I Turned My Hair Blonde(r)

A few weeks ago I walked into my salon with a bunch of saved photos of ladies with rockin’ hair and I said “I want to look like this.”

I do not feel like a blonde person. My identity is not blonde. I have brown hair and pale skin, and I look great in red. These things I know. But since approaching my 31st birthday and for probably a handful of months before that, I have felt OLD and TIRED and BORING and OLD and throw in some more OLD in there. Like deep in my bones haggard.

I look at myself in photos of my friends and I don’t think, “hot damn, girl.” I think, “ugh.”

I look in the mirror and I see exhaustion. I see messy hair and tired, tired eyes, and a total lack of luminescence. Where is my sparkle? It got sucked out of me by two tiny humans and a lot of have-tos and stress and the juggling of adult life.

But I am only 31. I am not ready to become old and tired and haggard and sad. I don’t ever want to be, but certainly not NOW.

A few years ago, before I had Fae, I was sitting in my cubicle at work and I had this jolt of sads. I felt like I had missed my opportunity to reinvent myself and take grand fashion risks. I felt that the person inside me was not being reflected outward. That I was way edgier and way cooler, and way more willing to take big risks. Except now, I needed to be professional and I needed to uphold a certain amount of who-knows-what, and that risky time had passed. I had MISSED it.

It took the confidence of being in my 30s to realize: No. I have not missed it. I can do whatever the hell I want to my style or my hair or whatever. And it doesn’t mean anything. It only makes a statement if I want it to. If it doesn’t work, oh well, try try again. Going blonde doesn’t have to mean anything other than I wanted to try something new to see what would happen.

It’s not like it ever is that deep, but sometimes these decisions FEEL that way. What will other people think? What if it looks bad? What if I hate it? Those questions seems so loaded. And I do swirl them around in my brain. I do ask friends for opinions and sit on it all for a minute. I was going to go grey/lavendar, but after researching it the upkeep was just not something I was willing to do. I am nothing if not low maintenance. And I don’t like having roots. So chunky blonde it is!

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I also did something super vain. And, like, whatever. Sometimes we need to do things just because they make us feel pretty, add a skip in our step, or erase an insecurity.

I went and got an airbrush spray tan! (After the above photo… for clarity) And it was kind of awesome. It was a little bit of an adventure because there are things that need to be done (like not showering or working out or getting wet for 12 hours after application), and I did stand in a room in just a disposable thong with a lady where a gas mask as she painted me with a sprayer thing. Overall it was awesome! I saw many people after I got it done and no one even commented on the fact that I looked tan, but it did take the winter grey out of my complexion. They had a range of tan options from 1-4 (like a spicy scale at a thai place) and I went with a 2.

I’m reporting on this because I was a little embarrassed by it initially. Like, seriously? What am I on the Jersey Shore or something? But it wasn’t like that. I avoid sun burns like crazy, and am adamant about sun screen and I still can burn. I don’t want premature wrinkles, sun spots, or cancer. But having some color is just NICE. And! And! What I do with my body, or what anyone does to their body shouldn’t be shameful. Even if it’s as silly as a spray tan. Even if it’s botox or lip injections or whatever. Ok, maybe the people who turn themselves into cats deserve some side eyes. But, those choices don’t have any bearing on my life! So, you do you, kitty.

At the end of my two week blonde/tan transformation, I definitely felt less crappy. Definitely more like I have my shit together and less like the frumpy ugly duckling in old gap maternity t-shirts. I’m still in my gap maternity tshirts, I just feel better about what’s underneath.

Getting Lauren back. One transformation at a time.

Beauty Chat

That survey was spectacular. Over 90 people answered the questions. Let’s get to the stats!

First, the biggest write-in favorite was NARS Orgasm blush. Or blush of any kind. I forgot the blush! I am a pink pink lady. Pale and pink. It doesn’t occur to me to add more pink. Also, I wish I was in charge of naming NARS products. That must be a great office.

As far as demographics, people are all across the board from late teens to 40+ with 60% of the participants between 30 and 35. 

58% of those who answered are daily makeup users, but just the basics. 25% barely ever use makeup, or use very little.

The most important beauty product for most people is moisturizer – tinted or other. About 45 people ranked this product as the number most important product used. Second most important product for most is mascara and third is chapstick/lipgloss.

The write-in favorite brands introduced me to some brands I had not heard of and reinforced the brands I love and have used for years. Many of you suggested Laura Mercier tinted moisturizers (had never heard of this and now am for sure going to check it out), clinique products across the board, and burt’s bees for lips.

For body lotion (something that for me is a constant search because I have chronic dry skin, made worse by having babies, and my skin gets used to lotions and stops responding after a while. I am currently using Caudalie, but the smell is not my favorite) we all must be hippies because the overwhelming response was coconut oil! Which I use on my face, hair, and body. I have three body lotion things going at once most of the time because I have a lotion obsession. Jojoba oil was also mentioned (and something I also use), as well as Jergen’s, Aveeno, and Vaseline brands.

The splurge write-in was my favorite because this is the good shit. This is the stuff that we all covet and get excited to use – make excuses to use! Again, NARS products and NARS blush was a recurring write-in. Several people by fancy nail polish, and new lipsticks were another one.

But let’s discuss further. Do you have a favorite item you think more people would enjoy? What about hair products? Tell me how you makeup. Where do you buy your goods? What does “fancy nail polish” mean? I’m only like 13% adult.

Hair, Glorious Hair!

