Spoiler Alert: Everything in today's post are products that I continue to buy over and over. And! I don't know what's going on, but lately I've squeezed that last glob of shampoo and conditioner from the bottles...at the same time! What? How? No clue! How often do you go through shampoo and conditioner? Do you normally finish them at the same time?
Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Wild Ginger Moisturizing Lather Shampoo & Keratin Cream Rinse, $11.00 each for 3.7oz
These products are ideal for dry, color-treated hair - the color stays true, and my hair feels smooth and hydrated once dry. But let's be real: I'm mostly here for the scent. It's gorgeous. Light, floral, gingery which makes me like I'm treating myself at a tropical spa every time I jump in the shower.
Andalou Naturals CannaCell Hydrating Toner, $12.99 for 6.7oz
I've purchased countless bottles of this hydrating toner for two reasons: the mist is so fine and even that it feels like a true luxury to spritz it alllll over my face, and the citrus scent is incredibly refreshing. In the morning, I spritz it right before moisturizing in order to add a light layer of pre-hydration. In the evening, I apply it right after my retinol and before my rose hip oil.
The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Light Cleansing Oil, $10.99 for 5oz
This oil serves as the first cleanse during my nighttime routine. Two pumps removes every stitch of makeup on my face. It's especially effective at removing eye makeup and mascara without any undue tugging or scrubbing. My purchase history says I've bought this 6 times over the past few years. I'm trying something new at the moment, but this will absolutely be in my cart for the 7th time, soon.
This sunscreen segment was the little segment that almost couldn't make it on-air. It was initially scheduled for earlier in July, but because Twin Cities Live is, as the name suggests, a live show we're subject to breaking news. Which is exactly what happened the first time we tried to make this happen. Governor Walz here in MN held a press conference that overlapped with my air time. No big deal - especially since I was joining the show live from my home.
On the reschedule date, it happened again. Only this time, it was the President's press conference that broke in while I was mid-sentence. That was pretty funny. After realizing the conference was going to go on for a while, we decided to scrap the live segment completely and record it. So, I sat down with Twin Cities Live reporter Kelli Hanson to talk sunscreen over Skype. *Please note Gravy's fluffy butt in the background. He snoozed - once again - through the entire interview.
Those are a few of my best sunscreen tips - especially the fact that relying on the SPF in your foundation probably isn't enough. I'd love to hear your top sunscreen tips. Is there a product you swear by? And do you remember to reapply (I am...not great at that. I admit it).
This week, I finished up three products. I'm going to put these posts up more frequently - when I have a handful of products instead of a basketful - because my mom told me my longer empties posts are overwhelming to read (hi, Mom!). Do you agree? Do you prefer shorter posts of fewer products more frequently, or one long post once a month or so? Let me know in the comments. Here's what I have, right now.
Cover Girl Exhibitionist Mascara, $8.99 - will not repurchase
This mascara claims to provide show-stopping volume that defines, lengthens and separates lashes, with no flaking or smudging. No shows were literally stopped by my lashes when I wore this mascara, but I did think they looked fuller and longer. However, my sensitive eyes couldn't take this formula which includes an extremely strong chemical scent.
Mad Hippie Eye Cream, $24.99 for 0.5 fl oz - might repurchase
I've used this eye cream off and on over the past few years and tend think it's fine. Just OK. It's never changed my under-eye area in a noticeable way, but it's also never done any harm either. The formula is thin and has a nice amount of slip going onto the skin, which means it wears well under makeup. I appreciate that. I don't yet have an eye cream that wows me and that I go back to over and over, so it's likely I will buy another bottle of this one at some point. It's overpriced, so if I do repurchase I'll look for a sale at Whole Foods or Ulta.
