“What’s That Green Thing??” The Lowdown on Jade Rollers

I like doing Instagram lives quite frequently, most often during my skin-care routine at night (follow me here if you want to join in some time!). I find it very relaxing to have a dedicated skin care routine; I also like to demonstrate how I use certain products/devices for all of you – so, Instagram lives are the perfect method for me to accomplish my “me time” while also engaging with people who have questions!

The question I probably get most often is “what’s that green thing you’re using on your face?” It’s a jade roller. Okay, so what’s it do? It actually does a lot of things – & it looks super pretty on your bedside table or top shelf, too.

Jade rollers have been used as tools in Chinese beauty regimes since the 7th century (x). It is first & foremost a gentle massager for the face & neck. It’s used for lymphatic massage on those areas of your body – lymphatic massage essentially is a gentle method of massage that carries waste fluids (built up in your lymph nodes, hence the name) back towards your cardiovascular system. So, basically, it depuffs & drains your face (as unglamorous as that sounds) – but that’s not all a jade roller does.

The gentle massaging movements increase blood flow in your face, which improves circulation & skin elasticity, as well as tightens pores. If you have more mature skin, using a jade roller may have anti-aging effects.

Best of all, a jade roller keeps you cool & unbothered in the heat – so it’s great for summer. Jade has properties that allow it to remain cool on contact…even in warm or hot weather. This coolness further closes the pores & tightens skin.

So…how can one acquire a jade roller, & how much should one use it – & for how long should it be used?

There are so, SO many options when it comes to jade rollers. I’ve purchased one on Amazon for less than $10, you can get a $24 one from GingerChi (they also carry other anti-aging tools made of jade, as well as various serums), you could get a $25 one from Herbivore Botanicals & you could buy one from Ling for $90. There is a jade roller at every price point. Want a gold-plated one? Go for the Ling. Want a double-sided one (smaller side caters to the under-eye area & other, more delicate parts of the face)? Try the GingerChi one. Want to spend under $10? Get yourself the one from Amazon Dot Com.

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The first jade roller I purchased – $9.59 on Amazon
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The more expensive GingerChi jade roller – this one has slightly better quality metal – & the two sides, both different sizes, allow you to target larger areas of your face with the larger end, & smaller, more delicate areas with the smaller

Is there a huge difference between a $10 jade roller & a $90 one? Well…I can’t say. I haven’t ever purchased a $90 jade roller, & I don’t really plan on doing so. But I can tell you that the $10 one & the $24 one are equally as effective (the difference between my Amazon roller & my GingerChi one is that my Amazon one has a metallic smell – probably coming from whatever material is used around the actual jade). I use mine whenever I feel like it – you can’t really overuse a jade roller. It cannot puncture your skin & create micro abrasions…so if you want to sit & massage your face with your roller all day, go for it, baby! According to Vogue, the New York facialist Ling Chan (who has clients like Behati Prinsloo & Miranda Kerr) says she starts “at the center of the neck, then [moves] outwards and upwards along the planes of the face before finishing at the hairline.” She also uses it after applying a mask – to help the mask penetrate the skin more effectively. This works especially well for masks that suggest constant massaging while the mask is on, such as Skinfood’s Black Sesame Hot Mask – try using a roller the next time you use a mask like this, rather than your hands.

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Pictured with a Saturday Skin sheet mask – I like to use a sheet mask, then massage the leftover essence into my skin with a roller

Jade rollers aren’t the only facial tools out there – there’s also the GuaSha. The GuaSha is also made of jade, but it is not rounded – it is completely flat. It is used to detoxify, regenerate cells, lift a jawline, reduce puffiness, & smooth fine lines. In short – it’s similar to a jade roller…it’s just used in a slightly different way. Instead of rolling the stone across your face, the GuaSha is used with a serum or oil, & should be gently stroking your face in upwards motions. This tightens & cools skin, closes pores, & smooths crow’s feet. Is it necessary for the young adult? I don’t think so – but it’s pretty cool to have around. If you were to pick between one, I’d say go for a double-sided jade roller. It’ll give you many of the benefits the GuaSha lends, but you won’t be paying for two products. Still, the GuaSha is cheaper than many of the jade rollers out there – this GingerChi one is $17, as compared to a $24 jade roller from the same company or a $25 one from Herbivore Botanicals.

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The funnily-shaped GuaShua – this one is also made by GingerChi (as you can see on the front)

Long story short – jade rollers are some of the chicest, most beautiful, & most effective facial tools out there. They’re beautifully cooling & relaxing – especially when used right before bed (which is what I’ll be doing tonight) – & there truly is one for every person’s budget. Will this tool change your life? Well…no. But it’ll make your skin feel a lot better; make the muscles in your face feel more relaxed. Best of all, it’ll make you feel like royalty…after all, you are massaging your face with a semi-precious stone. If that doesn’t make you feel pampered, I don’t know what will.

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My jade rollers are pretty additions to my night table or my top shelf – I like to keep one near my bed, in case I wake up with a headache. If it’s not a migraine, jade’s cooling, soothing properties can often decrease the pain one might get from a headache. Plus…they really are gorgeous to have on your desk or table

Love,

Sof ❤

P.S. If you’re super hot this summer, do what I do with 99% of my skin care: stick it in the fridge. The jade is already naturally cool…on those 100 degree days, a refrigerated jade roller will practically make steam come off your face. Give it a try – you won’t regret it. -S

P.P.S. If you want 25% off any Herbivore Botanicals purchase (including their jade roller) shop here! if you want 25% off any GingerChi (including jade roller) go to gingerchi.com & enter code GCBSAVE25

 

Why I Stopped: Diary

Some of you may already know this about me; some of you may have no idea! But I’ve gotten a lot of requests lately to post about my favorite classical music, composers, pieces, genres, etc.

I’ve politely declined all of these requests, & there’s a simple reason for that. Why? It’s because, when I was at a birthday dinner for my sister in late April, Mozart came on in the restaurant. I started shaking. I went inside myself. I didn’t want to talk, interact with anyone, or be there anymore.

It’s because, when I was in the car on my birthday, driving home from a doctor’s appointment, the Bruch Violin Concerto came on shuffle on my mama’s phone. I started crying, hunching over in the front seat, my body heaving with sobs.

