How to Pack Make-up for Vacation: Summer Packing Series #1

What’s in my make-up bag on vacation?

Packing for any trip can be daunting, but how can you decide what make-up products are most important to bring on vacation without lugging your entire collection?  It’s important to think about the season, your destination and what you will be doing to help sort out what to bring.  Also, if you separate your products into categories as I have below, that can also help you stay on track.  I recently returned from a week at the Jersey shore, and want to share what I brought along.  It turned out to be the perfect amount of items; I didn’t forget anything and didn’t over pack!

Face

Most days I used the CeraVe Sunscreen Face Lotion SPF 50 followed by IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC cream SPF 50.  If I’m just going out to grab a coffee or for a walk and don’t want a full face of make-up, I just put on my Obagi tinted SPF 50 sunscreen lotion and go!  For more recommendations on SPF you can check out that blog post here.   For concealer, I use two – Maybelline Age Rewind and Tarte shape Tape.  The combination of these two in my undereye area is perfect!  I set the face with IT Cosmetics Bye Bye pores pressed powder.  It is very travel friendly and is great at keeping skin from looking oily and giving a flawless airbrushed look to the skin.  For bronzer I used NARS Laguna that I have in a palette with Hot Sand highlight.  The two in one is great for travel!  My favorite summer blush is Tarte’s Amazonian Clay blush in the shade “Tipsy.”  It gives the perfect corally-peach flush and it’s goof proof!  I never can put too much on.

Eyes

I brought one eye palette, the e.l.f. Mad for Matte 2.  This is a great travel-friendly size and has all the neutral warm shades I love that can make many great summery looks!  If I was going out to dinner, I’d do a whole look with it, but for a quick look, I’d just use a little light brown color in my crease and I’d be done!  If you want to know my other e.l.f. cosmetics favorites, you can check out that post here.  The elf palette has a black and dark brown color which can be used as eyeliner, but I also threw the Estee Edit Inside Track Eye Kajal in 02 Bold Bordeaux.  This is a double ended liner with the bordeaux color on one side (beautiful for green or hazel eyes) and a cream color on the other which I use to brighten my lower water line and inner corner of the eye.  This is the quickest and easiest way to make you look awake and alert.  (Another mini palette that’s great for travel is the Tartelette tease palette.  It has six shadows and is no bigger than a credit card holder.)  For my brows, I never leave home without Anastasia’s Brow Wiz.  For mascara, I am currently loving Tarte’s Maneater.  It’s not waterproof but I usually don’t care for waterproof formulas in general.  For my other favorite mascaras, you can check out this post.

Lips

I packed a couple of neutral options and one brighter option.  Tarte has a line of lipsticks called color splash lipsticks in a gorgeous turquoise tube!  I have the colors “Daiquiri” (coral) and “Sunkissed” (neutral pinky peach).  I also have my Kokie cosmetics liquid lipstick Lip Poudre in the shade “Infamous.”  For more recommendations on Kokie cosmetics, click here.  I brought one lip pencil that works with all the shades – it’s Urban Decay’s 24/7 glide on lip pencil in the shade “Liar.”  This is the softest, smoothest pencil I have used and it really helps to keep your lipstick from fading.

Tools

Of course my beauty sponge needs to come wherever I am!  As for brushes, I try to keep that simple too.  I have some travel brushes that I have had for years, but basically bring a couple of eye brushes, one to set powder and highlight, and one for blush/bronzer.

Ready to Go!

So there you have it!  I’ve worked to streamline the basics which really had me feeling organized and prepared for anything on my beach vacation.  Stay tuned for future blogs on packing  that will include packing clothes and beach bags for vacation!   Wherever you are headed this summer, I wish you happy packing and fun adventures!

 

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 try some of the products!

How Zumba Saved My Life

At a time when I needed it most, spending an hour dancing around to latin-inspired music every week gave me hope and lifted my spirits.  Instead of taking Xanax to calm my anxiety, I got up, got dressed and went to Zumba class.  And it worked.

