My 8 favorite hair products

I’ve mentioned before that I have thin, lifeless hair, and I never used product on it at all until a couple of years ago. Even when I would get my hair done, I’d ask my stylist not to use anything on it. But since I’ve let my hair grow long again and since I’ve been styling it regularly with heat for a few years now, I’ve tried some different products – some winners, some failures.

I can’t use anything too heavy because it makes my  hair look greasy and weighs it down. My arsenal of favorite products for styling my hair is below – most are under the $15 range, because you know I’m always ballin’ on a budget, but I have included a couple of splurges, too. These products are all light, smell delicious, and leave my hair looking – and staying – much more full and polished.

1. Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo:  There is no match for this dry shampoo. I LOVE it and I ration it because it is a little pricier than I’d like to pay for dry ‘poo. I usually use this one for my daily use and use the Living Proof for weekends or special events. It smells so good and it makes your hair completely free of oil without residue. It’s the only dry shampoo I’ve used that actually makes me feel like I re-washed my hair.
2. Dove Curl Defining Mousse:  I have been using this for years, and it comes in at under $5! To make my hair wavy, I scrunch it using this. No conditioner, no brush or comb, just shampoo and scrunch with a ping pong ball size of this! Andrew calls it “squishing” my hair. Perfect for days when I’m running late!
3. Ouai Memory Mist:  Whitney got this for my birthday this year, and it’s so good. It smells incredibly floral-y and it helps protect your hair from heat while “remembering” your hair’s style so you can make your hair last extra days. I have loved using it and love the way it makes my hair feel and smell.
4. Marrakesh Oil Hair Styling Elixir:  This is my #1 can’t live without after combing my hair when I get out of the shower. I got it in a birch box or as a sample at some point, and I loved it so much I’ve kept buying it! It is very light and moisturizing. I only put it on my ends and then very lightly run my fingers through my hair a couple inches away from the roots.
5. Tresemme Heat Protector Spray: I’ve mentioned this one before. It’s inexpensive, and I spray it on my hair after the oil, before blow drying. Easy and doesn’t add any extra weight or residue to my hair.
6. Big Sexy Hair Root Pump Volumizing Spray Mousse  or Aquage Uplifting Foam:  I only use these for special occasions because it takes a little time and effort, but both smell great and work about the same for my hair. I section off my hair and spray these right onto the part line back and forth. Then, I massage it all around the roots and spend time actually blow drying my hair with my round brush. It really helps give some lift at the roots and helps my hair hold on to any curl.
7. Amika Obliphica Un.Done Texture Spray:  I use this when I need more life and lift. I lift my hair after styling and spray up under my hair as it falls back down. It gives some grit and hold, but the volume and smell are nice side effects!
8. Kenra Volume Spray 25 Hair Spray:  The best hair spray I’ve used, ever. This doesn’t make my hair crunchy, and it gives a strong flexible hold. I love it!

Most days I just use the Marrakesh oil when my hair is wet, heat protector spray before blow drying, and then the Ouai memory mist before curling. I don’t use a lot of product daily because I am trying to protect these thin locks! But when I’m trying to really style and need some extra help, the others are a dream, and the dry shampoo reallllllly can’t be beat!

What are everyone else’s favorite hair products?!

photo by j parker photography

Summer faves, from me to you

It’s another scorching week here in Raleigh! I don’t know why it’s always such a surprise to me when I step outside and my makeup immediately begins melting off my face. Why do we find it necessary to keep saying, “It’s HOT out there!” when we finally get inside the sweet, sweet relief of cool AC? But we do – maybe it’s a southern thing.

This summer, I’ve been saving every penny since teachers don’t get paid in the summer acting like I have an unlimited supply of money, and I’ve bought a few new products I want to share! They’ve helped me through these hot months, and hopefully they’ll carry me into the next few that are still coming!

Since I’m generally rushing from hot yoga to nannying or from nannying to hot yoga, and as I’ve mentioned, it’s hot hot hot out, I have kept my makeup and hair routine super simple this summer. I also mostly use items from Target. I don’t have a fat wallet, so when I can find awesome products that don’t deplete my money for food and rent, I latch on.

Summer Faves1) Dove dry shampoo and curl defining mousse: my hair is stick straight, fine, thin, and needs to be washed daily. I could have cried when I finally discovered dry shampoo. I love this Dove one and have used it for months and months without looking elsewhere. I use the mousse after shampooing to “squish” my hair, as Andrew calls it (the rest of you might refer to it as scrunching your hair). It’s my summer ‘do because I don’t have to use heat to dry my hair, and I just shampoo & squish – no conditioner (or combing) needed, because it makes my hair too soft and straight to squish. It also saves a ton of time!

