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September picks


There's truly no secret that skincare is a big proponent in many aspects of my life, namely financial and spacial. When you grow up with habitual acne that you haven't been able to shake since you were eleven or twelve and are now a 23-going-on-24-year-old lady, you start to rely on skincare to make things better. Despite knowing that what I eat, what I stress about, and how much I do or don't sleep can also be factors into why my skin hates me so much, buying new skincare products is almost a de-stressor in itself.

I filmed a whole video on my YouTube channel literally just naming what I had in my current skincare collection. So, I figured I'd go ahead and annotate that entire video. Except I broke it down by product category this time. And actually gave descriptions about what they're supposed to do for your face. And then made my own personal notes on some of the products.

As the title says, and as I talk about in basically every skincare related post, I have acne-prone skin and like my natural skin to be dewy, hydrated, bright, and preferably, sans blemishes. Duh.



Face Masks
(not including sheet masks)
  • Herbivore Blue Tansy Face Mask (4/5): A natural clarifying face mask that gently exfoliates, smooths, and resurfaces the skin. This mask is good for skin that is prone to acne, redness, and visible pores.
  • Fountain of Truth Honey Glow Mask (3.5/5): A face mask that hydrates your skin to make it appear more dewy and youthful.
  • Caudalie Instant Detox Mask (4/5): A clay face mask that will help keep pores clean and tight. This mask is good for skins that are prone to oil, enlarged pores, and uneven texture.
  • Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask (5/5): This is a powerful mask that helps reveal smooth, radiant skin. This mask is good for skin that struggles with unevenness and dry texture and enlarged pores. Francesca's Notes: Deadass smells like pumpkin pie and I don't even like pumpkin pie but I still want to eat it. Don't eat it, though.
  • Kiehl's Deep Pore Cleansing Mask (3.5/5): This is a cleansing face mask that helps minimize the appearance of pores. This mask is best for oily skin with visible and/or enlarged pores.
  • Boscia Matcha Magic Super-Antioxidant Mask (5/5): This mask helps reduce redness and inflammation caused by environmental factors, detoxifies, decongests, and de-stresses your skin. This product is suited for all skin types. Francesca's Notes: Of-fucking-course I give the matcha mask five stars but like, it's good shit, y'all.
  • Farmacy Bright On Massage-Activated Vitamin C Mask (4/5): This mask removes building up impurities on the skin to visibly brighten and improve the appearance of skin texture and tone. This product is suited for all skin types.
  • Kate Somerville EradiKate Mask Foamed-Activated Acne Treatment (3.75/5): This mask helps clear acne breakouts, dissolve impurities, and minimize the appearance of pores. 
  • Korres Pomegranate Triple-Dose Resurfacing Mask (3.5/5): This mask purifies the skin and minimizes the appearance of pores. This mask is good for skin that is prone to visible pores, uneven texture, and dull or uneven skin texture.
  • Fountain of Truth Overnight Mask (3.75/5): This mask replenishes moisture in the skin and gives the appearance of fuller-looking skin.
Cleansing Balms
  • Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm (5/5): This balm melts away oil-based impurities (makeup, excess sebum, etc) and nourishes the skin with antioxidants, essential fatty acids and vitamin E. This balm is good for all skin types and removes even the toughest of makeup, like mascaras and heavy eyeliner.
  • Eve Lom Cleanser (4.5/5): This balm decongests, exfoliates, tones, soothes, and deep cleanses to remove impurities and waterproof makeup on your skin. It targets uneven skin tone, dullness and uneven texture, as well as acne. Francesca's note: I like this cleanser a lot, but I've docked half a point due to the price, especially compared to the Then I Met You balm and others on the market.
Cleansers
  • Eve Lom Cleansing Oil Capsules (4.5/5): This cleanser dissolves all traces of impurities and leaves skin soft and hydrated for up to 12 hours after use. It also comes in biodegradable capsules for single usage. Francesca's note: I really like this cleanser, but occasionally does not break down my mascara as I wear a lot of makeup and have a fairly large face and head.
  • Lexli Cleansing Lotion (5/5): This is a pretty basic cleanser made with aloe vera that emulsifies dirt, makeup, and excess oil on the skin's surface. Francesca's note: Great cleanser at a great price point.
