One Day at a Time: Creating Healthy Habits that are Sustainable

Back in November, I decided that I was going to make a concerted effort to be healthier. I was having some health issues and knew that my lifestyle, diet and exercise habits (or lack thereof) were not doing me any favors. It was time for a change.

As someone who hadn’t stepped foot in a gym or made any attempt to be any semblance of healthy in a solid 4 years, I knew that the most important thing was to make small changes that would be sustainable. I didn’t set out trying to lose weight, fit into a specific size or look a certain way. I literally just wanted to be healthier and feel better — mentally and physically.

POUR IT UP

The first change that I made was committing to drinking more water. It’s funny to me how something so simple, and so important for the function of our brains and bodies is so difficult for me to do! I am terrible about making sure that I drink enough water because I really just don’t feel thirsty throughout the day. It’s not that I was drinking coffee, pop or energy drinks in lieu of drinking water—I really just wasn’t drinking anything. 

I bought a 24-ounce tumbler and started making a conscious decision to refill it at least twice throughout the day and it worked! I’m not sure if its the tumbler, or the fact that I get to drink through a straw (for some reason, I am more likely to drink water if it’s through a straw, anyone else?) but I’ve been a) drinking more water and b) using less plastic so it’s a win/win in my book.

WORKIN’ ON MY FITNESS

Despite the fact that I had had a Planet Fitness Black Card for a year and a half I had never stepped foot into a single Planet Fitness location and I decided that it was time. When I was in college I went to Anytime Fitness and loved it, but life got busy and I made lots of excuses about why I didn’t have time to go to the gym so I stopped.

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I kept telling myself that I would start going “this week,” but in all honesty, I was really afraid to go to the gym. As someone who doesn’t work out and is visibly plus size, the gym can be extremely intimidating. But, I powered through and went away. I had been operating under the assumption that people would look at me or judge me, but that wasn’t the case at all. Once I got there I realized that no one cared what I was doing except me. I’ve been going between 3-5 times a week now for almost 6 months and I’m amazed at how much better—and stronger—I feel.

LAY OFF ME, I’M STARVING

I can force myself to spend an hour a day in the gym, but it’s the other 23 hours that really test my willpower because all I want to do is eat junk food. Ever since I moved into my new apartment I have been so much better about cooking my meals vs. getting takeout or fast food, but there is definitely still room for improvement. One of the areas I was struggling with was not eating breakfast.

When I first started trying to make healthier choices, I started bouncing ideas off my friend and coworker Andrea. She knew that I didn’t eat breakfast and told me that I should really make an effort to start doing that. Since she’s basically Lansing’s own Sporty Spice, and Martin Waymire’s health and fitness authority, I decided to take her advice.

RUNNING LATE IS MY CARDIO

As much as I wanted to take Andrea’s advice, I still had a big issue. I am not a morning person. I am also habitually late. Those two things were really hindering my ability to make breakfast in the morning. One day I was at the Old Town General Store (for the sake of full transparency, I was buying beer because balance lol) and I saw a display full of BRITE bites. BRITE bites are probiotic snack bites. They were created by a Michigan State University student (go Green!) and come in three different varieties. Every bite is hand-rolled in East Lansing and all bites are dairy-free and contain one billion CFUs of Live Probiotics.

I knew about the brand and the product through social media but had never tried them because I’d never seen them in a store before. I bought a bag of the original BRITE bites, based on the recommendation of the cashier, and was so excited to try them that Wajid and I literally opened them in the car on the way home.

PROBLEM SOLVED

I am a picky eater. I’ve gotten a lot better about trying new things in recent years, but I still tend to have the palate of a child. I was a little nervous about trying them at first because they look healthy and are chock full of healthy ingredients—but they are delicious.

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I found myself munching on them as a snack throughout the day but realized they would be ideal for breakfast. They’re healthy, they’re easy, I can eat them on-the-go, in my car or at my desk and I don’t even have to cook anything. Praise the old gods and the new.

As someone who has a sweet tooth, the chocolate ones are my absolute favorite, but you really can’t go wrong. All three varieties are delicious and surprisingly filling! As someone who used to consider cold pizza or Lucky Charms a decent breakfast, it feels good to do something good for my body first thing in the morning. 

ONE STEP AT A TIME

When I first started making healthy changes in my life I knew that I wanted it to be just that—small, sustainable changes that would help me feel better both mentally and physically without feeling deprived or burnt out. As I come up on the 6 month mark, I’m super proud of myself for sticking to it and I’m blown away by how much drinking a little more water, making a conscious decision to eat healthy food and moving your body can do for you.

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Have you tried BRITE bites? Let me know you’re favorite flavor and how you incorporate them into your diet! And if you have any tips for being healthier, eating better or moving more I’d love to hear them!

TL;DR

I’ve been making a conscious effort to incorporate healthier alternatives into my life by drinking more water, eating less junk and moving my body more—and BRITE bites have helped me immensely.

 

I Splurged at the Sephora Spring Sale: Here are my picks

The long winter is over and the Sephora sale is here!

I went to Chicago for the first time last weekend (blog coming soon!) and, naturally, stopped into Sephora while I was there—and had what can only be described as a religious experience.

The Sephora on Michigan Ave. is the largest Sephora that I have ever been in. I could have stayed in that store for hours and hours. There was so much to take in that I actually had to go back the next day to make sure that I hadn’t missed out on anything. Seriously, God Bless Wajid for being such a good sport about it.

I normally use the spring sale to stock up on my tried and true favorites, but Chicago Emily is wild and decided to throw caution to the wind. I picked up some ~lux~ items that aren’t available in Lansing, because of course they’re not, and I shopped with the 20% off VIB Rouge coupon so win/win.

Here’s what I snagged and what I recommend.

  1. Tom Ford lipstick in Gal – $36

This is like a teeny, tiny tester size (they refer to it as “clutch size”) and had I not been drunk on the splendor that is Chicago and the fact that I was in the nicest Sephora I had ever set foot in, I probably wouldn’t have bought it. But I did and, of course, I love it. It’s the most beautiful nude pink with a high shine finish that gives you a very “my lips but better” look.

  1. Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powder in Medium – $45

I had heard amazing things about this product online and so when I saw it in store I had to throw in my basket as soon as possible. I think it’s a good powder. It gives you a very flawless look at first but if you’re an oily girl like me (or boy!) this will do nothing to keep your shine at bay. Is it good? Yes. Are there powders that are better suited for my skin type? Also yes.

  1. Charlotte Tilbury Cheek to Chic Blush in Ecstasy – $40

If you’re a fan of the cult-favorite Nars Orgasm blush, stop what you’re doing and go buy this right now. This blush will make you want to throw Nars Orgasm in the garbage, tbh. It is the prettiest peachy pink blush I have ever seen. It super finely milled, so smooth, goes on like butter, and the pigmentation is beautiful without being too much. I put this blush on and looked at myself like, “who is she!?” It’s that good.

I’m getting this for my mom for Mother’s Day because she deserves the best and I have found it.

Also, I saw people on the Sephora website bitching about how easily the product breaks but this traveled with me from Chicago to East Lansing and has also come to work with me for four days and is fine, so take those with a grain of salt.

  1. Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Beauty Highlighter Wand – $38

When it comes to highlighter I am That Bitch™ It doesn’t matter if I’m going out or going to work, I want my cheekbones to be beaming. I get served ads for Charlotte Tilbury all the time and was super intrigued by this product, but never enough to purchase it online, lol.

When I saw it in store, however, I knew I had to have it. This gives the most beautiful glow to the skin. You can put it on a bare face for a natural, dewy look, or you can put it on top of foundation and cover with a powder highlight for a blinding glow. Super buildable, super blendable, doesn’t take my foundation off. 100/10 definitely recommend.

  1. Charlotte Tilbury Color Chameleon Eyeshadow Pencil – $27

Clearly, I was on a Charlotte Tilbury bender.