It’s because when I look at any photographs of myself holding a violin, playing the violin, or, God forbid, see a video of myself playing the violin, I cannot contain my sadness. I cannot contain my grief. It feels, every single time, like my heart is being ripped out of my chest.

Why?

Because I “quit” violin this spring. Not actually quit – I’ll still have to play, take lessons at my university, & I will be continuing as a music major (under a different category with several other cognates) – but I had to give up on my dream of being a performing violinist.

Here’s some back story. When I was 4, my parents gave me a violin, & I started lessons with the Suzuki method. My parents are not musicians, but they are lovers of classical music, & they took me & my siblings to the symphony from a very early age. One of the first musical memories I have is going to a performance of the Four Seasons, led by Itzhak Perlman (even if you’re not knowlegable about classical music, chances are you know his name). I continued going to concerts. I continued lessons. By age 12, I was set on being a professional violinist.

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At age 6 or 7, playing away 

Yes…this seems young to make up your mind about a career, right? Well, with music (dance is similar) early decisions are crucial. When your body is young, your muscle memory is best, you’re at your most flexible, & you’re able to learn quickly & effectively, provided you have a teacher who’s giving you correct technique & support.

So…yes! By age 12 I’d pretty much made up my mind that this was the career path for me. I never doubted myself. I practiced for up to 5 or 6 hours a day (that was when I was preparing for an audition, a concert, or just a tough lesson), I threw completely threw myself into the world of classical music. I went to concerts. I studied various techniques of various famous violinists. I read books about violin prodigies, such as Midori, Itzhak Perlman, & so many others. They fascinated me. Their music fascinated me. Their art fascinated me.

I also had to juggle a high school career with my side hustle of rigorous musical preparation. It was particularly difficult by junior year of high school. I had ACTs, college applications were looming – but most importantly, I had my music school auditions the next year – & I needed to be absolutely perfect. I needed a scholarship, I needed a good school, a good teacher, & support. I probably slept 3 hours a night. I fueled on caffeine & adrenaline. I’d listen to recordings of “my” concerto (the one I’d play for my auditions) at 1 am & at 1 pm. I’d record myself. I’d listen to my own recordings obessively. I’d fix my mistakes. When I couldn’t, I’d kick a wall. I yelled a lot at my own hands. But they always ended up doing the right thing.

In the second semester of my senior year of high school, I was jetting all over the country to various auditions for various music schools. I got accepted at quite a few with financial aid – for several, I got a full scholarship (I ended up at a school that offered me a full scholarship). I was relieved, I was happy, I was elated that it was over. I had given up 14 years of my life for 4 seven-minute auditions. & I nailed more than one.

I came back home, hopeful & happy, & ready to sleep. I went to a party about a week later with my mama. There were a lot of musicians there. There was music being played, cake being served. I remember I was wearing a black t-shirt dress, some high heel leather boots, & black lace tights (it was cold outside). I remember a lady coming up to me & telling me how beautiful my figure was. I remember feeling a throbbing pain in my abdomen. I ignored it. That’d been going on for years. It was just part of my norm…right?

Two days later, I was writhing on my bed, screaming in pain, asking for help, unable to function. I never knew what a 10 on the pain scale was until that moment. I was taken to the ER. No one knew what was wrong with me, except that I had a high fever, extreme pain, & some sort of infection. I was put on some morphine injections & hardcore antibiotics – antibiotics that burned my veins, made my mouth taste like metal, made me throw up when I had nothing to throw up. I was in there for about two & a half weeks. I was a zombie. I remember getting calls from my violin professor, telling me that I had recieved a full scholarship for my school of choice. I remember crying, & turning my face into the pillow. How could I be happy? I had no idea what was going on.

I was diagnosed with severe Crohn’s Disease in May of 2015. I got the phone call from my doctor on the morning of my prom. I went anyway; I don’t remember a lot of it. I was trying to be normal…what was normal??? Who was I anymore??? I tried to laugh it off when people asked me what had happened; why I hadn’t come back to school; why I’d gotten a home tutor to get my grades in order for graduation.

A few weeks later, I graduated high school. I still couldn’t really walk from pain, but regardless, I limped onto the stage to accept my diploma. I attended my university orientation in a wheelchair. I got through the summer, but there was pain – both emotional & physical. There was anger. There was sadness. I had no idea what was happening to my body, & why I was the Chosen One. However…I was determined. I knew that I had my dream, & I knew that I could do it. I picked myself up off the floor, & prepared to move into my freshman dorm.

Freshman year was difficult. I had pain, I had nausea, I had weekly trips to the hospital for iron transfusions & various biologic medications. I was put on chemo pills. I went to my morning classes, but I left often. I joked & said I was always thirsty. Instead, I was quietly being sick in the toilet bowl of the school’s basement bathrooms. But I always walked back to class. I always went to lessons. I performed more than once. & I played my heart out. My passion never left. I put my pain into my playing, & it was more emotional & raw than ever before.

I got through freshman year. I ended up with a 3.6 GPA, despite the hospital visits, the surgical procedures, the absences, the pain, the nausea, the blood, the crying on my bathroom floor at 2 am because nothing was working, no medications were helping, what the fuck was I going to do????

I ended my freshman year. I picked up my things & went to the Mayo Clinic with my mama. We hoped to find some new treatment that would get me out of my flare. We seemd to find something that did the trick. I was “better” last summer – I wasn’t cured, but my inflammation was less severe, my pain less frequent, my weight was “normal” (normal means something different to those with chronic illness than to those without one). I did a lot of interesting things. I shaved my head!  I went to Aspen & Breckenridge in Colorado. I’ve never felt so free – but at the same time, I was still going through pain. I started feeling depressed. Something was wrong. I didn’t know what, exactly – but something was off.

I started sophomore year with high hopes. I was in a better living situation, I was excited to begin new repertoire, I was ready to perform; to put my all into my music, to pour my heart & soul out to the audience until it was right at their feet, just waiting to be picked up.

And….some of that happened. Everything seemed “pretty okay” for the most part. I was having a lot of issues with mental illness – with depression, anxiety, even suicidal ideation. This is commonly correlated to a chronic physical illness. & it sucks. Yet, still – I kept up my grades, I kept working, I kept practicing. I knew I could do it.

