Long time, no blog! I hope you’re doing well. I’ve been trucking along with grad school for the past few months, and realized I hadn’t written here in a minute after posting pretty consistently for awhile. At first thought I didn’t feel like anything major has changed in my life recently, but looking back on the first (almost) half of 2021, I’ve done quite a bit. Here are some highlights…and lowlights:
I dyed my hair green! Well, it was supposed to be dark green, and it turned out more of a teal-blue color. Hazards of a DIY dye job, I guess? I loved it while I had it, though (I’ve since chopped off the dyed bottom half), and I’ve been planning to write a blog post about the whole process for, well, months now. Hopefully I’ll actually get around to it soon!
I broke my arms. This was definitely a defining event of my winter, for better or for worse—in early February, I fell while ice skating and fractured a bone in the wrist of one arm and near the elbow of the other. It was actually the first time I’d been ice skating in over 10 years, after another semi-traumatic fall happened the last time. So, unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be ice skating again any time soon (though I may try to brave the ice again next winter, provided I’m decked out in full hockey pads). I was pretty immobile for about a week and then slowly recovered over the course of the following month. Although this experience undoubtedly sucked, the silver lining was all the care, love, and delicious food I received from my local friends while I was out of commission—it definitely made me grateful to have such a strong community here.
I started a style-tracking Instagram account. I’ve been following, learning from, and engaging with the sustainable fashion community on Instagram for a long while now, and I finally decided to join in on the fun myself! I post outfits, occasional makeup looks, and lots of thoughts about fashion, sustainability, and my relationship to my closet in the captions. Going forward, I plan to better integrate my Instagram & blog content, delving deeper into the topics I thumb-type in my captions and maybe even sharing some outfit roundups or styling ideas. For now, if you’d like to follow along on this Insta-venture, you can find me here.
I road-tripped down South. I tagged along with my friends Kae and Katie to dogsit in rural South Carolina for a few weeks, and we had a lovely time. We didn’t do too much venturing out into the world because of COVID, but we walked the dogs a bunch and hiked and watched multiple Shrek movies together and it was great. Also, I was able to get vaccinated while I was there; definitely another highlight!
I was diagnosed with ADHD. This is a very recent development and something I’m still processing, learning about, and figuring out how to live my life with. I’ll dedicate at least one post to talking about this in the future, because it’s been a long journey to even get diagnosed and I’m sure an even longer path of learning, changing, and fitting this diagnosis into my life lies ahead. So for now, let me know if you have any specific questions and I’ll try to answer them in a separate post.
That about brings you up to speed on my major life events so far this year. As summer has begun in earnest (if not yet in astronomical time), I’ve relished being outside, seeing friends in-person now that we’re fully vaccinated, traveling a bit, and having more time and brainpower to devote to my actual thesis work now that the semester is over. I hope you have a great summer, and I’ll see you back on the blog soon.
Today I’m trying a new style of blog post: Rapid-fire reviews. Rather than talk about one product in-depth, I’ll cover a whole bunch from the same line: Versed.
An offshoot of the highly successful Who What Wear blog-turned-fashion line, Versed hit the shelves of Target stores across the country in 2018 and caught my interest from the jump. Affordable, effective skincare that’s vegan, cruelty-free, “sustainable” (in some sense of the word—in this case, recycled and recyclable packaging), and pretty to look at is still not very common. Over the past few years I’ve tried quite a few products from Versed’s line; read on for my thoughts on each.
Disclaimer that skincare, like skin, is really personal, and what works for me may or may not work for you! So, take my opinions with a big pinch of salt; I hope they’re useful to you regardless.
As cleansing balms go, Day Dissolve is solid. I’d put it on par with Farmacy’s Green Clean balm, as it does pretty much the same job (at a fraction of the price). Both balms successfully took off my makeup, although both unfortunately stung my eyes. I’ve realized that I prefer a liquid makeup remover, like a cleansing oil or a more liquid balm instead of one that you scoop from a jar, so I didn’t repurchase Day Dissolve. But if you like Farmacy’s balm or one of its even more expensive counterparts, check out this product for an option that feels similar on the face and lighter on the wallet.
As with the cleansing balm, this toner is a decent product that I don’t dislike; I’ve just outgrown it. In comparison to other chemically exfoliating/brightening toners I’ve tried, it doesn’t quite match the superstar (in my opinion) Pixi Glow Tonic, or the similar-but-more-expensive REN Ready Steady Glow. But it does its job just fine. I’ve just decided to, in the words of beauty podcast Gloss Angeles, “Obey Renee” (a.k.a. esthetician and brand founder Renee Rouleau) and take my chemical exfoliation via serum, not daily toner. So I currently have a half-used bottle of Weekend Glow sitting on my vanity—I’m saving it for emergencies, I guess? Side note: Are brands contractually obligated to put the word “glow” in the name of any brightening toner?
Not to show all my cards or whatever (I don’t play poker so I don’t know even know if I’m using this analogy correctly), but this is my favorite product from Versed. As the name suggests, it’s a hydrating toner instead of an exfoliating one, and it’s become a crucial step in my skincare routine—I’ve gone through at least three or four bottles of the stuff already.
The product description is a bit confusing on where to use this product in your routine; personally, I use it in the mornings as a sometimes alternative to fully washing my face, and in the evenings as a step between cleanser and serum to keep my skin hydrated and prevent it from getting that tight, squeaky-clean feeling. For the record, Versed recommends this product for dry skin, but I have pretty oily skin and still love it. (This was also a product recommendation from Gloss Angeles — fun!)
