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Recent Skincare Favorites

recent skincare favorites

Winter is on its way out, which means swapping out skincare routines. I thought now would be a good time to document my recent skincare favorites before I switch them out for more spring and summer friendly products!

Recent Skincare Favorites

Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera

I use this toner year-round because it’s non-irritating (thanks to the absence of alcohol) and doubles as an eye makeup remover. It doesn’t hurt the packaging and smell are sublime!

Mario Badescu Acne Facial Cleanser

This is a cleanser I keep going back to every winter. It’s non-drying and gentle, and has kept my breakouts at bay over the past few months.

DIY Face Elixir Spray

I can’t stop spraying this stuff! If you’re looking for a Caudalie Face Elixir dupe, this is a great substitute. You won’t mind spraying it on your face, pillows, or anywhere really! Click on the link above to learn how to make your own!

Murad – Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum

I decided to try this to get rid of hyperpigmentation (thanks, birth control). So far, I haven’t seen a lot of change in my skin tone, but the texture of my skin is much better since I started using it. I guess I’ll have to be diligent and patient with the pigmentation.

Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre Moisturizer

When I first purchased this, I thought it would be far too thick for my already oily, sensitive skin. Boy, was I wrong! I slather this on every night after my serum, and I wake up every morning with soft, glowing skin. The French know their skincare, that’s for sure!

Freeman Facial Apple Cider Vinegar 4-In-1 Foaming Clay

I found this at my local Ulta last fall, and loved it because of the smell, mostly. However, after using it as both a mask and exfoliating scrub, I am now on my third tube! It’s a great multi-use product that smells great, and leaves my skin feeling smooth without being too irritated. I loved using it this winter because it’s not as harsh as my other exfoliants, and as a mask it’s not too drying.

Fall Beauty Updates

fall beauty updates

(Sorry for the crap quality photo. Sometimes things just don’t go your way!)

Fall is finally here!

I’m looking forward to updating my beauty routine to reflect the new season. Summer is easy, with little makeup and simple updos. Once the weather cools, I get excited about the new beauty trends I can try out. It must stem from my years as a teacher. Instead of stocking up on new school supplies, I’m focusing on new lip colors and some old favorites I still love.

Fall Beauty Update

L’Oreal Preference Hair Dye in Medium Chestnut Brown (5CB)

For many reasons I should probably write about in another post, I chose to stop dying my hair around Christmas last year. It turns out that while I don’t really have any grey hair yet to cover (yay genetics!), my natural hair color is boring the shit out of me. So I’m excited to mix it up for fall with a deeper, warmer hue.

Not Your Mother’s “Love for Hue” Shampoo & Conditioner

Since I haven’t dyed my hair in almost a year, I want to make sure what I do sticks. I used other products from them in the past and they were all great, so I look forward to using these too!

Maybelline Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Foundation (Classic Ivory 120)

I have been using the “Dewy + Smooth” version of this all summer and loved it. For fall, I wanted to switch it up and go with the matte version, which is just as great. My skin gets stupid oily in the winter, so this should help.

NYX Butter Gloss in Red Wine Truffle

Okay, this was a total impulse buy. I don’t own a dark red lipgloss, and this shade is perfect for fall. The best part of the butter gloss is that you can really customize the look. I usually wear a little of it more like a stain, but it also looks amazing piled on too!

CoverGirl Clump Crusher Mascara in Black Brown

This is my all-time favorite mascara. Nothing new – just bought a new one after I got pink eye and had to throw mine out.

NYX Slim Eye Pencils in Charcoal and Light Brown

I have these in black and dark brown, but I like going a bit lighter on the eyes if I’m going darker on the lips. These are a great because I don’t have to be super precise when applying them, and on lazy fall days that’s just perfect.

Earth Therapeutic’s Triple Butter Intensive Foot Balm

I’ll gladly admit that my feet get absolutely wrecked in the fall/winter months. Changing out sandals for boots leaves them pretty dry and gross. So this year, I’m hoping to keep on top of it with a nightly ritual of foot balm and cozy socks. This one smells and feels amazing, and not at all greasy.

What are you planning to stock up on this fall? I’m still looking for a good hand lotion, so if you have any good suggestions, let me know in the comments!

Summer Beauty Cleanout

Summer is coming to a close, and our September magazines are already telling us what to buy for fall. As seasons change, it’s always a good idea to do a summer beauty cleanout. This is a great time to go through our beauty arsenal, noting what we’d love to keep, what needs to go, and what to stock up on for the future.

