Finally, Glossier Has The “Solution” For Redness, Texture, & Acne

It’s hard not to make a (bad) word play when a product is literally named “Solution” – & that’s the name of Glossier’s newest product, which had been hinted at in this Into The Gloss article, published (very) early this year.

In the article, gTEAM member Manouska talks about her life-long struggles with acne, & how a mysterious product (hint: Glossier Solution) has helped her skin look & feel better than it ever has in her adult life. A few weeks after this article was published, Manouska took to Glossier’s Instagram story, giving us all a closer look at the mysterious product. Still in its developmet packaging, all I could tell was that it was a toner-type product – & that it had a very cool dispensing pump.

Finally, Glossier Solution was dropped this past Wednesday. I was curious to see how it would be described – & Glossier calls it “a daily face exfoliator.” Meant to be used only once daily, Solution is a chemical exfoliant that “gently sloughs dead cells away through chemical exfoliation, dissolving the bonds gluing problematic dead cells to the healthy skin beneath.”

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“exfoliating skin perfector”

I know – the words “chemical exfoliation” sound scary & dangerous, when in reality, they’re better for your skin than physical exfoliants, which can cause micro-abrasions. Micro-abrasions invite more bacteria into the skin, which often leads to increased breakouts, texture, sensitivity, & redness. I wrote a whole piece about acids/chemical exfoliants here, which might be valuable if you’re still feeling a bit confused about the whole thing. If you don’t have the time, just know this: as someone with sensitive skin, I was initially nervous about the whole chemical exfoliation thing…until I gave it a try. Since I’ve started using chemical exfoliants, my skin is brighter, clearer, softer, & smoother. Needless to say, I was very excited when I saw the ingredients in Glossier’s Solution – they’re right up my alley.

The most important part of Glossier Solution is the blend of AHA, BHA, & PHA – three types of acids that serve as chemical exfoliants. AHA = alpha hydroxy acid, & can be found in lactic acid or glycolic acid. BHA = beta hydroxy acid, & is most commonly found in salicylic acid. PHA = polyhydroxy acid, a less potent version of an AHA. It exfoliates, but it also moisturizes & conditions the skin. It’s one of the reasons why Glossier Solution works well even on sensitive skin!

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I’ve been using & loving chemical exfoliants, particularly AHA/BHA blends for about a year now. My first introduction to an AHA/BHA product was the Drunk Elephant Babyfacial, a weekly treatment that I adore to this day. Once I saw for myself that no, acids did not burn off my face – & yes, they really do eliminate texture & keep the skin baby-soft, I was sold. I started trying out various chemical exfoliants, figured out which ones I liked best (& why), & marvelled as my face became brighter, clearer, & softer.

So – now that I’ve tried Glossier Solution, what do I think of it, as someone who’s been using & loving chemical exfoliants for about a year?

I tried Solution for the first time yesterday, so I can’t say how it’ll feel or look in the long-term, but I can give my “after 24 hours” impression of it – which is when Glossier says you’ll start noticing positive results. Just a disclaimer: this product is good, but no exfoliant will “cure” or clear your skin overnight. These things take time, & Glossier makes sure to let you know that. On the Glossier Solution product page, there are “after 24 hours,” “after 1 week,” “after 2 weeks,” & finally, “after 4 weeks” results. To sum it up: give Solution about a month to work its finest magic.

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As someone with sensitive skin, I was worried that something like Solution would be too harsh for me; I thought it might burn or dry out my skin. Usually, if a product does this, I’ll know within 24 hours. I made sure to do my research on Solution – & Glossier made sure to answer that pressing question within the first day of releasing Solution. “Can I use Solution if I have sensitive skin?” Glossier says: “Yes! Solution was formulated to be gentle enough to be used daily by all skintypes. The acids are balanced with calming, replenishing ingredients like aloe, glycerin, and niacinamide.” Glossier made sure to include people with sensitive skin in the testing process, so I wasn’t too nervous when first trying Solution.

Glossier makes sure to say “use once daily.” Why? Simply because your skin doesn’t need it twice daily. Too much of a good thing can lead to bad things. Even if you have oily skin, acids can still dry you out if you use them too much. I’ve been using Solution in the morning, because I use the Drunk Elephant Framboos serum (an AHA/BHA serum) at night. Again, too much of a good thing often = bad things.