Slowly, I noticed my weight was starting to go down. I don’t like to talk about numbers on a scale because I get a lot of comments about how my body is “goals” – & it is not. It is unhealthy, & I cannot do a lot of things because of the low energy, fatigue, pain, & high heart rate that goes with being underweight. But over the course of 4 months, I lost about 20 pounds. I was a walking, breathing skeleton. I don’t know how I kept going, but I did. I truly have no idea how I found the energy to play concerts that contained hour-long symphonies, rehearse a sonata with my pianist for at least half an hour, & also try to go out on the weekends (that ended pretty quickly).

Finally, the final straw made its appearance, & it broke the camel’s back. Since Christmas time (December 2016) I’d been having some “weird” hand issues, as well as some knee & foot issues. I charted this up to my low weight – there’s a lot of achiness & bone pain that comes with being underweight – but as time progressed, I noticed that my hands (& my feet) were not just painful – they were swollen. My knuckles looked knobbly. The tips of my fingers were blue, because my circulation was cut off. Within a few days of noticing this, I was in a full-out flare. I couldn’t open a door, tie my shoes, eat a meal with a fork (or a spoon) – & I definitely couldn’t walk to classes. &, obviously, I could not play the violin.

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My hand one day….
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…& then the following day…inflammation would get worse within 24 hours (if not less)

I visited a rheumatologist (a joint doctor) to see what was up. I already had an inkling, but in a few moments, she confirmed my suspicions.

Inflammatory arthritis in relation to Crohn’s Disease.

What’s that mean? Well, essentially, my Crohn’s Disease was not (& still is not) under control. In fact, ever since I was first hospitalized in March of 2015, I have been in a “flare” (that takes too long for me to explain – if you don’t know what it is, google it! There’s some very good articles that explain it very clearly & concisely). Because I’d been in a flare for so long, the inflammation in my digestive tract (where Crohn’s Disease originates) had slowly started to spread to other parts of my body – namely, my hands, my knees, & my feet.

I was put on a set of prednisone (steroids) & also given injections of cortisone in the actual knuckles of my hands (yup, it’s as painful as you might guess). The prednisone worked for a hot minute. But I knew it wasn’t a long-term solution…& my doctor knew that as well. As soon as I heard the words “inflammatory arthritis in the hands” I knew the game was up.

I went home, & I just sat on my bed for hours. I thought about the years I’d spent on the thing I loved the most. I thought of the time, the money, the love my parents had given & spent to make my dreams reality. I thought of my own time, my own tears, my own happiness, the performances I can never & will never forget, the joy of being told “you’re something special. You give something to the audience that not many people can do.” I sat quietly. I took my violin out of its case, & I cradled it in my lap. & then, I called my mama, I asked her to come up to school, & come visit my professor with me.

I told him the game was up. It was over. The diagnosis I got was a confirmation that I could not continue playing at the level that I wanted to. I’d spent hours crying, screaming, hitting my hands because they did not do what I wanted them to do. What had been so easy just a few months ago was now nearly impossible without experiencing excruciating pain. I couldn’t continue like this. I’d injure myself further, & I could not listen to myself deteriorating in performance quality.

He listened, & he understood. He asked me what he could do to help. I said that if I could have one more performance, before it was impossible for me to perform at the level I wished to perform, that would be the wish I’d like granted. He said “of course.” We set a date. & I prepared to the best of my ability.

I decided to play the Franck Violin Sonata (1st & 2nd movements). For those of you who might not know a lot about classical music, Franck wrote this sonata for his beloved friend & virtuoso violinist/renowned pedagogue Eugene Ysaÿe as a wedding gift. The piece was presented to Ysaÿe by Franck on the morning of his wedding. Ysaÿe learned the piece within a few hours & performed it at his wedding reception.

Although a wedding is a joyful occasion (hopefully) Franck’s sonata is somewhat controversial in that it is not always a “happy” piece – in fact, there is a whole movement that is nothing but intense, emotional turbulence. Not exactly a wedding march. The first movement has a gentle and sweetly reflective rocking theme & is the thematic core of the entire work. The second movement, my favorite movement of the sonata’s four movements, is turbulent, emotional, & extraordinarily difficult to play. It’s made me laugh; it’s made me cry. I love this piece with my whole being. I’ve performed it several times, & for whatever reason, it speaks to me. I wanted my “final performance” to be of a piece that held emotional significance for me. 

& so, I prepared, I prepared, I cried because my hands weren’t really doing what I wanted them to do – but when the day came, I was ready.

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No real smiles the day of this performance 

And so, I did what I had to do, & it hurt more than any other performance I’d had to play – both physicallt & mentally. My hands were already not cooperating with me. I had to make amends for what I couldn’t do. Still, I think it’s the best I ever performed.

That’s ironic, because I no longer will be able to express myself in the complex, emotional way that I was able when violin was part of my daily routine. But I had more to share & to give to my audience than ever before. That’s why it’s the best I played. Yes, I slipped up…yes, there were things my hands just wouldn’t do anymore. But emotionally, it was probably the best-rounded performance I’d ever given.

That’s a damn shame. Even as I type this, I’m looking down at my hands. People continue to tell me not to give up, to keep on trying to “do it!” Guess what: I can’t.

I wish with all my heart that this was not true. My hands simply can’t do it anymore. That’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to come to term with, and it’s unfair. It’s unfair that I have to deal with my body aging when I’m just 20 years old. It’s unfair that I had to give up on something that I love most because of an illness I did not ask for.

I don’t like to think of what ifs, because they’re unrealistic. I can’t help but wonder about what might’ve happened if I hadn’t been sick – if I hadn’t been hiding symptoms & pain for years, if I hadn’t brushed away the things I should’ve ran to my doctor or my parents for – would I still be playing? Would my disease be under control?

I don’t know. Maybe. The possibility that it would breaks my heart, & brings me guilt – so I try not to dwell on it too much. That doesn’t stop the violin from popping up in my dreams, though – more often than not, I’ll be sitting in a concert hall, listening to a faceless performer play something I’d always wanted to play, & now never will. I’ll wake up crying.

“What’re you going to do now?” is a common question among those who’ve accepted that I’m “moving on.” Truly? Truly…I have no fucking idea. I’ve learned a lot about myself these last few months. I’ve learned that I have more capabilities; I’ve learned that the 4-6 hours a day I would spend on my instrument can no longer apply to it – but the dedication, ambition, determination, creativity, & refusal to give up have stayed with me. For that, I am infinitely grateful. Because of the years I spent throwing myself into my music & my violin, I know that I will be able to keep going. I will even be able to keep ahead. These last two years, especially, have proven that.