Zumba was never my favorite workout.  I had taken a class several years ago and felt like I had two left feet.  Fast forward to November 2016.  I had recently lost my mother unexpectedly,  only a couple of years after losing my dad.  I left my job to focus on settling my mom’s affairs and taking care of my 4 year old son.  Life as I once knew it was totally topsy-turvy and I was trying to get my footing.

I decided to join a gym in my area and, in looking at the group class schedule, noticed a lot of Zumba classes.  Initially, I was a little disappointed as I was used to taking Body Sculpting or Pilates classes.  But, one day I decided to see what it was all about – maybe something had changed from the class I took so many years ago.  Looking back, I’m not sure what made me decide to try that class, but it was a decision that has greatly impacted my life since.

I’m not gonna lie – that first class was tough.  I still felt a bit self-conscious at not knowing the steps, but the group there was so welcoming and the music was a great mix of traditional and contemporary.  I kept going to the classes and found that each time it was a little easier to follow along.  Soon, I was looking forward to going and hearing the songs I enjoyed and losing myself a little in the moves, and even laughing!

As the one year anniversary of my mom’s passing approaches, I feel like I’ve honored her by keeping it together and taking care of the things that need to be taken care of.  Along the way were a lot of ups and downs, but continuing to take Zumba kept me on a straight path to finishing what I set out to do, no matter how painful and unpleasant it was.  I still miss my mom every day, but feel like I am getting a little stronger each day and rebuilding my life.  Zumba has definitely helped me on this path and for that, I am grateful.

If you are experiencing a challenge in life, trying something different and totally out of your comfort zone may help.  I believe that any physical activity will help us to be healthy physically as well as mentally, and give us strength to deal with stressful situations.   For me, trying something new and different ended up giving me a renewed sense of self and a new perspective on things.  Maybe having a healthy outlet to channel my feelings of sadness and grief has led me on this path to where I am now – all I know is that Zumba class has truly saved my life.  So, to anyone out there feeling lost,  find your “Zumba,” and, instead of staying on a path of despair, choose a path of hope and adventure.

TULA Skincare Stopped My Breakouts

Probiotics – this is a word that I have not ever heard associated with skincare, so I was interested to learn more about how TULA skincare works.  “TULA” means balance in Sanskrit and that is the core of what the brand is about.  Have you ever taken probiotics to regulate your digestive system?  It works by promoting good bacteria in your system, helping things to work well and increase your immunity.  Why not take that concept topically to the skin?  I had to try it out.  Here is what my experience has been with several of the TULA skincare  products.

Purifying Face Cleanser $28

This cleanser has a light clean smell and is sort of a gel like consistency that I especially love for summer!  It does lather up and does not leave my skin feeling tight or dry.  This has quickly become my new favorite cleanser!

Exfoliating Treatment Mask $54

This product is pure MAGIC for the skin!  You use it 2/3 times weekly and you will see a visible difference in your skin texture and size of pores immediately after using!  The mask gives a slight cooling sensation and is very relaxing.  When you wash it off, it has small granules in it that give additional exfoliation while you rub it in and wash the mask off.  If you want a product with a “WOW” factor then this is it!  Love, love the results I see with  this mask.

Hydrating Day and Night Cream $52

This is light moisturizer with a fresh, clean scent that can be worn day and night in your skin care routine.  It does not contain any SPF so if using during the day you will need to add on an SPF.   If your skin is really dry and you prefer a thicker moisturizer then this product may not be for you.  For oily or combination skin I think it is really nice.

TULA means “balance” in Sanskrit.

Revitalizing Eye Cream $42

This product promises to rejuvenate skin around the eye and combat crepiness.  Sign me up for that!  As we get older, the skin around our eyes, which is already delicate, becomes even more delicate and thinner.  It’s so important to keep that area hydrated as the drier we are, the older we look, thanks to that crepey skin!  I like that this cream is light enough to wear under makeup.  As with all the products in this line, it has a light fresh scent that is not heavily fragranced.

