Dry Brushing: What you Need to Know

Have you ever heard of dry brushing?  Well, it’s exactly like it sounds – you use a large bristled brush and massage over your dry skin before taking a shower.  Sounds weird, I know, but I’ve been doing it for several months now and believe that it has not only made my skin softer and smoother but has reduced my cellulite!

dry brushes
Dry brushing can help soften your skin and improve your circulation.

Let’s break it down:  there are not any scientific studies to confirm my results; however if you look up dry brushing the benefits listed are that it removes dead skin cells (think manual exfoliation for your entire body), stimulates circulation (similar to benefits of massage), which helps your you body systems perform at peak efficiency, and boosts your immune system (we can all use that this flu season, am I right?)

Now I don’t do this every single day, but at least three times a week, before getting in the shower, I brush my body, starting from my feet to my legs, using long upward strokes (it is recommended to always use upward strokes and always brush toward your heart). I’m going to be brutally honest here:  it is not an enjoyable, spa-like feeling.  Bristles on dry skin = uncomfortable.  It’s not painful, but don’t expect it to feel relaxing.  I will say that the longer I’ve been doing this the more I am used to how it feels and it’s just another step in my beauty routine, kind of like flossing your teeth.

My whole philosophy on this is that it can’t hurt, so why not try it?  I don’t always need a scientific study to convince me of something’s effectiveness.  There is a lot of scientific evidence in terms of benefits of massage, so I do think that logically some of that translates to dry brushing.  Also, I know that regular exfoliation of your skin is good for you so that knowledge made this sound like a viable option.  The brush I use is a $5 one from Ecotools.  You can get fancy with the type of brush and spend a lot more but the one I have works great for me.  Here’s another Ecotools one with a handle here.  I would say that if you have extremely sensitive skin or eczema that this would NOT be a good option for you.  It may exacerbate your skin condition instead of helping.

I’m sharing my personal experience with you so that you can decide if dry brushing is something you want to check out.  My skin has never felt so smooth and now, in the winter, my legs are not showing dry flakes as they usually do this time of year.  That’s really the only evidence I need that dry brushing is working for me!

Do you dry brush?  If so, I’d love to hear about your experience.  Leave a comment!

Review: Herbal Essences Bio Renew Shampoo and Foam Conditioner

A few weeks ago I was sent the Herbal Essences Bio Renew shampoo and foam conditioner for free to try, thanks to Influenster!  The first thing I noticed with this product is the delicious scent – it’s so fresh and light!  On their website, Herbal Essences describes the scent as “delicate notes of ginger, floral bouquets and clean musk.”  The shampoo is light as well.  It lathers nicely but is not heavy and my hair feels clean after using it.  I love that it is clear and so is the packaging, so you can really see when you are running low.  The shampoo I had before is in solid packaging so I can only guess how much is left by how light it feels which can be a bit annoying.

Herbal Essences bio renew shampoo and conditioner
I am loving the new bio renew shampoo and foam conditioner from Herbal Essences!

The Herbal Essences conditioner is what I was most excited to try because it is not a traditional conditioner but a foam conditioner.  The bottle looks like a can of hair mousse and it dispenses exactly the same way.  The directions say to use a palm-sized amount and apply from root to tip.  Once you do that you feel it absorbing into your hair.  It is very easy to rinse out; does not have the slippery feel most traditional conditioners have.  The product boasts more volume with using a foam conditioner, as it is lighter and doesn’t weigh down hair.  I personally really like the foam.  This particular scent/formula that I use is for fine hair, but they have other scents available including:  White Grapefruit and Mosa Mint, Green Tea and Cucumber and Rosemary and Herb.

The Herbal Essences products are also good for color treated hair, which I have.  And it has no parabens which is important to me when selecting a product.  I definitely notice that my hair is shinier after using the product.

So my final verdict is A plus!  Even though I received the product for free, I really do enjoy it and would definitely purchase once I am out of it.   So if you are in the market for a new shampoo/conditioner or even just want to try out the foam conditioner for yourself, I’d highly recommend the Herbal Essences line!