The best way to describe how I feel about this serum is “meh.” I used it up, and it didn’t break me out, but it didn’t seem to do much of anything for my skin, either. I bought this serum because one of its main active ingredients is niacinamide, which I’ve found helpful for my skin in the past, but I’ve seen much better results from The Ordinary (cheap) and Blissoma (expensive) niacinamide serums, both of which I’ve repurchased multiple times. Investigating for the sake of this blog post, the percentage of niacinamide in Just Breathe is the lowest of the three by quite a bit, so that’s likely why it didn’t wow me. If you’re looking for a gentle introduction to niacinamide, it might be more up your alley, but I’d probably just recommend you try The Ordinary’s instead.
I’ll be honest: I have yet to see a result from any Vitamin C skincare product I’ve tried, and this one is no exception. So in that sense, I can’t single it out for underwhelming me.
The idea behind this product seems good: Offered in powder form, Vitamin C (a.k.a. ascorbic acid) is much more stable and has a longer shelf life than its liquid-integrated or encapsulated counterparts. You’re instructed to mix the powder as needed into your serum or cream. In practice, though, I’m wary of leaving the amount of active ingredient to apply up to the consumer. This product caters to the growing trend of skincare enthusiasts moonlighting as amateur cosmetic chemists, and while I’m all for more women in STEM, having only partial, incorrect, or misleading information about your ingredients, without the scientific training to understand them, can be a dangerous state. Also, “two shakes” of powder as prescribed by Versed’s website is not a measurement that instills confidence in me that consumers will use this product properly.
I don’t think the brand has any malicious intent in offering this product, but I do think skincare formulation is better left to the experts. Also, the product just didn’t do anything for me.
I feel somewhat conflicted about this lip balm (or lip oil, technically, I guess), but ultimately I don’t like it. It doesn’t actually make my lips feel hydrated or moisturized. What it does succeed at is sealing in the moisture, so I will sometimes apply it over another lip product that is actually hydrating. So it’s kind of like Vaseline in that way. But it does not do what I’m looking for in a lip product.
This sunscreen is the most contentious Versed product for me. The first tube of it I bought, I loved. It’s a great, lightweight, relatively affordable mineral sunscreen that doesn’t feel greasy or heavy, and the slight tint keeps it from leaving a noticeable white cast on my skin. But the second tube…was gritty! Each time I used it, there were noticeably gritty bits when I tried rubbing it into my skin, and that’s just a no-go. Aside from making the application experience unpleasant, it could be a sign of a faulty product. I actually sent the faulty tube back to Versed so they could investigate. In the meantime, I’m holding off from repurchasing this sunscreen until the issue is resolved.
In the spirit of March Madness, I decided to distill my thoughts on the Versed products in my lineup into sports metaphors.
The MVP: Baby Cheeks
The Varsity Squad: Day Dissolve, Weekend Glow
The Benchwarmers: Just Breathe, Found the Light
The Flops (this may not be a sports metaphor but if you have a better equivalent I’m all ears): Silk Slip, Look Alive
The Disgraced Former Pro: Guards Up
The Prospect: Gentle Cycle cleanser (I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s on my list)
Have you tried any Versed products? What are your thoughts on the brand?
A few months ago, I got to try shampoo and conditioner bars from Superzero, a new zero-waste haircare line. I was sent mini versions of the products to test out, but this review is not compensated and contains solely my own opinions.
Thoughts on sustainability + “clean” claims
I’ve used shampoo bars before from Lush, but I never liked that their first ingredient was sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)—a surfactant (e.g. cleansing agent) that is very effective, but a little too harsh for my hair. (Aside from the potential skin irritation this ingredient can cause, it feels extremely out of step to me for a “natural” brand like Lush to include it—but that’s a whole other blog post I could write.)
To be clear, I don’t want to demonize SLS or synthetic ingredients in general; they all have their place! I just personally prefer to use gentler, sulfate-free hair products.
Sustainability has always been a priority in my life, and personal care products may be my biggest weakness in that arena. I love products! But I don’t love all the packaging that surrounds them. And aside from their plastic bottles, traditional shampoos and conditioners are especially egregious for being made up mostly of water, which makes them heavier and less compact than their solid counterparts. (More weight and volume = less efficient to transport. For example, it would take more fossil fuel energy to ship 100 bottles of shampoo than 100 shampoo bars the same distance.)
So I was excited to try Superzero, a gentle, vegan, plastic-free line of solid shampoos and conditioners.
Each bar arrived in a cardboard box, which can presumably be recycled (depending on your local municipality’s recycling program). I was initially worried that I wouldn’t be able to tell the bars apart in the shower, but the shampoo bar is round and the conditioner bar is a square-ish shape, alleviating that concern. Besides, their textures are pretty different: The shampoo has a rougher texture while the conditioner is smooth and creamy.
I used these bars for several months, washing my hair about once a week as I usually do these days. Overall, I liked how they made my hair feel, but I didn’t like the process of using them. I’ll get more detailed with this below, starting with the positives.
Superzero says their products will give you “your lightest hair yet,” and I would agree that “light” is the best way to describe how my hair felt after using the shampoo and conditioner bars. It felt clean, but not overly stripped, and smooth, but not greasy or heavy. My (naturally wavy/curly) hair could probably use a bit more moisture than the conditioner bar provided; I believe they sent me samples of the “Normal/Oily Hair” line, so I bet I would have better success with the “Dry/Colored/Frizzy Hair” options.