Urban Defense Hydrating Mist $28

This product is a spray that can be used to refresh your face throughout the day, either for hydration or defense against pollutants.  I love to use this after the gym as it refreshes my face and resets my makeup.  The spray comes out evenly and there is only a hint of a lovely rose fragrance.  I personally don’t like overpowering fragrance in a skin mist or I will get a headache.  This product will definitely have a place in my beach bag this summer!

Overall Impressions

Within a few weeks of using these products, I noticed that I have not gotten the usual hormonal breakouts that always creep onto my chin at a certain time of month, even though I use Retin-A!  It appears that, for me, the probiotic formula in these TULA skincare products is keeping my skin balanced and clear.  I really am impressed with the effectiveness of all the products, but my favorites are the Exfoliating Mask and the Purifying Cleanser.  It’s a special thing when products really blow me away, and that is definitely the case with these products.  Have you tried this brand?  I’d love to hear how your experience has been.  Leave a comment!

 

Please note that 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 try some of the products!

First Impressions of New Drugstore Makeup – Kokie Cosmetics

If you haven’t been in your local Walmart lately then you may not know that there is a new brand of makeup sold there called Kokie Cosmetics.  It can also be purchased at Bed Bath and Beyond as well as Harmon, or on their website www.kokiecosmetics.com.  I picked up some pieces from their collection and am here to share my thoughts on them for you!

About the Brand

Kokie means elephant in Korean which is why you’ll see a small elephant on all of their packaging.  The brand is headquartered in Maryland and has been around since 2015.

How cute are the stripes on this compact?

 

Liquid Cushion Foundation $15.98

This was an impressive foundation!  First, all the Kokie packaging is cool, with their signature sleek black and white stripes.  The foundation compact is no different!  It has a generous sized mirror inside, and the cushion is not too dry.  Coverage is smooth and I liked how it laid on the skin.  In general, I prefer lighter foundations, especially in the warmer weather, as I don’t want to feel like there is a ton of makeup on my skin.  It was tough for me to find a shade online; I decided to go with 30W.  It’s a little light but nothing than a little bronzer can’t fix to blend it in.

This glitter nail polish has some serious staying power.

Nail polish $4.98

I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were some nail polishes available with the brand.  I picked one that is a glitter nail polish, that I use as an accent nail along with my current polish collection.  If you haven’t checked it out, I blogged about my favorite nail polishes here.  Usually glitter polishes disappoint me but this one looks nice (it is gold sparkle with some mauve flecks in it) and is wearing well (I have it on top of another polish).  Once again, the adorable black and white striped brush handle is adorable!

My new favorite liquid lip!

Lip Poudre $7.44

This is Kokie’s version of the liquid lipstick and it is awesome!  It smells nice, is long wearing and is not too drying on the lip.  I picked the color Infamous, which is a beautiful neutral mauve and I love, love it!

Matte Lipstick $5.98

This is a different lipstick formula.  It has a tube versus an applicator like the Lip Poudre.  In this formula I got the shade “Blush Beige” but it swatches more like a mauvy pink.  This formula is a bit too dry for my taste.  I know it is a matte formula which is going to have a dryer formula, but I just didn’t love the way it felt on my lips, unless I had it layered on top of a different lipstick.  The Lip Poudre was definitely more impressive to me.

I’m hoping this comes back in stock so I can try it.

Volume and Length Mascara  $7.44

I was beyond disappointed that the Volume and Length mascara was on backorder, and that Walmart canceled my order as it could not provide a date as to when the product would be available.  I heard some great things about the quality of this mascara in the beauty community, and at a price point of around $7, I wanted to test this baby out myself!  Unfortunately, it was not meant to be.  If you have tried this out, leave a comment and share with us what you thought!  As of writing this article Walmart is STILL showing this product as out of stock, as is the Kokie cosmetics website (kokiecosmetics.com.)

