The One with a Beauty Crisis

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Almost a year late, my quarter-century beauty crisis has hit in full force. I completely changed up my skincare regimen a couple of months ago – I ran out of everything at once and wanted to try something new. And on top of that, almost all of my makeup products were suddenly old or unsatisfactory. Cue the endless trips to Ulta.

Let me start all of this by saying that I really wanted to make a movement towards more environmentally conscious beauty choices. I downloaded the Think Dirty App and felt really guilty about my current beauty choices for about a week. And then I went in search of accessible but effective conscious beauty. After a couple of tries and slightly underwhelming success, I’ve resigned myself to trying conscious beauty products when readily available, but this isn’t going to be the hill I die on. I’ll go ahead and say that it’s just for now, because I might change my tune later on or find some holy grail products that aren’t full of cancer-causing agents, but for now I’m okay with just finding products that work for my skin, ingredients list be damned.

Skincare is always priority number one on my list. I will buy any product that offers smaller pores or glowing skin. I’m a beauty marketer’s dream. I was committed to Philosophy products for the last few years, made the switch to Origins, and quickly returned to Philosophy. Something about the essential oils in Origins wrecked my skin – I’m used to working with a smooth surface and my face was suddenly rough and bumpy. So I ran back to the Philosophy counter and bought this starter kit and returned a bucket of products back to the sweet Origins lady. Another thing to know – I always return products I’m not satisfied with. If I’m shelling out significant money for a product and it doesn’t work for me, I will absolutely return it. I like to make my beauty dollars work for me. The Philosophy kit I bought includes a peel that I am obsessed with, and my skin is calm and happy again.

Once my face was no longer freaking out, I added this SPF and primer product and use it on days when I want something lighter than my tinted moisturizer, or I’ll use it under my foundation since that doesn’t have SPF. My makeup just glides right on, and for make-up free days it just blurs my skin the tiniest bit. I’ll take all the SPF, please and thank you! To add to my makeup kit, I was super intrigued by Glossier just from reading around some beauty blogs, and made the choice to try their Phase 2 Kit. It includes their famous Boy Brow product, which I LOVE, their Stretch Concealer, which I super LOVE, and the Generation G lipstick, which is like a whole other realm of lip product. Love it all (and get 20% off your Glossier purchase with this link!).

Part of my eco-friendly efforts led me to Honest Beauty, which is a branch of Jessica Alba’s Honest Company. The products had decent reviews, you can opt for a bundle (three or more products at a discount) and it seemed like my solution to finding responsible beauty. Some of the products I super love, and some are just okay. I really like the tinted moisturizer (very thick, but love the coverage) and the luminizing powder (I went with the dark shade for bronzer and the light shade for highlight). I like the eyeliner (I’m not much of an eyeliner gal, so I feel ‘meh’ about each one that I try), and I may have gone a little overkill with the shade of cream blush that I chose, so I passed that along to Momma Bear and she approves. I’m happy with the majority of the products and with the brand overall, and will definitely branch out to their other products later on.

And because supporting local business and mommas working hard for their families is always a bonus, I’ve tried out some Younique products and really enjoyed them. On the skincare side, I have’t personally used Rodan and Fields but my mother does and she is a lady obsessed, I tell you. I’ve tried several Arbonne products and have really liked them, especially the foundation. I know sometimes that companies like these can seem a little much (I’m a total skeptic, I get it), but from my experience the products are legit and the chance to support friends and family is so great. If you need hookups, I’ve got three cousins who sell Younique, a cousin and a friend who sell Rodan and Fields, and a friend who sells Arbonne – just holler at your girl 😉

As a bonus item that is not at all environmentally conscious but I super love – Essie’s new line of gel nail polish. The colors are gorgeous and I’d buy it for the applicator alone. I’m telling you, such a perfect polish brush, plus no chips for a week… I’m in manicure heaven!

I hope that some of my beauty successes (and mistakes!) will help you on your journey. Let’s hold onto all of this stuff really lightly and use it as a way to express and uplift ourselves, and not to hide or define us.

Happy beauty hunting!