I took photos of my hair on wash day and each day afterward during one hair-washing cycle to show how my hair looked over the course of a week. I took each photo in the morning and didn’t brush my hair or put in any other products (admittedly mostly out of laziness, but also out of dedication to this review, of course!), so you can see what just the bars are doing.
Overall, I was pretty happy with the performance of this shampoo and conditioner. They kept my hair looking nice for three days, and I could stretch beyond that with dry shampoo or styling. The bars also lasted longer than I expected them to—granted, I was only using them once a week, but the majority of each bar was still intact after a few months of use.
This longevity may be due in part to the fact that, as I mentioned above, I struggled with the actual experience of using the bars. The shampoo bar was not too bad: One, I was familiar with the process; two, it lathered up to an extent where I could be confident I was getting the product into my hair; three, since I was putting it on my scalp, I had a hard surface (my head) to rub the bar against to apply the product. But the conditioner bar was difficult for me: It took a long time to get enough product on my hair and I was never quite sure my hair was being conditioned properly. In addition, trying to rub the bar against the length of my hair, which obviously moves around quite a bit, was awkward and not very effective. Ultimately, it was a time-consuming and frustrating process, and the reason why I stopped using the Superzero bars after a few months of effort.
Would I recommend?
With all that said, I think the Superzero products are worth a try if you a) have shorter hair, b) have prior experience using shampoo/conditioner bars, and/or c) don’t mind putting in a bit of extra time and effort to make your haircare routine more sustainable. If you think the application process would overly frustrate you like it did me, then these may not be the products for you.
Price-wise, the minis (the size I tried) are $6 per bar, and the full-size bars are $18 each. Given how long even the sample bars lasted me, I think this is a pretty good value. While they are more expensive than your typical drugstore shampoo or conditioner, they are not exorbitant and I’d expect the bars to last you quite awhile (especially the full-sized ones).
Also, I have to give a shout-out for the brand for pricing their sample sizes at the same rate, e.g. 1/3 of the price for 1/3 of the product compared to the full-size bars. (Most brands don’t do this—they’ll charge half the price for 1/5 the amount of a full-sized product, just for the convenience of a sample size!) So, I would definitely recommend trying out the mini sizes first.
Let me know if you have any other questions about these products. Have you tried shampoo and conditioner bars? What do you think of them? (Personally, I have my eye on Ethique’s concentrates—I might be trying those next.)
Ho, ho, ho, ’tis the season for retailers to bombard us with near-constant sales! It’s absolutely exhausting, but it also gives us consumers a chance to score some major deals, including on brands that are rarely discounted.
This Black Friday, I exercised uncharacteristic restraint in the beauty department (though I sadly can’t say the same for…other categories of spending). Why? Because, my friends, I knew that this annual sale from Sephora was coming very soon. And now it’s here (until next Wednesday, Dec. 9)!
In years past, the deal was X dollars off a $50 purchase; recently, the minimum spend has increased to $75, which is a bit of a bummer but seems to be about on par for the way everything at Sephora is going these days. Because I’m just a lowly Beauty Insider, my discount (and yours, if you have or get a Beauty Insider account [it’s free!]) was $15 off of $75 with the code 2020SAVE. Assuming you put exactly $75 worth of products in your cart, that’s a 20% discount. Definitely not as steep as some other sites were offering on Black Friday, but for Sephora, that’s about the best a Beauty Insider can get — the few other discounts throughout the year are usually 10% or maybe 15% off, at most. And you can combine that with the seasonally inflated cash-back percentages from Rakuten (formerly Ebates) to sweeten the deal. (BTW, if you don’t have Rakuten yet, sign up now and thank me later! If you sign up through this link we both get $20 cash back the first time you use it — pretty cool.)
The first two products on this list, I was planning to purchase from other sources last weekend because they were more deeply discounted. But in both cases, I’d have to add items to spend $50 and unlock free shipping. Obviously, paying for shipping was just not an option — especially on this, the holiest of shopping holidays. So I was poised to drop over $100 on a bunch of things that I would have enjoyed, I’m sure, but they weren’t what I was really after, and I am trying to be more mindful in my consumption habits this year (though these delightful holiday sets make it HARD, as you’ll see below). So instead, I waited for this Sephora sale to combine my most coveted items in a single $15-off purchase — with free shipping to boot.
As someone who avidly seeks out vegan and cruelty-free beauty products, I think any of these items would make great gifts for a similarly environmentally-inclined beauty lover (or any beauty lover, honestly) on your gift list. Let’s get to it!
Herbivore is one of those lines whose branding realllly draws me in. It strikes the surprisingly difficult perfect balance between the eco-friendly, plant-based nature I always love and the genuinely chic and sleek aesthetic I have come to appreciate. This set combines a product I’ve used and enjoyed before (the Blue Tansy Mask, from this very affordable mini-set) with several I have been jonesing to try (the Pink Cloud Cleanser and Lapis Oil). The other two products — an AHA + BHA exfoliating serum and a luxe body scrub — are things that I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to buy, but I will certainly use and hopefully enjoy them. The cleanser is full-sized and $34 on its own, so at full price, this set gives you 4 decent-sized minis of pretty fancy products for an extra $20. Even better, the set is currently on sale at Sephora for only $43.20! If you, like me, are intrigued by Herbivore, this is a great way to try several of their products without breaking the bank. And if you’re looking for a gift for a skincare lover in your life, I think this would really do the trick.