Overall I am really impressed with this brand.  The packaging and quality feel higher end, but the price is so affordable!  I definitely plan to pick up some more of their products to try.  Comment below if you have tried this drugstore brand.

How to Follow a Good Skincare Routine

For many of us, trying to remember all the steps you need to do for the best skincare routine can be daunting and confusing.  A consistent skincare routine is very important to keep your skin healthy.   I am going to share the basic steps we should all be following and what I do for my regimen.  (You can also download a free checklist by subscribing to my email list!)  Along the way, I’m going to also share some products that I find to be highly effective!

How many products should be a part of your daily routine?

Step 1 – Cleanse

With this step, you want to be sure to remove any dirt and oil from your face so that your other treatments can absorb in the skin.   The type of cleanser you use should be based on your skin type and personal preference.  In the winter I love using Juice Beauty’s cleansing milk, but for the warmer months, I am really loving TULA’s Purifying Face Cleanser.  It has a nice consistency, is gentle and doesn’t have an overpowering fragrance!

Step 2 – Tone

This is a step that many may skip in the routine, but it is very important to tone.  The cleansers that we use change the PH of our skin to remove dirt, and the toner helps to restore that PH balance.  I love the Pixi Glow Tonic.  It has 5% glycolic acid so it has the added benefit of helping to gently exfoliate my skin.  I also like L’BRI’s Gentle Freshener.  it’s in a spray bottle so it’s quick and easy.

Step 3 – Treat

This is when I like to apply my serums.  You should choose one that is targeting an area of concern in your skin – for example, dryness, or fine lines, etc.  Serums are a thinner consistency that can penetrate deeper into the skin producing better results, which is why if this is a step you’ve been skipping, you should reconsider!  Let me also tell you that Serum does NOT equal expensive!  I found two fantastic serums that are $25 or less each!  They are both from a company called Timeless – I use the 20% C+E+Ferulic  Acid and the Matrixyl Synthe 6 serums.  I’ve seen significant results with both!  Again, you don’t need multiple serums if you don’t want, I’m a little crazy that way!

Step 4 – Moisturize

Whether your skin is dry or oily, you need to moisturize!  In the spring and summer months I like to go a little lighter with my moisturizer as I have combination skin.  I am loving the L’BRI Moisturizer with SPF 32 right now.

Step 5 – Sunscreen

If you read my recent post about SPF, then you KNOW this step is a must!  I’ve mentioned the CeraVe Face Lotion, but I’ve recently found another great SPF by Obagi.  It is tinted so it could be used as a light face coverage and also has infrared defense, in addition to the broad spectrum sun protection.

Exfoliating treatment – 2/3x per week

This is Soo important!  Think about little kids and how poreless and flawless their skin is.  This is because their skin cells are naturally turning over constantly.  As we age, that process of cell turnover gets slower and slower and…you get the point.  We need to really focus on exfoliating to manually turn those cells over.  One of my go-to product for this is Dermalogica’s Gentle Cream Exfoliant.  You leave it on your face for 10-15 minutes and wash off.  I recently tried an Exfoliating treatment mask from the brand TULA and was blown away!  You put it on the face for 5 minutes and then wash off.  My pores were so small and it gave my face a healthy, younger, fresh look!

Now, if you are not currently using a skin care regimen and want to get started, I know all these steps can sound overwhelming, but really it only takes me 5-10 minutes to apply everything to my face in the morning.  I try to store them in my medicine cabinet in the order of application so I really don’t need to think about it.  Also you can download my free checklist and hang it in your bathroom until you remember the order of everything – then it will be as easy as brushing your teeth.

Using a consistent skin care routine properly targeted for your skin type and skin goals is key to results.  Please share your current skincare routines and product favorites – I’d love to know!

 

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 try some of the products!