This claims to enhance your eye color based on the shade of the shadow. I picked this up not expecting to love it that much, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I do. For one, I didn’t think that it would have much staying power based on the way the formula felt. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this is waterproof and it does genuinely stay all day! I’ve been smudging it in my crease and on my lower lash line and blending out with a Pat McGrath eyeshadow and love the way it looks.

  1. Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3 – $28

I don’t want to sound dramatic but if you have hair, you should buy this product.

I know that Olaplex is amazing and I had seen this in Sephora before but had never bothered to pick it up. Again, I’m not sure if it was something about that magical Sephora store or being in the Windy City that made me impulsively buy this, but I’m glad I did.

I’ve been using this for about 4 or 5 days now and I am honestly blown away by the change in my hair. It feels so soft and smooth and is so much less frizzy. I will repurchase this, for sure.

  1. Kevyn Aucoin The Sculpting Contour Powder – $44

I have wanted to try this for years but it’s never available at any of the Sephora’s I shop at and I hate buying makeup without being able to see it in person first.

I recently became aware of the term “snatural,” as in looking snatched while still looking natural, and I think this powder invented that term?? I contoured my face with this and was like, “oh, hi new bone structure.”

This product is amazing and a little goes a long way. How impressed I am with this product blows me away because I’m not even using the correct shade. I definitely need either light or medium in this product, and all they had left was the deep shade. It’s too dark for my skin tone, but I am absolutely ordering online and can’t wait to get it in.

  1. Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation – $64

This blog post was all fun and games until I had to list the prices of everything I bought like, WOW, I really need to slow my roll. I hope Jess doesn’t read this blog because if she does, she’s going to skewer me for spending so much money despite all the well-intentioned “DON’T SPEND MONEY” sticky notes in my office.

Anyway, this foundation has a cult following and I have always wanted to try it. Here’s the deal: this foundation is medium coverage. I have never been able to wear medium coverage foundation because of my acne and acne scars. Also, as I’ve mentioned one million times, I don’t like buying makeup, especially foundation, online. Things tend to look super yellow on me, making me look jaundice— or—they oxidize and I end up looking presidential orange.

I found a shade that I thought would match my skin and took a leap of faith and bought it and it looks SO amazing. Medium coverage foundation is still new to me, but I was amazed at something so sheer could even my skin out and make me look flawless — while still looking like skin.

Jennifer Edwards at Aesthetics Med Spa has changed my skin so much that I can wear medium coverage foundation and feel like a million bucks. When I finished my makeup, I honestly wanted to cry.

Do you need this foundation? No, of course not. But if you’re feeling saucy and want to spend two tanks worth of gas on some makeup, then you do you, sister.

  1. Beautyblender Bounce Liquid Whip Long Wear Foundation – $40

 

This is basically just a compilation of things that I finally saw in person after having been deprived of seeing them in my local Sephora (which, for the record, I love with all my heart. And after declaring bankruptcy a la Michael Scott in Chicago, I’m glad they don’t carry these things).

One of my favorite YouTubers, Tati, raves about this foundation. When I saw it in store I knew that I had to try it, despite the fact that I also bought a $65 foundation AND I just found a foundation that I love and is working amazing for me (the Tarte Face Tape foundation).

I love this. If you’re in the market for a full-coverage, velvet matte foundation, I would recommend this one. It looks so smooth on the skin, and leaves you with a very airbrushed, filtered effect without looking cakey. I’m super impressed and have used this every day since purchasing it.

  1. Bobbi Brown Crushed Lip Color in Bare – $29

 

You would never know it based on the amount of lipstick that I buy, but I don’t like lipstick. I’m always in search of the perfect “my lips but better” shade, but I’m not a fan of opaque lips. This Bobbi Brown lipstick is one of the best MLBB shades I’ve ever found. It gives my lips a slight wash of color without feeling (or really looking) like I’m wearing lipstick. I think I may have found my ride or die.

  1. Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser – $34

I ran out of my Farmacy makeup remover and when I went to repurchase it, my store was out of stock. I figured I would give this a whirl because I tend to really like DE products, especially the Baby Facial.

This is honestly a pretty standard, run-of-the-mill makeup removing balm. I’ve found that it doesn’t really melt into an oil the same way that other balms do, but it still takes my makeup off. My favorite feature is the magnetic scoop.

That’s all, folks! You can still shop the sale for two more days. Here are the codes so you don’t miss out:

Beauty Insider: HEYINSIDER

VIB: HEYVIB

Rouge: HEYROUGE

Make sure you share your favorite picks with me! I want to know what you’re snagging during the spring sale.

 

March Favorites

Is it just me or do the first few months of a new year normally kinda suck?

Tbh, 2019 is kicking my ass. 2018 was such a magical year for me and 2019 feels like that scene from Hot Rod where he’s falling down the hill and just keeps falling and falling and running into shit and falling some more.

With that being said, it is officially spring, the snow has melted, the sun has started to shine and it no longer gets dark at 4 p.m., so we’re pushing through and staying positive.

Here are all the things I loved in March, in no particular order.

Mules

I love mules. When I was little kid I always used to slip my shoes on and off versus taking the time to tie and untie them which drove my parents insane and was constantly the reason for comments like, “you are so lazy.” Guess what, dad? Slip on shoes and shoes with no backs are all the rage now, so who is the real winner here? Lazy people everywhere.

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I got this pair of mules at Target as an impulse purchase (like basically everything I buy at Target) and I am obsessed. At first I was kind of on the fence and considered taking them back, but I think they’re so cute and springy. I sized up a half size in these so I could have a little more room.

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Despite the fact that I keep telling myself I’m going to spend less money, I can’t stop shopping. I went to DSW on a whim on day and found these adorable mules. They run a little small so I went up a size, but I love them. I like that they go with everything and are super comfortable. I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but DSW is having a sale right now, so now is the time to get some shoes if you’re in the market.

Jumpsuits

I don’t really branch out much when it comes to fashion. I like what I like which is typically all black (and like the same 5-6 outfits on repeat). BUT I’ve been going to the gym and taking better care of myself and feeling a lot more confident. I decided to step waaay out of my comfort zone and buy this polka dot jumpsuit from Torrid and I am so glad that I did.

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I don’t want to toot my own horn or anything but toot toot, a bitch is feeling saucy.

Microneedling

I wrote an entire blog post dedicated to my love of microneedling and Jennifer Edwards at Aesthetic MedSpa but its worth repeating.

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Microneedling has done more than change my skin, it has changed my entire life. I started wearing foundation when I was probably 12-13 and in the years since I have not gone without makeup in front of anyone other than my family. Microneedling has cleared so much of my acne scarring that I have gone makeup free in front of my boyfriend (ex-boyfriend? Friend? Not sure what to call him at this point) AND TO WORK. WHAT?! Life changing. I am obsessed.

Snail Mucin

I have started taking skin care much more seriously after I decided to take the plunge with microneedling. I probably shouldn’t share all my secrets on the internet, but for a really long time I didn’t even wash my makeup off at night. I know that that is both super gross and terrible for your skin, but I just couldn’t be bothered. Now I can’t sleep unless I’ve washed my face and done my skincare routine which, as of recently, involves Cosrx Snail Mucin.

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I’ve tried a million things for the sake of beauty and am fascinated by how plants and weird animal by-products can impact your skin. I use this after washing my face and before using moisturizer and I notice that my skin is a lot smoother. I also want to say it’s helping fade my acne scarring even further? That could still be the microneedling, though.

Morphe Bronzer

I buy too much makeup. Let’s just get that out of the way. My coworker Jess is always making fun of me for shopping too much and spending too much money and, yes, she has a point but also YOLO.

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I picked up this Morphe Bronzer on a whim because I liked the packaging (lololol). Normally, Morphe uses the same black, plastic packaging on all their products but this beautiful red and gold cardboard really stood out to me and when I swatched it, I knew I had to have it. I purchased two of them in the light and medium shades and it is arguably one of the best, most buttery bronzers I have ever used. It’s amazing, you get a ton of product AND it’s only $20.