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Trunk Club | 02

Well, I went for another trunk from Trunk Club to see if it was as amazing as my first try (sometimes beginners luck rules these things) and my stylist Maggie nailed it again! She sent a trunk full of great work appropriate tops, some fun accessories, and some pants and a romper! We’re still working out fit, but from the 16 items she sent, I kept two – this top and these gorgeous studs. Maggie does a great job picking a variety of pieces that really feel true to my style, but also throwing in fun items that push me out of my comfort zone a little bit! With the end of the semester, I won’t be ordering another trunk right away, but I will probably keep in touch with Maggie and have her work on seasonal trunks for me – like a summer trunk next month!

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(A little about Trunk Club, if you’re interested in the service!) Trunk Club is a styling service that pulls from Nordstrom inventory to create trunks full of complete outfits specifically tailored to you. You have a designated stylist who you create a personal relationship with (usually a phone call at first, then mostly through the messaging app) and who prepares your trunks. The trunks contain 10-15 items (sometimes more!) and you are sent a preview before it ships so that you can eliminate any items or ask for additional items in your trunk. You have ten days to try on the items in the comfort of your own home, and the trunk comes with a return label and complete outfit ideas for each piece included. Once you’ve decided what to keep, the rest gets sent back and you can leave specific responses on the returned items for your stylist to review. There’s no styling fee and no commitment or subscription (although if you wanted a trunk every month, I’m sure your stylist would make that happen!). Trunk Club also honors sale prices, so if your items go on sale during your at-home try on, you get the sale price (this happened with the top I kept from my last trunk!). The quality is excellent, and the personal relationship with my stylist is what really has sold me on Trunk Club. If you sign up with my referral link, you’ll get Maggie as your stylist!

Style items of interest (unrelated to Trunk Club):

Everlane tees. I finally tried them for myself and am completely sold. Sizing differs a lot between styles, but I’d say when in doubt, choose the larger size unless you prefer a really fitted tee. Next I’m interested to try their silk blouses.

This swing dress. I had the black and white and wore it constantly last summer, and just snagged it in orange stripe and solid black this year. If you’re counting, that’s three of the same dress. It’s that good and transitions perfectly from lounge to street.

The perfect black work pants. They exist. After going to the mall and only trying on black pants in six different stores, these were the clear winners. Bonus points for being able to tuck them into taller boots come fall.

Trunk Club | 01

Okay, you caught me. I quit Stitch Fix. After an especially terrible fix (which I wrote customer service about and they graciously sent me a replacement) followed by a mediocre fix, I lost a little faith. While my experience with customer service was consistently great, I just didn’t have enough patience to continue a service that wasn’t quite right for me.

Enter: Trunk Club. It’s a personalized styling service that is backed by Nordstrom. You’re assigned a specific stylist (mine is Maggie and she’s fabulous) who you create a personal relationship with. There’s no subscription and there’s also no styling fee (score!). The trunks are not joking around – you get at least 10-15 items with each shipment and you’re able to preview and edit the trunk before it ships. After receiving my first trunk last week I’m officially in love. A few highlights about the service:

  1. Maggie. She’s the bomb! When I first signed up, we had a 20 minute phone date to talk about fit, gaps in my wardrobe, and my style in general. Maggie gets all my feedback along the way, and even helped me decide what to keep (there’s a messaging app that makes this super simple). With my first trunk, she asked me to try everything so that she could get a better idea on fit and general styles I like.
  2. The trunks. These hefty packages come ready with a return shipping label and are beautifully packed. There’s a personal note from Maggie, and before it even ships out I get a link that takes me to a preview of everything in the trunk – this allowed me to reject an item (I already had a military jacket and knew I didn’t need another one sent) and request additional items.  This preview feature is seriously one of my favorite parts.
  3. The quality. I was totally up front with Maggie about how much I wanted to spend, and she was really respectful of that and sent items that were right in my budget (with a splurge item or two). Since these are brands that Nordstrom carries, you can expect the quality to be high along with some of the price tags. If that makes you uncomfortable (the price, not the quality!), be sure to mention that to your stylist.

From my trunk, I kept two items (a pair of earrings and a scarf) and was able to give Maggie a lot of specific feedback on the items I returned. She’s busy packing up a follow-up trunk for me so that we can nail down fit for good!

