Face Mask Essentials

face masks

Ask me for one of my top skincare tips and I'll tell you that I love a good face mask.

I love them so much that I have an obscene amount on my bathroom shelf. Seriously, there are so many.

Basically, I'm obsessed with skincare that actually makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something with it. I like to feel a difference from using the product (but I mean, who doesn't?). Plus, I like the whole experience of applying it, hanging out and relaxing for a little while, then feeling all refreshed after taking it off. I mean, I do not like the washing it off process. It sucks. But it's worth it in the end.

Face masks are the best because you can name your skin concern and theres probably at least five good options out there for you to try. Hydration issues? Face mask. Excess oil? Face mask. Fine lines? Face mask. Improve pores / pull out impurities? Face mask.

You get it.

Here are some of my favorite ones:

Origins Clear Improvement™ Active Charcoal Mask To Clear Pores
This mask is good for all skin types! There's Bamboo Charcoal to draw out pore-cloggers, white China clay to absorb environmental toxins, and lecithin to dissolve impurities. I'm all for fighting the environmental toxins because I feel like that's my biggest issue when it comes to my skin. It also helps with dryness and uneven texture. My face feels clean and completely refreshed after washing this one off. I actually just used this one the other day!

Caudalie Instant Detox Mask
I included this mask a while ago in a post about acne spot treatments because it's great. It clears the pores of impurities and toxins, purifies from pollution, and invigorates lackluster skin. It has pink clay and coffee to clarify, and we all know how I feel about coffee. There's also papaya enzymes, which soothes redness. For me, you really notice a difference after using this mask and your face feels really clean and firm.

Mario Badescu 'Super Collagen' Mask
This collagen mask tightens and nourishes skin. Plus, it can reduce redness and irritation. Its the most affordable collagen mask I've found and you can feel it cooling and tightening your face. Really, it's $18. Okay. You need it. I really love this brand in general because its good quality for a good price.

Dr. Brandt Skincare MAGNETIGHT Age-Defier™
I'm obsessed with this one. It helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and removes excess oil from the skin. Also, you don't have to wash it off. Win. You use a magnet to almost wipe the mask off of your skin. Just make sure you cover the magnet in tissue because the mask will not come off of the magnet. Believe me on that one. Also, don't wash your face after. Just tap in whatever is left from the mask.

Honestly, I live for masks.

They just have so many benefits and I'm all for prevention when it comes to skincare. I'd rather obsessively apply masks than struggle with fighting wrinkles and damaged skin later on. 

My advice, pick a mask and commit to it! I'll use one of these once or twice a week for a few weeks, and then switch things up. You'll really start to notice a difference in your skin!

+ more posts about masks here and here

Fall Nail Faves + 5 Minute Mani Tips

essie and opi polishes

✘ Just a heads up! Links marked with an "*" are affiliate links, which means I'll earn a small commission if you buy through them.

I'm trying to avoid wearing my dark, basically black, nail polish shades for as long as possible. Somewhat because I'm trying to avoid be that girl who always has on the same nail color (if you were wondering, it's Lincoln Park After Dark), mainly because I'm trying to avoid staining my nails. Plus it's such a pain to take off dark colors and no one has time for that.

It's still a guaranteed over 75 degrees, so I'm pretty content wearing lighter shades. But since it is fall, I'm going with ones that have more muted tones. Here are my current faves:

O.P.I. - Got the Blues for Red

Essie Gel Couture - Pinned Up

Essie - BBF Boy Best Friend

Essie - Smokin' Hot

Whenever I change my nail color, I always make sure I have time to do a quick manicure. It helps your polish last longer and keeps your nails/hands healthy! And who doesn't want that? I usually try to do this right after a shower so I don't have to worry about soaking my hands. But make sure to take your old polish off before getting in the shower!

