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?

 

 

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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

February Beauty Favorites

Maybe it was the extra day, but February felt impossibly long to me. I’m so glad that we’ve turned the page and it’s a new month.

Here’s a round up of my favorite beauty products from February.

Tower 28 ShineOn Lip Jelly

 

I wrote an entire blog dedicated to my love of this lip gloss. I can’t get over how great it is. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I wore this lip gloss every single day of February—all 29 days! It’s always shiny but never sticky. This is the lip gloss Lil Mama was talking about, even if she didn’t know it yet.

KAJA Cheeky Stamp Blendable Blush

My Sephora started carrying KAJA products probably a year ago. At the time, I was a ride-or-die powder girl and while this blush, and the K-beauty brand as a whole, intrigued me, I wasn’t ready to take the plunge. At some point within the last year I wanted to revisit the blush, but my Sephora had stopped carrying it and I didn’t want to buy it online without seeing it/feeling it in person.

That’s a really wordy way to say that I saw it in my Sephora a few weeks ago and bought it in the shade Saucy on a whim. I was skeptical about how it would work—especially the heart applicator—how it would blend out and how it would mesh with other products. Turns out, I love it. It gives the most natural, long-lasting flush of color to the cheeks. It doesn’t disrupt any of the other products on my face or move my foundation around. It dries down but stays wet long enough to blend out. I’ve been reaching for this on an almost daily basis and I love it.

Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer in Baked

This bronzer is a really good dupe for a cult-favorite high-end bronzer—and I have a blog coming about that later this week. 😉

I’m not sure when I became such a big fan of cream products, but I have almost entirely stopped using powders. This bronzer is definitely on the warmer side. It’s great for warming up the face, but I wouldn’t recommend using it to contour. It gives the most beautiful sunkissed bronze glow to the face and blends in quickly and seamlessly.

If you’re a no muss, no fuss kind of person, or if you’re in a hurry, you could apply the stick directly to your face and blend out with your fingers, but I prefer to apply with the Morphe M406 brush.

One of my favorite things about this product is that it comes in two different shades.  I use the shade Baked, which is meant for fairer skin tones, but the shade Blaze is a darker bronze that would be suitable for deeper skin tones.

RMS Beauty Living Luminizer in Magic Luminizer

I’ve never really been into “clean” beauty but after trying Tower 28 and loving it, I felt inspired to branch out. I saw this highlighter on the “clean beauty” end cap at Sephora and was really impressed when I swatched it. It’s not a blinding highlight but, to be honest, I think I’m kind of moving on from those? I know, I know. Shocking.

This highlight is glowy without being sticky, glittery or greasy. I’ve applied it a number of different ways, including over finished makeup and under blush and powder products. I’ve found that it doesn’t pill or disturb my makeup, no matter what order I apply it in. I apply it to the high points of my face, including my cheekbones, cupid’s bow, the inner corners of my eyes, and the bridge of my nose. I’ll also apply it to the center of my eyelids if I feel like I need to look more awake.

An important tip: I exclusively apply Magic Luminizer with my fingers. Anything else just doesn’t work, thanks to the emollient formula. You’ll end up with brush strokes all over.

Nars Soft Matte Complete Concealer

I’ve mentioned previously that, thanks to my aesthetician completing changing my skin, I’ve been wearing less makeup and embracing a more natural look. That has meant saying goodbye to my full coverage foundations and exploring the world of BB creams, CC creams and tinted moisturizers. Sometimes, light or sheer coverage products are just a little too sheer for me and I find myself wanting just a tad more coverage.

I’ve tried a million concealers over the years, but I’ve never come across one as good at spot concealing as the Nars Soft Matte Complete Concealer. Nars foundations don’t typically work for me because they skew really yellow and my skin has more pink undertones. However, I use the shade Creme Brulee in the concealer and it’s almost an exact match to my skin. In fact, a few days this past week I only wear concealer—no other makeup.

This is really a goof-proof product. I like to apply it by dipping my Morphe M173 brush directly into the pot and then blend it out with my ring finger. If you’re in the market for a good spot concealer, this is the one.

