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november picks

I feel like every so often, I have to write my version of a YouTube apology video, except for my absence, not something super racist and problematic. Time and time again, I lose inspiration for this blog in the least dramatic way possible and stop posting regularly and engaging. It's happened since I moved to New York and will no doubt continue to happen, as I am one person with one brain and one life to live in an ever-changing fashion. Instead of apologizing for my absence this time though, I'm going to tell you all about the things I've done in my absence on this blog because at this point, I can't write another "my creativity is gone LOL" post or else I will yeet myself into oblivion.

Picked up two new freelance projects

If you follow me on Instagram, I shared this update a couple of weeks ago. I've been contributing to the Today Show (still blows my mind, honestly) for over a year now and have been hesitant to do anything else because of what I thought would happen and did happen: giving up my free time of binging One Tree Hill to use my brain and tap into my creativity on weekdays instead of becoming a zombie after business hours. I started contributing to a lifestyle website and skincare blog, which I'm really excited about. I'm still getting adjusted, hence my absence, but it's nice to like, use my degree, write, and also earn a little bit of extra money for 2020 trips, new handbags, and my budding Seamless habit.

Past, present, and future travels

Since I got my big girl job in April aka was no longer a forever intern, I've been saving up as much money as I could so I could like, you know, not have to stay in the city for the rest of forever and spend 90% of my paycheck on rent. I like the city as much as the next person but I'm also like 23 with commitment issues and the thought of getting bored of New York City much like past friendships (kidding, I pick bad friends, but that's another story for another time) scares me. Anyways, I went home, came back, went to Charleston, came back, and am going to California hopefully before this blog post is up but if not, hopefully I have the common sense to edit this portion.


Work, work, work, work, work

I have a 9 to 5 that realistically is more like an 8:30 to 6:00 kind of thing for me, but that's due to my personal decision to arrive an hour earlier than everyone else so I can have a moment of silence and/or sit at my desk and do nothing just so I can avoid dicking around at home and end up two hours late to work someway, somehow.

Work has been admittedly a little wild since summer. Actually since always. I've been training people, getting new projects, re-adopting my previous stress patterns, the usual Francesca nonsense. Everything's okay and I have so much PTO booked for the next two months that if I don't start posting regularly again, I give everyone full permission to bombard me with hate. Just kidding. Please don't. I'm sensitive. I'll try.

Quality friend time

Along with the fact that I have like, young adult money now and can afford things sometimes, I've been trying to hang out with friends more. I've notoriously been, uh, bad about hanging out with friends that don't live with me, especially in the city. So I've been making a conscious effort to get lunch, brunch, dinner, drinks, or just casually hanging out with my pals in the city and actively trying to not be a shitty friend. As an introvert, it can be hard, but like, friends are my family here aside from the family I do have here and I know you have to work to like, keep people in your life and stuff so I'M TRYING!

Bet you thought I'd never leave the northeast! I meandered my way down to Charleston, South Carolina with a long weekend to visit my friend Hannah from The Cleansed Review so she could do my eyeshadow, I could try a southern biscuit, and so I could shop for makeup and skincare in her presence. And to, like, you know, enjoy Charleston and all its historical glory.

I made an entire vlog detailing our trip with some snippets of everything that we did, but I figured maybe doing a blog post about it might also be a great idea because I know for a fact I likely missed something in this video because I'm straight up just not a Vlogger™ yet.

* This post contains affiliate links *



Where I Ate: 


Where: 120 King Street
What I ate: The Miller's Plate
What I drank: Sherry Spritz


Where: 99 Westedge St 
What I ate: Cereal milk doughnut
What I drank: Iced matcha latte
Fun Francesca Fact: This was a Brooklyn 


Where: 133 Queen Street
What I ate: B.L.T. 


Where: 79 Wentworth Street (Part of The Restoration Hotel)
What I drank: Rosé, baby!
What I ate: Truffle fries
Francesca's Note: We went for Happy Hour so technically not a meal, but the fries were delicious and it was too cute not to mention!


Where: 130 Mill Street
What I drank: Palmetto Spritz
What I ate: Chopped Salad with chicken


Where I Got Coffee: 


Where: 77 Wentworth Street (Part of The Restoration Hotel)
What I drank: Honey lavender latte
What I ate: Chocolate croissant


Where: 4 Vanderhorst Street
What I drank: Iced dirty chai latte


Where: 160 East Bay Street
What I drank: Frozen mint lemonade
Francesca's Note: Not coffee, but they had coffee that I chose not to get because FROZEN MINT LEMONADE!!!!!!!