A bonus is that it’s a great dupe for the Marc Jacobs bronzer that retails for $70. Shop smarter, friends!

MAC Hyper Real Glow Palette

I know you won’t be able to believe it, but I impulsively bought this at Ulta one day. I went in to get the new It Cosmetics foundation, which they didn’t have yet at my Ulta, and ended up walking out with this highlighter palette that I absolutely did not need.

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I have purchased a lot of highlighters and I have to say that this is one of my favorites. I was surprised because I never hear anyone mention these palettes, but it is amazing. It is super pigmented, shiny without being glittery and can be built up to a blinding glow. I purchased the shade Get It Glowin’ which is the gold palette, but there is also a rose gold palette and a lighter, more white palette.

Milk Makeup Lip Balm

It doesn’t matter who you are, you need lip balm. I don’t really wear lipstick because I always think it looks weird on me, but I always have to have lip balm on me at all times. I’m a sucker for trying new things and the Kush lip balm got my attention so I tried it.

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I got the shade Green Dragon and despite the fact that it’s green, it doesn’t come off as green on your lips. It’s $16 which is crazy expensive for a chapstick, but it’s super hydrating and overall it does a nice job.  

Reunions + good brows

When I first started getting my eyebrows done I was a student at MSU and I would go to the Ulta in Okemos (at that point in time it was the only Ulta) and get my brows done. At first I got them done by Alex Garza (yes, the now-famous YouTuber) but one day she wasn’t available for some reason and I had my brows done by Riley. Riley is, to this day, the best person who has ever done my eyebrows. She always explained the process to me and did an impeccable job of shaping them for my face. At some point I stopped going to Ulta and started doing my brows myself, and when I went back one day she was no longer working there. I ended up switching back and forth between having my brows threaded and doing them myself for the last 4 or so years.

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A few weeks ago I was scrolling through Instagram when I saw a picture of Stef Pohl of MostStefinitely with Riley on and found out she is working at Kenneth Brandt Salon in Mason! I was so excited to find out that she was back in the area and couldn’t wait to book an appointment with her.

It was so great to see her and catch up with her and, of course, she did an amazing job with my brows and left feeling like a new woman. I get a lot of services done, and when you find people who do a good job, you don’t let them go.

Benefit Cheekleader Palette

Oh, look. I bought even more cheek products that I didn’t need.

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Yes, I did and no, I’m not sorry. I went to Ulta specifically looking for this palette because I really wanted Cookie, the highlighter that is exclusive to this palette. I saw that there was a mini version available with only three shades, but my Ulta didn’t have that one so I ended up buying the full size one. At first I was a little annoyed I had to spend $60 instead of $30 but in the long run, I love this palette and am glad I ended up purchasing the bigger one because I think it will come in super handy for travel. I am supposed to be going to Chicago in a few weeks and having all my cheek products will save lots of space in my suitcase.

Fragrance

I feel like people don’t talk about the importance of fragrance enough. Yes, I could go through life feeling like a badass bitch in my jumpsuit with my clear skin and perfect brows, but if you don’t smell good (or, *gasp* if you smell bad) the rest really doesn’t matter. I’ve been wearing Mon Paris by YSL and I am obsessed with it.
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I’m really no good at figuring out what the notes of a fragrance are, but according to the Sephora website, the notes are Strawberry, Raspberry, Bergamot, Calone, Pear, Orange Flower, Jasmin Sambac, White Peony, Datura, Patchouli, White Musk, Ambrox, Cedarwood, Crystal Moss and the fragrance is “Passionate. Sensual. Sophisticated.”
If you’re looking for a new fragrance, I highly suggest hitting up Sephora or Ulta to give it a sniff.

Misses

Clearly, I have been doing a lot of shopping and thankfully, I don’t really have any buyers remorse. I do, however, have to warn you about one of the worse foundations on the face of this planet, which is the Wet N Wild Photo Focus Foundation. It’s only $5.99 and has gotten some incredible reviews online, which made me really want to try it. Don’t be fooled. It is absolute garbage and it smells like literal housepaint. 0/10 do not recommend.

TL;DR

I have been doing way too much shopping lately but, fortunately, I’ve picked up some really great stuff. Let me know what you’ve been loving lately!

What You Need From Ulta’s 21 Days of Beauty Sale

It’s the most wonderful time of the yeeear. 🎶

Ulta’s 21 Days of Beauty are back and there are some deals that you won’t want to miss.

For the sake of full disclosure, I have been to Ulta four (yes, four) times this week and every f*cking thing I have bought was full price and not on sale or part of 21 Days of Beauty. But, the things that I have my eye on are coming up, and I will be making (multiple) trips back.

March 23

Anastasia Brow Whiz is 50% off today. Normally $21, you can get it for $10.50. That means you can get the Cadillac of brow pencils for less than some drugstore products. Go. Now!

March 24

Don’t miss out on snagging some of the It Cosmetics brushes for 50% off. The #225 Complexion Powder Brush is the best brush for applying powder. I use it to set my face with loose powder and have another one that I sometimes use for either blush or bronzer. The fluffiness of the brush ensures that you never use too much product. 10/10 definitely recommend, especially at half price.

March 25

I’ve been using the Lancome La Base Pro for a few months. I originally picked it up around Christmas time and am only about ¼ of the way through the bottle. If you’re in the market for a primer, I would recommend giving it a try. This one reminds of the original Smashbox Photo Finish primer but the plus side to this one is that it is oil-free, whereas Smashbox is not. Fair warning, the main ingredient in this primer is dimethicone (which is what gives it that slippery, smooth feel and helps blur pores and fine lines). If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, you might want to pass.

Mac Fix+ is on sale! Unfortunately, this is only for Diamond/Platinum members, but if that applies to you, I would recommend stocking up because you can never have enough Fix Plus.  Before Mac products were available at Ulta, I used to have to purchase them at Macy’s and they literally never went on sale. This part of 21 Days of Beauty feels like Chrismas to me.

March 28

Despite the fact that I purchase lip products and never end up using them, I’ll probably buy the Buxom Full On Lip Plumping Cream. Tbh, I am not really a glossy lips kind of girl, but I do actually like this product and was excited to see it included in 21 Days of Beauty. This is one of my favorite formulas because it’s glossy without being too sticky and lasts for a long time.

March 29

If you don’t already own the Tartlette Toasted Eyeshadow Palette, now is the time to purchase it! I can’t say enough good things about every single one of the Tarte eyeshadow palettes. I love a good warm tone eyeshadow so this is arguably my favorite out of all their palettes. It has everything you need for an entire look, including shimmery and matte shadows. I somehow lost mine and will probably end up repurchasing during the sale.

If you’re on the drier side, you might like the Too Faced Born This Way powder. I wanted to love it, but I’m just too oily. I know people who love it though, and 50% off is better than paying full price.

March 30

Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion has a cult following and for good reason. Not to sound like a stuck up skincare hipster bitch, but I started using this stuff years ago before Kylie Jenner mentioned it in a video or interview and everyone and their mother went out and bought it. I’m an OG Drying Lotion fan. If you have ever had a pimple in your life or think you might at some point, this is worth purchasing. I always have a jar on hand, and will definitely be repurchasing during the sale. FWIW, I always buy the glass bottle.

Pro Tip: Keep this is a cupboard or somewhere dark. Ingredients in skincare break down when exposed to light which is why you sometimes see opaque or dark brown glass packaging on higher end products.

April 01

Ever since I turned 25, I’ve been making a point to use eye cream every night. If you think I’m being melodramatic that’s fine, and also true, but it’s easier to prevent wrinkles than correct them once they’re here.

That being said, I’ve been wanting to try the Perricone MD Cold Plasma line but it’s crazy expensive. I might end up trying their eye cream while it’s on sale (still expensive) but the jury is still out on that.

If you’re Diamond/Platinum and looking for a solid, tried and true moisturizer, you can’t go wrong with the Clinique Moisture Surge. I prefer the tube packaging to the jar that is on sale because of hygienic reasons, but it’ll do.