When I opened Solution, I was really excited to see the dispenser that we were given a sneak peek at. It’s very cool: push down on the pump with a cotton pad, & product will dispense directly onto the cotton. No pouring, shaking – just press down. I’m always here for sanitary (& fun) packaging, & Solution’s packaging is both fun & sanitary.

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A closer look at the (very cool) packaging

Ingredients? I already knew what they’d be, but I got more detailed information. I saw lactic & glycolic acid listed as main ingredients, which led to a cheer – like I said, my skin likes these best of all! Lactic acid reduces dark spots/scarring, & glycolic acid breaks down dead skin cells, which improves skin tone & texture. I was a bit nervous about salicylic acid – my skin doesn’t hate it, but my skin definitely prefers lactic/glycolic acids. Salicylic acid reduces acne & unclogs pores – not a bad thing, but it’s not something I generally purchase, after several bad experiences when I was less educated…also known as: “Oh no! I have a blemish! Let me douse my dry, sensitive skin in this Proactiv product with a high concentration of salicylic acid!” Needless to say, nothing good happened there (& it took my skin a while to recover) – but I used it in the wrong way, & Proactiv was never meant for my skin type, anyway. My fears were qualmed when I saw the final acid used in Glossier Solution: the PHA gluconolactone, which exfoliates – but also moisturizes & conditions. Finally – “Anti-Stress Complex,” which is a blend of aloe, glycerin, & niacinamide. All three of these are soothing & help reduce redness (side note: a lot of people asked if it’s okay to use a niacinamide serum – like Glossier Super Pure – along with Glossier Solution. Yes! Niacinamide is a calming ingredient, & it will not burn or dry out your skin. I’ve used Solution & Super Pure together with no negative effects).

Okay – that’s a lot of information on the product itself…but how did I like it? What were my first impressions? How did I use it, & when? Let me break that down right now.

  • The packaging of the bottle is very cute. It’s the signature #glossierpink, but the bottle is sparkly! Very Kirakira friendly.
  • I used Glossier Solution in the morning. You can use it morning or night – but don’t use it more than once a day, because overloading the skin is never a good idea. I chose to use it in the morning because I use the Drunk Elephant Framboos Night Serum in the evening. If you don’t use a serum like that in the evening, feel free to plop Solution into your night routine. It’s truly up to you – the results will be the same.
  • I used a Shiseido cotton pad with Glossier Solution. You can now buy Glossier Cotton Rounds, which were designed especially for using with Glossier Solution…but at the end of the day, it’s cotton. If you’re happy with what you’re using now, stick with it.
  • A lot of people have asked where Solution fits into a skincare routine. It would “replace” your toner – so, after cleansing, before serums (which are optional) & moisturizer. Be sure to moisturize after applying Solution, & be sure to wear sunscreen. AHA/BHA/PHA blends make the skin more sensitive to sun. This increases risk of skin cancer if you don’t stay on top of it & apply sunscreen! Be sure to do that no matter what, but be especially sure if you’re using chemical exfoliants like Glossier Solution (or Drunk Elephant Babyfacial, or any other chemical exfoliant). Wear! Your! Sunscreen!
  • I was pleasantly surprised to experience no burning, tingling, or dryness. I was also pleasantly surprised by the scent. It’s not artificially sweet, but it’s not horribly chemical, either. It’s hard to describe, so I’ll just say that it’s subtle & pleasant – not something you’d expect from a chemical exfoliant.
  • The pump is so much fun to use. I know – it’s just packaging – but packaging is a big deal to me. The pump convinces me that you can take it wherever you like without worrying about spilling a single drop. Also – the product will stay free of contamination, because you don’t have to touch any part of the bottle to dispense it. No bacteria! No infections! Yay!
  • After 24 hours, I looked in the mirror to see if I could notice a difference. Short answer: yes. Long answer: my skin felt softer & smoother, it looked noticeably brighter, & I had no dryness or redness. I was especially surprised by zero redness. Usually, I expect redness under my nose when I wake up in the morning, especially during the cold, dry winter months. Not after Solution! This was a big factor in my “final” first impression of Glossier Solution.

