Everything you’ve wanted to know about a Brazilian wax (but were too nervous to ask)

Let’s get it out of the way right off the bat—yes, it does hurt. But its bearable (and worth it).

LET’S GO TO BRAZIL

I decided on a whim to get a Brazilian wax because, why not? If I’m being honest, my interest in Brazilian waxing was piqued when I saw Carrie Bradshaw do it on Sex and the City back in the early aughts (okay, fine when I finally saw it, it was solidly in the 2010s). I’ve been cooped up at home for a year—it was time to try something new and spontaneous.

If you’re reading this, you likely are considering getting a Brazilian wax for the first time and wondering what to expect. Read on for my first time experience.

WHAT IS A BRAZILIAN WAX?

During a bikini wax, the hair on the sides and top area along the bikini line are removed. During a Brazilian, your entire pubic area is waxed bare (!). A Brazilian wax removes all the hair from your bikini area (top, sides, and front), and those hard-to-reach areas in the back. Let’s think of waxing in terms of the retailer Bed, Bath and Beyond. If a bikini wax is Bed & Bath, a Brazilian is definitely the Beyond. In a Brazilian wax, all hair below the belt is removed. From seam to seam, for lack of a better phrase. However, if you want to leave something I’m sure you can. Just talk to your waxer about what you want and be sure to have clear expectations.

DOES IT HURT?

I’m not going to sugar coat it—it does hurt. Certain areas hurt worse than others. At some points, I would say it was a solid 8. Other times, it was more like a 2 or 3. I’ve been told the first wax is the most painful and they become progressively more tolerable as you go back consistently. I’ll keep you posted when I go back in four weeks.

“Have you had a Brazilian before?” she asked me.

“No, but I’ve had bikini waxes,” I replied.

“Oh, okay. This is…nothing like that,” she joked.

WHAT’S THE PROCESS LIKE?

I’m no waxing virgin. I’ve been waxing my own eyebrows and upper lip for an entire decade. I’ve waxed my own legs, my own armpits and even had the privilege of waxing other people on occasion (I waxed my friends brothers leg in high school, much to his chagrin, and it was some of the most fun I ever had). I had never been to Brazil, though.

I arrived at my waxing appointment and had to fill out some paperwork before we got down to business. My waxer, Carrie, explained the process to me and made sure that I understood what was going to happen and felt prepared. Before she stepped out of the room so I could undress, she handed me a feminine wipe to clean myself off with and a towel to put on my lap before she came back into the room. I appreciated the 60 seconds of modesty before she examined every inch of my anatomy LOL.

Full disclosure: if you’re a super modest person or embarrass easily, this probably is not gonna be your thing. Within 10 minutes of meeting Carrie I was laying on my back with my knees to my chest so she could wax my butthole. So yeah, things escalated pretty quickly. I was probably most nervous about waxing the back, since having hot wax applied to my a-hole seemed like it would be excruciatingly painful, but somehow…it wasn’t? As soon as I knew it wasn’t painful, my concern immediately switched to the amount of wax that seemed to be pooling between my buttcheeks. “Can your ass accidentally get waxed together?” I wondered to myself. The answer could possibly be yes, but thankfully I didn’t find out that day.

I transitioned to butterfly position (laying on my back with the soles of my feet touching each other) and Carrie slowly worked her way to the front (top?), applying wax in sections, letting it dry, holding the skin taut and then pulling it off. The wax pulls the hair out by the root. She actually showed me some of the strips and I was both amazed and horrified to see all the little white bulbs that form the base of the follicle. No wonder it hurt so much.

The most painful areas for me were the lips and the FUPA (I imagine this eloquent piece of writing will win me a Pulitzer one day). There were times when it was so painful, I would actually just start laughing. I felt very much like Steve Carrell in 40 Year Old Virgin. Thankfully, if you apply pressure to the area as soon as the wax if pulled off, you feel the sweet, sweet sensation of relief.

Once all the hair has been waxed off, your waxer will likely go back in and tweeze any hairs that were left behind. Some hairs aren’t caught by the wax because if you’re accustomed to shaving, your hairs aren’t all in the same phase of growth. Carrie warned me that some people find this extremely painful and ask to stop, but I honestly barely felt it.

We wrapped up the wax by applying some cortisone cream to calm the skin down and viola! We were all done.

HOW LONG DOES IT LAST?

Carrie said that most people can go 4-6 weeks between waxes, with 5 weeks being the sweet spot. Like most things in life, everyone will be slightly different and the time needed in between waxes will vary from person to person.

