March Favorites

I think that we can all collectively agree that March was the longest month ever. I have been self-quarantined for almost a month now and that has obviously meant that I’m not going to stores or doing much shopping. I did place a few online orders, but given the situation at hand and the uncertainty, I have been trying to spend more responsibly and stop any non-essential purchases.

Read on for the things I have been enjoying from the comfort of my home for the past month, but please don’t feel pressured to buy any of this stuff. The world is a crazy place right now. Save your money—there will always be things to buy.

TATCHA THE LIQUID SILK CANVAS

I got this back in February when it first came out and have been testing it ever since. I tried the original Silk Canvas primer back in the day and did not like it. I have oily skin and it just didn’t work for me, especially not well enough to justify the hefty price tag.

In my opinion, this one is better than the original. My makeup applies smoothly when I use this and I do think it has a slight blurring effect on the skin. It might also extend the longevity of my makeup just a little, but nothing crazy, and it doesn’t do anything for me in terms of staying matte. I don’t hate it, but I don’t think it’s the best primer I’ve ever used. If you’re in the market for a new primer and have $50 to spend, I think it’s worth trying but I don’t think you have to run out and get it by any means.

NUDESTIX NUDIES ALL OVER FACE COLOR IN BUBBLY BEBE

I bought this on a whim at Ulta one day and had very low expectations for it. I honestly didn’t realize that Ulta carried Nudestix, and when I saw this on an end cap I figured it was worth testing out.

I am so pleasantly surprised by this product. It is the only highlighter that I have been reaching for for the past month. My preferred highlighter style is less disco ball and more natural, sweaty glow. That is exactly the look this product gives—the most beautiful, natural dew. I apply it directly to my face and then blend it out with either my fingers or a brush. It stays put all day and doesn’t disrupt any of my other products. This is easily my favorite product of the month.

PAULA’S CHOICE 2%  BHA LIQUID EXFOLIANT

I’ve been testing this out for a few weeks now and I love it. I have heard people rave about this for a long time but never felt compelled to try it myself. However, I’ve become quite the skincare maven thanks to my esthetician Jennifer Edwards and so when I saw this on sale (with free shipping!) I figured, why not?

I use this every single night in conjuncture with the rest of my skincare products and have seen such a difference in my skin. My skin is clearer, more event and, dare I say, radiant? I’m a big fan of this stuff and at only $23, it’s one of the least expensive, good quality skincare items you can invest in.

DIPTYQUE VANILLE CANDLE

I succumbed to the pressure of influencer marketing and bought one of these ridiculously overpriced candles. I will admit that I only bought it because it was 20% off at Nordstrom, making it slightly more affordable but still crazy.

It is a splurge and totally unnecessary, but it is a lovely smelling candle. It is extremely, extremely fragranced. I haven’t even burnt it yet, but it literally smells up an entire room just by being in it. I also got one in Amber but that one is a teeny tiny baby candle (I’m holding out on burning that one, too).

If you’re looking for a nice smelling candle that won’t force you to declare bankruptcy, my favorite candle in the entire world is the Tobacco and Vanilla Artisan Soy Wax candle from World Market. It is the most beautiful scent on the planet and will burn for hours and hours.

PLUS WHITE FIVE MINUTE PREMIER TEETH WHITENING

I have whitening trays from my dentist that were given to me years ago as a Christmas gift. If you read my non-sexy essentials blog, you’ll know I was also given an electric toothbrush as a gift once. I like taking care of my teeth, okay?

Anyway, I buy refills of the peroxide gel from my dentist. I went to whiten my teeth for the first time in an eternity earlier this week and realized that the gel had gone bad. I had some of this Plus White Five Minute whitening stuff on hand as a backup. This may not be the same quality as the stuff from my dentist, but it does the job. My teeth looked noticeably whiter after one use. For $8, you can’t go wrong!

Pro tip: if you don’t have custom whitening trays, you can buy a football mouth guard on Amazon for under $5. Follow the directions on the package to form it to your own teeth and voila! Custom whitening trays at home for a fraction of the cost.

OPI CAJUN SHRIMP

This is my favorite nail polish for spring and summer. My milky pink dip polish is still going strong on my nails (over a month old at this point) and since I’m out of acetone, it’s going to stay there. I decided to give myself a pedicure to lift my spirits. There’s something about looking down and seeing this spicy red-orange color that just puts me in a better mood and makes me feel like less of a potato.

ANA LUISA JEWELRY

I had been looking for a reasonably-priced dome ring when I came across an Instagram ad for Ana Luisa jewelry . I was immediately drawn to the cool-girl appeal of the brand. Everything is so chic and elegant. I bought a ring and then followed up by buying two pairs of earrings, one pair of really cool snake earrings and a pair of mismatched celestial huggies. Shipping is fast (especially given the current situation) and their communication is great. They’re currently having a sale- buy one, get one 35% off AND free shipping. I’m not getting paid to talk about this, I swear.

TL;DR

Turns out I lied. I bought way more shit than I realized this month! What are you loving right now?

Not-Sexy Everyday Essentials

It’s no secret that I’m high-maintenance. From hair appointments, lash extensions, bi-weekly nail appointments and regular visits to my esthetician, there’s a lot of time and effort that goes into looking this mediocre.