RapidLash Eyelash Enhancing Serum, $49.95 - would repurchase
I've used RapidLash off and on for the past 5 years because it produces visible results - my lashes are fuller and longer when using a lash enhancing product, and when I skip it the lashes look less lush - and it's an affordable option. This isn't my favorite lash serum (that would be the Epitome Skincare Lash & Brow Enhancing Serum, $80), but it does the trick. I will admit to having purchased this off Amazon a time or two for half the retail price, which I won't do again. Amazon is just way too sketchy when it comes to selling artificial beauty products from third-party retailers, and I'm not taking a chance with putting a knock-off product on my delicate eyelids.
So, that's what I've used up this week. How about you? Have you finished any great products the rest of us should know about, or anything not worth the purchase?
Do you find that in this heightened era of online ordering, it's even more of a blow when something doesn't work out for you? Ordering a product, then (obsessively) tracking its delivery progress, and finally seeing that box land outside my door creates such an extended sense of anticipation for me. And if whatever I've ordered doesn't live up to its website description (or however I've built it up in my mind), it feels so much worse than when I've walked into a store and made a dud purchase in person. Last week, I ordered a few new things and the success rate was...not great.
If you'd like to watch me talk about these products, head over to my IGTV channel and look for the video titled Mini Reviews: 2 Fails and a Maybe. If you'd rather read through a quick review, here we go!
L’Oreal Age Perfect Radiant Serum Foundation, $15.99 for 1 oz.
A lot of people are surprised to learn that my makeup collection is comprised of mainly drugstore products. And to be honest, it surprises me sometimes too. Over the past 13 years of writing about and reviewing makeup and skincare, I've tested a lot of products across various price points but what I use every day falls toward the lower end of luxury.
In my teens and twenties, I lived for a department store makeup counter. As a 90's teen, Clinique was certainly the entry point: the sketchy 3-step skincare regimen, Almost Lipstick in Black Honey, and an iconic green-swirled powder compact were IT for me. By college, Clinique was shoved in the back of my makeup drawer in favor of Bobbi Brown, Benefit and Origins. I worked at the mall throughout college and spent all of my breaks and most of my paycheck from Lane Bryant at those counters.
It will probably come as no surprise to anyone with a few years and a 401K under their belts that as a 20-something woman working an entry-level job, I couldn't actually afford the $25 Bobbi Brown bronzer or $30 Origins body lotion. Every time I swiped my credit card to make one of those purchases, the pit in my stomach grew along with the outstanding balance and I would defiantly vow to myself that, "Once I'm a real grown up, I'll only buy high end." Don't worry - the stupidity of all that is not lost on me.
I am now a real grown up and guess what? I don't want to regularly spend my money on $49 eyeshadow palettes and $35 highlighters. I want to spend it on lots of things: books, and my home, squeaky toys my dog will play with once and then ignore, dinners out with friends, trips with my husband, and new plants to fill that bare spot in my garden.
Even more so, I no longer reach for my credit card to buy self-esteem. Because that's absolutely what I was doing as a younger woman. I wanted to fit in with the other girls in the locker room during high school, and brandishing a Clinique compact was one way to do that. I felt insignificant at my first job out of college, where I pulled paper off a fax machine and delivered it to someone who literally sat less than one foot from the damn machine, so I'd drive over to the mall during lunch and buy a new lipstick or eyeshadow or literally anything that would give me enough of a lift to face an afternoon of faxes back at the office.
I appreciate the democratization of makeup, these days. There's something for everyone, at almost every price point and in a variety of store types. If high-end makeup is something that you love, you have a lot of wonderful products to get excited about. I love that for you. I'm able to look the way I want to with products from the drugstore, and I love that for me.
Note: Yes, that is my actual makeup collection pictured above.
Also: You might like this and this.
There's something I'd love to know: What kind of clothes are you wearing right now, and are they different from what you regularly wore pre-pandemic? I've worked from home for the past 2 and a half years, and my uniform has long been a dress of some kind. Dresses are essentially public pajamas from a comfort standpoint, and they always make people think you're really put together (even though you know you're wearing public pajamas). My closet is comprised of 80% dresses of various lengths, fabrics and fits.
