’t like it because it was so heavily fragranced. I had read that this one wasn’t, and I was excited to try. It’s marketed at being full coverage, but I had to keep building it up and it ended up looking extremely cakey. It also clung to dry patches and broke up around my mouth and nose—on a day I didn’t even wear a mask. 0/10—I do not recomend.

Hourglass Mini Ambient Lighting Edit – Sculpture Unlocked

This has been my favorite Sephora Holiday Sale purchase so far. I talked about it (in detail) on my Instagram story the other day. It’s the perfect quad. It’s big enough that you likely won’t ever hit pan on it (unless you use it excessively) but small enough to be easy for travel (whenever we can do that again). It has almost everything you need: a setting powder, blush, bronzer and highlight. It’s beautiful, has great color payoff and isn’t powdery. If you buy one thing during the sale, I would recommend this.

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Lip Liners

I have repurchased these so many times. They are great lip liners and I would advocate that every person that uses lipstick/lip liner needs to own at least one. I always buy the shades Pillow Talk and Iconic Nude. They are two of the ultimate YLBB (your lips but better) shades. Don’t even think about it—just add to your cart.

Natasha Denona I Need a Nude Lipstick

SIGH. I wanted to love these so badly, I really did. I bought the only two shades that Sephora had in store — Andrea and Maria. Andrea is a neutral beige undertone while Maria purports to be a neutral pink. Both looked like concealer on my lips. Truly the worst lipstick shades I had ever put on my lips. I do love the idea of the collection, though. The range is really impressive and there is sure to be a color that works for everyone—I clearly just didn’t find that in Maria or Andrea. The formula was good so I do plan on trying another shade that doesn’t make me look like a corpse.

Natasha Denona I Need a Nude Glow Highlighter

A champagne nude highlighter—revolutionary! Honestly, I probably have 30 other nude champagne-y highlighters. I have an entire drawer dedicated to highlighters. This seems to be packed pretty hard, so you do have to kind of work to get any product on your brush but once you do it’s a really pretty highlight. It gives a subtle glow on the cheeks and can be built up to be more intense. Is it the best thing I ever bought? No. Is it nice? Yes. Should you spend $42 on it? I would probably opt for something else instead, honestly.

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powder

Every time there is a sale, I stock up on this. I use it every single time I do my makeup (which is less now than it used to be). Lightweight. Smoothing. Truly makes you look airbrushed. Can’t go wrong.

Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille

As I mentioned before, I love a warm and spicy fragrance. I kind of waffled between this and a Byredo fragrance, but since I could save 20% off this, I ultimately chose the less expensive option. Hilariously, when I was looking at reviews, the Sephora comment section was full of Harry Styles fans who found out this is the fragrance he wears and went out and bought it to I guess feel somehow connected to him? Lol. Weirdos.

Wander Beauty Baggage Claim Upgrade Eye Masks

These eye masks work really well. According to Wander Beauty the gold foil helps retain heat and prevents the serum below from evaporating, which allows for the maximum amount of absorption into the skin. The middle layer is elastic to prevent the masks from slipping, and the third is a cellulose fiber that condenses and delivers key ingredients efficiently, giving you all the skin-loving benefits you need. I got the jumbo set of 18 for $45 (minus 20%) compared to the normal $25 set which contains 6 eye masks.

PATRICK TA Major Glow Face Gloss

I am a sucker for a Patrick Ta product. This face gloss is in the shade She Gives Me Life, which is a glistening gold intended to give you glossy shine (it only comes in one shade). I have not had a chance to test this out yet because I haven’t worn makeup since I got it, but I will update when I do.

Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Hydrating Makeup Primer

Armani claims that this a smooth, hydrating primer that preps skin for makeup, nourishes, and moisturizes the complexion for noticeably softer, supple, and more radiant skin. I have pretty oily skin (that lately has also been dry and flaky in some places, so much fun!) so I’m not entirely sure that this primer will work for me, but either way I am excited to test it out.

Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Face and Under-Eye Concealer

I love the Luminous Silk foundation so I was super excited to grab this on sale. I haven’t tried it yet, but planning on doing so tomorrow!

