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august picks

If you're reading this, you're right: I can't count. It's a basic skill I clearly never picked up throughout my childhood, instead choosing to spend my time learning the lyrics to songs that still take up prime real estate in my brain. All jokes aside, we're talking about five things today, but I also posted a bonus YouTube video this week about my July favorites and it only seemed right to cleverly meld these two things together for a lovely multi-media blog post. Get it, got it, good.

If you want to see a main chunk of my favorites, I'll embed the video right below this little chunk of text. It's mainly about beauty, including one haircare bit, some skincare, and a few miscellaneous makeup items that you may or may not have heard me talk about at some point or another. I also talked a lot about books, so if you don't follow me on Good Reads, you should probably do that because it's the only social media that matters to me right now. I read a total of like, seven or eight books in the past month and a half and only talked about four of them in this video, so like, you should definitely read them. You heard it here first!

But what fun would it be if I just embedded a video into a post and called it a day? I'm going to give like, five bonus favorites, mostly because I forgot to talk about them in the video and no doubt would forget to talk about them in next months favorite, so I should probably just get to it now and just expand upon the June loving and shout out some products and just general things.


This is super meta, right? In all seriousness, who would have thought that this would be on my list again? The ironic thing is that (1) I just made a post about checking in on my 2019 goals and when it came to the point of starting YouTube again, I think I just responded to myself with a long series of laughter and (2) I had a blog post planned about questions that I ask myself and one of them was "Will I ever start YouTube again?"

I really didn't think I was going to start it again and even if I was, it definitely wasn't going to be randomly on a weekend in July. Regardless, sometimes you just have to take a leap. I know I talked about it in my post about my abrupt return to YouTube as well as in my re-introductory video, but I needed to start doing something more creative with my life and time and this seemed like a nice foray into something that wasn't just writing blog posts and random freelance pop culture articles. 

Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser

Look, this isn't like other foaming cleansers. Foaming cleansers, historically, can tend to be drying for the skin and reap more consequences than benefits, but this Caudalie cleanser is missing one key ingredient that will strip your skin of its natural moisture: soap. It's light, airy, and is perfect for both my second cleanse or my morning cleanse, especially to refresh my skin on a weekend morning. It has Caudalie's traditional grape smell and is just so pleasant to use!

Makers Collective Mod Shapes Quilt Set

Your eyes are not deceiving you, there is indeed color in my room for the first time in a year. I decided that white bedding was just stressing me out with all of the miscellaneous makeup stains that somehow got everywhere, so I dropped it for this mod quilt set because, well, I don't know. I felt drawn to it based on some home accounts I stumbled upon on Instagram and decided that I, too, wanted a mod bedroom but with zero commitment to the trend. So, I got a reversible quilt and if I decide that I don't want color anymore, the other side is beige, just like my favorite foods and the rest of my wardrobe. It's a win-win situation, truly.

Frigidaire A/C Unit

If you did the mental math there, you are correct in realizing that I didn't have an air-conditioning unit in my apartment for the entire last year and yes I survived. But, alas, with the world ending in 2050, naturally summers are getting hotter and a simple old fan wasn't cutting it anymore. I got the Amazon favorite, the Frigidaire with 5000 BTUs (I don't know what any of this means but it apparently is important for A/C units) which is perfect for my bedroom and cooling down some of the living room when I leave my door open. How did I live without it for so long? I guess you just don't know what you got until it's gone, as Nick Jonas famously once whined.

If I did have an answer for this question, I sure as hell should have thought of it before I decided that (a) this blog post was a good idea and (b) that returning to YouTube after over a year absence was a good idea. If you thought I was absent on Instagram then just you wait until you take a look at my channel history on YouTube.

Let's just go back, back to the beginning as Hilary Duff famously sang. I started YouTube during my period of unemployment between moving home from Cleveland before I found my way to the city.  It seemed like a good use of time to keep myself motivated on the day to day to remain creative and not just laying in bed, crying that I hadn't gotten a job yet. I had gotten a dozen or so videos up before I got my job offer and sort of moved to the city in a whirlwind. When I got here, I didn't have my proper camera for over a month and things were just, as expected, hectic. I barely had time to breathe let alone film and edit and try to think of ideas for my blog and work and YouTube. Writing is my favorite form of medium, something I'm just incredibly comfortable with at this point. Video content was entirely out of my wheelhouse, but I enjoyed the challenge. However, when you're 22 and making no money and trying to acclimate to a new city–especially with New York City is that new city–and make friends and try not to get swallowed up whole...you have to make sacrifices and drop things from your plate.

YouTube was the easiest to drop, so I did. I never really meant for it to be permanent. Part of me always intended to bring it back, but I just didn't want to half-ass it. The problem with wanting everything to be perfect is that you will literally never get anything done, as perfection is a figment of all of our imaginations, besides like, Joe Jonas' face and entire existence. That's it.

