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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Anti-aging Skincare Routine


One day I woke up, looked in the mirror and realized, "Shit, I'm getting older!" It's subtle things I noticed; Like my eyes are more hooded, my eyebrows aren't quite as high, and my skin is not quite as taught. So it's nothing major but I notice it. And if you all are anything like me you're noticing the changes too. 

I've started researching more about anti-aging skincare and applying them to my routine... at least a little bit. According to Reviews.com (an amazing beauty resource btw), the most important ingredients for a great wrinkle cream (aka anti-aging products) are retinol and hyaluronic acid. And the great thing is, we've heard about these for years so they're easily accessible in the products out there at any price range. 

Good news! Reviews.com did reseach on the most effective wrinkle creams with these ingredients and they came up with the top 3 (read more here) one of which is cruelty-free! Yay for cruelty-free anti-aging. 

I haven't tried any of the top 3 yet, but I have been including those ingredients in my cruelty-free skincare routine. I use a hyaluronic acid serum in the morning and a retinol serum at night. 


Daytime Skincare


I keep my morning skincare routine pretty simple because, let's face it, I'm sleepy and don't want to deal with a million steps. But I make sure to get in a few power products with hyaluronic acid and SPF.



Nighttime Skincare


My night skincare routine is more involved as I feel my skin can absorb more overnight. I want a clean slate and lots of great ingredients for my skin to soak up.




Skincare Tips for Anti Aging and Beyond


Over the years of trial and error I feel that I have developed a pretty good cocktail of skincare. I have a few tips to help your skincare routine work it's best at any price point, complexity, or type.


  • Be gentle - this is your face afterall, it's been nice to you. Try to be gentle as you wash, put on products and apply eye creams. 
  • Press in your heavy-hitting produts - After I lightly swipe my serums, oils, and/or moisturizers over my face I got back and press it all in all around my face. This helps the product sink and and ensures you get it all off your fingers.
  • Take your time between steps - some products (serum especially) should settle in before you move on. That's usually when I do the eye cream.
  • Don't forget your neck and decollete - all of the serums, oils, and moisturizers I talk about I'm also applying to these areas.
I hope this post has been helpful to you! I know skincare can sometimes be complicated and confusing. But I swear it gets better - talk to professionals, do your research, and keep trying different things until something works. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

New and Loving: Summer Beauty



I know it's been a long while since I've done a favorites post (see my last one here). Truth be told, I haven't tried too many new products over the last few months... that is until recently. Within the last few weeks I've brought or received a few new products I wanted to share with you all!

So here's which makeup and hair products I've been loving so far this summer!


Tarte 

Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation - fair-light neutral
I've been looking for a new foundation for AGES and haven't found anything. I feel like most foundations are too thick and cakey, too luminous, too matte, too whatever! So I usually do my "foundation" with concealer. But as I'm still always on the search, I got a sample of this at Sephora and really loved it, so I bought the full-size. This almost never happens, so you now it's a big deal.

This foundation is watery as the name would suggest and goes on super thin. It's a light coverage but you can build it up to light/medium. It looks super natural on the skin, which, of course, is the look I'm going for.

Sephora Birthday Gift
Amazonian Clay 12-hour Blush - paaarty
Tarteist Lip Paint - birthday suit

Sephora's gift this year was a good one. I love Tarte blushes but never owned one, so now I do! I really like this color to enhance a really bronzed look. The brown base means it adds nice color to the cheeks without detracting from my bronzy-goddess glow.

Now the lip paint is kind of funny. As you probably know (if not see here and here) I have a love/hate relationship with lipstick of any kind. But I have yet to find a liquid lipstick that I really like at all. This little guy actually shocked me! First the color is the perfect nude, it's very beige but doesn't make you look dead. I don't know how and I don't need to know, it's awesome! The formula is thin and pigmented and stays pretty well. But what I like is that it doesn't ever really dry down, it stays slightly soft and moveable. This means my lips don't turn into dry prunes, score!