  • Then I Met You Soothing Tea Cleansing Gel (4.5/5): This cleanser softens and clears your skin of all impurities.
  • Fountain of Truth Fresh Face Foaming Cleanser (3.75/5): This gentle cleanser leaves your skin feeling moisturized and revitalized while also gently exfoliating to make your complexion smoother and brighter.
  • Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser (4/5): This is a soap free foaming cleanser that gently cleanses, purifies, and softens the skin.
Toners
Serums + Treatments
Oils
Acne Topical Treatments
Moisturizers
  • Cosrx Balancium Comfort Ceramide Cream (TBD): This is a lightweight moisturizer that helps calm, soothe, and strengthen your skin. Francesca's Note: This feels a little too balmy and heavy for me, which is why I'm saving this for fall and winter (I got it in the summer)
  • It Cosmetics Confidence in a Gel Moisturizer (4/5): This is an oil-free, gel moisturizer that leaves skin hydrated and primed for makeup application. It's great for all skin types and great for skin prone to fine lines and wrinkles, dryness, dullness, and uneven texture.
  • Caudalie Vinoperfect Brightening Glycolic Overnight Cream (TBD): This cream visibly lightens dark spots, acne scars, and hyperpigmentation and hydrates and plumps the skin. 
  • Tula Hydrating Day and Night Cream (4/5): This lightweight moisturizer hydrates to help revive dull, tired skin to reveal a glowing, youthful-looking complexion
  • Tula Overnight Skin Treatment (4/5): This overnight treatment targets fine lines and wrinkles, increases cell turnover, and improves the overall tone and texture of your skin to ensure you wake up with hydrated, healthy skin
  • Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet (3.5/5): This is a lightweight gel moisturizer that soothes and hydrates the skin. Francesca's Notes: There's nothing wrong with this moisturizer, it's just not my favorite product of all time from Caudalie (ahem, Vine[Activ] Serum)
Face Mists
  • Lexli Tone & Balance (4.5/5): This is a toner/face mist removes excess oil from the skin and remaining traces of makeup after cleansing. Also bonuses as a refreshing mist that can soothe sore, red skin (see: sunburns), setting spray, or even just a plain old rehydrating spray if your face needs a little extra boost. 
  • Eve Lom Radiance Mist (4/5): This mist hydrates your skin, protects against the effects of environmental effects, and gives your skin a radiant glow. Francesca's Notes: Docked half a point because of the price, but this mist smells incredible and the bottle is gorgeous.
Eye Creams
  • Fountain of Truth Magic Wand Sculpting Eye Roller (3.75/5): This eye cream helps with visible signs of aging around the eyes, smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles while also diminishing the appearance of dark circles and puffiness. Francesca's Notes: Can't attest to the anti-aging portion, but I like the cream. I just don't care for the two roller balls, so I usually dispense the product onto my ring fingers instead and apply it that way.
  • Eve Lom Antioxidant Eye Cream (4/5): This cream helps with dark circles, puffiness, lack of firmness, and dehydration around the eyes. It can suit all skin types, including normal, dry, and oily. 
  • Tula Glow and Get It Cooling & Brightening Eye Balm (3/5): This eye balm cools, hydrates, and brightens the look of undereye dark circle as well as tightens and hydrates fine lines and wrinkles. Francesca's Note: It did feel really refreshing, but I only used it on days I wasn't wearing makeup as it was too balmy for me to apply things over. It says you can apply it under or on top of makeup but I don't know if I believe that...
Miscellaneous
  • Malin + Goetz Resurfacing Glycolic Pads (TBD): These resurfacing pads are made with 10% glycolic acid to help brighten dull skin. Francesca's Notes: I still have these rated TBD because I haven't used them enough to formulate an opinion! 
  • Ole Henriksen Transforming Walnut Scrub (4/5): This facial scrub helps purify pores, diminish dullness, and smooth the texture of your skin. Francesca's Notes: Look, I get it, it's a walnut scrub. Don't call me out for it! I use it sparingly when my skin is acting up in the winter of it I've used a particularly strong topical treatment that caused huge dry spots on my face that  need to be scrubbed off. It's not too abrasive for my skin personally.
  • Eve Lom Daily Protection (4/5): Beyond helping shield your skin from the harsh rays of the sun, this sunscreen also encourages new cell growth, diminishes the appearance of age spots as well as pigmentation.
  • Peace Out Skincare Acne Healing Dots (5/5): These acne patches help soothe and treat active spots as well as assist in the prevention of picking