Non-Beauty Favorites

McMillions 

Do you remember the McDonald’s Monopoly? My family always collected pieces! It turns out that the entire thing was rigged by an organized crime family and none of the winners were legitimate. This show explores the con that allowed one man to rig the game for an entire decade. A new episode comes out on HBO every Monday at 10 p.m. and it is so good.

Oat Milk

I don’t have any aversion to dairy —health-wise, morally or otherwise—so I’ve never been into dairy alternatives.  I tried almond milk once and was horrified by how gross it was. I also found out that, despite what you may have heard, almond and cashew milks are not better for the environment because of the amount of water it takes to grow the nuts. However, I recently had a latte made with oat milk and it was so damn good that I went to Target and bought some of my own to make lattes at home. I picked up vanilla-flavored Silk Oat Yeah oat milk and it was delicious. It’s perfect for lattes because it’s so frothy and it’s better for the environment. Win/win!

Miranda Frye Jewelry

I bought two charms from Miranda Frye this month. One was a snake pendant that I had been eyeing for a while and another was a gold horn charm that was similar to something I wanted from a different brand but was sold out.

Bling for Your Buck

I bought the charms from Miranda Frye but was looking for a more cost-effective chain. I found these on Amazon and I am obsessed with them. They are really good quality and look expensive, but cost about $12 each. I’ve even gotten a ton of compliments on them. If you’re in the market for a chain, I highly recommend these.

TL;DR

These are the products/things that I was loving in February. Do you use any of these products? If you do, let me know! If you think there’s something missing here that I should try, let me know!

 

 

 

 

 

I Tried It: Profractional Laser Treatment

I’m no stranger to cosmetic procedures. I started young, by having laser hair removal on my upper lip in 2006 at the ripe old age of 13. It wasn’t until Nov. 2018 that I decided to dip my toes back into the world of minimally invasive cosmetic procedures with microneedling, which I wrote in detail about here. I was floored by the results. Since then, I have done a number of different things including more laser hair removal, Secret RF, BBL Forever Young, TruSculpt iD and some minor lip enhancements using Botox/filler.

BRINGING OUT THE BIG GUNS

Last Tuesday, I underwent the most invasive procedure to date. I had a combination of treatments designed to get rid of my existing acne scars. First Jen performed a BBL (Broad Band Light) to address the red pigment in the scars, followed by a MicroLaserPeel to remove superficial irregularities and finished with ProFractional to stimulate collagen remodeling through deep fractional ablation.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

Let me break down each treatment, so you can understand what it does and why it was part of my custom treatment plan.

BBL is the world’s most powerful IPL (intense pulsed light). Jennifer is able to use BBL to address a number of different skin concerns, from acne scars to sunspots and wrinkles and everything in between. The light energy delivered by the BBL gently heats up the layers of your skin. The heat absorbed by the targeted areas will stimulate your skin cells to regenerate, which restores your skin to its natural beauty, making it clearer, smoother, vibrant and younger looking. The BBL is a really quick procedure and isn’t painful at all. It also doesn’t require any downtime! I’m not a doctor or an esthetician, so take my recommendation with a grain of salt, but I think everyone could benefit from having a BBL.

A MicroLaserPeel removes a thin layer of damaged skin in order to improve texture and overall appearance of the skin. The MicroLaserPeel’s beam is scanned over a treatment area to remove a very thin layer of the skin. Removing the top layer eliminates some of the damaged cells that can give skin a tired, aged look. As the skin heals, fresh cells grow and resurface the treated area. The result is healthier-looking skin, often with reduced wrinkles and improved color evenness. Patients often say that it looks like their skin went from looking tired to vibrant. This isn’t painless per se, but it also isn’t painful. I would rate it maybe 2/10.

Like most of the laser treatments that Jennifer offers, Profractional can be tailored to your specific skin concerns and for your desired outcome. I think that laser treatments (and microneedling, for that matter) are so cool because I love the science behind them. Profractional uses a tiny laser beam to treat thousands of pinpoint areas in your skin. Because the laser creates thousands of little wounds, your body responds by producing collagen, which adds firmness and resilience to the skin.