Copy of Green and White Business Advisory Coronavirus Awareness Instagram Post

It’s also not a secret that I love the finer things in life and am not afraid to splurge on a luxe product in the name of treating myself. If that’s the list you’re looking for, this ain’t it. These are the basic products that I use that are not sexy or luxe, they just keep me functioning like a normal, hygienic human on a daily basis. Read on for more.

AmLactin Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion

My biggest pet peeve with lotion is when it doesn’t absorb quickly enough and you have to walk around pantless for an hour with sticky skin. There is nothing sexy about this lotion, but it absorbs really quickly and leaves your skin silky smooth. It contains AHA, so in addition to hydrating your skin, it also exfoliates. I got mine at Costco, but you can also buy at Target and on Amazon.

Diamond White Replacement Toothbrush Heads

My electric toothbrush remains one of my top five gifts that I was ever given. My teeth feel so much cleaner when I use an electric toothbrush versus a traditional, manual toothbrush, but the only caveat is the cost of replacement heads. I found these on Amazon that fit on my Sonicare toothbrush but cost a fraction of the price of normal name brand replacements. I’ve been using these for years now and love them. I can’t say enough good things.

Meijer Men’s Precision Fit 5 Razors

This is the best razor that I have ever used. Forget all the aesthetically pleasing razors that have unlimited budgets for Instagram ads—they aren’t worth your money. As one of the hairiest humans to ever walk the planet, I have tried every razor known to man. This is the only one that I will buy. It’s the smoothest shave I’ve ever gotten and contours to every curve on your body.  I’m fairly certain that I could shave Kramer with this razor if I really wanted to. I’ve had the same handle for over 2 years and just buy the replacement blades, which is much better for the environment than the disposable razors I was using before.

Wet Brush Epic Professional Deluxe Detangler

I have really long, fine hair—and I have a ton of it. That’s basically a recipe for disaster because my hair gets so tangly, so fast. I have started sleeping with my hair in either a bun or a braid every night to help mitigate some of the snarls, but even so, I need a good brush to help brush it out in the morning. This is the best hairbrush that I’ve ever used. I have two of them, one that I keep in my office or backpack and one that I keep at home. It’s no Mason Pearson brush, but it gets the job done.

Megababe Bust Dust

The weather is warming up and, assuming that we’re ever able to leave our houses again, we’ll be dealing with boob sweat before you know it. Is there anything less sexy than boob sweat? Probably not. But if ya have tiddies, you probably deal with it.

While this is marketed specifically for women & boobs, you could really use it anywhere that you want to keep dry. If you’ve ever found yourself putting baby or talcum powder on any skin that might rub together, please stop because some studies indicate it may make you at greater risk for cancer. If you want to stay dry and prevent chafing, this is a good investment to make—for men and women alike.

Tounge Scraper

I don’t know that this is medically necessary, but I like having a clean mouth and I also love a good gadget, so I bought this from Amazon on a whim. I feel like it does a good job of scraping your tongue and at the very least, it has the placebo effect of me believing that I’m doing something good for my oral hygiene.

Just for Men Mustache & Beard Dye

If you think I’m joking about this, I’m not. I use this to tint my eyebrows at home and have been doing so for at least 3-4 years now. I have my eyebrows microbladed now, so I don’t do this as often as I used to, but I have definitely done it since being quarantined simply because I have nothing better to do. I have used demi-permanent color from Sally’s and a level 10 developer before, but this is much easier. It comes with the color, the developer. You mix the two together, and apply with a slanted eyebrow brush. Leave on for 15-20 minutes, wipe off with warm soapy water and voila! Perfect, tinted at home eyebrows.

*This is an off label use. Tint your eyebrows at your own risk, knowing that if you get this in your eye you can cause permanent damage to your vision. Please don’t sue me.

At-Home Waxing Kit

I’m very open about the fact that I’m extremely hairy. Not like, in a medical way, just thanks to my Hispanic heritage. I’ve had this waxing kit for probably 8+ years? But you don’t need the entire kit, because it comes with a lot of stuff that isn’t necessary. If you’re interested in waxing yourself at home, you’ll need a warmer and some wax, as well as the applicators.

I’ve been doing my eyebrows at home for a long, long time. I have used this to wax my legs and other things, but I prefer to primarily use this for my eyebrows. I use these wax beads, which harden and don’t require any fabric to pull off. This wax is also great for sensitive skin, so if you’re someone that tends to break out after being waxed this is a great option. I also use these petite wax applicators for precise application to the eyebrow area.

TL;DR

Boob sweat, body hair, mustache dye, tongue scraping—I told you there was nothing sexy about this list, but these are products that I use on a regular basis and always repurchase. What are some of the non-sexy products that you use on a regular basis?

Quarantine Diaries: Chapter Two

March 21-April 2

I’ve always considered myself a homebody but, if I’m being honest, I miss going outside. I miss my family; I miss strolling through the aisles at Sephora and Ulta, swatching makeup at my own leisure; I miss going to the grocery store and being blissfully unaware of the fact that everything I touch is apparently crawling with bacteria, germs and God knows what else.

There are good days and bad days, but the past week has felt like much more of a struggle for me.  I live alone (well, just me and Kramer) and I am bored and lonely and going slightly stir crazy. My sleep schedule is incredibly messed up and, despite the fact that my therapist told me to maintain a schedule for the sake of my mental health, I never fall asleep before 4 a.m. I haven’t felt very creative or productive, no matter how hard I try. It hasn’t been all bad, though.