Where I Shopped:

Madewell

Where: 282 King Street
What I Bought: Slim Wide Leg Crop in Lunar Wash and Classic Straight Jean

Candlefish

Where: 270 King Street
What I Bought: Candle making workshop and two candles in their scent No. 33

Aillea

Where: 344 King Street
What I Bought: Indie Lee Clarity Kit



The beautiful thing about working retail throughout college was that I had no shortage of access to new clothes and employee discounts basically forty hours every week. I was exposed to new inventory on the daily at the consignment store and definitely had eyes bigger than my, er, closet. Even still, that rarely stopped me from springing for new items every paycheck or so, too excited by making my own money (simpler times in Cleveland, guys) and the opportunity to wear these new pieces either to class, out and about with friends, or to my next shift. I wasn't "fashion blogging" at this time so these outfits weren't constantly being shot and posted on my Instagram and blog. I was just wearing them to wear them, which I suppose was good versus buying things to just wear in photos and either (1) keep them and let them sit in my closet or (2) just tucking the tags back in and returning things that I had no intention on actually owning.

I suppose it was good that my huge influx of clothing was all secondhand, but still, the idea that I constantly needed new clothes for new outfits versus just trying to create outfits out of what I already owned by just getting a little more creative was a little bizarre and definitely an expensive habit to keep up and sustain. If you read that complete run-on of a sentence, bravo, my people. Bravo.


Now that my life is dictated by budgets–which it should have been all along–shopping newnewnew isn't an option. It's an easy way out, for sure, but it's just not financially sustainable nor like, environmentally sustainable because we all know I cannot afford that life when it comes to mass amounts. I'm not necessarily qualified to preach to the choir about the the impact that the fashion industry has on the environment so I'm not going to dive too deep into that and will instead leave that up to Megan from the newly re-branded ACTEEVISM and will continue to educate myself from her words as well as shared resources. But let's let the underlying message of this conversation be that you don't have to necessarily shop every single thing in your life sustainably, but instead, consciously.

I've been trying to shop my closet more and more lately, especially when the temptation to buy at the beginning of a new season is so strong. I know I have more than enough clothes. In full disclosure, I have a walk-in closet in my apartment that I have to switch summer and winter clothes in and out of as the seasons pass. Needless to say, shopping should not be my first priority, but I constantly want new. It's not even necessarily new things, it's just new outfits or looks or just something that keeps me from wearing the same outfit endlessly. Not that I'm not a fan of outfit repeating, because I am, but I have a habit of wearing the same outfit, just as I have the habit of listening to the same song, eating the same food, or binge-watching the same show (you guessed it, Gilmore Girls).


I used to be so into fashion and keeping up with the trends and creating outfit after outfit. Somewhere throughout the years, the passion for fashion (lol) died down a bit, and it seems that a piece of my creativity left with it. I tend to opt for a simple jeans and tee or black turtleneck combo when it comes to the colder months instead of wearing the occasionally odd looks that I used to proudly sport day in day out.

There are mornings where I feel the stress building up in the pit of my stomach because I convince myself that I have nothing to wear after twenty minutes of tearing apart my closet and trying various things on. Some mornings, I concede and wear my unofficial uniform of the season. Other times, I hold myself responsible and try to squeeze an ounce of creativity out. This usually leads me to Instagram in which I will either scroll through my actual feed or through my fahsion inspiration folder

Case in point: see above's look? I really wanted to wear that plaid skirt but I've worn this outfit so many times with different variations: plain black turleneck, black sweatshirt with oxford layered underneath, plain white tee. I wanted to spice it up but I had no idea what would do the trick. And then I took a look at my saved folder on Instagram, saw that Sophie Milner had worn a similar skirt last year with a graphic sweatshirt and immediately thought of pairing this sweater with it. It's just another black sweater, but the red Brooklyn decal that coordinated with the plaid and styled with the boots and lipstick print bag was enough flair to make this outfit seem brand new versus me just wearing the same thing over and over again.

I urge you to step back, really see what you have in your closet, and when in doubt, follow some cute af influencers on Instagram and #GetThatInspo.

There is a duality to my being that I can't put my finger on sometimes. I have days where I am more soft-spoken and try to stray away from using any language that's too jarring aside from letting f-bombs slip past my lips more often than I'd like to admit, but there are others when I will say just about anything unfiltered and not bat an eyelash. 

Today is one of the latter days.

I feel like, in this world, there are a lot of intense beauty standards as well as just general taboo topics that maybe we stray away from unless we're talking to like, I don't know, our pals or something. Good news is, you're all my friends. Except like, dad you probably don't want to read this. We're still friends though, just not this type of friend.

