Things I've Been Loving Lately - May 2017

8:05:00 PM

Beauty, Hair products, Skincare, Makeup and lifestyle products that I've been loving lately
Lately, I have been a creature of habit. I've been finding things that I love and sticking with them. Call me boring and non-adventurous. I'd prefer just plain old 'busy' and 'loyal', but whatever I'm boring. I have been trying new things since I was last here, but I haven't felt the urge to "try all the new things" like I used to. This post is about all the things that keep me on track in my life and give me all the feels when I use them. There are a lot of things I want to discuss, so I am going to try to keep my descriptions as concise as possible. But, if you have any questions about my experiences with specific products don't hesitate to send me an email or comment below!
Hair Favorites; Coconut oil, Drybar Detox dry shampoo

I missed a hair appointment, and I'm going to level with you, my hair is positively awful right now. My roots are really grown out and my ends are really split, but the end is in sight. There have been a few products that have saved my sanity through this difficult time though. The first being plain old Coconut oil. Yes, I know, everyone raves about coconut oil and all of its many amazing uses. This song and dance is old and played out. I used to be a pretty avid user of the coconut oil hair mask. It's super simple, just pull the oil through your hair with a wide-toothed comb, and let it soak in for at least 30 minutes (I usually leave it overnight or at least several hours), then lather, rinse, repeat, and condition like normal. For me, it rehydrates and softens my parched strands. The fatty acids in coconut oil are also supposed to strengthen hair and be good for the scalp. Personally, I focus on the ends and avoid the top of my head because my hair is an oily mess 18 hours after I wash my hair. I stopped using this treatment for a couple years because I was struggling with the oily mess (shampooing twice has fixed this issue), but recently I started using the coconut oil again and I don't understand why I stopped in the first place.

Speaking of my oily mop, I've been loving the Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo. I have been a diehard Living Proof dry shampoo fan, and it's still fabulous, but I tried out Detox and it was love at first spray! I truly have never before used a dry shampoo that gives my fine hair such volume or leaves my hair with zero grease or powder build-up. I'm not a huge fan of the scent, but it's growing on me. I've recently gone back to the Living Proof, just to use it up, and I'm definitely missing the Drybar! For whatever reason the Living Proof dry shampoo stops working at it's best on day three. It's like I've just hit it's "capacity," for the lack of a better term. It's still okay, just not the best. Detox is still going strong applied on day three and four (and sometimes beyond). It's just as potent on those days as it is on day two. I wish that I had tried it sooner.
Verb Volume Shampoo and Conditioner

I started using the Verb Volume Shampoo and Conditioner last fall and I loved it so much that I now own the jumbo bottle of shampoo with a backup and a backup of the regular conditioner. Trust me, that is a lot of commitment for me. I love that it is safe for color-treated hair as well as volumizing. Most brands make shampoos and conditioners that are either/or, which usually leaves me with little choice. I really feel like it gets my hair and my scalp clean, helps perk up my limp strands, and for a shampoo and conditioner at Sephora, it's actually pretty cheap - the regular-sized bottle is $14! This also keeps my hair from becoming oily just 18 hours after a wash to about 36 - 40 hours. FYI, my hair appointment is now only eight days way, pray for me.
Skincare Favorites; Dr Jart Cicapair, Kiehl's Daily Reviving Concentrate

I tried the Estée LauderAdvanced Night Micro Cleansing Balm and I love it. It's fan-freakin-tanstic. I use it to remove my makeup almost every single night and I actually kind of look forward to it. My face wipes are about to dry out because even when I'm exhausted, I still use this. It's a solid oil that melts on the skin then emulsifies with water. It rinses off clean and most importantly - it gets every last bit of makeup off. I never have to go back over lips or the eye area. Just rub this into the skin, wet, and then rinse off. I never lose any eyelashes and it doesn't require me to tug or pull on my skin. I usually follow up with a cleanser and my Clarisonic, but even on the nights that I'm falling asleep at the sink, I don't feel guilty for applying a moisturizer after this and climbing into bed. It doesn't strip the skin or make my skin feel tight. This cleansing balm is just awesome.

The Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Intensive Recovery Ampoules are such an indulgent product that I am kind of hesitant mentioning them, but I really do love them. They come in a very hefty bottle of 60 ampoules for $110. Yep, you read that right. $110 for 60 doses. I splurged on them solely because I bought them with Ulta points and paid nothing out of pocket, otherwise I couldn't have stomached it. Each ampoule is a tiny pod with the perfect dose of ultra concentrated serum that is designed to calm and rapidly renew over-stressed skin. You apply it at night after your regular serum and before your moisturizer. I love the perfect little doses. I feel like I'm never wasting product and I can use them anywhere and everywhere - exactly when I need it. I pop a few into an airtight jar and throw it into the bag that I'm carrying when I travel. I took them on two flights and one long car ride and they are perfect to instantly rejuvenate skin that has dried out or starting to dull due to the stresses of travel and environmental changes. 60 treatments might not seem like a lot, but I honestly only use them a couple times a month. They are perfect for use anytime your skin is feeling the stresses of environmental damage, lack of sleep, travel, illness, even changes of season or weather. This product I still feel is going to last quite a while and I now can't imagine traveling without them. I definitely feel this was a good use of my hard earned Ulta points. (I just noticed that you can purchase 10 of them on Amazon for $11.45, if they are the real thing, that is an awesome deal!)

The First Aid Beauty Caffeine Matcha Wake up Face Wipes have become such a key part of my daily routine that I always make sure to have backups. I go through a very time-consuming and thorough skin care routine at night and I try to keep it simple in the morning. I don't wash my face again in the morning; when I wash twice a day I actually start to get oily, irritated and break out. So in the morning, I use these to get the sleep off my face and they wake my skin up. The caffeine and matcha start to plump the skin so it looks healthy while it also manages to smooth and tighten. It does have a little tingling but it doesn't hurt or last very long. These are the perfect way to get my morning started.
Skin Care Favorites; First Aid Beauty, Estee Lauder, Clinique

I'm pretty sure that most people use the First Aid Beauty Hello FAB Coconut Skin Smoothie Priming Moisturizer as a primer, but I use it primarily as my moisturizer, that doubles as a primer. It provides my sensitive skin a lightweight moisture with a smooth finish. It feels really refreshing and cool, but the moisture lasts all day. After I used my last tube up, I forced myself to utilize some deluxe moisturizer samples before buying more - including some really good ones like Kiehl's and It Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream - and while they were great, I was ready to go back to using this. I end up with dry patches at the corners of my mouth if I'm not drinking enough water or moisturizing properly. This isn't a problem for me when I use this, whereas the problem has resurfaced with these other samples. I really like the scent also, which kind of reminds me of candy.

I have the Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment SPF 30 under skincare because that's technically what it is, but I kind of use it as makeup. After going through my normal daytime skincare routine, and after applying a pore minimizing primer, I add a couple drops of the Kiehl's Daily Reviving Concentrate to a nickel-sized dollop of the Cicapair treatment, mix it in my hands and then blend it onto my face. This weird green-colored concoction feels like velvet, blends in easily, neutralizes redness and magically becomes the perfect shade to match my skin tone. The Cicapair treatment instantly makes my face look more even and perfected. By adding the Kiehl's concentrate, my face looks naturally radiant and glowy but the matte finish of the Cicapair ensures that I don't look or feel greasy or oily throughout the day. This lasts all day and continues to neutralize redness throughout. It's admittedly a little weird to wash skincare off at the end of the day though, but I do adore this because I really feel like I am treating my skin well. The tiger grass actually has medicinal properties that aid in healing. I can say that any pimples that I get heal a lot faster since I started using this and the amount of redness overall on my face has decreased.