Bite Beauty was my first introduction to higher-end (as in, anything not from the drugstore) lip products, back in high school when I was a zitty teen obsessed with YouTube beauty gurus. Now a zitty adult, I’ve sadly had to throw those six-plus-year-old lipsticks away, but my love for Bite’s makeup remains. In fact, it’s increased exponentially, as a couple years ago Bite announced they were reformulating their whole line to be vegan (it had previously included animal derivatives like beeswax and carmine). To my knowledge, this move was pretty unprecedented in the beauty industry at that time, and it definitely impressed me — even if it was informed less by morals than by increasing consumer demand for vegan products (there are dozens of us!).
Anyway, all this is to say that I purchased a freshly-vegan lip crayon in this very shade from Bite last winter, only to lose it after a few weeks. I know, I know, an American tragedy! A full year later, it still hasn’t resurfaced, so I have accepted its loss and cheerfully bought its replacement. This shade, Pavlova, is a yummy bright-but-not-too-bold pinkish berry. It’s perfect for when you want to wear something like a red lip, but not exactly red, and it’s a great shade for winter in my humble opinion. I look forward to welcoming Pavlova back into my home very soon. Bite also has some great mini sets for the holidays — this one is on sale at Sephora for only $12.50.
Full disclosure: I picked up this mini set because it was the closest I could get to achieving the $75 coupon threshold without going too far over, while containing something I actually wanted to buy. That something would be the Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector, a beauty industry staple. I’m planning to bleach & dye my hair in a couple weeks (!!), so I wanted to try out a smaller size of Olaplex since it’s supposed to be a miracle worker for bleached or otherwise damaged hair. We’ll see how it goes!
The rest of this set, though, is not too shabby either. I’m curious to try the primer and liquid lipstick minis from Rare Beauty and Melt Cosmetics, respectively, neither of which are brands I’ve tried before. I’m sure I’ll use or (more likely) gift the Peace Out peel pads at some point, and having a mini moisturizer like this one from MILK on hand is always useful for when I inevitably run out. I got this set for the Olaplex + the coupon, but I’m not mad about the rest of it, either!
Plus, can we talk about the price? $15 is a great deal for all this stuff! This is a super-affordable grab bag that would make a great gift for any adventurous beauty lover. And even more impressive to me, each product in this set is vegan and cruelty free (or else I wouldn’t have bought it, of course). That’s unusual for these multi-brand Sephora trial sets; usually at least one product ruins the bunch in terms of veganism. I should say: I’m definitely not an expert in these certifications, although I do my homework. I am personally satisfied with each brand’s commitment to being cruelty-free and (at least in the case of these specific products) vegan. But of course, I encourage you to do your own research if you’re curious what the deal is. (Let me know if you’d like to see a post on that topic!)
That was my haul at this December’s Sephora sale! If we trust the “valued at” statements on Sephora’s website — which I usually prefer to double-check by doing the math myself, but honestly I’m far too tired for that right now — I got $144 worth of products for $67, plus tax. Not too shabby! (And that’s not including the couple of free samples and rewards bazaar items I picked up.)
I hope you enjoyed this post and found some inspiration from it! I compiled a few more items I’d gladly gift or receive below.
Fenty’s liquid eyeliner is one of the best I’ve used, and the Stunna Lip Paint is a truly stunning shade of red. I’ll be honest, it’s a little intense for me and my life. But if you need to slay any holiday Zoom calls, put on this liner and lipstick and go forth, queen. Plus….Rihanna. Enough said.
I have this six-pan palette in Cool Nudes and I absolutely love it. It’s versatile enough for a range of netural eye looks, from barely-there to smoky, and it’s great for travel. (Oh, god, I miss traveling!) The Warm Nudes shades also look lovely.
Mentioned in passing in this post — in case you missed ’em:
Like many people, I think, I’ve been wearing less makeup during the pandemic. For me, that’s mostly been a product of the pandemic coinciding with my field season; I’ve never bothered to put on makeup for my annual tradition of 10-hour days of sweating in the middle of nowhere. When I’m not in the field, though, I’ve relished the opportunity to feel a little bit put-together amid a world of chaos. This look came together on one of those rare makeup days, and though I’d never thought to combine these two particular shades (peach and chartreuse) on my eyelids, I’m really pleased with the results. (My winged eyeliner skills could use some work, but that’s nothing new.)
Makeup Revolution Conceal & Define (shades 6.5 and 7)
For the past several days, I’ve been jamming to Lady Gaga’s new song (ft. Ariana Grande), “Rain On Me,” pretty much nonstop. The song is amazing, and the music video is equally fabulous. This music release feels like it’s from another world—and certainly, the video must have been shot before the current global pandemic situation. If you somehow haven’t yet seen/head this masterpiece, here you go:
Gaga and Ari’s makeup/entire look in this video inspired me to glam up my own face a bit this Memorial Day. I just washed all my makeup brushes (long overdue—if you’re reading this, you probably should, too. Just sayin’) and they’re currently drying, so I only used sponges and fingers (mostly fingers) for this look, a fun challenge. I usually am a major brush lover, so it was refreshing to get out of my comfort zone application-wise.
Color-wise, though, this look was right in my comfort zone, which is to say, PURPLE. Whenever I’m wearing a non-neutral makeup look, chances are that it’s mostly purple. It’s my second-favorite color (yellow, unfortunately, is not quite as flattering on my face), and it makes brown eyes pop! I’m just obsessed. I used a combination of new and well-loved products to create this look and I’m loving the subtly space-glam vibe. Plus, no fussy application techniques, since again, I didn’t have any brushes to use. Read on to learn what products I used to create this look!