Facial Hair Removal

I'm Italian, guys. Despite the blonde hair on my head (which is partially due to bleach and partially due to my Polish mother), let's just remember how dark my eyebrows. That's what the rest of the hair on my body looks like aside from my eyelashes. So cruel. I'm talking everywhere. Arms, legs, bikini line, toes, it's dark and coarse and just a pain in the ass to remove. But let's not forget what I used to dread as a kid and be so embarrassed about: upper lip hair, chin hairs, and whatever random spots they can pop up on my face. 

This could be caused by Hirsutism, which is basically a condition that causes women to grow hair in a similar pattern as men and likely arises from excess male hormones, namely testosterone. This can also cause acne (hence why I take Aldactone). If you want to read more about it, this Mayo Clinic article will break it down better than I ever could. 

I nearly got laser hair removal to get rid of everything above my neck that I didn't want there (aka my eyebrows and eyebrows only) but never went through with it, even after years of whining and crying for having no good ways to remove the hair that made me self-conscious every day of my life.

What did I use to use? I used at home bleach kits, drugstore wax kits that made my skin ache, straight up razors to shave it off, Nair, you name it.

What do I use now? I've gotten more chill about this. While I think I would still like to do laser hair removal (partially for vanity purposes, partially because I genuinely don't want it on my face or to spend time during my mornings to get rid of it manually), I'm taking it day by day. I tend to just tweeze when I can, but as this can be time-consuming, if I need it done fast, I really like the Flawless by Finishing Touch Instant and Painless Facial Hair Remover. Your hair will certainly grow back, but this is simple and painless (the name is true) way to remove facial hair quickly.

What Should I Do About Down There

Let's talk about vaginas. For real, it's fine. People have them. They're great. But a lot of TLC can come into play when it comes to our private bits and it's difficult to tell what's needed. 

In all fairness, none of this is really necessary, as we all have our own preferences. Even so, I had to learn certain things through Cosmo.com articles so let's just chat about a few things and debunk some myths.

First thing, your vagina doesn't need to smell like rainbows and flowers and sunshine. Not only is that just, not necessary, it's also not natural and can irritate everything down there and throw off your balance. Vaginas are self-cleaning, which is incredible in itself. If you are having odor issues, this might just be something involving bacteria and you should likely address this with your physician or gyno. You can also wear thin, fully cotton underwear and looser bottoms if you're having any issues as well.

Second thing, you don't have to shave. Nobody has to do anything when it comes to their bodies, but there's a massive stigma with pubic hair and I...don't get it. We aren't Barbie dolls, we're not smooth and slick and entirely hairless. Not everybody has the opportunity to get laser treatments and waxes regularly and nobody needs to do it unless they want to. It's all personal, y'all. Do you like to be smoothly shaven? Fantastic, make sure you're regulalry replacing your razor blades and are using shaving gel to avoid ingrow hairs! Like to leave it natural? Fantastic, you do you, boo!

What I used to use: Regular run of the mill razors and standard shaving gel

What do I use now? Sensitive shave gel, Venus five-blade razors, Fur Stuble Cream, Fur Ingrown Hair Concentrate, and Fur Silk Scrub.


True Life: I Can't Wear Tampons

Can't, won't, hate, all of the above. I always felt really embarrassed by the fact that I opt for pads over tampons whilst on my period. I had that book that we all had, The Care of Keeping You, or whatever it was called, put out by American Girl to teach us all about puberty and what was going to happen our bodies as we grow up. This included some odd sketches of how to insert a tampon. It's not that I skipped those pages, I just like, never used one. I also went to Catholic school so I didn't even know what a period was so by the time it came, I thought I had a UTI because our cat kept getting them which would cause her to bleed. Needless to say, my mother was VERY confused when I announced that I had what "Maxi had."

Regardless, I just always opted for pads. There was truly no rhyme or reason to it to begin with. I think it was just presumed that they were more comfortable for me to wear as like, a very non-sexually active almost thirteen-year-old. But then I grew up and tampons were just...uncomfortable. I hated wearing them, I hated trying to put them in, I just hated the entire process. At first, I just felt like I was some kind of dweeb who couldn't handle it, and then I was watching some videos on Melanie Murphy's YouTube channel about periods, but more specifically, the tampon versus pad debates.

There are things that can cause discomfort when it comes to inserting and wearing tampons, including situational (as well as primary, secondary, and global) vaginismus. Now, you know my Catholic school wasn't teaching any of this shit as they were too busy shoving abstinence-only down our throats (and to that I say LMAO), so I went through life being embarrassed that I wore pads because the process of putting in a tampon was, quite frankly, incredibly uncomfortable and occasionally excruciating because of this situational vaginismus. Man, what an experience it is to find out an explanation for something that's bothered you for years and years.

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