For some reason, I have always wanted to try the Clinique Repairwear Intensive Lip Treatment, I'm not entirely sure why. I finally bit the bullet and purchased a tube and expected it not to live up to my expectations. The truth is that I really like it. It's really smooth and moisturizing and it lasts for hours. It's definitely not something I would reach for at night, but I like to use it in the morning to prep my lips for the day. I noticed recently that I am almost out of it and I realized that I've used it a ton in the last few months and with good reason. I like this a lot for no-makeup and makeup days as it's great for wearing under lipstick. I have found a new love for days that I'm wearing lip color, though - you'll see it below.

I picked up the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair (Body) Wash later last year after I finished my Soap and Glory Clean on Me, but I forced myself to finish up a Bath and Body Works body wash before I opened this. I was on a kick about actually finishing products before opening new ones (I still am) and I am actively trying to make space in the shower. I was good and didn't pour any of that down the drain, but the thought did cross my mind. I was really excited to finally use this, but I was worried about being let down because I'd built it up in my mind so much (yes, this is a theme in my life). Luckily that wasn't the case. It is creamy and rich. It leaves me feeling clean but it also deeply hydrated. I'm usually getting right out of the shower and immediately rubbing in lotion or body oil. I wanted to test the moisture retention claim and decided to skip this practice a time or two - it lives up to its promises! My skin feels so smooth and hydrated. It's also great for sensitive skin, like all First Aid Beauty products.
Makeup Favorites

I jumped on the Anastasia Beverly Hills brow bandwagon. I actually didn't expect to, honestly. I picked out the Dipbrow in Taupe and I'm a huge fan. I also grabbed the Brow Definer in Taupe and initially did not really care for it. Sometime in the last month or so I decided to pull it back out because people rave about it and I spent a lot hard earned money on it. Guess what? I fell in love. Before I had been trying to use it just like I would the Dipbrow and you really can't. It's really hard to sculpt with the Brow Definer. It does, however, fill in what you've got perfectly and in my opinion looks a little bit more natural. I do tend to get some extra product built up around the brows when I use the Dipbrow. That's not an issue with the Brow Definer. Not to mention that it's a little quicker and less fuss to use the pencil with a built-in spoolie as opposed to the pot with the brush that needs to be cleaned every day. I really love both products, the Brow Definer might be a favorite though.

I don't do a lot of makeup on the rest of my face, but when it comes to my eyeshadow, I go all out. I love natural shadow colors, I'm not much of a bright color girl, but I don't seem to be capable of using less than three eyeshadows at a time. Usually, a normal look for me packs on about five plus shadows. Howver, I've been changing it up a little more lately. I've been embracing either an easy cream shadow applied all over the lid, a minimal matte shadow look, or a combination of both. My go to cream shadows have been Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerize Cream Eyeshadow in Marie Antoinette, Clinique Touch Base for Eyes in Nude Rose, Revlon ColorStay Crème Eyeshadow in 730 Praline, and the Maybelline Color Tattoo in Barely Branded. Praline and Barely Branded just make the eye shine with zero sparkles or fall out. Praline is a little on the pinker side while Barely Branded is more golden, so I use either depending on the look I'm going for. Nude Rose is exactly the color that you think it should be. It has less of a shine and more of a satin finish. It has just enough dimension so that the light picks it up but can look almost matte. The tone can lean more peachy or pinky depending on the light or what I'm pairing it with. Worn on its own, it makes my tired eyes look wide awake and bright.

Marie Antoinette is a gorgeous golden bronze. I just feel so glam wearing it. It's beautiful on its own, but I also love deepening it up with a dark brown eyeshadow like Buxom's Haute Couture. I will use a small crease brush to blend the dark eyeshadow in the outer and inner corners, then pop this cream shadow in the center where it is bare. It's super quick to do and looks beautiful and full of dimension. The shadow itself is pigmented, creamy, and long-wearing. A little goes such a long way that I have worn it a ton and have barely made any sort of dent in the product "design." You can apply it light as an allover wash of color or built up to be deep and dark with a ton of impact. I highly recommend these.
Makeup Favorites - Eyes, MAC, Revlon, Clinique, TheBalm, thrive, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Maybelline, Charlotte Tilbury

