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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Favorite Cruelty-Free Hair Products

This post contains products that have been sent to me for review and products I've purchased myself. All opinions are my own.

It's been a long time of me trying and testing hair products but I think I've finally found some great ones I want to share with you all.



Shampoo and Conditioner


Oddly enough I feel like these are the hardest ones to get right. Especially when going cruelty-free and more natural. I feel sometimes maybe my hair just needs silicone to feel soft. But I've stayed strong and found some products that actually make me excited to wash my hair (and that's saying something!).


SheaMoisture

Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Shampoo

I've been using SheaMoisture products for a while, but I've got to say this shampoo blows everything else out of the water. After one wash my hair felt soft and smooth and free of product build-up. Umm... amazing! I'm shocked and desperately in love now with this shampoo. And at this price, everyone can scoop it up.

Maple Holistics

Silk18 Natural Hair Conditioner

This item was sent to me by Maple Holistics to review.
Conditioner has been the hardest product to find. I've found a bunch of average ones and a really pricey one. But finding a cruelty-free, natural conditioner that's afforable and works, forget about it... Well until now. This conditioner was pretty damn good. It makes my hair soft and thick and does some decent detangling. It's not going to make your hair all silky and smooth like a traditional conditioner, but it also doesn't have all those nasty products. And it does make your hair feel healthy, which is the ultimate goal anyway. Am I right?

Also, Maple Holistics has a great option for you to try a free sample before you commit to buying their products. Check it out here!

Christophe Robin

Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt

I got this in a Sephora Play box and was really unsure at first. It literally looks and feels like a salt scrub for your body. But I took a chance and used it on my hair, and wow! The salt bits scrub your scalp which feels amazing and helps with dry scalp. And it gets rid of all the build left in your hair. A little goes a long way, and if you try it you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Other Hair Products


Ok now let's talk about the fun hair stuff; leave-in conditioners, detangles, dry shampoo, and texturizers. You know the heavy lifters that can make or break a good hair day.


EVA NYC

Freshen Up Dry Shampoo


Ever since Batiste started selling in China (and lost it's cruelty-free status) I've been on the hunt for a new dry shampoo. There have been some definite flops (DryBar and Psssst!) but Phyrra recommended this brand so I picked it up at Ulta. Let me tell you, it rocks! It gives volume and de-greases without leaving a heavy white powdery look. All I want in a dry shampoo, and although the scent isn't as nice as the others I listed, it's performance is so good I'll over look that. If you've been searching too, I recommend giving this dry shampoo a shot!

Mane Magic 10-in-1 Primer


Although I've been a fan of the It's a 10 Miracle Leave-in Product for a long time, it's expensive. And more recently it stopped working for my hair. So again I went out on the search and after another recommendation from Phyrra I bought this product. It's essentially a fine mist of a mixture of oils that you spray on your hair. It smells subtle and sprays really evenly. But the most amazing part is that is softens and detangles my dyed blond hair. And that's a feat let me tell you, my hair has been so knotty and dry since I went blond. And I feel there's finally a product that helps! Also I love that it's a heat protectant too, yay for multi-purpose products!

Drybar

Triple Sec 3-in-1


I finally get the big stink about texturizing sprays, and I'm hooked! I use this after curling my hair in place of hairspray. It helps to hold my curls (more like loose waves) in place and provides some volume. I don't know how it works but my hair goes from good to great after a few sprays of this. And that's ok with me. 


These are all the cruelty-free and natural hair products I've been using and loving over the last few months. I hope this helps you find some new goodies, and if you try any I'd love to hear your opinions.

Join the Discussion:

What are your favorite hair products?
Which hair product has been the hardest for you to find in a cruelty-free version?

Have a wonderful week all!



Thursday, October 5, 2017

Fall Wishlist - at Target

Fall Target Wishlist




Every fall I like to do a wishlist (see past posts here and here) because it's my favorite time of year! I love the snuggly sweaters, layering everything, all the boots, and the deeper colors. This year I've been in Target a few times and they're nailing it in fall fashion and all the fall trends for this year. So I've done a store specific wishlist. Keep reading to see what I want for the season and why.