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DAY ONE

My treatment was at 1 p.m. last Tuesday. Before the treatment itself, Jennifer put a numbing agent on my face and let it sit for about 30 minutes. After I was good and numb, we started the actual procedure. All in all, I would say the treatment from start to finish (not including numbing) probably took about 45 minutes to an hour. This is what my face looked like immediately after the treatment. As you can see, my cheeks were the only area we treated because that’s the only area I have/had scarring on.

I had very specific instructions on how to care for my face. Following my appointment, Jennifer instructed me to apply the ointment every two hours to make sure that the wounds didn’t dry out. If my face were to dry out, it would scab over which would really mess up the healing process. I ended up setting alarms for every two hours nearly around the clock to make sure that I was following my care instructions to a T.

DAY TWO

Jennifer told me that there was really no way to know how much downtime I would have because everyone’s bodies respond differently. My face continued to bleed and ooze serous fluid for nearly 48 hours post-op. It was gross, yes, but it’s also a totally normal response to injury. I was also slightly swollen, but nothing crazy.

That being said, I woke up on day two feeling a little panicky. In fact, I was that person and insisted on going into the medical spa and having Jennifer reassure me that everything was normal. She had done that via text message, but I needed in-person reassurance as well.

I feel like it’s important to note that my face didn’t hurt at all. I know that it looks like it would be extremely painful, but it wasn’t. It just looks gross. I spent all day Wednesday working from home on my couch, religiously applying healing balm to my face every two hours. I also started using Saint Jane’s Luxury Beauty Oil on my face on Wednesday, because it’s specifically formulated to be anti-inflammatory & healing. I really think it played a big role in my quick recovery.

I had been advised to gently run water over my face on Tuesday night and I tried doing it, but it was quite painful so I gave up. When I took a shower on Wednesday, I did let the water run over my face and then gently patted it with my hands. It ended up making a big difference in getting some of the crusty stuff off and my face ended up just looking red after. This is what it looked like by Wednesday evening.

DAY THREE

Not only was Wednesday the worst day of healing, I ended up adding insult to injury by making myself sick with my own cooking. I didn’t get much sleep that night and I had a legislative hearing to be at on Thursday afternoon. Between my raw-hamburger-meat face and with my intense stomach pain, I didn’t think I would be able to swing it. I did.

I ended up looking a lot better after showering on Thursday morning, but still didn’t feel comfortable going to a client meeting with a bare face. I had no issue going to work and having my coworkers see my like that, though.

I ended up putting some mineral makeup on so I didn’t scare my poor clients, and it covered the redness surprisingly well.

I didn’t really want to be putting makeup on an open wound, so as soon as I was done with my client meeting, I ran home, washed the makeup off, and reapplied my care products.

My face was definitely no longer oozing or bleeding in any way by Thursday, and this was the first day that I didn’t sleep with a towel on my pillow!

DAY FOUR

I was surprised by how much better my face was looking on Thursday and I was floored by how much it had healed by Friday morning.

I still didn’t wear makeup to the office on Friday because I wanted to give my skin the time it needed to heal. While it looked good in comparison to Tuesday/Wednesday, I still felt a little self-conscious walking around looking like this in public. At the end of the day, I decided that I don’t owe anyone anything and I don’t have to look any certain way. I wore a bare face and reapplied my serums and creams when I had to, including at the office.

DAY FIVE

By Saturday morning, you could hardly tell I had had anything done to the left side of my face. If anything, it looked like I had a sunburn—which was good because I was going on a quick road trip with some friends and was hoping I wasn’t going to look like a crazy person.

I wore makeup this day, and was so impressed with how smooth my skin is! I realized that my only regret was not having it done to my entire face.

My skin looked great and I had a great time in Traverse City. Andrea and Courtney and I talked about skincare products and cosmetic procedures while we drank wine and ate cookies. Those are my kind of people.

DAY SIX

It felt like every day that I woke up and looked in the mirror I was surprised by how good my skin looked—especially in comparison to what it looked like just a few days ago.

