Let’s talk about skin safety (because yes it matters in winter too)

Beauty, Lifestyle

I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to visit my sister this Thanksgiving. I’m lucky that I got the chance while she is living in the Caribbean. Yes, I escaped the cold of the Midwest for a whole week, and don’t worry, I have plenty of cute vacation photos to show you. If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably seen enough already, but thank you for persisting.

 

While I was visiting my sister, I had a lot more exposure to the sun than I did back at home in the Midwest. In fact it was more sun than what I had been getting in months, and while I was very happy about it, I really had to be careful with my skin. My husband and I doused ourselves in drugstore sunscreen daily, using brands that I had grown up using and trusted. I don’t know if it was my skin’s inability to adapt to the quick increase in SPF, some failure on my part to apply correctly, or something different altogether, but this sunscreen wasn’t cutting it, and I was frustrated.

My sister pointed me toward the pharmacy, where her friend had found European brands. Years of obsessively protecting my skin had taught me that European brands contain ingredients that haven’t been approved in the US but are great at protecting us from UV rays. I was elated at this news from my sister and I ended up basically running down to the pharmacy to get my hands on those better ingredients.

Sure enough, the brand I purchased, Vichy (you can also get it in the US, but it won’t have those good ingredients), worked perfectly, absorbing quickly into my skin, smelling pleasantly, and most importantly, keeping my safe from the sun. After my new sunscreen purchase, the rest of our trip went smoothly, and honestly, I was excited to get to spend time with my sister.

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But why does this matter now? Because you should wear sunscreen year round, and not enough people realize this (yes, people who live in the Midwest with me, you need sunscreen year round). I am now a passionate believer in the importance of sunscreen, but I didn’t always feel this way.

If I’m being honest (and I am!), I hated sunscreen growing up. I disliked the smell, I disliked the oily feel, and I disliked the inconvenience of constantly needing to reapply. Obviously this is a toxic combination for this blonde-haired, freckled lady (especially since I basically spent my entire childhood outdoors playing softball).

Eventually, as I got older, I mostly got over my dislike of the smell and the oiliness. I think at some point my vanity (goodbye unnecessary wrinkles) outweighed my dislike of those things, and I sucked it up and started wearing sunscreen regularly. I’ll tell my mom it’s because I matured, but really it’s because I didn’t want to badly sun damage my body because I care too much about how I look. But who’s to say? Maybe that is it’s own kind of maturity.

Around the same time that I got over my repulsion toward sunscreen, I found out that really I should be wearing it every day. Young adult Anna couldn’t understand how to regularly wear sunscreen and reapply it with her makeup, and even though I probably only wore makeup about once a week, I used that as my excuse as to why I couldn’t wear it all the time. Then, I started buying the foundation that had SPF in it and I acted like that was sufficient, even though I knew that SPF needed reapplied regularly and I had read many articles explaining that the SPF found in makeup usually doesn’t cover what you need anyway.

Sometime during my college years, I finally held myself accountable and thought about why I was refusing to wear sunscreen like I knew I should be, and I realized it was because my skin usually reacted terribly with the normal drugstore brands that I used every summer on the softball diamonds. I knew there was no way that was what all the beauty experts were using on their faces, and I knew my reasoning for not wearing sunscreen was logical, but there was also a logical solution. At this point, I began my research. It didn’t take long for me to discover that sunscreens existed that didn’t smell terrible or leave your skin oily and gross feeling. In fact, there were sunscreens that were formulated just for your face and even meant to be reapplied over your makeup.

Let me tell you, this was a game changer for me. I used a gift card to a beauty store and I purchased my first for-face sunscreen. It was pricey, but I soon found out it was worth it. I now own multiple bottles of beauty expert approved sunscreen and I love them and I wear them year round just like all those beauty articles I read so long ago told me too.

Don’t worry, though, I still have work to do. I’m still working on my reapplying game, and if that’s something you’ve mastered, please tell me your secrets!