Here’s how I’ve been coping:

WATCHING

I have been watching an ungodly amount of TV. Because I’m feeling so emotionally volatile, rewatching some episodes of Friends was making me incredibly sad, so I decided to start something else. I watched Tiger King. To be entirely honest, I was so hauntingly intrigued by it that I watched it in one sitting. It’s like a car accident—you just can’t look away.

I also watched season one and two of Big Little Lies which was amazing. I highly recommend if you like suspenseful shows—but you should be forewarned that there are some very graphic depictions of domestic abuse so if that is upsetting or triggering to you, maybe this isn’t a show for you.

I also watched all five seasons of Schitt’s Creek on Netflix and later realized that there is another season that’s airing right now. It took me a while to get into it, but after a few episodes, I started falling in love with the show, especially David Rose. He’s my favorite.

I’ve obviously continued to watch random episodes of Friends and The Office, primarily when I’m lying in bed and can’t fall asleep (which is every night, let’s be real).

READING

I started to re-read Matt Bellasi’s book “Everything is Awful” because it felt very apropos. I love Matt’s voice and it genuinely makes me laugh out loud when I read it. Laughing at his failures and humiliating moments make mine seem less salient, LOL.

I had been reading the book “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying” by Bronnie Ware, but I had to stop because it’s a little too heavy for the current moment.

I’ve made a very concerted effort to limit the amount of news that I consume. I’m trying to stay informed as best I can, without going overboard and freaking myself out. I’m staying home and doing my part to flatten the curve, everything else is out of my control.

MAKING

I’ve been trying to channel my energy into creative pursuits by doing work for my freelance clients, brainstorming blog post ideas and practicing illustrations on my iPad. Some days I’ll have a random burst of energy and other days, I end up just staring at my computer. It is what it is!

DOING

The only good thing to come from this quarantine is the fact that I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning. On Sunday I deep cleaned my kitchen, leaving it cleaner than it has ever been before. I swept and scrubbed the floors, the baseboards, and the appliances. I also took everything out of my fridge and scrubbed all the shelves and drawers, threw out food that was expired or bad and then re-organized everything. Not only did it take up a solid portion of my day, but I felt a lot better when I was done.

Despite the fact that I haven’t left my house in weeks, my hamper is still full of dirty clothes & towels, which shows me that my failure to keep up with my laundry is less about me being busy and more just a character trait. I’m learning so much about myself!

I’ve also been journaling because that helps me process things and putting pen to paper always makes me feel better. It will also be interesting to go back and re-read some of these journal entries when this is all over. In addition to journaling, I’m doing a 10-day writing prompt, that I’ve trying to decide whether or not I want to share as a blog series.

One of my favorite things I’ve been doing this quarantine is playing Tetris, which is nerdy but I don’t care. If everyone else can play Animal Crossing, I can play Tetris. I used to play Tetris online all the time when I was in high school. My late friend Pat Spitler and I would play it during our journalism class and we would talk so much shit to each other. I would like to record to show that I always won.

CONNECTING

I try to stay in touch with my friends and family as much as possible. I talk to my mom and Max every day, either talking on the phone or Facetime. Max also sends me the most ridiculous Snapchats, which typically are the highlight of my day.

My friends Andrea and Jennifer check in on me almost every day, which is the sweetest thing ever and melts my heart. I call my grandma at least once a week to make sure that she and my grandpa are doing okay and have everything they need.

One of my favorite things is getting random memes throughout the day from my friends, which lately have either been about Tiger King or Corona, but either way, they make me laugh which also boosts my mood.

TL;DR

I’m hanging in there. The interesting part of this to me is that we’re all collectively experiencing the same thing. We’re all scared, lonely and grieving the lives we used to have. It will get better. It will take some time, but it will. How are you passing the time?

 

Zoom Meeting Makeup Essentials

A lot of us have been working from home for the past few weeks— well, working at home trying to be productive and retain some sense of normalcy in the midst of the largest crisis of our lifetimes.

THERE’S PEOPLE DYING, KIM

I get it. Many of us, myself included, are having a very difficult time giving one single fuck about what we look like. Thousands of people dying tends to really put into perspective what is important and what is not.

More than anything, I think finding what works for you is incredibly important right now. If sticking to a routine helps you, then you should absolutely do that. If you want to wear the same sweatpants and ratty t-shirt for 10 days in a row (yes, I’m talking about myself) then rock on with your bad self. We’re all just trying to get through. No judgment here.

Copy of Copy of Green and White Business Advisory Coronavirus Awareness Instagram Post (1)

That being said, if you find yourself with an important video conference on your calendar and want to look a little put together without going overboard, here are my favorite products for a 10-minute fresh-faced makeup look.

IT COSMETICS CC CREAM

I love this product. If I could only use one base product for the rest of my life, I think it would be this. It’s full coverage without looky cakey or makeup-y, contains SPF 50 (even though you should definitely still be wearing another sunscreen!), and stays in place all day. You don’t need to use a primer with this and it’s so full coverage, you rarely need to spot conceal. You can use your fingers, a brush or a sponge to apply—whatever you prefer. Truly impossible to mess this up.