I’m typing this from the airport, waiting to board my flight for a week and a half full of spring break adventure (!!!) in places warmer than Vermont (!!!!!). I always love reading people’s vacation packing lists, so I thought I’d share my own! This post will focus on the makeup I brought, and I’ll likely do another about my clothes, too.
Now, listen: When I wear makeup, I like to wear a lot of it. To some people, this might seem like an excessive amount of makeup to bring on vacation. But for me, it’s…just right. I think. I hope. We’ll see!
This trip will involve a few days of hiking/outdoors adventuring, a few days of bopping around the city, a few nights out on the town, and a few days of just chillin’ in Cedar Rapids. So the makeup I brought is pretty low-key, with a few choice elements to jazz things up into a more ~fun~ look. Read on for my thoughts on each product—they’re all ones I genuinely love!
This has been my go-to combo of products lately for a fresh-faced…face, so I decided to stick with it for the whole trip.
Covergirl Clean Fresh Skin Milk (530, Fair/Light): I got this to try out recently after running out of my previous lower-coverage complexion product, NYX BB cream. And I’ve gotta say—I LOVE it. (The one thing I don’t love is this inexplicable trend of vegan beauty products including the word “milk” in their name. See also: Milk Makeup.) It goes on sheer, with buildable coverage; the finish is glowy, and it feels like nothing on the skin. I’m glad I got the chance to support recently cruelty-free Covergirl and their new vegan product line! I may do a full review of this product in the future, so stay tuned, but for now consider it a thumbs-up.
Makeup Revolution Conceal & Define (C6.5): This line of concealers has been my go-to for a while. They are affordable, blendable, offer good coverage without creasing, and come in a wide range of shades. What more can you ask from a concealer, really?
CoverFX Illuminating Setting Powder (Light): CoverFX is a brand that consistently impresses me. This setting powder is great and mattifies without flat-ifying. The travel size has lasted forevvvver and I bring it on basically every trip I take.
Covergirl Clean Fresh Cream Blush (390, Ripe & Ready): Another product from Covergirl’s new Clean Fresh line, and another win in my book! I’ve never used Glossier Cloud Paints, but I’ve heard this product is a dupe for them. This shade is opaquer and much more shimmery than other cream/liquid blushes I’ve used in the past, but once it’s on the cheeks it looks just like a lovely flush. The staying power is quite impressive, and this berry shade is the only blush I brought on the trip.
Kani Botanicals Prismatic Highlighter (Rose Quartz): I admired this highlighter from afar for months before I bought it, and I’m so glad I finally did! (Even better, I actually got it as a gift-with-purchase from a Petit Vour order.) The packaging is gorgeous and compact, so it’s perfect for travel; the dense yet creamy texture is easy to apply and blend; and the shade adds a lovely pinkish glow that’s not too over-the-top sparkly. If you’re looking for a cool-toned highlighter that feels luxurious, I would definitely recommend this one.
Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion (Original): This is the OG and still my favorite eye primer! It’s essential for me to keep eyeshadows from creasing. I’m almost done with this tube, though, and planning to try something more affordable next. Let me know if you have any suggestions.
Ilia The Necessary Eyeshadow Palette (Cool Nudes): I talked about this palette more in my something old, something new post, so I’ll give you the tl;dr version here: It’s a versatile, compact, beautiful, high-performing eyeshadow palette and I love it very much. There’s also a Warm Nudes edition if that’s more your speed.
Modern Minerals Eyeshadow (Cherish): Since the Ilia palette is, by definition, all cool shades, I brought along one warmer shadow that also happens to be my favorite for a super-quick wash of color all over the lid. This shade is seriously gorgeous and complex while still being subtle enough for any occasion.
Urban Decay Eyeshadow (Fishnet): I brought this purple shadow, along with a couple other purple products I’ll introduce you to shortly, to do a more colorful look for nights out on the town. Purple is my favorite bright color to use for makeup because it is just so dang gorgeous…especially on brown eyes. And this shade is a great iteration of it.
Fenty Beauty Flyliner (Cuz I’m Black): I’ve had this Fenty liquid liner for awhile and it’s now on its last legs, but I gave up buying beauty products for Lent, so it’s sticking around for a few more weeks. It’s a perfectly good black liquid liner and I love the triangular shape, but once it runs out I’ll probably try KVD Tattoo Liner now that the brand is finally (really) cruelty-free.
Stila Smudge Sticks (Vivid Amethyst and Vivid Labradorite): Sharpening eyeliner pencils is one of my least favorite things to do in this world—they always break or turn into a mushy mess, and I inevitably end up with eyeliner all over my hands—so I have embraced the convenience of twist-up liners. Stila’s is the best that I’ve found, and these grey and purple shades are go-tos for me.
Nabla Dazzle Liner (Royal Blood): This sparkly purple liquid liner is another product that I brought along for night-out pizzazz. I actually kind of forgot about it before I grabbed it for this trip (bad!), so I’m excited to play with it again.
Tarte Lights Camera Lashes: In the realm of mascaras, I usually rely on free samples that come with my Sephora orders, but when I found myself wandless a couple months ago I picked up a mini size of this go-to mascara. I’m #blessed with pretty long lashes naturally, so I don’t need a miracle worker, but this mascara always gets the job done and looks good doing it. And while I have…mixed feelings…about the packaging, it does fit in with the glittery purple theme of this post so I’ll give it that.