Magnetic False Lashes Review- Hit or Miss?

Here are how the magnetic lashes are packaged. They come in a very luxurious box!

I was intrigued when I saw an ad for false lashes that attach to your natural lashes magnetically, eliminating the need for lash glue, etc.  I love the look of a full lash, but lack the patience to apply false lashes, especially because it is not something I do often.  Without practice, it is a very frustrating process.  The company that makes this magnetic false lash product is called One Two Cosmetics.  I hadn’t heard anything about this product but it was so innovative I decided to give it a try.  It was backordered and took about 12 weeks to arrive.  I was hoping that meant they were going to be awesome and solve all my lash woes!

They arrived in a beautiful black and gold case and there were two pairs for each eye stored inside.  An index card in the box gave  basic 4 step directions to follow for application.  They did note that applying these were like riding a bike; that it would take some practice and then be easy-peasy.  I immediately went into my bathroom and started to play.  Initially, I found that applying them was not so tough; the challenge was getting them properly lined up on the lash line.  These magnetic lashes are not a full strip; they are to be used at the middle of your eye to the outer corners of your eyes to add length.  There are other styles available, but this was the one I selected.

Here is a close up of the lashes. The ones on the far left look sparse as they came apart with my continual application to the eye.
Here is a close up of the instructions included with the magnetic lashes. I appreciated the details on this.

There are four options for your magnetic false lashes- the Original (which is what I purchased), Bold (most dramatic), Accent (for a more natural look)  and Filler (for use in between salon extensions).  I found that applying these after a full coat of mascara gives a more dramatic look and without is a more everyday glam look.  My husband even noticed the difference!  I wore these lashes for several hours on end and they are not heavy which was a plus.  Here were my cons:  the price – for $70 (again you get two pairs so $35 per pair) I expected more durability and ease of use.  I practiced quite a bit.   However,  while I believe they are easy to apply, they do not line up properly on my natural lash which does not look good. My eye shape is not the traditional almond which I think are best suited for this product.

VERDICT- Overall, I’d have to say don’t waste your money on these false magnetic lashes.  I had really high hopes for this product and believe it is extremely innovative, but the frustration I felt trying to line them up properly to my natural lash line as well as the lashes coming apart fairly easily from my efforts to adjust and reapply, made them not worth it.  Have you tried them?  If so, what was your experience.  I’d love it if you left a comment!

Sunscreen 101: What you need to know

Are you ready to be in the sun this summer?

With Memorial Day upon us and the unofficial kick-off of summer, it’s important to make sure your SPF routine is summer-ready.  Not only is sunscreen key in your antiaging routine (see my anti-aging tips here), but it is also your weapon against skin cancer, which is on the rise.  Here are some facts that are concerning:

  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.*
  • Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.*
  • Also, the risk of skin cancer doubles if a person has had 5 or more sunburns in their lifetime or even one severe sunburn as a child.**

Ok, so this is pretty scary.  What do you need to know when selecting a sunscreen?  Products should have a minimum of SPF 30 and should protect against BOTH UVA and UVB rays.  If you don’t see the words “broad spectrum” on the label, then it doesn’t protect from both.  UVA rays cause premature aging, hyperpigmentation, broken capillaries, and wrinkling.  UVB rays cause sunburn.  Both are contributors to skin cancer.

UV rays pass through clouds and window glass – that is why sunscreen is a MUST every day no matter what the season or the weather!  Also, UV rays are the strongest between 10 am and 4 pm so be extra diligent during those times of day.

Knowing what to look for in a sunscreen is key to being safe in the sun!

What is physical vs. chemical sunscreen and which should I use?

OK, let me break it down.  Bottom line, you need to use sunscreen and need to find one that works well with your skin type.  Both types have pros and cons, and there isn’t any evidence that one is better than the other, as long as you are using it consistently and reapplying often.  (Remember to reapply every 2 hours – don’t forget around your eyes and lips.)