Checkered Blazer

If you've been anywhere in fashion on the internet, you're probably sick of hearing about this trend! Every fall trend report or post I see includes some iteration or another. But I've been suckered in. As I said, I love layering, it just makes me feel so much more put together. And I think a boyfriend-fit blazer like this will be a great outfit addition over sweaters.

A-Line Skirt

Let's put this out there now, I am not a skirt girl. They usually sit on me funny and accentuate my already large hips and stomach. But this summer, on a whim, I tried an a-line skirt on at H&M that I loved (but they didn't have my size). Ever since I've been on the hunt. This one from Target is adorable - there's embroidery, blue, and velvet/corduroy - I love it all!

Statement Sleeves

I can't decide if I love this sweater or if I think it would drive me nuts! But the flowy sillhouette and beautiful sleeves make me happy. I'll be trying this on for sure. And I love the cream white color for this time of year, it breaks up my black & gray wardrobe. 

Buckle Boots

On my fall shopping list this year has been moto or combat boots, and when I saw these...swoon! Now if you follow my Instagram stories you've probably already seen that I bought these and the drama after. I hemmed and hawed over whether or not I was "cool" enough to pull them off. And after trying them on with almost everything I own and much support from family and the online world, I ripped off the tags and decided to keep them. They're so comfy, cool, and add a much needed edge to my minimalistic outfits.

Structured Bag

Finally, I always feel the need to switch out my purse this time of year. I lean towards something more structured and this leopard print steals my heart. I also look for a bag that's easy to carry while wearing all my layers and coats. The handles and long strap would work great for all kinds of weather and clothing. And I would feel so chic wearing it.

Well all, there's my Target Fall Wishlist for this year. I hope these trends inspire you for the fall weather that's right around the corner (or already here depending on where you live). 

Join the Conversation:

What fall trends are you wearing this year?
What gets you most excited for fall?

Take care all! And don't forget to follow me @ Twitter | Instagram | Bloglovin'

Friday, September 29, 2017

Why I've been MIA & A Life Update

Hi all! I know it's been a long time and I haven't been posting much on here. A few things have happened that are making time a hard-to-find commodity for me. 

So sit back, grab a coffee or some chow and let's chat! Oh and these pictures are my last attempt to hold onto summer, it's getting quite chilly here in Colorado. 



Why I've been MIA


This is mostly because I decided to go back to school for my Masters degree this fall. I've been needing to do this for a long time. My career in higher education  requires a grad degree for me to move up. And I love working in colleges and universities so I needed to get this done. After some research, advice from mentors, and some soul searching, I decided to go to an online school for Industrial/Organizational Psychology.

I've been taking 2 classes for about a month and I'm not going to lie. It's been rough! Between reading and assignments I've had trouble finding time for blogging. I'm hoping to get back into it once I get myself on a better schedule but so far it's not been working.


Other Life Updates

Along with school there have been a few other things going on that I thought I'd tell you all about.

Therapy

I started seeing a therapist. I tell you this because I don't want to feel ashamed about it and want to help others feel comfortable talking about it. I'm going to work on how I am in relationships. After my divorce I've been really introspective and I think I've got some issues to work on before I go into another relationship. I may write more about this process I  the future. But it's been so helpful - though really challenging and emotionally draining.

My Dog

Sage has had some medical issues this summer. He's been getting stiff and sore after playing hard or hiking. I took him to the vet and were having to do x-rays and tests. It's hard on him which is hard on me. He's my baby and it makes me sad.

Writing Goals

I got an amazing writing opportunity here I  Denver. It's for print and something new and outside my comfort zone. I'm really excited, but it's also scary and more work! Haha!

Dating

I've stopped dating apps for the moment. As I'm working on myself in therapy I don't know if I'm ready to be "out there" right now. With the apps I was becoming really anxious; why wasn't I getting matches or why weren't people messaging? It messed with my confidence and I hate that! I want to be secure with myself before adding someone new into the mix. And I'm not 100% sure dating apps are the way I want to meet someone.