Hourglass Ambient® Lighting Bronzer

For some reason I remember the first time I ever bought a Hourglass bronzer. Ironically, it was during a Sephora Holiday sale. I bought another one of these because they are arguably one of my favorite bronzer formulas. Not too matte, not too shimmery/glittery. They give you a beautiful sheen and make you look more alive. They are pricey, but I highly recommend.

DERMAFLASH DERMAPORE Ultrasonic Pore Extractor & Serum Infuser

This has not come in the mail yet but I am so excited for it to get here. Dermaflash claims that this is a unique, two-in-one ultrasonic skincare device that unclogs pores and infuses your favorite skincare products, resulting in the appearance of smaller pores and a healthier-looking complexion. I have seen people on Instagram and YouTube use it to get a ton of gross stuff out of their faces, so I can’t wait to put it to the test.

GIFT SETS WORTH BUYING

Charlotte Tilbury Mini Iconic Matte Revolution Lipstick Trio

I bought this trio on a whim because it includes three minis of the Matte Revolution Lipstick in nude-pink Pillow Talk, berry-rose Walk of No Shame, and taupe-nude Very Victoria. I have and use all three of those shades and was thinking that some day in the future, quarantine will be over and we will be able to go out in public again, without a mask, and I can throw one in my purse and it will take up less real estate. It was my most optimistic purchase to date.

Sephora Favorites Men’s Cologne Sampler Set

I got this for my brother as a Christmas gift, which I feel comfortable saying because I know he doesn’t read my blog. It’s a great deal and I think makes a great gift. I’m sure he’ll like it.

Benefit Cosmetics Great Brow Basics Pencil & Gel Set

I love Benefit brow products and this is great all-in-one set to fill in and define your brows.

Maison Margiela ‘REPLICA’ Deluxe Mini Coffret Set

This is such a good deal that I honestly kind of want to buy it for myself. I love Replica fragances. They are unisex and smell good on anyone, regardless of gender. A few years ago I bought my boyfriend a Replica set with three travel sized fragances and he actually used all of them. Long story short, these make great gifts, whether for yourself or someone else.

Tower 28 Beauty Mini Juicy All The Way Lip Jelly Set

These are the best lip glosses ever. Let’s be real—who ever actually uses up an entire lip gloss? This is such a great way to try Tower 28 lip jellys and have them in nearly every single color they offer. I am definitely buying one of these for myself.

TL;DR

Have you shopped the sale yet? If not, I clearly did enough shopping for the both of us. What are your go-to items that you pick up while they’re on sale?

DIY Eyebrow Tinting

Happy National Eyebrow Day! It’s funny that such a small amount of hair can command so much time and money in a person’s life—yet here we are!

I have talked pretty in-depth about my eyebrows on my blog, including my experience with microblading, my tips & favorite products for filling in your eyebrows and what I use to wax my eyebrows myself at home. Today, I’m going to show you how to tint your eyebrows at home using Just For Men beard dye.

Disclaimer: This product is not intended to be used on eyebrows or eyelashes and can cause permanent damage, including blindness, if it gets into your eye. Please proceed with caution and do so at your own risk.

LET’S GET STARTED

The first thing you’re going to want to do is choose a product to tint your brows at home. I’ve tried many products, from henna to demi-permanent hair dye from Sally’s and always end up coming back to ol’ faithful: Just for Men.

I always buy this product from Target (it’s $8.99) and I always get the shade Dark Brown. You can get whatever shade your heart desires, but I would always recommend going with whatever is closest to your natural hair color.

This kit comes with a tray to mix it in, and I would suggest also purchasing a cheap double sided brush—the kind with a spooly on one end and a pointed brush on the other. This one from elf is a great option and only $4.

Put equal parts color base and developer into the tray and mix it together with the bristle end of your brush. Once it’s fully mixed, we’re ready to move onto the next step.

APPLYING THE DYE

Let’s not put the cart in front of the horse. Before we apply the dye, we have to make sure that our brows are ready, which means they are clean and oil free. If you’re a newbie and afraid you’re going to royally mess this up, I suggest putting Vaseline on the areas outside your brows where you don’t want the dye to end up.

You’ll apply the dye just like you would any other brow product. I suggest starting in the middle and doing the front of your brow last when there is less product on the brush. It gives a more natural apperance and makes it less likely that you’ll mess up.