By Saturday I was no longer using the thick healing ointment they gave me, but was still using the Saint Jane Beauty Oil every night (I use it every night normally anyway) and was also using a gentle moisturizer with it.

ONE WEEK

Today is officially one-week post-op. I cannot believe how good my skin looks. Right now, what I’ve noticed is that the deep, crater-like scars are looking much more shallow—and I will continue to see results for the next 4-6 months.

 

TL;DR

I looked crazy for a few days but it was SO worth it. Jennifer told me that it would be and I trust her unequivocally. If you’re looking for an esthetician, I can’t recommend her enough. You can book an appointment or consultation with her here.

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What’s the most intense cosmetic procedure you’ve had? Let me know!

Winter Skincare Favorites

Even though we haven’t really had much snow or winter weather in Michigan so far, this has felt like the longest winter ever. Is it just me? 

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When the season changes, your skincare routine should too. I feel like I’ve finally found a combination of products that are working really well both for my oily/acne prone skin and the weird dry patches that have popped up due to the dry winter air. I’ve actually been getting compliments on my skin, which makes my heart sing. 

Here are the products and services I’ve been loving:

SAINT JANE LUXURY CBD BEAUTY SERUM

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I honestly could/should dedicate an entire blog post to the Saint Jane Luxury CBD Beauty Serum. I had seen it online for awhile, but always prefer to see/smell/touch things in person before purchasing. I saw that this was available in store at Sephora during a weekend when there was an ice storm effectively paralyzing mid-Michigan but my dumbass actually drove to Sephora to buy it anyway. I have no regrets.

I use this at night after applying my skincare and I think it has made a big difference. This product has gotten tons of media attention and won multiple awards from PopSugar, Health and was even recommended by Oprah herself. It includes 20 potent botanicals, including Sea Buckthorn, Calendula, Sandalwood and Rose, which gently resurface and detoxify, while 500mg of full-spectrum CBD deeply nourishes and calms. 

This product has not made my skin breakout at all. In fact, despite the fact that I’ve been really stressed out and overwhelmed, my skin has been clearer and glowing. As an added bonus, the black and gold packaging is incredibly chic.

DRUNK ELEPHANT F BALM

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When I first bought this I thought it might be kind of a gimmick but I decided to try it out anyway. It is idiot-proof. You literally just add it as the last step to whatever skincare products you’re already using as part of your nighttime routine.

Drunk Elephant claims that F Balm is focused on replenishing and strengthening skin’s acid mantle via high doses of electrolytes, omega fatty acids, ceramides, and powerful antioxidants. The package suggests using 4-5 pumps, which I find really excessive so I use 1-2 and do find that it makes a difference. 

F Balm, paired with the Saint Jane serum, have really made a difference for me. These two products are currently my winter skincare dynamic duo. I slather them on my face after double cleansing, toning and using my AlphaRet Overnight Cream and I go to bed so moisturized that I look like a glazed donut. 

ALPHARET OVERNIGHT CREAM

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If you’re looking for a retinol—which you should be if you don’t already use one!— I cannot recommend this one enough. I tried the Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream and was not impressed. For one, it’s $74 for 1 oz of product and 2) the packaging is horrible. Even if you loved it and thought it was the best product you’ve ever used, you’re going to lose half of it because it just oozes out of the tube, no matter what you do. 

Skinbetter’s AlphaRet Overnight cream is $130 for 1 ounce of product BUT it’s a higher concentration of retinol (it’s medical grade and can only be sold under the supervision of a doctor) and the packaging isn’t going to waste half the product.

In the 6 months or so that I’ve been using this product daily, I haven’t finished an entire bottle. My skin is clearer and smoother, my pores are smaller and the wrinkles that were starting to become slightly etched into my forehead are less noticeable.

If you’re interested in purchasing any skinbetter products or any medical grade products in general, stop by Aesthetics Med Spa or call them at (517) 574-4655. Tell them I sent you!