Essence Lash & Brow Gel Mascara: Clear brow gel! Does what it is supposed to do and keeps my brow hairs in line and out of trouble (for the most part).
I originally planned to bring twice as many lip products, then decided that was ridiculous as I will inevitably wear one (1) lip gloss the whole trip anyway. So I definitely don’t need this many lip products, but I love to have options—even if I won’t use them.
Rainwater Botanicals Tangerine & Grapefruit Lip Balm: Lip balm is a winter essential! This one has a lovely citrus scent and comes in eco-friendly metal tin packaging. It’s super moisturizing and the smell is an instant mood lift.
The Mikay Brand lip gloss(Baby): A current student at my alma mater, Washington University in St. Louis, created her own lip gloss line and it’s great! Shiny, smooth, shimmery, moisturizing, and imparts a hint of color. The overall effect for me is similar to the Fenty Gloss Bomb (at a fraction of the price). Support a young woman entrepreneur and check out The Mikay Brand for all your sheer gloss needs.
Em Cosmetics Lip Gloss (Aurora Pink): I’ve been a Michelle Phan fan (a phan, if you will) ever since I read a feature on her in the pages of Teen Vogue—probably a decade ago at this point. She introduced me to the whole world of YouTube beauty gurus and inspired my lifelong love of makeup. Fittingly, I LOVE her brand Em Cosmetics that relaunched a couple years ago. This lip gloss is the perfect pink shade—not too neutral, not too bright—and its smooth, gel-like, cushiony texture is to die for. If I could only choose one lip product to bring with me to a deserted island (lol), this would be it.
Em Cosmetics Infinite Lip Cloud (Muted Mauve): I feel like the liquid lipstick wave has been receding for the past couple years, but if you find yourself in the market for a good LL, this formula is non-drying and overall pretty great. The moussey (not mousey!) texture reminds me of a classic, NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream, but Em’s iteration feels more luxe and goes on less patchily.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Gloss (Venom): For the most pigmented lip gloss on the market, look no further than ABH. This rich, sparkly berry shade has the lasting power and color payoff of a lipstick with the eye-catching shine of a gloss. It’s special enough for a night out and still wearable enough for day-to-day.
Bite Beauty Crystal Crème Shimmer Lip Crayon (Grape Glaze): Bite Beauty recently revamped their entire product line to be 100% vegan, and I, for one, couldn’t be happier! I’ve always love Bite’s twist-up lip pencil/stick hybrid packaging, and now I can enjoy it anew. This shimmery purple lipstick is gorgeous and so much fun. I’ll definitely be wearing it in my night-out looks.
I brought four face brushes (foundation, powder, blush, highlighter) and five eye brushes along for the ride. They’re a mix of Sigma, Real Techniques, e.l.f., and EcoTools.
That’s all the makeup I brought on my trip, and I think I’ll put it to good use! I hope you enjoyed this post, and please let me know if you’d like more packing lists or an in-depth review of any of these products.
Hello, friends! Long time, no blog. It’s been a busy month
so far—I was traveling for a week, and then I jumped right back into classes,
work, and NaNoWriMo(!). Balancing all of these commitments has been no easy
feat, but this weekend I have a bit more time to relax and decided to get a
blog post up.
I’ve bought some new things recently, as I am wont to do, and
have been getting a lot of use and enjoyment out of them, both out of town and
in. But I didn’t want to do a post dedicated solely to new stuff, so I am
mixing them in with three “old” belongings that I’ve been using and enjoying
just as much. I’ve had each of the “old” things for at least a year, and bought
each of the “new” things within the past month or so. Without further ado,
let’s get started!
I’ve always loved the look of classic Doc Martens patent
boots, but I don’t love the leather they are traditionally made of. Luckily,
Dr. M has us vegans covered with a whole range of animal-free boots and
accessories. I bought this classic style, the 1460, in black vegan leather over
2 years ago and they show no signs of wear so far. I wear these boots at least
a few times a week through the fall and winter, and I look forward to keeping
them for many more years.
Over the years, I’ve collected a number of water bottles
(and lost a fair amount of them). But somehow, I found myself at the beginning
of this school year with several bottles, but none that didn’t leak in my
backpack. I put off getting a new bottle because I already had a few, but the
leaking was getting to me. Then I stumbled upon this beautiful bottle in
Birdfolk Collective, a delightful gift shop near me that I will definitely be
returning to for my holiday card purchases. The bottle is by Corkcicle, and
it’s designed by Rifle Paper Co, a company that can take my money all day, every
day with everything they make. (What can I say, I love well-designed, whimsical
floral prints!!!) I have had a bit of an aversion to the color pink for most of
my life (internalized misogyny, anyone?), but I liked this bottle so much that
I decided to go for it. And I love it! It’s so pretty, the shape is easy to
hold, and it DOES. NOT. LEAK. If you’re in the market for a new water bottle
that’s a bit more elegant than the tried and true Hydro Flask or Nalgene (no
shade—I still love those brands, too), check out this collection!
Old: My makeup bags
The first makeup bag I ever used was a gift-with-purchase one from the Clinique counter at Boscov’s when I first started wearing makeup. It was a loud pink-and-orange floral print, and not exactly my style. It served me well for years, but I’ve since acquired a few makeup bags that are much more personal and that I love to use. One is from a gift shop in St. Louis (it’s on the Delmar Loop, but I don’t remember the name!), and it is made of a fabric with animals and cacti all over it. Delightful! (Upon recent, closer examination, the brand seems to be called Danica Studios.) The other was a Christmas gift from a friend while she was in the UK, and it features…wait for it…the periodic table of elements. It’s an unexpected combination, and it tickles me every time I use it! This bigger bag is primarily for toiletries, and I use the smaller, printed fabric one for makeup. They’re the best travel companions.