Money

And finally money has been a problem lately. I've had some big unexpected expenses and some changes in my monthly income. It sucks, flat out! I was doing so well and now it's one issue after another... So disheartening. I'm trying to be more frugal and stick to a strict budget. And that makes blogging about new and interesting products a challenge!


That's All

I hope you've enjoyed this update, I know I always love reading them. I don't mean to complain or bitch but this is my life and as I wrote about recently, life is hard (see that post here) and that's just a fact. These are the things going on in my world. They're good and bad and just complicating things.
I will try to continue blogging as I love doing it but it might be more sporadic than usual. Also I was thinking of doing more makeup tutorials with my current products. Let me know if you'd like something like that.

Well that's all for now thanks for listening!!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

August/September Love Goodly Box Review

I'll be honest, I'm loving the Love Goodly boxes! It's a great cruelty-free and toxin free subscription. The value for money is great, the products are from brands I've never heard of and seem to be high quality, and the variety is pretty awesome. See my last Love Goodly Review here.

And this month (2 months?) was no exception, there was some pretty cool stuff to test out.




Ok enough gushing, let's see what I got in the August/September Love Goodly Box.

Red & Howling

Custom Frenchie Print


Can I just say that when I pulled this print out of the box I literally LOL'd. I don't say that lightly, but it's true, the dog on the end with the rose... adorably hilarious! I will be looking for a frame for this for sure, I need this in my life. The funniest part is that I'm really not all that into french bulldogs. But hey if it's cute and funny who am I to argue?

Garden of Life

Organic Plant Based Protein Bar


Confession time: I ate this bar before I was able to take a picture :( What? I was hungry, you would have done the same. But I can tell you it wasn't bad, though it did have a Cliff Bar taste and texture. I think I'll stick to the RX Bars or Larabars - my faves!

KINDri Los Angeles

Organic Beauty Oil



I love a good oil. I use one religiously at night in place of a moisturizer (at least during the warmer months) my skin just drinks it up. I just bought an oil before I received this box (only if I had known!) so I've been switching back and forth between the two. 

I would say this is a nice oil that sinks into the skin well (not quickly, cause it's an oil) and leaves my skin nice in the morning. I wouldn't say it wows me but it's nice. And I'm not a huge fan of the very citrusy scent.

I do like this oil though for my hair as a mask (do not use on dry hair if you hate oily clumps!). I run it through the ends and put my hair in a bun for a few hours and then shampoo and condition as usual. It left my hair soft and with less frizz. So I think I may turn this into a mask only kind of product.


Johnny Concert Glamour

Eyeshadow - Radioactive



Oh man, I love the duochrome nature of this shadow, it's gorgeous! I just with the product peformed better. The shade is a bronze-green duochrome with a metallic finish. The shadow is very hardly packed though and is hard to get on your brush.

To get it on my lids I first started with a flat brush and swiping it all over my lids. This left a really light wash of color with more of a shine than the duochrome or metallic. Then I tried wetting a brush and using my fingers to pack on a more intense color. I have to say the find works the best, but you have to add a few layers. It is pretty on though still pretty subtle. 

Unfortunately, I have to say I want to love this more than I do.

Z Natural Life

Deodorant



Ah natural deodorants... out there is some mythical unicorn of the deodorants that works, smells nice, is easy to apply, and doesn't break me out. This, however, is not it. But I really want it to be! 

The packaging is genius, take notes every other natural deordorant. The cream product comes out a whole in the top of this oddly phallic packaging and you swipe it on your pits. It also smells pretty nice. But I did find after time out in a hot day I started to smell. I would recommend this for inside, easy-going days. My biggest trouble though, was after a few days of wear I started to break out. Grr... what is in these things?!

Overall, I'm still very happy with this subscription box, even if I wasn't into everything in it. I'm excited every other month to checkout the new products that are coming!

Be sure to watch my InstaStories (@amberbutbetter) for the next Love Goodly unboxing and first impressions!