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Summer Is Ending, But The Summer Feeling Doesn’t Have To

Beauty, Home, Lifestyle, Style

It’s officially August, which means that summer is sizzling to its end. For some people, that means heading back to school. For others, it means ending their vacations, or it possibly means sending their kids back to school. For me, it means returning to school as an educator.

Like everyone else with a career, my summers aren’t spent free of work. I’ve spent a lot of time working on licensure and professional development opportunities. Regardless of my work this summer, these next couple months usher me into a period of constant work, as I prepare and begin this coming school year. One thing that I’ve learned from being a teacher is that it can be really hard to balance your time (I have no clue how so many of my coworkers and friends with kids handle it). And I know, that as true as this is for me, it is also true for others, especially as we leave the summer and it’s time of adventuring and relaxation.

Through my time as a teacher, I’ve learned to deeply value intentional “me” time, as well as surrounding myself with things that help me relax or bring about intentional relaxing practices. If I’m honest, often when I’m busy and stressed, I’m not in the mindset to find something that will help me relax. Or sometimes my husband sees that I’m stressed and wants to help me relax. Because of this, I’ve developed an Amazon wishlist. It’s an easy go-to, and I’m not the only one who thinks having a wishlist on hand is a good idea.

Today, I’m going to share a few items off my wishlist that I think you might enjoy, that might help you relax as well.

1. Meaningful Artwork

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My sister made this cute little pot for me and it’s just the best thing! Sorry, there’s no link for this one! But I truly believe that art (and in this case pottery) can bring people so much joy. I love looking at and it’s lovely aesthetics. Blues are my favorite, and this one means even more because my sister made it.

2. Ban.do Work It Out Water Bottle

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I know I struggle to stay hydrated once I start working if I don’t actively carry a water bottle around with me. Real story: I had a few students last year who used to scold me for not drinking enough fluids. So I’m working on it, and the inspirational words will help me move forward in my goals (both about hydration and otherwise).

3. Cravings: Hungry For More, By Chrissy Tiegen

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So Chrissy’s latest cookbook isn’t out yet, and it won’t be until September, but I have this on my preorder list because I know it’s going to be great. I already love cooking all of the recipes from her first book, and I’m not the only one who loves them! All my friends and family, who I cook for, love them too. Chrissy is the person who taught me to enjoy cooking, to not let it stress me out, and instead take my time and find pleasure in the process. That reason alone has made me a lifetime supporter of her cookbooks.

4. Farmacy Natural Facemasks

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If you don’t know my love of skincare, then obviously you don’t know me and haven’t read much of my writing. Seriously, I’ve already blogged about how  important skincare is to me multiple times. But, I’m really eager to try this collection Farmacy facemasks. I love Farmacy as a brand. They use natural, clean ingredients, which is important to me. I also love that this selection includes soothing, brightening, and deep moisture (all things my skin will definitely need during the school year).

5. Be You Boxed Calendar

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I’ve always loved quotes, and I have always felt inspired by other people’s words. A calendar like this would is a great addition to a work desk, something to find words of wisdom in every day.

6. IGK Rich Kid Coconut Oil Gel

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I’m really bad about regularly styling my hair on a regular basis once I start my regular 7:30 to 3:30 hours. I got this hair product as a sample, and I instantly loved it. I have naturally wavy to curly hair patterns, and a great product like this can make the biggest difference when it comes to getting the most out of every minute in my morning.

 

So that’s it! If you want to check out my list, you can see the rest of it here. I hope that as your summer comes to an end, you find ways to milk every ounce of adventure and relaxation out of it, and even more, I hope that you can find a way to extend the spirit of summer throughout the rest of 2018!

 

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Things I Love

Beauty, Home, Lifestyle

Loyal readers, thank you for your patience. Eric and I have been undergoing some major life changes (hello, home ownership), and so blogging has taken a back seat to packing, and cleaning, and moving. Luckily, I need a break from unpacking and there’s nowhere I’d rather be than at my blog. Unfortunately for me, because I’ve been so busy, taking pictures to upload to my blog has also fallen to the wayside. I wish I was on top of things enough to remember to do everything, but I know that’s just not possible. I’m doing the best I can, and I’m happy with what I AM accomplishing.