Like I suggest in my Brow 101 post, I suggest doing swiping, hair like motions in the direction of the hair growth for the end and tail of your brow and short, upward strokes in the front.

When the dye is first mixed, it will be pretty light in color, however it will get darker the longer it develops. Once you have all the product you want on, set a timer for 10-20 minutes and go about your business.

WASHING IT OFF

Rinsing this off is arguably the easiest part of the whole (already extremely simple) process.

I put soap on my finger tips and wet them with warm water. Then I rub my eyebrows back and forth, creating a gray, sudsy mess and making sure to get any and all product off. Then I take a warm, damp wash cloth and wash it all off.

The key here is to not use too much water because you don’t want any of this getting into your eyes. I’ve been doing this for at least three years, way before it was a Tik Tok trend and back when the box didn’t have a warning label on it. I was much more willy nilly with how I washed it off, because I didn’t know it could potentially have averse consequences. Now that I know, I routinely worry that maybe a tiny Just For Men molecule may have snuck into my eye while I was washing it out, and I panic that I can feel my eyes burning, and subsequently, my vision blurring. I am extremely dramatic, so that’s probably a personal problem, but—in all seriousness—please be careful.

THE FINISHED PRODUCT

After you wash the dye off, you’re left with beautifully defined brows. I find that this lasts between 1-2 weeks, depending on how often you wash your face, sweat, etc. I like doing this at home because, honestly, I think its fun. It’s also extremely cost effective. I’ve only ever had to repurchase JFM because I lost tubes, never because I used the product up. For an up front investment of less than $15, you’ve got tinted eyebrows for 6 months to a year.

TL;DR

Tinting your brows at home is quick & easy, even if you only do it a pinch! Have you ever tinted your brows at home? If you do, let me know what products you use!

Bonus tip: if you’re in Lansing and not looking to do-it-yourself, or you’re looking to have someone wax + shape your brows, I highly recommend seeing Riley Vanness.

SEPTEMBER FAVORITES

It feels like I blinked and September was over. Here are all the things that I loved throughout the past month.

RARE BEAUTY BY SELENA GOMEZ

I wrote an entire blog post dedicated to how much I loved the Rare Beauty line by Selena Gomez and that continued throughout the entire month. My favorite products, by far, are the foundation and the blush.

I have very high standards when it comes to foundation and this one meets, if not exceeds, my expectations. This foundation will work for nearly any type of skin, from oily (like me) to dry. However, I do think if you have extremely dry skin, it might cling to patches.

I use the Soft Pinch Liquid blush every single time I put makeup on and it is truly one of the most standup items that have launched this year. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend.

TOWER 28 GLOSS IN CASHEW

I talked about this recently in my Weekly Roundup blog post, but it’s so good that I’m including it in my monthly favorites. If you love glosses, you’ll love this. If you’re gloss-averse, you’ll probably still love this because it’s that good.

The whole collection is named after dairy-alternative milks (Cashew, Oat, Almond and Coconut) and Tower 28 describes Cashew as a semi-sheer, milky-rosy brown. It has the shine of a gloss but the comfort of a balm with a wash of milky color and it‘s formulated with a unique blend of five nourishing oils to soothe and protect lips from drying and peeling. The best part? It’s only $14! What a steal.

NATASHA DENONA BRONZE EYESHADOW PALETTE

I’ve had this for a few months and have used it consistently but never really mentioned it (until my fall makeup trends blog post!). I love a good bronze eyeshadow moment, no matter what time of year. At $65, it is pretty expensive (much less expensive than her larger palettes, though!) but, like all Natasha Denona palettes, is extremely high quality.

I saw some critiques online saying that it wasn’t worth the money because it was boring and had too many similar shadow colors to have an interesting color story, but I disagree. There are shimmers, glitters and mattes and definitely enough variety to put together a complete eye look for day or night.

SLIP SKINNY SCRUNCHIES

I bought these a three pack of these a year ago in June and have not used any other kind of hair tie since. I am obsessed with them and recently repurchased during the Nordstrom sale. They are expensive, so if you’re like me and are prone to losing hair scrunchies at the drop of a hat, you’re going to want to make a point of not doing that because they ain’t cheap.