I took my hair for granted before having Gabe. I grew it long for my wedding, then hacked it off and donated it. I enjoyed a long-ish bob for about a year and then grew it out through Gabe’s pregnancy and then after. The after is the story.

After I had Gabe my hair got really, really dry and frustratingly unmanageable. And then of course a large chunk of it fell out. That part was messy and inconvenient, but it was really the texture change and the hair growing BACK that caused me 2 years of hair strife.

Hair strife is real, people.

My ill-timed decision to grow out my hair after I had Gabe meant that the majority of my hair was fairly long and getting longer, while a substantial amount of my hair was …. not. The new growth after my hair fell out never really managed to catch up with the old hair. There was a period of time when I had about 3-4 inches of new growth and it was way curly and all over the place. Blow drying did nothing, having my hair chemically smoothed did nothing, various haircuts asking for help – nothing. Just two years of frustration and teeth-gritting patience. The texture change/dryness …. I don’t know how long that would have gone on for because when I got pregnant things evened out in that regard. I’m still waiting for that symptom to kick in postpartum and praying that it just … won’t.

All through my pregnancy this time around, though, my hair was mostly kick ass. I love my long, big hair. I love it! It’s so fun and relatively manageable with some hair knowledge and good weather. It holds product well, it goes days and days without a wash (I only wash my hair twice a week), it’s fantastic! It’s also heavy and hot and all over the place with a mind of its own if I don’t wrangle it.

Very literally the second thought in my mind after pushing Fae out was: I want to cut my hair off immediately.

It’s so inconvenient for nursing around the clock. For the first five weeks I was wearing my hair up in a bun day and night. Very literally day and night. The postpartum night sweats didn’t encourage my hair to be down and neither did the stuffy heat of this frustratingly (planet-killingly) hot summer. Keeping my long hair tied up 24/7 did nothing to make me feel remotely put together even on my best days, which were and are few and far between as of late. But most importantly – I have faith that he great shed of 2015 is coming. OH IT’S COMING. It will probably hit between 3-4 months PP, so in maybe a month? And there was no fucking way I was going to go through that with long hair. My god, the mess alone. But then knowing that I would be fighting the same battle as last time with the long hair and the short hair and the long hair and the medium hair and the long hair and the weird shortish curly, completely fucked up hair all around my hairline? God no. No with a capital N.

So I chopped it off.

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That’s me! Salon fresh! The before and after!

This is me, as I am mostly in my natural habitat. No time or desire for blow drying. I call it the tuck and roll.

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I also got a subtle dye job to take me out of my previous ombre that had done a fair amount of growing out since the last time I got a haircut (early December 2014!).

So I’ll be rocking this long-ish bob for at least year, but probably 2. Anticipating the shed and giving my hair enough time to grow back afterwards and catch up with itself – my biggest sanity saving game plan to date.

It’s also pretty fantastic to once in a while re-invent your whole look. Not that this is so very groundbreaking, but it’s the little things. The little victories, the little risks, the little happies. Plus the ability for me to not look like I’m heading to the gym at all hours of the day, to actually look like maybe I tried (when really I didn’t) even wen I so clearly do not have real time to spend blow drying for 20 minutes+ at this stage in the came. Right now I’ll take any life cheats I can get my hands on. Hashtag: Short Hair Don’t Care?

Heat + Being Egg Shaped

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I had an idea to post about what I’m planning on bringing to our 7 day trip to Miami as a 5+ months pregnant lady with a 6+ month-size bump. But then I realized: I kind of don’t know what I’m doing? So maybe I’ll try some things out and report back.

Heat makes me anxious. It means less clothing and less opportunities to layer. I prefer hiding under cardigans and jackets and you’re never going to see me in a non-workout-T without a tank under it. Being pregnant in heat, with the beautiful and the tan all around me, makes me even more anxious. I prefer to feel like hot shit. I mean, in my perfect world I would have the confidence of a supermodel 24/7. In my reality of realities, I’m more like a quiet book nerd who would be totally ok with blending in to the surroundings. My inner outer self would prefer to be unremarked upon, thank you very much.

But! But but but BUTT! I also want to swim and play and not feel absolutely oppressed by pants. I want to participate! And that means a maternity bathing suit. That means maxi dresses and skirts and sunscreen and my trusted giant hat that I told Kamel I was bringing again and he groaned and looked at me like, “REALLY, LAUREN? ON A PLANE? AGAIN?” Yes really. I am fair and I intend to stay that way.

So, so far my only tip for tackling the seasons: Buy cheap when you can. Target is my savior. The bathing suit above is from there. I briefly considered a Nordstrom suit and then was like… fuck that $$. I’m just OVER paying full price for seasonal things (weather wise or body type wise in this case) that will serve its purpose and then die a slow death in the back of my drawers.

Being large and oddly shaped has it’s own struggles in regards to comfort AND feeling pulled together. Plus heat and I’m already sweating just thinking about it. So I’m going to try some tricks, I’m going to take some photos, and then if you’re ever pregnant in the heat of summer, plan a babymoon, or what have you, I might have some useful tips and tricks for you on the flip side. I hope so, anyways.

The End of an Era + Giveaway

So this is it, my last post about Birchbox. It’s been a trip, one that I was incredibly happy to end, but also happy to have begun. I put in my final order of the few things I thought were excellent enough to purchase full sizes of, and that’s all folks.

