January 2021 Favorites

The first month of the new year is over! Now that that’s over, we can hopefully begin processing the collective trauma that we all experienced.

MAC LIP LINER

I haven’t used MAC lip liners in a looong time, but I revisited these in January and was immediately reminded why I loved them so much. My favorites are the shades Whirl and Stripdown. Oldies but goodies!

ANASTASIA BROW FREEZE

I’ve tried just about every brow product on the market (or at least it feels that way.) From the OG Anastasia Pencil, to Dip Brow, Boy Brow and soap brows, I have done the leg work in search of brows that look both fluffy and polished, defined but not overdone. If you like the laminated brow look and want to test it out without having to commit to it (or pay for it!), this is a great place to start. It keeps brows locked in place all day without getting crunchy or adding a weird gray cast to the hair.

SHISEIDO SYNCHRO SKIN SELF-REFRESHING LIQUID FOUNDATION

I bought this because of Katie Jane Hughes and I do not regret it one bit (although I do think I chose a shade that is slightly too light for me). I am obsessed with this foundation. It’s medium coverage (yes, I am using a medium coverage foundation. People do change) and truly feels weightless on your skin. It lasts all day—even under a mask—and looks natural. By the end of the day, my natural oils are coming through, but in a wonderful way. I can’t say enough good things about this foundation and now I need to try the concealer (but in March when #NoBuyFebruary is over).

KOSAS REVEALER SUPER CREAMY + BRIGHTENING CONCEALER AND DAYTIME EYE CREAM

I’ve had this concealer for quite awhile, but kept it stashed away in a drawer because I didn’t love it the first time I used it (calm down, I checked the shelf life and it isn’t expired). As I mentioned above, I’ve kind of shifted away from being such a Full Coverage Queen™ and now prefer a more subtle, natural (natural adjacent?) look. This is a medium coverage, radiant finish concealer. It’s creamy, pigmented and hydrating that visibly brightens but doesn’t leave you looking cakey or overdone. I think that the shade that I got is slightly too yellow for my skin, but I plan on using it up before repurchasing (damn No Buy February).

KOSAS WET OIL LIP GLOSS IN JELLYFISH

Another Kosas product—am I becoming a clean beauty girl? If you’ve been here for awhile, you’ll know that I am a sucker for a good lip gloss. This is a hybrid between a lip treatment and gloss. It’s packed with peptides that visibly plumps and hydrates. It’s not sticky, in fact it feels very moisturizing on the lips. I got the clear color, so can’t speak to the pigmentation but I love how this makes my lips look and feel. Pair this with one of my MAC lip liners and its a match made in heaven.

MAKEUP FOREVER MATTE VELVET SKIN BLURRING POWDER FOUNDATION

This is another KJH recommendation. This has quickly become a Swiss army knife of sorts in my makeup collection. I don’t really use this as a foundation. I use it more as a setting powder, but I really love it for that purpose. My favorite way to use this is on the eyes! I pack this onto my lids before applying eyeshadow because it helps them blend out better. If there are still harsh lines or areas that I want to fix, I tap a fluffy brush into the powder foundation and buff them out. I love this!

NARS SOFT MATTE COMPLETE CONCEALER

Two concealers in one monthly favorite post. I recently shared in my Instagram story that I completely emptied a pot of this stuff, as in there was not a drop left. Because of my penchant for buying copious amounts of makeup, it’s rare that I actually finish something, so this is a big deal. I love this. If you have something that you want to hide, this is the concealer you’re looking for. Acne scars, hyper-pigmentation, dark circles, you name it—this will hide it. I use this every single time I put makeup on. It’s extremely pigmented, so you only need a small amount. It took me about a year to polish off my first jar, but I will never be without this stuff.

BECCA LIGHT GLEAM PRIMER AND TOPPER LIQUID EYESHADOW

If you’re someone who likes a one-and-done eyeshadow, then you’ll love this new product from Becca. It takes all of the guess work out of applying eyeshadow—you literally just use the doe foot applicator to swipe color onto your eyes, top it off with the sparkly side and call it a day. I did find that it creased on me a little bit, but that’s pretty much par for the course with cream eyeshadow and oily eyelids. I was sent this product by Becca and Fohr to test it out, but my review is still honest and in my own words.

TL;DR

Some of these products are new, but most of them I found by shopping my own stash! I mean, when is the last time someone said MAC lip liners were cool? It’s been a minute. What products are you loving right now?

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!