They do stretch out a little bit, but not to the point that they aren’t useable or it effects the performance of the scrunchie.

The whole appeal of these is that they are made of silk. A set of six hair ties spun from silk to be gentle on your delicate hair. Traditional hair ties can tug on delicate hair, which can lead to damage and breakage. These hair ties are made with the same silk used to make the brand’s pillowcases and each has a wide surface area and is designed to reduce those annoying ridges caused by regular hair scrunchies.

BIOLOGIQUE RECHARCHE LOTION P50

I honestly should just write an entire dedicated blog post about my love for Lotion P50. The product has a cult following and for good reason. It’s expensive, but good skincare is an investment—and it lasts a long time. I got a bottle in March and, even with daily use, have only gone through about a quarter of it.

You know the way your skin glows after having a facial? That’s what my skin looks like when I wake up the morning after using P50. I swear that it helps essentially every skin issue, too? Acne. P50. Dark spots? P50. Discoloration? P50? Wrinkles? P50. Boy problems? P50.

The smell is a little gross (smells kind of like vinegar and onions?) but after continued use, I don’t even notice it. And after seeing the results, I wouldn’t care even if I did. P50 is full of exfoliating ingredients like lactic acid and salicylic acid and does all those magical things that I mentioned earlier: balances your skin’s pH, regulates oil production, brightens dark spots, evens skin texture, and help with acne. I apply it using a cotton round and wipe it all over my entire face, including the sensitive skin under my eyes. That might be bad advice, but it works for me!

BYREDO VETYVR HAND WASH

I picked this up during the Violet Grey sale and, even though it’s expensive, I really love it. I wash my hands approximately one hundred times per day, so I thought I might as well make it a luxurious experience.

ELECTRIC ARC LIGHTER

If you light candles on the reg, you need this in your life. I normally use the BIC candle lighters that come in a two pack, but they don’t always work the best, especially when the candle is getting pretty low. This lighter is the answer to all your woes. There’s no fuel, no butane and you charge it via USB! It is the coolest lighter that I’ve ever used.

TL;DR

I have a surprising amount of makeup favorites this month, considering I don’t wear makeup that often anymore. Of all these things, I am most excited about P50 and the lighter LOL. What things did you try this month?

Weekly Roundup: Dyson V11 Vacuum, Melt Cosmetics + More

My weekly round up is kind of all over the place this week. From cleaning products to makeup and more, here are the random things I tried this week!

DYSON V11 ANIMAL+ CORDLESS STICK VACUUM

I have wanted a Dyson vacuum for the longest time but have always shied away from the extremely steep price tag. I got this at Costco for less than normal retail, which is how I justified the purchase to myself.

I have to say, it felt like Christmas when I came home and pulled this out of the packaging. I’ve been testing this out for about a week to see how well it works, how long the charge lasts, how it compares to my previous vacuum, etc. So far, I love it. I want to keep testing it out and eventually do a full review on it, so stay tuned.

MELT COSMETICS DIGITAL DUST DUO

I knew that I needed this blush duo as soon as I saw it. I got it in the shade Queen, which is a bronze and gold duo (which functions as more of a bronzer than a blush on my skin tone) and is so pretty. The product itself has a honey comb pattern and bee stamped directly into—and it’s actually so cute that I don’t really want to use it because I know it will ruin it.

TOWER 28 SHINE ON MILKY JELLY

If you’ve been here for awhile, you’ll know that I am obsessed with the Tower 28 lip gloss. They recently launched a new lip gloss formula, the Shine On Milky Jelly gloss, that is more opaque than the previous versions. I got it in the shade Cashew which is a very pretty brown-y nude. It’s very much a “your lips but better” shade, because it adds a hint of milky color without being entirely opaque. Bonus: it’s only $14 (just like all of their glosses!). Seriously, you can’t go wrong with these.

MEJURI CROISSANT DÔME HOOPS

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#mejuri @mejuri

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I have seen these braided, rope style earrings on Instagram for the longest time and always wanted them. I decided that I was going to buy them and narrowed it down to two different earrings from two different brands. Ultimately, I went with Mejuri because shopping with them is always such a wonderful experience (I talked about them in my Favorite Online Jewelry Brands blog). They shipped almost immediately after I purchased them, arrived within three days and had to be signed for. The earrings themselves are so chic and cute, can be dressed up or down, and go with everything. These are a bit of a splurge, so I’m trying to find a more affordable option for different price points. Stay tuned for that!