I do not give up. I do not look at my choice to stop violin as giving up (usually…sometimes I’ll feel super bad about it & think of it as such). It was a choice I made for my health, for my dignity, & for the sake of my own sanity. There is nothing more frustrating than discovering your fingers & hands have slowly started to betray you…at the ripe age of 19-&-a-half.

Will I ever truly get over my choice to stop? No. I don’t believe I will. Will I always cry when I hear a certain piece, or be unable to talk to those around me if a classical piece starts playing in public? No, probably not. I think that I will be able to attend concerts in the future; I might even enjoy them. There will always be that twist of the knife – but music is now part of my blood. Just because I’m not going to be a violinist doesn’t mean I can’t stop music from affecting me in both emotional & physical ways. Even if I tried, I couldn’t stop that from happening.

& so, I’m continuing on, continuing school, continuing life. My violin case sits under my bed. I’m staring at it right now. It looks lonely. It feels lonely, to think of my violin sitting in there. It feels even lonlier when I think of the fact that the violin will no longer be an emotional outlet for me; that its therapeutic qualities – for me, at least – have trickled to a halt.

It feels torturous when I think about the dreams I’ve had, the dreams I continue to have, about playing something, or playing somewhere, or worst of all: being unable to play, locked in a room with a performer, having to listen to them play something I wish I could.

But this will not come to an end overnight. It won’t come to an end in 6 months. The violin has been the focal point of my life for over half my life. Something like this doesn’t just stop when you want it to. It’s in my mind, my bones, my blood. I hold my makeup brushes “weirdly” – & always have – because of holding a violin bow. When I throw my arms up in the air, my left arm crooks into that special position. When I hear a certain pitch, I’ll think of a note – think of a piece that starts with a note. I can’t erase these things from my mind or my body.

I don’t think I want to. It hurts every time something like this happens – it hurts because it’s a reminder of what I had to leave behind. But studying music was (& is) so amazing. No…I can’t “do” what I did before. But, although these little behaviors that I’ve picked up over the years with no thought are sometimes painful, they’re painful in a sweet way. They’re a reminder that this will always be with me. I was worried that I wouldn’t be thought of as a musician once I stopped telling people I was studying violin – because it is a crucial part of my identity.

I realized I didn’t have to tell people. It doesn’t matter what other people think. I know how many years (& tears) I spent on my music. I know how deeply it affected me. I know that it has changed me, shaped me, even – from a very early age. I will never be able to get rid of something so deeply engrained in me.

Right now, that hurts. But in a few years, I think it’ll be good. I will never not have this with me. It’s impossible to let go. For that, I’m grateful.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to go cry for a bit. In a good way. In a healthy way. Because it’s okay for me to be upset about this. It’s even okay to be heartbroken. I’ve lost a huge part of myself, & there is no shame in shedding tears over this part of me that is now more shadow than solid…to the outsider, at least. In my mind, music – & violin – is raw, real, & very much with me; it is up close & intimate. & again…for that, I am, & always will be grateful.

Love,

Sof ❤

For Pride’s Sake: Milk’s Contribution To Pride Month

(This is a short but sweet – & gay – product review, because the product I’m reviewing is limited edition & won’t be here for long! Enjoy my description, decide if its your thing, then, if it is…run!!! Go go go. Go along!)

Happy Pride! Yesterday was the 2-year anniversary of marriage equality in the U.S. – making same sex marriage legal in all states. YAY! Obviously we have a lot of work to do still & a long way to go (I’m looking at you, useless anti-trans “bathroom bills”). But Pride Day (& Pride Month) has a special place in every LGBT person’s heart: it’s a time to celebrate our identites, honor those who cannot be present to celebrate, & remember those who broke boundaries, risking their lives for their rights.

I’ve been keeping close tabs on companies that have been supporting Pride Month for the whole of June. I have to say that I’m not impressed with a lot of the advertizing. Most of it just seems like companies/corporations are jumping on the pride float, if you will. While companies, whether it be cosmetics, skin care, home goods, or food services, might be preaching their message of “love is love,” a lot of it is…a bit cringey. Since LGBT is now mainstream, a lot of companies capitalize off of it by making special pride cups, or rainbow blankets, or stickers with a variety of slogans. All well & good, & if you have some of these…that’s cool! Express your pride. However…be aware that most of these things are not actively benefiting LGBT people. It’s just more money in a CEO’s hands. That’s why I was so happy when Milk Makeup announced that they’d teamed up with the LGBT Community Center to promote their limited edition, pride-inspired product: the Glitter Stick, a rainbow glitter highlighter. Cool, right? Definitely. But the best thing about the Glitter Stick is that half of the proceeds go directly to the Center!!!!!! 

The Glitter Stick is $30, which means you’re donating $15 to a great cause during Pride Month, while simultaneously getting a cool, fun product.  I ordered mine as soon as I had the money, & sat back, eager for its delivery. The stick arrived on Pride Day itself. Coincidence? I think not!

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A sneak peek 
Since this is a milkmakeup.com exclusive, the Glitter Stick comes in a transparent pouch printed with the words “MILK Makeup” – super handy for travel. I always appreciate reusable transluscent pouches for this reason! The stick itself comes in the classic packaging Milk uses for all its other stick products, such as their holographic highlights, their Blur Stick, & their Cooling Water Stick (major favorite, by the way). It has a special holographic stripe down the side of the outside tube that says “PRIDE” in big, white letters.

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Front of the outside packaging says: Milk Makeup x The Center 

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Side of the outside packaging: PRIDE (!!!)

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A cute product description on the bottom of the outside packagin, as well as the mention of some natural oils & butters used to formulate the product
It comes with several very cool stickers (that I believe are limited edition but am not sure). It’s supposed to come with a very cool, circle-shaped, holographic sticker that spells out “PRIDE” in a circle – very psychedelic – but mine came with the back peeled off already so it was a mess before I could stick it on anything. Sad!!!!!