But first, if you’re interested in the Birchbox experience you may be interested in some final thoughts. For those who have or are currently receiving Birchboxes I would very much love to hear what you thought/are thinking about the whole thing in comments. Here’s what I’ve got:

  • For someone who is pretty basic and no-fuss when it comes to products, a year of samples was way too many. I should have gone with the 6 months and I would have been happily satisfied.
  • By the end I was choking on samples I didn’t feel like attempting. I couldn’t use them fast enough and then poof another box would appear. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
  • I wish I had gotten more explanation and more of a tutorial on each product. Sometimes I really didn’t now if I was using it correctly and I maybe wasted some on my ignorance/confusion/using it wrong.
  • I’m willing to spend medium amounts of money on nice things that actually work, but overpriced hooey is still overpriced hooey.
  • I’ll explain further in a second but I didn’t end up ordering any cosmetics and that was a bummer. It did however push me to experiment outside of Birchbox (smashbox BB cream, a shit ton of lip crayons/pencils, etc) based on items that worked/didn’t work for me. But it is a bummer that I didn’t think I needed to throw my dollars behind any fun cosmetic which was kind of the point.
  • And I still have some items that are lacking in my world. Maybe you can help me. 1) I’m looking for an amazing night cream/serum/whathaveyou for dry skin 2) I’m still looking for a solid BB cream, I know some of you suggested brands previously, but if you wouldn’t mind suggesting again I would be most grateful and 2) a really fantastic body lotion (My Aveeno Skin Relief Overnight Cream is running out) for super dry skin. Every once of me is clearly dying of thirst, hair tips to sad broken toenails. And I drink so much water!! Grumble.

Anyway! What did I end up loving from Birchbox?

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The first thing I ordered was the Beauty Protector Ultimate Hair Protecting Trio. I really liked the way this smelled and it is very hydrating and I give the entire experience a solid A. But not necessarily an A+. Th spray is great, I use it at night sometimes or before I blow dry, but it isn’t overly taming, more like just a leave-in conditioner. The shampoo and conditioner came in bottles that were way smaller than I thought they would be and felt like a rip off. I am nursing the last bits of the shampoo and conditioner right no and will not be re-ordering. I do recommend to someone who heat-styles a lot, these are good products if you’re willing to spend the money.

missjessies_quickcurls_900x900Miss Jessie’s Quick Curls is the best curl cream I have ever used in my life. It works on ethnic and white girl hair. It smells really awesome, kind of lemony. When I want to wear my hair down but I don’t want to try I scrunch this into the bulk of my hair and let it air dry. I end up (Weather permitting of course) with a lions mane of curls. NO FUSS! I LOVE IT! After I ordered it Maris told me she has seen it at Target, so for future purchases I will look there instead of Birchbox for sure.

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Davines All In One Milk is the secret serum to any good hair day ever in life. I was surprised when I finally got this because the sample was a little squeeze pouch and this is a spray. I thought it was going to be something I put in my hand and then run through my hair, so the spray is a little strange. I’ve been spraying it into my hand and then running my hands through my wet hair instead of spraying it on because I worry I am wasting it or not getting it everywhere it needs to go. So, you apply to wet hair and blow dry and it’s like I’ve used heat styling. Everything is smooth and soft and happy and I feel like a million jillion bucks. I would pay for this stuff if it was $100.

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If you had told me a year ago that I would be shelling out for 50 ml of the most perfect scent at the end of my year of products, I would have LAUGHED in your face. No way no how. Except I did. I have never liked any scent ever! Like ever! And this makes me so happy. Sometimes I even put it on before bed. I am a Hello by Harvey Prince freak and I even bought the big bottle.

lizearle_cleanseandpolishstarterkit_badge_900x900This face wash by Liz Earle also surprised me. I mean, the sample was super classy, so I should have known it would woo me. But face wash? I didn’t expect to fall in love with one of those either, but this is fantastic. It’s creamy like a lotion and you kind of rub it in pre shower, then in the shower you buff it away with a warm cloth. It is super not drying and makes me feel exfoliated and hydrated. I’ve been experimenting with using my clarisonic after rubbing in the creamy face wash and it has been working out really well. If you hate having tight skin after you get out of the shower, this might be worth a go.

And that’s it! Those were my final purchases. And now all I have left to do is giveaway the box of random assortments of unused items from my Birchbox year. A surprise box filled with fun goodies. To enter, leave a comment telling me about your latest beauty adventure. What have you tried out lately? Did it work? Did it fail? I want to know. Free samples await you! 

(Beauty) Products Review: 10 & 11

I could have sworn this was my 11th and 12th box, as I officially cut off the 1 year subscription a few weeks ago… but I guess maybe by “year” they mean…. almost? Anyways… I have never been happier to cancel a subscription before in my life!

Oh Birchbox, I will discuss the full scope of what you have meant to me, the good times and the bad times, in a couple weeks. But first we have some product business to attend. So let’s get started.

By the way – it has been almost 2 months since my last review due to vacation and general feet-dragging. How has your product journey been? Are you trying new things? Discovering new pomades and unguents? There are a few things on this list that I have yet to try, so if you have please give me your thoughts in comments!

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This is the 10th box. I am always impressed with how many tiny things they can fit into that small rectangle.

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This exfoliating cleanser from Suki was ranks in my #1 or #2 most disappointing item from this post. It had so much promise! I mean look at those granules! And it smelled so lemony and magical! And then when I used it in the shower the exfoliator melted almost immediately like kitchen sugar. It was such a waste and really did noting for my skin. It was difficult to scoop out of the tiny sample jar and when it came down to performance it’s a no-go. Maybe I’m supposed to use it with dry skin and then rinse off? But seriously… who has time for that?

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I have not tried this nail polish yet, but I will! It is a fun purple/metallic and would look great on toes or fingers.