5 minute mani tips:

  • push back your cuticles while they're still soft from the shower.
  • use some cuticle oil (I like to use this one by Essie* or this Josie Maran oil that I originally  bought for my face). 
  • file/shape your nails (I only use a nail clipper if they're really long and I want them significantly shorter, or if I'm trying to go from rounded to square nails).
  • wash hands well with soap and water or the oil will stop your nail polish from sticking
  • paint your nails! (make sure to apply thin even coats, it's better to have to do 2-3 coats instead of globing on a thick layer).
  • use quick drying drops* if you're short on time

Once your nails are dry, apply hand cream and make sure you really get it around your cuticles. Mine are always extra dry, and this is really important to keep them from being annoying and peeling!

Foam Rolling: Your New Best Friend

foam roller and sneakers

Raise your hand if your muscles get really sore after working out and stretching just isn't cutting it. 

Cool, me too. That's why I want to tell you about your new best friend – a foam roller. Foam rolling is really just convenient self-myofascial release that can be done everyday by people at all levels of fitness. Self-myofascial release, in less complicated terms, is really just massaging your muscles to relieve tightness or trigger points. It can also be done with your hands or a lacrosse ball, but a foam roller makes things easy!

So when your legs are pretty much useless after your leg workout from yesterday, you can use a foam roller to apply pressure to your sore muscles and help them recover faster. Recovering faster means normally functioning legs and not crying every time you have to sit down. (Or go up stairs, which is the worst).

Really, though, foam rolling makes sure that your muscles are elastic, healthy, and ready to go!

Foam rolling can assist in breaking up these muscle knots, resuming normal blood flow and function. The goal to any corrective or recovery technique is to get you back to the point of normal functioning, as if nothing was ever wrong.

But to give you fair warning, it's not a 100% pleasant experience. (It maybe like 89%).

Any kind of deep compression on your muscles is going to feel a little uncomfortable. Especially if you have any trigger points, which are like knots in your muscles. You might feel some (bearable) pain while foam rolling, but you'll feel relief after! (If its more than just an uncomfortable feeling, and actual pain, you should stop and see a doctor!)

So, you want to try it? Here's what to do:

Take 5-10 minutes before or after your workout to try these moves.

Calves: Sit on the floor and lay your calf over the foam roller. Move your leg forward and backward so the foam roller rolls from your ankle to below the knee. Rotate your leg from side to side to get all angles of your calf muscle!

IT Band: Lay on your side with the roller under your hip. Cross your top leg in front and rest your foot on the ground for balance (like you're going to do inner-thigh leg lifts). Roll through your entire outer thigh.

Glutes: Sit on the roller with one knee bent and the other ankle crossed over that knee. (You typically sit like this to stretch your glutes). Lean onto one hip and roll front to back.

Hamstrings: Place the roller under your thighs and roll from your knees to your butt.

Quads: Lay on your stomach with the roller under the front of your thighs. Slowly roll from the top of your hip to right above your knee. (This one is usually pretty uncomfortable).

Now you know what to do, so you obviously need to go out and get a foam roller. Theres a few different kinds you can try: 

Low-density foam rollers have some give so there's less pressure. This is the cheapest option and good for beginners, but the shape will wear out over time.

High-density foam rollers have a firmer surface and will last a few years.

The most intense foam rollers are made of high-density foam that is wrapped around a plastic pipe. This is the one that I have!


Black Friday Guide – What You Need to Get

black friday shopping guide images

✘ Just a heads up! Links marked with an "*" are affiliate links, which means I'll earn a small commission if you buy through them.

While I tend to be more of a Cyber Monday fan (especially since Black Friday now starts at 6pm on Thanksgiving...), there are quite a few Black Friday deals that you should't pass up this year. Plus, the Cyber Monday deals haven't been posted online yet, so I couldn't scope them out for you guys. (Sorry!)

Anyway! If you plan to venture out on Thursday night, or just need some gift ideas in general, here are some of my top picks. I know I'm going to be picking some of them up myself!

Now I know, I know, you probably want the newer one because it's waterproof. But they're really expensive and if you don't mind the original version, there's a pretty good sale on them. 

If you're a runner you 100% need these. For real. They're wireless, they don't fall out, and they sound fantastic. Also, they'll be on sale at Target for $89.99, the lowest price ever. Did I mention they're normally almost $200? Yeah. And Beats are never on sale. You know what I'll be buying. 

