I Tried It: Profractional Laser Treatment

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

BRINGING OUT THE BIG GUNS

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

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

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

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

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

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

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DAY ONE

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

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

DAY TWO

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

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

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

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

DAY THREE

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

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

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

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

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

DAY FOUR

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

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

DAY FIVE

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

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

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

DAY SIX

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

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

ONE WEEK

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

 

TL;DR

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

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

Winter Skincare Favorites

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

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

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

SAINT JANE LUXURY CBD BEAUTY SERUM

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

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

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

DRUNK ELEPHANT F BALM

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

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

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

ALPHARET OVERNIGHT CREAM

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

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

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

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

NEWPORT COSMECUTICALS PERFECTING TONER

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

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

CHEMICAL PEELS

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

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

 

Does CBD work? I tried it to find out

Much like Chandler from Friends, one of my favorite ways to unwind after a long, stressful day is taking a bath. I have spent years cultivating and perfecting my bath routine. Candle, book, something to effervesce, maybe a face mask or a glass of wine if I’m feeling extra indulgent. I thought it couldn’t get any better—I was wrong. Enter Well CBD.

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If you’re skeptical about CBD, I don’t blame you.  We should be skeptical about any product that purports to be the end-all-be-all to all of life’s problems—especially when it comes to health and wellness. If you’re on the fence, I suggest taking the plunge with bath salts (pun intended). Bath salts are the perfect way to dip your toes into the world of CBD and be able to experience its effects without ingesting it. (Alright, I’ll stop with the bad jokes now).

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WHAT IS CBD?

Cannabidiol, or as most people know it, CBD, is a cannabinoid found in both hemp and marijuana that can have potential health benefits. Unlike THC, CBD does not have a psychoactive effect, meaning it won’t get you high.

WHAT DOES CBD DO?

Most people have heard about the health benefits of CBD. It’s the hottest trend in health and wellness because of its reported effects on stress, inflammation, pain, mood, and more. Does the science live up to the hype? Here’s the deal: our bodies have something called an endocannabinoid system (ECS). Our ECS is responsible, in part, for controlling our stress and fear responses (think “fight or flight”) and CBD products can help support and promote endocannabinoid production.  What does that mean? Well, in layman’s terms, it means that CBD can help us to manage stress more efficiently.

There are a number of studies that indicate the effectiveness of using CBD to treat stress-related disorders, but there’s a lot of research that still needs to be done—not only on CBD but on the dozens of other cannabidiols found in marijuana and hemp. My advice is to take each persons’ story with a grain of salt and know that you might not have the same experience.

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MY FIRST EXPERIENCE

I tried CBD for the first time in early 2018 before everybody and their mother was using it for every known ailment under the sun. I purchased a CBD tincture from a local health and wellness store and took it sublingually (under the tongue) for a while and found that it did absolutely nothing for me. I’m not sure what the issue was—maybe I was taking the wrong dosage, maybe I got a shoddy product—but either way, it didn’t work. From that point on, I was extremely skeptical of CBD. It seemed like a modern, gentrified version of snake oil to me.

I WAS INFLUENCED

A few months ago, I was watching one of my favorite Michigan bloggers’ IG story—@whatkatefinds—and she was raving about a CBD cream that she was using for knee pain. Still skeptical after my first experience, I looked the brand up and was super intrigued.

I have tried all of Well’s products now—and Kate was right, their products are amazing.  I didn’t try the products convinced that I would feel any effect at all—but I absolutely did.

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STRESS RELIEF

December was a rough month for me and January has not been any better. There are a lot of things happening in my life that are beyond my control. I know “accept what you cannot change” blah blah blah, but it’s easier said than done and I’ve been looking for actionable steps I can take to feel better.

Being under constant stress has wreaked havoc on my body. My mind never shuts off. My muscles are tense. I have a constant stomach ache. I can’t sleep at night. I’ve tried a lot of things to help, and some do. I see a therapist. I’ve started journaling. My doctor gave me a prescription for Omeprazole to help with the stomach issues. But arguably the most disruptive part of stress has been not being able to sleep. I’ve tried Melatonin, I’ve tried reading before bed, not being on my phone or having the TV on, I’ve tried rain sounds and sleep masks. I asked my doctor for a prescription sleep aid (which he wouldn’t give me because they’re “habit-forming”). Then one night, as I lay in bed wide awake in the wee hours of the morning, it dawned on me that I should be trying CBD.

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HOW I USE CBD

I wanted Well’s products to work, but I had low expectations based on my last experience with CBD. CBD didn’t magically solve my problems, but I’m so thankful for the little bit of relief that they have been able to provide. My absolute favorite products are the bath soak, the body cream and the body oil.