New Holy Grail Moisturizer from Peter Thomas Roth

I hope everyone is staying warm and getting through the winter months.  If you’ve checked out my winter skincare post, then you know the products that I love and need to keep my skin from drying out!  Recently, I changed up my moisturizer and all I can say is WOW!  I don’t think my face has ever been so moisturized at this time of year!  Let me introduce you to Peter Thomas Roth’s Water Drench! This moisturizer is like magic in a jar!

Peter Thomas Roth moisturizer
My new holy grail moisturizer for winter!

This product retails for $52 (I found it on Amazon (affiliate link) for $48 here) and contains 1.6 fl. oz.  It boasts having 30% hyaluronic acid which draws “atmospheric vapor” to keep your skin moisturized for 72 hours.  That’s a pretty lofty claim!  The texture of this moisturizer is light and slippery – it almost feels like a primer going on the skin.  It is not heavy, greasy or sticky.  I do find that it absorbs quickly and my sunscreen goes on top with no issues.  I don’t know if the 72 hour claim is accurate as I don’t keep it on that long, but I do know that my skin is showing no signs of dryness or flaking and feels very plump and hydrated all day, even on the coldest days!  That is a first for me!  I’ve used some great moisturizers in the past, but none could seem to keep my skin from flaking on those really cold, blistery days.  This moisturizer is one I use confidently, with my usual Retin-A routine (you can read more about that here) and that is what makes me most excited about this product!

Don’t get me wrong, I am counting down the days to warmer weather, but in the meantime, I’ve found a fantastic moisturizer that has my skin looking like it’s already spring!  What holy grail products are part of your winter skincare routine?

Five Warm, Cozy Tops You Need for Winter

Living in the Northeast I definitely get a taste of all the seasons, which I love.  However, the subarctic temps that we’ve had this winter have made me really evaluate items in my wardrobe that keep me feeling the warmest and coziest whether I’m just hanging out at home or going out!  If you are having the same struggle, I’ve gathered my top five coziest tops to share with you.  Here’s to all of us being warm and cozy all winter:

 

Barefoot dreams cardigan
You’ll be dreaming in this Barefoot Dreams cardigan!

Barefoot Dreams Circle Cardigan – I first heard about Barefoot Dreams on YouTube.  It is a line sold at Nordstrom and they make robes, sweaters and blankets that are supposed to be incredibly soft and warm.  I purchased the robe and the circle cardigan last year and I have to say that everything is TRUE!  I am always cold, year-round, and this is the only material that truly keeps me warm!  I wear the circle cardigan all the time and not only is it cute, but comfy and warm.  (It also washes really well!) If you don’t have anything by Barefoot Dreams I’d highly recommend it!  It is a bit spendy, but usually some of the items get marked down during Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale (end of summer).  There are many great colors available.  I have the color “Stone,” which is a neutral beige/cream.

Gap fringe cardigan
Stand out from the crowd in this Gap cardigan.

Gap Fringe open Cardigan – This was a recent find at the Gap and was marked down during one of the many after-holiday sales that have been going on.  It’s warm and comfy but also stylish.  I don’t like cardigans that look frumpy, and this one has a special twist with a little fringe detail that goes up and down the sweater.  You could dress it up if you wanted to but still stay warm and cozy!

 

 

 

This sweatshirt is feminine and cozy. Love the rose gold zipper!!

Athleta Cozy Karma Sweatshirt (only color left on website is black)- This sweatshirt is like a slice of heaven!  First can we talk about the beautiful wheat color and the rose gold zipper???  But let’s not stop there!  You have the beautiful criss-cross detail in the front and the back comes down long enough to cover your bum so they are great with leggings! Now for the cozy and warm part – there is a fuzzy fleece inside that is so nice around your neckline and in the sweatshirt.  This thing is WARM!  It also has the holes in the sleeve for your thumbs if you like to wear that way.  This sweatshirt is over $100 but I am really picky and am so happy with the quality and versatility of this piece.  I am already getting so much use out of it!

Athleta honeycomb sweater
This simple sweater from Athleta is so comfy!

Athleta Thermal Honeycomb sweater – I certainly have been doing some shopping at Athleta this season.  I am fairly new to the brand and am really impressed with the fit and quality of their clothes.  This split hem thermal sweater is perfect for lounging around the house or running errands in!  (It is also on SALE!)  It is long enough to wear with leggings but dressy enough so that you look put together.  Casual dressing doesn’t need to be sloppy to be comfortable!