Once we got the Stay at Home orders here in Minnesota, my day-to-day really wasn't all that different, aside from becoming smaller and more contained. But as the days inched through March, into April and May, my fear, anxiety and depression levels sky-rocketed (along with those of the rest of the world). And suddenly, I began wearing a lot of lounge wear (along with the rest of the world). The radical shift in what I was wearing struck me one week while doing laundry, when I realized that I was folding 6 pair of yoga pants and assorted tee shirts. Not a single dress or item of clothing that could pass for anything but "comfort" wear. That's what I needed, then. I told myself I'd start wearing real clothes again once we got back to normal.
We're obviously nowhere near back to "normal" at this point in the pandemic. However, I'm really tired of lounge-wear yet not ready to fully embrace my pre-COVID wardrobe. My wardrobe, like life, seems to be stuck in a weird, in-between-place. Which brings me to: shorts suits.
Over the past few weeks, I've seen a few of my favorite fashion bloggers - like Allison at Curvy Girl Chic - styling a shorts-suit combo, and I'm very into it. There's something really appealing about the casual/dressed up vibe of a shorts suit. So I peered into my closet to see if I could come up with separates I already own, and what do you know? I did!
The shorts are Lane Bryant and the jacket is Charter club. Something new, created out of something old. How delightful. Tell me: What kind of clothes are you wearing right now, and are they different from what you regularly wore pre-pandemic? Bonus points: What's a current trend you're looking at with new interest?
I have another round up of products that I've used up. Quite a few of them will look familiar, but there's a lot of new-to-me stuff in here, too. Let's get started!
That's what I'm tossing into the recycling and trash bins this month. What products have you finished up? Anything good we all need to know about? Let us know down in the comments.
I test a lot of products, and only a small selection of them make the cut for a Twin Cities Live segment or earn a spot in my makeup drawer. At this point, I have a good idea about what products I'm going to like and will work for me. But every once in a while, my initial judgement proves wrong. I don't mind admitting when I'm wrong.
I should say, I don't mind admitting now when I'm wrong. When I was in my 20s and 30s, I wasn't always great about it. Especially in professional settings, I was afraid that being wrong meant I was stupid, or incompetent or (God forbid) imperfect. I've experienced a massive shift in how I perceive being wrong - there's no shame in admitting you don't know something, or in changing your mind once you get new information - and I'm a better wife, friend, employee, and all-around person for it.
Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Moisturizer, price varies by retailer
I'm not sure I would have purchased this moisturizer if not for the pandemic. I'd run out of face moisturizer during the early days of Minnesota's Stay at Home order, which meant I needed to find a replacement at one of the two businesses I was making infrequent trips to: the drugstore or the grocery store.
There's something about the Olay brand...I know they have good products, backed by proven ingredients and science. BUT. I just don't get excited about their line. I don't know why! They have good stuff, but I rarely consider them for purchase. Plus, they're a drugstore brand sold at high end prices. That always trips me up. In any case - I was getting desperate and needed to buy a moisturizer at the drugstore, so here we are.
I chose the Micro-Sculpting cream from the Regenerist line because I liked the claims (hydrates, improves elasticity and firmness) and the ingredients ( Vitamin B3, Amino-Peptides, Hyaluronic Acid and Antioxidants). I bought a 0.5oz sample size for $11.99 to ensure the cream wouldn't inflame my reactive skin or cause any other issues before investing in a full size (1.7 oz) jar.
I feel so petty typing this out, but the first few times I used the cream I just felt like, "Whaaaah - I don't want this!" It seemed so basic, so boring, so whatever. But that little red jar won me over. So much so that I wound up buying a full size of the fragrance-free formula. I can't say I really minded the original, fragranced version all that much (aside from the fact that I try to avoid unnecessary ingredients like fragrance in my skincare, in general) - the scent is a light fresh/floral that's kind of nice. I really appreciate having a fragrance-free option, though.
What won me over?