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I was pretty excited about this nail polish remover towelette. And it was perfect timing as I just started a little experiment with my toes. I have had constant pedicured feet for the last few… years. The problem is, my big toe nails keep cracking near the center. It’s really annoying. They are not discolored and there is no weirdness going on, just this cracking. So I have decided to have naked toe nails all winter, in the hopes that a little air may help strengthen them. I should probably also start a Biotin regimen, but that is a different discussion.

Anyway! I really hate using cotton balls to get nail polish off. They always leave little cotton wisps everywhere and it takes forever and nail polish remover smells. So I thought these towelettes would be my answer! But these were right with the Suki exfoliator as far as disappointment goes. It took FOREVER to get my polish off! And so much active scrubbing! It was such a chore I started chipping away at my polish instead. I also found it kind of… oily? It was weird. I thought it was going to be a perfect solution, but nope. Not convinced.

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This serum from Marcelle turned out to be the perfect combo to add to my BB Cream to make it hydrating and smooth! It looks like it might be kind of sticky, but it isn’t. It is really smooth and lovely. I used it up in like 3 days because I couldn’t stop using it. Two thumbs up – this fit into my routine and made my little system even better.

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I haven’t used these shadows yet as I have been lax on the eye makeup lately. But yay neutral tones! I’m always up for free eye shadow.

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This was exciting! A lotion from the makers of my new favorite perfume!!! My sample of Hello by Harvey Prince is still going strong so I was stoked bout this little happy yellow edition. And it was…. ok. I feel like this post is filled with meh! And I guess that just happens sometimes. The smell just didn’t translate as well in lotion form. It ended up being a little too sweet for me. Oh well. Shrug. On to the next item.

The 11th box was interesting. Lots of tiny little tubes of mysterious things. First up is the Whish Shave Cream.

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I used this the day after I undid this box. Which says something because I usually let the box sit on my counter until a week before I need to write a post and then start using everything in a frenzy… with a few exceptions. So, last Sunday I was already to shave my legs, and I don’t ever use shaving cream so I really felt like this was going to be a treat. When I squeezed the Whish product into my palm it looked like a pearly lotion. The bottle says it doesn’t foam up but I did expect…. something, some sort of staying power.

When I rubbed it all over my leg it felt like I was putting on lotion in the shower, and not in a very confident way. I actually grabbed the bottle again and re-read the instructions. Could it have meant an AFTER shave cream? No. It definitely says my shave will be more luxurious thanks to this product. So I started to shave… and ah! It was the worst shave ever! And generally I just use bar soap to shave with! This created a terribly uneven shave and it was like dragging the razor across dry skin! For the second leg I switched back to soap and it was night and day. Did I just get a bad batch? I don’t get it! Did anyone else use this? I’m truly baffled.

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Yay chapstick!! I love chapsticks of all kinds way way way too much. One time Kamel came home with fitfulls from a free sample bucket at work. Best surprise ever! They lived in my nighstand until I either used them all up or lost them… haha. This chapstick is a fun concept – night and day. It is also living on my nighstand and I have been using it before bed and before I leave in the morning. I love that it is 1 stick for 2 things. I love the way the chapstick on both ends feels and smells. Not stick or overly thick. Two thumbs up Chapstick! I will definitely pick this up in drugstores when mine runs out. It would be perfect for travel!

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I’m a little afraid of this. I’m not sure how to use it. It says it’s for cheeks? But my cheeks are generally rosey and this just looks sticky/intense? I feel like I’ll try to put it on and it will look like a messed up clown, all uneven and splotchy? Has anyone else used this? Can you reassure me that it’s useful and awesome?

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A blackhead vacuum?!?! What is this witchcraft? I imagined some sort of peel and then all the blackheads are there, like teensy trees!

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It ended up being a mask that dried after 5-10 minutes and then I needed to wipe off with a warm washcloth. It was kind of fun, not AS fun as little trees, but I could dig it. Except it must use a chemical something or other to attack black heads and it made me really red across the bridge of my nose and the tops of my cheeks for a while afterwards. Kind of like the red I get when I wax my lip…. so… that kind of worried me and made me self conscious when I left the house.

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Caudalie is a natural brand. They use the properties of grapes and wine in their products. I’ve been using this at night. It reminds me of a lot of the night serums and I am never sure they work. I would like to invest in one though, as I have been struggling with ongoing dryness post baby and would like to treat my face skin better as I approach my 30s.

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I haven’t tried this one yet. I’m not sure if it does anything especially special. Has anyone else tried it?

It has been 11 months since I started this product-palooza and I am actually very happy it is coming to a close. What are you doing differently now that summer is fading and fall is upon us? How do you switch it up? Do you have any suggestions for me?

The next post on this (sooner rather than later!) will be a sample giveaway! And some discussion on what I’ve changed and any products I’ve actually bought and used. The final chapter, one might say. 🙂

(Beauty) Products Review: 8 & 9

June has been a month of insanity and I have not had the time I usually have for normal person things, let along attempting new products, etc etc etc. I was lucky to get out of the house with a blow dry most days. Sometimes even that didn’t happen.

So this post will combine 2 Birchboxes in 1! Plus a little hair-product chatter and discussion of what I use (and hopefully what you use, because hair stuff? I am a freak for.)

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This lip gloss by Jouer is so sparkly and pretty it could live on its own just as is and never be worn and I would be content just to have it on my bathroom counter. When I first saw it I thought it was nail polish and was excited. As lip gloss though, it is a little beyond my sparkle abilities and reminds me of junior high. It had a good consistency though and I would definitely try other colors from this brand. Did anyone else get a gloss by them? Any other colors out there?

