Friday, December 14, 2018

5 Skincare Products I Can't Live Without

I was talking with my best friend about skincare the other day. We do that now, you know. Talk about skincare. Flu shots. Parent teacher conferences. Children's Tylenol. Under eye bags and dry skin. We no longer recap who did what when we went out last night, because we didn't go out last night. We stayed home and watched Netflix and we're not sad. 

As I have gotten older, my skin has changed. I don't consider 35 old at all, but the circles are darker, the bags are bigger, and the struggles are just different. I got some really good advice on my skin that has made a big difference this year. I remember when everything I thought I knew changed. I had just gone through my miscarriage and my skin looked like a mess. I went into grab a product totally unrelated to skincare and talked to a very nice lady I'd gotten a facial from before. She's a licensed esthetician and studied under a French woman who taught her everything she knew about their methods of skincare. Let's be honest, if anyone knows something about looking good without trying, it's the French. She took one look at my face and said "You're not oily." Ehhhh, excuse me? Are you nuts, lady? I have the most oily skin. Everyone knows that. But she visited with me a little bit and took a good look at my skin and said "You're not oily. Those fine lines in your forehead aren't wrinkles. You're dehydrated." Well, I'll be damned.

Cut to me with complete skepticism, hesitantly asking how much it was going to cost to deal with dehydration rather than an oil slick. Luckily she was not interested in trying to sell me a complicated set of products that would pay my light bill twice over. Bless her. Admittedly, I haven't done every single thing her way. I took the parts that I knew would work for me and put them into action immediately, and some of the things I do now are based on what I personally feel like my skin needs or what I can realistically commit to. By no means do I have super dry skin. But I was creating so much excess oil by overly drying my skin, that it's no wonder I couldn't keep it under control. Now I have a much better grasp on what my skin actually needs and how to give it moisture without overdoing it.  Read on to see what I have been using and loving! (Post contains affiliate links. While I may make a small commission, there is no additional cost to you.)

1. Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel. This is not the original cleanser she set me up with. I like the one she had me try originally, but I stumbled across a video series on YouTube by Nerida Joy, a well known esthetician who works on celebrities and generally beautiful people. She strongly recommended not using a foaming cleanser. She only uses gel based cleansers as she feels foaming cleansers contribute to surface dryness. I saw someone else talk about how much they enjoyed this Mario Badescu cleanser so I decided to give it a try because Ulta has a travel size for $7 (travel size is what's linked here). I just repurchased it in the larger size which will last me forever and it was only $14. You really can't beat that price for a good cleanser. It was weird to have a cleanser that didn't suds up at first, but now I'm used to it and I'm really happy with how this one works. 

2. Kora Organics Noni Glow Face Oil. So this is where all my money goes when it comes to skincare. This is the most expensive product I use. I didn't want to love this. In fact, it was so hard to imagine putting oil all over my face. When I saw the price tag I was like "Never mind, I'm good with being a mess. That's a hard no from me." I was able to get a sample of this to take home and try before making a commitment. That sample lasted me forever by the way (as has my regular bottle). I was sold. When the oil is combined with the facial spray I'm going to talk about, it leaves my skin feeling hydrated, fresh, and soft but NEVER like it's oily and gross. Before I swiped that card at the register, I read reviews and they were all outstanding so I'm not the only one who is willing to pay the price for this gem. On days when I don't use it, I miss it. I've said that about coffee creamer before, but never a skincare product. There's a first time for everything. 

3. First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads. I discovered these little gems on my own. I can't even remember how I first ran across them, but they are delightful. I often feel like the texture and tone of my skin is uneven and just not living its best life. These little pads go to work on gently getting the dead stuff off the surface and making my mug look fresher and brighter. They can't fix everything, but they sure do make a lot of things better. If you're in the market for something that makes your skin look and feel a bit brighter and refreshed, give these a try. 

4. Caudalie Grape Water. I know what you're thinking. Water in a can? How gullible can I be? But there's something about this stuff that just makes me never want to be without it. In fact, I just ran out of it a few days ago and I'm feeling real twitchy about it. I need to go get another can ASAP. The super sweet lady who helped me recommended I use this after cleansing in place of a toner and then apply the oil while my face was still wet. You know how you probably used a blue bottle of toner that burned like fire when you were 13? Yeah, this isn't that. In fact, it's made to do the exact opposite. It has an extremely calming effect on the skin and I think that's why I love it so much. One minute you're Ursula, and the next you're Ariel. It's magic. 

