Zoom Meeting Makeup Essentials

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

THERE’S PEOPLE DYING, KIM

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

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

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

IT COSMETICS CC CREAM

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

DIORSHOW MASCARA

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

BECCA UNDERYE BRIGHTENING CORRECTOR

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

GLOSSIER BOY BROW

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

TOWER 28 BEACH PLEASE 

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

BUXOM POWER-FULL PLUMP LIP BALM

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

TL;DR

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

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

 

 

My Favorite Spring Trend: Cream Blushes

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

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

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

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

PRO TIP

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

GLOSSIER CLOUD PAINT

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

TOWER 28 BEACH PLEASE LUMINOUS TINTED BALM

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

KAJA CHEEKY STAMP BLENDABLE BLUSH

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

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

MILK MAKEUP LIP + CHEEK

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

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

TL;DR

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

Quarantine Diaries: How I’m Coping

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

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

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

PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN

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

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

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

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

LAUGH

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

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

LEARN SOMETHING

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

SHOP

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

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

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

CONNECT WITH LOVED ONES

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

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

TL;DR

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

Buy or Bye: Em Cosmetics

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

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

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

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

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HEAVENS GLOW RADIANT BLUSH

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

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

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

LIP CUSHION

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

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

THE VERDICT

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

TL;DR

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

International Women’s Day

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

Jennifer Edwards Skin | Aesthetics Med Spa

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

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

Celeste Saltzman | Retail Therapy

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

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

Andrea Kerbuski | AK Stories

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

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

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

Megan Emmons | Hair & Body Elements

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

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

Riley Vanness  | The Hive

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

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

Michelle Gimbutis | The Barre Code East Lansing

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

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

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

Emma | ALD Events

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

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

Ellie Wong | Holiday Lansing

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

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

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

Tina Medawar | Medawar Jewelers

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

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

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

TL;DR

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

 

 

Buy or Bye: Urban Decay All Nighter Collection

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

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SPARTY ON

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

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

ALL NIGHTER FACE PRIMER

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

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

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

ALL NIGHTER POWDER

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

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

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

ULTRA MATTE SETTING SPRAY

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

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

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

TRY THIS INSTEAD

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

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

TL; DR

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

 

Luxe for Less: Chanel vs. Milk Makeup

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

THE SPLURGE

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

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

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

THE SAVE

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

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

BATTLE OF THE BRONZERS

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

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

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

THE VERDICT

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

TL;DR

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

February Beauty Favorites

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

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

Tower 28 ShineOn Lip Jelly

 

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

KAJA Cheeky Stamp Blendable Blush

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

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

Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer in Baked

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

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

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

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

RMS Beauty Living Luminizer in Magic Luminizer

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

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

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

Nars Soft Matte Complete Concealer

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

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

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

Non-Beauty Favorites

McMillions 

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

Oat Milk

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

Miranda Frye Jewelry

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

Bling for Your Buck

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

TL;DR

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

 

 

 

 

 

An Afternoon at Meijer Gardens

It’s no secret that I love Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. The plants are normally what draws me in (duh) but this time it was something different. Rebecca Louise Law’s exhibit “The Womb,” ends this week and I didn’t want to miss it. 

ENJOYING SOLITUDE

I love art. I had never been to a museum by myself before, and to be entirely honest, I was a little nervous. However, I had a wonderful afternoon just strolling through Meijer Gardens at my own leisure, taking everything in, spending as much or as little time as I wanted at each area or exhibit. I realized very quickly that I may have been by myself, but I wasn’t alone. Arguably, more than anything, I really enjoyed the people watching. There were students hunkered down with their sketchbooks, kids with their parents and retirees enjoying a leisurely afternoon. All in all, it was a great experience filled with self-reflection, contemplation and inspiration. If you’ve never been to a museum by yourself, I highly recommend it. 

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THE WOMB

The Womb, which has been on display at Meijer Gardens since Sept. 2019, explores the intimate relationship between humankind and nature. The mixed-media exhibit features oil paintings and glass blown uteruses, but the main attraction is an installation offering the viewer a solitary, sublime experience of being enveloped in nature—a cocoon of sorts, made of one million hand-strung, dried flowers.