Wet n Wild (not pictured)

Photofocus Concealer - light/medium beige

Oops I forgot to add this to the pic, sorry guys! Oh concealer, the other challenge, after foundation and mascara. Hard to get right, so important. This one has become a fave and it's only around $4! What? I use it as a foundation (do you want to see a tutorial of this?) and for any redness or blemishes I have. I'll also use it under my eyes for a more natural look when I'm not looking for an intense highlight.  I think I'm in love!

Vert Beauty

Organic Concealer Pencil - lumiere

Vert is a local green beauty store and brand here in Denver, CO. I was lucky enough to receive a care package from them for summer beauty this June. In the box was this concealer pencil. I'll be honest, I wasn't excited about this product because I've never had much luck with concealer pencils in the past. They can be very waxy and hard to blend. This pencil is so differnt, it's creamy, full coverage, and easy to blend. Been using it pretty much the same as the Wet n Wild concealer and loving it!


Urban Decay

All-Night Setting Spray

Ok, ok we all know, holy grail status. Not even really worth talking about. But this stuff is raved about in the blogger and YouTube worlds for a reason. It is the best at locking in your makeup. I do notice a difference in the longevity of my makeup when I use this, especially for a glam night look. But I also use this daily to take down any powdery-ness and keep my makeup looking fresh.

This is the best, but if it's a little out of your price range, the Wet n Wild Photofocus Setting Spray is a pretty good dupe.


OGX (not cruelty-free)

Renewing Argan Oil of Morocco

I try to be honest with you guys about going cruelty-free with my beauty products. And with that I have to admit that sometimes I buy something that's not cruelty-free. Life happens.

Before my vacation I was having ridiculously dry, brittle, straw-like hair. And I wasn't having any of it. It just kept getting worse and worse. So the day before my trip I made a stop at Walmart for some Argan Oil and this is what I found. And like it or not, it has saved my hair. No more straw! I'm back to soft, manageable hair. I call it a win!

If you know of any good hair oils that are cruelty-free I would love to try them out. Send them my way!

Also, I've been loving this purse for summer so cute and practical. It still holds all my stuff. And I love that I can change the straps; over-the-shoulder, cross-body, and clutch. I'm a sucker for multitasking products!

I hope you all have been enjoying your summer months! I'd love to hear what products are keeping you feeling great this summer... drop them below! And keep enjoying all this sunshine (safely of course).

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Friday, July 7, 2017

5 Tips to Get Out of a Funk

First off, I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July! I am playing around with my blog schedule and formatting so there may be some tweaks in the coming weeks. But please know I will still be posting weekly on this space. Hopefully I'll find a good fit soon :)

 Got the blahs? doldrums? boredom? or funk? Yea me too! We all get that way now and again. Maybe our social lives aren't as lively as we'd like, we're lacking motivation to start something, getting out of the house seems more and more a challenge, that guy/girl hasn't called us back, etc... The list goes on and on and it just gets more and more overwhelming to get yourself back up and functioning again.

I think especially as a single person,  a lot of these feelings/issues are exacerbated by feeling alone and lonely. And though I wish, I could give you the magic formula to find love (I'm still working on that front), I can offer support. I've compiled some tips & tricks that I use to pull myself out of these funky times and back into my life:

#1 - Allow Yourself Some Alone Time


Maybe you're in the doldrums because you need some time alone to recharge and refresh. And you know that's ok. Start a great book or series on Netflix, make a delicious dinner for one, or have an at-home spa night. Just take the cue and focus on yourself for a bit before taking the next steps.

I love to spend time snuggling with my dog and cats. Giving them extra attention is always good for everyone! Also taking time to write in a journal and/or remember what you have to be gateful for in your life are great ways to bring some perspective.

#2 - Say Yes!


The funny thing about having the blahs is that I start to live in this dark state of mind and withdraw from the outside world. So I start then saying no to offers to get out and do something... no bueno. Say yes and get off your couch, into some real clothes, and back into the world.

For example a few weeks ago (when I was pinnacle funky) I was offered to do makeup for a photo shoot by a local blogger (VanessaLand). Normally, I might have talked myself out of this, "Who am I to think I can do makeup for others?" But I talked myself up, picked up my confident mask and said yes! And guess what? It was an amazing experience; I met great ladies, did some beautiful makeup, and was so proud of myself. I walked away from that feeling powerful!