I bought the Stretch Concealer at the Glossier store during a work trip to New York in February, and it was the one product I knew I wanted and was going to love before I set foot in the store. I'd read tons of reviews and watched a lot of fellow beauty enthusiasts on YouTube rave about it. So that was a no-brainer purchase.
Everything about this concealer sounded perfect to me. The claims were that the product was a buildable concealer that could handle everything on your face - dark circles, blemishes, redness - and do it with a natural, glowy finish. Also, there was an interesting claim that said it was formulated with "elastic micro waxes" that move with the skin instead of caking on top of it. My dry, 40-year old face thought,"Uhm, yep. That's what I'm looking for!"
When I actually put the concealer on, initially, it was a total bust. I'm pretty sure cursing was involved. Under my eyes, the luminous formula accentuated my puffiness and the slid all over the place. I couldn't bring myself to powder under the eyes, so that was a loss. I tapped the concealer into the skin with my fingers to tone down redness on my chin, cheeks and nose, then set it all with a setting powder. My face was greasy as hell within minutes. I could feel the product just sitting there. It was baffling. I chucked the jar in the back of my makeup drawer and silently seethed every time I dug past it for something else. Until...well, until I got tired of moving it around the drawer and decided, "ONE more time. I will try this thing ONE more time and then it's finding a new home." And suddenly, I really freaking liked it.
What was different?
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Face Mask, $3.49
This one is going to surprise anyone who's watched a recent TCL segment or stood behind me in line at the drugstore, because I have very publicly proclaimed my love for this sheet mask. It's wonderful in so many ways: comes in two pieces to ensure a great fit, feels cooling the second it hits the skin, leaves my face feeling hydrated and plump and amazing. I love this mask. Except,I'm not really into sheet masks right now.
Between the environmental factor (so.much.packaging) and just a general shift in preference away from the sheet application, I'm setting this one aside in favor of the Hydro Boost Overnight Gel Mask. It provides the same benefits with way less packaging. And I just prefer the feeling of a light gel on my face rather than trying to keep a sheet mask from sliding around. Call me fickle, that's OK. But for now, I'm trading the sheet for the gel.
There you have it: three products I've changed my mind about. What have you changed your mind about, lately? Let me know in the comments.
Oh, you might also like Products I've Used Up.
As we're all adjusting to wearing masks, there are a few considerations I've found myself up against.
How have you adapted your makeup routine to work well under a mask? I'd love to hear your favorite products and tips!
I'm a white woman who has called the Midwest home for most of my life. That life of mine is what it is because I was born white. I didn't always know this, but I certainly do now. And I know it's my responsibility to continually educate myself on my blind spots.
I needed to learn the language and the history of race in America so I can confidently articulate what needs to be said, when it needs to be said, in my day-to-day life. Maybe you do, too. The work of Ijeoma Oluo and Dr. Lauren Michele Jackson were foundational components of my education.
It's not the job of any black person to educate me - it's my job to get educated - so I'm especially grateful for these books.
So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo
"In So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to "model minorities" in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism, and how they infect almost every aspect of American life."
"Generous and empathetic, yet usefully blunt . . . it's for anyone who wants to be smarter and more empathetic about matters of race and engage in more productive anti-racist action."--Salon
White Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue And Other Thoughts On Cultural Appropriation, by Dr. Lauren Michele Jackson
"American culture loves blackness. From music and fashion to activism and language, black culture constantly achieves worldwide influence. Yet, when it comes to who is allowed to thrive from black hipness, the pioneers are usually left behind as black aesthetics are converted into mainstream success—and white profit. Weaving together narrative, scholarship, and critique, Lauren Michele Jackson reveals why cultural appropriation—something that’s become embedded in our daily lives—deserves serious attention. It is a blueprint for taking wealth and power, and ultimately exacerbates the economic, political, and social inequity that persists in America."
What books are you reading or have you read that have helped shape your understanding of and participation in conversations about race? Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
This is a place to celebrate all the parts of yourself that come with age and experience. I'm here to share with you what I know and to explore with you the many (many) things I don't.