2) Heat taming spray: When I DO blow dry my hair, I like to use a heat spray to help protect and volumize my fine, limp hair. I have been happy with this one from L’Oreal! An older spray I used to use before looking for one with a volumizing boost is this one from TRESemme.

3) Olay cleansing wipes and moisturizer: Both are gentle, have a nice subtle scent, don’t break me out, and my sensitive skin doesn’t burn or react to these products.

4) Tea Tree Oil mattifying toner: I have always loved The Body Shop, and this tea tree oil toner is so refreshing. It makes my skin look soft and velvety. I use it am and pm, after washing and before moisturizing. My sweet roomie Lauryn hooked me up with it because she got one free 🙂

5) Philosophy purity made simple face wash: this is my one splurge this summer. I know it’s more expensive than what you might normally buy, but my skin is sensitive and prone to breakouts, and I have noticed a HUGE difference in the few weeks I have been using this. So. Worth. It. I got the 8oz. one for $24 and it will last a long time.

6) This Sephora collection dry clean brush cleaning spray has been an amazing find! You can use it and keep on doing your makeup since it’s not a wet product. Just spray, wipe on a towel, and keep on keepin’ on!

7) Essie spa many many mani lotion: I always seem to have dry hands and feet, so I love putting this on both right before I get under the sheets at night! It smells great and is silky smooth, not greasy.

8) These linen shorts from Target:  I have them in green, red, and gray/black…they have literally saved me this summer. Elastic waist, light and airy, not too short…what more could a girl want?

9) Maybelline Dream Pure BB cream: I use this one to help keep my skin clear, moisturize and even out my skin tone, and as a layer that my powder can sit on top of.

10) My favorite sunscreen: I have been using this for a few years and always make sure to get the SPF 30 and reapply often. I love the hydration aspect of this sunscreen. I always buy the face one, as well!

My summer makeup routine:

After washing/toning/moisturizing, I’ve been using the NYX photo loving primer in green to fight redness and fill in any pores or smile lines. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll skip the primer and put on some Maybelline bb cream. I’ve been loving the Covergirl trublend fix stick concealer for under my eyes, redness, and blemishes. BB cream or not, I always use a powder brush to dust on my forever favorite powder, Lorac porefection baked pressed powder (I’m shade PF 3.5). Next, I hit the hollows of my cheeks and go in a “3” motion on the sides of my face with the tarte Park Ave Princess bronzer, and then I use my bronzer brush to hit my cheekbones and around the sides of my eyes with my new Urban Decay highlighter (shade is sin-champagne). After that, it’s an eyebrow pencil, mascara, and tinted Baby Lips balm from Maybelline (a long-time fave!), and I’m finished! Simple for busy days carting around kids and running errands, and easy to wipe off before teaching a hot yoga class at Hot Asana Durham.

Summer makeup 1

Summer makeup 2


A few of my favorite things.

And just like that, Spring is here!  I know that soon the sun will be here to stay for a while…and it makes me so happy.  (Remind me of this when I’m complaining about my makeup melting down my face in the July Raleigh humidity).  When the new seasons come, I always feel like a little bit of a change – a new nail polish, scarf, or a new pair of sandals to use through the warm months.  Still, there are always a few items I keep around no matter what the season.

There are so many products out there, and sometimes it’s overwhelming to decide what to splurge on or save on.  I’m no expert, but when you find something that works, you want to tell everything you know!  Here are some of my favorite tried and true items.


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Rimmel Lasting Finish primer – keeps me feeling put together and hydrated, but not oily.  I know some people swear by fancy primers and how important they are…but for my everyday rush to teach the youth of America, I don’t always have time to be fancy.  This one does the trick for me, and my teacher wallet can afford it!

Bare Minerals concealer and brush – unfortunately, in my 28th year of life, I am dealing with the double-edged sword of under eye circles and the very occasional pretty frequent ‘random’ hormonal breakout.  I have read rave reviews about different under-eye concealers like Visible Lift Eye Concealer or Bye Bye Under Eye, and I’d love to try them (I’d actually love to try a lot of the It Cosmetics brand products…), but for now, until I win the lottery, I’ll stick to this Bare Minerals concealer.  The brush does a really good job of lightly layering and covering whatever you’re dealing with.  It’s not going to cover up a tattoo or a black eye, but luckily I don’t think I need to worry about that.  For everyday use, I love it.