MELATONIN

The last time I picked up a grocery order from Kroger, they gave me a goody bag with a bunch of different samples in it (in a reusable grocery bag!). One of those samples was melatonin, which I almost didn’t try because melatonin has never worked for me. It ended up working extremely well. I fell asleep fast and stayed asleep all night, which literally never happens, so I immediately went out and purchased a full bottle. We’ll see if I keep seeing the same results, but for now, I’m a big fan.

PEN15

I started watching Season One of PEN15 a long time ago (not sure how long ago, but it feels like forever) and thought it was the most hilarious thing I had ever seen. The show centers around two middle school aged girls who are best friends, and depicts very honestly what that time in your life is like. I have to say, the thong episode is honestly one of my favorites and I laughed so hard that I was nearly in tears. If you experienced being a girl in middle school, I highly recommend.

BLOGS FROM THE PAST WEEK

If you missed it, these were the blogs I posted this week!

I WANT TO SEE A THERAPIST. NOW WHAT?

FALL MAKEUP TRENDS I’M LOVING

TL;DR

This weeks list is such a random hodgepodge of things. Do you use or have you tried any of these? If nothing else, bookmark the PEN15 suggestion and circle back this winter when we are undoubtedly still quarantined and you need something funny to watch!

Fall Trends I’m Loving

Fall is here! If you’re looking for something to inspire your makeup routine, these fun trends might give you a reason to break out your brushes.

GLOSSY LIPS

It’s no secret that I love a good glossy lip. Fall has traditionally been a time for dark, matte lips but you can pry my lipgloss from my cold, dead hands. I am loving the Pat McGrath Lip Fetish Divinyl lip glosses, as well as the new Tower 28 Beauty milky glosses. Can’t go wrong with either!

GRAPHIC LINER

I am so obsessed with graphic liner. I honestly think that this started as a Tik Tok trend but has since made it’s way to the general masses (and was even on a lot runways this season, as you can see in Gigi Hadid’s IG post).

This is a great inexpensive eyeliner to try if you’re wanting to experiment with graphic eyeliner without the costly commitment.

TERRA COTTA TONES

There are few things in life that I love more than terra cotta makeup looks. I wear some variation of a terra cotta shadow on my eyes every single day, regardless of the season. I love these Natasha Denona palettes (the face + eyeshadow palettes!) and I also am obsessed with these Rare Beauty lip souffles (the shade Brave is my favorite). Terra cotta is flattering on essentially every skintone and is such a fun and easy way to transition into fall.

MONOCHROMATIC ROSE

If terra cotta isn’t your thing, it’s hard to go wrong with a rose look. Right now, I am obsessed with rose-hued monochromatic makeup looks it looks so beautiful, trendy and put together without really putting in an abundance of effort. Charlotte Tilbury’s Walk of No Shame collection has everything you need for a monochromatic rose look, or if you’re looking on a budget, this Color Pop palette is only $8 and is crazy good quality. Pair with a rosy lip (you know I love CT Pillow Talk but this Flower Beauty lipstick in Spiced Petal is almost an exact dupe for a fraction of the cost.

DRAPING

If you follow me on Instagram (which you should!), I recently talked about bronzer and blush placement (and how you should place them horizontally if you’re going for a truly sun-kissed look). Draping is basically the opposite of that. Do you remember a few years ago when highlighting got rebranded to “strobing” and was used exclusively instead of bronzing/contouring? This is similar. Draping is when you don’t use bronzer to contour, you use blush to bring structure to your face. To “drape,” you’ll want to place your blush on your cheekbones instead of the apples of your cheeks, and blend out toward your temples. This can look super high fashion if you use an intense color or really intensify the pigment, but I think it’s really pretty when done correctly and I actually especially like it combined with the monochromatic rose look.

Sidenote: My mom has been draping since the 80s, so I’m going to need to let her know she’s a trendsetter!