NEWPORT COSMECUTICALS PERFECTING TONER

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I will use any product that my aesthetician, Jennifer Edwards, recommends to me without hesitation. She suggested this product to me back in the summer when I was having some breakouts and it has made a huge difference. I use this at night after I wash my face by applying some to a cotton round. Pro tip: I recently started using reusable bamboo cotton rounds to reduce the amount of waste I produce. You throw them in a bag and wash them with the rest of your clothes. It’s genius! 

This medical-grade product is made with glycolic acid and salicylic acid and promotes the exfoliation of dead skin cells, minimizes and prevents blemishes and removes make-up and dirt.

CHEMICAL PEELS

I love a good chemical peel. Jennifer uses AlphaRet professional peels on me and they are amazing. I think that regular chemical peels have really helped my skin get clear and stay clear. If you’re struggling with breakouts, I highly suggest investing in one. They’re regularly inexpensive, especially in comparison to some less effective, over-the-counter or even high-end beauty products. You can book an appointment or consultation with Jennifer here.

Today and tomorrow Sephora is offering BOGO 30% off on skincare products. Use code SAVEONSKIN to shop online. Will you pick anything up? What products are you loving this winter? 

 

Buy or Bye: I Tried Jaclyn Hill’s New Highlighters

I’ve loved makeup my entire life. I was in middle school when Michelle Phan started making tutorials on YouTube and instantly became obsessed with the endless possibilities that makeup provided. Because my parents had dial-up internet until I was nearly in college, watching videos on YouTube was difficult, but I did it whenever I had a few hours to tie the phone up and let a video load.

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COMING OF AGE

I was in high school the first time I ever stepped foot into a Sephora, or even realized they existed, and it wasn’t until I was in college that I started to actually watch YouTube tutorials and follow along. Jaclyn Hill was the first YouTuber that I ever subscribed to and I watched her videos religiously. I followed along with every one and bought every makeup product she recommended (that I could afford)—from MAC eyeliners and Makeup Geek eyeshadows to Gerard Cosmetics lighted lip glosses and Sigma Brushes. Jaclyn’s YouTube channel was actually what inspired me to start my first blog, which I’m not hyperlinking here because it’s incredibly embarrassing.

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…AND I OOP

In the years that followed, I have branched out and watched other YouTubers but I’ve always wanted Jaclyn to succeed. I’ve purchased almost every collaboration that she’s done with other brands, from her personally curated collection with Sigma to the iconic Becca Champagne Pop collaboration.  I didn’t end up purchasing any of the lipsticks from the first launch of Jaclyn (Hill?) Cosmetics because I was leery about purchasing a nude lipstick that I couldn’t swatch or see in-person before purchasing, but I was horrified as I watched everything unfold. As both a one-time loyal follower and a PR professional, I felt like I had an interesting perspective about the way her disastrous launch was handled (or more like, wasn’t handled)—and how her reputation and brand (both personal and professional) suffered as a direct result.

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COMEBACK KID

Following #lipstickgate, Jaclyn took a hiatus from social media, but she’s back and just dropped a limited edition holiday highlighter collection that includes $49 four-pan highlighter palettes, $32 glowy all-over face powders, $24 loose highlighters, and $24 highlighter brushes.

THE DETAILS

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In terms of pricing, the entire collection hits a variety of price points. The cheapest items from the line are the brushes, with the Mood Light Brush, the Accent Light Brush, and the Beaming Light Brush priced at $24, $20, and $20, respectively. Next, the Beaming Light Highlighter, an intense, powder-to-cream loose highlighter, rings up to $24, and the Mood Light Highlighter, an all-over illuminating powder, costs $32. Finally, the two highlighter palettes, Accent Light and Flash & Flare, both retail for $49. In the video revealing the impending launch below, Hill details and swatches each product in the line and lists further pricing for bundles in the video’s description.

THE GOODS

I picked up two different shades of the Beaming Light Highlighter, one in Extra and one in Extra, a dazzling white gold, and Bomb, a dazzling golden sand (per the company’s website). I really wanted the Flash palette, and despite setting my alarm and having everything in my cart and ready to checkout at 12:03, they had already sold out. They restock on 12/5, so I might have to buy one, you know, for science.

