FriYAY feels!

at the rally for teachers and students in downtown raleigh this week! #redfored

Friyay! This week, I joined 20,000+ teachers, parents, students, and supporters in the march downtown to demand more funding for students and classrooms, more resources for mental health, class size changes, and better working conditions. It was cool to be part of something bigger than me, and to come together with thousands towards one common goal.

This weekend, my sister is having a graduation party and I can’t wait! I’m so proud of her for busting her butt the last 3 years to become a Nurse Practitioner. She’s going to be amazing! Andrew and I also have an end of the year party at one of our friend’s houses from school, so it will be really fun to kick back and celebrate!

I said I would report back on my Tula skincare purchase. I ordered the discovery kit to see what I thought – and once it was empty, I re-ordered the full size face wash, this exfoliating mask to try, and the pro-glycolic resurfacing gel toner. In hindsight, I would swap out the face mask for the probiotic day &  night cream next time – the moisturizer is amazing, but I didn’t order it because I still have my Murad moisturizer from my Spring FabFitFun box that I love! The face wash goes a long way and it cleans my makeup off really well without a lot of scrubbing or effort on my part. I can’t say that my breakouts have cleared up 100% because that’s just my luck in life, but I do love the way it makes my skin look and feel. We’ll see how it continues to go!

Still loving these slides and wearing them at least twice a week. SO comfortable.

This week I got to the gym as many times as I said I would! Huge feat for me. I feel great, sore, and ready to keep this up! My wedding dress should be here soon, so I want to feel my best when I get it on!

New favorite affordable mascara (still holding onto this one as my other all time favorite) and the lip I’ve been rocking constantly (in the color Baci). I’ve loved the Stila stay all day liquid lipsticks since my college years, but this color is so good.

I’ve been stacking this necklace stamped with our wedding date lately, with this “A” necklace that I always wear (Andrew got me the “J” necklace for Christmas last year, and it broke one morning at school. I ordered the A thinking I could slide on the J charm with it, and I couldn’t get the J back on due to the clasps…so now I wear his initial instead!).

my necklaces!

I got to meet my friend Kelly’s little man Jacob last Sunday. He is only a week and a half old and he is perfect! He came a few weeks early but he is healthy and doing great. I am so happy to have another friend with a baby – my other friend Kelly had her baby Kate in December. So many baby snuggles in my future!

Two things I’ve been practicing with for wedding events and the actual wedding day after INTENSE research and review reading:  This sunless tanner (use the application mitt!) and some hair extensions so my thin hair can be on fleek. No shame. My legs are white, white, white and until I can lay by the pool (with SPF, of course), I’m trying to look a little bronzed in my white dresses for showers and events surrounding the wedding. I don’t think I’ll use it for the big day because I would hate to risk being streaky and I would never forgive myself if I stained my dress! But it has been working really well so far! The extensions are real hair, high quality, and matched my  hair really well. They are just a few inches longer than my real hair. They just give it some life and fullness, and whatever I decide for my wedding hair, my hair stylist suggested them to just give me a little more oomph! I ordered them from Bellami Hair in the ash blonde color.

I ordered this tote way back in April (it was a definite splurge, a treat yoself item I bought when I finally got approved for my Master’s degree extra pay!). It was on backorder because I got the petal pink color – I guess it’s all the rage this season! I have had my eye on this bag since about a year ago, but couldn’t bite the bullet. My best friend Whitney got one for Christmas and I decided I just had to have it. I haven’t gotten a purse since this bad boy last summer which I’m still carrying, and I haven’t gotten myself a NICE purse in……..ever? So it arrived yesterday and I’m just delighted.

That’s it for me! Everyone enjoy the weekend 🙂

Daily face

I get a lot of compliments on my makeup (granted, it’s mostly from my 15-year-old students). I’m always a little bit surprised when I get compliments because I literally do the same makeup routine every single day. I am a creature of habit. I love makeup and beauty products, but once I find something I like, I tend to stick with it. I’m loyal; what can I say?! I did recently start using the Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue, which I mentioned in this post. Now it’s in my daily face rotation!

My friend Abbie asked for the post on the Complexion Rescue, but she also said she needed a whole new makeup routine, so I thought I’d write this post to highlight the products that I wear every single day.

the entire daily face, makeup-stained and all

First, I moisturize and prime my face. I’ve used this moisturizer since high school, and I love this green NYX primer to cancel out redness and set me up for a smooth finish.

Lately, I’ve been using a combination of Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue tinted moisturizer + my all-time favorite powder, the Lorac POREfection baked perfecting powder. For the tinted moisturizer, I dab it with a damp beauty blender or just use my fingers and rub it in like a moisturizer. After the complexion rescue comes the underage concealer triangle phenomenon.