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In the installation, flowers and other plant matter like herbs and pine cones are suspended from the ceiling by copper wires. They are air-dried, so they still contain their natural oils which are responsible for the floral scent that fills the room.  In the middle, an oval structure, a womb—the exhibition’s namesake— is also suspended and can be walked through by visitors. One thing I wasn’t expecting was the sound of an actual heartbeat, a dull, consistent thud to really drive home the experience of being in utero.

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ART IS SUBJECTIVE

I wanted to see “The Womb” in person because I was intrigued by the idea of an immersive exhibit made entirely of dried flowers. To be entirely honest, it was stunning and I don’t think the pictures do it justice. The UK-based artist, who has a two-year-old son, has said that she was inspired by her own womb and strength as a mother. The exhibit seeks to give visitors both the experience of being in nature and a new appreciation for a mother’s womb.  

I spent probably 45 minutes in the exhibit, taking it in, and watching as other people did the same. Art is such a subjective experience. Some people may find this exhibit to be deeply emotional. I imagine that people who have children, want children, or are trying to have children may have more of a visceral reaction than I did. While I obviously came from a womb, I don’t necessarily fit into any of those buckets. However, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t appreciate it.  I thought that it was beautiful and thought-provoking and was especially inspired by the exhibit’s marriage of both emotional and physical awareness.

BUTTERFLIES ARE BLOOMING 

When I made the somewhat spontaneous decision to head to Meijer Gardens I had two things in mind: The Womb and the Arid Garden (which is where all the cacti, agave, succulents and other desert plants are housed). Once I got there, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the butterflies had already returned. Every spring, Meijer Gardens has an exhibition called “Fred and Dorothy Fitcher Butterflies are Blooming.” I wouldn’t really consider myself to be a “nature” gal and, to be entirely honest, a butterfly exhibit doesn’t seem like something I would be interested in, but I was there two years ago to see it and it was really cool. 

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Butterflies are Blooming is the largest temporary tropical butterfly exhibition in the nation. On an ordinary day, stepping into the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory is like stepping into a different world. It’s hot, it’s humid, it’s overflowing with gorgeous greenery and the white noise of a waterfall can be heard in the background. And to top it all off, from March 1 to April 30, there are 7,000 tropical butterflies flitting around.

A DOSE OF PERSPECTIVE

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As I was strolling through the tropical conservatory, taking pictures and admiring all the plants (many varieties of which I have owned and killed), I overheard an employee talking to a small child who was visiting the exhibit with her parents. She said, “And to think, these butterflies don’t even realize how many people are here to see them.” And it made me a little bit emotional because I couldn’t help but think of how many have shown up for me lately.

TL;DR

Doing anything on your own can be overwhelming—but in the end, you’ll find that it’s more empowering than anything. Take a risk, do the thing, and you’ll be glad you did. And don’t forget to visit Meijer Gardens Butterflies are Blooming sometime between March 1 and April 30.

Buy or Bye: Tower 28 Beauty

About a month ago, I was aimlessly strolling through the aisles in Sephora, as one does, when I happened upon an end cap filled with clean beauty brands. I had heard of most of the brands, Ilia, RMS, etc., but one brand, in particular, stood out to me: tower 28 beauty.

MY LIP GLOSS IS POPPIN’

I’ve been really into lip gloss lately (which is something I haven’t said since about 2000). I love the look of glossy lips but I hate so much of what has traditionally gone along with it: hair sticking to your lips when the wind blows, those gross goopy lines that show up when you open your mouth. For that reason, I have been a matte lip girl for a very, very long time.

Probably about 6 months ago I decided that I was ready to dip my toes into the world of lip gloss again and in that time I have bought and tested more lip glosses than anyone probably should. From Fenty to Glossier, I was consistently impressed with the look of but not entirely sold on any one particular brand or product. 

SHINEON LIP JELLY

All I want in a lip gloss is a high-shine, non-stick finish. I don’t want any shimmer or glitter, and I don’t want to feel like I just rubbed school glue on my lips. Ironically enough, when I stopped searching, I found exactly what I was looking for.