I woke up on Saturday morning and I wanted to film. I didn't know what I wanted to film, I just knew that I had to sit down in front of the camera and just talk and not care about what came out of my mouth or what my hair looked like or the fact that I wasn't wearing eyeliner and was sweating bullets in my room while my air-conditioning unit was turned off. I got really comfortable with my rhythm of writing one, sometimes two blog posts a week. I got comfortable not writing anything besides my blog, forgetting all of the abandoned projects on my laptop. I got too comfortable stifling my creativity out of fear of failure.

Maybe I'll consistently post one YouTube video for the rest of forever. Maybe by fall I'll have decided that video content is not my forte. If I could predict the future, I would, but sadly I am a basic af plebian with no psychic abilities and that's fine.

Besides, I'm a narcissist. How could I resist sitting in my room alone talking to myself and chalking it all up to me being productive? Now that's a fucking dream.

I don't have a personal vendetta against Instagram by any means. I've always felt like I've had a good life balance when it comes to social media and have been careful of what kind of content I'm consuming on the platforms I choose to use now and have used in the past to ensure that my time on the internet is positive. Especially now, ten years and then some into the social media game, I know my limits and boundaries when it comes to who I follow, what I look at, and what I spend my time doing.

Social media can most certainly have an effect on someone's mental health, I'm definitely not the type of person who is going to pretend that those negative aspects of social media don't exist. It also opens up for an open forum of hate and garbage and anonymity to absolve users of responsibility for their words and actions. It's also a place where my creative outlet lives (hello, this blog) and my main sources of entertainment come from (I'll take YouTube for $100, Alex).

I have a love-hate relationship with Instagram specifically. There was a brief period of time a few years ago where I was really worried about aesthetics and numbers. It really took the fun out of the app and even when I wasn't focusing on the look of a feed or numbers, I still focused a lot on my activity on the app. I wasn't really consuming content because I wanted to, I felt like I had to. This was also at a time where I would spend upwards of six hours of my day on Instagram for work, not even counting my own personal fun on the app. I specifically spent a lot of time looking at "influencers," a word I hate using despite working in the influencer marketing industry.

In my previous position at the same company I currently work at, I had a lot more time and flexibility to be on my phone during the day so I could engage with content that I wanted to engage with, but I still felt like it was a little forced. I would still refresh the app, especially during lulls, but I wasn't really sure what I was getting out of the app. It wasn't making me feel bad by any means (the comparison game no longer affects me, which was about a decade in the making since I turned eleven), but it wasn't making me feel much at all. Stories are always entertaining, but I wasn't getting the usual enjoyment out of scrolling through my feed. Instead of creative fun, it just didn't really feel like anything.

I switched positions within my company and inherited arguably too many responsibilities for about two months while there were transitions happening within our office. For about three months, I just didn't feel as connected to Instagram as I had in the past. I'd still log in and see what my friends were up to, but I stopped posting. Truly, I stopped creating content. I had blog posts up still, but I wasn't shooting any new original content for my feed. I just didn't feel inspired, especially with the very little free time I had that wasn't bogged down with work.

If I said I didn't care about Instagram, I'd be lying to some degree. I don't care about it in the way that some content creators do. I'm not here to judge anyone who cares about their feed or numbers, especially if their income–whether it's their main source or supplementary source–depends on it. I'm merely just here to be honest about saying that the numbers don't bug me. My sporadic posting schedule doesn't bug me. Truly, the only numbers I look at regularly are my Stories impressions, mostly because I just like to see how many people are viewing my shenanigans, mostly for my ego. I like to entertain in whatever way I can. My dad is a singer and while I'm not musical, I still like to give people a show, and mine is through nonsensical slides that exist for 24 hours on my Instagram Stories.

The inspiration for Instagram is coming back slowly but surely. I feel a little more excited to log on and craft captions. Hopefully new content will follow, but that would require me to not sweat out of every single possible pore in my body in this god forsaken New York City heat.

While I am not a 90's baby in my 80's Mercedes (I see you though, Maren Morris, I see you girl), I am indeed a 90's baby riding the MTA on my expensed Metrocard and honestly, what's the difference? It's just less catchy when it comes to crossover hits but that's really about it.

I don't think it's any surprise that 90's fashion is back. It's been back, but it's still riding high on the street style circuit and quite frankly, I'm here for it. I was a little tot back in 90's so my mom was in charge of dressing me for the most part (actually, not for the most part, she literally was the only person who dressed me because my father was not to be trusted). Kathy G made sure I was suited and booted in up to date styles because she knew from a young age I was destined to be a fashionista. Just kidding. 

