Hi friends. 2021 was a weird one, wasn't it? It's obviously not a surprise that I have been MIA if you pay attention to things like that. I wasn't just absent here, I took what I like to call a "social media quarantine" for most of the year. Which, I'll get into later at the end just in case you're only here for the beauty and product-related content.
So while I've been gone, I never stopped working and trying things out. From skincare mainly, to makeup, and a bunch of things in between that I've found on Tik Tok. Which is my latest obsession and the only thing I ever check or watch in regards to social media. I find it far less toxic and packed with great ideas, cool products, and plenty of motivation. I watch "cleantok" the most, as well as "coffee tik tok". I started cleaning and organizing my entire house as well as redecorating it and doing some very cool upgrades that I would love to show you in a separate post if you're into cleaning, organizing, and home stuff in general. I'm not great at home decor but I like simplistic stuff and I've really loved making coffee, tea, and hot chocolate stations. As well as adding some very affordable but cool home gadgets and stuff. So I think I will do a post about it.
In regards to the beauty world, I got burnt out looking at content all the time but that doesn't mean I stopped trying stuff and taking note of good products. I didn't wear as much makeup because I never had a need to really. In the last few months though I definitely have. I tried a TON of skincare though, especially retinols and acid exfoliators because I never left the house. Therefore, I just babied my skin as much as possible while I was trying stronger "treatment" products.
So, let's just get into skincare since it's the longest:
I've been trying to get through some of my cleansers. I always seem to acquire several cleansers without meaning to. Lately, I've been rotating between Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel from the Caroline Hirons kit, Jordan Samuel Aftershow Cleanser, and Kate Somerville Goat Milk Cleanser. I've still been using cleansing balms as well. I use Glow Recipe Papaya Sorbet Smoothing Enzyme Cleansing Balm, more so in the morning as a gentle cleanse because it has some natural AHA properties to it. I've also been using Banila Co Zero 3 in1 Balm Cleanser for a makeup remover and first cleanse when I do wear makeup. The Oskia Cleanser is my favorite right now though. I definitely want to try more of their products, especially their other cleanser. Mainly I want cleansers that are very gentle on the skin without stripping it but also make the skin feel like it's been thoroughly cleansed.
Next up: treatments. I've tried a lot of retinol-type products. I mean A LOT this last year. I've stuck mostly with the Medik8 Crystal Retinal 3, Shani Darden Retinol Reform, Alpha H Beauty Sleep Power Peel (very strong), Alpha H Vitamin A Serum, and finally Kate Somerville +Retinol Vitamin C Moisturizer (at night only). The Medik8 is my favorite but I'm really liking the Shani Darden one right now because it seems just a little more gentle.
I always love some acid exfoliation, you all know that that. I've not tried a bunch of new ones but I've definitely gone through some. Lately, I've been using the Algenist Bi-Phase to try and use it up because it's been discontinued I guess. However, I did buy the Murad Multi-Acid Peel toner due to it having a similar feel to it and having the separation in the bottle that needs to be shaken up to mix. I used up the Alpha H Liquid Gold Glycolic Acid toner.
I've really gotten into some antioxidants and new peptide products. Specifically, NIOD CIAS 3 serum (this is amazing, everyone that talks about it are right), Alpha H Vitamin B with copper tripeptides, Summer Fridays CC Me Serum (vitamin c), Youth to The People 15% Vitamin C Caffeine Energy Serum, Ordinary Ferulic + Reservatrol Serum, Ordinary Amino Acids + B5 Serum, Ordinary Pycnogenol 5% serum, Inkey List C-50 Blemish Night Treatment, Algenist Blue Algae Vitamin C Serum (this one is new and I really love the texture).
Finally, for soothing products and creams, I've kept things kinda simple. For instance, I really love the Curel Moisture Facial Milk. It's just all-around quite nice. I'm still using plenty of oils. I've been loving the Lancer Omega Hydrating Oil, Algenist Repairing Oil, YENSA CBD Superfood Facial Oil, and some others occasionally. Like Sunday Riley UFO oil when my skin is congested. Also, the Ordinary Borage Seed Oil is nourishing and soothing to dry skin and it's suited for irritated and/or dry skin conditions. I've been using two different mists quite a bit to calm my skin. Those being, Zelens Provitamin D3 Fortifying Mist, and Bliss Rose Gold Rescue Mist. They're extremely soothing to irritated angry skin. Also, I've been using the Algenist Hydrating Essence Toner. I've been using two barrier style products when I use especially strong treatments: the Dermalogica Barrier Repair and Summer Fridays Jet Lag Masque. Just applied very thin layers at night after I'm done with my stronger treatments. If I've not done anything super crazy I keep it simple with just Curel Facial Milk, a Bliss moisturizer (I really like the rose gold line and the vitamin c peptide line.) or the Farmacy Honey Drop lightweight moisturizer, and used up the rest of my Skinfix Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Cream and I'd like to try more of their products because it's very good.