5. ELF Lip Exfoliator. For such a small $3 item, this does wonders on my lips in the winter. I always have dry skin on my lips no matter how hydrated I try to keep them. This is such a simple thing, but it works quickly and costs next to nothing. What more could you want? They also make this in a few yummy flavors now. I have the coconut and it's fabulous.

I imagine as time goes on, my skin will just keep changing. I totally don't mind that. Wrinkles and lines are reminders of a life well lived, don't you think? If you decide to try any of these products, please let me know! I'd love to hear your opinion. And if there's something you love that I should try, send me the deets! I love finding new skincare gems. Talk to you soon, friends!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Under $20 Gift Guide!

It's the most wonderful expensive time of the year, y'all! I don't know about you, but every year I try very hard to stick to a budget when it comes to gift giving. Gifts are my love language and if I don't set a limit, I will absolutely go overboard. Can you relate?

After announcing our pregnancy earlier this month (more about that in a later post!) and finally having more energy and less nausea, I wanted to dip my toes back into the world of blogging. I have missed it so much! So in true holiday spirit, I thought I would kick off the season with a gift guide. This isn't just any gift guide though - this is a huge selection of fabulous gifts for $20 OR LESS! Even on a small budget, you can still find gifts that will make someone smile, and that's what it's really all about. 

Ready to jump in? Let's go!

I will be the first to admit, these gifts are pretty girly. In fact, if I'm being fully transparent, these are all gifts I would love to get, and some of them are things I already own. So, if you're trying to shop for someone who isn't into things that are slightly feminine and glam, this may not work for you. However, if you're shopping for someone who typically defines their favorite color as "glitter" then you've come to the right place. The best part is that several of these items are way below $20 which means depending on your spending limit, you could pair them up with a gift card and have a really sweet, beautiful gift - even when you're ballin' on a strict budget! 

For the jewelry lover - I included two of my very favorite pieces that I wear on a weekly basis. This monogram necklace is an absolute classic, and it also comes in silver. You can wear it with everything and it's appropriate for all ages. If you have a die hard jewelry junkie on your list, these beautiful taupe/blush tassel statement earrings are a must-have. They're lightweight and bump every outfit up a notch!

For the gal who loves to be cozy - I included the cutest fuzzy earmuffs that are UNDER $10! The headband has the cutest pearl detail and you seriously can't beat that price. And, because I am obsessed with slippers of all kinds, I had to include a super glam sequin slipper and a classic pink fuzzy version. These will keep your toes toasty and they're also completely worthy of posting on the 'gram. 

For the super sassy girls - You can't go wrong with a pair of pink sunglasses! (Cue Miranda Lambert - unless you don't listen to her, in which case, what are you doing with your life?!) These sunglasses are fun, retro, and completely glam. If you know someone who likes to be extra, these will be her jam, but they won't break your bank account!

For the beauty junkie - Oh, do I have some finds for the beauty lover on your list! First up is portable, lighted vanity mirror in a size that will let you take it anywhere. I use mine daily and I love it! If you know a gal who could use some organization in her life, I included a clear, acrylic organizer that will be a game changer. Everything is neatly put away, but still highly visible. Something every beauty junkie knows? The secret to good makeup starts with tools, so I also included an affordable but high quality brush set from EcoTools. I own several of their brushes and they are fabulous. The pink details make them extra sweet. And honestly, what true beauty addict doesn't want actual products? I gotcha covered. A neutral eyeshadow palette is always a winner and this one is gorgeous. I rounded it out with a super cute bath set from Soap and Glory. Their products are LEGIT. 

For the coffee connoisseur - If you love coffee or hot cocoa, you gotta have a super cute mug to drink it from. It's like, a rule of social media. Drinks were made to go in cute cups. This adorable mug from Target is so sweet and so inexpensive. You'll feel #instafamous when you drink from it, I promise. This would be perfect to pair with a Starbucks gift card and call it a day. You're welcome. 

Here are links to every item you see above! Please note they are affiliate links and while I may make a small commission, there is absolutely no extra cost to you. 