I’ve been using the bath soak 2-3 times per week, and following up with the body oil or body cream once I get out. There is something absolutely magical about the bath soak, I’m not even joking. I had to look up the ingredients because I was so impressed by it. Not only does the bath soak have 50 mg of CBD in it, it’s made with both French Gray Sea Salt and Himalayan Salt, as well as grapeseed oil and lavender essential oils.

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ABOUT WELL CBD

All CBD in WELL Products is grown clean, in the USA, CO2 extracted, pesticide and solvent-free, and is third-party tested with a minimum of 99% purity. Additionally, all Well Products are vegan, cruelty-free, non-GMO, and gluten-free. Well CBD products are intended for use for those 18 and older and should not be used if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

If you’re interested in Well CBD you can purchase through their website or check them out on Instagram.

TL;DR
The effects of CBD are subtle but definitely helpful in alleviating stress, helping soothe sore and achy muscles and even aiding in a successful bedtime routine. I highly suggest testing our products and incorporating CBD into your routine if you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed.

Disclaimer: I received these products as a gift, but I am not being compensated in any way, and my review is 100% honest and authentic.

Birthday Reflections: 26 Lessons I’ve Learned

 

Today is my 26th birthday, so the first quarter of my life is officially over. I was talking about getting older with my therapist the other day, and she said, “you’ve lived a lot of life in these first 25 years.” She’s right.

I routinely think about how much I’ve grown and changed since I was younger. I’m sure that I’ll look back on this in a few years (or even less) and think that the version of myself that wrote this is young and naive and has a lot to learn. And those things will be true. But for now, this is as good as it gets.

  1. No one knows what they’re doing. It’s true. Not your parents, not your role models, not your favorite celebrities. We’re all just building the plane as we fly it.
  2. Start now. Start the blog, book the trip, quit your job. You’re never going to feel ready. Just do it.
  3. Ask for help. Seriously.  Don’t be a martyr—you don’t have to suffer in silence.
  4. You never really “get over” things. I hate when people talk about “getting over” things. If something profoundly affected you, you never really get over it. You get through it—and life goes on—but it stays with you and changes you, sometimes in ways you don’t expect. That’s okay.
  5. When someone shows you who they are, believe them. I had to learn this the hard way, and then I had to learn it the hard way a few more times, just to be sure.
  6. There is no substitute for hard work. Stop looking for a shortcut.
  7. If you love someone, tell them. Whether it’s your parents, your partner or your friends, they won’t be here forever. Tell people you love them while you have the chance.
  8. Skincare first, makeup second. It’s better to deal with the pimples than to be really good at hiding them. I mean this both literally and figuratively.
  9. Social media isn’t real. It’s all bullshit and we should pay less attention to it.
  10. Stop doing things you hate. It’s harder than it sounds but so, so worth it. It’s okay to say no, I promise. (Admittedly, I need to take my own advice.)
  11. Prioritize platonic love. As a culture, we don’t talk about platonic love but, realistically, those relationships are likely going to be the longest lasting. Make time for your friends.
  12. Invest in yourself. Go back to school, go to therapy, hire a personal trainer. It’s the best money you’ll ever spend.
  13. Don’t sweat the small stuff. And guess what, most of it is small stuff.
  14. Show up for the people in your life. It’s really easy to be there for people when everything’s going great. But life is messy and bad things happen, even to the best people. Showing up requires intentionality and a willingness to be vulnerable. It can feel uncomfortable and awkward, but do it anyway.
  15. Stop thinking that love is soft. I’m not sure why young people are so cynical about love and romance, but it’s beautiful. I say this as someone who had their heart broken in 2019 and still believes this to be true.
  16. Apologize. If you act like an asshole, own up to it.
  17. Always maintain a healthy amount of skepticism. Someone once told me that nothing in life is black or white—everything is a shade of gray. It’s true.
  18. Learn to enjoy your own company. The longest relationship you’re ever going to have is the one you have with yourself, so you might as well get comfortable with it.
  19. Read more. Like, real books. Not captions or Tweets.
  20. Spend quality time with your family. Most of us take our families for granted—whether they’re our blood families or chosen families. Either way, they’re probably slightly dysfunctional and drive you crazy, but appreciate them while you can.
  21. Listen to understand, not to respond. Pay attention to the person you’re talking to. There are countless books, seminars and podcasts to help you communicate better, but few focus on the importance of being a good listener. Start there.
  22. Always be curious. There’s something so innocent and wholesome about a child’s sense of curiosity and wonder. As we get older, it’s easy to become jaded and cynical—but try to never lose your sense of curiosity. There’s always something more to learn.
  23. Find something to laugh about every day. Nothing is really ever that serious.
  24. Feel your feelings. It sounds so simple, but it isn’t. A lot of us—myself included—avoid our feelings because we’d rather pretend they don’t exist than deal with things that are painful. 
  25. Sometimes you have to move on without closure. I can’t tell you how much I hate this. I know this is something that we learn with age and life experience, but reader, this is one life lesson that I could do without because it fucking sucks.
  26. Life isn’t fair, but it is still good. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, but it is.