Final first impression? This is sensitive-skin friendly, it works like it says it works, & I’m excited to see how my skin will look after one week…then two…then three…then four…& so on, & so forth.

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It’s nice to see Glossier put out a product that specifically targets acne! One of the larger complaints about Glossier was that they did not have anything for acne-prone skin/oily skin. Glossier’s Wowder was the first answer to those kinds of complaints – it helps eliminate shine – & this is the first big skincare product by Glossier that claims to help reduce acne. I had a lot of friends with oily skin/acne-prone skin who were very excited to hear about this. Best of all, Glossier tested on “real” people – & there are untouched photos on the Solution product page of “before Solution” & “after Solution.” It’s really transparent & honest – untouched, just like the before & after photos.

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That’s all I have for now. I’ll be sure to update my thoughts on Solution, but until then, here’s to chemical exfoliants that reduce texture & redness while boosting clarity & glow – all while being packaged in a sparkly pink bottle with a very fun dispenser.

For the first two weeks of Glossier’s Solution release, get free shipping when you add the (also new) Glossier Cotton Rounds to your order & use the code SOLUTION at checkout.

Has anyone else tried Solution yet? If not, will you be giving it a go? Let me know!

Love,

Sofia ❤

Why I Went for the “G.I. Jane” in 2017

I’m a 90s kid, but I don’t remember 90s culture – I’m only 20, so I was born in ’97 – by the time the 90s had closed, all I remembered was that I wore a lot of cute rompers.

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I’m on the cusp of the turn of the century, so while I’m categorized as a “90s kid” I wasn’t aware of the culture, fashion, & political issues going on at that time. That’s because I was under 4 years old.

The 90s were groundbreaking in many ways – & I won’t turn this into a history class, but hear me out: the first supermodels were born, universal healthcare became a widely discussed topic…& Natalie Portman shaved her head for the role she played in “V for Vendetta.”

Natalie Portman was not the first woman to get her locks chopped; she most certainly wasn’t the last, either, but she was one of the first people that popped up on my Google image search when I looked for buzzcut inspiration back in 2016. Charlize Theron, Natalie Portman – two powerful actresses that shaved their heads in the 90s for film roles.

But…how about we skip back a few years, to a name I never heard (I know…shame on me) until I started really looking into buzzcuts: Sinéad O’Connor.

Sinéad’s buzzcut was done a few years before Portman or Theron made the call to go bald – & she didn’t do it for a film role, either. O’Connor’s look was admittedly “edgy” – the singer/songwriter burst in on the scene, looking like someone no one had ever seen before…& love it or hate it, O’Connor was different. She garnered attention for her buzzcut. She was “more interesting” because of it.

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After I buzzed my head, I got a lot of “you look like Sinéad!” comments. I don’t really see that close of a resemblance; Sinéad & I don’t have the same face shape or eye color, & while we’re both fair-skinned with brunette buzz cuts, I wouldn’t call us twins. Still – the continued comparison to O’Connor picqued my interest, & I looked a little further into what Sinéad was all about. I wasn’t around in the 80s, & I never listened to O’Connor. I came in pretty unbiased; all I knew was that she was bald, & that she liked being bald.

I saw that O’Connor was extremely open about her mental illnesses & her past with sexual harrassment & assault. It seemed evident to me that her shaving her head (& continuing to do so) was one of many ways to cope with her traumatic past – but it was also a way for her to break barriers; a way for her to assert herself in Hollywood, an industry that we all know by now is rife with misogyny.

I came across an interview O’Connor did for “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” One of the questions addressed her being a young woman in the Hollywood/music industry, & how her buzzcut helped her “keep safe”:

“They wanted me to grow my hair really long and wear miniskirts and all that kind of stuff because they reckoned I’d look much prettier,” she told Oprah – “so I went straight around to the barber and shaved the rest of my hair off.” O’Connor went on to say that she felt as though her buzzcut protected her in many ways. “I always had that sense that it was quite important to protect myself — make myself as unattractive as I possibly could,” she finished.

A couple things here: I don’t think Sinéad for one moment felt “ugly” when buzzing her head – at least, that’s not what it seems like to me, particularly because she’s been very vocal about continuing to shave her head…perhaps until the very day she dies. In a 2010 interview with Patrick Barkham for The Guardian, she said: “I don’t feel like me unless I have my hair shaved. So even when I’m an old lady, I’m going to have it.”