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Shampoo! I am always excited with samples of shampoo and this one  by Davines came in an adorable little tub! And so much for a sample! If I used it every single day (which I won’t because I don’t wash my hair that much) it would last me several weeks. Yay Birchbox getting non-stingy samples! The conditioner is in the usual squeezy pouch, but is super super thick, almost like shea butter consistency, so a little goes a long way. As far as smoothing I didn’t experience anything extra smooth about it, and the scent is only OK. It’s a teensy bit medicinal for me, so I think I’ll use the shit out of it as a way to mix up my shampoo regimen, but I don’t think I’d by it. Has anyone been using any amaze amaze shampoo? I’m still nursing my Beauty Protector purchase from many moons ago along with my usual John Frieda stuff. (Although, side note: I was pretty bummed about the amount of Beauty Protector shampoo you get for the price.)

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This scent is AMAZING. Amazing amazing amazing rock my socks amazing. I have never ever ever been in love with a scent before. I am general scent free and super picky when it comes to any kind of perfume. I am always jealous of women who have a signature scent (Ahem: Maris) and find it incredibly comforting when I am met with someone I love’s familiar smell. As creepy as that sounds, it is not! Hello by Harvey Prince is delightfully citrus-y and feminine and not overly sweet or overly floral (Which is a huuuuuge issue for me). It isn’t heavy, but it does linger in all the best ways. I will be shelling out for this one the next time I get some extra beauty cash. If you enjoy citrus, find yourself a sample of this immediately.

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What is with these serums and smelling like not good things? The package indicates “Ahh refreshing!!” But in reality it is no bueno. It isn’t quite as bad as the one that smelled like hot dog water, but it was just…. strange. Not necessarily herbal or medicinal, but… kind of ew? I have to admit though, after only 1 use (and in the teensy vial there really is only enough for 2 nights worth) my skin feels way more hydrated than it has in months. I have been really struggling with some strange dry skin and I’m not sure why. I thought it was because of the Smashbox BB cream, and I still find that product drying and have been mixing it with my moisturizer periodically, but I think my skin is just generally thirsty. And the next day after using this my skin looked way better than it has in a while, way less fine lines from that dehydration look, and a dry patch that had been bugging me on my forehead has disappeared. I don’t think I’ll buy this particular night oil from Caudalie, but I will be looking for something similar. (There is another brand I really want to try that uses olive oil, and I’ve heard absorbs pretty quickly after application.)

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This body wash and lotion I did not use because I am not a fan of apricot, so it landed itself in the Birchbox giveaway sample pack! Yay!

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I could not even wait until after I took photos to try this bad boy out. Miss Jessie’s Quick Curls is by FAR the best curl cream I have ever come across. Hands down. The end. Mic Drop. All it takes is some scrunching and then some air drying and voila. I posted this on instagram the first time I used it:

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So you KNOW that ish is idiot proof and doesn’t take more than 5 minutes. Check out those same curls after a pretty large walk to the farmers market + wrangling Gabe at the park:

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Yup. This product is a slam dunk. And I only have wavy-ish hair. It does have natural volume, especially in humidity, but when I blow dry sans any trying whatsoever it is mostly just poofy and straight. So, I do not come by wrinkles as easy as this makes it seem. Miss Jessie’s yo. SO AWESOME. (And it smells as good as my beachy curls look.)

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More Supergoop! This is, again, a solid product. It is a thin, non-greasy daily spf. I wore it when we walked to the farmer’s market last weekend and then Kamel made us stop at a million places to pick up other random doo-dads, and I was all “I just wanna go hoommeee! I’m gonna burrrrnn!” because I am constantly afraid of being out in the sun for too long. It is my biggest anxiety about daily life, and now that anxiety can be successfully transferred to my child as he is as white as the driven snow. But I digress. Supergoop! I did not burn! I was free from face burnage! All thanks to this sunscreen! I don’t really know how much it costs (I have not looked, nor have I bought any as I am still squeezing the samples DRY), but it’s pretty good at what it does, doesn’t make me break out, and layers well under makeup. Ta da!

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I was really hesitant about the hair oil milk something-or-other by Davines. I already use an oil in my hair (more on that in a minute), and I was honestly a little skeptical about what something in a little packet could really do for me. I should really know better by now, though. Every time I think something is going to meh, it ends up bloowwwwinggg me away. So this product looks like a thin sunscreen and feels similarly – maybe a little watery-er, but you get the general picture. So it isn’t like an oil at all. I put it in my hair after a shower, after  towel-dried and after I brushed it out. It goes in smooth, isn’t thick or heavy. It smells fantastic and I immediately felt like it was making my hair the best hair it could be. Then I blow dried, while trying to keep the baby from playing in the toilet, while handing Kamel his towel when he got out of the shower, and trying to rescue my nightstand things from the garbage where the baby was throwing them. And this is how it turned out:

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Hello! I want that hair every day! It was so easy! And it stayed beautiful all day long! Magic. I added this to my shopping cart immediately.

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This is yet another black eyeliner and I am being a major wimp and adding it to the give-away pile without even trying because I just feel like it will be wasted on me? I need someone to come over and teach me what to do with a real life grown up eye pencil/crayon thingy (and not just different colored powder, because that is all I can work and all I ever will until someone holds my hand and strokes my hair and shows me step by step). So hopefully this will find a good home. Cuz how cute are those gold spots? So cute.