For my matte shadows, I have been obsessed with the MAC x Nordstrom C'est Chic palette. Since it was a limited edition release last year, I won't talk about it much, but I have been reaching for it a lot. The quality is there and I cannot get enough of the shades. It has warm peachy shades, cooler rose shades, a gray shade, a khaki green shade, in addition to some great deep dark browns. Can we just take a look at All's Rosy for a minute? It's so beautiful. I have also loved using TheBalm Meet Matrimony Palette. Matt Lopez is the perfect warm crease shade for my skin tone. The palette has a bunch of really usable, everyday, must-have shades with a deep dark burgundy and a rich purple thrown in to add a little something in there. I also picked up some of the Anastasia Beverly Hills Eyeshadow Singles in Fresh, Dusty Rose, Birkin, and Red Earth and I love them. I use Fresh anytime I need to apply a brightening/nude shade all over the lid or as a browbone highlight. Dusty Rose and Birkin are beautiful as crease and transition shades layered together or on their own. Now, Red Earth is really just the MVP. It is described as a plummy brown with warm, reddish undertones. It pairs with both warm and cool tones like a champ. It can be built up to be a dark shade in the outer corner or lightly buffed out in the crease to add some depth. It's amazing how it can look really plummy paired with some shadows and warm and brick red paired with other shadows. I just love the versatility.

On the days that I really want to put in the effort, I will create a gorgeous matte look and then decide that I want a  little something extra. That's when I pick one of my favorite cream shadows and pop it onto the center of my lid. I did that today with the rosy shades from the MAC palette and then used my finger to pat on Revlon's Praline in the center. I just feel like my look is just that much more on point today.

The Thrive Causemetics Eye Brightener in Stella arrived in a Boxycharm box several months back and it was a product that I was totally unfamiliar with. I was unbelievably surprised by its stellar performance. I use it regularly to complete my eye look by applying it to my inner corner, as well as running it along my lower lashline and in my waterline. It wakes up my entire face and lasts all day long! Seriously, if there's any part of my makeup that could make my cleansing balm try a little harder at the end of the day, it is this chubby eye pencil. This gorgeous golden champagne shade is also be gorgeous all over the lid as a super long-wearing shadow. It also can be used blended on other brightening spots around the eyes and face. It comes with plenty of product, a twist-up design, as well as a sharpener built into the bottom.
Makeup Favorites - Lips; Dior, Hourglass, Clarins, Make Up Forever

The MAKE UP FOR EVER Ultra HD Lip Booster in 00 Clear is a newer product but I instantly fell for it. This Lip Booster is a super hydrating lip serum that plumps your lips up without any tingling or discomfort. The plumping is minimal. Your lips aren't suddenly double their normal size. This is much more of a natural plumping. You'll notice that your pout has no lines and while your lips look natural, they are fuller and more pillowy soft. And hydrating it is. It feels so cushiony and plush on the lips. I would be more than happy to use it on its own in place of a normal lip balm, but it's also perfect for applying about 20 to 30 minutes before lip color to make your lips primed and ready.

You might not know this about me but I have a huge weakness for Dior lip products. It started with a Lip Addict Gloss that I purchased myself as a birthday treat a few years ago. Those glosses are still my favorite lip gloss formula. I have several Dior lip products now in a variety of formulas. They are prominently displayed on my vanity. Admittedly, I don't want to pay that much for a lip product, but there hasn't been a single Dior product that I have purchased that has let me down. That's why when I saw that Dior released new lip products recently, I didn't hesitate to order them without reading a single review. The only thing that I looked for was swatches to pick out colors that I knew would work for me. I ended up ordering the Dior Addict Lacquer Sticks in 420 Underground and 570 L.A. Pink. This is a gorgeous set of opaque shades which deliver a high-shine finish. It only takes one swipe to get the full opacity, even though these shades run on the lighter side of the spectrum. They feel very balmy and smooth on the lips, and maybe a bit hydrating so they don't emphasize any lines or dryness. The staying power is better than expected with a formula like this, but I wouldn't say long wearing. At most maybe 3 to 4 hours without eating or drinking. As soon as I applied Underground I thought, "Yeah this is my perfect lip color!" It is a nude brown-pink with a slight hint of mauve. L.A. Pink is a brighter shade on me but still wearable, it's best described as a medium brown burgundy.