HOW TO PREPARE BEFORE AN APPOINTMENT

I honestly did not do a single thing to prepare for my appointment. My friend Andrea advised me to take some ibuprofen about an hour beforehand, which probably would have been smart, but I forgot. The most important thing is to not shave! Your hair should be at least as long as a grain of rice. Too short and the wax won’t be able to grip it, too long and I think it becomes more painful. It’s like Goldie Locks for pubes — it has to be juuust right.

POST-BRAZILIAN AFTER CARE

Immediately following a wax, Carrie told me to avoid hot showers and/or baths, vigorous exercise, tight fitting clothes (like my beloved Align leggings) and sex. She instructed me to make sure that I moisturized the area with normal lotion (something I honestly don’t think I’ve ever done?) and also make sure that I’m regularly exfoliating—but not too soon since the wax itself is exfoliating.

TL;DR

I’m not sure what it says about me that when I wanted to try something new, my brain went to a Brazilian wax. It was painful and a little bit awkward, but the results are worth it. I will definitely be doing it again! Do you get waxed? I’d love to hear your experience!

Is Dossier Perfume legit? I tried it to find out.

If you use social media, chances are you’ve seen ads for Dossier Perfume. The brand makes fragrance affordable by creating dupes of expensive designer scents in vegan, cruelty free formulas without the costly mark-up. The brand has some seriously lofty claims (I mean, a Le Labo dupe for $29?!) but does it live up to the hype? I tested it out to we could know for sure.

THE SCIENCE OF SMELL

I love fragrance. In my opinion, there are few compliments greater than being told you smell good. I’m not alone in this. In fact, wanting to smell good or enjoying nice smelling things is more than just vanity — it’s actually neuroscience.

If you (like me!) are curious about how scent works, wonder no more: Your ability to smell comes from specialized sensory cells, called olfactory sensory neurons, which are found in a small patch of tissue high inside the nose. Olfactory neurons in your nose have evolved some 400 odor receptors and these cells connect directly to the brain. Microscopic molecules released by substances around us—whether it’s coffee brewing or pine trees in a forest—stimulate these receptors. Once the neurons detect the molecules, they send messages to your brain, which identifies the smell. There are more smells in the environment than there are receptors, and any given molecule may stimulate a combination of receptors, creating a unique representation in the brain. These representations are registered by the brain as a particular smell. To organize all this information, your olfactory neurons wire into an “olfactory map” on your brain’s olfactory bulb. Olfactory neurons are one of the few types of neurons that are born throughout your life, and each of the roughly 10,000 such neurons born each day in your nose subsequently wires into the olfactory map in your brain.

How much does the nose know? Well, physical attraction itself may literally be based on smell.

CHOOSING A FRAGRANCE

Fragrance is deeply personal, both because smell and memory seem to be closely linked because of the brain’s anatomy—and because fragrance will smell different on each person due to a variety of reasons, ranging from the pH balance of the skin to hormones and even differences in diet.

For that reason, finding a scent that works for you can be difficult. Buying something without trying it makes it even more so. One thing I love about Dossier is that they have risk-free system that allows customers to try perfumes before committing to it. Every bottle comes with a small sample that you can can try and wear, before unsealing the 50ml bottle. If you do decide to return the scent, they offer a standard 30 day return period, in which customers can return any unsealed 50ml Dossier perfume and get a FULL refund, no questions asked. How cool is that?

I’ve been experimenting with fragrance for nearly a decade at this point, and feel like I have a pretty distinct idea of what I like and what I don’t. If you’re just starting to dip your toes into the pool that is perfumery, here are some basic things you should know:

There are four main olfactive families (or basic scent categories) that exist in all fragrances: fresh, floral, spice and woody.

Fresh
Characterized by citrus notes, like lemon and grapefruit, fresh fragrances have refreshing, zesty and vibrant smells. this category can also have aromatic notes, like rosemary, basil or lavender (referred to as aromatic fougère fragrances). Think: your grandma’s clean laundry hanging on a line in the backyard.

Floral
Floral fragrances are one of the most popular and iconic families, and one of the broadest. Any fragrance that has a sweet and flowery scent will belong under this family, using notes such as roses, jasmine, lilies and peonies—think anything romantic and feminine. Floral fragrances can range from being light and delicate, to more complex and intense (like violet and berries).