I’ve been eyeing this Ilia palette for months and months,
and I finally ordered it a few weeks ago. It’s a wonderfully compact range of
shades that I will actually use, and the cool tones are perfect for winter (and
for making brown eyes pop!). I appreciate Ilia’s commitment to ethical,
cruelty-free beauty, and I am really loving this palette so far. It’s perfect
for travel and everyday use. And if warm shades are more your speed, they have
a “Warm Nudes” palette, too.
Girlfriend makes amazing activewear out of recycled plastic
water bottles. How neat is that?! Not only is it a great, sustainable concept,
the pieces are wonderful (and come in a size-inclusive size range, too). I’ve
acquired three pairs of girlfriend leggings in the past several years—the first
I tore a hole in during an overly enthusiastic game of volleyball at the Y, so
I bought an identical pair of the standard black leggings to replace them. (I
still have that first pair with a hole in them, but I might be sending them in
soon to take advantage of the reGirlfriend program. This company puts their money
where their mouth is when it comes to sustainability. Oh, and speaking of sustainability,
I got both of those leggings gently used on thredUp for a fraction of the
retail cost. Score!) The classic black leggings are probably my most-worn
bottoms; I wear them at least a couple times a week and they are durable, stretchy,
comfy, flattering…truly, what more can you ask for in a legging?
Like the Cool Nudes palette, I’ve been eyeing these jeans for months. For the past year or so I’ve only had a pair of dark-wash skinnies and a stained, distressed pair of boyfriend jeans in the denim department, and I’ve been craving a middle ground—something that’s not skinny, but still fitted and flattering, but also comfy. These Cheeky Straight jeans from Everlane fit the bill perfectly, and I loved my first pair so much that I got them in another color, too (Washed Black and Sky Blue). I was compulsively checking PoshMark multiple times a day to see if a pair had popped up in my size and preferred color, and luckily, they did! These jeans are versatile; I wear them from the office to the field to a night out with friends, and they handle it all with style and ease.
I hope you enjoyed reading about some of my “old and new” favorite
things! What have you been loving lately, whether it’s a new find, a
rediscovered treasure, or a tried-and-true standby? Let me know!
Normally, I’m an eye makeup fiend. Shadow, liner, you name it—the more, the better! Lately, though, I’ve been drawn to this simple look that’s easy on the eyes (literally!), focusing instead on flushed cheeks and a bold lip. Keep reading to hear about the six products I used to get the look.
BareMinerals Original Foundation in Fairly Light: An oldie but a goodie! BareMinerals is still an excellent powder foundation, and one I’ve been reaching for more often lately in the morning rush. It’s pretty foolproof —no dreaded foundation lines—and gives better coverage than you might expect. I also find that it’s more forgiving of the flaky skin patches I have been getting from both acne and drying skincare products. It does a nice job of evening out my skin tone; my spots aren’t completely covered with this product, but that’s quite alright with me.
Pure Anada Pressed Cheek Colour in Sweet Pea: This lovely mauve is my go-to everyday cheek color. I applied it a bit more heavy-handedly than I might if I was wearing eye makeup. Plus, I love a flushed cheek in the fall and winter. Pure Anada is a really awesome, cruelty-free, affordable brand, and they have a great sample program if you want to try out any of their products.
Wet n Wild Color Icon Bronzer in Reserve Your Cabana: This shade has been my go-to subtle highlighting powder for years, and I’m so bummed that Wet n Wild is no longer cruelty-free. 😦 Still, I’ll use this up while I have it! I applied this highlighter along the tops of my cheekbones, under my eyes, and along the bridge of my nose for a subtle warm glow.
Essence Lash & Brow Gel Mascara: Being blessed/cursed with dark, bushy eyebrows, I rarely use more than a clear gel to tame and shape them. Essence’s offering is a relatively new one for me, but it’s quickly become a staple! I have used the e.l.f. Clear Brow & Lash Mascara for years, but a new tube would always give my brows an over-gelled, crunchy look. Definitely not ideal. Essence’s clear gel is a bit of a softer hold, so it avoids the crunchiness. It’s a dollar more, but the tube seems to be lasting me longer than e.l.f.’s usually did, so I’ll take it!
SheaMoisture 100% Pure Jamaican Black Castor Oil: I combed this castor oil through my lashes to give them a bit of shine and nourish them, too. Normally, I wouldn’t apply this heavy oil during the daytime because it could interfere with the rest of my eye makeup, opting instead to use it as a nighttime treatment. But today, I don’t have on any other eye makeup, so my lashes get a treat! It’s quite nice not to worry about mascara flaking or smudging throughout the day.
NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Budapest: Another tried-and-true classic product! I’ve been switching up my lip color the past few days, but today I spotted this one in my drawer and felt drawn to it. It’s a great fall color—a rich, warm berry that’s still appropriate for pretty much any occasion. Unfortunately, this product isn’t vegan because it contains beeswax. Otherwise, though, I love it.
That’s it for my simple fall makeup look! Six products is wayyyy fewer than what I usually use, and it feels nice to do this look in just 5 minutes during a busy month. Clean, groomed brows and lashes, flushed cheeks, and a dark lip make for a great combo. What colors or products are you loving this season? Would you like to see more makeup looks? Let me know in the comments! 🙂
For my first real post, I’m going to talk about some of the blogs I love to follow. They have collectively inspired me to get back into it! Blogging about blogs—how very meta.