I also splurged on the Dior Addict Lip Tattoo in 491 Natural Rosewood. These lip tattoos are the perfect lip stain. They are long lasting, have a glossy finish, and don't make your lips look like shriveled up raisins. I love this color. I love this formula. The color is really easy to wear and it goes with everything. It kind of reminds me of a more pigmented version of the Fresh Sugar Lip Balm in Petal, a nice neutral pink with brown, which always makes me think of spring. It can be built up to a darker shade of rosewood with additional layers. This formula does have a small learning curve, but this formula doesn't have the usual hang-ups that most stains do. Your lips don't have to be perfectly exfoliated or deeply hydrated. Upon initial application, it appears glossy and shiny like a lipgloss but wears down to a natural lip stain. I like stains like this that I can just apply balm over throughout the day. My only complaint would be that the stain can wear down darker than the originally applied product. I have found that proper prep helps with this, but if you don't want to take the additional steps it's not really bad looking. I really do love how easy and pretty this is.

There is a pattern to my favorite lip products if you haven't noticed yet, and that is medium nude pink lips. The HOURGLASS Girl Lip Stylo in Achiever is no exception. Achiever is a medium neutral mauve brown that leans a little more pink than purple. I love the lux feeling of the chubby lip pencil packaging. It's very sturdy and I don't worry about the lid coming off if I throw it in my purse. The formula provides buildable coverage. The first swipe is generally not full coverage - it feels more semi-opaque - but a second layer fixes that if that is what you are looking for. It's also easily applied lightly for a sheerer tint. This feels extremely comfortable on the lips. It's lightweight, moisturizing, smoothing and leaves a glossy finish. This formula doesn't sit in fine lines or travel outside my lips. The wear time is easily four to five hours without eating or drinking. Out of all of the lip products that I've meantioned, I definitely feel this is the one that wears the most like a lipstick.

I almost forgot about this one because I keep it in my purse. It is the Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector in 08 Plum Shimmer. I think of it as a lipgloss/lip balm hybrid. I get the pretty glossy, plump lip look but with the real feel of a balm. It is perfect for on the go, especially as it's getting warmer and I don't really want to carry around products that are going to melt. It has a non-sticky gel-like consistency and it leaves your lips feeling so smooth and soft and generally just looking healthy and full. The color of the tube looks dark, but the product is sheer and wearable for every day. It's a beautiful nude plum. This product really lives up to its name.
Lifestyle Favorites

I remember my mom occasionally listening to audio books while I was growing up. I have always thought that it was a great way to multitask. I kind of drug my feet on trying Audible because I could never pick my free book. I also wasn't sure how it would fit into my routine. I like listening to music and some of the radio programs while I'm driving. I'm not really one for podcasts or talk radio. I decided to pick a book in October while we were traveling just to give it a whirl. I figured that during flights, sometimes my eyes get tired and I end up listening to music with my eyes closed instead of getting the reading done that I wanted to. I finished the book in less than a week and I was kind of sold. I have the monthly subscription that gives me one credit a month. That credit can be used to buy almost any book. Most books cost more than the credit costs; if it doesn't then I purchase it instead of wasting a credit. Most narrators are excellent at bringing the story to live. I've only encountered one or two that have been really monotone. Originally, I was trying to match what I was reading at home to my Audible book and that worked really well, but I started reading paperbacks that weren't available on Audible. So, I started reading something different than I was listening to and I'm actually keeping up with both books really well. I listen to the morning radio programs on the way to work and Audible on my way home from work as a nice way to decompress. I also listen to Audible if I'm driving around town during the day and around the house as I'm cleaning. So far this year, I have listened to Robert Galbraith's Career of Evil; My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows; Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between) by Lauren Graham and read by Lauren Graham; Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Read by Eddie Redmayne, by J.K. Rowling; and The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson.

So catch up with me a bit! Tell me what you've been loving lately in the comments below! Thanks for reading! 

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