DIORSHOW MASCARA

This is one of my favorite mascaras to use, but you can obviously just use whichever mascara you prefer. I’ve had eyelash extensions for almost three years now, but still use mascara on my bottom lashes from time to time. I’ve also been really enjoying the Glossier Lash Slick mascara

BECCA UNDERYE BRIGHTENING CORRECTOR

I think it’s probably safe to assume that all of us are having trouble sleeping lately. I go to sleep around 4 in the morning and then spend all day being exhausted and sluggish—and you can definitely see it on my face. Thankfully this undereye corrector will hide all your dirty little secrets and make people think that you’re not entirely sleep deprived and filled with existential dread. You can apply a concealer on top of it if you want to, but I don’t always feel the need to because this does such a good job. Pro tip:  It’s a very thick, creamy formula so I always set with a powder to prevent creasing.

GLOSSIER BOY BROW

I can no longer be bothered to fill my eyebrows in with pencil. Partly because I have my brows microbladed and don’t really need to, but also I just no longer care TBH. I swipe Boy Brow through my brows, brushing them in an upward motion for a little more fullness, and call it a day.

TOWER 28 BEACH PLEASE 

I love this product. I recently talked about this in a post about my favorite cream blushes and for good reason. It’s so easy to use and so pigmented that a little bit goes a long day. Blend out using your fingers and bring it across the bridge of your nose for a healthy glow. No one will ever know that you haven’t stepped foot outside your apartment or felt the warmth of the sun on your face in over 10 days.

BUXOM POWER-FULL PLUMP LIP BALM

This is a great lip balm for when you want a little something on your lips but putting on actual lipstick or lip gloss doesn’t feel necessary. It creates a custom color for you by adjusting to the pH level of your lips. Normally, things that adjust to the pH of your lips look absolutely terrible on me (looking at you Lipstick Queen) but this is a flattering, slightly flushed shade like maybe I was just making out with someone (LOL, definitely not). I regret to inform you that I use the shade Big-O, which makes me want to vom, but I didn’t name it. Don’t shoot the messenger.

TL;DR

If you want to throw on a little makeup to feel slightly more polished & human, please do. If you want to stay in your pajamas and have disheveled hair, please do. For me, it depends on the day. It depends on my mood, how I slept, what the weather is doing, how much I’m paying attention to the news, etc. I think we’re really all just taking things day by day.

What are you doing during this crazy time? Getting ready or embracing a more natural look?

 

 

My Favorite Spring Trend: Cream Blushes

For years, blush took a backseat to other products as contour, matte lips, highlighter and brows were at center stage—but right now, blush is having a moment.

Brands all across the board are debuting new blushes, from drugstore to high end. I, personally, am embracing this spring trend with open arms. Blush adds a beautiful glow to the cheeks making you appear fresh and vibrant—a look I am desperately clinging to, especially since I have now been quarantined in my apartment for over two weeks.

Green and White Business Advisory Coronavirus Awareness Instagram Post (2)

While there are tons of great powder blushes, my favorite blushes ATM are cream. While cream blushes might seem daunting or difficult to use, they aren’t. In my opinion, they give you the most natural look and they blend seamlessly into the cheeks.

PRO TIP

We’ve probably all been taught that blush goes on the apple of the cheeks and is blended outward and upward to the temple. Obviously, you do you, but I like to apply blush higher up, closer to the actual cheekbone, and sweep it across the face (including the bridge of your nose!).  I also like to blend blush on my temples to tie everything together. This gives a more natural-looking, soft-focus flush to the face.

GLOSSIER CLOUD PAINT

If you’re just starting to use cream blushes, I would recommend  giving this one a try. It can look intimidating right out of the tube, but it sheers out really nicely on the face. You can apply it with a brush, a sponge or your fingers, but I find that using your fingers is the quickest and easiest way.

TOWER 28 BEACH PLEASE LUMINOUS TINTED BALM

I love, love, love this product but, oh, boy, a little goes a long way. You can use this on both your lips and cheeks, and it blends out beautifully. It’s very creamy and surprisingly long-lasting. Every time I put this on I feel like I’ve been at the beach.

KAJA CHEEKY STAMP BLENDABLE BLUSH

This product was so intriguing to me. I’m not sure that this is technically considered a cream blush, it’s more of a cushion compact but I’m including it in my list either way.

I was nervous to try this because it felt almost gimmicky (?) to me. It comes with a heart stamp applicator, which I assumed would be a piece of garbage, but it’s not! I always use it to apply the product directly to my cheeks and then blend out with either my fingers or a duo fiber brush. This probably has the least staying power of any of the blushes on the list but is still a great option.

MILK MAKEUP LIP + CHEEK

This was the first cream blush that I tried. I had started really getting into cream products ( both bronzers and highlighters) and wanted to venture out into blush. I love this product. It seems counterintuitive, but I would not apply this directly to the cheeks. Instead, I warm it up on the back of my hand and then apply with either my fingers or a sponge. (Rubbing it directly on your face is likely to move any of the makeup you already have on your face!).

I would consider this to be the most fool-proof blush of the bunch. Dab your fingers in it, tap on your cheeks and you’re good to go!

TL;DR

I love the blush trend for spring! Do you have any favorite blushes you’re using at the moment?

Quarantine Diaries: How I’m Coping

As an introvert, I really thought that social distancing was a dream come true. In many ways, it is. If you, like me, have ever thought, “I really wish I could stay home and watch Netflix all day,” now is our time to shine!