April 02

No product recommendation for this day, just a small complaint. I was bummed to see Ulta carry Lime Crime products and also bummed to see it included in this sale because the brand is problematic af. I won’t get into that, but if you’re curious you can read more here.

April 05

This is probably the best day of the sale, in my opinion. Too Faced bronzers are on sale, which means I need to purchase as many Chocolate Soleil bronzers as I possibly can. If you’ve never used a Too Faced bronzer, I would suggest picking one up. They have shades for every skin tone, they blend beautifully and they are never muddy.

In my opinion, you cannot go wrong with Mario Badescu products. His line is super affordable compared to other skincare brands and his products work wonders. I used to use this Vitamin C serum but ran out and never repurchased (probably because another shiny skincare product caught my eye that I had to get). Also, let’s just appreciate this packaging. It’s in dark glass AND in a dropper. Bless u, Mario Badescu.

Bonus points for another MAC product! The MAC Prep + Prime skin is a great primer for anyone that wants a youthful, radiant, glowy, dewy look. I have to be careful with this because my skin is naturally an oil slick but that doesn’t stop me from using it and won’t stop me from purchasing during the sale.

April 06

The Lorac PRO Palette 3 is on sale today. I love Lorac eyeshadow. I know that people rave about Urban Decay, but in my opinion, Lorac is far superior. This palette has some amazing neutrals is so springy and feminine. I don’t need it, but I am tempted to pick it up.

Other products:

Ulta has other “hot buys” going on during the sale. Here are my picks:

Anastasia Beverly Hills Blush Trios – $18

I’m not blindly loyal to most brands, but I’m being entirely honest when I say I have never used an ABH product I didn’t love. I bought one of these blush trios for my mom a year ago for her birthday and it is still going strong. She uses it every single day and she raves about it. You can’t beat the price during this sale, either. Going to stock up for her!

Laura Gellar Baked Blush-n-Brighten – $16

In my humble opinion, Laura Gellar reigns supreme when it comes to baked products and these are no exception. These are great if you’re kind of on the fence about blush because they give you just the right amount of pigment to look lit-from-within without running the risk of looking like Mimi from the Drew Carey show.

Tarte Maracuja Oil – $28

This probably won’t change your life, but if you’re looking for a decent beauty oil this one will do the trick (and with the sale price, you probably won’t find one for less).

Now that I have exhausted the sale products (and my bank account), I want to know—what are you planning on picking up?

 

Everything you need to know about microneedling

If I could go back and tell my younger self one thing, it would be to prioritize skincare over makeup. I’ve written tons of blog posts about skincare, and have been very honest about my struggle with cystic acne and acne scarring.

PLS HELP

I’ve spent years and hundreds (probably thousands) of dollars on serums, lotions, creams, masks and everything in between trying to a) clear my acne and b) lighten the scarring that has happened as a result.

Probably about a year ago my friend and coworker, Andrea Kerbuski, told me about her experience with microneedling. Andrea has beautiful skin and, looking at it, I could hardly believe that at one point in time she was so self-conscious about her skin that she didn’t want to wear her hair up.

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR

Last summer I started seriously considering microneedling but had some reservations. For starters, the initial out-of-pocket cost gave me a serious case of sticker shock. Sure, if you consider all the money I have spent on lotions, potions and weird gimmicky shit to fix my skin, the cost of microneedling pales in comparison. But, I’ve purchased those things over time—not in one fell swoop.

If I’m being honest, I also was really skeptical about the results. My face is really scarred, and the scarring ranges from light to dark, superficial to deep and old to new. I wasn’t sure if microneedling would be able to address and correct the myriad issues I was dealing with and I was concerned that I would pay for something and be unhappy for the results.  

RESEARCH

I started doing research in the form of YouTube videos, RealSelf reviews, and the skincare rabbit hole that is Reddit and was amazed at some of the before and afters. I decided to schedule a consultation with Jennifer at Aesthetics Med Spa (formerly Lake Lansing Family Practice).

CONSULTATION

I had my consultation with Jennifer on Nov. 21, 2018. I had a call that morning that I had to be in the office for and it was the first time in my adult life that I had gone to work sans makeup.

Jennifer looked at my skin and told me that I was definitely a candidate for microneedling. She told me that I would likely see the best results from doing a series of 3 microneedling sessions, spaced 6 weeks apart. She showed me multiple before and after pictures and I was sold. I purchased my package before I left that week and couldn’t wait to get back and have my face punctured with needles.

NO TURNING BACK

I had my first appointment on Nov. 30, 2018. I scheduled the appointment for a Friday morning so I could take the entire day off to be incredibly red in the privacy of my own home. While you can wear makeup 12 hours after having microneedling, I wanted to have the entire weekend to let my skin heal breathe without wearing makeup.

I was more excited than nervous about my appointment. I am definitely a “no pain, no gain” kind of girl. Pain is temporary, but if the results are forever I’m willing to power through just about anything.

THE PROCESS

Jennifer put a hair net on me and rubbed numbing cream on my face, which she left on for about 20 minutes. During that time, we talked about the process and what would happen. She explained everything to me and answered any questions that I had, which were a lot.

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I started getting a little bit nervous while I was numbing because, despite all the videos I had watched and all the questions I had asked, the anticipation was building. When she finally turned on the pen and began the actual process I was astonished about how little I felt. The sound is intimidating, but I felt absolutely no pain whatsoever. I could tell that something was touching my face, and I could feel a slight vibration but there was no pain at all.

I was able to feel the sensation of microneedling more on certain parts of my face versus others. For instance, I felt virtually nothing when she ran the pen over my cheeks. I was able to feel the pen a little more on my chin and forehead because there isn’t as much padding there, but I can’t stress enough that there was absolutely no pain. It’s hard to describe, but the best analogy I could offer would be if you’re brushing your teeth with an electric toothbrush. You can hear and feel the vibrations, but there is no pain.

Throughout the entire process, Jennifer kept checking in with me and asking me if I could feel anything or if I needed to take a break. The only time I was uncomfortable was when she was microneedling my forehead which, again, had nothing to do with pain and everything to do with the fact that it made me feel like I was going to sneeze.

THE RESULTS

I left the office with instructions on how to care for my freshly microneedled face, a vial of hyaluronic acid to use throughout the first day and a sheet mask to use on day 3 to combat dry skin.

My face continued to get more red for about 15-30 minutes after I left the office. I honestly was so amazed by this entire process. I think it is so cool that by causing relatively superficial trauma to the skin, our bodies are able to heal themselves from the inside out. Science is so fucking cool.

I made sure to take lots of before and after pictures so I could see my results. I had my first appointment on Friday and by Sunday my scarring was noticeably diminished. Very much so. Below are pictures I took of my face immediately before my first appointment.

Here are pictures of my face on Sunday, exactly 48 hours later. These were taken with my iPhone 8 Plus and have not been retouched whatsoever.

Managing your expectations is arguably the most important lesson a person can learn, and I tried very hard to temper my expectations of this process. If I’m being honest, the results that I saw were more impressive than I could have ever imagined.

ROUND TWO

I had my second appointment with Jennifer on Jan. 24, 2019, roughly six weeks after my first appointment. The results from my first microneedling session were so mind-boggling to me that I couldn’t wait to get back for my second appointment.

Here is what my skin looked like while I sat in the waiting room before my second appointment (please disregard the giant stress pimple that popped up on my forehead the day before).

 

Here is what my skin looked like 48 hours later. So crazy!

 

Because my skin responded so well to the first session, Jennifer was able to go deeper during the second session. I feel like my initial results were so impressive and I will continue to refine those results with each additional session.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Microneedling is hands down the best money that I have ever spent. I wish that I could go back and advise my younger self to stop wasting money on products that don’t work. If I had any idea that microneedling would produce such noticeable results, I would have done this years ago. Yes, I paid a lot for this, but I can’t put a price tag on the way that it has impacted my confidence and the way that I feel about myself.