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This is face wash by Liz Earle just looks so goddamn pretentious, I wanted to hate it straight out the box. Like, whatever fancy old lady face wash! You had to pack your own wash cloth? I don’t even use wash cloths! Pshhh. And you’re all “massage onto skin and then buff away with the warm, wet cloth.” I’m going to really buff the face wash away? Who has time for BUFFING.

Well jokes on me. This is the shit. Remember how I have been all “wahh my face is dry”? Well, this is going to fix it. It’s like you’re rubbing in a creamy lotion – but it turns out it’s just super fancy old lady face wash! And the wash cloth looks initially sad and scratching, nope! It is lovely in the shower. I had none of that terrible tight feeling after I got out the shower and my skin looked so amazing!! Pretentious old lady face wash you have been added to my shopping cart!

Alright…. Now (quickly, because this is the longest beauty post of my LIFE) a word on what I am actually using for my hair aside from the few slam dunks mentioned above.

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First, I want to tell everyone I know about Jojoba oil. Here is what I do: On Saturday or Sunday while I am just running around, doing laundry, being boring – I put this oil all over my hair until it looks wet. Then I tie it up in a bun and hang out in it for as long as I can. Then I take a shower and wash it out. This works 1000000x better than any hair mask and is way cheaper. My hair is never greasy and is always thirsty. This makes it way more manageable and is truly hydrating my scalp all the way down to my ends.

Second, I often sprtiz my ends with the leave in conditioning by Beauty Protector at night before bed. I’ll also use this if I don’t want to wash my hair but need a little pick me up. I love the scent and it’s great for heat protecting as well.

And third, hairspray is my friend (it’s not really my friend, it totally dries out my hair and is a mess BUT I love it). I get a big old aerosol (bad) can of whichever salon type is on sale and I use it for everything: taming stupid fly-aways because my hair is still a nightmare with growing out after my entire hairline fell out apres baby,enhancing curls, and general hold for pinning my hair in fun ways.

But that’s it, those are my secret weapons. What do you have going on? What are your go-to products? Did you receive any of this Brichbox items, what did you think? What have you been using recently that you love/hate? Sometimes it feels super lonely in my bathroom trying to figure out what the hell to do with all of these samples. Thank you for coming along on this ridiculous product avalanche with me!

(Beauty) Products: Review 7 of 12

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I’m no longer relying on my phone (my laziness) for photos anymore. The amount of phone photos on this blog in the last year has been obnoxious. Especially when I live surrounded by excellent camera equipment. So no more!

Anyway, here we are again, with my endless Birchbox subscription. I am quite literally a month behind reviewing these products. The next box should be at my door any day now and I am just getting to this post. But this time things will be a smidge different. I’ll talk about the new products, but I’m also going to share with you what I actually use. But we’ll get to that. First the box:

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This body wash smells AMAZING. I am generally a bar soap person but this immediately made me feel like I was staying in a fancy hotel. And that feeling is what I’m going for in every aspect of my life. Does this product (any product – home decoration, wardrobe, soap, etc) make me feel like a fancy lady in a castle? Excellent!

The only issue is that I don’t feel like the body wash really does anything for me except smell divine. I am a dry skin person and I need gentle, moisturizing, natural soaps. I am a dainty flower and I must be treated as such! So as amazingly delicious smelling as this is, I’m not going to actually buy it. But you should! Also an excellent scent for men! I recommend it, even if I’m not willing to pay for it.

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I cannot fully express to you how much I adore shampoo, conditioning, all things hair. So whenever I get a shampoo sample, it is with great joy. Unfortunately, this product was the exact opposite of the body wash. I didn’t even use it, when I opened the shampoo packet and poured it on my hand in the shower the smell was so medicinal, so after shave-y, so gross, that I quickly rinsed it off my hand and hoped the smell wouldn’t linger there. This shampoo/conditioner combo gets a big fat FAIL.

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Supergoop! What a fun name. So, around the time I started experimenting with this box of products I also started using my brand new Smashbox BB cream (Finally!!). My thoughts on that will come a little later, but I have found that this is a great layered underneath the BB cream for additional sun protection and moisture. I really like this. It’s not oily and it gives me more sun protection than a 10 or 15 block which is in most daily moisturizers. It would be a great option for layering under mineral makeup as well (I think, it’s definitely worth a shot either way).

Once this runs out, I think I may actually buy some for semi-every day use. Two thumbs up.

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An eye pencil! Yay!! Maybe I will now officially be able to do my beloved (yet elusive) cat eye! This eye pencil glided on amazingly well, shockingly well. I’m used to using darker powders for a smudgy (and rather forgiving) look, and this went on straight and true the very first swipe.

Unfortunately, I tried it about 10 minutes before I had to get the whole family in the car and off to daycare and work. I don’t know if I am entirely comfortable with the harshness of a black liner. It may also be that I am a moron and it looked terrible. It did kind of look ridiculous. I need someone to hold my hand and show me how to do it. But also maybe with a grey? I’m not sure. It just felt so brash and over the top.

The good/bad news is that it was a BITCH To come off. Holy hell. I had to scrub at it and apply multiple applications of coconut oil (my go-to for stubborn makeup removal now) all while Kamel was calling to me that, “Lauren! We’re going to be late!” I was two seconds away from running out the door with 1 eye all fucked up from a botched eye-liner removal. So yay long lasting? Just don’t fuck it up… But ultimately I just don’t feel like I’m ready for an undertaking like: Real person eyeliner.