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Life is Hard - An Honest Talk



When I started Amber But Better just over 3 years ago, I just wanted to talk about going cruelty-free with my beauty products. Since then, it's become so much more than that and I've begun opening up more and more about my life. This is really hard to open up on the internet, especially for me as this is a problem for me all around. But because this space is really all about becoming a better version of myself I will continue to talk about my life with you all. We're friends... maybe a little one-sided, but friends none-the-less.

When I have shared in the past though has been only half the truth. I think I've put a positive spin on my stories; I got a divorce but I'm stronger for it, dating is hard but I'm doing it and am successful, etc... Today I want to share the other side of the story, the side many of us hide when we throw that plastic smile on our faces.
























Things Get Tough


And this truth is that things are not always positive and rosey and going to be okay. Sometimes things just suck! They're shit and awful and you want to cry and scream and give up. This is what happens before all of the other stuff and we dismiss it. At least I do, it's the stuff I have to get over to move on. I'm learning that there is so much to learn and gain when you're in these moments. 

After my separation and divorce I felt awful, like an udder failure. I spent days numb and watching sad movies just so I could cry. It was ugly and difficult.

And more recently I've been trying the whole dating thing online (an app) and at first it was exciting, then it was fun, and then it became harder and harder; like work. When I don't get matches, or some guy ghosts on me, or some guy I went on multiple dates disappeared on me I feel like shit. I feel like I am somehow inadequate and not worthy. It's not a good feeling. I've been anxious and depressed and finally had to uninstall the app from my phone to take a break for a while (I may write more about this in the future). 

Sometimes life just sucks and it's hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel. And I would love to tell you all how I'm doing great now and so excited for the future... blah blah, fucking blah. But this is the real real and I'm being honest. Right now I'm not feeling very good about myself. I question my weight, looks, personality, future, everything! And yes, I'll get out of it one day and I know that I'm really a good person and a total catch.





































All the Emotions are Good


But I've also come to realize that these moments of suck are just as important as the moments after. I'm trying to beccome more comfortable with feeling uncomfortable, sad, angry, and frustrated and all that stuff. Because they're emotions that make me human and allow me to feel all that other good stuff too. I'm allowing myself to feel lonely and sad right now, but I also am trying to move beyond it. No dwelling in these feelings, I just feel them as I need to and continue on. I am also analyzing why I feel this way and working to change my focus on dating, from need to want to date (again, let me know if you want a dating update post).

I know this has been a difficult post and not the normal postivity we all have come to expect from bloggers. But I think this kind of honesty is important, especially on the internet. Things aren't all good all the time. And that's ok because we all go through it! We're all down in the shit together, and I don't know about you but that's actually a comforting thought.

Let's Be Honest Together


I will continue with beauty, style, and confidence posts but I hope to use this platform as an honest space for us to discuss life issues. I hope you're all with me!

On this theme I chose pictures that made me feel uncomfortable, exposed, and out of my element. We're tackling it all on Amber But Better today!

For More Honest Confessions Follow Me @ Twitter | Instagram | Bloglovin'


Thursday, August 10, 2017

June/July Love Goodly Box Review


I thought I'd try a subscription box again, because you know I'm crazy like that. I've tried Petit Vour and the Sephora Play boxes before (see what I thought of Petit Vour). The Sephora Play box was nice and I highly recommend it, but there's no option to choose cruelty-free only, which means it's a crap shoot on whether or not there'd be products I would use.

I liked the idea of the Love Goodly box because it's every other month and all the products are cruelty-free (of course!) and full-size. Keep reding for my review of the Love Goodly box for June/July!


Kat Von D

Everlasting Liquid Lipstick - Lovecraft


I'm sure you're all sick of hearing how I don't like lipsticks but still for some reason keep trying them all. I know blah blah blah... but recently, let me tell you all, I think I've been converted! This formula applies smoothly and is so easy to get the shape you want. I usually apply a thin layer and it covers so well without any streaks. And, of course most importanly, the staying power. It's amazing, this has lasted through drinks and meals and when it does wear off it's pretty even and doesn't look funky. 

I've actually been reaching for this on weekdays (the true testament of a good lipstick)! For the other liquid lipstick that's changed my mind check out my post here.