Clearly, O’Connor enjoys the way she looks with no hair…& I do as well. In researching O’Connor’s past, how/when/why she shaved her head, I found a lot of parallels between the two of us.

I initially shaved my head in the summer of 2016, when I really wanted a tattoo. At the time, I couldn’t get one – my blood counts (thanks, chronic illness!) were too low to ensure that I wouldn’t get an infection. I was frustrated by this; it felt like just one more affirmation that I was not in control of my body, & it made me feel incredibly angry & sad at times.

I came across a few models on my Instagram explore page with freshly shaved heads around that time. I looked, & I flipped away. I went back to look again. & again. By the end of June 2016, I was heading to Supercuts.

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The initial buzz – June 2016

The initial reception I got from my very short hair wasn’t all positive. Many were confused; a few were angry. That made me confused – all of a sudden, I was wondering: is my beauty/value placed solely on how much hair I have or don’t have? After all, my face looked the same. I had no permanent ink on my body. I just had (very) short hair.

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Because of the somewhat mixed reception, I shaved my head two more times that summer (just to touch up) & let it be by the time I went to school in September of that year. By the end of the year, my hair was curly/wavy, & I looked a bit like Finn Wolfhard (yes, from Stranger Things).

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September 2016
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November 2016
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December 2016
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January 2017 (starting to feel like Finn Wolfhard)
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March 2017
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April 2017…
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April 2017…
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…& April 2017

I didn’t consciously make the decision to grow out my hair; I think that I subconsciously told myself: people don’t think this is attractive. You’re probably going to get weird looks. Just grow it out – it’s hair, it’s not a big deal. So – I grew it out.

Don’t get me wrong: I didn’t feel as though any stage of my “growing-out process” was awkward or ugly. I enjoyed seeing my hair change – & it changed quite quickly. First it was a fluffy pixie, then it was a flat pixie, & by the time February 2017 hit, I could pretend as though I was just slicking back very long hair (thanks to lots of bobby pins) I could make a quiff, or I could leave it be & look like Harry Styles, 2013 era. I didn’t ever hate my hair – let me make that perfectly clear.

But – but! June came around. It was summer 2017, & I’d just had a very scary doctor’s appointment on my birthday (fun, I know). The information I was given was incorrect, & I was in a full-fledged panic attack. I was told that if I didn’t have X surgery or Y procedure, I would surely die. This was incorrect, but a doctor was telling me that. It wasn’t something I could just brush off – lots of research & careful decisions needed to be made before I “broke up” with that doctor.

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Early June 2017

In the meantime, my mind was in shambles. I wasn’t really sure what to do with myself in the days between that initial appointment – & the decision I finally made (which ended in me departing from the practice). Not everything is 100% clear in my mind around those 10 days or so, but I remember sitting in the car on the way back home (my mama driving) both of us crying, & me thinking over & over again: I need to shave my head. I need to shave my head.

That evening, my mama went out with a friend (it’s what she deserved) & I went to supercuts. I took a before photo – my eyes look sleepy & dull, & I look very sad. Then there’s an after photo, taken the moment I walked out of Supercuts (I was sitting on the curb when I took it). The outfit is the same, the photos were taken 30 minutes apart – but I truly believe my eyes look happier & brighter once my hair was off. You can see:

At that moment, getting rid of my hair was one of the most empowering decisions I could have made. It was me telling my mind that no matter what happened to me, I still had some control over my body. My body is my body, no matter what – & I am in control & ownership of it.

I’m not sure if people knew I intended on keeping it around this time, but it was my full intention to do so. In fact, about a month later, I bought my own clippers & started shaving my head myself. Initially, it took about three hours – the end result was uneven (& that’s me being kind) & my parents were mad, because I left a big mess in the bathroom. I don’t blame them.

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I’m better at shaving my head now. I’m also better at cleaning up the mess.

I kept redoing my head, & as with most things, it got easier. I kept getting asked why I wanted to keep doing it. I was often asked if I shaved my head because of my illness, or whether the medications I was on caused hair loss.

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The answer to that is no! I do not shave my head because of my medication side effects. I do shave my head because of my illness (at least, it’s one of the reasons why) but it’s not because I would have a patchy head of hair if I didn’t shave it.