Turns out, staying home and sitting on your ass is much more fun when the government isn’t forcing you to do so. After being quarantined for nearly a week, I’m feeling a little stir crazy. I’m also feeling extremely anxious so, I thought I would put together a list of ways that I’m coping and things I’m using to keep myself busy and entertained.

Please keep in mind that this is what I’m doing. I’m genuinely interested in what you’re doing, too. Let me know!

PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN

Earlier this week, I was sitting on my couch doing some work from my computer when I realized that I was 1) watching the news on TV 2) looking at Facebook on my computer and 3) scrolling through COVID-19 news on Twitter. Simultaneously. No wonder I was freaking the F out. Because I’m drowning myself in fire-and-brimstone news. My therapist told me to stay educated enough to have a plan of action and let everything else just be noise. I’m following her advice on that.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

Whatever that looks like for you, make sure you do it.  Listen, if you don’t normally eat an organic vegan diet, now is not the time to start doing that shit. Just make sure that you do the basics: take a shower, clean your space, brush your teeth, make sure you’re eating. And remember, it’s okay to take a walk outside. Social distancing doesn’t have to equal agoraphobia—it just means that you stay 6 feet away from other people.

When I get really stressed out or depressed, I stop cleaning my apartment and live in filth. This is gross, but true and also not uncommon. Some days, especially when my apartment is a total disaster, cleaning feels really daunting. If that’s the case, I’ll set a timer on my phone for 10 minutes and call it good. Turns out, you can do a lot in 10 minutes AND once you start, you’re more likely to want to keep going.

LAUGH

I know that what’s going on is really serious—and I don’t want to negate that—but I’ve always dealt with things by joking about that or trying to find something funny in any situation. Trust me, I know it’s scary. I have pretty severe asthma as well as another underlying autoimmune disease. I also don’t have health insurance. This is a really scary time and I’m dealing with it by laughing as much as I can. I love standup comedy. I have watched Dave Chappelle’s standup on Netflix so many times, I have it memorized. A few of my favorite things to watch right now are:

  • Friends (duh)
  • Dave Chappelle: Equanimity & The Bird Revelation
  • Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King
  • Ronny Chieng: Asian American Destroys America
  • Chris D’elia: Man on Fire
  • Chris D’elia: Incorrigible
  • The Office (obviously)
  • Seinfeld
  • Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj
  • 40 Year Old Virgin (classic)
  • Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
  • Any and all Adam Sandler movies

LEARN SOMETHING

Now is a good time to learn a new skill! I’ve been watching different classes on SkillShare to pass the time spent cooped up in my apartment. Skillshare is a paid subscription, and I know that money is tight for a lot of people right now and that might not be feasible. YouTube is free and there is a video to learn almost anything that you can imagine!

SHOP

Is it “responsible” of me to be shopping right now? Probably not. But I’ve still been doing it in moderation for the tiny little bit of the serotonin I so desperately need.

I’ve been especially trying to support small businesses right now, who need all the help they can get. Even though a lot of places are closed, you can always buy gift cards to local businesses online now for future use. Small businesses need all the help they can get right now, so whether you buy a gift card, order take out food or coffee, or support them on social media by leaving a positive review or liking/sharing their content, your support means the world to them!

Other stores like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus are also running 25% sitewide sales on things that NEVER go on sale. I am taking advantage of that, too.

CONNECT WITH LOVED ONES

Social distancing doesn’t mean forgetting about your relationships. FaceTime your family, call them, text, Snapchat, whatever. I’ve been Snapchatting with Max and it makes me both laugh hysterically and also kinda sad because I miss him a lot and wish I could be with him in person.

It’s really easy to get lonely right now, but make sure that you’re checking in on your friends and (chosen) family.

TL;DR

Things are weird right now. Whatever you’re feeling is valid. Sometimes I laugh at the stupid memes that are going around, sometimes I cry. The only certain thing right now is uncertainty, and we’re all going through it together. This will pass and things will get better. What are you doing to cope? Let me know!

Buy or Bye: Em Cosmetics

As a beauty blogger and seasoned makeup veteran, I think it’s my due diligence to try out all makeup brands and products. Also, a beauty lover and OG YouTuber makeup content consumer, I had to try Michelle Phan’s brand, em cosmetics.

Michelle Phan was the first YouTuber that I ever watched. Back when my parents had dial-up internet and it took hours and hours to load a short video, I would sacrifice my parents ability to make phone calls so I could watch her transform her face, like her iconic video in which she emulates Lady Gaga’s gigantic eyes from the Bad Romance video or when she turned herself into a Barbie.

Naturally, I had to rewatch a lot of these videos in order to write this blog, you know, for science.

Since finding fame on YouTube, Phan has become a successful career woman, including publishing a book with Random House and launching her own cosmetics line, em cosmetics.

IMG_6372

HEAVENS GLOW RADIANT BLUSH

I’ve always been a big fan of baked products, and this blush is not an exception. It’s such a beautiful pinky, peach shade that gives a beautiful flush of color to cheeks. This works well as a blush on lighter skin tones, but I think that it could work as a highlighter on deeper skin tones. 