I feel like I only need to define FOMO for my mother reading this, but we're all too familiar with that acronym: Fear of Missing Out. Like when half of the people you follow on Instagram seem to be at a Jonas Brothers concert that you couldn't attend, mostly because said concert is hundreds upon hundreds of miles away. Or you know, when you see people you know (or don't even know) doing fun, interesting things while you're sitting in your bed wearing a pair of Victoria's Secret PINK sweatpants that you got your senior year of high school while simultaneously eating cookie butter out of the jar with a tiny spoon to make it last longer.

FOMO used to get to me a lot in college, when I would hear people on the floor of my dorm partying, or really, just communicating with someone other than their roommates. This was also before I felt like a secure person and didn't struggle with deciding whether or not I liked myself that day. I was a different person at age seventeen and eighteen as we all hopefully are. FOMO plagued me when I stayed inside of my dorm and holed away from the people I probably should have been hanging out with but instead chose to ignore because I was, like, afraid of them thinking I was weird or ugly or something, I don't remember what the insecure version of myself thought.


My FOMO was likely just rooted in my insecurity and inability to be able to spend time alone and be content with it. I've always been great at keeping my own company, but I used to feel bad about it because it wasn't something I was choosing to do, it was just what I was left with due to my own refusal to be a teenager and make new friends. It wasn't so much a conscious choice as just what I was left with. Now, I'm content with my alone time because it's chosen by me purposefully.

I don't really feel anything when I see people places. I live in New York City and follow a lot of people who are from the city. My feed is inundated with cool things happening in the city and while I do save plenty of them to my NYC folder on Instagram and have an ongoing list of favorites on my map to check out, I don't usually stomp my feet and wish I was doing something else.

Like right now, the weather is gorgeous and I went out to brunch, but immediately came home, stripped out of my jeans, took out my contacts, and put on my comfies. I was scrolling through Instagram and saw people at their NYFW events and out and about in the city (or even their cities, if they aren't NYC based) and had a brief thought that perhaps I should be doing the same thing, immediately replaced by the happiness I felt lounging in my bed.

I love that I'm content spending time alone and time in my apartment, especially. I like being an introvert in the sense that it truly does save me a lot of time and money and is just all around easier when you have a "limited" group of friends who have lives of their own. But I've truly embraced my introverted status to the point where time at home alone is occasionally preferred, especially after a particularly busy week or weeks. I don't feel like I'm missing out, but in reality, I probably am to some degree. There's only so much life to live in the comfort of my own bedroom.


There are times I wish I was a bit more affected by FOMO. I guess it links together with the comparison game, but it makes me wonder if I'm not doing enough in my life to be fulfilled. Am I fulfilled? I feel fulfilled, to some degree, as much as a 23-year-old who literally doesn't know what she wants out of any aspect of her life could be. But am I settling for my introverted life? Or is that just who I am? Do I need to experience more FOMO to light the fire under my ass? Am I not taking advantage of what there is to offer in this city or is it fine that I'm taking my time? It's not like I'm going anywhere! Whether the city likes it or not, I'm here for the long haul (the Longest of Hauls™).

I feel like people tell you not to get too comfortable or stagnant with what you are doing. Is being comfortable and content the opposite of FOMO? Is there a balance that comes with being happy with your life but also wanting more and experiencing those moments where you wish you were there? Or is that just thinly veiled comparison envy?

With the end of a month and the beginning of the new month comes the inevitable from content creators: Favorites videos. I love them, you love them, we all love them. I assume. Even if not, I love them so I'm going to create them and then post them on multiple platforms to #CrossPromoteThatShit. What a hashtag.

I did a full video on my August favorites, which includes a smattering of skincare, bodycare, and fashion pieces. If you fancy a watch, don't you worry, it will be conveniently embedded below for you. But what's the fun in just posting something I've already talked about? Let's kick it up a notch and add some bonus favorites below. You came all the way here, how could I not add a little extra somethin' somethin'?