SEPTEMBER FAVORITES

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

RARE BEAUTY BY SELENA GOMEZ

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

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

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

TOWER 28 GLOSS IN CASHEW

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

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

NATASHA DENONA BRONZE EYESHADOW PALETTE

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

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

SLIP SKINNY SCRUNCHIES

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

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

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

BIOLOGIQUE RECHARCHE LOTION P50

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

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

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

BYREDO VETYVR HAND WASH

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

ELECTRIC ARC LIGHTER

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

TL;DR

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

August Favorites

Happy September, friends! Because I’m nosey and love reading what other people purchase, use and love, I decided to get back on the bandwagon and do my own monthly favorites again. If you’re interested in the hodgepodge of random things that I used throughout the last month, keep reading!

BEAUTY

This is a beauty blog, so it only makes sense that I start out with beauty products.

Glow Recipe Papaya Sorbe Enzyme Cleansing Balm

I have a very specific skincare routine and I’m extremely particular about the products I use on my face. I have been using the Elemis Pro-Collagen cleansing balm for months, but finally ran out and bought this during the Sephora sale and I love it. I use it as the first step in my double cleanse routine and it removes all my makeup very nicely without leaving any kind of weird residue. The only downside for me is that I don’t love the glass jar. I’m extremely accident prone and prefer the plastic packaging of the Elemis makeup remover. While it feels like it’s much smaller than other makeup removing balms, it has 3.4 ounces of product, compared to Elemis’ 3.7—and it’s half the price, so not a bad deal. The smell is a little childish and reminds me of Smacker’s lip balm or Trix yogurt (I said childish but I also didn’t say I disliked since I am big fans of both those things).

Overall,  9/10. I will continue to use and would recommend but don’t love the glass jar.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Stain

I love a good lip stain. I don’t think this is technically a new product, I think this is a reformulation. I could be imagining this, but I could have sworn that ABH had a lip stain back in the day and discontinued it. Anyway, I got the shade Rosewood because there is no such thing as too many pinky-brown nudes. I like this product—well, I don’t hate it. I think that the shade ends up being way more pink than nude on me but my biggest complaint is the smell. I am extremely sensitive to smells and I didn’t like this one. I, did, however, appreciate that my lips were stained all day.

Overall, I would give it a 6/10. I’ll use it again but not sure that I would repurchase.

Ouai x Byredo Super Dry Shampoo Mojave Ghost

I don’t really buy dry shampoo because I wash my hair every day, but I do occasionally use it to add texture or grit to my hair. I really like this because I love the scent. It’s extremely fragrant and it lasts all day long. If you like Mojave Ghost and don’t want to spend $200 on it, I highly recommend picking this up. Or if could have the reverse effect on you like it did on me. I spend $24 on dry shampoo and now want the perfume itself. Buyer beware.

Overall, 9/10. I love love it, but its inspiring some bad spending decisions 

Saint Jane Beauty Bright Repair CBD Eye Cream

I love this stuff. I was talking to my esthetician about wanting to add an eye cream into my routine since I am creeping up on my 27th birthday and want to prevent wrinkles before they happen vs. treating them once they are already there. She told me that right now I really want something that will hydrate the area. I had been eyeing this one (pun intended) on the Saint Jane website and when I saw it in my Sephora I snagged the last one they had in stock. It works great, doesn’t upset my eyes at all, hasn’t caused any milia and (I think) makes me look a little more awake and refreshed.

10/10 will continue to use and repurchase.

EM Cosmetics Soft Blur Velvet Lip Liners

I love these so much I wrote an entire blog about them. I have never loved and will never love another lip liner as much as I love these. They are so good. Perfect in every way. They offer nude lip liner options for a variety of skin tones. So velvety and butter-smooth but with great staying power. If you want to try them, I suggest you get on it before I buy all of them to hoard so I never run out.

10/10 would shout my love for these from the rooftops. 

LIFESTYLE

Insecure

My friend Andrea mentioned on a Thursday that she loved this show and by Sunday I had binge-watched all four seasons. IT IS SO GOOD. I am so invested. I need Season 5 to happen immediately.

10/10 want to be BFFs with Issa (and sleep with Andrew?)

Decorative Objects & Coffee Table Books

I’ve been trying to up my home decor game lately (blog post coming soon!). One of my favorite pieces that I’ve purchased has been this limestone knot from Target x Studio McGee. I was looking at objects similar to this that cost MUCH more than this at CB2 and West Elm, so this was such a great find. It comes in and out of stock, so if you’re interested just sign up for emails!

I also purchased some fun coffee table books from Amazon that I had been eyeing for months that finally dropped in price, including this Architectural Digest book and this iconic Tom Ford book.