Also there is not evidence that the higher the SPF the better.  Most experts recommend using a minimum of SPF 30 up to 50 with broad spectrum protection.  Really though, anything higher than 30 does not really provide that much more protection, maybe 1-2% more than SPF 30 does.

Physical sunscreens have mineral ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and sit on top of your skin to deflect the sun’s rays.

Pros and Cons-

Physical sunscreens can be better for those with sensitive or acne prone skin; some formulas can be very thick or leave a white cast which can be a con for those with darker skin tones.  However, sunscreen products have come a long way and many are not as thick as in years past.  Another pro is that once applied the product begins working and you can go in the sun.

One product I love that is a physical sunscreen is CeraVe Face Lotion SPF 50.  It is for the face and looks great under makeup!  It also has some other good for you skin ingredients like ceramides and niacinamide, and is pretty inexpensive.  Another product I use to touch up during the day without messing up my makeup is Brush on Block.  It is powder but comes in a portable stick so it’s great to bring to work, the beach or wherever you are going!

Chemical sunscreens have ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate or avobenzone and penetrate into your skin, absorbing the UV rays, changing them to heat and then releasing that heat.

Pros and Cons-

Chemical sunscreens can be more irritating to certain skin types and also, because they penetrate into the skin, it is recommended that you wait at least 20 minutes for the product to sink in before sun exposure.

One chemical sunscreen moisturizer I love is the L’BRI Oil-Free Moisturizer with SPF 32.  L’BRI is an American company that uses all natural ingredients and features aloe as a main ingredient in its products.  This moisturizer feels great on my skin and leaves a natural glow.

Final thoughts

No matter what, find an SPF product that works for you and use it!  Don’t just use it when you are going to the beach, but every day.  And, don’t just apply in the morning and forget about it the rest of the day!  It needs to be reapplied every couple of hours or after you’ve sweat or gone swimming.  If you are using makeup with SPF in it, great but please don’t rely only on that for your protection.  Happy summer, everyone!

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 try some of the products!

*Cancer Facts and Figures 2017. American Cancer Society.  http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@editorial/documents/document/acspc-048738.pdf.

**Milady’s Standard Fundamentals for Estheticians 9th Edition.

Mascara Round Up – High End and Drugstore

I’ve pulled together a round up of some mascaras I’ve been using over the past several months, along with a “grade” of how I think they perform.  Before we begin, it’s important for you to know what I value most in a mascara, as I know for each person this may vary.  I like to get thickness and length with my mascaras, but I do not like the clumpy look.  My lashes are naturally on the longer side, so the thickness of my lashes is weighted a little more than length for me in my evaluation.  You’ll see some drugstore, more high end, and a couple in between!  Let’s get started!

 

My favorite mascara right now!

Trish McEvoy High Volume Mascara $32

This is right now my all time favorite mascara- it gets an A+!  Why?  Well there are a couple of reasons.  First, the small, thin brush (which at first I thought I would hate gives me the control I need to get fuller, long lashes without the clump.  The other reason I love it is because it is a tubing mascara, which means you remove it differently from other mascaras.  You gently saturate your lashed and then can pull off the mascara in one piece!  This formula doesn’t flake or smear on the top of your browbone and no need for a waterproof formula (which I generally hate).  I little bit of water doesn’t take it off so this is truly my go-to mascara with the summer coming.  I recently ordered a new tube and it is ready to go!

My favorite drugstore mascara – I’ve been using this for years!

Loreal Voluminous Million lashes $8.99

This is by far my favorite drug store mascara – it gets an “A!”  I love the brush size and shape and the look this gives my lashes (again not clumpy, defined full lashes).  For the price you can’t beat this deal.  Many beauty gurus rave about the Loreal Voluminous lashes, and I like that one, but for some reason prefer the million lashes formula.

This was a disappointment for me.