 

 

There’s nothing cozier than a classic cowlneck in the softest material!

LOFT Cowlneck Top (similar) – I found a cozy cowlneck top recently at LOFT.  I’m not sure if mine is still available, but I found something similar on their website and it’s currently 60% off!  This material is not bulky, but so soft and cozy you could sleep in it!  You can wear it with pajama bottoms, leggings or jeans, whatever your mood or style!  Plus, I personally love a cowlneck.  I think it’s a classic, flattering style that is in fashion year after year!

So, I hope you have found some inspiration to be cozy and stylish all winter long!  Please share some of your favorites in the comments.  Let’s all help each other stay warm and comfy this season!

New Favorite Products from Thrive Causemetics

I’ve recently been introduced to a line of makeup I have not used before called Thrive Causemetics and can I just say that I’m in love!  The two products I’ve picked up from Thrive Causemetics have soared up to all-time favorites in my collection!  I definitely will be trying more from their range, but let me tell you about my awesome finds and why I’m so impressed with this brand!

Infinity Waterproof Eyebrow Liner, $23

This product literally blew my socks off!  I’ve been a long-time user of the Anastasia Brow Wiz but this liner is now the one I’m using every day!  It gives a very natural look and the packaging is a bit more durable than the Brow Wiz (the spoolies always break off on me and I don’t like how the caps crack.)  It boasts “Buildable Smart Pigments” that adjust to the right shade for your brow and ingredients that encourage brow growth, which I certainly need.  I’ve been using this for about a month now and absolutely love it!  I feel the shade is a better match to my brow than some of the other products I have tried, it has great wear time and looks natural!  Also I like the packaging.  They have a clear cap over the spoolie vs. the pencil itself which other products I’ve used do not have and the overall packaging is very sturdy.

Thrive Causemetics brow pencil and mascara
This brow pencil and mascara are my current favs.

Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara, $24

If you’ve read some previous posts, then you know that a few months ago I tried lash extensions.  I liked how they looked, but the long-term maintenance and cost made me decide to not continue to use them.  Also, once all the extensions came off, I noticed that my natural lashes were not as long and strong as they were before.  I had heard some good things about this mascara and decided to give it a try and I was NOT disappointed!  Something about this wand literally finds every lash, even ones you didn’t even know you had and looks so nice with no clumps or flakes.  It also has an ingredient called Orchid Stem Cell complex that is supposed to help lashes grow and stay strong.  I absolutely LOVE it!

About the Brand

There are so many great makeup brands out there, but what touched me as unique and special about this one is that for every product that is purchased, Thrive Causemetics donates one to a woman in need.  Women fighting cancer or victims of domestic abuse are some that are helped by this brand and I love that they have a greater purpose than just the makeup.  Their slogan of “Beauty with a Purpose” is something that they truly bring to life.  Some of their products are even named after some of the courageous women that they have helped!  The brand is vegan and 100% cruelty free, which is another quality I like to see in makeup!

 

How to Tackle Challenging Tasks

tackle challenging tasks
No matter what the task you are up for the challenge!

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by the thought of doing something that you just avoided it or gave up altogether?  That definitely has been me many times.  Recently though, I was able to accomplish something that I never thought I’d finish, and it felt euphoric once it was done!  I figured I’d share how I tackled things to maybe inspire you to revisit something that has you pretty anxious and GET IT DONE!

The task I had to do was clean out my garage to make room for my car.  I had just sold my mom’s house (after cleaning that out and planning an Estate Sale) and was storing many items from that house in the garage so my car could no longer fit (note that I already had a storage unit full as well, so that was not an option).  Imagine staring at a huge pile of stuff filling your ENTIRE garage.  Typically, I’d meltdown and ignore things because it was so overwhelming to me.  Plus I was already exhausted from all the steps I had to take to get the house sold in the first place.  And at first, melt down was what I did.  However, the main thing I did NEXT that was the key to completing this task was to BREAK IT DOWN into smaller, manageable steps.

I thought, what little things do I need to do in order to clear out the space?  I needed to inventory what was there and decide if I was keeping it or not and if keeping, where should it go? I decided that spending a little time each week doing this instead of trying to do it in one shot was the best way to approach it as it did not seem so impossible that way.  I also set some mini-deadlines for myself to make sure I stayed on track, because it was easy to prioritize something else I had to do above this each week to avoid an unpleasant task.  (I know you do that too!)