A NOTE ABOUT CONCEALER:  You want to conceal after you put on your foundation or tinted moisturizer base so that you can set it with powder afterward, and because you are basically wasting your time if you go rubbing something on top of all the concealer you just carefully placed! I use this NYX concealer because it was listed somewhere a long time ago with great reviews. I’m still on the hunt for a great concealer, but this isn’t bad. I use my ring finger to dot in on and around whatever I need to hide. I don’t always do under eye concealer, but if I really want to brighten things up, I’ll use the IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye and spread in a triangle under my eyes. I blend that concealer in with a tiny damp beauty blender.

this is what you should look like after the under-eye concealer…scary.

Then use a brush to blend powder in all over your face, dabbing on top of the concealer rather than brushing back and forth. I use this bronzer in the hollows of my cheeks, temples, and along my jaw line (think of a 3 shape). I use this blush in “achiote”on the apples of my cheeks, and this highlighter in “sin” on my cheekbones and down the bridge of my nose. Those three are all pretty pricey, but they last FOREVER. They are all really pigmented, so a little goes a long way.

For eyes, I typically go for a delicate cat eye with my Stila stay all day waterproof eyeliner. Nothing too crazy for a daily look, but I like to have a little tail from the corner of my lids, and I find that I can be messier with my mascara because the eyeliner covers it up (can I get an amen?!). A basic tutorial and step-by-step for how I do my eyeliner is in this post.

After eyeliner, I apply my eyebrow pencil in shade 2 – you literally can’t mess it up and it’s so perfect. Then on to mascara. I have mentioned before that I have naturally long lashes, but they are also naturally blonde, so when I don’t wear mascara I have such a baby face and you can’t see my eyelashes at all. I love to splurge on fancy mascaras like Tarte lash paint or Urban Decay’s perversion, but you can typically just find me sporting my long-time favorite CoverGirl Full Lash Bloom mascara (in the hot pink tube!). I honestly don’t notice much of a difference when using the higher end mascaras. I think it just makes me feel fancier to have the nicer ones!

bronzer, blush, highlighter, and eyes

And that’s it! I always finish with my lipstick, and I like to change that up every day – usually a bright pink, dark red, or plum color for this time of year (I recently purchased this in “baci” and have added it in the mix! Pictured in these photos). If I was going out for an event or something where I was planning on photographs, I’d do a more finished and full face by adding a golden smokey eye, more dramatic mascara and eyeliner, and I would use foundation instead of the tinted moisturizer (still my current favorite).

What are your can’t-live-withouts for makeup? I’ll cry the day they discontinue my favorite Lorac powder, but hopefully it’s good enough to stick around!

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

Pamper yoself.


Summer has taken such a toll on my skin and hair this year. I’m sweating constantly at the pub, my hair gets blow dried and curled often so there’s a lot of heat damage, and I just tend to get more breakouts in the summer. On top of that, I have a worry wrinkle between my eyes that I swear gets deeper every week. Life, man.

So what’s a girl to do?! I decided I needed to start a pampering routine for my skin. I’ve never been great at keeping up with a routine, plus I have very sensitive skin. I typically just wash my face and use either my daily moisturizer or my night time anti-aging moisturizer, and that’s it. But this is a weekly or bi-weekly routine even I can keep up with!

I received this cucumber + aloe face mask in my Christmas stocking this year and this was literally the first time I have used it! (See? I told you I’m bad at keeping up with skincare routines!) A lot of times, I’ll break out badly a few days after using face masks, so I typically stay away from them. I used this one last week, though, and no issues! It felt so cool and refreshing, smelled clean and comforting, and rinsed off easily. I really enjoyed it and actually look forward to using it again!

I picked up this hair mask at Target while I was getting groceries. It was around $3 and looked good for my fine, thin, color-treated and heat-damaged locks. I am interested in trying other products from this line! It smelled so good in my hair and wasn’t overwhelming. Like with any deep conditioner for your hair, it left mine pretty oily at the roots after rinsing out and air-drying, but I just planned to wear my hair up the next day before re-washing. My hair was noticeably softer and sleeker. It just felt like a win!

So here’s the routine if you’re in the mood to pamper yoself this summer (or anytime!). I took a nice long shower and used my regular philosophy face wash plus a detoxifying pore scrub from Olay (I love their products for my skin). The pore scrub was very gentle and felt exfoliating without hurting or scraping my skin. I used the scrub after washing my face.

Then, after using my favorite body lotion, I wrapped up in a fluffy robe and applied the hair mask and face mask. I kept the hair mask and face mask on for longer than recommended because I just feel like it must work extra well if you do that (is this just a me thing?). I just pinned up my hair with a duck clip while I sat and did some things around the house with my green face. I used warm water and a wash cloth to rinse off the face mask. When I rinsed out the hair mask, I combed through my hair and let it air-dry. Finally, I used my Olay Regenerist night cream and slathered on a good bit, being delicate around my eyes of course and using circular motions from my neck up! I finished with a thick lip balm and I was relaxed, pampered, and ready for bed.

glamorous

And that’s it! Other than my dogs trying to lick the cucumber aloe mask off of my face, everything went off without a hitch. Something easy to do once a week or so, not too many steps, and safe for sensitive skin like mine! What other products should I be trying? Let me know if you have any favorites!