(I apologize that these don't go in order of the picture!)
Acrylic Organizer
Lighted Makeup Mirror
Sequin Slippers
Furry Slippers
Faux Fur Earmuffs
Coffee Mug
EcoTools Brush Set
Morphe Eyeshadow Palette
Initial Necklace
Statement Earrings
Cat Eye Sunglasses
Shower Set

I really hope this gift guide is helpful! If you'd like to see other kinds of gift guides for different budgets or folks on your list, please let me know. I was thinking about doing a few more in different price points (maybe $50 and $100 and under) and I have one coming up specifically for my plus-size ladies who want to help the folks in their life know where and how to shop for them! Most importantly though, I want to deliver the content YOU want to see. Let me know what you're itching to find out about! Let's get jolly, y'all!

Plus Size Gift Guide

Welcome to our next gift guide, friends! This is one that I felt was so important for me to do. As a plus size woman, I know when it comes to clothing or shoes, I'm not the easiest person to buy for. And likewise, when it comes to being questioned about what I might want for Christmas, I'm hesitant to direct people towards clothing and shoes because it's not as simple as walking into any store and grabbing a size medium off the rack. 

I hope by putting this guide together, it will help my plus size friends not be embarrassed about sharing details regarding size and fit. I also hope it will help those who have a plus size gal to shop for find some new places and ideas to snag the perfect gift. The overall goal here is empowerment - both to give and receive!

I want to emphasize that I selected everything here myself. These are brands and styles and products I can recommend without hesitation. The links are affiliate links which means I make a small commission if you order, but this post is not sponsored by any of the companies mentioned. All thoughts and opinions on these items are 100% my own. Although any of these would make a great gift individually, I broke this up into 4 different areas or themes. The upper left corner is geared towards someone who is a little bit glam and girly. The upper right is for someone who loves to be casual and classic. The lower left is for anyone who lives for athleisure or loves to be active. And the lower right has a few ideas for comfy, cozy sleepwear type pieces. Each item has a number and down below I'll tell you why it made the list, and if you click on each item where it's underlined, it will take you right to where you can shop it. Easy.freaking.peasy.

Here we go!


1. Forever 21 Faux Fur Cape This cape is on my personal wish list. Like, for real. I love a good poncho/cape moment so much. These are a perfect gift because the fit is so forgiving on everyone. The faux fur detail makes this something that will not only look incredibly stylish and expensive, but add extra warmth. And because it's from Forever 21, it keeps the price reasonable. It would probably cost twice as much at a department store. If you are shopping for someone who is plus, steer clear of pants and tops at Forever 21. Outerwear like this is a great choice. 
2. Loft Bobble Stitch Sweater I have praised Loft before on the blog. They ventured into plus size clothing earlier this year and nailed it. Select stores are beginning to carry the pieces, but you can always order online. The fit and sizing are great at Loft, and that's why I felt comfortable including this sweater. (A good rule of thumb for all traditional sweaters, if you're unsure, is to size up.) By the way, this sweater is everywhere in the world of blogging and Instagram right now so it's not just me who thinks it's amazing! Black and white is so classic, and the little dot details make it fun and special. 
3. Kate Spade Crossbody w/Bow Detail This gift is in a higher price point, but I had to include it because I know there are handbag hoarders like me out there! This would obviously work for anyone of any size, so give it freely my friends. The bow detail is so cute and anything from Kate is always a gift to be treasured.
4. Lane Bryant Metallic Heeled Sandals Shoe lovers, this one is for you. No matter the season, you always need a pair of shoes you can wear for dressy events and these are fabulous. These could also be paired with jeans honestly, and a metallic neutral goes with every little thing in your closet. If you're buying shoes for someone who is plus, know that we don't all have a wide foot. Some plus ladies are absolutely fine in shoes from any brand in their regular size. But if you know someone who needs a little extra wiggle room, Lane Bryant shoes are always a win. 
5. MAC Shiny Pretty Things Lip Kit This is another gift that is perfect for anyone, of any size. MAC lipsticks have always been at the top of my favorites list, and this has every color you could ever need. If you do have a glam girl or someone beauty obsessed on your list, she will love you forever for this!