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Someone online made note that the “sunshine” sticker is made with the bisexual flag colors. Very nice! (I’m just sad my special pride sticker wasn’t intact. I contacted Milk about this!)
After the stick came out of its packaging & I struggled for a few minutes to remove the clear plastic dome meant to protect the head of the product, I first looked at it with my bare eyes. The stick is a creamy hue, with a slight reflect of pearly-pink. You can definitely see individual glitter particles even looking at it from a few inches away – & yes, the glitter pieces really are every color of the rainbow.

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You can see the cream hue of the actual highlight – along with the individual pieces of glitter, which match the holographic packaging!
The stick has a super powerful scent, which I’m not sure how to feel about. It’s not necessarily bad…just strong. I’d describe it as a strong vanilla with a slightly weird after-scent (is that a word?). I don’t personally have a problem with it – the scent fades after it’s been on your skin for a minute – but if you’re adverse to strong scents, just be aware!

The stick felt a bit gritty when swatching, but for me, this was to be expected. There are literal glitter pieces & particles packed together, so….yup! Seemed about right! It’s really not too bad though…if I directly swiped it on my cheekbones, I don’t believe it would be a problem.

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A single swipe of the Glitter Stick (unblended)

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Blended out – glitter galore!

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Super up-close, blurry shot. Here, you can really see the array of colors the glitter pieces come in
The product is said to be safe for face, body, & eyelids, so catch me at a summer party wearing this on my shoulders, cheeks, lids, & tapped over whatever lip balm I have on! In fact, I tried it on my shoulders this morning. The glitter stays on. It takes a bit of wiping & swiping to get all the little bits off. That’s  good if you’re looking for some kind of body/face glitter that’ll stay. You’ve found it here! However, I’m sure when I wear this on my face, I’ll find stray glitter on my face even after thoroughly cleansing. Fine by me.

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They weren’t kidding with the holographic effect of this product. Here’s one angle…

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…& here’s another. More peachy; the first one is more blue
Another amazing thing Milk did with their Glitter Stick campaign was to shoot it at the LGBT Center in New York City, featuring LGBT people. People of all ethnicities, sexual orientations, & gender identities were gathered together in some truly beautiful photographs. I appreciate Milk for taking the time to use LGBT models to market their Pride Month product. To me, it shows they actually care about the community & are allowing voices that are so often silenced to have the microphone. Check out their Instagram feed to see mini interviews with some of these beautiful people!

All in all…I’m very happy with this product. I’m happy with Milk Makeup for making a truly unique product in honor of Pride Month; I’m even happier that Milk is donating half of all proceeds to The Center; I’m most happy that Milk featured LGBT people, including people of color. It was a very inclusive campaign, featuring a very cool product & very cool people. Milk is truly being an ally, unlike many other brands. This is how a brand can make a difference! Don’t sell rainbow mugs that make you (the brand) more money. Donate a big lump sum to an LGBT organization or shelter – or come up with something as cool as the Glitter Stick. That’ll be hard, though – this one’s a beauty.

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Peace & love for all

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A look the packaging, as well as a cute little (holographic, again!) thank you card, which tells you where half of the money you used to purchase the glitter stick with will go. Spoiler alert: The Center!
 

Shop the Glitter Stick here…& Happy Pride!

Love,

Sof ❤

Shampoo Is History…Or…HairStory

*Roaring applause because of my witty puns*

Okay. Down to business. First thing: foaming shampoo is bad for your hair. Bam.

This itself isn’t exactly news – at least, not in the hair community, or the hair stylist community (that’s why your hairdresser, if you have one, may caution you not to wash your hair too often). However, if you’re kind of “just chilling” with your hair (which is how I like to describe my hair routine), you may not know – or just not care.

I mean…I’ve been told for a while that shampoo is bad for my hair, by multiple people. I just shrugged my shoulders, made sure not to wash my hair too often, & continued using drugstore brands. Shampoo foams, conditioner…conditions. I used some hair oil, didn’t use heat on my hair, & just went on with life.

I came across Hairstory a few weeks ago. Founded by Bumble & Bumble (!!!) Co-Founder Michael Gordon, Hairstory has a pretty ground-breaking message: How many products do professional hairstylists (aka, the people that should know the most about your hair & what’s best for it) use? Only about 6. Is shampoo bad for your hair? Absolutely. Should you (anyone) be using it? No.

And so, Gordon & friends came up with New Wash, described as “an exceptional, revolutionary cleanser that works on ALL types of hair versus hundreds of traditional, specialized shampoos – and transforms hair that has been ritually abused by detergent, styling, and bleach (and makes conditioners – essentially fabric softeners – obsolete).” Basically: it’s a shampoo & a conditioner in one. Except there’s no foaming involved, no “soapiness” involved. One product to rule them all, if you want to look at it that way.

I wasn’t at all skeptical of Hairstory’s message when we started contacting one another. I’ve known for a while that shampoo isn’t good for my hair – I’ve just chosen to ignore it. But when I started reading more about Hairstory’s message, their products, & seeing more & more people – of various hair types – rave about how good New Wash is, I became enthusiastic, not just “not skeptical”!

I was, of course, sent a bottle of New Wash, along with the other products Hairstory has. Here’s information about all of the products – however, the product that you’d really need from Hairstory, if you want to follow their philosophy, is the New Wash. It’s the essential product behind the line, it’s what the brand is founded on. The other products are for styling – not for cleansing.

So, without further ado – here are Hairstory’s products – & how to use them! (& here’s where to shop Hairstory – I’ll link it again at the bottom when you’ve finished reading & are over your skepticism.)

New Wash

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What the brand is built on: New Wash
What inspired Hairstory’s launch! New Wash is a hair cleanser that’s not a shampoo; not a conditioner. It’s made with naturally derived saturated cleansers & a proprietary blend of essential oils – cleansing hair without detergents or synthetic compounds. Because of the essential oils & non-foaming texture (similar to that of conditioner!), it (yes) simultaneously conditions hair, leaving it tangle-free. If your hair is wrecked by bleach, heat, or detergents, it’ll help revive that over time! Even more – if you have colored hair, your color will lat much longer. Itchy scalp? New Wash also claims to “calm troubled scalps.”