 

 

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

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

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COMING OF AGE

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

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…AND I OOP

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

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COMEBACK KID

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

THE DETAILS

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

THE GOODS

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

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

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

MY THOUGHTS

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

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

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

TL;DR

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

My Favorite Places to Shop Small in #LoveLansing

It’s Small Business Saturday! Did you know that small businesses drive more than 40% of America’s economy? In fact, for every dollar spent at a small business in the U.S., approximately 67 cents stays in the local community. Here are my favorite places to shop small in #LoveLansing.

Aesthetics Med Spa 

If I were to compile a list of the best decisions I ever made, setting up an appointment with Jennifer Edwards at Aesthetics Med Spa is definitely at the top of that list. I’ve written multiple blogs about it, but Jennifer has changed my skin and, as a result, my life. I have had microneedling, Secret RF, TruSculpt iD, chemical peels, the Forever Young BBL with Skintyte, Botox lip flips, and more.

In addition to the in-office treatments I’ve had done at Aesthetics, I’ve also started using medical grade skincare that Aesthetics sells. I love skinbetter science, and Revision Skincare, both of which are only available under the supervision of a doctor—which Aesthetics is.

For Black Friday/ Small Business Saturday/ Cyber Monday, Aesthetics Med Spa is having a bunch of special promos, including 20% TruSculpt iD + an additional $200 off, $25 off any BBL service of $300 or more, 20% of all skincare products (this literally NEVER happens!) and 30% off all Jane Iredale products.

East Lansing Threads

I don’t venture to downtown East Lansing very often but when I do, it’s to pop into East Lansing Threads (or Foster Coffee, but more on that later). East Lansing Threads was voted the best clothing store in East Lansing and carries a number of brands like Kendra Scott, Vineyard Vines and Free People. If you’re shopping for a young person (or are a young person), you’ll definitely want to pay them a visit. 

EL Threads is also having some awesome sales this weekend, including 70% off mens clothing, 50% off ALL handbags, 50% off ALL accessories, 50% off ALL denim and 25% off ALL jackets. 

Retail Therapy

I love Retail Therapy, and I love what they stand for. All of the clothing available at Retail Therapy is responsibly sourced, with the vast majority of clothing being cut to order and fair trade. Celeste, the owner, is not just focused on curating timeless, unique, artisan-made clothing and accessories—she does so in a way a very intentional and conscious way. .If you’re in the market for timeless and chic clothing, or specifically looking to shop Magnolia Pearl, Lack of Color, or Quay Australia, Retail Therapy is your destination

Arched by Allie

Arched by Allie is located in Owosso, so slightly outside of #LoveLansing proper, but I had to include her. If you’re interested in getting your eyebrows microbladed, I can’t recommend her enough. I recently had my eyebrows microbladed by Allie and I can’t say enough good things about the process, the results, or Allie herself. 

Foster Coffee Company

Ah, I love Foster Coffee Company. My friend Andrea introduced me to the OG Foster in Owosso a few years ago and I was instantly in love. I was thrilled when I found out that Foster was coming to EL and their new space is absolutely to die for. Not only is the East Lansing location so cozy, so inviting and so conveniently located—the owners are wonderful people and their mission & vision makes my heart sing. Fosters mission is simple but poignant: to “foster communities through coffee.” They do this by partnering with other local businesses, non-profit organizations, and civic entities in order to create overlapping networks that serve people and build stronger relationships within the community.  In short, they’re great people doing wonderful things to bring others together in a meaningful way. 

If you have a coffee lover in your life, I highly suggest picking up a Foster Coffee Company gift card as a quick Christmas gift—and maybe grab one for yourself while you’re at it. Plus, if you’re stopping at Foster, you might as well walk over to Threads and peek around!

Katie Dean Jewelry

Here’s the deal: Katie Dean Jewelry might not be made in Lansing (it’s handmade in California) but Katie was born and raised in mid-Michigan and still comes back to visit. In fact, she’ll be here next month at a pop-up with East Lansing Threads! She makes the most gorgeous dainty, feminine jewels that you’ve ever seen and she is also the sweetest, most genuine person I’ve ever met. I truly can’t say enough good things about her or her business.

Katie is running an insane sale this weekend, where everything on her site is 30% off (no code needed). On top of that awesome deal, you can also get a super cute blush pink jewelry case for FREE on orders of $75 or more. All you need to do is enter the code GIFT at checkout. 