Two random things I've been using are blemish/acne patches or dots. I've been using Peach Slices Acne Spot Dots currently. They have different sizes. It's impressive how much they work at drawing out any gunk inside of a spot. It basically heals itself overnight and there are other brands that are thinner that I've used in the past that you can put on and it basically blends into the skin so you can use them and apply makeup over top as normal and mask the spot completely. I just find them super cool because they do work and I've not found a brand that doesn't work so far. I've also been using the Dermaflash Dermapore Ultrasonic Pore Extractor and Serum Infuser. I don't use it very much lately because I don't have as much texture and dead skin that needs to be removed. I will say that it's very cool how much it can work. It doesn't get out every single blackhead or anything actually I've not seen it get out very many blackheads period but it is very helpful for congested/textured skin in general. Not sure I'd purchase it again because it's so expensive and doesn't get out very many blackheads as promised, but I still use it.
I've also got into Loccitane Almond Concentrate body cream, Jergens Wet Skin Moisturizer, and using a salicylic acid product on my arms because I currently have KP or "chicken skin" on my upper arms currently. I'm using the Bliss Body Acne Spray right now but there are products directly formulated for KP specifically. You can get products for KP over the counter but First Aid Beauty also has really nice products for it that I've talked about before. Also, I use First Aid Beauty Oat and Hemp Multi-Fix Salve on the corners of my lips a lot to either prevent me from getting those little splits in the corners when I notice the skin there feels "tight" or I use it when I already have those little cuts. However, I don't think it's available anymore or at least I've not seen it if it is still available.
As for makeup, I've been trying to use cream products like cream blush and bronzer to see how well I like that because I like the natural look it gives to the face when you aren't wearing a lot of makeup. I've also kind of gotten away from liquid lipstick and started using regular lip liners and bullet lipsticks again, which I've absolutely loved.
Starting with cream products there are a few blushes that I'm obsessed with. First is the Rare Beauty "Nearly Neutral" cream blush in the cute little pink compact and it is so good along with being the perfect color, I know everyone uses the liquid blushes from Rare Beauty but I'm sticking with creams I think. I've also been using Merit cream blush in "Cheeky", the LYS Beauty Cream Blush (very affordable and lots of shades), and finally I tried some cream sticks from Westman Atelier that are very expensive but I got the trio set of the highlight, blush, and bronzer cream sticks and they're very nice. On the opposite side of that spectrum in regards to money I've also loved the J.Cat Beauty Master Class Face Palette in Medium Deep for corrector, bronzer, and contour creams. It's super inexpensive but works wonderfully as well as being easy to customize what you need.
I still like my powder products though so I just bought the Charlotte Tilbury blush in "Pillow Talk" that I love. I also really like the Clinique Flower Power bronzer in "Solar Pop". I'm trying the Charlotte Tilbury sculpting palette right now but I don't have an opinion on it so far.
Speaking of CT, I've fallen in love with her lipstick and lip liners. I can't wait to get more. I've also picked up some old staple lip liners from MAC (shades: Soar, Whirl, and Spice) because there's just not much that can beat a MAC lip liner. I also got their Mini Lipstick Vault from their holiday release when it went on sale. It has 12 of its most popular lipsticks. I also got my mom some of the mini lipstick trios for a stocking stuffer. I'd also like to point out that (assuming they've not stopped doing it) MAC has a recycling program that you can bring in 6 of your used up containers, for instance, an empty fix plus, paint pot, compact, etc and get a free lipstick at a MAC counter or store (so you can't do it at ULTA). I got a new YSL rouge shine lipstick balm in shade 44 "Nude Lavalliere" to carry in my bag. Plus I'm loving the YENSA Super 8 Silk Lipsticks, mainly "Virture" right now. It's a great neutral shade with the coolest packaging. My most used lipstick though is "Pillow Talk" from Charlotte Tilbury though, it matches my natural lip color perfectly. I haven't totally left liquid lipsticks behind yet, I did pick up some Essence Stay 8h Matte Liquid Lipsticks and they're really nice.