This post is going to be in list format. It will most likely be short and sweet. I hope you’ll read it and you’ll love it, and it’ll be helpful to you. Because I feel like so much has happened in the time that I’ve been gone, I’m going to try to catch you up on my favorite recent home, beauty, health, etc. finds. Without further ado . . .

The Things I’ve Been Loving Recently:

Glossier Balm Dot Com – Birthday – $12

 

While Balm Dot Com comes in a wonderful assortment of flavors, the one I ordered is Birthday. It smells and tastes like cake, and it’s shimmery. I love it. There’s really no tint, just shimmer, so if you’re looking for something with some color this isn’t for you. Some reviews said that the glittery tube started rubbing off in people’s purses and bags, and I have found this to be the case, but it really doesn’t bother me. The inside of my bags aren’t as neat as they should be anyway, and I don’t buy beauty products mainly for their packaging so this still works for me. It’s definitely not a big enough downside to keep me from ordering it. Other people have found that the cost feels hefty for essentially a tube of Vaseline. I personally think the price is fair, but I also love Fresh’s $24 Lip Treatment, which makes Balm Dot Com significantly cheaper for me. I will say that I mostly use Balm Dot Com for moisturizing, but it isn’t great for outdoor summer use because it doesn’t have any SPF. Balm Dot Com is great at moisturizing my lips and I love that, but I need some SPF protection too!

Rachel Allene Candle Collab with Candelles

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I just checked Rachel’s shop and I don’t see any candles listed there currently, but if she does another collaboration in the future with Candelles, you can be sure I’ll be participating. I ordered one of her mystery boxes earlier this year, and I got a Be Mine Candle in my box when it arrived. It was in one of my favorite scents, Fig and Sugar (you can order a non-collab version of the scent in that link), and it’s cute as pie (even though you can’t get one of Rachel’s candles, you should totally check out her shop for lots of other cute things like this pin, this tank top, or this meal planner). I’ve been burning it constantly in the new house (because the previous home owners left it kind of dirty and smelly, but that’s another story for another day). The point is that this candle has brought pretty smells into my house and made me happy.

Binny’s Coconut Butter – Coffee Macaroon – $13.45

 

For year’s I’ve been making a conscience effort to be thoughtful and careful about what I put on my face and the rest of my body. I wrote about how I came to that point here. I am lucky to grow up in a family where my mom often made homemade dinners using home grown ingredients. I’m even luckier to get free, healthily grown beef (free of hormones and additives) as a Christmas present every year from my parents. But recently, I’ve found that I’m choosing convenience over health when it comes to what I put into my body. And I want to make sure I’m being thoughtful in regards to the meals that I prepare for my husband and I. That being said, my husband is already very against food groups like vegetables but insists he’ll eat anything as long as it tastes good. So one of my first “healthy” purchases was Binny’s Coconut Butter in the Coffee Macaroon flavor. It’s delicious. I love the texture and the taste. It’s filling, and I love the simple ingredients that are in it. It makes me feel so much better about putting it in my body! I’m eager to try the brand’s other flavors too!

Ban.do Sunblock Phone Case – $32

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I’ve needed a new phone case for awhile, and I’ve been obsessed with Ban.do for awhile, so buying a phone case from them seemed like a natural and easy fit. Especially when I found out that they have a sunblock phone case. Guys, I’m a believer in sunscreen. You can hardly get through any conversations with me regarding the outdoors or summer without me mentioning it. This phone case allows me to live my truth. But, if sunblock isn’t your thing, they also have lots of other cute styles including coffee cups, cassette tapes, and floral cases.

Bamboo Toothbrushes – GoWoo – $12.89

 

Along with trying to cover and fill myself with healthy things, I’ve also spent the last couple years trying to make changes to help the environment. I believe that I am a steward of the earth, and I know that I have not been doing enough of my part. One simple and small change I can make is switching over to bamboo toothbrushes. Our normal, plastic toothbrushes never disappear. Every toothbrush I’ve ever used is sitting in a landfill somewhere, and that makes me incredibly sad. One of the biggest problems I’ve faced in being more environmentally conscious is the high prices that come with buying things that are good for the earth. That’s not the case with bamboo toothbrushes. They are biodegradable and they are affordable. The link above is for a four pack. Isn’t that exciting?! There’s lot’s of brands out there, but this was a quick and affordable option for me. I’m also looking into switching to stasher bags. If you have any other affordable earth-friendly switches for me, please let me know!