After using this only a few times, I have to say that I’m already on board. My hair feels fluffier, bouncier, & it looks shinier. The product itself has a slightly minty scent, but it doesn’t tingle on the scalp (like a lot of other minty washes do). I’ve been using the other Hairstory products as well, but we’ll get to that in a minute. First, how does one use this baby? Simple:

  • Get hair wet (like always)
  • Coat all hair with New Wash (like conditioner)
  • Massage scalp vigorously with fingertips (like crazy!)
  • Do your shower routine…(for me, that entails body wash, shaving – sometimes – singing, washing my face, & sometimes even brushing my teeth)
  • Rinse, rinse, rinse! Use your hands (like squeegees)

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New Wash comes with an instruction card – just in case you’re unsure how to use it
That’s it! You’re done. Gently towel-dry, like I do (I don’t blow dry my hair – EVER) or blow dry it! That leads us to Hairstory’s next product.

Hair Balm

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Hair Balm is described as “skin care for hair.” I love skin care, so I was already behind this the moment I read the product description. Like New Wash, it has a conditioner-like texture (or a balm texture) & is meant to be used on damp hair after washing. Its moisture revives dry or over-processed hair, “makes curls perfectly imperfect,” &, if you have big, thick hair, weighs it down for a leaner, sleeker look. According to Hairstory’s site: “Work through damp hair with fingers or comb, and let it air dry.” Or: “Use on dry hair to touch up frizz or flyaways.” I’ve seen people with kinkier/curlier hair types absolutely rave about this product. I myself don’t have kinky or curly hair (I don’t have straight hair either – it’s more of a wave, depending on the weather) but have used this after New Wash on my damp hair. Currently, it’s hot & humid where I’m at. That always makes my hair super frizzy. I can’t say Hair Balm completely eradicates my frizz if I use it on my damp hair, but if I touch up before going out someplace, my frizz will be gone for at least several hours, if not more. The scent is very pleasant! It’s definitely not minty; I’d describe it more as a fresh, botanical, green scent (if that makes any sense). It’s not “too much”, & wouldn’t overpower a fragrance if you were to wear one.

Dressed Up

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First words you see when going to Dressed Up’s page on the Hairstory site: “Safe blow-drying.” Now, like I said, I don’t blow-dry my hair, but that’s okay! Dressed Up can be used on your hair whether or not you blow-dry it. According to Hairstory’s site, “this lightweight lotion is the key to stylish hair.” It controls unruly hair, but doesn’t take away the body of your natural hair – whether or not you choose to blow-dry it. It also gives texture – great for my hair, since I often like to pin it back, Bella Hadid style. This added texture helps keep hair in place. Lightweight, provides heat & UV (!!) protection, a lightweight finish, & a natural, fresh fragrance, I really, really like Dressed Up. It works even better on fly-aways for me than Hair Balm – though both work really nicely. Also…I can’t lie: the pale pink lettering on the white bottle really gets me. I’m a sucker for millennial pink – but all of you know that already!

Déshabillé (Undressed)

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If you like that “beachy, sexy look,” this is the product for you. This is a salt/surf spray without the stickiness, crunchiness, or dryness that so many other salt sprays have. I absolutely love the scent of this product – probably my favorite scent out of all of Hairstory’s products – & I love the way it feels even more. I get a wave, some body, & fluff, but I never feel like I’ve put hairspray in my hair. I hate that about a lot of salt sprays – by the end of the day, you’ve just felt like there’s just a dry coat of something gross on top of your hair. That feeling isn’t healthy, & it doesn’t do your hair any favors – that’s for sure. Like Hairstory says: “Undressed creates texture without torture.” I have to agree with them on this one.

So…final verdict? I’m in love with Hairstory! Favorite products? Probably New Wash & Dressed Up…but it’s hard to pick. They all go together extraordinarily well. &…yes! $40 for hair wash might seem expensive…but remember, you’re not paying for shampoo and conditioner. This is an all-in-one product, so in my opinion, it’s worth the money. If you have to get one product, get New Wash – & if you end up loving New Wash, Hairstory started something called “The New Wash Club” – essentially, you sign up to recieve New Wash automatically. You can choose (& change) the frequency, & your account will be charged for a delivery of a 20-ounce pouch of New Wash – to refill your complimentary aluminum dispenser included (empty) with your first shipment. Basically – if you try New Wash, love it, can’t live without it, & want to keep using it, Hairstory has your back with a cheaper long-term price – & has the environment’s back by taking advantage of reusable packaging. Win/win, if you’re a fan of New Wash (I think I’ll be joining this subscription, once my first bottle runs out).

Sorry – that was a bit of a ramble. But for real: I do love Hairstory, & I especially love the ease (& effectiveness) of New Wash. I think it’s something that has already made a difference to my hair – & hopefully will make a difference to yours, too!

Hairstory created a challenge:

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Hairstory’s challenge: “We Dare You”
I’m not sure about posting a photo after every wash (I’ve already been using it for a bit, & I haven’t remembered to take photos after every time) but I’m definitely on board with quitting my other products cold-turkey. So far, Hairstory’s done nothing but good for my hair. I have super soft, super fluffy hair – & yes, it really does feel healthier.

Let me know if you give Hairstory a try, shop it here, & if you do, tell me your thoughts on it!

Love,

Sof ❤

P.S. Yes, this is affiliate – but I never sign on to anything that I don’t enjoy myself. My hair feels healthier, bouncier, & when I find other products that make it feel the same way, I’ll share them with you as well – affiliate or not! xoxxoox

 

I Got A Therapy Cat – What’s She DO, Though?

I got a cat!

I got a cat I got a cat I got a cat I got a cat I got a cat I got a cat I got a cat I got a cat I got a cat I got a cat .

In case you don’t follow me on social media, here’s some news: I got a cat! If you do follow me on social media, you’ve seen her already. Probably more than you’ve wanted, but that’s okay. I don’t care. Her beauty must be broadcasted.

Some of you might actually not know this, but I’ve had a cat for the majority of my childhood. He was a Siamese cat, a Christmas present for all three of us when I was only about 6 years old. He lived a long, full, happy life in our household, until the beginning of this year, when old age caught up with him.

Needless to say, I was sad – but I missed having a cat’s presence in general. I’ve always been a cat person (though I love my family’s French bulldog) & truly missed having one to nap with, play with, & just sit on my bed with.

We’d been talking about me getting, yes – a “therapy cat” for a while now, even before my senior cat died. Why?