SPF IS SO IMPORTANT ARE YOU WEARING IT?! I'm big on the SPF train and truthfully, so should everyone. This one is super lightweight, not sticky whatsoever, and adds a little dose of hydration in addition to protection. I love that this is a pump tube and not a squeeze bottle to help control the amount of product I'm dispensing. Did I mention it is lightweight? I feel like that's been a rarity in a lot of the sunscreen I've tried specifically for the face. Plus, this packaging, COME ON!


Literally, if I could have this dispensing on an hourly basis and misted onto my entire body, I would. In all seriousness, this mist is super pleasant to use both just based on the smell and finely dispsensed must but it also helps protect against environmental factors which we all know is huge for me in this disgusting (but still lovely) city of mine. I feel bad using it sometimes because it's so expensive the bottle feels so nice but it's also just really lovely feeling on the skin so I guess I'll just douse myself in it and hope for the best!



I talked about a different kind of acne dots in last month's video and now we're going to chat about these Peace Out Skincare ones. They're pretty similar to the others, though they are admittedly larger, thicker, and less inconspicious. But, they do have salicylic acid in them which is great for breakouts and fighting acne causing bacteria. The blemish fighting ingredients help treat your spots (after they've come to a head, this isn't going to help you with acne that's still hiding under your skin), but also they help me from picking at my spots. It's a bad habit that I'm trying to break and these really help both at covering the spots but also by drawing out the impurities and making them flat and less irritated at the same time.

What did you love during August?

I’m breaking out. Again. I have a tumultuous relationship with my skin and even if it’s in a better place than it was a year ago, let alone three or four years ago, that doesn’t mean I still don’t have zits popping up left and right to keep me humble and dropping bank on skincare. I can’t treat my breakouts the same way I used to, as they tend to be more hormonal than anything else, so I’m stuck in a cycle of trying to get rid of these pesky spots without causing more damage or irritation but also trying to get them off of my face as soon as humanly possible.

Medications

I started taking Spirnolactone (Aldactone) quite a few years ago to help stop sebum production by decreasing the amount of testosterone my body produces. I take 50mg twice a day to basically keep my skin from over-producing oils that clog my skin. This is specific to adult females who struggle with hormonal acne past their teen years. When I first got prescribed birth control, I made sure to get one that would pair nicely with the Spironolactone and further aid in keep my skin as under control as possible.


Skincare Routine

Without going into too many specifics here, I try to keep a pretty regulated skincare routine that focuses on brightening, hydration, as well as incorporating antioxidants into my morning and preferably nightly routines as well to combat the disgusting nature that is New York City. This all follows a deep, double cleanse to ensure that my face is (1) rid of all of my makeup and (2) free of the dirt and grime from the day so my skin has a clean slate for all of the products I’m putting on and so I’m not soaking in my nasty skin overnight.

I tend to use a serum (sometimes two), an eye cream, moisturizer, face oil, and SPF with an occasional hydrating face mist if I’m really in the mood for a couple of spritzes. Same follows for my PM routine, minus the SPF and usually swapping out the moisturizer for a hydrating overnight face mask or just a night cream that’s a bit thicker than what I would wear during the daytime.


Topical Treatments

I use three main topical treatment ingredients: Sulfur, Benzoyl Peroxide, and Salicylic Acid, though I tend to stray away from the latter a majority of the time as Sulfur and BP tend to affect my skin more dramatically while SA used to work really well for me as a teen. I’ll cycle through the Kiehl’s Breakout Control Spot Treatment, Kate Somerville Anti-Bac, and Lexli’s Cleansing Lotion to put on both morning and night if I’m having an active breakout that hasn’t come to head yet. I try to nip it in the bud while I can and avoid it coming to a head so it just shrinks without any poking and prodding.

Acne Patches

These are my newfound obsession. It took me a few tries to figure out the best and correct way to use them but now I feel like I cannot go a single day without them if I have an active breakout that has come to a head or has broken through the skin through my own habitual picking (it’s a bad habit, I know, I get it). These won’t work if you still have an undercover zit but if you have a whitehead or an open wound, it’s best to pop one of these on to suck out the rest of the gunk from your skin. But also, they help me to stop picking and squeezing, which is also a bonus!