I paid for these on my own—which really goes without saying since I am obviously not cool enough to be on anyone’s PR list.

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I also picked up the J03 Beaming Light Highlighter brush. I honestly didn’t think that the other two brushes were anything to write home about or unlike anything I already own, but the J03 brush piqued my interest and I was able to get it as a set with one of the Beaming Light Highlighters, so I saved a couple bucks.

MY THOUGHTS

My first impression is that I really like these products. These highlighters are intense—and I’m here for it. It bodes well for me that oily looking skin is in style and I hope this trend continues for a long time. I love to look like a cute little glazed donut.

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I’ve never really been a fan of loose highlighters because they are so damn messy, and to be entirely honest these are not an exception. They’re messy just like every other powder highlighter that came before it, but I like the color payoff and the formula, so I’m going to wear it.

I saw a lot of people online saying that highlighter isn’t popular or cool anymore but if you’re into it, then keep wearing it and be glowy and hoe-y proudly.

TL;DR

Jaclyn’s first launch was a total flop—but this one isn’t.

Black Friday for the Beauty Lover

I spent a lot of time scouring all the best deals for the beauty lover in your life (even if that’s you). Here’s what I found:

BEAUTY 

Glossier

Everything on Glossier’s website is 20% off—but you can actually save up to 35% on their sets. I already placed one order to try some things I never have like Boy Brow, Balm Dotcom and their lipgloss. This deal runs all weekend, so I might end up getting more. TBD.

Huda Beauty eyeshadow palette

If you’ve been eyeing these eyeshadow palettes but not wanting to pay full retail, now is the time! Normally $27 each, these palettes are on sale for $16! IMO, Huda has some hits and misses in her line but you can’t go wrong with the shadows. They’re insanely pigmented and buttery and she has an awesome shade range. I think that both Topaz and Mauve would be almost universally flattering.

Naked3 Eyeshadow Palette

Urban Decay’s Naked palettes are some of the most iconic products of our time. Macy’s has the Naked3 palette on sale for 50% normal retail price. Ulta has this on sale for half off, too BUT Macy’s offers free shipping after $25 whereas Ulta’s free shipping starts at $35. Shop smarter, people!

Buxom PowerPlump Lip Balm

My friend Andrea got me hooked on this stuff. I love a good lip balm and I also love having big lips, so this is perfect. It’s not like other lip plumpers in that there isn’t an intense stinging or anything like that, just a hint of mint. Normally $18, on sale for $11.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Palette Vault

This is such an amazing deal, I can’t believe that it hasn’t sold out already. You can get TWO Anastasia Beverly Hills eyeshadow palettes for only $49 (a value of $84). This includes the Modern Renaissance palette (my favorite eyeshadow palette of all time) and the Soft Glam palette. Both are very universally flattering and I highly, highly recommend.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Glow Palettes

I have tried one million highlighters. I can give you a breakdown of which ones are good, which ones are chalky and shitty and which ones stand out as the best of the best. The ABH highlighters are literally some of the best highlighters on the market. They are buttery smooth, they are buildable, they’re never chalky. If you want to be glowy and hoe-y, you need to add these to your basket ASAP. Sun Dipped is my fav, FYI.

MAC Lipstick

Back in the day when MAC was sold exclusively at counters in malls, their products like never went on sale. Now that they’re at Ulta they do go on sale AND you can get points from purchasing their products (and USE your points on their products). You can’t go wrong gifting this to the beauty-lover in your life (or, let’s be real, keeping it for yourself). If you’re looking for nude shades, I’d recommend Kinda Sexy and Velvet Teddy. You can’t go wrong with Ruby Woo, MAC’s iconic blue-toned, retro red (blue-toned reds make your teeth look whiter than they are ;)).

Kylie Cosmetics Kylighter 

For the sake of full disclosure, I have not used this product. I’m not a big Kylie fan. I find her lip products to be drying and way overhyped. I also hate that she claims to be a self-made billionaire. ANYWAY, I know a bunch of people who absolutely love her products, especially the highlighters. If you, or perhaps a younger beauty lover, are big Kylie fans, you won’t want to miss this sale because they are literally half off! Only $10, normally $20.