I recently talked about my affinity for cream products, and while I stand by what I said, I often find myself setting my cream blush with this product. While it’s a powder, it’s not powdery, if that makes sense. It also doesn’t sit on top of the skin like some powders, instead, it blends in in a very beautiful way without emphasizing any imperfections. If you’re not ready to take the plunge with cream or liquid cheek products—or you have oily skin and want to lightly set your creams/liquids with a powder—I highly recommend trying this blush.

If you’re interested in trying this blush but don’t want to spend $34 (plus shipping) on blush, Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso is almost an exact dupe, in both shade and formula—and retails under $10.

LIP CUSHION

I’ve really been branching out when it comes to lip products. I used to exclusively wear matte lipstick (and liquid lipstick at that!), but I’ve been super into glossy lips lately. I’ve talked about my love of Tower 28’s ShineOn lip jelly, and while I do think that has a slight edge, this is still a really great product.

The shade Magic Hour is a universally flattering, peachy-nude shade that luminizes your lips with a sheer touch of color. It’s formulated with a nourishing blend of Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin E, so it leaves your lips smooth even after you take it off.

THE VERDICT

Michelle Phan’s products are just as good as I expected they would be. I love both the products that I tried and I can’t wait to add her blush serum to my collection.

TL;DR

Em Cosmetics are great. If you’re in the market for a blush or a moisturizing lip balm, I recommend both!

 

 

 

 

 

 

International Women’s Day

As our Lord and Savior Beyonce said: “who run the world? Girls.” Today on International Women’s Day, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite women-owned businesses in and around #LoveLansing and celebrate the badass women who own & operate them! 

Jennifer Edwards Skin | Aesthetics Med Spa

I’ve written blog after blog about my skin and how much Jennifer has changed it. I often joke that the most intimate relationship that I have is with Jennifer, because few people have seen me in a more vulnerable state and I am constantly sending her less-than-flattering photos of myself.

If you feel like treating yourself and your skin to something special, I highly suggest booking with her (which you can do online!). If you’re on a strict budget (which we probably all are), she offers cost-effective  treatments like chemical peels, microdermabrasion and dermaplaning. If you’re looking to invest a little more, there are always options like microneedling and laser treatments. Jennifer offers free consultations and will create a treatment plan specific for you, based on your budget and needs. 

Celeste Saltzman | Retail Therapy

Celeste is the owner of Retail Therapy, a women’s clothing boutique in Old Town. Celeste has the coolest style and always looks so chic and incredible. I truly admire how passionate she is about slow fashion (check out her op-ed in the LSJ here) and her commitment to only carrying clothing in her store that has been ethically and sustainably.

If you’re in need of new clothing, shoes or accessories, stop by the store! In addition to brands like Magnolia Pearl, Gershon Bram and Alembika, Retail Therapy is one of the only stores in Lansing that carries Lack of Color hats and Quay Australia sunglasses!

Andrea Kerbuski | AK Stories

There are a million reasons I love Kerbuski—but I’m super proud of her photography business.

Just like in every other situation in my life, I tend to look really awkward in photos. Andrea is the only photographer I have ever worked with that is able to make me feel comfortable in front of the camera and capture me in an authentic way. From professional headshots to family photos, Andrea’s work is so, so, gorgeous. The posing, the lighting, the editing, it’s just *chefs kiss*. 

If you’re looking for a professional photographer, there’s no one I would recommend more. DM her or send her an email to learn more about her pricing and availability.

Megan Emmons | Hair & Body Elements

Megan is the sweetest person you’ll ever meet. If you’re in the Lansing/East Lansing area and looking for a lash artist, she’s your girl. Whether you’re looking for dramatic volume lashes (like me) or you’re into a more natural, classic vibe, Megan will get you hooked up and looking and feeling your best. 

DM her on Instagram to book an appointment or to ask her any questions you may have about lash extensions! 

Riley Vanness  | The Hive

Riley has been doing my brows for years and years. We first met at the Ulta in Okemos and then she moved and I moved and we lost touch BUT we were serendipitously reunited last year and I couldn’t be happier. Riley offers a lot of services, ranging from brow waxing, tinting and laminating, to lash lift and tints. 

If your brows need some TLC, call Riley (or DM her on IG). She is the only person on this planet other than myself that I trust with my eyebrows and that is really saying something.

Michelle Gimbutis | The Barre Code East Lansing

I first met Michelle at the grand opening of The Barre Code-East Lansing. Michelle is a MSU alumna (Go Green!) and moved from Metro Detroit back to East Lansing to start her own business. She is also one of the sweetest, most down-to-earth people I’ve ever met.

Despite the fact that the Barre Code-East Lansing opened a solid two years ago and I still haven’t been to a class, I’ve continued to follow Michelle and TBCEL and know that it’s a staple in the East Lansing community. I love the community that TBCEL fosters and how empowering it is.

If you’re looking to try something new in your workout routine, I highly recommend checking out the Barre Code. Bonus: your first class is free!

Emma | ALD Events

Emma and I are online friends who have never met in real life, but she’s hilarious and I feel like we’re kindred spirits. She’s co-owner and co-founder of  A Lovely Day events, a mid-Michigan wedding planning company. Even though I am painfully single, I love looking at their Instagram and admiring all of their work. The flowers, the couples, the cakes—it’s all so beautiful. 