If you're just looking for a fitness tracker (a not a smartwatch) this is a pretty great option. Target will have them on sale for only $89.95! I don't know about you, but I'm definitely down for paying $40 less on one of these. 

Bare Minerals - You're Brilliant All Over Face & Color Brush Duo
You know I couldn't make this list without including some goodies from Sephora. This is exclusive is only $10 (a $32 value)! I love Bare Minerals loose powder. 

Urban Decay - After Dark Travel Pencil Set
These eye pencils are the best. And they last so long, too, which is why the travel sizes are totally worth it. They do go fast if you're using them on your lids, but if you stick to your waterline you'll rarely have to sharpen them. 

tarte - Intro to tarte Deluxe Discover Set
Get this for the mascara alone! But the blush from this set is super nice, too. This set is only $10 (a $39 value) as well!

(You only can preview the Sephora sales in their app, so you'll have to head over there to check them out).

Because Netflix...duh. But also, you don't realize how great and convenient an Apple TV is until you use your friend's and then have to go back to living life without one. If you tend to watch tv on your computer, you need an Apple TV. I promise!

If you've found any other must-have Black Friday sales, let me know! 

+ it's been a while, but it's good to be back, thanks for sticking around!

Golden Milk & why everyone is drinking it

golden milk

While I'm always willing to try weird home-made remedies, it's usually for the sake of experiencing it without expecting the results they promise. Mainly because there are so many "trends" now that no one even knows what's real or not!

I've seen a lot of posts about golden milk on Pinterest and other blogs that I follow so it's always been in the back of my mind. But the other day, someone had posted about it in a fitness Facebook group swearing that this helped with their stomach issues (and that they also don't usually fall for health trends/fads). 

That finally gave me the motivation to say "OKAY!" and actually try it. Also, I already had all the ingredients in my apartment–so why not.

My disclaimer for this is that I do not like spicy things. If I feel like I need to eat an entire loaf of bread and drink a gallon of water in order to get rid of the spicy-ness, then it's not worth eating/drinking whatever the spicy thing is. 

Well, unfortunately, golden milk is a little spicy. Not like hot sauce spicy, but burn-your-throat-a-little spicy. Because, y'know, turmeric. However, it still tastes okay and if you add enough honey or maple syrup it dulls the burning. 

SO, why are people drinking golden milk?

Well, it has anti-inflammatory properties, can boost your immune system, and may be a good digestive aid. Some people have also said it helps with anxiety and is really soothing. 

How do you make golden milk?

First of all, there's a lot of recipes that just include turmeric, ginger, milk and some honey. I do not recommend that unless you are 10/10 a fan of turmeric and don't mind drinking something that tastes pretty gross.

If you're a fan of chai lattes and want something a little more enjoyable, follow this recipe:

Make this small spice mixture to store an airtight container:
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger

Heat one cup of milk (I used coconut milk) in a small sauce pan on medium heat until it starts to steam (not boil!), then add in 1 tsp of the spice mixture and stir constantly while heating for another 2 minutes. Don't let it boil!

Once finished, add in 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract and (a decent amount of) honey or maple syrup to taste.

Let me know if you try it!

P.S. People also add golden milk to coffee, so naturally I will be trying that at some point. 

Cold Brew at Home – Slingshot Coffee Concentrate

slingshot coffee concentrate

It's pretty much common knowledge that I have an unhealthy obsession with coffee. Meaning, even if I shouldn't have any more, I'm probably still standing in line at my local coffee shop anyway. I may also be driving up to 45 minutes for a good cup of pour over. Ridiculous.

I've also been crazy stalking both Whole Foods in Tampa to see if they've started stocking bottles of cold brew yet–and I mean useful bottles that will last, none of their single-serve ones that I'd have to purchase seven of in order to get through the week.

Well that day has finally come and I found Slingshot Coffee concentrate. Since it's concentrate, I only need to use about half a cupful each time. Then I add equal parts water and either drink it black or with a little bit of coconut milk. It's not bitter at all, which is great! (And the reason why I can drink it black).