Oriential

This is one of my favorite categories of fragrance. This scent family is associated with incense, smoke, warm spices and leather. It is very luxurious, rich and sensual often made with interesting notes of cardamom and cinnamon alongside the likes of jasmine, orchid and orange blossom. In addition, fragrances classified as “oriental” can have notes of vanilla, but not the vanilla you’re used to at say, Bath and Body works (aka sugary sweet)—a true vanilla is really earthy, like tobacco.

Woody

Woody fragrances are another warm family (and my other favorite!). With a mysterious and captivating scent that is often considered as more “masculine,” these notes are chock-full of smells associated with nature, like cedar wood, sandalwood, vetiver and amber. Another sexy scent family, it’s a great choice for wearing in the evening. Woody fragrances are split into mossy woods which has an earthy, sweet undertone, and dry woods which often have a smoky, leathery smell to them (think either hot guy or leather bound books).

Give It A College Try
I would recommend testing out 2-3 perfumes at a time. Wear one for a full day, let it marinate on your skin and see what you think. With perfume, you can only really know if you like something by actually wearing it (spraying it on those little strips or sniffing it just won’t do any justice to what the scent will smell like on you). In my opinion, Dossier is great for test driving scents because of their great return policy and because they offer bulk deals on their website— up to 25% discount and free shipping for 3+ bottles.

ABOUT DOSSIER

Like I previously mentioned, I know what I like. With that in mind, I got two perfumes from Dossier, Woody Sandalwood (inspired by Le Labo Santal 33) and Floriental Almond (inspired by Carolina Hererra’s Good Girl). Both smell absolutely amazing and, at a fraction of the cost of regular retail, I feel like you can’t go wrong. The most expensive bottle of Dossier perfume is $49 (the most expensive bottle of perfume I have ever purchased is nearly 3x that).

TL;DR

I have been loving my Dossier perfumes. I put them on every single morning even though I just sit around at home all day. After all, fragrance is deeply personal and I like to smell nice for myself, anyway. 🙂 Would you ever purchase something from Dossier, or have you? Let me know!

Tips for Starting a New Job Remotely During COVID

Starting a new job is always a little nerve-racking—but doing it entirely remotely makes it even more so. Despite record breaking unemployment, the job market is not totally stagnant. If you find yourself interviewing for new jobs, or are lucky enough to find yourself starting a new position, and are nervous about what the hiring process looks like in the era of COVID, I have some tips.

PREPARE YOURSELF/MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS

I really think that the best advice you can get in life is to manage your expectations. Like, for everything. It is sage advice that works across time, space and nearly every situation.

Nothing is “normal” right now—the hiring process included. When I started my new position I went through the hiring process entirely virtually: from interviewing to on-boarding. Go into the experience knowing that there are going to be hiccups. Whether you’re internet is being glitchy, you can’t log into WebEx for some reason (that happened to me!), the landscapers come to mow directly outside your window while you do the final round of interviews with the COO (that also happened to me!), or your laptop hasn’t arrived by the first day on the job, just know that something will inevitably come up.

The good thing about COVID is that it has revealed how human we all are: we all have crying babies, barking dogs, upstairs neighbors that sing–that’s just life. Hopefully you’re interviewing with or working for an organization that will understand that.

FIND A WORK BUDDY

It’s my personal belief that the best thing that you can do anytime you start a new job is to find a work buddy. It’s harder to do that when you’re onboarding virtually, but not impossible.

Before I started my new position, I sent each of my coworkers a gift card to a Michigan-based coffee chain with a note that said, “If things were normal, I would ask to grab coffee with you so I could introduce myself and get to know you. Since we can’t do that right now, have a cup on me.” It was a fun way to break the ice and let my coworkers know that I was a) nice and b) looking forward to joining the team and getting to know them.

If you’re not into that or don’t have the money to spend (thankfully my team isn’t that big so it didn’t cost me too much), a great way to introduce yourself is to send emails to the people you know you’ll be working with. It never hurts to say hi and be friendly.

Once you start working, a great way to get to know people is through Slack or Teams. It’s like a virtual water cooler. It’s not a formal meeting, there’s no posturing needed—just a great place to chat and get to know each other. I really liked using Teams for this purpose because I felt like I could be myself, have a few witty quips and use GIFS to let my personality shine through.

ASK FOR HELP

Seriously, just do it!

If you’re somebody that hates asking for help, join the club. Should we get jackets?

In all seriousness, I hate asking for help. I’m too proud and too stubborn most of the time, but in this case it’s best to let someone know that you need a little bit of help with something. No one is going to think you’re lazy or that you’re a dummy (unless of course, it’s something you can Google. In which case you are a dummy). They’ll appreciate that you’re invested in doing something the right way and that you’re willing to ask for help when you need it.

