May Favorites: Beauty Edition

I've decided to switch things up a bit and post my monthly favorites instead of a wish list.

At the end of each month, I'll post about my favorite new (sometimes old) products and let you know where to pick them up!  The upside: I've actually used these products and know they're good (I'm not just saying "hey, this looks cool and I wanna buy it!").

For my first monthly favorites series, I'm sticking to a single theme--beauty products. They're really the only thing I've purchased recently and I feel like they're the most fitting for the subject.  It's so hard to find beauty products and I rarely ever purchase them without reading reviews first.  So here are my favorites for May!

The Florida Keys

Believe it or not, I had never been to the Keys until this past weekend.  I only live four hours away (I thought it was six--who knew!) but my family has never ventured further south than we already are.

I have been missing out on so much!

If I want to go on vacation, but stay in Florida, the Keys is where I'm going. The water is beautiful! It's the kind you actually want to swim in because its as clear, if not clearer, than a pool.

There is so much to see and such a big area to cover! We stayed in Key Largo (which is the first key) and then drove to Key West (the last key).  It's about a two hour drive, not including traffic, but I wanted to make sure I saw a little bit of everything.

My top five things to do all involve the water, basically.  The ocean is definitely a favorite of mine.  For entertainment purposes, I also have some (slightly random) pictures.

ONE: Snorkeling

Snorkeling is possibly my favorite! I was a little terrified at first, but it ended up being so much fun.  Sitting on a boat, driving out into the open ocean, and hearing that the great white shark (hey, Katherine) is nearby, had me worried--but once we were at the reef and the water cleared up, all of my nerves were gone and I was ready for two hours with the fish.

Equipped for Summer

Now that I'm finally home for summer, I'm planning to spend as much time as possible at the beach.  

Honestly, if I could live there, I would.

My biggest summer essential is always the perfect pair of loose-fitting cut-off shorts.  Whether it's to wear them over my bathing suit, or just on a day spent beachside, I'm looking for the perfect pair every year.  (Especially because you could always use more than one!)

The Levi's 501 cutoffs are definitely the perfect summer shorts.  

The vintage fit and soft cotton make them perfect for hot beach days and that's exactly what I plan to use them for.  They also match with practically everything.

I'm all about having versatile pieces in my wardrobe, so having shorts that I can style multiple ways is a must.  I can dress them down with a baggy tank over my bathing suit, or I could dress them up for a day out with a loose boho style top.

Baggy t-shirt (Anthropologie) // Cardigan (UO) // Levi's 501 Shorts // Sandals (Steve Madden)

You can go to my Pinterest board that is dedicated to the Levi's 501 shorts to check out what styles and images get me inspired for summer by the beach.

Visit Marina Mendez's profile on Pinterest.

You can find the Levi's 501 shorts here where you can shop for your own pair to be sure you are #Equipped!

How do you get equipped for summer?

To Ombre or Not to Ombre

I'm one of those girls who loves getting her hair done.  Actually, I'm pretty sure everyone likes getting their hair done.

I honestly would change my hair all the time if I could--or at least have someone else style it for me once in a while.

My only problem is that there is a limited amount of things you can do with shoulder-length, dark brown, curly hair. (Especially if you want to keep it healthy--ugh!)

Recently (I'm putting complete blame for this on the fact that it's summer) I really want to ombre my hair.  I mean, how could you not? It's the perfect summer hairstyle when paired with loose, beach curls.

Her hair looks so good!
My only problem is lightening my hair-- but by "only problem" I mean "really huge problem because that's how you ombre your hair."

I had bleached peak-a-boo highlights once (we don't talk about those days) and my hair was HORRIBLE. My ends were beyond fried and the pieces were on strike against their natural curl.  My hair looked like it had pieces of straw stuck in it.


After dying it all brown again and then doing the big chop in December, all remnants of that awful decision are gone.

So naturally I'm considering doing something like it again.

I like how this ombre is more subtle.
Maybe if go for the subtle look, I won't have to bleach it.

Maybe (probably) I'm just being optimistic.

What do you think?

To ombre or not to ombre?

xo Marina

Motivational Workout Wear

Cute workout clothes are definitely a big motivator for me.  Probably stemming from years as a dancer, I like coordinating my outfits when going to the gym or yoga.  Taking into consideration my love for shopping, new workout clothes are even more motivating.

Talk about the perfect topic for some Monday motivation.

I'm slightly biased when it comes to choosing what brand to buy.  Nike has always been my favorite--wearing it through dance classes, yoga, gym workouts and around the house. They last forever, they don't stretch out, and they come in some cute patterns and colors as well; but there are a handful of other brands that I buy from every-so-often.

I practically lived in spandex my entire senior year thanks to daily practices, so I'm pretty particular about what I wear.

You can click the button below to check out my top picks for workout attire!

As a publisher/editor , I was able to put my collection together and share it with you through a new app--Mavatar.

It is an iPad app that allows you to search from their supported stores and put your items together in a collection.  Mavatar automatically applies any savings codes to your collection to make sure that you get the best deal! It makes shopping on a budget pretty simple (I'm looking at you, college kids).  

Users are able to shop on their own or view editors' picks.