This bottle has lasted me for at least four or five cups, so it's definitely worth the purchase. It also keeps me from excessively stopping for over-priced cups of coffee and drinking too much dairy. (I'm tempted to start carrying cups of coconut milk with me when I know I'm headed to a coffee shop).

My next goal is for my Whole Foods to start carrying Stumptown's new coconut cold brew, because I miss New York and I miss Stumptown Coffee.

Any other cold brew recommendations? Or alternatives to dairy (because I'm still not 100% sold on the coconut milk)?

Spot Treatment for Breakouts

murad and caudalie

My face has been horrible recently. Horrible. And I have absolutely no idea why. I mean it may be because I wasn't making the best healthy choices when it came to food, but still. My face is all broken out in my T-zone and they spots don't want to go away for anything.

I'm not usually prone to crazy breakouts. I'll sometimes get one spot every-so-often, but it's still an annoying one that refuses to budge Regardless, I still try to find a good spot treatment for when it does happen (whether it's a mild spot or a crazy breakout like right now).

The actual spot treatment that I like is Murad's Acne Spot Fast Fix. It's a thin gel with micronized benzoyl peroxide to eliminate bacteria. It is supposed to be non-irritating, but I would recommend only applying a light layer if you have sensitive skin. It works well, but if I put on too much, it can cause some redness.

My other favorite way to heal a breakout (or prevent them!) is to use a detox mask. Both of these masks and be used on your whole face or as a spot treatment. My favorites are the Caudalie Instant Detox Mask and the Origins Clear Improvement® Active Charcoal Mask to Clear Pores.

The Caudalie Instant Detox Mask clears the pores of impurities and toxins, purifies from pollution, and gives your skin a nice boost. Your skin feels tighter, toned, and fresh after using this as a mask, but I also like to apply some as a spot treatment and leave overnight if I realize a spot is forming.

The Origins Clear Improvement® Active Charcoal Mask to Clear Pores does exactly that. The activated charcoal acts like a magnet to draw out deep-dwelling pore-cloggers. As this mask dries, you can kind of see it pulling impurities out of your pores. Once it's try, you rinse it off to leave clean and purified skin! I do use this one as a spot treatment as well, but I don't leave it on overnight because it dries a lot and visibly pulls at the skin surrounding it.

Bleached Hair + Olaplex

bleached hair with olaplex

Olaplex isn't a new thing, but I just recently found someone in my hometown who offers it to her clients. It's a three-part-system that is free of silicone or oils and links broken bonds in the hair during/after chemical services to make them stronger than they were before.

The first two steps, your stylists does while doing your hair. The third step is a take-home treatment that you use as a hair mask once a week. 

Now, my hair isn't super light (I was too traumatized by the last time I lightened my hair to do anything too drastic), but my hair is super sensitive. If I tried to lighten it at all, it would immediately be fried. It also wouldn't curl. My senior year of high school, I had bleach blond hidden highlights (I know what you're thinking and yes it was a poor decision), and the blond strands were like semi-straight pieces of straw mixed in with my curls. 

When I got my hair done with Olaplex, it was like I hadn't sat with chemicals on my hair for a half hour. It still curls, it's completely healthy, and it acts like my normal, non-lightened hair. I mean, my hair isn't bleach blond (which is a good thing), but it's still been lightened a lotI'm also planning on lightening it more at some point, which proves how good Olaplex is because I typically panic about doing anything that might damage my hair.

Plus, my hair feels so smooth and healthy right after using the take-home treatment. It's seriously like magic. 

Favorite Activewear

favorite activewear

It's not that I don't like working out, it's actually the opposite, but sometimes things get busy with school and work and I just don't feel like going to the gym. Everyone always talks about rewarding yourself for going to the gym in order to stay motivated and it's because it's super effective. However, it's not super effective if you're rewarding yourself the way most people do–with junk food. That's why I reward myself with cute new workout clothes. 

First of all, I don't think you should ever completely eliminate foods from your diet if you like them. If I want to have doughnuts one day, I'm going to have the doughnuts and not make myself wait for a specific day to eat them. As long as you're eating a well-rounded diet and treating your body well, you're fine. 