Megan Emmons Lashes

If you’re interested in lash extensions, Megan Emmons is a lash queen. She’s been doing my lashes for a few months now, and I can’t say enough good things about her. I’m constantly complimented on my lashes and how good they look. I’ve recently had two friends go visit Megan based on how much they love my lashes, and they have raved to me about how much they love them. Getting lash extensions is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. They make my life so much quicker and easier and it’s so nice to wake up looking at least somewhat put together. If you’re interested in booking an appointment with her, you can DM her on Instagram

Old Town General Store

I’m such a sucker for anything made in Michigan or related to Michigan. Every time I need to grab a gift for someone, I head over to the Old Town General Store and grab something Michigan-themed, whether it’s a pint glass, a t-shirt, a card, a candle, or a  Michigan-made snack or bottle of wine. I even bought a Petoskey stone there once! If you’re looking for unique holiday gifts, the Old Town General Store should be your first stop.

Curvaceous Lingerie

As someone with boobs, finding a bra that fits is a necessity. For the longest time, I squeezed myself into bras that didn’t fit because I a) wanted to shop with my friends at Victoria’s Secret and b) wanted to buy & wear cute bras. The first time I went to Curvaceous I got fitted for a bra and was amazed to find out that the bra I was about a million sizes too small, in both the cups and the band. Having a bra that fits right has made all the difference in how I feel throughout the day (i.e., no more tiddies spilling out in every direction) and also, in how my clothes fit! I love, love, love, that Curvaceous is size-inclusive so whether you’re looking for small sizes or plus sizes (in bras AND lingerie) they have you covered.

Van Atta’s Greenhouse & Flowershop

If you know me, you’ll know that I LOVE plants. Recently, someone asked me how many plants I had and I guessed 25. I went home and counted and realized I have 62. SIXTY TWO! If you’re in the market for some plants, I highly suggest stopping at Van Atta’s. They have a ton of plants, including tropicals and cacti, and a very knowledgeable and friendly staff. 

Dear Ollie

I’ve never personally met Sara from Dear Ollie, but I absolutely love her work. I LOVE sending/giving people cards and handwritten notes but I prefer for them to be funny/witty/have some kind of random pop culture reference and she just kills it with every single illustration. She is an incredibly talented illustrator and if you share my love of cards and gifts, I’d suggest checking her out. 

Strange Matter Coffee

You might be thinking, “wasn’t there already a coffee shop on this list?” Yes! But that’s okay because there’s room for everyone. I LOVE Strange Matter. I have had countless coffee meetings at Strange Matter, both professional and personal. They have bomb ass donuts, amazing lattes, and great Instagram photo ops, if you’re into that sort of thing. I love that they carry Lansing Facts merch, because I’m a big #LoveLansing nerd and I wear that label proudly. I also love that they support local artists and creatives, including hosting an annual Super Best Holiday Extravaganza Eleganza to kick off the holiday season and support small, independent and local on Small Business Saturday. 

TL;DR

When we shop small and invest our money back into our local communities, everyone wins. Where are you shopping small today? Let me know in the comments!

Black Friday for the Beauty Lover

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

BEAUTY 

Glossier

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

Huda Beauty eyeshadow palette

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

Naked3 Eyeshadow Palette

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

Buxom PowerPlump Lip Balm

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

Anastasia Beverly Hills Palette Vault

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

Anastasia Beverly Hills Glow Palettes

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

MAC Lipstick

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

Kylie Cosmetics Kylighter 

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

ColourPop Cosmetics

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

Tarte

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

HAIR

Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer & Volumizer Hot Air Brush

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

CHI Air Spin & Curl Ceramic Rotating Hair Curler

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

Big Sexy Hair

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

Unite Hair Products

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

NAILS

OPI Infinite Shine Nail Polish Gift Set

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

Olive & June

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

BRUSHES

Morphe Catch my Eye Brush Collection

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

Morphe

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

BATH

Philosophy Shampoo, Shower Gel, Bubble Bath

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

TL;DR

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

 

Everything You Need to Know About Microblading

I started grooming my eyebrows when I was in the 5th grade and I have spent the last 15 years waxing, plucking, tweezing and threading them into submission.  I have enhanced them with powders, pomades and waxes and have had them tinted (at the salon or at home with Just for Men). It only felt natural that, for the sake of beauty (and research), I try microblading. After lots of research, i.e., countless hours spent watching YouTube videos and stalking people’s Instagram pages, I reached out to Alexis Horton from Arched by Allie and set up an appointment.

What is microblading?

Microblading is a semi-permanent tattoo technique used to create the illusion of fuller brows. Unlike traditional tattooing, microblading uses tiny, fine-point needles to deposit pigment into the skin to create delicate, realistic looking hair strokes. Because the needles only penetrate the superficial layers of your skin, the method is semi-permanent instead of permanent (like traditional cosmetic tattoos).

Who is microblading best for?

Microblading is a great option for anyone who is looking to enhance their brows in a natural way. Keep in mind that the results will differ for everyone. Allie told me that microblading tends to work best for people with drier skin, but if you have oily skin like I do, you can still have microblading done—you’ll likely just need to have yours touched up more often.

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My eyebrows the morning of my appointment (with no makeup on them).

How long does microblading last?