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Now then!! I wanted to talk to you about the products I actually do use. Things have changed quite a lot from when I started this experiment. I am, though it may not seem so with the above reviews, actually way more comfortable with makeup and products in general. So, everything above is everything I use fairly regularly. I wear this stuff to work, not just on the rare rare fancy occasion. A year ago I would wear mascara, maybe some powder and that’s it. And there is nothing wrong with that at all, that’s still what I wear sometimes, but the reason I wasn’t wearing anything else wasn’t because I didn’t want to – it was because I wasn’t comfortable with it. I’ve learned that makeup is fun, not scary. And that’s a big step for me.

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So, first – the item I’ve been lusting after for quite awhile. The Smashbox BB Cream in very pasty. Actually, I think it is called “Light.”

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It’s hilarious because it looks like a concealer in this picture, but it really isn’t. It does smooth out any darkness around my eyes, and generally evens out m complexion. I tend to have some unevenness, especially if I’m tired and this helps brighten me up a bit without being 1) complicated or 2) too heavy.

The first time I used it I definitely used too much. With BB/CC creams it really depends on the product how much you need to squeeze out. So for my face I need a little more than what is shown above and that’s it. I’ve also noticed that it can be a little drying for me, so using a light light light lotion, either blended in with the BB cream or as a base layer works best for me. And then if I am feeling ambitious I’ll finish it off with a multi-tonal powder, but I don’t find it overly necessary.

It’s pretty expensive and I don’t know if I like it more than the Olay one I had been using before, honestly. I might try the Garnier option that someone mentioned in comments just to compare. I mean, Smashbox clearly makes a good product, but I’m not interested in using it like a concealer, I just need something to rub around on my face to make me look a smidge better than I do when I roll out of bed. This does, but… I don’t know, I feel like it isn’t quite “everything I need in 1 bottle.” I do like it, but I’m not 100% there yet. Does anyone else have experience with Smashbox BB cream? Did it live up to your expectations?

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This is an eye shadow sample my mom got in her free gift bag with purchse. I love it. I use it for a smoky look all of the time. Although – I don’t really know what to use the pink for. I worry it would make me look crazed. Thoughts? I’m assuming it is a highlighter for the crease of your eye but it intimidates me.

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For Chistmas I asked for, basically, a bareMinerals starter kit and these eyeshadows were in it. I love the gold, I love the brown, they are perfect and I love love love me some bareMinerals.

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Speaking of Christmas, I also got a Clinique face wash and lotion gift set. I use the face wash with my Clairsonic and it is the greatest. It smells really really good and is gentle on my sensitive skin and it does a fantastic job. Clinic lotion is classic. It can be a little heavy, but with my dry skin I’m cool with it. Plus I alternate with the BB cream, or I mix them together, or I go with the Supergoop, depending on the weather.

If you’re looking to upgrade your face wash/lotion routine (I was, I felt like it was time for some grownup shit), I highly recommend.

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This is the greatest lip gloss/chapstick thingy ever. EVER!!!!!! And I don’t even like Rose scented stuff!

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It has a little tint, which is very much welcome in my life, and it is incredibly smooth, not overly thick, and I just ordered 2 more kinds because this lives on my nightstand but I also want one for my desk at work and my purse. Ba. Bam. It’s happening. Anyone who lives chapstick as much as I do…. don’t even hesitate! Go buy this right now! It can be hard to find in real life but I found it here. Does anyone else use this? I know it can also be good for your hands, too.

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Mascara! bareMinerals again. I love this because of its brush head. I find it a little clumpy so I’m still kind of bouncing around between a few, but this is my every day standard.

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Look at that spiral. it’s just so cool to me, and it does a pretty good job, better than a standard brush head, that’s for sure. But the clumping. I just recently wiped it off and things have been better since this picture was taken but still… it can be kind of annoying.

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And last, but not least, some Moxie lip gloss. I don’t use it that often because it wears off and I don’t feel like reapplying. But! I use it probably a few times a week. I just feel like the color and the application head and how long it lasts makes it a way superior lip gloss, and I have used some expensive damn lip glosses for weddings and stuff. This one kicks their butts. But I am also starting to feel like I want to move away from the gloss world and use a lip pencil with some of the rosebud stuff over the top of it, or just something a little longer lasting and a little more subtle.

To be honest, the whole lip stain thing I was trying to make happen a few months ago just never took off. It does dry out my lips and I don’t feel like I can maintain it while I’m at work. Suggestion? I’m kind of afraid of lipsticks, I worry they will be like the eye liner and overpower me and make me feel like a clown. Even though! I feel like they look amazing on 80% of women who wear them…. 20% not so much. Maybe I am just in the 20%…

So, what are your go-to every day products? What has changed for you in the last year in regards to your routine? Have you taken any risks? Have any of them been a success long enough to stick around? We little over half way through this product journey and I’m hoping I can still roll out a few more new discoveries in the months to come.

(Beauty) Products: Review 5/12

It’s taken me longer than usual to write this one up because for many weeks there I was not wearing any kind of makeup. The pink eye lingered forEVER and I didn’t want to contaminate anything. That is not a glamorous reason. I wish it was because I had been on the beach for a month and the salt spray and sun screen were all I needed. I wish.

First I tried this amazing hair oil from the same brand that made that shampoo I really loved.

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The Beauty Protector Hair Oil did scare me a teensy tiny bit. I mean, hair mask? I got that ish. That is like shea butter for your locks, it makes sense to me. This kind of reminded me of the old Vio5 Hot Oil Treatments that were always on TV in the 90s. And I’m not totally sure how I’m supposed to use this, but what I did was after the shower I put about a pea size in my palm, “emulsified” it (I know that term from queer eye for the straight guy, PS), and then ran it through the bulk of my hair, except my scalp. Then I blow dried.