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If you’d like to give Trunk Club a try, check my referral link here and you’ll get Maggie as a stylist! And if you have questions about the whole experience, I could literally talk for days about this, so please don’t hesitate to ask!

The One with Photography Gear

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Hi friends, do I have your permission to geek out for a little bit here? Awesome, thanks 🙂

My photography love affair began years ago – probably with the instant camera that printed out teeny little sticker photos? I had an adorable pink point-and-shoot throughout college, but I upgraded to a nicer (still point-and-shoot) Nikon when I started traveling. That Nikon got me some seriously crisp shots during my travels, and I am super thankful for going with a higher quality lens back then. One of my all-time favorite photos was taken with that nifty Nikon, and is so clean.

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The little Nikon (current equivalent here) got me tack sharp images and stunning landscapes, but soon I wanted something with even more capabilities. I dreamed of creamy bokeh, and took the plunge with my first DSLR a little over a year ago. The Canon SL1 is the model I chose, based on my budget and desire for travel. I was initially torn between Nikon (known for sharp images) and Canon (more of a softer feel), but I ended up going with Canon because my main mentor also shot with Canon and I knew I’d be asking her thousands of questions, and because I wanted that soft bokeh that Canon naturally lends itself to. I have absolutely zero regrets choosing Canon. The model I chose is at a really accessible price point (which made it a lovely gift from my father), and is designed as the lightest SLR on the market. This was important to me, largely because I envisioned my main photography outlet being lifestyle – capturing images of my life and loved ones and travel. This camera is absolutely perfect for that purpose, and I love how light and handy it is. It has also performed well in a professional setting, but does leave some to be desired when compared to the big guns. I’ve got my eye on the Canon 6D as my next upgrade if I begin taking more professional gigs.

As far as lenses go, I learned how to use my camera with my kit lens, which was a long process with a steep learning curve. I can’t tell you how many times I would psych myself up to take photos, only to hate every single one. It was frustrating knowing what I wanted my images to look like and not being able to achieve it. After a lot of research, practice upon practice, and time with my photography mentor goddess, I began getting the hang of things and never looked back. After a few months of learning with the kit lens, I upgraded to the 35mm f/2 lens. This lens is my biggest crush, and is so versatile, especially on a cropped-body camera where it performs like a 50 mm lens would on a full-frame camera. This lens is a great go-to, and I would recommend it to anyone. Recently, a friend was selling her gently used 50 mm f/1.8 lens, so I snatched that up to have more options in my bag, and because it’s so light and great for travel. This lens is a little noisy, and almost feels too light to be taken seriously, but actually achieves really great shots and can hold its own. This lens is at a great price point, and would be a nice addition to any gear. Because most of my work is focused on portraits, I find that prime lenses are the best investments for me currently. The next lens I’ll add will likely be a 100 mm lens to nail those detail shots and add more versatility since my two lenses could mostly perform the same purpose.

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As far as editing goes, as soon as I accepted my first paid gig I downloaded and learned Lightroom 6. It’s a pretty intuitive program, and the results are natural and nice (I don’t alter my images to any extreme – the goal is actually to edit as little as possible out of camera). There are a lot of great tutorials out there for the program as well.

And because I’m a total bag lady and am picky about my leather goods (I want it real or not at all), I have the ONA Bowery Camera Bag and the ONA Capri Camera Tote. I use both of these bags for carrying my gear and on a regular basis as my purse sans camera. They’re beautiful and it’s totally excessive to have two camera bags but I love them. The Bowery is great for all day travel, because it’s nice and small and fits my camera plus the essentials – there’s no overloading this bag. The Capri is excellent for toting all of my gear for longer days, can fit extra lenses, a water bottle, and my laptop as well. I use this neoprene wrist strap on my camera, as it encourages me to keep a grip on my camera and  doesn’t get in the way like neck straps sometimes do.

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That’s all for my camera gear! I love finding out what other photogs have in their bag, and I’d love to hear what’s in yours! All links above are through B&H – I’ve purchased almost all of my products through them and have been so pleased with the service every time (free expedited shipping is my love language).