Maybelline Lash Sensational $6.99

I couldn’t get behind this mascara, although I had heard others say good things about it – I’d grade it a “C.”  The brush is interesting. It has the spikiness I like on other brushes but curves slightly.  I found it personally very hard to work with and the formula to be clumpy.  While some days I was happy with the look it gave me, it also hurt my lashes and performed very inconsistently.  Bottom line, I had more clumpy looks than good ones.  I would not purchase this one again.

This hourglass brush is all the rage in the beauty world but I’m just meh about it.

Too Faced Better than Sex Mascara $23

This mascara is all the rage in the beauty world but I’m very “meh” about it.  Overall, I’d grade it “B-.” It has a very unique hourglass shaped brush with wispy bristles.  Again, some days I got a great look with it, but I personally found it hard to get used to controlling the brush and had some issues with clumping in the formula. I don’t hate it but I don’t think it’s the cat’s meow like some others do.  For me, there are better products out there that give me what I am looking for.

Here’s how the packaging looks – bet you can’t tell there’s 2 mascaras in there!

MAC Haute & Naughty Lash $23

This product definitely gets an “A” for innovation – there are actually two mascaras in one product.  That’s right, two brushes, two different formulas in one tube!  I actually prefer the brush and formula in with the pink handle, but I like to combine them both and can get a very nice result with that.  Using the pink product alone, I can achieve a beautiful more natural looking defined lash that I love for everyday wear.

Here’s the first brush – this is for a more dramatic look.
Here is the second brush, my personal favorite. It gives a full natural lash with no clumps.

The good news is, there are so many types of mascaras in an array of price ranges, that can give you the lash look you are seeking!  Here’s to great lashes for all of us!

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 try some of the products!

To Kindergarten or Not to Kindergarten: 6 Steps to Follow to Determine if your Child is Ready

I know this is a bit of a departure from my usual posts, but I feel like this is an important topic and one very germane for me right now.  My son is 4 and will turn 5 in the middle of the summer.  He’s in Pre-K now and I need to decide if he is ready to go on to kindergarten.  Retaining children with summer birthdays is actually a thing also known as “redshirting,” and it is fairly controversial.  Welcome to my stress!

Ever since I was pregnant and knew I was having a boy, with a due date of July 31 I was often asked if I would hold him back from kindergarten.  This seemed an odd question to me since at that time I was focused on taking my breastfeeding class and trying to make sure I had a clue about how to take care of an infant.  I remember thinking, “Is that a thing?”  I personally have a summer birthday and went to kindergarten shortly after turning 5.  Had that changed?

After my son was born and other friends of mine with older sons talked about holding them back, the questions came up again.  This still seemed premature and I figured I’d cross that bridge when we came to it.  Some of my friends made the decision to hold back so that their sons would have a competitive edge in sports.  That seemed to me a bit extreme to base a decision solely on that.  Also, the fear that your child will be the youngest in the class is another reason I think is extreme to base a decision on.

I would recommend following the checklist below (which is exactly what I did) to really assess your child’s situation and arrive at a decision that is best for your child and family.

Know your child – As mothers, we intrinsically know our kids.  I call this the “gut factor.”  If you feel like your child might not be ready for kindergarten then you need to trust that instinct.  That is how I started.  If you asked me 6 months ago what I thought, I’d say “He’s definitely ready for kindergarten.”  However, now I have a different opinion after observing him in various social situations with his peers.

Is you child ready academically? – Do you think your child is ready academically?  The preschool teachers can definitely help providing you feedback with this, and if your school system is like mine, there is a test given to determine each child’s readiness academically.  There my son was good, but I was still not feeling confident.

Social skills/maturity – How does your child interact with his/her peers?  Does he/she seem a bit immature for their age?  On both of these counts, in my situation, I felt that my son could benefit from another year to mature and improve his social/playing skills with his peers.