I've also been into just mixing foundations and tinted moisturizers lately. The main thing I use the most though is YSL NU Bare look Tint. I can use it on its own just fine but I love mixing it with liquid foundations for a little more coverage. It doesn't cling to any dry areas on the skin and it's got a fantastic base color for my complexion. I've also liked mixing Wet n Wild Tinted Hydrator with other foundations because it is so hydrating just like it says. I've been using the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream as my moisturizer before makeup and I never thought I'd be into it for the price but I got it free with my purchase and I must say it's very nice. So I think I'll use my points from time to time to keep getting free deluxe samples of it to add back into the jar that I got because it was a free half oz jar with purchase from the website. I also tried the Tatcha Liquid Silk Canvas primer and I thought for sure I'd hate it because I don't like primers but I have to say that I really like it a lot. It came in a "favorites" set from Sephora and I was very surprised that I liked it so much. I've been using Vasanti Liquid Cover Up in "V02" for my dark circles while I've been sick and that's been very helpful for me along with hydrating concealers like ILIA True Serum Concealer, ELF Hydrating Concealer, and KOSAS concealer, and occasionally I'll use the Rare Beauty concealer when I need a little more coverage with a little less hydration.
I've not been using liquid liner very much because my eyes water easy so I still like using regular mascara and false lashes to makeup up for it. My favorite mascara is Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes (I know I'm late to the game, but I can safely say I've been using it and repurchasing it, for over a year), but I also really like the ILIA Mascara, and Benefit They're Real Magnet Extreme Lengthening Mascara. I like the Benefit one on its own or combined with a thinner mascara when I don't want to wear false lashes but the Tarte and ILIA both work well and don't smudge on me through the day. I finally tried Armani Eyes To Kill mascara because it's now available in a travel size on Sephora and I only buy travel-size mascaras due to how quickly mascara expires and how much you waste, and I didn't like it at first, but now that it's dried up some I do like it. It's not life-changing but it looks great when used with the Benefit Magnet Mascara. I'm still using the Real Her definer brow pencil, it's so smooth but if you'd like something more convenient then I still use the Wet n Wild Micro Brow pencil when I have to. I don't do a lot of sculpting of the brows lately. I just fill in with the brow pencil, the Rodan and Field's Brow Defining Boost in Black and then I take a very very thin winged liner angle brush (which is from Vamp Stamp actually, I've had it for years.) and get some of the Rodan and Fields defining boost on the brush and make hair-like strokes or even out the shape on each side. Then I smooth it all out or blend it by doing another thin coat of the Defining Boost. I have been wearing Maven Beauty matte shadows mainly and that's about it. It's just simple. I've also been using Viseart matte shadows lately as well as the Tati Beauty palette which is now discontinued. I've only been using Sigma and Zoeva brushes, except for some Luxie Brushes that I need to finally talk about. Flat Top Kabuki and the 4d Brush from Sigma is my go-to for the most coverage on the face and it's the best for using the most product possible without wasting any. Plus, it presses the product into any fine lines and so on. Which is the thing that I tell people when I'm asked about masking fine lines, especially under the eyes. Hydrate the skin as much as you can and also use hydrating concealers if you can and then press the product into the skin with your ring finger (under the eye especially) or with a very dense brush. When you press these hydrating products firmly into the skin instead of sweeping them or whatever they tend to plump everything up more and don't move around as much and if they do move all you have to do is use your ring finger to blend it back out again. I don't set my face or use powders, I do carry a pressed powder with me though and a travel-size flat top kabuki so I can absorb oil or blend out my t-zone again if I'm oily that day or it's just humid/hot outside, I never use loose powder unless I'm doing an SFX look and need to glue down my brows. In my experience, loose powder clings to dry areas of skin, can make you look older, is messy, causes camera flashback, and is unnecessary for the most part. Particularly baking, do whatever makes you happy and what makes you feel good but baking is not something I think people need, especially under the eyes because in my experience of not just my own makeup but doing people's makeup a lot that makes the whole area look "crepey", but even under the cheekbone I find it unnecessary. I don't use sponges much anymore (except for applying cream contour and blush) because they absorb a lot of liquid product whereas I want to use all the product and keep it on my skin. Plus, I find it more hygienic to not use a sponge.