At Home Sweet Cream Foam Ice Coffee

I really like the Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew from Starbucks but don’t like paying for it, so I made it myself at home. I previously talked about how I make my own iced coffee at home to save money. If that isn’t your thing, Starbucks has cold brew you can purchase from any grocery store (I usually get it at Target or Kroger). I also picked up some Coffee-Mate Natural Bliss Sweet Cream Coffee Creamer. To make a dupe of the drink, just froth the creamer until it doubles in size and then pour into the coffee. Et voila!

Aesop Hand Wash

This is an extravagant purchase and it was probably stupid to spend $40 on soap but I love it and I’m washing my hands all the time because of COVID—that’s my justification. It looks fancy on my bathroom counter and I appreciate the smell and the exfoliating properties. Will I repurchase? The jury is out.

Aerie 

I recently picked up two of Aerie’s oversized crewneck sweatshirts and a pair of joggers and I am in love. I got the sweatshirts in camo (Olive Fun) and Olive Daze because I love green and didn’t have anything like these. I almost didnt buy the joggers because they were just straight sizes but I went for it anyway and they fit great! They are so, so soft and have a fold over waistband AND pockets. They don’t really do anything in terms of shaping or keeping everything sucked in but I’m looking for comfort at this point, since I’m sure I’ll be home alone for another 6 months.

The sweatshirt is oversized so you could size down if you want a more fitted look, but I would recommend sticking with your normal size since it’s supposed to be a little looser. If you buy any of these or have any more Aerie recommendations, let me know!

Friends

I know this is cheesy, but having spent nearly 6 months in total isolation, I have started to see my friends in moderation lately and it has been so wonderful. I feel like my social skills have deteriorated and I am not a social mutant but my friends are accepting of me no matter how weird I get. Invite me to your outdoor patio hangs (but don’t be offended if I decline as I am still worried about getting COVID and will be for a long time).

TL;DR

I have been trying and using a lot of new things lately and have been quite pleased with my purchases. What are some things that you’re using and loving lately? Let me know!

I bought all these things with my own money, but some links are affiliate links meaning I make a small commission if you purchase through them. Also, I took that glorious sunflower photo myself.

 

 

 

Splurge vs. Save: Are Expensive Candles Worth It?

If you think about it, burning candles is basically just lighting your money on fire.

In spite of that sobering fact, I love candles and have been obsessed with them for years. When I lived with my parents, they wouldn’t let me burn candles because my dad they insisted the smoke makes the walls/ceilings black. Instead, my mom uses wax burners and diffusers, which to me, just aren’t the same.

SPLURGE VS. SAVE

As soon as I got my own apartment I was hell-bent on burning as many candles as I could. The only problem is that candles are expensive. I would plan my purchases around Bath and Body Works’ three-wick candle sales. If I was feeling saucy, I would splurge on a Yankee Candle and if I was feeling particularly frugal, I would shop places like Home Goods, Marshalls or Target.

Fast forward about 10 years. I have evolved from purchasing candles from chains and big-box stores to dipping my toes into the world of ~luxury~ candles. That’s right—brands like Le Labo and Diptyque which charge upwards of $75 per candle. PER CANDLE. It’s insane I know. Is it worth it? Let’s discuss.

THE APPEAL

For most of my life, Yankee candles were the splurge candles. Three wick candles at B&BW are $24.50 full price but you can routinely snag them on sale for around 10 bucks—a Yankee jar candle will set you back $30. I distinctly remember a time I went to Bed Bath and Beyond and cashed in one of those 20% off coupons on a Yankee candle. I felt like the fanciest bitch in East Lansing and reveled in my ~wealth~ as the sickeningly sweet aroma of my Vanilla Cupcake Original Large Jae Candle filled my dingy college apartment.

I don’t remember exactly the first time I was introduced to luxury candles but I am pretty certain it was on Instagram (where consumerism flourishes and money management goes to die). Unless you live under a rock, you’re probably familiar with the Diptyque Baies* candle that every blogger under the sun has, at one point or another, strategically positioned in a perfectly lighted, perfectly staged photo.

I am someone who loves the finer things in life. I don’t know why I am the way that I am—I certainly wasn’t raised that way. But when I learned that the upper echelon was burning these exorbitantly overpriced candles, I immediately believed that they were somehow better and that I would die if I didn’t get my hands on one.

Now that I’ve purchased these candles, burned them and had some time to objectively think about them, I feel like I can offer some insight.

THE SPECIFICS

In case you’re wondering what candles exactly I’ve tried, I’ll tell you. I purchased the 6.5-ounce Diptyque Vanille candle, the 2.5-ounce Diptyque Amber candle and the 8.6-ounce  Le Labo Santal 26 candle. I  like spicy, sexy scents if you can’t tell.