If you live in mid-Michigan and are interested in having microneedling done, I can’t say enough good things about Jennifer at Aesthetics Med Spa. You can call her at (517) 574-4655, or find her on Facebook or Instagram.

TL;DR.

Microneedling is amazing, worth every single penny, has minimal downtime and doesn’t hurt.

My favorite places to #ShopSmall

It’s #SmallBusinessSaturday! As you may have gathered from previous blog posts, I am all about supporting small businesses and I have an especially soft spot in my heart (and wallet) for Michigan creators/artists. In honor of today, I’ve rounded up all my favorite small businesses in Michigan and compiled them in one place.  Happy shopping!

Rebel Reclaimed 

My friend Andrea introduced me to this store about a year and a half ago and I have stopped in every time I have been in Grand Rapids since. I have brought my mom here, my boyfriend, and even dragged a coworker there on a recent work trip (I say drag, but he loved it so, win/win).

At the risk of sounding like an infomercial, there is something for everyone on your list at this store. From funny/witty to heartfelt and thoughtful this store could be your one stop shop, if you wanted it to be. Prayer candles with the Fab Five? Check. Ruth Bader Ginsburg merch? Yup. Witty cards? Loads of ‘em. Candles? Of course. Plants? Duh.

They recently moved into a much bigger space (yay for small businesses growing!) and in addition to being successful entrepreneurs Chip and Dan are also the cutest couple of all time.

Dime & Regal

In keeping with the West Michigan theme, I have to mention another great store—Dime & Regal.

By now you know all about my affinity for small business/local creators/artists. Dime & Regal was essentially made for people like me. Dime & Regal is a handmade goods store dedicated to showcasing local artists and Michigan made products—and they do so in a very sleek, chic way.

My absolutely favorite items are the handmade ceramic boob planters by Hillary Dragon Ceramics. I saw them on Instagram and knew that I had to have one in my home. I basically stalked Dime & Regal on IG to make sure they’d have them in stock when I was in town (they sell out fast!) and was thrilled when I got there and they had loads of them. 

Rock Paper Scissors

I first went to Rock, Paper Scissors with my mom during a day trip to Ann Arbor and it was love at first sight (shop?). The store is filled to the brim with things that you could purchase for other people as gifts but, let’s be real, you’ll probably want to keep for yourself.

My absolute favorite thing about Rock Paper Scissors is their card selection. If you know me, you know that I love buying cards. I don’t think that you need a special holiday to remind people that you love and care about them, and Rock Paper Scissors is my go-to for supplying those witty, thoughtful, sometimes inappropriate, but always hilarious, cards.

My other favorite thing about RPS (well, one of my favorites, if I listed them all we’d be here all day) is the amount of political inventory they have in their store. From RBG ornaments, to children’s books about activism and feminism, to things that make fun of Trump ( I bought my boss some Donald Trump Tiny Hand soap for his birthday) I absolutely love RPS’ selection.

I stop by this store every time I’m in Ann Arbor. I recently brought my boyfriend here and he had as much fun browsing the store as I did.

City Bird

My time in Detroit isn’t complete unless I’ve stopped at City Bird. We’ve already established that I love cards and City Bird has plenty of ‘em. I feel like most Michiganders have a special place in their heart of Detroit (or maybe it’s just me?) but I buy Detroit-themed merch every time I come here because it is the best place to buy it.

This is one of my go-to stores for stocking stuffers. Aside from Detroit-themed things, I love buying Michigan-themed things. I have purchased coasters, magnets, postcards, keychains, cups and more from City Bird that are emblazoned with Michigan specific imagery because, well, I can’t stop myself. I take them home and gift them to family, no matter what time is it.

In addition to Michigan stuff, I have also purchased some really great office stuff from there including a nameplate that says “Fucker in charge of all you fucks” on it that I gifted to a coworker. I bought one for myself that says “Nasty Woman.”

Nest

Ah, I am a sucker for Nest. Nest and City Bird are next door neighbors and I never visit one without immediately stopping next door. Nest is my go-to for all things plant-related. They have a huge assortment of plants and planters (and really cool brass misters).

This is a great store if you’re looking for small things for the home. In addition to all the plant stuff, they also have lots of things for the home. I am especially impartial to the kitchen items (and candles because, duh), and I can never walk into this store without walking out with something I probably didn’t need.

Vosenna

I have an entire blog post dedicated to Vosenna and how much I love the store, the owner and their business philosophy. If you love makeup, this store is an absolute must on your shopping list (if not for your loved ones, than for yourself). 

Walking into Vosenna is like walking into an indie makeup paradise where nothing is tested on animals, most things are vegan and (almost) everything is made in the United States. There is something at Vosenna for everyone, ranging from makeup to skincare to fragrance (yes, that’s right—even for men!).

Retail Therapy

Located in Lansing’s historic Old Town, Retail Therapy is a staple for clothing in #LoveLansing.  Retail Therapy has an eclectic mix of American, European, and Asian women’s fashion with an emphasis on sustainable, ethical, slow fashion labels.

From clothing, shoes and accessories there is definitely something for women of all ages at Retail Therapy. I recently picked up an adorable coat for my mom for Christmas (and gave it to her early because I’m horrible at giving gifts) and she loves it!

By the way #LoveLansing friends, Retail Therapy is having a Shop Small event today with sales and wine and cheese. The best way to shop is with wine and cheese.

Rail and Anchor

Walking into Rail and Anchor feels like home.  The store always smells amazing, there’s soft music playing and you’re always greeted with a fresh cup of tea. Talk about an ideal shopping experience. 

Rail and Anchor is full-to-the-brim with everything you could ever want or need. Some of my favorites are the candles they carry (I looove P.F. Candles), the jewelry (Machete earrings are my fav) and the keychains! Rail and Anchor also houses perhaps the coziest corner of plants in Michigan, and I’m tempted to buy them all every time I walk in the store.

They always have the funnest, most eclectic mix of inventory, I always end up doing multiple laps in an effort to take everything in.

Van Atta’s Greenhouse

Even if you and everyone you know has a black thumb, you’ll still want to put Van Atta’s on your Christmas shopping list. In addition to having an amazing selection of plants, they have loads of other goodies, including Michigan made products. From candles (shoutout to Kalamazoo Candle company!) to clothing, to a surprisingly large section of cards (including one of my favorite artists/creators Emily McDowell) I sometimes go to Van Atta’s just to look around.

If you are shopping for someone who loves plants, you’ve come to the right place. Van Atta’s has an amazing selection of plants, including tropicals. That means you can stop up on those cacti, succulents and air plants for the crazy plant lady in your life. Or also for me, if you’re feeling generous.

Elodie Boutique

I’ve blogged about Elodie Boutique before, but had to include it on this list because I love them. A little outside of my normal shopping radius, Elodie is located in Midland, Michigan and has tons and tons of adorable clothing, shoes and accessories for women.

I bought a brown hat there earlier this yet (pictured above) and I am still obsessed with it. It is seriously the cutest boutique full of so many good things. Jewelry, big floppy hats (my favorite) and cute clothes—all at very reasonable price points.

TL;DR

Did you know that there are more than 870,000 small businesses across Michigan? If you tend to shop at big box stores, I challenge you to visit local businesses first this holiday season. The crowds are smaller, the gifts are unique and you’re helping support a real person & their community.  After all, for every dollar spent at a small business, 67 cents of it goes back to the local community.

 

 

 

 

Sephora VIB Sale Recommendations: What I’m Buying

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! 🎶Nope, not the holidays. Sephora’s VIB sale.

Listen, we’re all balling on a budget but that’s not going to stop us (read: me) from spending exorbitant amounts of money on makeup and skincare.

This is the time that I buy products that I would not otherwise buy if they weren’t 20 percent off, and stock up on all the other expensive things I slather on my face and body on the reg.

Here’s my list 👇

 Huda Beauty Concealer: $30

I’m going to channel my inner Owen Wilson here because all I can say is: wow.