I follow a lot of daily routines, emphasis on daily. I teeter on the edge of being considered high maintenance solely based on the occasional inflexibility that I have when it comes to letting go of certain daily routines, namely the ones surrounding my grooming efforts which includes but is not limited to my makeup, skincare, and bodily hygienic routines. Everything is fairly formulaic, with new products and formulas swapped in every once in awhile as my idea of shaking things up.

It's no surprise that I thrive off of following my routines, but each routine is unique to everyone. I made a video the other week on my YouTube channel about my makeup routine, which has pretty much been the same for the past, hm, four years? Products have changed, my needs are different, but the fundamentals are all still there. The beauty of us being our own individual selves is that nobody is going to do the exact same thing as you. So, I figured I'd break down the step-by-step fundamentals of what I do to my skin and face every day to find different adaptations for different needs.



First Step: Skincare

Your makeup is only as good as the skin beneath it all. My morning routine is as follows: single cleanse, (optional) toner, antioxidant serum, hydrating or brightening serum, firming eye cream, moisturizer, antioxidant face oil, SPF. Obviously, these steps are personal to my skincare needs. I live in a city with heavy pollution so antioxidants are a must to combat all of that. Hydrating is always key, so I like to ensure I'm keeping my skin moisturized and plump so it's bouncy and not flat or dull. Brightening helps balance out the dullness too, but I also like it to gradually fade pigmentation from acne scarring. And must I explain why SPF is important?

Maybe you just need to cleanse, tone, and moisturize. Maybe you like anti-aging formulas. Pick your poison and be diligent about it being the precursor to the rest of your makeup routine, no matter what it includes.

Second Step: Eyes

I do eyes before skin but you can easily swap this step with the next depending on your preference. My eye looks can be summed up into a simple sentence: neutral with a wing. I prime my lids either with MAC's Paint Pot in Painterly or any concealer that I have on hand, depending on what I'm in the mood for that morning. My eye looks follow the same two to three color formula: light on the lids, medium to prep the outer corner and crease, darker color to intensify the outer-v of my eye and fade into the crease. After blending it all out, I put on my winged liner and then go over it with black eyeshadow to lock it in place.

Winged eyeliner is an essential piece in my everyday look. I don't go a weekday without doing it because I personally like the way it compliments my eye shape and creates extra drama on my face when combined with my bold brows and, er, strong nose. Maybe it's the Sophia Loren effect, I don't know! 

Test out what works for you! Try a wing, try just regular liner, maybe forego any liner on your upper lashline! Experiment with single-colored lids, use a cream eyeshadow and fade it up into the crease. The possibilities are truly endless. Not a fan of neutrals? Use a wash of any eyeshadow color!

Third Step: Face

I feel like this truly is where the variant comes in. Everyone has such different skin types and needs that you have a lot of freedom here. I use a medium buildable foundation, undereye concealer, regular concealer, (optional) liquid highlighter, undereye powder, shimmering setting powder, contour, (optional) shimmery bronzer, blush, and highlighter. That sounds like a lot because it is a lot, but I try to be careful about the way I layer. I try to do a single layer of foundation and build up coverage lightly with concealer to ensure my redness is concealed without packing on thick layers of product. I'm getting better about trying to hide my skin in general versus just spot concealing and letting some of my natural skin (just enhanced a bit) shine through. 

If your skin is not a concern when it comes to discoloration or acne, maybe opt for a light coverage, dewy foundation or a CC cream to just even out your skin tone slightly and add some other skin benefits as well. Alternately, if you're more comfortable wearing full coverage, I'm not here to stop you whatsoever.

If your cheeks are already sculpted out of marble, opt to skip contouring. Or, if you're like me and look like the moon emoji, use a little bit of contour to sculpt out your cheekbones ever so slightly (or maybe go dramatic, I'm not here to stop you!). 

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I think at the end of the day, everything truly comes down to carving out your own routine. Or maybe you don't have a routine at all! The beauty of beauty is that we all have our own definition of it. There's pressure on both ends to wear a ton of makeup to "enhance" our looks and also alternately people argue that makeup is forced upon us by society and we should revolt and say screw it. 

I've talked about this on the blog before and I just firmly believe to put whatever you want on your face, whether it's a full face of makeup or absolutely nothing. We have the freedom to curate our own routines to our day-to-day needs or experiment as much as we'd like!

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.

YouTube

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.