Listen, I’ll probably never find someone to trick into marrying me, but if I do, I’ll definitely be hiring ALD to plan my wedding. If you’re newly engaged or planning a wedding, you can check out their work and the services they offer here

Ellie Wong | Holiday Lansing

I was so distraught when my longtime hairstylist (and actual Earth angel) Allison Malloy moved to Chicago (but also so happy she’s chasing her dreams!).  I don’t trust very many people with my hair but I rolled the dice and scheduled an appointment with Rachel Vrooman after drooling over her Instagram photos and I am so in love with my hair.

If you haven’t been to the Holiday, you need to. I really hate pretentious salons that make you feel like you aren’t good enough to be there—and this one is not like that at all. Quite the opposite, actually! Everyone is super friendly and welcoming and it is so cute inside.

Ellie is the owner of the salon. She’s never personally done my hair but I briefly met her when I was in there last and she is so sweet. If you’re looking for a new hair salon, check out the Holiday in Lansing’s West Side neighborhood! I’m sure you can’t go wrong when choosing a stylist there, but I highly recommend Rachel!

Tina Medawar | Medawar Jewelers

If you live in Lansing, you know Medawar Jewelers—but you might not know Tina Medawar as her own person (and brand!). Tina is truly the sweetest, most kind person I know and somehow she’s even more beautiful in person than she is on TV.

Tina owns and operates a number of Medawar stores throughout the mid-Michigan region, as well as being a mom and wife. She has an insane workload and somehow manages to be the calmest person I know.

Tina has great insight on fashion, work/life balance and overall is one of the most genuinely positive people I’ve ever met. If you’re looking for someone inspirational (but in a non-preachy, very down-to-earth way), you need to follow her!

TL;DR

There are so many amazing women in my life. Who are your favorite business women in Lansing? Is there a female-owned business in Lansing that I missed but I should know about?

 

 

Buy or Bye: Urban Decay All Nighter Collection

I have oily skin. When using the right combination of primers, powders and setting sprays, I can keep the oil at bay and look glowy and dewy as opposed to shiny. Unfortunately, when I use the wrong products, I end up looking like an oil slick by mid-morning. 

56BE1B75-35FE-4DB2-A9C9-8DC633B3749F

SPARTY ON

I started using the Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Sprayback in 2012 when I was a freshman in college when I realized that going to parties presented a new. challenge to my makeup routine. By then I had perfected my routine for both summer and winter, but if I was going to be #Sparty-ing, I needed my makeup to be even more durable and long-wearing. 

From that point on, Urban Decay’s All Nighter Setting spray has been a staple in my collection. When I saw that Urban Decay had recently expanded their All Nighter collection with a primer, setting powder and Ultra Matte setting spray. I decided to give it a college try. 😉

ALL NIGHTER FACE PRIMER

I really wanted to like this. It’s not scented (something I look for in both skincare and cosmetics), it comes in a pump, feels both smoothing and moisturizing and has a slightly tacky feel—which is expected of something that claims to be long-wearing.

Unfortunately, the buck stops there. I noticed that this product made my foundation application look not-so-hot at best, but I still wanted to give it a chance. I’ve been using an Artis brush to apply my foundation recently, and some primers require stippling motion vs. rubbing with a brush. I’ve tried both ways—and even tried a sponge—and this does nothing for me.

To be fair, the product doesn’t claim to be smoothing or pore minimizing. It’s selling point is that it controls oil but my biggest issue is that this does nothing to control oil or extend the longevity of my makeup. If anything, I got oily earlier in the day using this product than I did when I didn’t use any primer at all. If you keep reading, you’ll see that this is a common complaint among all these products.

ALL NIGHTER POWDER

I had really, really high hopes for this powder. It claims to, “smooth skin, block shine and extend the life of foundation.” It also claims that it will keep makeup locked into place for 11 hours. I can unequivocally assure you that none of those are true. In fact, my face looked greasier using all three All Nighter products than it normally does using the Laura Mercier setting powder.

336310FF-F195-4207-8A4C-E1853D719C57

On a quest for the truth, and to figure out if maybe one of these products lived up to its claims while the others bastardized my entire makeup routine, I tried using this in a variety of situations: with the primer, without the primer, with the setting spray, without the setting spray. It doesn’t matter. This does nothing to keep my oil at bay. It also does nothing for the longevity of my makeup.

The worst part, is that this is NOT a translucent powder. After you apply it, you will absolutely notice that your makeup gets darker. Like a few shades. For me, it almost seemed to continue to oxidize throughout the day leaving me with a orange-cast on my face and a very pale neck. Not cute.

ULTRA MATTE SETTING SPRAY

The real OG. Even if the other two suck, this one will totally live up to if not exceed my expectations, right? WRONG. Seriously, WTF, Urban Decay. 

Again, I thought for sure that if I did my makeup like I normally do, without the primer or powder, that this product would remind me of how wonderful it was, and keep my face looking matte and put together even if I was sweating or crying or doing God knows what. It didn’t. It was a disaster, with oil breaking through my makeup by mid-morning. 

The All Nighter Setting Spray has been a staple in my makeup routine for the better part of a decade and I swear by it. I’m not sure what this bottle of trash water was, but I will absolutely not be repurchasing it. 

TRY THIS INSTEAD

If you’re looking for products to actually control oil there are a couple that I would suggest. Becca’s Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector is hands down the best mattifying primer that I have tried. Unless something has changed, I still highly recommend Urban Decay’s All Nighter Spray and their De-Slick spray. If you’re not into sprays or primers, my absolute favorite powder of all time is Laura Mercier’s Translucent Loose Setting Powder. I always apply a light dusting of powder over my makeup when I finish to keep my shine at bay throughout the day, but if you’re really oily there’s another trick you can try.