FOX EYES

From PDO threads to shaving off the majority of your eyebrow, people have gone to extreme lengths to get the Hadid-inspired fox eye. Turns out, you can get a similar effect with just eyeliner! There are tons of tutorials on social media from Instagram to Youtube, but the basic idea is to use a soft brown liner and false lashes to create an elongated shape.

TL;DR

Fun fall trends have me inspired to try more than just new makeup products, but new looks and techniques too. Since I’ve spent the better part of the year at home with a bare face, this is a welcome change of pace. Any new looks you’re interested in trying? Let me know!

I want to see a therapist. Now what?

We’ve heard it a million times in the past six months—we’re living in unprecedented times. While that phrase is now the bane of my existence, it’s true. Our lives collectively changed in March and even the most stable, mentally healthy people are having a hard time. This stuff isn’t normal. It’s OK to be scared and stressed and at the end of your rope. It’s OK if you’re looking for a little help with managing the stress of COVID (or just the problems you already had before this all started).

I see a therapist once a week—and I have for a year. When I first started seeing a therapist, I went into the whole situation blind. I had no idea how to go about finding a provider, or what to expect, so I decided to take all my lessons learned and pass them onto you, the reader, who may be interested in therapy but unsure of where to start.

Let’s walk through some common questions and concerns that people have when they want the help of a therapist, but don’t know what to do or what to expect.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I NEED A THERAPIST?

The American Psychological Association suggests considering therapy when something causes distress and interferes with some part of life, particularly when:

  • Thinking about or coping with the issue takes up at least an hour each day
  • The issue causes embarrassment or makes you want to avoid others
  • The issue has caused your quality of life to decrease
  • The issue has negatively affected school, work, or relationships
  • You’ve made changes in your life or developed habits to cope with the issue

The more honest answer is: there is no magic ticket for therapy. Whether you’re going through something difficult, or searching for better ways to cope with the stressors of everyday life, therapy is for everyone and anyone. Here’s the deal: there’s nothing wrong with needing help—or with admitting that you need help. Honestly, recognizing that you need support is one of the biggest hurdles. So if you’ve already done that then, kudos. You’re well on your way to taking better care of yourself.

I FEEL EMBARRASSED

Spoiler alert: no one has to know that you’re seeing a therapist because it’s no one else’s business but your own. Seriously. When I first started going to therapy, there were maybe like 3-4 that I shared that with. It simply wasn’t something that I felt people needed to know. I wasn’t necessarily embarrassed about it, per se, but I wasn’t wanting to shout it from the rooftops, either. Now, I talk very openly about seeing a therapist, including routinely uttering the phrase “my therapist said…” LOL

If you’re feeling embarrassed, I get it. There have been huge strides toward normalizing mental health care, thanks in part to hilarious tweets like these, but unfortunately there is still a stigma attached to it—despite the fact that half of us will have a serious psychological problem at some point in our lives.

If you’re feeling embarrassed at the thought of sharing your struggles and issues with a therapist, don’t be. I found it really difficult to open up to my therapist at first, but she was patient with me and made my experience worthwhile. A (good) therapist will never make your problems feel small or insignificant. They might not be able to solve all your problems, but they’ll help you to think more objectively and (hopefully) see the cause and effect behind your behavior, actions and feelings.

HOW DO I FIND A THERAPIST?

Once you’ve decided that you want to see a therapist, you’ll need to find someone to actually see. This part can be really daunting and was one of the biggest hurdles that I faced. If you feel comfortable, you can reach out to friends or family members who may be able to recommend someone to you. If that isn’t something that you want to do (no judgement) or that isn’t an option, you can find providers on the Psychology Today website. All you have to do is type in either the city name or zip code of where you want to see a provider and choose an option from the drop down, and you’ll be given an aggregate list of providers in your area.

HOW DO I CHOOSE A THERAPIST THAT’S RIGHT FOR ME?

There are a lot of things to consider when you start looking for a therapist. Do they accept your insurance (if you have it)? If you don’t have insurance, do they charge on a sliding scale based on what you can afford? Would you feel more comfortable with a male or female provider? Are you looking for someone faith-based? (I specifically was looking for someone who was not faith-based.) You want someone who is going to meet your needs and make you feel comfortable, so these are things to take into consideration.