They do have an extension for your computer that provides the same purpose as the app, but it works slightly different. With it, you shop the compatible sites, add the items to your cart, and then they are automatically picked up by the extension.

Good news, though! They are working on launching a website and iPhone app soon!

Check out Mavatar and let me know your thoughts!

xo Marina

Rainy Season

April showers may be finished, but that doesn't stop the Florida weather.  The amount of great beach days is probably equal to the amount of days we spend trapped inside due to thunderstorms.

This is especially the case in Tampa, where it rains like clockwork.  I ruined countless pairs of shoes during my first year there. I probably should have added "invest in a pair of rain boots" to my list of important lessons I learned as a freshman.

I love Hunter boots and they are on my list of things to buy before school starts again in August.  (Red ones are the way to go, right?).  I may have to get them even earlier depending on hurricane season.

All I know is I'm done with ruining my favorite shoes and I refuse to wear my Jack's in the rain!

What is your must have for rainy weather fashion?

xo Marina

The 10 Most Important Lessons from Freshman Year

Now that I've had a few beach days to recharge after the semester, I feel like my brain is capable of functioning again.  I've also been able to actually think about how my freshman year of college went. Basically, while moving out, I told my parents that it was like Christmas.  Thinking back, though, I did learn a lot from being a freshman in a tiny dorm room a few hours away from home.

1. Never, ever, take a morning class.

Don't do it.  Even if you're a morning person, just don't do it.  It caused me to become a daily coffee drinker.  I mean, I love coffee as it is, but I was practically living on that stuff.

2. Chances are, you can feed yourself for free the entire first week of classes.  

There's typically some sort of "welcome back" week. I know the events sound lame, but there is probably free food.  Good free food. Enjoy.

3. Naps are fantastic.

They're not for kids, they're for college students.  If you think you need one, you do.

4. Even if the dining hall claims to be healthy, it's probably not.

The only thing safe to eat was a salad, and even that was sometimes questionable.  Mini fridges and microwaves are your best friend.  I basically turned into a raw vegetarian for the past eight months.  You can make oatmeal (not instant!) in the microwave in two minutes, and fruit and yogurt makes a great snack.

5. Cancelled classes are a gift.

Cherish them. They don't happen as often as you'd think.

6. Group projects are the worst thing ever.

Working with people isn't a problem, unless these people are fellow college students.  The most valuable tip I can give you is to just take charge.  I was the kid who did the bulk of the group projects in high school, so I decided to avoid that in college--worst. mistake. ever.  College students don't like to meet up or do work, and you don't want to be up at 4 a.m. editing a video in Spanish that's due in four hours. Trust me on this one.

7. There is more on Netflix than you think.

When you have work that you're trying to avoid, or free time for the first time in months, it's amazing what you can find on Netflix.  All those movies that you just skipped over because they sounded stupid? You'll watch them.  Side note--apparently if you switch to Canadian Netflix, there are a lot more options.

8. Leggings are indeed pants.

I do want to specify though: leggings are pants, NOT tights.  Please, for the love of everything, make sure they are not see-through. Also, I recommend long shirts with them.  I don't always follow that rule, but it's a good one to keep in mind.

9. Don't pull an all-nighter.

They're not fun, you need a lot of coffee, and you'll probably get sick. (Just kidding, you definitely will get sick).

10. Get involved.

Again, this is the most valuable advice I can give you.  It was the best decision I made, and it kept me from transferring.  Seriously, I love it being a part of the Center for Student Involvement.  Getting involved is how you make friends, network, and gain life experience.

Do you have any tips?

xo Marina

Must Have Nail Colors

I probably change my nail polish twice a week, and that's the minimum.  I get twitchy when it chips and doesn't look fresh anymore. It's been this ongoing thing since I was younger.  My aunt is a nail technician, and she used to own a salon with my mom, so I've been playing with nail polish for as long as I can remember.

At least that stuck with me, since I'm basically clueless about hair.

Between my aunt's collection and my growing one (I'm constantly sending my aunt lists of nail polishes to find for me) I'm always alternating something different in between wearing my go-to colors.

My top picks for summer come from OPI's Brazil Collection.  I mean, why not? Clearly they're perfect for the beach.

Kiss Me I'm Brazilian -- This is a really cute bubble gum pink color.  I'm actually wearing it right now and it's my current favorite.

Chillin' Like A Villain -- This is from the Muppets Most Wanted Collection.  It's a nice, sheer neutral color.  I first saw it on OPI's Instagram, and even though I have plenty of nude nail polishes--well you can never have too many.

Where Did Suzi's Man-go? -- Another color that I found on OPI's Instagram, this one isn't something I'd normally go for.  I can safely say that orange is not a color that I already own, but it is a recently popular color.  I like this one because it's not a neon orange. It's a lighter color, but it looks less pastel in person than in the picture.

Another important nail polish for summer is a base coat! My favorite is Orly Bonder.  It's a rubberized base coat that will make your polish last longer and prevent you from getting annoying stains from bright or dark polishes (Kiss Me I'm Brazilian will definitely stain!).

But if your nails do stain, using a nail buffer with a little bit of oil on it will fix them.

What are your favorite picks for summer?

xo Marina