My beauty stash isn’t nearly as large as others, but I still need to take stock to make sure the products I have are safe, loved, and useful. It also keeps me from buying things I don’t need, which is a huge bonus!

Here are 5 tips I use to do my own summer beauty cleanout each year. Whether you have a small stash like me, or a giant one, this should be easy to do in an afternoon!

Summer Beauty Cleanout

summer beauty cleanout

1: Get it all out

I find that when cleaning, it’s best to just get it all in one place to start. This helps you see what you have and take note of how you feel about it. Do you feel okay with how much you have? Overwhelmed? Underwhelmed? If you are overwhelmed with how much you have, it’s a good sign that it’s time to pare down.

Before you begin, grab a notepad and pen to take notes of what to buy/replace when you’re done. I never remember what I tossed out, so I always do this!

My beauty products were stored in my bathroom, office and bedroom. Once I got it all out and looked at it, I realized I shouldn’t have it divided among 3 rooms. There isn’t that much, and I don’t know why it was spread out all over the apartment.

My goal for this project became simple – try to get everything in one room!

summer beauty cleanout

2: Check expiration dates

The first thing you should do to start your summer beauty cleanout is to grab everything with an expiration date and check that it’s still good. It’s also good to go through your medicine cabinet and travel kits too. Anything that’s past it’s prime, toss it – no excuses – and jot down anything that needs replaced!

For anything without an expiration date, you can check out this handy guide for how long to keep common beauty and makeup products.

summer beauty cleanout

3: Be brutal with makeup

Many women I know agree that makeup is tough to pare down. We keep things well beyond their shelf life, buy duplicates of products over and over, and keep things we don’t like. Being ruthless with your makeup stash will ensure your products are safe, effective, and will actually get used.

My biggest issue with makeup is that I buy duplicates. Do I need two bronzers that are basically the same? No – especially since I know the Sephora one is at least 4 years old. I also got rid of all the nubs of eyeliner I was holding on to. I bought new ones months ago, but never replaced them because the nubs still had product in them. It felt wasteful to just throw them out – until I noticed I kept stabbing my eyes every time I tried to use them.

Once I pared down my makeup, I took notes on what needed replaced, and some ideas of things to freshen up my makeup routine for fall.

summer beauty cleanout

4: Toss / Keep (and what to do with each)

Once you’ve gone through everything, now you have to deal with the “toss” pile. Do you throw it all out? Give some of it away? Sell it? Here are some simple rules for how to get rid of things:

  • Throw away anything that’s past its expiration date – no exceptions!
  • Throw away any used makeup that didn’t make the cut. I know it’s tempting to give it away to friends or family, but it’s too risky – especially if the product is old and/or used.
  • If you have any makeup that was never (and I mean never ever) used, and it’s still relatively new, see if you have a friend you can give it to. If not, toss it.
  • Don’t sell makeup online. I know some people do that, but it just seems…shady to me.
  • For those almost-empty bottles of lotion, shampoo, soap, etc.: Decant them into travel-sized bottles and toss into your travel kit! Why spend money on a travel-sized bottle of shampoo when you have 2 ounces of it sitting in a bottle in the back of your bathroom sink?

After doing my summer beauty cleanout, I was also left with a small box of “things to use later.” It’s a great place to keep things that I haven’t used in a while, but should work on finishing before buying new stuff. Keep it under the sink so you don’t forget about it!

summer beauty cleanout

5: Stock up on essentials

The last thing to do is easy – go shopping! Take your notes of what to replace or stock up on, and head on out! Fall is a great time to stock up on essentials like cotton pads, cotton swabs, sunscreen (lots of end-of-summer sales!), and other basics. With everyone heading back to school, or moving off to college, stores are having crazy sales right now. I hit up my local Target and grabbed a few things I knew I’d need soon, and a few things just for fun!

I met my goal of getting all my beauty products in one room, and feel more confident that nothing left will go to waste. I’m also looking forward to stocking up on some new fall makeup soon too, whenever it’s not 90 degrees out anymore!