I have been using Tarte’s Shape Tape concealer religiously for years.  I had seen people online talking about this concealer but for some reason, I didn’t realize that it was available in store. When I saw it, I snatched it up right away. The coverage of this concealer is insane. It’s like using paint on your face, but because I am a Coverage Queen, I love it. If I’m being 100 percent honest, my absolute favorite thing about this concealer is the metal applicator. It feels amazing on tired eyes in the morning.

Shape Tape who

Summer Friday’s Jet Lag Mask $48

If you live in Michigan, or anywhere that gets cold in the winter, you need to stop what you’re doing and high tail it over to Sephora. For real. This mask will change your life. My skin has been feeling dry lately and so I bought this on a whim hoping it would help. It did.

I know that the package says to leave on for 10 minutes and wipe off, but that’s not how use it. I slather a thick white layer of this over my face a la Mrs. Doubtfire every night and wake up with baby smooth skin in the morning. Enjoy.

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in the shade Pillow Talk: $34

Honestly, where do I even start with this product? The formula and shade are both impeccable. You know how when you wear liquid lipstick you can feel the moisture leaving first your lips and then your entire body? This lipstick isn’t like that. It’s long wearing, but comfortable. It’s the best “your lips but better” lipstick and shade on the market. Truly, it is the best nude lipstick I have ever used. (For some reason, that doesn’t stop me from buying every other nude lipstick that I come across, but just know, this is the best of the best.)

If you have a skin tone similar to mine, you won’t be disappointed.

Biossance Squalane + Glycolic Renewal Facial $68

I saw this on a display at Sephora and asked an employee if she had tried it/what she thought. Her response? “It’s like getting a new face.” Uh, take my money!

I’m not quite sure that it lived up to those claims, but it did make my face soft, cleared up some breakouts I was having and left my skin with a fresh, dewy glow. Pro tip: If you use the Jet Lag mask immediately after using this mask, it really will feel and look like you have a new face. You’re welcome.

Farsali Skintune Blur Perfecting Primer Serum $54

Some people don’t think that primers are worth using, but I am not one of those people. When I saw that this primer claimed to have a face blurring effect I was sold. I feel like every new cosmetic product that comes out instantaneously has a plethora of reviews on YouTube, so you can imagine my surprise when I went to do some research on this and saw it had barely been mentioned. Maybe Farsali didn’t have a big budget for this product launch? Anyway, there seemed to be a consensus among the reviews I did watch and that was that this product isn’t that great. I didn’t let that deter me, though. I decided to try it anyway and I love it. I think it does what it claims to: hydrates the skin, blurs pores and imperfections and creates a nice base for makeup application.

I have oily skin and this does a pretty good job of keeping me from looking like a greaseball, which is a plus. I will say that the packaging leaves a lot to be desired. It comes in a dropper like all other Farsali products, but because it’s so thick, getting the product out is difficult.

Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm $34

I’ve been using the Clinique Melt the Day Away balm for probably 5 years, but decided to give this one a try and I actually like it more! Both products have the same premise—a solid makeup remover balm that liquifies once it’s on your skin. Personally, I think that this one works better. It also claims to have skincare benefits, which is a lofty claim since it sits on my face for approximately 30 seconds each day. Strangely enough, my problematic, acne-prone skin has been looking clearer lately so maybe there is something to that?

Laniege Lip Sleeping Mask $20

My lips have been extremely dry lately. So much so that I decided to Google it and was met with the suggestion of “extremely dry lips cancer.” This is why I shouldn’t use the internet.

This mask is kind of splurge. For starters, it’s not a run of the mill lip balm. It’s a sleeping mask, meaning you slather it on your lips at night in order to wake up with silky, smooth lips. The packaging is very luxe. It comes in a jar with a little spatula to apply it with (and the spatula even comes in it’s own little rubber envelope, which I thought was cute). 

My mom has been using a much cheaper “lip sleeping mask” called Vaseline for 30 years, and that works just fine. But if you’re in a treat yo self mood and want to splurge on a spa-like experience, this is a good place to start.

Bobbi Brown Face Base $60

I know, I know. You’re probably thinking “how many primers can one person own?” but the answer is a lot. I was drawn to this primer because 1) the packaging and 2) in addition to prepping your skin for makeup, it claims to have a lot of skincare benefits. I’ve been taking skincare a lot more seriously lately and I loved the idea of prepping my face with something that would actually be beneficial for my skin, rather than just beneficial for makeup application. So far, I’m loving this. It feels extremely luxurious, makes my makeup glide on effortlessly and stay put all day. The only downside is that it has a rather strong citrus scent but, for me, the benefits outweigh the smell.

Huda Beauty New Nude Eyeshadow Palette $65

Honestly, where do I start? This palette is gorgeous and unlike any other palette that is on the market right now. It comes with 18 intensely pigmented shades, including a cream concealer, which I think is genius. The price may sound steep at first, but broken down is $3.61 per shadow, which isn’t awful.

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There are matte shades, reflective duochrome shadows and two pressed glitters. Every shade that I have tried is insanely pigmented. Even the duochrome shadows and the pressed glitters impressed me. There was no fallout whatsoever and they stayed on my eyelids for 8+ hours.

This palette is so outside of my natural comfort zone. I normally go for warm-toned everything, but I thought this was so gorgeous I had to try it and i love it! You can create so many looks from very wearable everyday looks to something super over-the-top and glittery. This palette doesn’t disappoint.

Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation $42

This is the OG foundation. Back in the day, every YouTuber used/recommended this foundation and, naturally, I bought it. I used it religiously for years, but at some point I chose to stray and purchase something else. After many trials and errors with other subpar foundations, this prodigal son found her way back.

This foundation is very full coverage (without being cakey), dries to a satin matte finish and wears allllll day (and night) long. If you like light coverage, you’ll hate it. If you like full coverage, you’ll love it.

Bonus

Dolce and Gabanna Light Blue

Fragrance *never* goes on sale, so when it’s 20% you have to snatch some up. I used to wear Dole and Gabanna Light Blue years ago, and have started wearing it again lately and have gotten so many compliments on it. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to get a new, fresh bottle.

Honorable Mentions

  1. Josie Maran Argan Lip Sting Plumping Butter in Honey
  2. Huda Beauty Liquid Lipstick in Venus
  3. Makeup Forever Artist Color Pencil in Infinite Sand

THATS ALL, FOLKS

While it’s true that I’m going to drop a disgusting amount of money during this sale, I at least have to be strategic about it. This is the perfect time to purchase things you’ve had your eye on, but haven’t wanted to pay full price for. Fragrance

 

#WhyIApplied: A First Generation College Student Talks about Michigan College Month

As a first generation college student, college access is something that is near and dear to my heart. Navigating the college-going process was overwhelming to me. I had no idea how to apply to colleges, no idea how I was going to pay for college, and despite having not done it in years, the FAFSA remains the bane of my existence.

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Me and my brother being very cute during Michigan College Month, I mean October, circa 1995

 

The Michigan College Access Network understands that all of those things are barriers that keep kids—especially those who are the first in their families to go to college—from pursuing education beyond high school. That’s why they’ve designated October as Michigan College Month. Part of a larger, national initiative Michigan College Month encourages every graduating senior to submit at least one college application and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the end of the month. This year, more than 350 high schools across the state participated in #MICollegeMonth events.

I wish that College Month existed when I was a high school senior. Thankfully I had two very supportive parents and a few great teachers to lean on—some kids aren’t as fortunate and, not surprisingly, many don’t end up attending college.

#WhyIApplied:

When I first started high school, I didn’t see myself as college material or have any desire to go to college. I was a smart kid with lots of potential, but I knew what I wanted to do with my life (like every 15 year old, I knew everything there was to know about everything, if we’re being honest) and I knew that the profession of my dreams would require continued education, but not college. I wanted to be a cosmetologist.

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“I don’t want to go to college, Dad! I want to do hair!”

To give myself a little credit, cosmetology wasn’t just a half-baked pipe dream—I had a game plan for how I was going to become a cosmetologist. Rather than go to an expensive school like Douglas J, I was going to go to the Jackson Area Career Center. By attending the career center and high school at the same time, I would be a licensed cosmetologist by the time I graduated.