You’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned any of the other lip glosses I’ve tried. That’s  because they all have downfalls to me and I don’t ever want to recommend a product that I’m not entirely sold on. I am genuinely blown away by ShineOn lip jelly. It’s so shiny your lips almost look wet, but it’s not sticky at all. In fact, it’s super moisturizing. The Sephora website claims that it uses a unique blend of five nurturing oils to soothe and protect lips from drying and peeling. It comes in a number of different colors, but I’m boring and got Chill, the translucent version. However, after falling in love with it, I now need it all every shade offered. 

SUPERDEW SHIMMER FREE HIGHLIGHT BALM

After trying the lip gloss, I decided that I needed to immediately try every other product that Tower 28 offers. I went back to Sephora and purchased the only other two products that they carry: the SuperDew Shimmer Free Highlight Balm and the SOS Save Our Skin Daily Rescue Facial Spray.

I’m normally into super over-the-top highlights, but as I’ve been taking care of my skin and embracing a more natural makeup look, I’ve been appreciating a different kind of highlight. A more natural one, that looks dewy (almost sweaty) as opposed to glittery or shimmery.

I was a little nervous to try the SuperDew balm for a couple of reasons. For one, I was worried that it would lift my foundation (it didn’t). I was also worried that it would clog my pores because it was giving me some Vaseline vibes. I’ve been using it for about a month and it hasn’t done that either. 

If I’m being entirely honest I was really skeptical about this product before trying it. Not only for the above-mentioned reasons but because I’m so used wearing blinding highlights every day that  I really just thought I wouldn’t be into a natural look. I was wrong. This highlighter is subtle but beautiful. I love that it has no shimmer or sparkle in it. I apply it to the highpoints of my face for a healthy, luminous glow. It looks incredibly natural, like your glowing from within and definitely drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. If you’re into a natural look, or that glass skin K-beauty look, you’ll love this.

PRO TIP: I also love using this on my eyelids for a fail-safe, glossy eye look. 

SOS SAVE OUR SKIN DAILY RESCUE SPRAY

When I went back to Sephora to get the highlighter, I ended up picking this up too because I wanted to try everything they offer. I have only used this twice so I can’t say that I’ve seen any results from it. I will say that the mister is good and I love the science behind it. Here’s a blurb from their website, because they can explain it better than I can.

Think of SOS as your happy solution to angry skin. And here’s the reason it works: it’s inspired by you! The hero ingredient, hypochlorous acid, is naturally found in your white blood cells, which helps to fight and defend your body from harmful bacteria and inflammation. When applied to the skin, HOCl triggers an immune boost, which then signals your body to repair and heal irritated skin. This unique solution is pH balanced (4.5) and formulated for facial skin, but is safe to use on all ages and anywhere on your skin!

ABOUT THE BRAND

Tower 28’s lip gloss initially caught my eye because of the packaging. It has such a modern ~cool girl~ feel. When I started doing a little more research, I found even more reasons to love them. They’re cruelty-free, vegan, don’t test on animals (and are PETA certified!) and don’t contain any irritants of allergens. In fact, their products are approved by the National Eczema Association.  Additionally, all products are California Prop 65 compliant. You can learn more about their blacklist here.

Another huge bonus: it’s female-owned! Amy Liu worked with some of the biggest brands in the industry, including Smashbox, Kate Somerville and Josie Maran, and founded T28 after struggling with her skin her whole life—which I think is amazing. I am so inspired by women who see a problem and take it upon themselves to solve it. I loved reading this interview with her.

I left a review about their lipgloss on the Sephora website and saw it featured on their Instagram. I commented that it was my review and Amy reached out to me herself to thank me and even offered me a $10 code to use on their website. I spent it on BeachPlease Luminous Tinted Balm in Magic Hour (which Kristen Wiig recently wore to the Oscars!) because that’s the only product I haven’t tried. I can’t wait for it to arrive in the mail.

TL;DR

If you have lips, you’re going to want to try Tower 28’s new ShineOn lip jelly. If you’re not interested in lip gloss, I highly recommend checking out their other products, including their highlighter, skin spray and tinted balm. My Luminous Tinted Balm shipped today (yay!) and I can’t wait to add more lip jellies to my collection. 

Have you tried Tower 28? Let me know!