I mentioned earlier that unlike traditional tattooing (cosmetic or otherwise) microblading is semi-permanent. About 6 weeks after your initial appointment, you’ll need to go back for a touch-up appointment. Depending on where you go, this may or may not be worked into the cost of the initial service. Then, microblading can last anywhere from 12 months to three years depending on a variety of factors, including your skin type and lifestyle. There are certain precautions you can take to extend the lifestyle of your news brows, including staying out of the sun (and if you are in the sun wearing sunscreen on your brows, or wearing a hat to protect those babies), and avoiding using skincare directly on your brows because the active ingredients will ruin the color.

Allie recommends having a touch up every year to keep your new brows looking fresh and fabulous. I know that this will be vital for me, since my face is like an oil slick and I’m so obsessed with my results that I don’t ever want to be without microbladed brows.

How much does it cost?

The price of microblading varies depending on where you live. I had mine done at Arched by Allie in Owosso, Michigan. Allie charges $300 for the initial session and $160 for follow up.

What’s the process like?

Step 1: Creating the shape

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Before we ever got started, Allie and I talked extensively about what I wanted from microblading, how I currently fill my eyebrows in and the look I was hoping to achieve through microblading. Once we were ready to get started, Allie had me lay down in her chair and she used a number of different tools and gadgets to make sure that my eyebrows were going to frame my face perfectly. After she had mapped out the shape, she had me get up and check in the mirror to make sure that it was what I had in mind.

Step 2: Numbing the brows

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After Allie mapped my brows out, she put a numbing agent on my brows to make sure that I was comfortable during the process. She put plastic wrap on the cream to help keep it place (and also because the heat from your body helps it work faster). She let the numbing cream sit on my brows for about 20 minutes and during that time I scrolled through Instagram and took a client call.

Step 4: Microblading the brows

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After making the strokes, Allie applies the color. Very flattering angle here!

 

For some reason I wasn’t worried about microblading hurting. I have a pretty high pain tolerance and am willing to tolerate a lot for the sake of beauty and spending less time getting ready in the morning. The process itself doesn’t hurt at all. I really can’t stress that enough. You can feel the needles dragging across your skin, but it doesn’t hurt. The strangest part for me was the fact that you can hear the needles scratching your skin, but after a while, I got used to it and didn’t notice it. Allie did two passes on both my brows, and kind of touched up a few placed with a third. After each round of strokes, she applied the pigment into the scratches, which is what you see in the photo above.

What’s aftercare like?

I have to admit that, aside from the fear of having my face tattooed, the aftercare process was the second largest deterrent to having my brows microbladed. I thought that the aftercare was going to be a gigantic pain in the ass. Turns out, it wasn’t! It was easy peasy lemon squeezy, even for someone a little lazy like myself.

Allie gave me everything that I needed to take care of my brows and was super accessible whenever I had any questions. I followed my aftercare for nearly two weeks after my microblading, even though you really only need to do it for a week. Every morning and night I would:

  • Splash my eyebrows with cool water
  • Apply the cleanser very gently in a dabbing motion, never any scrubbing.
  • Splash them again with cool water to get the cleanser off
  • Follow up with the tattoo ointment

I did have to alter my normal routine slightly during the healing process. For instance, I normally get in the shower every morning and let the water run on my face for a few minutes to help myself wake up. Since I couldn’t get my brows wet, I would wash my face at my sink before getting in the shower and then face away from the showerhead the entire time. It’s also super important that you don’t get any facewash/skincare/shampoo in your brows during the healing process (and even after if you want the best retention possible) so I always brought an extra washcloth in the shower with me to pat my brows dry and wipe away any shampoo that was getting suspiciously close.

What’s the healing process like?

Before we got started with the actual microblading process, Allie went over everything in very thorough detail with me, from the aftercare process to the healing process. She even had this really handy infographic that showed what I could expect in each phase of the healing process.

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Stage 1: The first day your brows will look amazing, like everything you’ve ever dreamed out. You’ll want to take countless selfies and shout from the rooftops that you’ve made the best decision of your life by having your eyebrows microbladed.

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Stage 2: The day after your appointment, you might notice that your eyebrows are getting darker. This continues for a few days (at least it did for me). I suppose if you’re really fair or not use to having dark, bold brows this might freak you out. I personally was super into it! I wouldn’t have been mad if they stayed that dark forever!

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Day 2 – no makeup on my brows at all

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Day 2 – taken before I had any makeup on. Taken in front of a ring light, but no retouching or editing whatsoever.

Stage 3: Within a few days of your initial appointment, typically between days 5-7,  your eyebrows are going to start itching and flaking. This is entirely normal—it’s your body healing the scratches that were made from microblading. I would notice little brown flakes on my eyebrows and it was difficult, but I was SO proud of myself for leaving them alone. I did notice that some of the flakes would come off during my aftercare, but Allie said that was totally normal (because you know I asked, lol!).