My first therapist was not a good fit for me. She spent most of our sessions talking about herself, her children or her online boyfriend who lives in India. She gave me very bad advice, violated HIPAA on more than one occasion, and just overall was not helpful to me. Despite the fact that I didn’t know anything about therapy, I knew it was not a good fit.

My current therapist let me know right away that she had worked with many clients who were dealing with the same issues that I was. She talked to me about her credentials, her training and what I could expect. Most importantly, she let me be myself. I swear all the time in therapy. I make constant pop culture references, i.e., “I just feel like Rachel Green when she said…” and I feel comfortable. That’s the biggest goal: to be able to be comfortable, honest and authentic with your provider so that they can help you!

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT FOR MY FIRST APPOINTMENT?

I remember my first therapy appointment clear as day because it coincided with one of the hardest, saddest days of my life. I walked into her room, sat on her couch and burst into tears. Not only was I having a terrible day, I was scared shitless. I had willing signed up to sit on a strangers couch and tell them my life problems while they took notes. I calmed down (a little) and told her between sobs what was happening and why I was so profoundly sad.

The first few therapy sessions are mainly just to gather history. It starts out pretty general and will get much more in-the-weeds as time goes on. You’ll talk a lot about yourself, your family, friends and close relationships. You’ll talk about whatever is bothering you, or whatever the specific issue that brought you into therapy in the first place is. You’ll talk about your feelings, your thoughts and your behaviors, but you’re mainly just getting to know each other for the first few sessions.

IT MIGHT GET WORSE BEFORE IT GETS BETTER

One thing that I wasn’t prepared for when I started going to therapy was how exhausted it made me feel. I would feel so incredibly tired after each session, all I wanted to do was go home and crawl into bed.

Another thing I wasn’t prepared for was how sad I would feel afterward—and sometimes I still do. I always thought that going to therapy would make me feel better—and overall, it does—but it’s hard work and it requires an intense amount of vulnerability. Sometimes when you’re doing the hard work and digging deep, you’ll tap into emotions that you may not even realized are there.

When I started seeing my therapist it was because I was going through something extremely difficult and having a very hard time processing it. I’ll never forget a conversation I had with her during our second session. She asked me if I had noticed anything different that week.

“Yes, I did,” I told her. “I can’t stop crying.”

“Do you know why that is?” she asked me.

“I have no idea,” I said through tears.

“Emily, it’s because you’re sad.”

It sounds so dumb. I knew that I was sad. That’s why I went to therapy in the first place. But it wasn’t until I started talking to her and really exploring those feelings that I allowed myself to feel as devastatingly sad as I truly was.

If the idea of feeling worse before you can feel better is slightly freaking you out, please don’t take that as a deterrent. If you’re tapping into those things, it’s a sign that you’re doing the hard work required to feel better and it’s actually a really good thing (believe it or not, those tough emotions are likely already popping up in your life in other ways, whether you realize it or not). As you continue to talk to your therapist, you’ll eventually start to feel better.

YOU’RE NOT THERE TO GET ADVICE

For a long time, I was operating under the belief that going to therapy was like paying someone to either a) tell you what you should do or b) tell you what you want to hear. Turns out, neither of those things are true!

Basically each therapy session is an exercise in problem solving. You’ll tell your therapist what’s bothering you and how it makes you feel, and they’ll use their expertise to help you reach a solution. They won’t say “oh, you should definitely choose A instead of B.” If that’s what you’re looking for, a therapist might be able to help you unpack why you someone to tell you what to do/validate your choice in the first place.

IS IT WEIRD TO GO TO THERAPY ONLINE?

Because of COVID, many appointments have shifted to online (although some therapists are seeing patients in person again at this point). I was a little concerned about the switch from an in office visit to a video chat, but I realized that there isn’t much difference. However, at the end of the day whether or not this is a good fit for you will depend on your personality and preferences.

TL;DR

The only reason that I ever sought the help of a therapist was because I had people in my life who saw therapists and talked openly and honestly about it. There’s nothing wrong with going to therapy and you should never feel awkward, embarrassed or ashamed. If you ever have any questions about therapy, please feel free to reach out!

If you’d like to find a therapist, search Psychology Today for providers in your area. If you’re feeling suicidal, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8522 or by visiting their website.