FAILED PLANS

My mom was supportive of my idea, but my dad was not. He always wanted me (and my brother) to go to college. When the time came to sign up career center, I learned that cosmetology classes were offered during the second half of the day—the same time AP classes were offered. My dad refused to sign the consent form, alleging that AP classes were more important than learning how to cut hair, and my 5 year plan was ruined.

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The Moxie Mountie journalism staff, circa 2011?

When cosmetology school didn’t work out, I decided that I would probably go to community college. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and my boyfriend of the time was going to go to community college and I didn’t want to go to school far away and leave him (brilliant, I know).

I was a smart kid, I got good grades (remarkably good given the amount of effort I was putting in, actually) and was involved in all kinds of extracurricular activities. I was involved in student government, I was an editor on the journalism staff, I was part of Link Crew, but I just didn’t see myself as college material. I would have never pursued higher education, especially anything other than community college, had it not been for my cousin Chad.

BIG APPLE, BIG DREAMS

When I was 15 years old, my parents let me travel alone to New York City to visit my cousin Chad and his wife Eileen. That trip changed my entire life.

All of a sudden I realized that there was a world outside of Jackson, Michigan. Up until that point, I had only known one reality and that was living in a small town full of people who never left. I realized that I had been setting the bar really low for myself. I was more concerned with the future of my relationship with my high school boyfriend than I was about my own future and my own happiness. (I’m sure you’ll be shocked to find out that we broke up).

I spent the week being the quintessential tourist—and a proverbial sponge. I was soaking in everything that I could. The sights, smells and sounds of the city. There were so many people in New York. I didn’t know any of them, and for the most part, they didn’t seem to know each other, either. That was a far cry from the small town I had just left, where you know virtually every person you bump into, and you very likely know their entire extended family, too.

I went to Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center, the Chrysler Building and Times Square. I rode the subway (and bought a Metrocard!), I rode in a taxi and I jaywalked across streets I had heard of but never imagined being on. I toured the set of Saturday Night Live and went on the Sex and the City bus tour. I bought knock-off Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses in Chinatown, ate a hotdog from Gray’s Papaya and had sushi for the first time. I had the time of my life.

COLLEGE MATERIAL

Every one of those experiences was magical to me, but they aren’t what changed my life. What changed my life were the conversations that we had while doing all those other things. Chad and Eileen asked me questions that no one else had asked me. What did I want to do when I graduated? What college did I want to go? What did I want to major in? What was I doing right now to make sure that I was an appealing candidate? Was I well-rounded enough? Was I getting good enough grades? The ACT—had I taken it? Was I studying for it? They had knowledge and insight that other people didn’t.

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Me and my freshman roommates at MSU. Fall 2012.

The last night I was in town, we went to dinner at the nicest restaurant I had ever been to. I remember talking to both Chad and Eileen over dinner about what my next steps would be when I got home. They were smart enough, and they cared enough, to not only have these conversations with me, but to give me action items that I would execute on my own—and they followed up, too.

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The quintessential college picture. Me sitting in my college dorm, wearing a Sparty On t-shirt, with a super tacky duct tape “S” on the wall.

Chad wanted me to apply to the University of Michigan, or as he referred to it, “the Harvard of the Midwest.” He knew that I loved writing, and he and Eileen talked to me about all the possible avenues that writing could take me down. For the first time in my life I felt like the world was my oyster. I felt like I could do anything or be anything that I wanted, as long as I worked hard enough.

GETTING TO WORK

I went to New York the summer I was going into my sophomore year of high school. That trip lit a fire under my ass and motivated me in a way that nothing else could have. When I started school that year I hit the books hard. I hadn’t necessarily done so hot in school my freshman year and I was not about to let laziness keep me from going to college.

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This is right after I told Max I originally didn’t plan on going to college.

I also found my passion that year in the form of a high school journalism class. I loved that class more than any other class I had ever taken and it laid the foundation for what would be my future career. My journalism teacher, Mr. Woodruff, was one of the greatest teachers and mentors I have ever had, and I would not be where I am today without his guidance and constructive criticism—it’s what helped me become a good writer. It turns out red ink isn’t always bad.

MAMA, I MADE IT

As confusing as the college application process was, I fumbled my way through it and applied to Michigan State University in the fall of 2011. I got my acceptance letter on February 18, 2012—my mom’s birthday.

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Selfie taken during my graduation ceremony.

I spent 4 years at MSU, changing my major the same number of times. I graduated in May of 2016 with a Bachelor of Art in Communications.

Nothing about college was easy—not the application process, not the courses, not the exams; nothing. But it was worth it, and that’s what matters.

Ultimately, I applied to college because I knew higher education was the path to becoming a more well-rounded person, creating a better life, having more opportunities and better wages. I’m so glad that I made the decision I did.

#COLLEGEBOUNDMI

The third annual Michigan College Month is coming to an end, but MCAN is doing so much more to ensure that high school students in Michigan know that they are college material and have the means to pursue higher education. For additional information on MCAN initiatives, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

 

A Fun-Filled Fall Day at Uncle John’s Cider Mill

As soon as the temperatures started to drop and the leaves even hinted at changing color, I turned into Buddy the Elf. What does that mean? It means I started making lists of all the fun fall things that I simply could not miss out on doing with Wajid. It went something like this: first, we’re going to ago apple picking, then we’re going to carve pumpkins, eat donuts and beer bong apple cider, then we’re going to go on a hay ride and hold hands and eat an entire package of Pillsbury pumpkin-shaped cookies and then we’ll snuggle.

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I’m kidding, partly.

FAILED PLANS

I really had my heart set on taking a trip up north to see the fall colors. It’s something that I’ve  always wanted to do, and since neither of us have done it before I thought it would be the perfect ~romantic~ weekend getaway. Unfortunately, life happens and between the short window of time the leaves are peaking (honestly why can’t nature just accommodate my personal timeline), the ever-changing weather and our busy schedules, we just can’t swing it.

Despite the likelihood of our trip becoming less and less likely with each passing day, I continued to cling onto the idea with blind optimism until Saturday night when Wajid finally told me it wouldn’t be possible. If I’m being honest, I was pretty bummed. I wasn’t upset with him, obviously, but I was upset with the situation and the fact that life isn’t fair and sometimes things just don’t work out. But, as Ross Gellar said, I’m fine!

PLAN B

Wajid knew that I was disappointed and on Sunday morning he shared a fall nature walk Facebook event with me. It wasn’t a trip to the U.P. but it was a sweet gesture and I appreciated that, even if we couldn’t take the trip, he was still putting effort into things he knew meant a lot to me.

I knew that I would much rather take a day trip to Uncle John’s Cider Mill than go on a nature walk—and to be fair, neither of us had ever been to Uncle John’s, so it was still a fall-themed first for both of us.

UNCLE JOHN’S

Having never been to Uncle John’s, I didn’t really have any expectations. I thought we would have a decent time, but I never anticipated that we would have so much fun.

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Oh, hello. My boyfriend is a model.

For starters, we honestly couldn’t have asked for better weather. I know that the internet would have you believe that fall is always crisp temps, sunny skies and pretty colors but as someone who has lived in Michigan for 25 years, I can tell you that, while there are a handful of those days, there are just as many that are rainy, gray and/or cold and not particularly the kind of weather you’d want to spend an afternoon at an apple orchard in.

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Calvin Klein, where ya at?

With that being said, we truly did have the weather of a quintessential fall day. It wasn’t too hot and it wasn’t too cold—it was the perfect crisp weather you imagine when you think of fall. The sky was blue, the sun was shining and there was a slight breeze as we strolled through apple orchards, wandered through corn fields and stopped at every chance to take pictures. The apples were red and ripe, the pumpkins were bright orange and the leaves were at the perfect point—enough of them had changed to be pretty and festive, but not too many to the point where the trees are naked and serving as a reminder of the impending winter.