Talk to your pediatrician – I think it’s a good idea to consult with all the “experts” before making a final decision.  I did discuss this situation with my pediatrician and, in my case, he suggested I hold my son back.  Again, this will vary in each child’s situation and I believe that your pediatrician is one piece of the puzzle and don’t think you should listen to your pediatrician alone without weighing in all the other factors.

Does your child have any special needs? – Does your child have any developmental delays or any type of special needs?  If so, it is a factor that should be weighed into this decision.  My son does have special needs and works with a speech and occupational therapist.  I felt that an extra year in Pre-K would help to further develop his communication skills.

Be your child’s advocate – As I mentioned earlier, our “mom” instincts are strong and it is for that reason that it’s our job to be an advocate for our kids.  When I first presented my concerns about moving my son up to kindergarten, I surprisingly received some pushback from his school.  However, that did not deter me from succinctly presenting my arguments and why I felt it was in his  best interest to be retained.  In the end, they came on board with my arguments.

No Right or Wrong

Remember, there’s no right or wrong decision here;  just what is best for your child.  If you’ve carefully weighed out the pros and cons, spoken to your child’s teachers and pediatrician, and went with your gut mother instincts, you really can’t go wrong.  For me, the right call was to hold my son back another year – that might not be the right call for you, but I feel relieved in our family’s decision and how that will help my son moving forward.

 

Three of the Best Long Wearing Nail Polishes

Are you like me, always on the hunt for a long wearing nail polish?  I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a nail polish junkie.  I used to go to the salon to get my nails done, and went through phases of getting acrylics and gels on my nails, but for the past couple of years, I prefer to do my own nails at home and buy a bunch of nail colors I enjoy to switch out each week or so.  So, I’ve tried LOTS of different polishes and have established my top three brands that wear really well on my nails, meaning 7-10 days without major chips.

Essie Gel Couture – This two step nail polish system boasts long wear for up to 14 days and it does not disappoint!  There are a wide range of colors to choose from and no base coat is needed during application.  The polish has a swirl stem brush (wider brush) that I find easy to manipulate.  Through trial and error I’ve also learned that the thinner I keep each coat that I apply the better and longer the wear of the polish.  Also, don’t be thrown off by “gel” in the name – no UV lamp is needed for this product!  It comes off with regular nail polish remover.  The color I’ve been into lately is Take it to Thread, a mauvy purple!  This retails for about $11.50 a bottle.

KL Polish – This is a new brand of nail polish launched by one of my favorite YouTubers, Kathleen Lights (hence the “KL” in KL Polish).  She comes out with new colors seasonally and I am in love!  I loved her Winter colors and now am trying out her Spring line.  The colors mix edgy with classic, so there is something for everyone! Her packaging is sleek and has a wider brush which I find easier to use.  The polish retails for $8.50 and is only available online at klpolish.com.  KL Polish is cruelty free and also 5 free.   What does that mean? 5-free nail polishes are free of 5 potentially harmful chemicals: formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, camphor, dibutyl phthalate, and toluene. In addition, this brand is 7 free and 9- free which include: 7-free nail polishes add xylene and ethyl tosylamide to that list, and 9-free polishes are also free of parabens and acetone.  Any beauty product that is free or low on harsh chemicals and parabens is always superior in my book, especially when it performs as well as this polish!

defy & Inspire – This is a brand I randomly stumbled upon at Target last year and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it wears on the nails.  This was launched by Target as one of its first in house beauty lines.  It retails for $7 and the line also has its own base coat and top coat.  I’ve only used the nail lacquer colors so I can’t comment on how the others perform.  The color ranges are nice and I’ve found all the colors I have to perform consistently on my nails.  With some polishes I’ve used in the past, some colors wear differently than others which is a disappointment.  Similar to KL Polish, this brand also has a 5 free formula which is a plus for me.  If you are curious what I use for base and top coats that I really love, Nails Inc Superfood for base coat and Seche Vite for a high gloss top coat!

I’d love to hear what long wearing nail polishes you are all obsessed with!

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 try some of the products!