 

Alright, y’all, that’s all I have for now. If you have things that you’ve been loving, please let me know, because I’d love to hear from you. If you try out any of the things that I wrote about above, let me know what you think!

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My Favorite Face Mask (From Hawaii)

Beauty

Wow, can time fly! It feels like just a little bit ago I was returning from my honeymoon, and then I looked up and a month of the school year flew by.

Thinking about my honeymoon made me remember this great face mask that I picked up in Hawaii. I waited to try it until I was back home and my sister was visiting. It made for great sister bonding.

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When Eric and I were in Hawaii we did so many cool things that absolutely reminded us of how great God’s creation is, and it was so worth it; however, I also made Eric take me to a local makeup boutique which was also totally worth it.

The boutique introduced me to some Hawaiian brands. This is when I discovered Leahlani Skincare. At the boutique I picked up Leahlani’s Meli Glow Illuminating Mask.

I absolutely loved it. My sister liked the smell and color, but didn’t love that it was sticky (it has honey in it). Ultimately, we both loved how it made our skin feel and look  afterwards.

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I wish I had a picture with her too, but she was very excited and impatient about the whole face mask process!

Leahlani claims that the mask “works at the molecular level to increase blood circulation and oxygenation.” I’m not a scientist, but I can tell you that my skin looked and felt heavenly. The site also says that this mask is good for all skin types but especially for dry or combination skin (that’s me!). I also love that it’s full of vitamins, enzymes, oils, and clays.

My only complaint: it drips off your face while you wait. Maybe I put it on too think, but I do think it is probably due to the mask’s consistency. Was this a deal breaker for me? No, not at all. I’d just be careful with what clothes I was wearing, furniture I was sitting on, etc. Next time I’m going to try applying a thinner layer.

Overall, at $48 I think the product is well worth the cost. Plus, I can’t lie: this product will always remind me of my honeymoon; therefore, it’ll always have sentimental value.

Bronzing Sunscreen (And A Story)

Beauty

So this weekend, Eric and I took my youngest sister to a water park. Lot’s of fun ensued. We had a blast. And like all good people, who are deeply concerned with skincare, we reapplied sunscreen regularly. Like a lot. Especially to my little sister. There was no way that I was taking her back to my parents with a sunburn.

Luckily, this was no big deal because we had a bunch of sunscreen leftover from our honeymoon in Hawaii (I’m very pale so I stocked up). But all good things come to end. And so mid-way through one of our sunscreen applications, I finished off one of our spray sunscreens on my sister.

As I opened a new bottle and started spraying Eric, I noticed how the finish of the sunscreen looked so different than that of the other stuff. My sister and Eric are both much tanner than I am. I said something along the lines of, “Ooh, Eric, look how smoothly this goes on you. It sprays so evenly!”

Eric looked down in shock and shouted, “What’s in this stuff?”

That’s when I finally looked closer. The smooth finish was because the spray looked tinted, not it’s normal glossy finish. I told Eric to rub the sunscreen in, and after he did, he looked at his hand.

“Eew it’s sparkly,” he said, “and tinted, like makeup.”

I looked down at the bottle of sunscreen in my hand. And at that moment I came face-to-face with a truth that recently kept coming more apparent: I need to read product’s labels more thoroughly. That, or I guess you could argue, that product’s needed to keep their labels more simplistic. Either or really.

What I bought was Pacifica Coconut Probiotic SPF 30 Water Resistant 80 Minute Sunscreen. What I didn’t realize I bought was Sunscreen BRONZER.

I had accidentally covered Eric in bronzer, sunscreen bronzer, but bronzer nonetheless. And for a few seconds he was convinced I did it on purpose.