 

Stage 4: After you’ve experienced the flaking, you’ll notice that your brows have kind of disappeared. Allie told me this would happen between days 8-10, but it actually wasn’t until probably 12-14 that I noticed it. I was just living my life, loving my brows and being pleasantly surprised that I was somehow immune to this phase when I woke up one morning and was like, WTF. My perfect brows are gone! Because Allie had explained to me in such great detail what I could expect, I knew it was normal but I was still so bummed. Because I was cleared to wear brow makeup again (you can’t the first 7 days), I went ahead and used a little brow pomade to bring those babies back to life.

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Stage 5: After you’ve seen your amazing brows vanish before your eyes, rest assured that they DO come back. I noticed late last week that they are coming back and looking a little darker and I am so, so happy with them. They look natural and they frame my face perfectly. If I want to be a little bolder, I can fill them in slightly with a pencil or a pomade, but it takes two seconds and is definitely not necessary.

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Stage 6: 4-6 weeks after your initial appointment, you’ll go back for a touch-up. During this appointment, Allie will go over the strokes she made at the first appointment, and you’ll leave with crisp, fresh brows. That’s the last appointment you’ll need for a year (or possibly longer). I have my follow up on Dec. 16 and I’ll be sure to keep you all updated.

I can’t say enough good things about Allie. She made me feel so comfortable, did such an excellent job of explaining things to me, and made me feel very included in the entire process. I cannot recommend her enough. If you’re in the Lansing area and interested in booking an appointment with her, you can reach out to her here or here.

TL;DR

If you’re interested in getting your eyebrows microbladed stop procrastinating and book an appointment with Allie ASAP!

Do you have any questions about microblading? Let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them! I also have a microblading highlight on my IG, if you’re interested.

Disclaimer: Allie microbladed my eyebrows free of charge. Everything included in my blog post is my own opinion and reflects my genuine experience.

Five Ways to Practice Self-Care That Cost Zero Dollars

Self-care is supposed to be anything that we deliberately do to care of ourselves—whether physically, emotionally or mentally. At its core, self-care is a pretty basic idea, but for some reason, it’s become an indulgent, over-the-top practice that’s only associated with fancy (read: expensive) things. As a beauty blogger, I obviously love a good face mask or mani-pedi and admit that, because I enjoy those things, they do make me feel better. But I’ll also admit that I’ve never applied a face mask only to wash all my problems away with it thirty minutes later.

Associating self-care with luxury makes it feel out of reach for a lot of people. If your idea of self-care is a face mask and a CBD bubble bath, there’s no judgment here. But taking care of yourself and prioritizing your mental health doesn’t have to come with a steep price tag. As the holidays approach, I wanted to put together a list of ways to practice self-care that are entirely free of charge.

Clean your house

Whenever I’m in a funk, the first thing I do is stop cleaning my apartment. And then I’m in a funk and I’m living in squalor, which just makes the funk worse. One way that I’ve learned to deal with this is dedicating 10 minutes to cleaning by setting an alarm and just starting. You’d be surprised by how much you can get done in 10 minutes. Sometimes, I’ve had enough after 10 minutes but typically, I’ll see what a difference a few minutes has made and I’m motivated to do even more. Having a clean living space does wonders for your mental health.

Phone a friend

I know that for anyone under the age of 30 making an actual call seems like an unorthodox way to use your phone, but it helps (for me, at least). If talking on the phone isn’t your cup of tea, reach out to a friend or family member in any way that you prefer—but I always find that I feel better after talking to someone I’m close with. You don’t necessarily have to talk about your problems or what (if anything) is bothering you—sometimes just catching up and shooting the shit is enough to lift your spirits.

Limit time spent on social media

As someone who works in social and digital media by day and also moonlights as a blogger, it might surprise you that I would suggest staying off social media. Here’s the deal: social media is not always good for our collective mental health—especially around the holidays. I can’t be the only person who feels like the Grinch as I scroll through Facebook (hate, hate, double hate). If you’re not feeling very merry this Christmas, the last thing you want to be bombarded with is millions of posts from people who are. Sometimes taking a break from social media—or blocking/muting/unfollowing accounts/people who you can’t deal with right now or make you feel bad about yourself is just what you need.  

Set healthy boundaries

This is something that I’m actually working really hard on because I really struggle with it. As a habitual people pleaser, I have the hardest time telling people no, so for me, boundaries feel really scary—and they make me feel really guilty. This holiday season I’m working on saying no without apologizing (i.e., “Now isn’t a good time;” “I really appreciate the invite, but I won’t be able to make it;” “That sounds like a lot of fun, but I’m taking some time for myself this weekend”) and setting boundaries (“let’s not discuss this topic at dinner;” “I’m heading to my room to get some quiet time.”) In really simple terms, setting boundaries means knowing and understanding what your limits are—and they’re key to healthy relationships.  