Faby

Nail Polish - Save the Drive-in


This color is right up my street, it's a metallic dark gray-ish blue and really pretty. I love a dark color for my toe nails... makes me feel sassy I guess. This has to be one of the best formulas I've tried from a cruelty-free nail polish. It's smooth and spreads easily and the color is opaque after one coat without streaking. Though I still used 2 to get a rich color.

And the color is gorgeous! The silver metallic finish makes it unique and shiny. Yay!



Gemtye

Custom Heart Bracelet and Hair Tie (black and turquoise)


I was really excited about these! I'm always wearing hair ties on my wrists or carrying them with me. And I thought it was a cool idea to turn them into jewelry as well. They're cute and simple but functional, yes please! I would say though that they are best for smaller wrists, at least until you stretch them out a bit. I have tiny child-size wrists and they do aren't too tight, but barely. Just something to think about.

Fred + Far

Trillion Pin


A cute pin that supports self-love, I'm down. I'm not really a pin gal but I did put this on my jean jacket and it adds a little bit of fun, or personality or pizazz. I like it. 

New Chapter

Perfect Hair, Skin & Nails

I'll be honest, this was not my favorite product. It's not that I don't think it's a good products or won't work. I just am not really into vitamins as you have to take them with food and I eat at funky hours and blah blah blah excuses. But for me these weren't my favorite part of the box. But I'm going to give them to a girlfriend to try because I hate to waste them.

Overall Thoughts


For my first month of Shop Goodly, I was pleasantly surprised. The Kat Von D lipstick was almost worth the price of the box itself. I think value for money on this is amazing! I like the mix of products that come in the box. But I do hope future boxes have fewer accessories and more beauty (makeup, skincare, haircare, body stuff). So I'm excited for the August/September box, I can wait. 

Don't forget to watch my Instgram stories (@amberbutbetter) for the unboxing and first impressions. Then I'll do a follow-up blog post to give my review.



Thursday, July 27, 2017

Natural Suncare for Summer Fun

Orginally posted for Denver Style Magazine

It's Summer, the sun is out, the clothes are shrinking, and skin it's making it's appearance all over the place. Summer is the perfect time for swimming and beaches and barbecues; but it's also a good time to think about suncare. I know many of us want to get tan during these warmer months, but it's not worth it (at least the sun-rays way) to your skin and health. I'm a pasty girl so I know the allure, but the science of beauty has given us other options. Or you can keep it pasty!


Either way, sunscreen is crucial on sunny or cloudy days. Remember UV rays aren't bothered by clouds, they can get you either way. I just got back from a vacation in Costa Rica where I layed and played in the sun and the clouds. To protect myself I brought a lot of sunscreen - all of it natural, green and cruelty-free... even better!



For the Body

I need a spray for body sunscreen... I don't know about you but I don't have time to play around with rubbing a cream in. This Alba spray was great to get to (almost) all my nooks and crannie. It doesn't have a "sunscreen-y" smell, which I appreciate!



For the Face

I bought a Coola travel pack from Ulta with tinted and non-tinted options. Both worked well and my face never burned, though they do have weird texture you might have to gete used to. It almost feels like a mineral makeup is mixed in with the cream... odd but effective. Also, if you're buying the full size I would suggest the one that's  not tinted as the tint doesn't show up on the skin at all.

For the lips, I used this tinted lip balm by Coola with an SPF 30. I've never burnt my lips but it doesn't sound fun so I don't think I will. This gives you a little color, a nice slip, and is moisturizing, so overall it's just a great lip balm.



For After the Sun (aka when you're burned to a crisp)

In Costa Rica I made a dumb move and didn't but sunscreen on my legs (ah! The shock and horror) so I got burned. It was lame and hurt and I totally learned my lesson. But luckily this Coola Environmental Repair Plus makes the healing process better. It feels nice and cooling on the burn is moisturizing and does help with the pain a bit. Much more comfortable to put on than lotion. Love this stuff!

All these products helped me enjoy my vacation safely and I would recommend them to anyone. I hope you all get to have fun in the sun this Summer. And if you do, remember your protection!



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).

Don't forget to follow me on social media  @ Twitter | Instagram | Bloglovin'



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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