Now because you're already making smart food choices, eating your favorite snacks in moderating, you don't need to reward yourself with a bunch of food and potentially ruin some of your progress. Instead, buy some cute activewear to get you excited about your next trip to the gym!

I'm not a fan of the new, super complicated activewear that's really elaborate because it's not comfortable to workout in. The "athleisure" trend definitely has a time and place, but it's time and place does not include them gym. If my sports bra has a zipper, mesh, and 20 different straps on it, it's not going to be fun to wear to the gym. (It's also not going to be fun to get out of after the gym). 

Here are some of my favorite activewear options:
favorite activewear options

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 

Lululemon has my favorite sports bras and Victoria's Secret has my favorite leggings (the high-waisted ones are the best). I've know Lululemon's leggings are even better, but the VS ones are more affordable. Forever21 also has my favorite cute, but budget-friendly options!

Favorite Cold Weather Beauty Products

first aid beauty lip repair

Surprisingly, it's been pretty cold in Florida this past week. I'm pretty excited to be able to wear all of my sweaters now. Cold weather clothes are my favorite and I love being able to wear layers. (Except when I'm trying to go to the gym–then it's not very fun).

The downside of the cold weather, especially since my body was used to a very humid 80 degrees, is dryness. My hair, skin, and lips are hating the change so I definitely had to step up my moisturizing game.

Between long-time favorites and some recent new purchases, here are some of my must-have cold weather beauty products (and you can shop the images below!):

For dry hair:

Coconut oil treatment - Applying straight up coconut oil to your ends and leaving it on for 20 minutes can be a lifesaver. Just be sure to shampoo well after because it can be difficult to wash out. (But I don't recommend this for super fine hair).

Bumble & bumble quenching masque - Apply to hair once a week for ten minutes to restore moisture.
For dry skin:

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion - A more budget friendly option that hydrates surprisingly well. I love Aveeno products, my mom kept buying them for me insisting that I needed to use more lotion.

Kiehl's Creme De Corps - Hands down my favorite body moisturizer. It's super thick but absorbs really quickly and isn't greasy at all. You can't feel it on, but your skin feels soft all day long.

For dry hands:

Kiehl's Ultimate Strength Hand Salve - I just really love Kiehl's (can you tell?) and their hand salve works just as well as their body moisturizer.

Josie Maran Argan Oil - I wrote a post about all the way's you can use this product a while ago. I can't actually use it on my face, but it's a lifesaver for your cuticles.

L'Occitan Almond Delicious Hands - Non-greasy and super moisturizing, and it's enriched with almond milk and almond oil.

For dry lips:

Bobbi Brown Lip Balm - My personal favorite that I think works the best, my only complaint is that it's not in a tube so you have to apply it with your finger.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Lip Therapy - Another one of the few products that work for my extremely dry lips. Seriously, so good.

Leave any of your suggestions in the comments! (I'm definitely always open to trying more products). 

Whim Nail Polish

nail polish

As of today, I have officially started my last semester of college. I also applied for graduation and I'm already stressed about what I'm going to be doing after graduation.

SO, I would obviously rather talk about my giant nail polish collection that is getting increasingly larger. (Seriously, I may be developing a problem). I usually stick to OPI or Essie because I'm obsessed with them, but I stopped in Ulta while I was home for break and decided to pick up two colors from Whim

Their packing is so cute and minimalist that I couldn't resist. 

Since it was winter break when I bought these, it was officially time to paint my nails (almost) black and keep them that color. I used Catwalk, and to switch things up a little bit, I did an accent nail with their glitter polish in Rock N Stroll.

Whim nail polish is free of DBP, toluene, formaldehyde, camphor and formaldehyde resin. They're supposed to be similar to a gel manicure but without a UV/LED light or special removal. The polish stayed on pretty well without chipping, except the glitter polish did peel off pretty quickly. I really want to try the base coat and top coat, though, and see if using their full "3 step system" works even better.

Whim nail polish is only available at Ulta–so if you want other options that are similar, you can shop them below!