#3 - Reach Out to People


Obviously you've got some free time, so what better way to rekindle a relationship or start a new friendship with someone.

I'm terrible at keeping in touch with friends, so I use this time to reach out and setup happy hour or lunch dates. Also, what a great time to focus on networking. I've made some great connections online and in person by actively reaching out to other bloggers.

#4 - Do Something that Scares You 


As you may remember from my birthday post (here) one of my goals this year was to not let fear rule me. And to that point doing something that makes me afraid or nervous can do wonders for my mood.

Just this last weekend I went shooting for the first time. At first, I was terrified! Here I had a gun in my hand that could potentially kill me or others, and it was scarey. But as I went on and learned about the weapons, safeties, and aiming I became more comfortable. And I walked away feeling empowered and so proud of myself. It's a high that I could get used to!




#5 - Set or Re-evaluate Your Goals


I often find the reason behind my blahs is that I'm unhappy with where I am in life. I don't know about you all, but I often feel stuck. And as much as I'd like to think a new relationship, job, degree, or whatever will fix that, it's usually that I'm not actively pursuing the things I want out of life.

In my most recent bout of funk I was really unhappy with my job and started job searching. But it dawned on me that I actually should go back to school, as that will help me more in my future than a new position. Even just the act of researching degrees and schools, helped pull me out of the funk.

I hope these tips help you the next time you're in a funk that you just can't seem to crawl out of! Good luck to you all and remember "if we're all alone, then we're all in that together" (quote from P.S. I Love You).

Have a great week lovelies!

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

My Trip to Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica

This is not a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.

Until this trip I hadn't been on a vacation in 13 years! Can you believe it? It was a well over-due trip that I'm so glad I got to make with my mom. She had been wanting a beach vacation and I wanted to try some place new and exotic, so we landed on Costa Rica. And I could haven been happier with that decision.

I used Apple Vacations online to book the vacation. I'd used them before (13 years ago) and knew they were reputable. Using their site and Trip Advisor I looked at lots of reviews and finally decided on Secrets Papagayo. I liked that it was an adults only, all-inclusive resort that had high reviews... sold! We booked 4 nights in June.  

I will say flying there from Denver is no picnic, as direct flights were hard to come by and much more expensive. So it was about 12 hours each way of flights and layovers... not fun. But so worth it! When the day finally came to leave I was so nervous that my mom wouldn't like it or the resort would live up to the hype. I couldn't have been more wrong. 

Landing in Costa Rica was shock as the heat and humidity hit you in the face on the jetway (hey I'm from Colorado, 20% humidity is too much) but the airport is nice and they move you through customs quickly. Unfortunately my mom's bag was lost in our layover in Miami, so it took a while for us to file the claim, find the luggage, and setup a delivery to our hotel the next day. I was concerned about transportation, but I shouldn't have been. The van had waited for us and were ready when we got there.


The resort is only about 30 minutes from the airport so the ride wasn't long and the driver gave us a mini tour and lesson on Costa Rica for the trip. Pulling up to the resort was lovely as their check-in/lobby is beautiful and tropical. The bellhops were extremely friendly welcoming you and getting your bags organized.

Check-in also went smoothly, and of course there's a littel sales pitch about their rewards program, but you get a drink and it only lasted about 15 minutes (pretty good I thought). Then off to the room! 

To get around the resort they have shuttles, which are just larger golf carts. And man are they zippy! The driver asked our names and room number and didn't forget us the entire time we were there. Then it was up some stairs (there are a lot of stairs at this place, not for the faint of heart...or knees) to our lovely bungalow. 

To describe the rest of our stay I've divded my post into a few sections to make it easier; Facilities, Food, Activities, Nature and Weather, Staff.



Facilities


The room was beautiful and breezy with great air conditioning and a huge king sized bed (shared with my mom). The bathroom was also lovely, but these rooms are meant for couples as there isn't much privacy from the bathroom area to the room.