February on Instagram

february on instagram

February was a great month for hiking! The weather was sunny and warm most days, and even if it wasn’t, I managed to get out anyway. It has been amazing to see things starting to sprout, even if it does mean allergy season is fast approaching! Hopefully I’ll be able to get out even more in March!

february on instagram

I didn’t write much about food this past month on the blog, and I probably won’t much next month – but I instagrammed about it a lot. February was all about getting back to normal after the holidays, and I’m looking to keep up the good work in March. Fat Tuesday, or as I know it Paczki Day, was obviously an important day for me (holla to my fellow Poles out there), but after spending the month behaving myself, I could indulge without feeling guilty. I’m finding a balance between eating healthy while still eating well, so of course I make sure not to cut out anything too crazy. I still love a glass of wine…but now, I stop at one (otherwise I’ll be eyeballs deep in junk food later). 

february on instagram

Finally, this past month was big for stocking up on things for spring. I updated my skincare routine after a nasty breakout, renewed my love of print magazines, and did some serious thrift shopping. I can’t wait to share more of what I scored while thrifting this past month – so stay tuned to find out what I came home with!

March is going to be a busy month, with moving into a new place, more job hunting, and some of my favorite shows coming back to TV (is anyone else excited for House of Cards?). I’m also planning to kick up the posts to 4-5 days per week, if I can manage to work that around packing, unpacking, and spring cleaning (which should be easy in a new space, I hope)!

If you want to catch up with what I’ve been ‘gramming, make sure to
click here to follow my Instagram feed!

10 Beauty Duds…and how to not waste them!

10 Beauty Duds

About twice a year, I go through my makeup and beauty collections to get rid of things that are old, dried out, expired, or unused. It’s pretty rare for me to have beauty “duds” in my collection, since I usually stick to the same products on a daily basis.

However, I always end up with a few things that I tried and failed to like for various reasons – so I thought I’d share a few of my beauty “duds,” and some suggestions for what to do with them if you find yourself in the same boat.

10 Beauty Duds

Skincare Duds

No7’s Beautiful Skin Melting Gel Cleanser I bought this cleanser almost a year ago when my local Target was out of their cleansing water, thinking it would work just as well since it was part of the same line. Unfortunately, even though it’s a hypo-allergenic product, it irritated my face on contact and made me break out. It works well to remove stubborn makeup, but it wasn’t worth the red, burning skin it left behind.

So what do I do with it?
If you find yourself with a face cleanser that’s too harsh for your face, keep it in your shower and repurpose it as a body wash or shaving cream (if it’s not too irritating). 

Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream

A glutton for punishment, I repurchased this recently after tossing another container of it a couple years ago. Originally, I hated it because it made my skin feel greasy and broke me out. I thought that it would be a great cream to use in the winter months, when my skin needs more moisture. Turns out that even in the driest of conditions, it’s just too much for me.

So what do I do with it? 
Just like with facial cleansers, a face lotion can be repurposed for the body. Try using it as a hand lotion, or on dry patches like elbows, knees, or feet. You can sometimes use them as eye creams, but if it’s irritating in any way, avoid doing that.

Covergirl CGSmoothers BB Cream

Anyone who read my last blog knows I much prefer BB creams to foundation, but they are certainly not all created equal! I wanted to try out this one because it contains SPF, and my usual ones don’t. Sadly, this BB cream was only good as a sunscreen, and zero coverage for uneven skin tone or minor blemishes, so it sat in my stash unused for months.

So what do I do with it?
BB creams with sunscreen seem to be problematic for lots of people. If yours causes breakouts or it’s the wrong shade for you, see if you can gift it to a friend (since many of them come in tubes, cross-contamination isn’t usually a big issue). If it doesn’t make you break out, and just isn’t pigmented enough for your liking, try wearing it while outside on days you don’t need a full face of makeup. I plan to use mine on days I go hiking, since it does work well as a sunscreen…and I don’t care what I look like while sweaty and alone on the trails.

10 Beauty Duds

Makeup Duds

e.l.f. HD Blush

Look, it was only $3, and I heard great things about their cream blushes, so I gave it a try. Turns out I can’t stand cream blushes, and this one was really hard to apply and blend without looking like a clown.

So what do I do with it? 
First, try it out as a lip stain – many cream blushes can easily double as lip color. If that doesn’t work, this one can easily go to a friend, since the pump bottle prevents cross-contamination. I might give this to my niece, since she’s starting out with makeup and looks way better than I do when using blush.

NYX Rouge Cream Blush

After the e.l.f. one didn’t work, I thought I’d try this NYX cream blush since it seemed to be a better formula. Maybe I’m using these wrong, but this one was way too pigmented for me – the tiniest pat of it left me looking like a baby doll, not a grown-ass woman with a dewy flush.