With everything being virtual you have to be much more explicit about things. You might have people check in on you to see how you’re doing, but not as frequently as if you were in an office and someone could pop by your desk to check on you. That means you’re going to have to speak up. If you don’t understand something, need better or more clear direction, or need further explanation on something—say so!

LET PEOPLE KNOW YOU’RE NEW

I’ve been in my current position for 9 months now. I still routinely let people know that I’m (relatively) new. I work for a large company and interact with lots of people on any given day and lots of them have no idea that I haven’t been there for my whole life. In my opinion, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Hopefully, at least at first, someone from your team will introduce you to others and announce your arrival. During normal times (or as I like to call it, the Before Times) people would see a new face around and realize that you’re new, introduce themselves and probably even offer to help you! If that doesn’t happen right now, don’t get discouraged. It isn’t yout—the reality is that most people are swamped, whether with work or the fact that we’re 11 months into a pandemic, and don’t have an abundance of mental bandwidth to process that there’s a new face in the organization.

Instead, advocate for yourself! Be explicit about the fact that you’re a new hire. Let people know that you’re new to the company and what your role is—and you would appreciate some help getting settled in or need help understanding the nuances of the organization. Speak up for yourself, even if it makes you feel a little bit uncomfortable.

Even 9 months in, at least once a week I find myself saying, “I’m still relatively new here and I’m still learning the ropes. Could you give me some more background on XYZ?” And every time I do so, the people I’m meeting with appreciate it. It shows that I’m trying and making an effort.

ESTABLISH BOUNDARIES & PROCESSES

What is your role going to look like? How are you going to communicate with the rest of your team? Your manager? How can you ensure that you’re successful in your role?

Since your manager and your colleagues aren’t going to be the same building as you, you can’t just pop into someones office to ask a quick question or try to better understand what’s expected of you. Be proactive. Make sure that you understand your role and responsibilities. Have a clear and open line of communication with your manager and your colleagues. For instance, when assigned a new project or task, make sure that you understand the deadlines and deliverables that are being asked of you. Be direct. It’s better to ask for clarification than to drop the ball.

Another important thing to keep in mind is if there are any tools, platforms or processes that you need to familiarize yourself with. In my case,

TL;DR

Interviewing for and starting a new position is nerve-racking no matter the situation. If you’re hired, just know that they chose you for a reason and they’re excited to have you there. Nervous jitters are okay and totally normal, but be confident and remember that you have this!

Have you started a new job during the pandemic? If so, what has your remote on-boarding experience been like? I’d love to hear it!

Weekend Reads & What to Watch

Last weekend I talked about time management and using the Pomodoro Technique to GSD. But one facet of time management that I consistently struggle with is how I want to spend my weekends. I have been in isolation for 10 months now. I live alone and work from home. The days pretty much all blend together and the weekend doesn’t feel that much different than the work week, except for Monday-Friday I sit on my couch with a Dell computer and Saturday and Sunday I sit on my couch with a Mac Book.

If I wake up on Saturday morning and immediately start doing chores, I get annoyed that I have wasted 1/2 of my opportunities to be a slovenly slob and do nothing. If I lay in bed and relax, I get annoyed that I have wasted 1/2 of my opportunities to be productive and get things done. Sunday is essentially rinse and repeat.

For some reason, if I spend my days reading or consuming content on the Big Screen instead of the Medium Screen or Small Screen, I don’t feel quite as bad. As I have previously blogged about, I have really gotten into reading lately (I even downloaded GoodReads!) and have been watching lots of classic movies (that were not produced by or star Adam Sandler).

WHAT I’M READING

Because I have the attention span of a goldfish and so many competing interests, I am really bad about reading multiple books at once. Here’s what I’m currently reading:

Atomic Habits by James Clear

The cat’s out of the bag. I am a sucker for a good self help book. Some of them are, admittedly, better than others. This is one of them. I’m about half way through this book and am really enjoying it. What I appreciate about James Clear is that he’s able to meet you where you’re at. Okay, so you suck at managing your time or you have an insatiable shopping habit (yes, I do feel personally attacked, in case you were wondering)—those things can be fixed! They won’t be fixed overnight and there is no magic cure, but you can be mindful and intentional and change any bad habit you have or create any good one you want simply by making an effort. I appreciate that.