Well, I remember coming home from my first long-term hospitalization, hardly able to move, & seeing my cat already waiting for me on my bed. He slept there with me day in, day out, & came to check on me at night, too. He was a constant companion on the days that I felt bad. He always seemed to know when I was feeling especially, ill, & when I needed some quiet company.

When I went to university, this (obviously) changed. I was in a dorm, & couldn’t bring my family’s cat even if I were allowed – but I missed him dearly. I had a single dorm room for both my freshman & sophomore years of university due to health issues (immunosuppression) & it got lonely sometimes. So, finally, when I started making apartment plans for this upcoming school year, the subject of a therapy cat kept coming up. And – rather unexpectedly – here she is. Mačka (Croatian for “cat”), about 6 years old, a rescue cat, a single mother (all her children have been adopted) with a spunky yet cuddly personality…& beautiful green eyes.

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Mačka with one of her friends (enemies?) the other day 
So – why is it a great thing for me, a sick person, to have a cat? (therapy or otherwise)

  1. Company. Sick people get lonely! Sometimes it’s because of self-isolation; other times it’s simply because we’re too sick to make plans or even have someone over to visit. A cat is always there; a cat is a presence that you can rely on, but never have to entertain. They’re perfectly happy sitting in silence, cuddling, or playing with a toy – but whatever you decide to do with a cat is on your own time. Even as I’m typing this, my cat is stretched out right next to me. There’s something very comforting about having another presence in a room/apartment/house with you, even if that presence is an animal. Sometimes….especially if that presence is an animal. Cats can’t say anything, which means they can’t say anything wrong. They do no harm, only good
  2. No walks! Personally, I wouldn’t have the energy after long days of class to walk a dog. It would be irresponsible for me to have one because of it! Cats are self-functioning, happy on their own, & happy when you’re with them.
  3. Gives me something to look after. Oftentimes, being ill makes one feel like a burden to others; makes one feel like they have nothing to contribute. I’ve been there many times – I’m sure I’ll be there again. But having my cat depend on me to feed her, spend time with her, change her litterbox, give her fresh water, etc., gives me a sense of purpose & responsibility. It makes me feel like I’m giving happiness (however small) to someone else, no matter what. Who cares if it’s a cat I’m giving happiness to – she deserves it!
  4. A source of positivity & joy. I truly have laughed & talked more since I got Mačka; I’ll even go so far as to say I’m happier. I’m not saying a cat can cure my depression – but she can be a welcome source of positive distraction; a great way to laugh off my frustration insead of cry it out. And when she sees me & is clearly pleased by seeing me, it’s an ego boost, believe it or not. No matter who I’m mad at or what I’m sad about on a particular day, I know that I’ll have a cat to go home to who will be happy to see me.

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Whether you’re mentally or physically ill or disabled, I think an animal is a wonderful thing to have in your life. They’ll give you some responsibilities, but also provide you with laughter, happiness, & play time. Even in my young adult life, I know I can use a good dose of that – & you probably can, too.

Love,

Sof ❤

I’m that person…you can follow Mačka on Instagram here.

The Sexual Wellness Company That Keeps You Stylish, Satisfied, & Socially Aware

@unboundbox on Instagram – like so many Instagrams these days – is a mood board for sexual confidence, body positivity, political activism, & personal style.

Unbound’s site, which has been featured in Allure, Vice, Cosmo, & Teen Vogue (!!), isn’t much different. Click “shop” & you’re given a page that features “all the things!” The things are anything from cleaning supplies, to lingerie, to…cock rings???

Unbound is truly a unique company. They carry many retailers…so yes, you can purchase a vibrator for $25(or $119)bath salts for $24, & a mug that proclaims “The Future is Female” for $13 all on the same website. Not many companies can boast the same.

I started pretty tame. I went for the Twiggy Venus Earrings in Gold, & perhaps a more risqué Cleo Whip Chokerwhich, interestingly enough, is described as a “glam choker delicately encircles your neck to meet in an elegant golden pendant that draws the eye. When unhooked, this piece serves as a functional whip suited to light BDSM play.”

Both of the options I selected are simple & understated (which is what I look for in my jewelry) – but if you want something a bit more out there, you can always go for the super lux (& out there) Cleo Restraint Set – or even earrings that double as nipple clampsHey…there’s something for everyone! & let’s admit it: there’s something more than a little cool about having jewelry that is, let’s say…multi-purpose.

But if you wanna stay in your lane, that’s fine, too. Those “Nevertheless, She Persisted” mugs are there for you all, too.

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Each piece of jewelry comes in a little bag with a unique doodle or drawing

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The…multipurpose…Cleo Whip Choker 

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The Venus Earrings – only meant for ears

(The choker worn two ways…& a close-up on the lovely earrings!)

If you’d like to check out Unbound Box, use the code SOF15 for 15% off any of their products! (Not an affiliate!!!! I am not getting compensation for this code!!! I always want to be perfectly clear with all of you <3)

Stay stylish, empowered, or satisfied…or all three! That’s cool too!

Love,

Sof ❤

 

Two Lip Luxuries For Your Summer Pleasure (Plus One That Won’t Break The Bank)

It’s officially summer, & I’m ready for my high-cut, low-back one piece swimsuits (that probably will only make it outside once or twice) going on walks in the late evening because it’s still light & warm out, & running around in the grass barefoot.

I love spending my days either outside, or inside with my windows open. Fresh warm air makes me feel cleaner & fresher-& I love that!

This clean, fresh feeling makes me want to stick to white T-shirts, breezy printed dresses, & a no-pants policy when I’m hanging out in my house.

It also makes me want to focus more on face mask-ing & less on face makeup-ing.

To be more clear, I always like to keep it simple-but I especially love keeping it simple in the summer. My goal? As little face makeup as possible (ideally none, if my skin is looking good!) a dewy highlight, a swipe of #boybrow, a pop of glitter on my lids, &….lipsticks.

Lipsticks are my favorite part of summer makeup because they glam up everything…yet don’t add 50 more steps to your routine. Best part of a summer party? Throwing on a dress, combing out my brows, & quickly swiping on a lipstick before I walk in. I don’t have to worry about lip liner or a perfectly shaped pout-imperfection makes my summer look even better. Just the right amount of dishevelment makes you look effortlessly beautiful (& in my case I truly try to keep the level of effort at a minimum-I swear I’m not faking!)