“Is this makeup?” he asked in disbelief.

“No,” I said, “it’s sunscreen.”

“But it’s bronzer,” he said. “Isn’t there makeup bronzer?”

“Yes, but it’s different,” I said.

I finally convinced him that I didn’t purposely cover him in bronze toned sparkles by reminding him how pale I was and badly bronzer sunscreen would look on my skin.

In the end, the show had to go on, and we had a bunch more rides to go on so I finished applying the bronze sunscreen to Eric and then applied it to myself.

Eric walked around the park sparkling and I walked around with orange legs.

But the most important thing is this: We all had fun, and the sunscreen worked and no one got burned!

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How To Choose Skin Care and Makeup Products That Are Good For You

Beauty

Hi guys! I’m really happy to say that recently, Hello Giggles published an essay I wrote called “How Skin Care Unexpectedly Led Me To Self-Care.” This essay is so important to me because not only is it a part of an important larger conversation, but also because it also allowed me to reflect more deeply on my own habits.

Here’s the thing, in the essay, I talk about an allergic reaction I had to makeup (I’ve mentioned it previously on my blog too). Because of the allergic reaction, I realized I needed to be a lot more careful about what I put on my sensitive skin. Pairing my need for caution with my love for beauty, I quickly spiraled into a world of skin care and beauty research, and before long, I realized how gross the ingredients are in some of our skin care and beauty products. Honestly, it was shocking.

Soon after realizing how gross some ingredients were, I started searching for brands who sought to make safe and healthy products (If I don’t want an allergic reaction from my makeup, I can guarantee you that I also don’t want cancer from my makeup). Before long, I started falling in love with new brands. What I wasn’t falling in love with was their price tags.

At this point, I felt caught in the middle. Do I do something that is safe for me and will make me feel good, though it will cost a lot? Or do I do something that will make my wallet feel good, even though it might not make me feel good? If I’m being honest (and I am), usually my choice is to do both and try to find a healthy balance.

My first step in trying to find balance, came in the form of a Beauty Counter consultant. Beauty Counter is a brand that strives to create clean, healthy, good makeup. I’ve tried their stuff, and I like it, but even more helpful is their “The Never List.” This list contains a bunch of ingredients that are commonly included in beauty, skincare, and household products.

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The consultant also introduced me to a great app. EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database is a lifesaver (possibly literally). You can download it to your phone, scan cosmetic products at the store, and it will give you their health rating, along with a list of the dangerous ingredients included in the product. This app has changed the way I shop for cosmetic products.

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Now here comes the next truth, before I started splurging on makeup, I started splurging on skin care. Why? Because if you ask any makeup artist ever, they’ll tell you that the best thing you can do for your face is start with good skin.

Before I invested in one of my all-time favorite moisturizers, I tried a drugstore brand. I even did my research first. It was my first time using a moisturizer, but I didn’t feel like it was doing much for me so after a while I decided to step up my game. And oh boy, when I did, it made all the difference. My moisturizer convinced me that sometimes you do get what you pay for and so I started trying different cleansers and serums, usually testing samples before buying the full size.

So where am I at now? I have a mix of brands. Some higher end, with higher price tags, and some are easy to find and easy on the wallet drugstore brands. BUT, regardless of their price or brand, they’re all good for me.

What’s my advice for finding skincare and makeup products that are truly good for you?

  1. Find products with healthy, safe ingredients. If you’re putting something unsafe ingredients on your skin, then it’s not good for, simple as that.
  2. Shop around and test out products before you commit to them. You don’t need to ever invest in an expensive product without testing it first. Many stores, like Sephora, offer samples. Make sure you love the product before you buy it full sized.
  3. Make sure the product works well with your skin. It doesn’t matter who recommends you a product, or what ingredients are in it, if the product doesn’t sit well with your skin, then it’s not for you. We all have such different, beautiful faces and skin, and we are all looking for something specific in our makeup and skin care. Just because someone else loves something, it doesn’t mean you have to.

 

So there you have it! Now you know how I came to find makeup and skin care products that worked for me, along with the tips that I have to offer you!

 

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