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Wajid took so many photos of me and never once complained. Now if only he’d accept my marriage proposal so he can really be my Instagram husband.

CIDER AND DONUTS

We spent hours walking around the farm. Seriously, I think we were there for four hours. It was really nice just spending time together. We strolled through apple orchards, and corn fields, ate cider and donuts, saw cute dogs (and there was even a woman carrying her cat around!) and spent the entire day together just laughing and having a good time.

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I know that those boxes are for apples but they make excellent photo props.

With the exception of an episode of Curious George, I had never seen how apple cider is made. After buying our cider and donuts, we grabbed a table right in front of the fruit press and watched it smash up apples while we snacked on our festive treats.  It was fun to watch people crowd around to see how the cider is made and Wajid, always curious, had to get some up-close-and-personal shots to better understand the science and mechanics behind the process.

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That’s a genuine laugh. Squinty eyes and all.

As two grown-ass adults, I think riding on the rides in the children’s area would probably be frowned upon but it did look like a good time. (And given the chance, I think Wajid would have ridden the bear ride in a heartbeat).

I  thought that our visit to Uncle John’s would be much shorter-lived. Honestly, I definitely thought we would have enough time to go to Van Atta’s before they closed (I haven’t been there in months and I am having serious FOMO), but we left after 6 p.m. Having never been, I thought we would grab some cider and donuts, snap some pics and be on our merry way, but there was so much more to do. Plus, there is something kind of nice about just being able to roam around outside in the fresh air. (I can’t believe I’m saying that, I don’t even know who I am anymore). I kind of already want to go back?

TL;DR

At the risk of sounding like a shitty infomercial, there is truly something for everyone at Uncle John’s. If there is another nice fall day this season, grab your friends or your fam (and definitely your dog!) and take a trip to St. Johns for some cider (alcoholic or not) and donuts—and soak up a beautiful fall day while you still can.

Rock the Fox: Exploring Indie Makeup at Vosenna

If you know me at all, you’ll know that I am a makeup and skincare fiend. The amount of money that I spend on both combined is insane—like, enough to warrant entry into some kind of 12-step program.

I don’t really discriminate about where I buy my makeup from. I definitely frequent Sephora and Ulta the most, but Target, Meijer, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens and even Kohls have a solid selection, respectively. When my friend Andrea of Blonde Bedhead told me about a new makeup store in Ann Arbor, I knew I had to check it out for myself.

DAY TRIP

Wajid and I recently made a day trip to Ann Arbor and, despite not really having a game-plan for our day, we knew that Vosenna was the one place we needed to go. I had told him that I wanted to blog about the store and so, even though he doesn’t care anything about makeup, he insisted that we couldn’t head home before stopping by. He’s the best and I could talk about him all day but I’ll spare you the mushy details.

VOSENNA

I’m super into makeup and skincare, but I my experience with natural products is essentially nonexistent. Furthermore, I had never been to an independent make up store! I honestly had no idea what to expect so, like a true millennial, I had to do some Facebook/Instagram investigating. If I’m being honest, no Instagram photo could have done the experience of shopping at Vosenna justice.

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First of all, walking into Vosenna is like walking into an indie makeup paradise where nothing is tested on animals, most things are vegan and (almost) everything is made in the United States. I was able to swatch products, test them out, feel them on my skin and smell them (which is important to me because I’m weirdly sensitive to smells). As much as I love online shopping, there is something to said about visiting a brick and mortar store. Nothing compares to being able to swatch products, see the color payoff for yourself, feel the formulas and experience makeup in real life. I left the store that day covered in glittery, glossy, pigmented swatches and couldn’t have been happier.

Another thing that made shopping at Vosenna such a great experience was Elizabeth, the owner. She was kind enough to give me a tour of the store and talk through each brand, and each product with me. I had so much fun learning about all the different lines she carries, why she loves them and which products are her favorites. I’ve never experienced customer service like that at any other cosmetic store, or any store of any kind for that matter!

BETTER-FOR-YOU PRODUCTS

If I’m being honest, I’ve never really given much thought about the ingredients that are in the products that I use, until it was brought to my attention. I guess I’ve always just assumed that if you can buy it in the store (and use it on your face, lips, eyes, etc.) it must be safe and regulated by the government. It turns out that isn’t necessarily the case. Yikes.

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To be fair, it is true in some cases. For example, the EU has banned 1,328 chemicals from being used in cosmetics and skincare. Do you know how many are banned in the U.S.? 30. Gotta love American capitalism. 

After high-profile lawsuits like the Johnson & Johnson case where talc in their products was linked to ovarian cancer, consumers are becoming increasingly cognizant about what we put on our bodies—and we should be!

If I’m being honest, I’ve been a little leery of natural beauty because a) I didn’t realize how many chemicals were in products and the potentical implications and b) brands like Goop have made me cynical. Of course I see the benefits of “natural” or “clean” beauty, but I don’t think everyone should run out and steam their vagina because Gwyneth Paltrow is peddling pseudo-science to the masses.

If you have the same jaded attitude I do, don’t let that steer you away from Vosenna. Yes, the store is full to the brim with natural, vegan, cruelty-free products, but it’s also free from Goop-esque BS—and the products are good

SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESS

If I love anything, it’s makeup and supporting local businesses. From farmers markets to Michigan-brewed beer, I prefer to put my money back into my local and state economy and I love that Vosenna allows me to do that.  

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One of my favorite things about Vosenna is the fact that it houses so many awesome indie brands in one place. I had heard people rave about Girlactik, Skindinavia and Fat and the Moon for a long time, but had never bothered purchasing anything from any of them because I didn’t know where to buy them and sometimes have reservations about buying makeup online (and also paying for shipping is the bane of my existence).

#GIRLGANG

I spent some time talking to Elizabeth and love her enthusiasm and passion for natural, better-for-you (and the earth!) products, and her entrepreneurial spirit.

Few things are more inspiring to me than people who have decided to just do something, no matter how big of a risk it might be. At the heart of Vosenna is a woman who loved better-for-you makeup and skincare so much that she went out on a limb and and opened a small business where she could share her love of those products, and her knowledge, with the world—and I think we can all agree that’s awesome.

WHAT I GOT

After mentioning to Elizabeth that I had tried natural deodorants in the past, but was always disappointed in their performance (read: I still stink) she gave me the Rustic Maka Natural Deodorant to try. I’ve been using it religiously since I got it and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well it works. It smells good, lasts all day and doesn’t have any nasty chemicals in it. I’m sold.

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Another thing that I bought and couldn’t wait to use was the Fat and the Moon Pimple Mud. As someone who has dealt with acne for the last 10+ years, I have tried just about everything under the sun to combat acne and oily skin. Let me tell you, this stuff is the truth. I ran home and used the mask they day I got it and have continued to use it multiple times per week since. My favorite thing about it is that it’s super versatile. Sometimes I’ll use it all over my face as a face mask and other days I’ll use it to spot treat active breakouts (which have been plentiful lately, FML). I’ll be honest—it doesn’t smell amazing, but it works and that’s all that matters. If I put this on a breakout before bed, by the time I wake up it will be be noticeably smaller and less red, or even gone completely. Go buy this, now!

The other thing I purchased was the Katherine Cosmetics highlighter. As Elizabeth showed me around the store, I zeroed in on the highlighter and knew I couldn’t leave the store without it in tow.

This highlighter is gluten free, paraben free and cruelty free and also blinding. I have tried every highlighter known to man and this one is incredible. It is buttery, blendable, buildable and all around stunning. I am obsessed with this. If you love a good highlight, I can’t recommend this enough.

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I can’t say enough good things about Vosenna and about Elizabeth. I can’t wait to stop back in the next time I’m in Ann Arbor to pick up more indie makeup.

TL;DR

Vosenna is a new(ish) indie makeup store in Ann Arbor full of good-for-you (and the planet!) makeup, skincare products and fragrance for men and women alike. I 100 percent recommend stopping by if you’re in Ann Arbor—or making a special trip to see it.