And I had the BEST hair day! I couldn’t believe it!

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Next up was this killer nail polish I have yet to use but will be using at my next nail appointment because COLOR. Look at this color!

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I have literally no idea about this brand, though. So I cannot vouch for the quality yet. Has anyone ever used it? Will report back on this one.

The next thing I tried was a matte finish pore refining cream. I couldn’t figure out how to use this for the longest time. It said “over or under makeup, reapply as needed.” At first before I read that I thought maybe it was a lotion, but it didn’t make sense to use it over makeup. And then when I opened the cap it kind of looked like a BB cream.

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But! when I rubbed it between my hands it didn’t absorb… it like… vanished into thin air. Poof! It’s called Dr. Brandt Pores No More. So then, I was kind of perplexed on how to put it on my face. A makeup pad? But then a lot of it would go on the pad. Squirt it directly on? That seemed messy. So, I just swiped some across the tops of my cheeks, the bridge of my nose, and more forehead. Then, I rubbed it in (more like smoothed it around). It definitely put a matte finish on my skin and did give me that “foundation + powder” mask feel and not in a bad way. But then I wondered if it was all in my head.

The hard part for me is judging this product. When should I put it on? After or before lotion? I need lotion every day and it felt weird to put it on over my lotion, but then I felt dry without lotion. Conundrum. And then when would I put, say, concealer? And does this stuff mean I don’t use powder? Basically I feel like I’m either way over thinking this, or it is a step beyond my advancement level (advancement level: noob, to be clear). Has anyone else used a product like this? Thoughts? Help?

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Last, but not least, was the Juicy Couture La La fragrance sample which I did not try and will be going in the give away pile for the end of this experiment.

Oh, and there were also these weird breath mints that looked like bath salts. I’m having Kamel try them tomorrow. Weird.

What’s been going on in your beauty world lately? I am currently lusting after the extreme cat-eye on Lena Dunham in the latest Glamour I read at the nail place. I still have a fantasy of cat-eyeing it up every day. Sigh.

(Beauty) Products: Review 4/12

At the end of this I’m gearing up to have a pretty sweet little give away box. I’ve been scheming on what kind of contest I want to pull. Suggestions welcome!

So it took me a while to get through this month’s Birchbox of samples because it was shipped to my parent’s house and then we went to Chicago, and yadda yadda, I didn’t get it until the Superbowl. This batch is all about smell. Win or lose, smell is major to me. I am pretty picky about scents. My sniffer is sensitive and I prefer clean scents, lemony, sometimes spicy, feminine. I can’t do flowers, I can’t do overly sweet. But you might love that! So ya know, grain of salt with my opinions as always.

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First up, Tea! I was like… ok, sure, tea. I like tea. Lately I have been drinking boat loads of mint tea. This tea was fine, it was free, woul dI go out and buy it? No. The fruity tea kind of tasted like hot koolaid. Maybe you would like some hot koolaid? You could buy this tea, or not.

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Dry Shampoo! So confession: I bought dry shampoo a little while ago and it was white and it made my hair look crazy, and I don’t want to have to brush it out because I would only use dry shampoo if my hair looked awesome without a shower and I wanted to keep my curls/waves/ bigness, and if I brush it out it just ruins whatever I had going for me. So, I’m not a fan. I don’t have greasy hair and I prefer a little hairspray to boost stuff up a little. So this will be added into the giveaway!

Another addition will be this mascara:

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It is completely natural mascara, and comes in this beautiful applicator. I didn’t use it because I have found my favorite mascara (more on that to come) and I thought it would be nice to give this unused into the giveaway prize pack. So I expect some reader reviews to whomever gets this bundle! I am very curious.

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This body butter could not have come at a better time. I was looking at the tops of me feet the other day and it looked like I had been swimming for a week and I have not been swimming at all. Yikes. This lotion is not at all thick, but it is very nourishing. Do you see the teensy tiny print at the bottom of butter that says “pomegranate”? That is my only bummer. If you love a sweet smell, then this is the lotion for you. It isn’t crazy sweet, I just kept getting waffs of the lotion all day long (it really lasts!) and thinking I was smelling someone else. It was kind of delightful, but it was just a little much for me. If this came in verbena I would be all over it.  I’m still using it though! As a free sample I am two thumbs up.

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Ok serums! Do you use them? I do not know if I believe in them. It gets filed under the “probably doesn’t hurt” headline. Will it make you Cindy Crawford? Do you want to be Cindy Crawford? I would have to answers I don’t know to both counts. So! I gave it a try, I followed the instructions: Use after washing and toner, but before moisturizer. Ok. Use 2-3 drops (the dropper excites me). Two-three drops is not enough unless I am only applying to “trouble spots” but I am too young for “trouble spots” so I just used enough to cover most of my face. And then I spilled half of it on my bathroom counter because… ya know, I WOULD. So then I wiped that up with my fingers and applied that to my face too, because lest the serum go to waste!

Here is the thing: It smells like… hot dog water.

Let me give you a minute to digest that.

Since the first time I used it I have been thinking about how I was going to describe this to you. I really did not find it enjoyable. But! In the spirit of science I used it again… HOT DOG WATER ON MY FACE. It is such a yucky smell and I am sure you would need to use this in some sort of regular regimen for quite a while to see any benefits and nope nope nope. I couldn’t do it. Hot dog water. I don’t care what benefits Vitamin C on my skin can give me, I’ll have some orange juice thanks.