Celebrate your small victories.  The world was not built in a day, and this task was not done in a day.  It actually took me 7 months, but it was done!  Each time I saw a little more space in that garage, it motivated me to keep going.  It’s like dieting:  in the beginning it’s the hardest, but once you start seeing those results, it keeps you going because you know your efforts are working!

There were several things I had to donate or dispose of and others that I had a chance to find room for in my house, but it all started coming together.  I originally had targeted the end of October to complete the task, but some things came up and it ended up being done in December.  My main motivator at that point was getting it done before the weather turned really cold (which would make spending time in the garage that much more unpleasant!)  But the takeaway here is that it did GET DONE.

So to sum it up:

Break it down.  Take that task and separate it into smaller, more manageable steps.

Set deadlines.  Make mini-deadlines along the way and hold yourself accountable!  If curveballs come your way (they often do), just make the appropriate adjustments and keep going.  The worst thing you can do is let a setback frustrate you so much that you give up trying.  Did I mention that my project took 7 MONTHS to finish?

Celebrate those victories!  When you meet one of those deadlines, celebrate getting a little closer to tackling that task.

Remember, no matter how overwhelming something feels, it is not impossible.  Just focus on one task at a time and it will slowly come together.  Make 2018 the year you tackle those challenges – trust me, you’ll feel so much better that you did!

How to Make Resolutions You Will Actually Achieve

New Year's resolutions
Make goals you can achieve in 2018!

I really hate New Year’s and always have.  There’s always pressure on making these amazing plans and the whole thought of starting new and making resolutions that last a month (if that) feels like a joke to me.  However, I DO believe that reflecting on where you are and what you want to achieve and setting goals (I prefer using goals instead of resolutions) for yourself is a good thing if it’s done the right way and not just because January 1 is approaching.  When I look at what I set out to do in 2017 , for the first time, I actually feel accomplished!  In years’ past,  I have looked at an overly ambitious list of things that I never even attempted to do past January or forgot about.  So I’m going to share with you the techniques I used that helped me achieve my goals for 2017:

Come up with a theme.  This was so key to my 2017.  Instead of making a random list of things you want to do, like lose 5 lbs., create your own theme, mantra or mission for 2018.  For example, my 2017 theme was “Rebuild.”  I had lost my mom toward the latter half of 2016 and left my job, so my goal was to focus on settling my mom’s estate and just figuring out what my life looked like without her and without working full time.  I had some other goals, but all seemed to fit the overall theme I had.  For this year, my theme is “Explore.”  Now that I’ve rebuilt my foundation in 2017, I want to try some new things, continue to grow this blog and remodel my house so I think this is a good theme for 2018.

Be realistic.  It’s good to have some challenging goals, but they also need to be realistic or all you are doing is setting yourself up to fail and feel really crappy about it.  If you need to lose 20 lbs, don’t make your goal-“To have a body like Britney Spears in 6 months.” (Total sidebar but did you guys see her perform on New Year’s Eve – she has got it going on!)

Less is more!  You don’t need to have a list of 20 things you want to accomplish in the new year.  Focus on 3-5 key things you really want to commit to work on and focus on those.  You will be more likely to have them in the front of your mind because there won’t be too many and it makes it easier to focus and reach them, as they will be the key things you are passionate about doing.  Write them out with a few bullet points and put it somewhere that you can physically see them every day.  Out of sight is out of mind and we want your goals to be a part of your daily life!

It’s a marathon, not a sprint.  The goals you set in January don’t need to be achieved by February.  If you have a long term goal, that’s ok, but you may want to break it down into smaller, milestone goals to keep you motivated and prevent you from feeling so overwhelmed that you give up altogether.

Don’t be hard on yourself.  Sometimes things come up that are not expected and some of your goals may need to be re-prioritized but it’s ok.  As long as you are moving in the right direction and doing the best  you can do, you should be proud of yourself.

Cheers to you and may 2018 be a great year for you to accomplish your goals!!!

 

5 Great Red Lipsticks

The countdown to Christmas is on!  This is the time of year that I rock my red lips and nails!  I’ve gathered up five of my favorite red lipsticks to share and hopefully get you in a festive mood!

NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in “Cruella” $27- The NARS lip pencils are awesome because you have a liner and lipstick all in one.  And, with red, staying neat around the edges of your lips can be a challenge, and with a bold color like this, it has to look right!  This is a deeper red, with more brown/burgundy in it.  NARS describes it as a scarlet red.  It has a matte finish and is long-wearing, which is a plus.  I don’t find this formula to be drying, as can happen with some matte shades.  If you really like this formula, they do have some other shades in the red family to choose from as well.

red lipstick swatches
It’s raining red! Colors from top to bottom: Tarte Pride, Maybelline Crimson Crush, Colorur Pop Trust Me, Bite Beauty Gazpacho and NARS Cruella.

Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche in “Gazpacho” $26- Bite Beauty is a brand known for using natural, edible ingredients in their products, so I feel good putting their lipsticks and balms on my lips.  The Amuse Bouche line is very popular and has tons of different shades but the Gazpacho is a beautiful bright bluish red.  This lipstick will absolutely light up your face and give you a festive look.  The formula is extremely moisturizing and has a slight sheen to it.

Colour Pop Lippie Stix in “Trust Me” $5- If you’ve read my other posts, then you know I love the Colour Pop brand!  It’s priced along a drug store brand but available online.  Hey for $5, this is actually a better price than some drugstore lipsticks!  Recently Sephora has started carrying their line as well, but this shade is not available there.  The lippie stix are small, longer shaped lipsticks that look like a fat pencil, which I like for throwing in my bag.  Also, the small tip allows for more control when applying, because, as I mentioned earlier, red is a color that needs to be applied precisely to your lips to look its best.  Of all the reds, I think this shade is the truest red – again this is a VERY matte formula, so if you don’t care for matte formulas, that’s ok, the next two I am sharing are very shiny!

Maybelline “Crimson Rush” $5.59- I love this formula and you can get this right in the drugstore.  It has a satin finish but does wear well.  The red shade has a slight pink undertone.  This exact shade was a limited edition but there are a couple of new red shades in this collection that are worth checking out!

Tarte Lip Sculptor in “Pride” (set $34)- This was part of a lip sculptor gift set I bought from tarte and I was so pleasantly surprised that such a gorgeous holiday red was included!  If you aren’t familiar with the lip sculptor, it is a dual -sided lipstick – one side the lipstick, the other a colored gloss.  This color is gorgeous with just the lipstick side, but when you add the gloss – BAMM!  Your lips are so plump and shiny looking you will be party-ready in a snap.  Plus the packaging on this (a Moroccan-themed pattern is on the lipstick) is so beautiful!  Unfortunately this shade is not sold individually, but I can tell you the set has four other shades that are beautiful and wearable.

What kind of makeup/ red lipsticks do you like to wear around the holidays?  I would love to read your comments!  Happy Holidays everyone.

Best Eyeliners for Hazel/Green Eyes

Do you know that feeling when you buy an eyeliner and it just flatters you in a special way?  Well, that’s how I feel about these five eyeliners.  I have hazel eyes, so, for me, colors in the burgundy family really make them pop.  Do you remember learning the color wheel in school?  Well, basically you look for colors opposite each other on the color wheel to determine what best complements your eye color.  Blue eyes usually look great with shadows/liners in the gold or copper family, for example.  Have brown eyes?  Well, you’re in luck because most colors look great on brown eyes!

Everyone’s eyes are so unique that even two people with hazel eyes might not experience the same result but I can tell you that these liners  are awesome!

For your flattering shade, just look across the color wheel.

 

MAC Costa Riche – This liner is in the brown family but is just warm enough to give those eyes a pop!  I use it in the upper water line also to intensify the effect.

Tarte Amazonian clay Smolder Eyes in Aztec Gold – I was not sure if this liner would work on me since it is an olive greenish color and usually using a similar color as your eyes actually washes out your look.  However, I think the flecks of gold in this color are what do the trick as I have some gold in my eyes.  It is definitely a smoother formula than the MAC pencil.  I use this in my lower water line and smudge under my lash line as well. Unfortunately Tarte doesn’t have this on their website any more, but I did find it on Amazon.

eye liners
The colors! From top to bottom: MAC Costa Riche, Tarte Aztec Gold, Estee Edit Bordeaux, Urban Decay Alkaline and Maybelline Striking Copper.