Bare Minerals matte foundation powder and brush – no matter what foundations I hop around to, I always seem to come back home to Bare Minerals.  It’s natural-looking, and you can build coverage really easily without looking like a cake face.  I love that I don’t feel like it is clogging my pores throughout the day or in the summer heat.  The matte version of the foundation powder does a great job of giving a velvety finish.

Lorac POREfection baked pressed powder – the ultimate smooth, velvet powder finish with a good amount of coverage!  I love to keep this in my purse for long days/nights and touch ups.

Tarte Amazonian Clay matte waterproof bronzer and brush – I LOVE this bronzer.  It is subtle and does a great job of easily and naturally contouring your cheekbones.  I put it in a 3 shape from the sides of my forehead, going in at the cheekbones, and around again under my jawline for a nice and easy glow, then down my  nose.  This brush is awesome for contouring, but I don’t spend a lot of time doing that, and to be honest, my favorite bronzing brush is the black and silver drugstore one pictured above – I got it years ago at CVS – I think it was Cover Girl…similar brush here.

Smashbox Full Exposure mascara – I’ve been using this one since I got it as a birthday sample from Ulta back in November.  It doesn’t clump, and I have gotten a lot of compliments on my eyelashes since wearing it.  I am also a fan of most drugstore mascaras – L’Oreal Voluminous Butterfly mascara, many from Maybelline and Cover Girl.  Also, Tarte, whose products I am a big fan of, has an amazing mascara called Lights, Camera, Lashes  and it is everything.  If you’re not willing to spend the extra money on mascara, do what I do and keep a nice list of ‘wants’ for all of your fancy makeup needs.  Then, ask for them at birthdays and Christmas!

Stila stay all day liquid eyeliner – there is no other liquid eyeliner.  Plain and simple.  I would never want to do a winged eye with any other makeup item.  It never budges throughout the day, but it’s easy to correct with a wet q-tip if you mess up during application.  So worth the price.



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I am a pretty simple gal when it comes to my hair.  It’s thin, fine, and naturally stick straight.  Most days, I blow dry it with a round brush for volume and run a flat iron through the ends to keep them bouncy and turned under, and on those days, I stick to my volumizing products.  My two favorites are Aquage Uplifting Foam, which I read about for years from the small things blog, and Bumble and Bumble Thickening Full Form Mousse, which my friend and hair stylist suggested.

A couple of years ago, I finally trained my hair (or damaged it enough?) to hold a curl, so I love my Remington curling wand for big loose curls – I bought it when my hair was much longer, but still like it for my shorter ‘do, too.  I love that it tells me how hot it gets up to so I don’t have to guess.  After burning my fingers a few…dozen…times, I think I’ve finally gotten the hang of it.

This Dove dry shampoo is probably my favorite and most vital hair product…yes, people.  I said vital.  When you don’t feel like washing your hair every day or you just need some boost or texture, this stuff is it.  It smells amazing, and for me, the white spray is great because as my roots start to grow out, it keeps my hair super light and fresh-looking.  I use it even when I’ve just washed and dried my hair for a little extra volume and texture.  My best friend and the photographer behind the lens of all of my photos introduced me to it.  We both buy it two (or three) at a time!


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Marc Jacobs Daisy Dream and Kate Spade Walk on Air are my two favorite scents to carry me through all of the seasons.  I have a handful of favorite scents, but these are my two all-time faves.  I got them both as gifts from my ‘wants’ list and it’s about time for both of them to be replenished!  My boyfriend Andrew loves the Walk on Air and that’s one of the many ongoing compliments that he has given me since we started dating – better keep it on hand!

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel nail polish – I am the type of girl who likes to keep my nails painted at all times.  I have an alarming amount of nail polish under my bathroom sink.  The most annoying thing is finding one that will last past a few good days without chipping.  If you ask me, there is no nail polish that will last you a full 14 days unless it’s a gel manicure from the salon, which is what this nail polish claims to do…but it does usually last me a solid week if I’m careful applying and drying.

This Spring, try something new.  Pick up a bright, bold color of lipstick (you know I’m all about that), jazz up your makeup bag, or start using a new scent.  It really is the little things, my friends.  Treat yoself.

All photo credits go to J Parker Photography