THE SMOKE

Listen. I don’t like admitting that my dad is right but, in this instance, he is. A lot of my cheaper candles are notorious for producing plumes of black smoke either while burning or when blown out. I used always keep a three-wick Bath and Body Works candle on my bathroom sink and realized one day that there was an actual film of soot from the candles that I could run my finger through. It was disgusting and I scrubbed the wall with a Magic Eraser immediately. My expensive candles don’t put off smoke when they burn AND they don’t produce black smoke when blown out, either. That’s a big vantage point for me.

THE SCENT

The biggest difference between cheap and expensive candles is the quality of the scent. What does that mean? Fragrant oils are what make candles (and perfumes) smell good. When it comes to candles, oils can’t just smell good—they have to burn well. Not only are poor quality oils going to result in a less quality fragrance, they result in black smoke which, like my parents told me, will ruin your house (and are not good to breathe in, especially for an asthmatic like me).

THE BURN TIME

Because expensive candles use a better quality of fragrance, you don’t have to burn them for very long to fill your entire space with the fragrant aroma of your absurdly over-priced candle. In fact, sometimes you don’t even have to burn them at all! The candles that I have are actually so fragrant that they fill up my rooms with scent just by sitting on a shelf. I love that for me.

THE PRODUCTION

I recently wrote a blog about how I’m buying less jewelry but making sure it’s higher quality—the same applies to these candles, too. To be fair, I have no idea where the other candle brands I mentioned are made. However, I do know that brands like Diptyque and Le Labo are handmade in small batches. In fact, there was a notecard in my Le Labo box that said that the candle had been hand-poured by someone in the U.S. the day before it shipped to me. Buying things that are sourced responsibly and ethically—and made by someone in safe working conditions who is being paid a living wage is increasingly important to me.

THE APPEAL

Let’s be real—while the quality of fragrance does vary between cheap and expensive candles, a large part of what you’re paying for is the appeal. It’s just like buying designer coffee. Is there really that much difference between brewing a cup of Maxwell coffee in my own kitchen vs. buying it from Starbucks? Probably not. You’re paying for the experience.

THE VERDICT

Are expensive candles worth it? Yes and no. Just like everything else in life, it’s about what you prioritize spending your money on. If fragrance doesn’t matter to you, buy cheap candles and rock on with your bad self. If buying a bougie candle is a form of consumer-based self-care than that’s great, too.

TL;DR

There are definite differences between luxury candles and the cheap ones you can pick up at any home goods store. Are they worth upwards of $75? Realistically, no scented wax is worth that much money. It all comes down to what you want to spend your money on. And, after all that ~research~ my favorite candle of all time is still this cheap one from World Market. Go figure.

Do you buy expensive candles and, if so, what’s the most that you’ve spent on one? Let me know!

*Until about six months ago, I honestly thought that these candles said BABIES which I thought was really weird but whatever. It didn’t seem out of the realm of possibility for a pretentious and over-priced candle. Also, in my defense, babies do have their own very specific scent. It wasn’t until my friend Andrea casually mentioned that Baies means “berry” in French that I realized I had been hilariously and embarrassingly mistaken. 

My Favorite Online Jewelry Brands

I love jewelry. I always have. When I was younger, I wore a lot of big, bold jewelry. Big hoops, big diamond studs (fake obviously), statement rings, statement necklaces, etc. In recent years, my style has evolved and I’ve gravitated to a more subtle approach when it comes to accessories. Particularly, I am a sucker for dainty, barely-there gold jewels. It’s chic and timeless and there’s just something borderline magical about the glimmer of sparkle that appears when the light catches it. 

Until recently, the deciding factor for me when purchasing jewelry (or anything, really) was the price. I was totally ignorant about fast fashion and about the conditions that workers are subjected to, the fact they aren’t paid a living wage or the damage fast fashion does to the environment. These jewelry brands might cost a little more, but they are all incredibly high quality, and sourced with ethical and sustainable materials—and made by people who are paid a living wage and aren’t working in abysmal conditions.

Mejuri

I’m not sure there is a single Instagram user who hasn’t seen a Meijuri ad at this point. I lusted after the Mejuri Bold Chain Ring for months, but couldn’t justify spending the money. I ended up buying it for myself when I accepted a new job, and so not only is it gorgeous but it has a special meaning to me. I also decided to buy myself the Double Line ring, because why not? I deserve it. 