Blink: The Power of Thinking by Not Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

This book isn’t quite self-help, I would say maybe self-help adjacent? The short answer is that this book is about thinking—more specifically the way that we think without thinking. The longer, more accurate description of that book is that it’s intended purpose is to challenge your internal processes and unconscious mind; to illuminate rapid cognition—the split decisions we make in an instant without seemingly ever really considering anything—and give scientific and anecdotal evidence on why that can be both a good and bad thing. Admittedly, this book is harder for me to stay focused on than Atomic Habits.

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker

I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket and this sounded too good to pass up. This is the story of a midcentury American family with twelve (!!!) children, six of them diagnosed with schizophrenia, that became science’s great hope in the quest to understand the disease. Don and Mimi Galvin moved their family to Colorado after World War II so that Don could pursue his career in the Air Force. I’m only about 60 pages in so haven’t really gotten to the good part yet, but I already dislike Don. I think he’s a dickhead. And I feel bad for Mimi for having to give up on her dreams so that her husband could chase his. I am glad that the “good ‘ol days” are a thing of the past because you won’t catch me popping out 12 kids and moving to BFE for anyone.

WHAT I’M WATCHING

The White Tiger

The White Tiger is a searing look at India’s caste system that follows narrator Balram from his childhood in a rural village in India, to his current vantagepoint as a newly minted entreprenur.

Balram is smart and ambitious, but destined to work his family’s tea stand and be married off to someone of his Granny’s choosing. When he sees an opportunity to learn to drive, he jumps on it, learns the ropes (i.e., the flattery that the ruling class requires of their servants) and ultimately lands a driving job for a man who is just back from the U.S.

This movie is based on the 2008 book of the same name. The first half of the movie is spent illuminating the caste system in India—the way that it’s rigged to keep the wealthy in their lofty positions while keeping the poor on the streets far below. After being insanely loyal to his masters (like a rooster in a cage), the movie takes a really dark turn when Balram is betrayed by his employers (I did appreciate that Priyanka Chopra plays a bad person both in real life and in this movie!).

After realizing the corrupt lengths his masters will go to to save themselves (and throw him under the bus), Balram claws his way out of the cage that is his servitude and rebels against the system to become a new kind of master—his own.

I spent a good portion of this movie feeling sorry for Balram because I think he’s a genuinely good person. I hated when he was made fun of. I hated when they mocked him for wearing the outfit that he especially picked out and called him “maharaja.” I thought that he looked so elegant and nice in his new kurta. I hated when Pinky made him feel bad for behaving a certain way in front of her guest. I felt so terrible when he says “why did my father not teach my to scratch my groin? Why didn’t he teach me to brush my teeth?” As a viewer, I felt the sting of betrayal when he realizes what his masters have done to him.

Adarsh Gourav did such a great job acting that I felt very invested in the film.

10/10 would definitely recommend—but only if you can give it your full attention as you’ll need to read the subtitles (I believe they’re speaking Hindi?)

Eat, Pray, Love

Can someone help me understand this? Elizabeth Gilbert wrote the eponymous book in 2006. The book ended up landing on Oprah’s Book Club and then skyrocketed to the NYT Best Seller’s list where it stayed for something like one million weeks (I exaggerate, obviously). It has since sold more than 10 million copies world wide. But…why? I, admittedly, haven’t read the book but I fucking hated the movie. It could not possibly be more self-aggrandizing if it tried to be.

First of all, I hate the way that she treated her husband. She decides she doesn’t want to be married anymore, seemingly because he wants children and she does not, but does a horrible job of communicating with him. She has no regard for his feelings, instead complaining to a friend that he “hates her.” TBH, I hate you too Elizabeth. When she supposedly is floundering, rudderless and hitting rock bottom, her editor gives her an advance on her book that funds her little trip around the world. Life is so hard.

The worst part for me is when she gets to Indonesia because, true to everything we know about her thus far, she is a self-centered asshole who cannot fathom a life that doesn’t, in some way, revolve around her. While in Bali, she meets a healer who is living in poverty and thinks that she can “fix” this woman’s situation by throwing money at her. The bottom line is that, despite her new-agey global trotting, she doesn’t understand other cultures and views it as something that is backwards and needs fixing. So, essentially, she tricks this woman into buying a home before she goes back to the States because it makes her feel like she did something good. This is precisely why people hate Westerners.

0/10. Don’t waste your time watching this. 2 hours and 20 minutes I will never get back.

Julie & Julia

I’m trying to watch movies I’ve never seen before and this was on the homepage of Amazon Prime so I thought, what the hell. Worth a shot. Surprisingly, I loved it! Amy Adams, Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci are wonderful in this movie.