The entire complex is beautiful. It's set into a hill on the bay off the Pacific Ocean. So there are many hills, and as I mentioned, stairs in the resort, but that's what the shuttles were for. They were really easy to access, we never waited more than 5 minutes to be picked up.

All the bathrooms, pool areas, restaurants, and rooms were clean and well maintained. Everything seemed very tropical and gorgeous and there were all types of plants and flowers to see, didn't chairs to sit in, swings, and nooks, and anything else you might need in a resort setting.


Food


I've got to say I wasn't expecting much in regards to food. I thought it'd be pretty standard hotel fair but would get us through. And as it was an all-inclusive resort it was "free" so I wouldn't complain. But let me tel you, MIND BLOWN! The food was amazing! Whod've thought?

There is a buffet, 3 a la carte restaurants, a coffee shop, and room service provided. Along with a number of bars that may serve food as well. 

Market Cafe (buffet) - We ate here for every breakfast and lunch and were never disappointed. They had a Costa Rican station for more of a local flavor, and then everything else you could want. The food was delicous, different each day, and new and surprising. I especially loved the arepas and seafood salad (with the largest muscles I've ever seen). And their coffee was really good, this is important and I was pleasantly surprised.

Hitmitsu (asian fusion) - This is an a la carte restaurant with asian food and sushi. To be honest we ate there twice and only had sushi both times, so I can't comment on their other dishes. The sushi wasn't the best, but it was good with some interesting flavors I hadn't tried before. They included guajillo chile and mango in some of there rolls to blend the cultures' flavors... pretty tasty.

Seaside Grill - By far my favorite meal of the trip! I'm not usually a big steak person but my mom is, so I gave in and we went for dinner one night. Oh man, I'm so glad I did it was so good. The steak was tender and cooked medium-rare per my request. My meal included a potato, truffle puree which was delicious! And I got a fried calamari appetizer as well and it was the best calamari of my life! No tough chewiness here, just yummy-ness.




















Activities


The hotel offers many activities from pool volleyball, hikes, and water aerobics, to wine tasting and fruit carving, to kayaking and paddle boarding. Some were free and some were an extra charge, but nothing was very exspensive. Unfortunately, because we were only there for 3 full days, we didn't participate much, but if I ever went back I'd definitely want to do more as it looked so fun.

There were a good amount of excursions available as well and again they were affordable (as far as excursions go) and they come in half-day or full-day options. We chose a half-day option as we'd just got off a long travel day and did the Jungle Boat Cruise. 

The morning of the excursion we're picked up by the tour bus with a friendly tour guide. He spoke about Costa Rica, the towns, produce, and animals. He continued as our guide through the boat tour as well which was nice.




The boat took us up and down a murky brown river with lush forest on either side. We saw many birds, lizards, and dragonflies. But we also saw some baby and fully-grown crocodiles (no thank you!), bats, and howler monkeys. It was a beautiful ride with lots of information about the local animals and plants. The guide and driver truly want you to see animals, so they try really hard to find them for you.




















Nature and Weather


First off, I knew we were going in the wet season (About May-October) so I should've expected all the rain, but I didn't. Most mornings were nice and warm, but cloudy. Then in the afternoons the rains would come in... you could actually see it off the bay. It would rain usually from about 2pm to 5 or 6pm and then would clear up, until it rained again overnight. All the rain did make the grounds and forests so beautiful and green, but it did limit what we could do in a day.

But as I said all the drives, hikes, and boat rides were so amazingly green because of the rain I couldn't hate on it too badly. As you've noticed I'm sure, I was obsessed with the green landscape. Where we were (Guanacaste) is considered a dry forest so during the dry season apparently there's a lot of brown. About 2-3 hours away from the hotel are the rain and cloud forests, which I will definitely be going back to see!

The beach at the resort was also really nice. It is a black sand beach with the trees and greenery coming down pretty far. The water was clear and also a lot warmer than I was expecting.



Staff


The staff at the hotel was outstanding! When we arrived we were greeted with "Welcome Home" and I feel the staff truly wanted you to feel at home and enjoy every aspect of your stay. The shuttle drivers often remembered our room number and names, the bartenders were willing to help me with my Spanish and created all kinds of drinks, the waiters and waitresses were always very kind and helpful. 