I know it seems counterintuitive, but if you really want to make sure your makeup stays matte, apply a light dusting of powder before you put your foundation on. I like to use a damp beauty sponge to apply powder all over my face, and then go in and do the rest of my make up like I usually would. I know that it seems like your make up would probably look really cakey and crazy but somehow it doesn’t. In fact, strangely enough, it ends up looking even more flawless—almost FaceTuned— and you will stay matte throughout the entire day. 

TL; DR

I’m not sure if this entire collection is just overwhelmingly disappointing or if there was something wrong with the products that I got specifically, but I absolutely do not recommend purchasing any of these products. 

 

Luxe for Less: Chanel vs. Milk Makeup

I have La Mer taste and a Colourpop budget. A splurge here or there won’t break the bank (and you know I’m a huge proponent of a healthy #TreatYoSelf day) but spending money on expensive products regularly adds up. Luckily for all of us, there are many affordable alternatives for luxury products that won’t cost you half your monthly rent payment. In my new series, Luxe for Less, I’m sharing affordable dupes for high-end products so you can look like a million bucks without spending a million bucks.

THE SPLURGE

Chanel’s Soleil Tan de Chanel Bronzing Makeup Base has a cult following—and for good reason. It looks a little intimidating in the pan—it’s pretty dark—but weightless gel cream formula diffuses easily, leaving behind a sheer wash of color that blends seamlessly into your skin.

I had heard about the product for years, and finally decided to bite the bullet and purchase it from Nordstrom last summer. I was a little skeptical at first. I am pretty fair—about an NC25—and my first reaction when swatching it was that it was orange. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it doesn’t look orange on your face and I quickly came to understand the products cult following.

The first thing that I noticed about this product was that it’s pretty sheer. You can really play with the intensity depending on the look that you’re going for. Thankfully, despite looking orange in the pan, it never looks orange on your face. It gives you the perfect bronzed glow without making you look like you were an extra on the Jersey Shore— and it’s never muddy or streaky. It also dries down to a satin matte, so there’s no transfer throughout the day but it is an emollient product so if you’re oily— like me— you may want to said it was a powder bronzer just to make sure it stays in place. My favorite way to apply it is with the Morphe M406 brush, but I’ve also dipped a beauty sponge directly into the pan and applied to my cheeks and temples that way.

THE SAVE

I can’t overstate how much I love the Chanel bronzer. However, I also know that not everyone can fork over $50 for 1 ounce of bronzer and you shouldn’t have to give up a gorgeous, healthy glow—or *gasp* step foot in the actual sun—because you can’t afford it. Luckily, I found a dupe that’s almost half the price, just as good and even travel-friendly.

Enter Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer in the shade Baked. Don’t get me wrong, there are differences. My goal was not to find a product that was the exact same color as the Chanel bronzer or had the same exact style of packaging, but rather to find a cream bronzer that had similar qualities at a better price point. To me, the Milk Makeup bronzer checks all those boxes. It’s creamy, it’s pigmented and it blends seamlessly into the face giving a beautiful glow.

BATTLE OF THE BRONZERS

The Chanel bronzer is definitely much warmer, while the Milk bronzer, although still warm, has a cooler, more neutral undertone. The biggest difference is the packaging. The Milk bronzer is in stick form, which, to me, is a plus. It’s easy to throw in a makeup bag and travel with. You could also cut out the middle man (i.e., the brush) and apply the bronzer directly to your face and blend out with your fingers, if you’re in a rush or if you’re just more of a no-nonsense makeup person.

In addition to the undertone and the packaging, the biggest difference between the bronzers is the pigmentation. If you’re a cream bronzer rookie and are concerned about being too heavy-handed or overzealous, you might prefer the Chanel bronzer which can be built up to have as much or little pigmentation as you want. The Milk bronzer tends to feel more pigmented right off the bat, especially if you swipe the stick directly on your face, but can be sheered out depending on how you apply it. I like to apply both the bronzers with the same Morphy brush which ends up giving in almost identical appearance. In fact, I’ve won both bronzers on the same day to see if there was a noticeable difference in color, wear time, and transfer.

Another plus for Milk? The Milk bronzer comes in two shades, Baked and Blaze, meaning it will work for a wider range of skin tones. The Chanel bronzer only comes in one shade. On this blog, we have to give inclusivity the edge.

THE VERDICT

I love both bronzers and don’t think that you can go wrong with either. Both products are extremely creamy, blendable and pigmented. If you feel like splurging, you can’t go wrong with Chanel. If you can’t afford the Chanel product, the Milk bronzer is almost an exact dupe in terms of formula. We all know that I love a bougie product— and I do enjoy leaving the Chanel bronzer on my vanity as a decoration—but when it comes down to it, think I have to give Milk the edge.

TL;DR

I tried two different bronzers, one luxury and one middle-of-the-road (let’s be honest $28 is still a lot of money for a bronzer) and put them to the test to see which one was better. At the end of the day, I have to give the slight edge to the less expensive product for being equally as good (if not better) and almost half the price. Have you tried either product? Let me know what you think and if you agree with my decision.