Of all the brands mentioned today, Mejuri is definitely the most expensive. It’s fine jewelry, so you get what you’re paying for (but when I say that know that I’m not in any way knocking any of the other brands). This jewelry will last forever and can withstand water, sweat, etc—which is important to me—especially right now when i wash my hands every two seconds.

aa1_5023-2

Ana Luisa

AnaLuisaJewelryRingsGoldTwistRingRopeBoldGold._1080x

Photo courtesy of brand

I saw an ad for Ana Luisa on Instagram (lol, are you starting to see a theme here?). It caught my attention because I had been wanting a dome ring like the one in the ad that was served to me—and also because of the name. My Grandma’s name was Maria Louisa and so it kind of caught me off guard. I was so impressed with my purchase, that I ended up make more purchases, including my favorite pair of earrings andthese cute celestial huggie hoops. 

I love that they are a sustainable, conscious brand so I can feel good about the jewelry I’m wearing and buying.

Soko 

soko_open_square_signet_ring_model_1_1800x1800.jpg

Photo courtesy of brand

I am obsessed with Soko jewelry—and with the brand. It’s a women-led ethical jewelry brand and manufacturing platform (also Black owned!). I was served an ad for them at a time when I was trying not to buy anything, but reminded of them when one of my favorite Michigan bloggers @whatkatefinds shared a square ring she had purchased from them.

Soko jewelry is slightly different than what I would normally gravitate to because, at least in my opinion, their pieces are a little more on the “statement” side—but they are so cool and chic. Every single piece of jewelry I’ve seen of their just exudes the most stylish, effortlessly cool vibe. A really cool thing I appreciate about the brand is that they offer the option of either brass or gold jewelry, so you can save some money if you’re on a tight budget. I have a number of different pieces saved to my current wish-list that I’m sure I’ll purchase over the next couple of months.  

Katie Dean

Katie-dean-jewelry-dainty-handmade-evil-eye-gold-ring-blue-crystal-1

Photo courtesy of brand

I met Katie Dean through my friend Andrea and she is one of the loveliest people you will ever meet. She’s originally from Michigan, but lives in LA now (which is where she designs all of her jewelry). I own many, many Katie Dean pieces, including rings, earrings and necklaces and have never seen a piece of her work that I didn’t absolutely adore and want to take home with me. Her Evil Eye ring is my favorite KDJ piece that I own and I will stop wearing it when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.

Poirier 

IMG_8321_1024x1024@2x

Photo of Ashley Poirier wearing the Large Chain Ring, courtesy of shoppoirier.com.

I absolutely love Poirier. If I could design a jewelry line, I think it would look very similar to what Ashley Poirier has created. Aside from the fact that I swoon over the jewelry itself, I love that Poirier is size-inclusive. Finding jewelry that fits as a plus-size person can be difficult. Most rings stop at a size 8 (9 if you’re lucky!), leaving people with larger fingers and necks SOL when it comes to cute jewelry. Her rings go up to a size 13 and her necklaces come in longer lengths (with extenders) to fit anyone and everyone who wants to add a little sparkle to their life. More of this, please. (On top of all those things, Ashley is one of the nicest, most down-to-earth people I’ve ever interacted with on social media. Honestly, I can’t say enough good things.)

Meesha Farzeneh 

smaller_1800x1800

I hate to sound like a broken record, but I found out about this brand on Instagram. Earlier this year I got super into snake motifs and started wearing a lot of snake jewelry (and pinning snake tattoos on Pinterest). Around that same time, I was served an ad for Meesha’s brand and thought her Medusa earrings were the coolest things I had ever laid eyes on. She recently came out with a smaller version, the Medusa Minis, which are scheduled to arrive at my doorstep on Wednesday before 9 p.m. Meesha makes her jewelry by hand in Austin, Texas—and it’s made ethically and sustainably. I’ve interacted with her on Instagram before and she’s so sweet and kind. How cool is it to be able to talk to the person who designed and created the jewelry you wear. I love it!

TL;DR

Spending more money on an item that you know was made ethically and sustainably—and you can even talk with the person who designed and created that piece—is so, so much better than buying something from a big box store, even if you have to save for a little while to afford it. It’s worth it, I promise.

March Favorites

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

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

TATCHA THE LIQUID SILK CANVAS

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

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

NUDESTIX NUDIES ALL OVER FACE COLOR IN BUBBLY BEBE

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

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

PAULA’S CHOICE 2%  BHA LIQUID EXFOLIANT

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

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

DIPTYQUE VANILLE CANDLE

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

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

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

PLUS WHITE FIVE MINUTE PREMIER TEETH WHITENING

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

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

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

OPI CAJUN SHRIMP

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

ANA LUISA JEWELRY

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

TL;DR

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

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!