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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Fall Things

Lifestyle

I love summer and I’m always sad to see it go, but when fall arrives, I’m reminded just how much of a fall person I am. It’s like I finally come alive again. Whenever October rolls around, I’m reminded of the Anne of Green Gables quote: “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” And it’s true. It’s a month where you can truly feel the earth change, and we’re caught in this limbo between the growing season and the season of rest. We get pumpkins and apples and sweaters and jackets and booties. And we get moody lighting.

Things that are less fun about the coming season: coldness, allergies, colds and other illnesses, loss of sunlight, and dry skin. But we’re not going to focus on those things – unless we’re focusing on them to solely combat them.

So what am I looking forward to this coming season? Well, cooking out of Chrissy Teigen’s new cookbook Cravings 2. My husband got it for me as a sweet surprise gift, and I haven’t had time to cook out of it yet, but I have already poured over every page. Simply put, I’m dying to delve in.

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Also, her new Target collection of cookware? I can’t wait to acquire some it. Chrissy’s color scheme already fits the colors of my kitchen and my aesthetic taste in general.

On another note, if you remember my ChloSoup blueberry pie earrings from earlier this year, you’ll want to know that I got a fall update. That’s right, I got myself a pair of pumpkin pie earrings from ChloSoup and they don’t disappoint. I’ve already worn them so much and I’ve received a ton of compliments.

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But, I mean, how could you not compliment them? They’re adorable. The creator of the brand has tons of adorable products and just released a Halloween line, along with some general fall and Thanksgiving products.

What am I on the lookout for? Eye products. Guys, my eyes are killing me they’re so puffy and wrinkly, and I’m glad I have big eyes, but I need to be able to smile without losing my eyes in pools of skin, which is what I feel like is happening now. I’m sure my allergies don’t help, and I’m sure hydrating will also help. But if you have any tips, tricks, or products that you love and recommend please let me know. I will be indebted to you forever if I can smile big again.

Finally, I want to leave you with something that I am extremely thankful for right now: dahlias. It’s getting cold and blustery, but guess what, my husband picked these pretty things out of my garden just the other day. I’m thankful for God creating things that grow in periods of cold and darkness, a reminder that we too can grow in difficult periods.

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Oh, and one final, final thing – Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are expecting a baby?! I’m so extremely excited and happy for them, and I just want Meghan to have a safe and joyful pregnancy. Congrats to those two love birds.

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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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