Lastly, hair products. I love Living Proof Dry Shampoo and that's all I've been using for dry shampoo when I do use it. I also use OUAI Texturizing Spray when I'm fixing my hair and still using the Nature Lab Oil Shine Mist. I found a new brand of shampoo and conditioner called Real Raw Shampoothie at Walgreens, I got it in the Collagen, Healing, Biotin, and Apple Cider Vinegar versions. What I like to do is mix and match shampoos and conditioners. I rarely ever buy the same line for both shampoos and conditioner. So for example I like my shampoo's to either be good for color-treated hair when I've just had it done or I like them to really clean the scalp and get rid of build-up. Then for conditioner, I like it to be nourishing, repairing, strengthening, or help with frizz and shine. So that's why I have Shampoothie shampoo in Apple Cider Vinegar and one in Biotin and the conditioners in Healing and Collagen. I've also been using LOreal Dream Lengths 8 Second Water all year, plus Loreal Extraordinary Oil Conditioner and Loreal Dream Lengths Shampoo. As soon as I'm out of the shower I use the Briogeo Farewell Frizz Rosarco spray because my hair tangles so easily. I tried the shampoo and conditioner in the Rosarco line but it just doesn't clean my hair (I typically will wash my hair 2-3 times with shampoo, until I get a good lather, before doing my conditioner just so I get it real good and clean because I don't wash my hair every day nor every other day) and it made it feel like I never even washed it. Thus, that's why I don't get shampoo and conditioners from the same lines.
Now, part 2, what's been going on and where have I been.
As you now know, I typically don't speak about anything personal on here or on my social media. This time I thought that it might be helpful if you understood or were at least aware of my health conditions, and just maybe it could help someone else. So, I have a lot of chronic conditions and medical problems, and I won't get into all of those but long story short I deal with pain every day, I deal with fatigue every day, I have very little to no immune system, and I'm sick A LOT. Over a decade ago when I was the healthiest and most physically fit I'd ever been, I got sick with pancreatitis and gall bladder problems and after gall bladder surgery, they discovered many health problems. As the years went on and I decided to start this blog to get my mind off being sick, they found more problems and autoimmune diseases, infections I couldn't get rid of that required a brand new type of treatment/procedure that I was only the 8th person to get at the time (which worked), a mostly paralyzed stomach that they didn't know what to do about when they first found it and then later as science and medical technology progressed I was one of the first to get a gastric pacemaker in my state. That pacemaker or "neurostimulator" is attached to my stomach with leads that attach at different places as well, and it's been most beneficial especially for my quality of life, along with nausea and vomiting or motility. You don't take the phrase "quality of life" into serious consideration until you have to answer a questionnaire at your doctor's office every time at your check-up that asks you "how's your quality of life?" with a scale of 1-5 beside it (1 being not great and 5 being great). All the things that I've faced though and continue to face while managing them really pale in comparison to this past year of sickness. So far I've had covid twice and I am vaccinated but that doesn't mean you won't get it, it just made the 2nd time getting it easier to get over, and luckily didn't put me in the hospital. The first time I had it before the vaccine was available, it took me months to get over it. I feel like all we ever hear about is covid and it's variants so I don't want to talk about it too much but I do want to say that it is a different beast on its own and unlike any flu or virus I've ever had. I also have had Trigeminal Neuralgia for years and it hasn't flared up too often because we've been able to kind of maintain flare-ups, but in the last month or two I had a flare-up and it is by far the worst pain I've ever felt in my entire life. I consider myself lucky because I don't have very many flares of Trigeminal Neuralgia or haven't the past few years and often they've not lasted very long but this lasted for over 2-3 weeks, 24 hours a day. The longest and most intense episode ever. It feels like there is someone plunging a screwdriver into my ear and also like someone has put shocks on my teeth on that side because when they touch it sends pain radiating everywhere. Even down my neck and up into my eye. Along, with a touch of numbness in my lips and parts of my cheek. So with my regular problems, and some new unforeseen issues in the past 12 months including some things that need to be checked out to see if I may have other underlying problems, it's been a bit of a blur for a while. Especially in the last 3-6(ish) months, where everything health-related just intensified or reared it's ugly head.