Julia Child’s story of her start in the cooking profession is intertwined with blogger Julie Powell’s 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child’s first book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” I loved the cinematography of this movie, the way that Julia’s life was juxtaposed with Julie’s and how similar they were—despite all of their differences and the time and space between them.

I loved that Julie challenged herself to get through the entire cook book in one year—524 recipes in 365 days—and that she blogged the entire experience. I also appreciated when she said that blogging feels like screaming into a void, because, as I can attest, it oftentimes does.

Also, another important side note: Stanley Tucci is so hot. He’s like a hot dad or a hot professor. I said what I said and I am not sorry.

10/10. Would recommend if you’re looking for something that is equal parts light-hearted and poignant.

TL;DR

Look at me, using quarantine to become more well-rounded. And it only took 10 months! However, in the midst of watching all these movies i’ve never seen, I did buy the 40 Year Old Virgin on Amazon. And I did rewatch some of Sex and the City. You can pry those classics from my cold, dead hands.

If you purchase any of the books I mentioned and you’re in Lansing or Grand Rapids, please considering supporting Schuler’s Books. I don’t get a commission or anything like that—they are just a wonderful local retailer.

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

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

CHAOTIC GOOD

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

THE PROBLEM

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

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

THE SOLUTION

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

THE POMODORO TECHNIQUE

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

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

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

WHY IT WORKS

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

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

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

MY OWN TWIST

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

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

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

TL;DR

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

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

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

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

NO EXPECTATIONS, NO LET DOWNS

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

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

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

REFLECTING + LOOKING AHEAD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SET SMALL, REALISTIC GOALS

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

“Meaningful change doesn’t require radical change.”

James Clear – Atomic Habits

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

BE KIND TO YOURSELF

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

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

TL;DR

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

What I’m Watching: December 2020

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

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

The Undoing

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

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

The Flight Attendant

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

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

Your Honor

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

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

Euphoria

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

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

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown

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

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

Crazy, Stupid Love

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

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

Goodwill Hunting

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

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

The Titanic

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

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

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

Forrest Gump

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

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

21 Jump Street

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

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

Crazy, Rich Asians

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

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

Heavens Gate: The Cult of Cults

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

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

TL;DR

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

Sephora Holiday Savings Event: My Purchases & Recommendations

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

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

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

BIG TICKET ITEMS

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

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

DYSON SUPERSONIC HAIR DRYER

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

FRAGRANCE

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

WHAT I BOUGHT

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

Nécessaire The Body Serum

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

Huda Beauty #FauxFilter Skin Finish Buildable Foundation Stick

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

Hourglass Mini Ambient Lighting Edit – Sculpture Unlocked

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

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Lip Liners

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

Natasha Denona I Need a Nude Lipstick

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

Natasha Denona I Need a Nude Glow Highlighter

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

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powder

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

Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille

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

Wander Beauty Baggage Claim Upgrade Eye Masks

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

PATRICK TA Major Glow Face Gloss

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

Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Hydrating Makeup Primer

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

Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Face and Under-Eye Concealer

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

Hourglass Ambient® Lighting Bronzer

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

DERMAFLASH DERMAPORE Ultrasonic Pore Extractor & Serum Infuser

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

GIFT SETS WORTH BUYING

Charlotte Tilbury Mini Iconic Matte Revolution Lipstick Trio

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

Sephora Favorites Men’s Cologne Sampler Set

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

Benefit Cosmetics Great Brow Basics Pencil & Gel Set

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

Maison Margiela ‘REPLICA’ Deluxe Mini Coffret Set

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

Tower 28 Beauty Mini Juicy All The Way Lip Jelly Set

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

TL;DR

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

DIY Eyebrow Tinting

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

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

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

LET’S GET STARTED

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

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

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

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

APPLYING THE DYE

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

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

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

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

WASHING IT OFF

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

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

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

THE FINISHED PRODUCT

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

TL;DR

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

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

Weekly Roundup: Dyson V11 Vacuum, Melt Cosmetics + More

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

DYSON V11 ANIMAL+ CORDLESS STICK VACUUM

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

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

MELT COSMETICS DIGITAL DUST DUO

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

TOWER 28 SHINE ON MILKY JELLY

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

MEJURI CROISSANT DÔME HOOPS

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#mejuri @mejuri

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

MELATONIN

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

PEN15

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

BLOGS FROM THE PAST WEEK

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

I WANT TO SEE A THERAPIST. NOW WHAT?

FALL MAKEUP TRENDS I’M LOVING

TL;DR

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