It was often explained to us that "Pura Vida" is the national saying of Costa Rica. Literally it means a life that is pure, but colloquially it is used for everything (like OK in English). I heard it used for thank you, I'm fine, and good-bye. Besides being a cool idea I'll be incorporating into my life, it was fun to see the staff use and live it!

Just an FYI... I new that this hotel had couples and romantically things, but I wasn't aware that that's what they cater to. My mom and I were the only non-couple I saw at the hotel. So be warned if you are looking to hand with other singles this may not be the place for you.



Overall, as you can probably tell, I had an amazing time in Costa Rica. I would recommend it, especially Secrets Papagayo to everyone and I can't wait to go back!

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

What I Packed for Costa Rica



I can't believe I'm already gone and back from my vacation to Costa Rica. It was amazing but definitely not long enough. However, I plan on savouring my trip with a lot of pictures and a few blog posts. So watch out for the next few weeks here to see what I got up to at Secrets Papagayo in Costa Rica.

Make a List


I'm always nervous about packing. I mean I dream about it, obsess, and mildly freak out. I feel like I'll forget something important. So to combat this I've developed a habit of writing a list so I don't forget anything. Below is what my list looks like... a little over-the-top, yes. But let me tell you... I didn't forget anything this trip! Yay!


For this post I'll focus on the clothes I brought. I actually had to go out and buy almost an entirely new summer wardrobe for this tip! I am not the most confident when it comes to summer dressing. What can I say? You can hide a multitude of sins behind layers, small clothes and thin fabrics haven't been my friends. So I needed pretty much everything for this trip... swimsuits, shorts, blouses, coverups, etc...


What to Pack


Of course, you're list might be different but this is what I brought on my trip and they served me well! Costa Rica is a tropical environment right above the equator, so I packed all warm weather clothes and swimwear. However, after being there, I would have liked to bring a skirt for dinners as I felt a bit underdressed. 

Swimwear

Swimsuits - I definitely recommend at least 2 swimsuits, I learned the hard way that humid environments mean things don't dry. And putting on a wet swimsuit is hard and disgusting! Between your legs ends up feeling like a heavy-flow day on your "time of the month" and it's just not fun. I brough these 2:

A white swimsuit from Asos that's very girlie with lace and ruffles. But bewarned big-boobed ladies, I needed a safety pin to cage in my ladies in the water (they tend to get a mind of their own)! 

A coloful swimsuit from Target with a lace-up back. I figured this would conteract the white swimsuit as it covers the ladies while showing some back. Also the pattern on this one makes it really flattering.

Coverup - Well you gotta have a cover-up! It's nice to wear on the way to the beach and back and it looks cute too! I got mine from Marshalls (similar here, here, and here)

Bottoms

Shorts - Ok, buying shorts for me is about as fun as a pap smear, but lasts longer! I've got some thighs people, and day-to-day I'm okay with that, but when I was trying on shorts I struggled. I learned that they'd look cute while standing but when I sat my thigh fat would squish out like playdough... not cute! But I did find 3 shorts that I'd like and you know the trick? Stretchy fabric! All 3 are stretchy and so when you sit they keep covering my thighs instead of becoming implements of torture. The jean shorts are from Target and the 2 other from H&M (and they're only $12!).

Jeans - Yes, I know, jeans in a humid and hot place should be a sin! But hear me out, these jeans are very thin and stretchy so I was able to wear them with no problems. And they're embroidered! I've been looking for embroidered jeans forever. Again these are from Marshalls and so I don't have a link... but there are embroidered jeans everywhere!

Tops

My only requirements for tops for this trip were breezy, thin, and sleeveless! It's hot in Costa Rica, so I thought sleeves might be a little much. Here are the shirts I brought, or similar options (Gray, White Eyelet Similar, Floral, Black Tanks Similar Here and Here)



Whew! Well that's pretty much it, I did throw in some workout clothes and few extra t-shirts. So how do you pack for vacation? Lists? Last minute?