6. JCPenney Camo Utility Jacket I have a jacket that's very similar to this, and each time I wear it, someone asks me about it. The reason I'm not afraid to put this on a gift guide is because this cut of jacket typically runs true to size and has a very flattering cut. It's tempting to buy one at less expensive stores like Ross, but the sizing may be a bit off. I have multiple utility jackets and vests from JCPenney and the fit is always true to size, if not a bit generous. This particular jacket also comes in a variety of colors if camo isn't your thing.
7. Metallic Gold Converse Chuck Taylors I own this very shoe in this very color, which makes it a no-brainer for this list. Chuck Taylors are a Converse classic, but they get a super fun twist in this metallic gold color. I wear them with everything from jeans to dresses. Even though my feet are on the wider side, I've never had an issue with Converse. I promise, this is a winner in the gift department!
8. JCPenney Striped Hoodie There's this really icky, out of date myth that plus size women can't wear stripes. FALSE. Plus size women can wear anything they want to, and that includes stripes. This soft, casual hoodie is perfect for layering and because it's meant to be soft and oversized. That also means it's easy to feel good about gifting it to someone because you don't have to worry about buttons, seams, or anything being too tight. If you really want to make someone happy, get them all 4 pieces of the casual and classic section because they could all be worn together for an easy, pulled together look. 
9. Forever 21 Faux Fur Pom Beanie You really can't go wrong with cold weather accessories as gifts. This beanie has the cutest faux fur detail and I can't think of a better neutral than olive green. This is the perfect add-on gift to pair with something else because it comes in under $10 but it packs a big punch on style.  


10. Lane Bryant Floral Leggings Over and over again, I go back to Lane Bryant leggings. They're just a staple in my life. Honestly, if loving athleisure clothing is wrong, I don't want to be right. These leggings are so cute and so fun, and because they're from Lane Bryant, I can assure you the comfort and fit will be fantastic. These are perfect for someone who just wants to be comfy at the grocery store or someone who is at the gym every morning. In fact, they're probably going on my own Christmas list, y'all!
11. Lane Bryant Gym & Tonic Sweatshirt Despite what you may have heard, there are plenty of plus size ladies at the gym simply because they want to feel good and be healthy and NOT because they're desperate to be skinny. But, there are some ladies in the gym putting in hard work, transforming their bodies, and they deserve love, too. Bottom line, if you or someone you know is up in the gym workin' on their fitness, they need this super cute sweatshirt in their life. Period. 
12. New Balance Athletic Shoes If you've made it to this point, then you know I have a somewhat wide-ish foot and not every shoe works for me. Some plus gals have the same issue. Enter New Balance. Where Nike sometimes fails me, New Balance picks up the slack. Their athletic shoes are comfortable, have plenty of width without having to buy a "wide," and this blush color is to die for. Really, what more can you ask for in an athletic shoe? Nothing.
13. Nike Zip-Up Hoodie Traditionally, it has not been easy to find active wear in plus sizes. And there certainly hasn't been a big plus selection within the brands most folks know and wear on a regular basis. However, in the last year or two, Nike has come to play ball - literally. (Cheesy pun totally intended!) This pink zip-up is something just about anyone would love to wear, and all my Nike purchases to date have been a success. Again, add it to my list! Haha!


14. Loft Plaid Pajamas These pajamas are so dang cute. That's all there is to it. I don't know anyone who wouldn't love to get these adorable plaid PJs. All the Christmas feels for these...but I would still wear them year round! Pro tip: Add a monogram to the top to make it extra personalized and thoughtful.
15. Ugg Pom Slippers This is another gift with a more luxury price tag, but they are so good. I got these in a dusty pink color last year and they keep my feet so warm and comfy. I have found that I can wear my true size in Uggs and over time they just kind of mold to your foot. If you want to spoil someone this year, these are a great way to do it. Plus that pom? I die.
16. Fuzzy Plaid Robe I know a robe sounds boring, but this one is absolutely not. It's specifically plus size so don't have to worry about it gaping open in unfortunate places, and it's leopard print. (Again, a perfect piece to monogram if you're into that. I totally am.) It's comfy, cozy, and chic. Not every robe can do that. This one can.

So that's a wrap on my plus-size gift guide. If you enjoyed it or found it helpful, I'd love to know! This was really fun to put together and if it helps even one person have a better gift buying or receiving experience, then it was worth every bit of time and research. Have a fabulous day, and I'll see you back here soon!