Estee Edit Eye Kajal in Bold Bordeaux – This is a gorgeous deep wine color and has the added benefit of a dual sided pencil with a  nude color on the other side.  I use the nude color to brighten the inner rims of my eyes and the bottom waterline (this makes you look so awake even on days you really aren’t) and I smudge the Bordeaux color on my lower lash line and upper water line.  This used to be available on Sephora but is not any more.  I want to order a few as back ups I love it so much!

Urban Decay 24/7 in Alkaline – This is in the burgundy family but has a stronger reddish undertone, so it’s less subtle than the other shades.  It can give a slightly reddish look which to some would be unflattering (no one wants to look like they have pink eye) but I like the effect it gives.  (BTW, the Urban Decay lip liners are bomb dot com  too, but that’s a whole different blog post!)

Maybelline Lasting Drama in Striking Copper – this is a beautiful shimmery copper that is so nice for the holidays!  I usually line it under something matte to give the eyes a more festive look.  I think it’s a bit too light to use on it’s own but it is a unique color that I was excited to find in the drugstore!  I think this color would also look stunning on blue eyes!

What eye liners are your favorites?

Great Books to Read and Gift

I have always loved to read, but with adult responsibilities it is sometimes challenging to find the time to enjoy a book.  I have been making time lately and have some great reads to share with you!  If you are getting stressed from the holidays, taking a few minutes to get lost in a book is a great way to relax.  Many, if not all of these books can be found in your local library, or downloaded to an e-reader (I enjoy my books both ways).

good books
Who doesn’t love to curl up with a great book?

Option B – This is by Sheryl Sandberg, who also wrote the awesome book “Lean In,” which focuses on how women can make new opportunities for themselves in business.  Sheryl is the COO of Facebook, and if you follow her in the news, a few years ago her husband, Dave Goldberg, who was CEO at Survey Monkey, died of a heart attack while they were on vacation in Mexico.  He was in his 40s.  Option B talks about how she dealt with this family tragedy, both in her personal life and at work, and how she has found the path to her Option B.  This is a great read for anyone, but especially someone who has experienced something traumatic in their lives, or is struggling with a setback, or struggling with their faith.

Mirror Sisters trilogy by V.C. Andrews- I started getting into V.C.  Andrews last year (no, I never read Flowers in the Attic in high school) and got into this series “The Mirror Sisters.”  Without any spoilers, it explores the lives of two identical twins who were raised to be identical in every way, not just in their appearance.  It’s a pretty juicy psychological thriller – just think what you would do if you were forced to not be an individual in any way!

It’s Always the Husband  by Michele Campbell -This book explores the lives of three best friends who meet in college and the lives they lead after graduating.  There’s a murder…. and lots of twists and turns to see who did it.  This is a great page turner that will have you guessing….is it the husband?!

Dead Woman Walking  by Sharon Bolton – Two sisters go on a hot air balloon ride, witness a crime on the ground and are in an accident…. more danger awaits them once they are on the ground.  This book had me on the edge of my seat with a lot of unexpected twists and turns!  Who committed the crime?  Will the sisters survive the crash?

Gone Without a Trace   by Mary Torjussen – A woman comes home one night, excited to share her promotion news with her live-in boyfriend.  However, when she gets home, there is no sign of him having ever lived in the house.  Is this guy a major douchebag?  I’ll just tell you that things are not as they seem.

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena – Two couples who are neighbors get together for dinner, but after that night no one’s lives are the same again.  What happens?  What I can tell you without any spoilers is that everyone’s got a secret in this story!!

I hope something here has piqued your interest.  As you can tell I’m really into thrillers or murder mysteries lately.  I used to read all the chic lit there was years ago, but my interests have definitely changed.

Remember that books also make great GIFTS so if you haven’t finished your holiday shopping yet, this could be a great idea for the reader in your life!  Or, buy all your friends a copy and start a book club!   I do have some gift guides I put together that you can also check out here and here.

What books have you been loving lately?  Leave a comment!

 

Please note that some of the links in this article are affiliate links.  If you purchase any of those products, I receive a small commission.  This is at no additional cost to you.  I appreciate your support of this blog if you do decide to buy any of these books!