Write something

I (obviously) like writing. Of all the writing that I do, I think that journaling is my favorite. I’ve had countless “diaries” over the years, but in the last few months, I made a concerted effort to start journaling because it helps me feel better. The writing doesn’t have to be polished, it doesn’t have to be grammatically correct or flow properly—you just have to get your thoughts out of your brain and onto some paper (or a Google Doc, or whatever you feel like). There are a ton of proven benefits to journaling, mentally, physically and emotionally. You don’t have to be Shakespeare, just grab a 50 cent notebook from Target and get started. 

What ways do you practice self-care? 

The Best Products from Sephora’s Beauty Insider Sale

Make room on your vanity because Sephora’s Beauty Insider Sale is back and the deals are so freaking good!

Like everyone else without an unlimited amount of disposable income, I try my hardest to get the best deals and save money—which is why I’m so strategic with cosmetics sales. While Sephora has its Beauty Insider Sale a few times a year, this one is the best value because the holidays kits offer the best bang for your buck plus you save an additional 10-20 percent off depending on what tier you’re in.

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I don’t play when it comes to Sephora sales. I’ve done the legwork and I want to pass my knowledge along to you. And when I say legwork, I mean I’ve been to multiple Sephora’s across the state (I wish I was kidding lol),  turned off Netflix and put my phone on airplane mode to scour the website and check out the best deals and the products I truly believe you’ll be happy spending your hard-earned money on. You’re welcome!

Here they are:

GIFT SETS

Charlotte Tilbury – Gift of Pillow Talk Lips – $35

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The ultimate “your lips but better” color for a large swath of the population, this lip set features Charlotte’s iconic, bestselling Matte Revolution Lipstick and mini Lip Cheat Pencil for a dreamy nude-pink, kissable pout. 

Olaplex Holiday Hair Fix Set – $58

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Olaplex is the best of the best. I stock up on Olaplex products whenever Sephora has a sale and this cute little set, is an incredible offer. You get the complete four-piece Olaplex hair repair system (in-shower treatment, shampoo and conditioner and No. 6 bond repair treatment) for $58, a value of $84. I use all of these products on a regular basis and cannot recommend them enough. I bleach my hair a few times a year, and blow dry and style every single day (I know, I know, that’s not good) and my hair is incredibly healthy thanks to these products.

Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer Gift Edition with Stand – $399

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I know, I know. The price tag is insane, but it’s a Dyson and it comes with a stand. These do not go on sale. Sephora is the only retailer that includes Dyson in their coupons, and not only are you going to get this for between 10-20 percent off, you also get a free stand. This is the best value you’re going to find on Dyson, hands down. I currently have this in my cart and am waiting to pull the trigger later this afternoon. The only question is do I gift it to my mom or keep it for myself?

Sephora Favorites Superstars – $48

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This is such a steal!  This is a collection of nine bestselling makeup essentials, including a full-size highlighter, brow gel, and lipstick. If you asked me to put together a collection of nine of my favorite makeup products ever, it would look very similar to this collection. I own—and genuinely love—every single product in this kit. If you have a makeup lover on your Christmas list, or if you just want to try these for yourself, this is such an amazing, cost-effective way to do so. Plus you get an additional percentage off the $48. Add this to your cart now. Just do it!

Sephora Favorites- Give Me More Lip – $42

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Sephora has really outdone themselves with their holiday kits this year. I love lip products. I have so many, I can’t keep track of them. This holiday kit won’t remedy that issue, in fact, it will only add to it, but I’m willing to live with that and you should be too. This kit is a collection of lip products in different formulas, shades, and finishes—including two full-size and six deluxe products. Two full size products. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. The only product that I have not used in here is the Roller Baby lip gloss. Everything I have used and love, including two products that I swear by: the cult classic Charlotte Tilbury lipstick in Very Victoria (my absolute favorite lipstick of all time) and the Laniege Lip Sleeping Mask.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Meltproof Brow Kit – $30

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Anastasia Beverly Hills is the queen of brows. She makes the absolute best brow products on the market and they are priced accordingly (aka they are pretty damn pricey). This kit comes with a full size Dipbrow pomade, a full size Dipbrow gel brush and a double ended slanted brush— all for less than $30 with the discount code. You cannot beat that value! I find that the Pomade is a little more difficult to work with (and very, very easy to be heavy handed with) so I would recommend this for someone who has a lot of experience filling in their brows or prefers a bold brow look. 

Anastasia Beverly Hills Best Brows Ever Kit – $30

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Another incredible value. This kit contains a full size Brow Wiz brow pencil, a travel size Dipbrow gel and a travel size clear brow gel. This kit is perfect for anyone who fills in their brows! Brow Wiz is my favorite brow pencil of all time, and when you lock it in with the Dipbrow gel (or the clear gel if you prefer a more natural look) you’ll have perfectly polished, natural looking brows all day long.