Since I couldn't fully enjoy 90's fashion while it was a thing because I was, you know, an infant growing into a small child who just liked to say the word "fuck" a lot for shock value, I'm taking full advantage now that I am a 23-year-old adult that still likes to say "fuck" a lot.

I'm not quite sure what it is about 90's fashion that makes it so desirable, but I truly believe there is something for everyone. I mean, come on, when high-wasited jeans are a staple in the trend, could it possibly be bad? I don't think so. High-waisted or bust, y'all. Or rather, high-waisted to your bust, am I right? The higher the better! The higher the waist the closer to god should be the new saying on the streets.

For all my people out there who like to follow the traditional female fashion trends, they were popping back in the day with babydoll dresses, leather jackets, pantsuits, slip dresses (god bless the slip dress), hot pants (I'm afraid of anything that has that much spandex in it but more power to y'all), satin skirts, vinyl, animal print galore, 70's revival, really, must I go on?

When I think 90's style, I always gravitate towards Rachel on Friends. I don't particularly even like Friends all that much (please wait before you throw the first stone, thank you!) but I can appreciate it for what it is: a 90's classic that has forever frozen that era in time. If you throw in some Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Full House, Boy Meets World, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and of course, the milennial classic Clueless, you have more than enough fashion inspiration to last you a lifetime.

Every time I layer a cami dress over a white t-shirt, I immediately feel like Rachel Green and wonder if I need to give my hair the chop. Just kidding. About the hair-cutting part. I legitimately feel like Rachel every single time and get irrationally angry at Ross' fictional existence because he is one of the wor–

This is not an essay on my hatred towards Ross, I will refrain. 

I digress, there's something deliciously nostalgic about dressing in 90's fashion trends, somewhat upgraded to modern times. It wasn't enough an era in which I truly remember, but it's certainly more of an attractive era versus low-rise jeans, Hollister camisoles, and the horror of Disney fashion (you know, when they layer fourteen pieces of clothing on top of each other and hope for the best). I'm not going to be ignorant and call 90's fashion "vintage," but let's be real here, it was almost two decades ago. That's pretty wild to think about if you ask me! Time flies, y'all.

Shirt: ASOS
Dress: H&M
Boots: ASOS
Purse: Rebecca Minkoff
Sunglasses: Illesteva
Necklace: Kate Spade

Photos by Emily Polner

It's been a while since I've tested out any new foundations, mostly because I've been working through my three shades of the Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation and repurchased my tried and true CoverGirl 3-in-1 for those days when I just need something I'm all too familiar with. But, my dear friend Hannah from The Cleansed Review came through and brought me two gifts that I was not worthy of: Dior's Airflash Foundation and Too Faced's Peach Perfect Foundation.

Since foundation is something that I wear on a daily basis, I figured it was time to share my thoughts on these foundations and see how they rank compared to the rest of the foundations I've ever tried. As a reminder, here is what I'm looking for when it comes to foundations:
  • Buildable medium to full coverage
  • Dewy to matte finish, preferably demi-matte
  • All day wear (minor touch-ups after a long workday okay)
  • Formula that's easy to apply with a beauty sponge
Now that we've gotten those formalities out of the way, let's just dive right into the Too Faced Peach Perfect foundation.

Right off the bat, the matte portion kind of goes against what I'm looking for, however, it doesn't matter much when I like to add liquid highlighter to my foundation anyways to make everything look as dewy as possible. This comes in a tube but has a pump which is my preferred foundation set-up for like, sanitary purposes. But also it's so much easier to gauge how much foundation you're using when you have a pump versus just pouring it onto the back of your hand and hoping for the best! The foundation has a faint peach scent, like that entire line of peach products in Too Faced's range, but it's not overpowering, especially for being, you know, literally on your face and nose.

This is definitely a more medium to full coverage, but it's very buildable and blendable, which I sometimes struggle with when it comes to the lighter shades of my Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation. It's super smooth and creamy and does have a pretty matte finish, especially if I set it with anything besides my Laura Mercier Glow Translucent Powder (that shit makes everything glow). 

I don't really feel this when I'm wearing it aside from when it is incredibly humid out, which in its defense, affects all of my foundations and even my skin when I'm not even wearing anything on it. The only place I noticed this somewhat breaking down was on my chin, which tends to happen when the weather heats up and sweat starts to build up in the strangest of places. Sometimes it just requires a quick tap of a damp beauty sponge to fix it!

Dior Airflash is something I've always wanted to try, but wasn't ready (and still am not) to dish out the $62 for a foundation when I usually go through one every few months. Despite the price and fear of getting addicted to it, I accepted the gift from Hannah and it might have ruined my life in the best way possible.