So what do I do with it? 
Again, try it out as a lip stain. This one actually works for me as one, so I’ll probably keep it and repurpose it. Since this product comes in a dish you stick your fingers into, I wouldn’t try to give this one away – if it can’t be repurposed, toss it and make a note not to buy it again.

Maybelline Super Stay 24 Hour Concealer

This is another one of those “my regular concealer is out of stock and I need a new one” purchases. It’s way too thick for me, especially since I usually only wear concealer under my eyes. While it does live up to its “24 hour” promise (it’s almost impossible to remove), it also creases easily and looks way too cake-y on blemishes as the day goes on, no matter how thinly you apply it or how well you blend it.

So what do I do with it?
Try thinning it out with a moisturizer or eye cream before applying if it’s too thick or cake-y. If it’s too light to use as a concealer, consider trying it as a highlighter instead. If that doesn’t work, toss it – this is another one of those things you shouldn’t share.

Ulta Precision Liquid Eyeliner

Like every other basic bitch on the planet, I’m obsessed with finding the right products to create a winged eyeliner look. This pen was too watery, and I could never get a solid line with it. The NYX eyeliner pens are far better for this.

So what do I do with it?
If you bought a brown eyeliner pen like me, try repurposing it as a brow gel/filler. Many liquid eyeliner pens can easily provide the kind of control and precision for brows. If that doesn’t work, toss it because we never, ever, ever share eye makeup with others. Never.

Maybelline Great Lash Waterproof Mascara

I was so disappointed in this mascara that it became the inspiration for this post! Maybelline’s mascaras are known the world over for being just as good (or even better) than high-end mascaras, and they are a cult favorite of makeup artists, beauty blogger, and grandmothers everywhere. However, the waterproof version was clumpy and messy right after purchase. I don’t know if it was just the bottle, or they’ve changed their formula, but this mascara sucked. I used it for a couple weeks before breaking down and going back to my Clump Crusher.

So what do I do with it?
If you have the kind of brows that can take mascara as a brow gel substitute, then try that. Also consider using it with a brush as a liquid eyeliner, maybe? If those ideas don’t work, toss it. Never try to dilute mascara – adding anything to mascara creates a risk of bacteria developing…and no one wants pink eye.

NYX Brow Kit

I’m more of a brow gel person, so I wanted to see if I could get a more natural brow using powder instead. It works just fine, but the color is all wrong for me (it’s too reddish). The brow gel also wasn’t great.

So what do I do with it?
If it’s a powder kit, reuse the powders as eyeshadow. If it’s a gel kit, try it as a liquid liner (though in most cases, it won’t be pigmented enough). There is no reason to toss this if you can easily reuse it!

NYX Eyebrow Pencil

Again, this product worked just fine – but it’s too red for me. Someday I’ll suck it up and go to the Benefit counter to have them match my brows with what I should be using.

So what do I do with it?
Eyebrow pencils are just eyeliner pencils that are rebranded – so try it out as an eyeliner instead! Luckily for me, reddish eyeliner pencils look great with my blue eyes and penchant for wearing gold or copper eyeshadow, so I’m keeping this one around for a different purpose.

Life on Instagram: July 2015


(Clockwise from top-left) July started with a crazy heat wave, so I spent a lot of time at the beach and pool! / I also managed to check out a few new parks in July – this one was by far the most challenging. I was sore for days after. / Of course, the first time I take my husband to the beach, it’s cold and cloudy! It was nice to chill out and read, though. / Just noticed my pink sneakers are looking a bit worn out. Time for a good washing! Image Since we’re wrapping up the first month of Afternoon Glow, I thought I’d share some of my favorite posts!

Summer Skincare: (Mostly) Drugstore Edition I’ve gotten so much use out of everything on this post so far this summer! Now that the temperatures are cooler (for now), I’m missing my beach time!

Road Trip Tips I’m still itching to get out on the road and travel somewhere, but it’s not looking like I will for a while. I still can’t believe I made that cross-country trip almost a year ago – where does the time go?

Easy Green The succulent is doing well – the other plant is already failing on me. We haven’t had a lot of sunshine lately, and I’m starting to see that’s going to be a problem for me trying to grow anything here. Maybe someday I’ll live in an apartment that isn’t a dark cave!

Homemade Granola Bars I just remembered that I need to make more of these today – we’re almost out again! I still need to try making these with ingredients I’d like more…maybe next time….