In the summer, I think it’s worth my while to spend a little more on a lipstick, since I won’t be thinking about full-coverage foundation…liner…lashes…

In reality, I don’t really like any of those things at any time of the year. If you do, that’s fine!! But this is me telling you that it’s worth your while to spend a little extra time choosing a summer lipstick, & maybe a little extra money. If you pick the right one (or ones), it’ll serve you well throughout the season, & perhaps beyond.

So, without further ado, here are two luxurious lipsticks-& my favorite lip gloss that, if you aren’t looking to spend a lot of money, will be an amazing, glamorous, yet inexpensive addition to your beauty table.

Tom Ford Ultra Rich Lip Color in 02: “Temptation Waits” 

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Okay…admittedly, I didn’t buy this myself. I’ve purchased one other Tom Ford lipstick in the past (from the Lips & Boys collection-shade “Malik”) but one of my followers (oh so kindly!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!) emailed me a Sephora gift card so that I could give this one a try. When it arrived, I squealed. Not only did the white & gold outside packaging look like the perfect summer accessory (forget handbags; just carry this lipstick!) the color in the tube was the perfect shade. It’s a dark shade on me; could be called a nude for deeper skin tones-but the way that Tom Ford lipsticks are formulated, you can just lightly swipe the bullet over your lips for a defined yet sheer look. Like all Tom Ford’s lipsticks, it smells slightly of vanilla; enough to be pleasant, but not too strong to overwhelm any fragrance you might be wearing. As you can see in the last photo, it has a slight amount of shimmer to it, which provides a plumping, yet ethereal effect. It’s perfect.

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“Temptation Waits” out in the sun. Easy application (no mirror needed) that gives you a blurry, effortless effect. 

Dior Addict Lipstick in 561: “Wonderful”

I’m unapologetically in love with all of the Dior makeup products I’ve purchased. The Diorshow mascara made me actually like mascara, the Lip Glow Balm, Scrub, & Pomade goes everywhere with me, & their plumping gloss is another winner. Plus…the packaging. I sometimes am too weak & buy a product just because I love the packaging, but Dior has beautiful packaging & beautiful products. No buyer’s remorse for any Dior product I’ve ever purchased, ever. However-I’d never tried any of their lipsticks, & after seeing a few featured on several of my favorite Instagram stories to watch (Glossier, Into the Gloss, Man Repeller-all the greats!) I decided to make one of them my summer friends. I chose “Wonderful” because it looked like a great sheer, shimmery finish-& a pinky coral for the lips is never a bad choice in my book, especially in the summer. This one didn’t let me down. First of all…the holographic/rainbow/silver packaging is beautiful, making it not only a lipstick but also an accessory, & Dior’s signature silver knob on the end of the product makes it easy to find in your purse, pocket, or backpack. Unlike the Lip Glow collection, this lipstick doesn’t have that minty-floral scent-I really can’t detect any scent at all. This didn’t make me sad, though-the ridiculously beautiful finish & silky-smooth application more than made up for a lack of scent (& for some, lack of scent might even be a bonus). This has just the right amount of shimmer (maybe even a little glitter!) to it, & lasts a long time, slowly sinking into your lips to become more of a stain as the day goes on. Feels like a balm, looks like a lipstick. 10/10, & I’m restraining myself from running right back to grab at least two more.

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Silver-holographic packaging…
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…Containing a beautiful rosy coral (stamped with “CD”).

And now for the product that has been in my bag & on my lips (& sometimes even my eyelids) all spring. It’ll stay in my bag, & on my lips-this time, though, I’ll be making it even better by layering it over top these two lovely lipsticks.

Glossier Lip Gloss

Everyone was in an uproar when Glossier made their Clear Lip Gloss (a limited edition Holiday 2016 product) part of their permanent makeup collection. And for good reason: this lip gloss smells like heaven (just the right amount of vanilla), isn’t sticky, contains Vitamin E (making it so moisturizing that it can be used as an overnight lip mask-which I’ve also done), & best of all, it looks like a lava lamp in the packaging-full of bubbles, & that #glossierpink shade (which ends up looking transparent on the lips).

I love this gloss because 1) it has no stickiness to it whatsoever 2) it is completely clear, making it an amazing addition to whatever lipstick or liner I’m wearing that day, & 3) it is $14-instead of my other favorite lip gloss, the YSL Tint-in-Oil, which is $32.

Basically, it’s a great way to amp up your summer look. Wear a tinted balm or a sheer lipstick during the day, & if you have no time to do some serious retouching before an outdoor party, just slip this gloss in your bag at the beginning of the day. Apply in the bathroom, in your car’s rearview mirror, or just slap it on-because it won’t let you down. Ever.

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The lava lamp of glosses.
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Infinitely instagrammable (Try taking a slo-mo video. You’ll be hypnotized).

I haven’t gotten pictures from the paparazzi of me wearing Glossier’s lip gloss over Tom Ford “Temptation Awaits,” but I have managed to score a few of me wearing Dior “Wonderful” with Glossier gloss. Enjoy:

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Shiny, shiny.
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Just a light layer of Dior “Wonderful” underneath my Glossier shine.

I hope that gives you some inspiration for some summer beauty #looks that are both comfortable yet infinitely flattering! Tag me on IG with your summer beauty looks, if you wish-I’d love to see them!

Shop with me at Glossier if you’d like to get your hands on some gloss!

(Sadly, I’m a small speck of a human, not Bella or Gigi Hadid, so I don’t have discounts for Dior or Tom Ford. But thank you to the lovely, lovely human being who sent me the Tom Ford lipstick. You are too kind!)

Love,

Sof ❤

P.S. My face makeup in both pictures is Dr. Jart Tiger Grass Color Correcting Cream; highlight is Marc Jacobs Glow Stick Glistening Illuminator, mascara is Diorshow, eyeshadow is…I don’t remember! Something sparkly. Probably from Colourpop. Brows? No filter, just Glossier (Boy Brow). Both tops I’m wearing are from Urban Outfitters; my necklace & earrings are the Tiffany & Co. Paloma Picasso olive leaf collection (my parents’ graduation gift to me, & my most prized jewelry). “How did you get your hair to go back in a bun & make it look so sleek when it’s so short?” A scrunchie. Bobby pins (at least 500). & Biossance 100% Squalene Oil. & more bobby pins. & a few prayers.