(Quick tangent—does anyone know how to easily put an em dash into WordPress? Right now I’m just copying and pasting from Google. The disrespect to em dashes on computer keyboards could be the subject of a whole separate post. Hmm…Stay tuned!)
Anyway. By category and in no particular order, here are my favorite blogs!
hot for food: Lauren Toyota is an incredible chef, and all of her delicious, deep-fried concoctions happen to be vegan! She is also tons of fun on YouTube. Check out one of her videos, like the RECIPE?! series, and prepare to be sucked in. One series she recently started on the blog is “hot for food approved,” which breaks down her favorite vegan restaurants in each city she visits for future travelers to reference.
Minimalist Baker: If you’re not following Minimalist Baker yet, honestly, what are you doing with your life? I’m just kidding (not really). MB is hands-down my most-used resource for vegan cooking and baking. SO many of my go-to, staple recipes come from her! For a long time, all MB recipes were vegan, and a lot of them still are, but not all, so be aware of that. She’s also great for accommodating other dietary needs, like gluten-free, oil-free, etc. in her recipes.
Sweet Simple Vegan: Jasmine and Chris are two of my favorite people to follow on Instagram, and their blog is just as delightful. Simple, approachable, often healthy recipes grace the site. If you’re intimidated by obscure ingredients or mile-long shopping lists, Sweet Simple Vegan is the refreshingly easy gateway into making vegan food at home.
From My Bowl: Caitlin Shoemaker is another simple recipe connoisseur who I love to follow. Plus, she’s friends with Jasmine and Chris, and I love their friendship!
Oh She Glows: Anglea Liddon’s cookbook is the first one I ever bought, and on her blog you get her wonderful content…for free! Her delicious recipes and thoughtful reflections on life and family are virtual comfort food.
Style Bee: Lee “the Bee” Vosburgh is my absolute favorite blogger as of late. Her content is always so thoughtful, detailed, and beautifully designed. Lee writes primarily about minimal/ethical/sustainable fashion, but also about a range of other topics. She has inspired me to consider my personal style more carefully (even though it’s quite different from hers), and I love following along with the bits of her life she shares, too (she has a corgi named Dobby!). I reread this post of hers every time I pack for a trip.
Un-Fancy: Caroline is another minimalist-ish fashion blogger whose style is quite unlike my own. She inspires me with both outfit ideas and honest reflections about her ever-evolving relationship to her personal style. Plus, she has the best low-key playlists.
Temptalia: All hail the Queen. I get a lot of my beauty product recommendations from social media, but when I want to know more about a specific eyeshadow palette or lipstick shade, I always turn to Christine. Her encyclopedic collection of reviews and resources is unparalleled. Recently, she’s also been sharing more personal thoughts about beauty industry controversies, and I am so here for it.
Logical Harmony: Tashina Combs is my go-to cruelty-free beauty guide. She puts in the work to contact brands about their animal testing policies and vegan products so the rest of us don’t have to. Use her resources to simplify your life, like the one below listing tons of cruelty-free brands you can find in the drugstore.
Phyrra: Courtney is an indie beauty aficionado, cruelty-free connoisseur, and glam goth. Plus, her hair color is always amazing.
Blogilates: Cassey Ho is an entrepreneur and fitness instructor whose YouTube videos and (free!) monthly workout calendars are my go-to at-home work out. She makes me feel strong, empowered, and very, very sweaty. Recently, Cassey’s been blogging every day as part of her 90 Day Challenge, wherein she shares the good, bad, and ugly of her quest for personal transformation. I’ve been reading her daily posts religiously.
Dynamic Ecology: This blog by ecologists Jeremy Fox, Meghan Duffy, and Brian McGill is my go-to whenever I have a big question, like: Should I go to grad school? It’s less about popular science (although there are links to that, too!) and more about the field of ecology itself and the humans who populate it. Plus, cute fox photos.
In Memoriam (inactive or defunct favorites)
Paris To Go: Ariana of Paris To Go is no longer actively posting, but her blog is still an incredible wealth of information about sustainability and “zero”-waste living. Her singularly snarky, direct, dry, self-deprecating voice is my favorite on the web. (And she still keeps the dream alive on Instagram, at least.)
Van City Allie: RIP VanCityAllie, a Them of mid-2000s blogs! She was (is? I don’t know what she’s up to now) an amazing photographer, outdoors enthusiast, and Twilight fan living her best life in the beautiful city of Vancouver, BC. She was lifestyle inspiration in a real, wonderful way. I hope she’s doing well.
Brightest Bulb in the Box: Robyn blogged about makeup from a scientific point of view, combining two of my favorite things with a delightful writing style. Her beauty breakdowns, explaining why certain products or ingredients work the way they do, were some of my favorite web content. The blog is gone now, but it will live on forever in my heart.
Hope Jahren Sure Can Write: Scientist Hope Jahren is the author of one of my favorite books, “Lab Girl.” Before that, she was convincing publishers to publish her book via her subtly-named blog, Hope Jahren Sure Can Write. She wrote about “interactions between women and men and Academia.” All her posts are gone now, but the home page says there is more to come (plus a new book in 2020!!), so…fingers crossed!
Well, that’s it for my favorite blogs! I hope you find this list…Useful? Fun? Informative? All of the above? Let me know what you think, and see you next time!