This foundation...is so nice. GUYS, IT IS SO NICE AND I AM NOT WORTHY OF IT. This foundation has the most beautiful semi-matte finish and feels so lightweight but still offers coverage and I just don't know how to process my feelings about it. I tend to spray mine onto the bottom of a damp beauty sponge and bounce on my face versus spraying the bottle directly onto my skin and blending out. It weighs absolutely nothing and doesn't feel heavy or sticky on my face whatsoever. It doesn't break down on my nose or chin (besides at the end of a super long, humid day, which any foundation would do). I barely have to use concealer on my blemishes after I use this and never have to touch up during the day.

Overall, I truly enjoy both foundations, but Dior Airflash has my heart and I'm so nervous to run out of it because I am considering repurchasing. So like, RIP my bank account I guess!

Have you tried either of these foundations before? 

Okay, so I use traveling loosely here since my version of traveling is usually just coming back home to Western New York for a few days versus making an international trip. But hey, everyone has their own version and mine just happens to be the broke bitch version. Even still, hopping on that 45-minute flight back home requires me to narrow down what I'm bringing so I can throw it all in a carry-on and tote bag and hope for the best. Makeup is one thing, but making my skincare routine travel-friendly can be challenging, to say the least.

Beyond the limitations when it comes to the amount of liquid you can bring in your carry-on, skincare tends to be pretty bulky and true sample sizes that don't cost an arm and a leg aren't necessarily the easiest to come by unless you buy a travel kit. I'm personally not the biggest fan of trying to de-pot product (i.e. putting moisturizers and eye creams into empty contact cases), as some things just don't transfer well, unfortunately. But I also don't want to deny myself of my usual routine and let my travels wreak havoc on my skin that is already problematic before the transportation via airplane touches it.

Just because I'm traveling doesn't mean I should deny my skin of its usual routine, mostly because it's fussier than a teenager and I don't need to cause it any more stress than it already suffers on a daily basis. I like to keep my routine as normal as possible, within reason, to keep an equilibrium in my skin, also known as trying to not break out the same way I did when I was a hormonal sixteen-year-old with hella oily skin and more clogged pores than she could count.

Since I can't bring my entire skincare cabinet with me, I deemed a few things necessary:
  • Cleanser
  • Makeup remover (preferably not makeup wipes)
  • Moisturizer
  • SPF
  • Serums
  • Acne treatments
  • Sheet masks
Obviously, removing my makeup and cleansing my skin are top priority for me, especially in terms of keeping dirt and grime off of my face. Moisturizer is always key obviously to keep the hydration in. Serums, acne treatments, and sheet masks are a treat, but there are easy ways to ensure that you can have all aspects of your skincare routine without lugging full-sized glass bottles around and hoping for the best during the flight. Forget the fragility of them for a second, they're just plain old bulky sometimes too.

This is precisely why I save all of my little samples and redeem my point at Sephora strategically. While yes, they're perfect for testing out new products, they're also perfect for travel and keeping your skincare routine as extensive as possible. I've been hoarding little minis of products for months, waiting for my trip home and resisting the urge to use them, especially one of the mini Caudalie serums that gives me life every time I get a sample of it.

I can live without my two thousand step skincare routine, but that doesn't mean I like to. It's kind of the same with me and caffeine. I don't need it, but I'm also addicted to it so like, I'd prefer to not have headaches the same way I'd prefer to not have bad skin. Obviously.

While I'm not necessarily on the plane for that long when I travel home, I still firmly believe hydrating is one of the most vital parts of a skincare routine when it comes to traveling. And detoxing, but mostly hydrating. Ain't nobody want dry af skin after the flight so everyone could do with a good hydrating sheet mask before, after, or even during the flight if you're in it for the long haul. Keep your skin moisturized and bouncy versus dull and lifeless. Don't let the flight win!

Here's what I decided to tote along home to the other side of the state in hopes that my skin wouldn't freak out too much: 

  • Fresh Soy Cleanser mini (a point perk at Sephora)
  • Drunk Elephant B-Hydra serum mini (a point perk at Sephora)
  • Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum mini (a point perk at Sephora)
  • Fountain of Truth Calming Serum *gifted*
  • Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizer mini (a point perk at Sephora)
  • Caudalie Premier Cru Eye Cream mini (a point perk at Sephora)
  • Biossance Squalene + Vitamin C Rose Oil mini (a sample at Sephora)
  • Kate Somerville Anti Bac Clearing Lotion (full sized, 1.7 oz)
  • Lexli Acne Clarifying Lotion (full sized, 1 oz)
  • Fountain of Truth Eye Roller *gifted*
  • Sheet masks
  • Lancome Bifacial Eye Makeup Remover mini (a point perk at Sephora)
What are you travel skincare must haves?