ColourPop Cosmetics

My friend Jess asked me the other day what a good, non-expensive eyeshadow brand was and I immediately thought of Colourpop! I’ve never met a product I didn’t like, from their eyeshadows to their Lippie Stix. You can save 30% off this weekend!

Tarte

Save 30% off EVERYTHING at Tarte with the code FRIDAY30. I love Tarte Cosmetics. Every beauty blogger on the planet will tell you that their Shape Tape concealer is one of the best concealers ever made. I personally also love their Face Tape foundation—and you can’t go wrong with any of the In Bloom palettes.

HAIR

Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer & Volumizer Hot Air Brush

I’ve had this for probably 9 months or so now and I love it. I am not good at using both a blow dryer AND a round brush at the same time, so this takes the guesswork out of at-home blowouts. It also drastically reduces the amount of time it takes to dry your hair. If I’m being entirely transparent, I think I like it more than my Dyson hairdryer. I paid full retail for mine ($59.99)  like a big ol’ dummy, but you can snag one from Amazon for only $37.49 PLUS you can save an extra dollar by clipping the coupon.

CHI Air Spin & Curl Ceramic Rotating Hair Curler

Shortly after Dyson launched their next-level hair tools that use air to do magical things to your hair, CHI launched this bad boy to compete. Normally $139.99, you can get this from Walmart for only $63.99 right now!

Big Sexy Hair

My mom exclusively uses Big Sexy Hair hairspray, so I’m making the trip to Ulta to stock up on these for her. In a weird role reversal, I told her, “I’ll get these for you, but it’s going to be part of your Christmas present.”

Unite Hair Products

I love this stuff. My favorite detangler of all time is Unite 7 Seconds. I’m not sure how Unite has been able to bottle actual magic, but I’m obsessed with it. If you spend $50 on the Unite website this weekend you get a full-size bottle of 7 seconds for FREE. I’m also obsessed with their Texturiza texturizing spray.

NAILS

OPI Infinite Shine Nail Polish Gift Set

If you know me, you know I almost always have a very light, milky pink color on my nails. I have mine done professionally, but still use OPI Infinite Shine on my toenails. It’s the closest thing to salon-quality that I have found, looks like a gel and lasts FOREVER. You can snag 4-piece (full size) set for only $12.99 right now, a savings of $39!

Olive & June

I heard of Olive & June through a fellow Michigan-blogger @whatkatefinds. (she’s fabulous, I love her!) This brand offers everything you need for a manicure, from the polish to the remover, to clean-up brushes, to their coveted cuticle serum.  You can save 25% off site-wide +free shipping on any order $15 or more. If you buy one thing, make it the cuticle serum!

BRUSHES

Morphe Catch my Eye Brush Collection

When I was in college and had no money, I would make a trip to the MAC counter at the Macy’s in the Meridian Mall at least once a week to buy products. I would literally wager with myself like, “should I eat lunch today or spend the money I was going to spend on food on makeup?” I love makeup. Anyway, I invested a ton of money into MAC brushes because they were the best quality and, at the time, there weren’t any affordable, high-quality options. But now there are! Morphe brushes are amazing. They are MAC quality—for a fraction of the price. This eye kit is great for someone starting out or someone who wants new brushes. 10/10 entirely recommend.

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I found the set above online at Ulta, but then I realized you can save 25% off the entire Morphe site this weekend PLUS free shipping at $60. This is the perfect time to start or grow your collection with high-end brushes!

BATH

Philosophy Shampoo, Shower Gel, Bubble Bath

It’s not the holiday season until Philosophy’s three-in-one products are out. My nephew LOVES taking bubble baths, and so I like to stock up on these for him. I’m a big fan of the candy cane scent, but they have a million smells if that’s not your thing—and they’re all on sale at Ulta this weekend. This makes a great gift for just about anybody, IMO.

TL;DR

There are some awesome beauty deals this Black Friday weekend. Where are you shopping and what are you getting? Let me know!