All that aside, my husband works in an ER, and let me tell you right now: if you don't think our nurses, doctors, health care workers of any kind deserve a standing ovation or a medal for the hell that has been "covid" then you must not have one in your life that you're close with or love dearly. I got so stressed about covid and the hell on earth that it was causing for my husband and friends that I started cleaning and organizing our whole house all day, when I could, to get my mind off not just my sickness but the shit our health care workers were having to see day in and day out. I couldn't look at social media at all without having extreme anxiety or aggravation because it was either incredibly sad or irritating, or I just didn't have the energy to look at products or these "perfect" moments captured just for social media sake knowing that whatever we post is only 5% or maybe 10% of what someone's life is actually like these days. Because I feel like everyone, for the past two years, has just been trying to survive. It's no longer about "how to get this makeup look" or "what's in my bag", it seems, even though those are great. It just feels like we're all just looking for an outlet that doesn't remind us of what's really going on in the world and lets us escape for a few minutes, without making us feel super self-conscious about our looks, our outfits, how clean our homes are, how organized and put together our life is, etc.
This brings me to TikTok that I mentioned earlier (and if you want to follow me I'm "loveand_mascara" and I post mostly ASMR videos like my lip mixing videos), the only social media platform that I have paid any attention to. Mainly because I find so many cool hacks and ideas for cleaning motivation or repurposing stuff (like glass candle holders, etc), how much stuff the Dollar Tree has that you can use to make decor, and even self-defense videos which inspired me to get a punching bag to take out my aggravation on as well as learn how to do all different punches, jabs, elbows, etc. It also showed me what cleaning products are worth getting and what aren't, plus where to buy them the cheapest. "Coffee TikTok" has become my latest passion. I love watching people make a coffee or tea station/bar, I even made my own. I get a lot of recipes on there for lattes and iced coffees and it brings me so much relaxation to watch people make different lattes as their morning ritual. I also made a hot chocolate station, as well as a candy station for Valentine's Day coming up. Plus all the things you need to organize your home and your life is right there readily available in whatever way you want, including how to make a digital planner on your tablet or a regular physical planner and how to decorate it. Before I found all this though, I used Tik Tok for funny stuff. I have found so many funny people that it's insane and weirdly I don't follow a single celebrity on there, like Kevin Hart or Will Smith or anyone that's supposed to be a "funny person". I follow everyday people that make me laugh so hard and cause me to send their videos to my husband, best friends, brother, etc. Plus there's so much positive motivation on there. Like genuine positivity that really does help when you're listening to a pep talk at 2 am that you didn't even know you needed from some stranger that just showed up on your "for you page". I found Kallmekris and I'm obsessed, she's so funny. I also love listening to Christianna_Burke, not to mention I think she lives in TN and you know I appreciate that. Another one that literally makes me laugh so hard my stomach hurts is "Carolannemiljavacomedy" she's an author and a comedian. There are too many to list but a major thank you is in order for opening a door and letting me escape for just a few minutes every day and giving my serotonin a boost by laughing when I was getting ready to cry or was in the worst mood ever.
Before I leave off, after 4000+ words, I want to thank all our healthcare and essential workers who have had an unimaginable burden put on their shoulders for the last two years. Who's shown up when the rest of the world decided to sit this one out. We are in your debt far more than we'll ever know or even acknowledge for some people out there. There is one positive change that my husband and I have done these last 6+ months and that is: every morning when he gets up at 5:30 to go work a 12-hour shift, I wake up too and we pray together. Not just for him or me but for his coworkers and our hospital and dr offices. We pray for my health, we pray for others who are very sick in our family and his patients. We pray for those who have lost loved ones to this terrible virus or due to something else because not only has the last two years been filled with a lot of sickness but it's been filled with a lot of grief for many people. Including us. It seems that at this especially difficult time that it's not enough for the world to just be difficult but it's also quite cold and heartless right now as well.
And that's why we pray. That's why we try to do better as humans, to BE better humans. You will get nowhere and nothing in your life will do very much changing unless you at least try to do better and be better. It doesn't matter how confidant you are, how successful you are, or how much money you have if you aren't at least trying to be a decent human being. So to end this off, I'm going to tell you what I always do: I love you, but more importantly, God loves you. Thank you for reading, especially if you've gotten this far. Hopefully, this is me coming back regularly now, and expanding topics. Not talking about strictly beauty-related stuff all the time but everything that involves self-care for me including house stuff and organization ideas and hacks that are super helpful. I'll still be a "beauty blogger" though. My passion begins and ends with skincare and makeup at the very core of my being, and that will never change.
Love, (and mascara)
I'm from Tennessee. I'm a makeup and skincare lover. I have always enjoyed creating looks but I love to help people with product knowledge and application even more. I've been able to start blogging and do these things I love because God has seen fit to bless me with the opportunity. Thanks for stopping by and visiting with me!