GREAT VALUES

Charlotte Tilbury Luxe Eyeshadow Pallete in Pillow Talk – $53

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I didn’t want to love this because of the price tag, but I do. It’s the perfect size for throwing in your purse and getting ready on the go and the colors are stunning. It’s casual enough for everyday use but you can definitely zhuzh it up for an evening look in no time flat. I’m obsessed. 10/10 recommend but only when it’s on sale, so hurry!

Patrick Ta Monochrome Moment Velvet Blush –  $32

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I didn’t plan on purchasing this, but I’m so glad I did. Patrick Ta is a celebrity makeup artist who beats the faces of the Hadid sisters among others and now has his own gorgeous makeup line. I got the shade “She’s Seductive” which is a mauve plum color that I believe would be universally flattering on almost all skin tones. The packaging is gorgeous and chic, and you get a gigantic mirror, which is always a bonus. Patrick Ta himself responded to my IG story and said this was his favorite shade. Does this mean we’re best friends now? I’ll let you know what Bella and Gigi are like. 😉 

Dior Backstage Face & Body Foundation – $40

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I have used full coverage foundation for my entire life because I’ve always struggled with acne and acne scarring. Jennifer Edwards at Aesthetics Med Spa has changed my skin and my life and for the first time ever I was in the market for a foundation that didn’t resemble spackle. I bought this Dior foundation on a whim because it has a natural, matte finish and medium (but buildable) coverage. I love it, and it might just be making its way into my “top foundations of all time” list. At $40, the price tag isn’t much more than any other “high-end” foundation AND you actually get a lot of product. This bad boy comes with 1.6 fluid ounces, whereas most foundations only have 1 oz. 

Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer – $75

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This is my favorite primer of all time. It works well on any skin type, from dry to the oil slick that is my face, and makes your makeup apply beautifully and last all day long. If I could only use 5 makeup products for the rest of my life, this would be one of them. I got the largest size they offer because it’s the best value (allegedy the largest size is a $104 value for only $74). More expensive in the short term, but will last me until the next Sephora sale. You only need a tiny bit!

Rouge Volupté Shine Oil-In-Stick Lipstick – $38

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I got this because I have new lips and I’m obsessed with lipcolor now (lol, I am nothing if not honest) and because I am a sucker for some luxe, over-the-top packaging. Emily, why are you like this?! I got the shade nude because it’s a beautiful pinkish brown. This looks pretty glossy on the lips (it is a oil-in-stick lipstick, after all), but in a sexy grown up way, not like a Lip Smacker chic way. 

Bobbi Brown Crushed Lip Color – $29

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If you put a gun to my head and asked me, “what is the best lipstick on the market?” I would say this and Charlotte Tilbury. I got the shade “Sazan Nude” which is the perfect soft pink nude that doesn’t look orange on my lips and stays put all day (especially when you line your lips with Charlotte Tilbury’s Iconic Nude lip liner first). I will still live and die by Very Victoria, but this is a close second. 

Olaplex No. 7 Bonding Oil – $28

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I am extremely brand loyal, especially when something is amazing as Olaplex. I wasn’t entirely sure what this was, but it had some pretty big claims and it was on sale (which is rare) so I went for it. This is a first-of-its-kind, highly concentrated, ultra-lightweight, reparative styling oil that works on all hair types and textures to repair, strengthen, and hydrate. I’ve been mixing it in with my No. 6 creme and have been loving how smooth, silky and frizz-free my hair has been all week.

Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder – $39

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This is the OG loose setting powder. I cannot find a powder that I like more than this one and I have tried. Hourglass, Fenty, Too Faced, you name it. They’re not as good. I use this all over my face and to set my under eye concealer. It’s the best there is and I always stock up during the sale. Get it for your mom, your aunt, yourself. Just get one!

Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer – $30

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You can’t go wrong with this concealer. It’s medium coverage concealer with a natural finish that will keep your secrets by covering your dark circles and bags all while looking natural. If you’re looking to stock up on products, I suggest adding this to your cart while you can save a few bucks.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer in Luminous Bronze Light – $52

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This bronzer will definitely give you sticker shock, but it’s my absolute favorite and it doubles as a highlight. Bronzer can be tricky. It can look muddy, it can look orange—it can be difficult to get right. This takes the guesswork out of bronzer and makes you look like a sun-kissed angel all year round. Like a lot of these products, I only purchase when it’s on sale. It’s expensive, but it’s worth it. 

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal – $38 

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This is probably the first highlighter that I ever purchased and it holds a special place in my heart—and for good reason. It’s so pretty. It has the most buttery texture that melts into your skin for the ultimate high-impact glow. Some pressed pigments can sit on the skin and look cakey, but this one never does. It applies seamlessly and never cakes and has a high-impact, elegant finish that doesn’t look glittery.

I want to know! What products have do you stock up on during sales and what’s sitting in your cart right now?