Another question I get: Did you “pull a Britney? Is this a mental breakdown?”

First of all – no, I didn’t “pull a Britney.” Even if I did, it’s insulting to use an actual mental breakdown as an expression/jokey slang. Spears clearly was going through a lot when she shaved her own head, & perhaps it helped her cope – perhaps it didn’t. That’s not the point, though. Although I shaved my head to cope, it wasn’t because I was in imminent danger. It was simply a way for me to replace past negative coping mechanisms with a positive one.

I had a lot of unhealthy coping mechanisms for the past two years when trying to wrestle with my illness. Some of them fall under the category of self-harm. Others just made me feel badly about myself. I tend to fiddle with/twist my hands or fingers when anxious. That only made my arthritic symptoms worse. I would have panic attacks, & would not know what to do with myself – so I would run around, I’d hit the floor, I’d punch my stomach, hoping that something bad would happen.

Thankfully, nothing did. I’m lucky nothing did – but that’s just a small peek at some of the very unhealthy ways in which I “tried” (& failed) to cope with my illness. Self-harm only brings greater mental anguish; sometimes, it can be life-threatening. I’m lucky I’m alive today, & I am grateful that I’ve moved past that toxic mindset & replaced those toxic behaviors with healthier ones.

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Now, when I’m anxious, I rub my head. It feels velvety & soft; it’s like having a stress ball – except the stress ball is my head. I’ve found that I do this more now. I don’t twist my hands. I don’t hit my stomach. I just “fuzz my head,” as I call it.

So – one of the biggest reasons I shaved my head in the first place (& continue to do so) is because it helped me find a healthy coping mechanism; one that would soothe me rather than harm me. I find now that shaving my head is very ritualistic. Since I do it myself, I have a whole routine. It used to take three hours; now, it can take 30-45 minutes if I do it right. I like to shave my head the evening before some serious testing or a big medical procedure. It’s a reminder to myself: this is my body, & no one can take that away from me.

Let’s move back to Sinéad for a second.

When I read that O’Connor shaved her head to protect herself; to make herself look as “ugly” as possible – I started seeing a lot of parallels between my behavior & hers.

As someone who now ID’s as lesbian, maintaining my buzzcut makes me feel “gayer.” Does one need to have a shaved head to “feel gay?” No – absolutely not. Personally, however, I feel more confident, more assertive, & more myself. I feel comfortable with my identity, & my very short hair helped me come to terms with my sexual identity. Sinéad’s explanation pretty much nailed it: I wanted to avoid the male gaze. Cishet men do not typically find women (or non-binary folks) with buzzcuts sexually appealing. Never say never, of course – & I’m not trying to imply that it solves the problem of being approached in a sexual way by men, because when a man wants to catcall, he will – but it helps. It’s an outward way for me to say: Hey – this is who I am. I feel very comfortable like this. 

Would I be any less gay if I didn’t have my head shaved? Of course not! If I grow out my hair in the future, will I be less gay? Of course not! Right now, though, it’s what I need. With the help of my $50 WAHL clippers purchased at Walgreens, I’m maintaining my own G.I. Jane, reaffirming my identity to myself every time I look in the mirror – & I think I look pretty great, too.

When asked: Are you keeping your hair this way forever? I don’t have an answer, because I don’t know. I do know that every single time I shave my head, I feel comfortable, calm, & at peace with myself. It’s an incredible coping mechanism for me – it’s a healthy one. It’s not putting me in danger. It makes me feel freer, more assertive, & more willing to put myself out there. It’s been integral in helping me feel more comfortable with my identity as a chronically ill lesbian.

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Post-shave (just a few days ago)

Buzzcuts have been breaking gender norms on & off the runway in the past few years. Although many of the models sporting a buzzcut identify as cisgender heterosexual women, just as many do not. LGBT model Ruth Bell got her career kickstarted when she shaved her long blonde hair. Adwoa Aboah (model of 2017) has had a buzz for quite a while, & Sudanese models (& runway icons) Ajak Deng & Grace Bol have had them for even longer. Off the runway, Rihanna & N.E.R.D. “broke the internet” with the music video Lemon. The song Lemon (by Pharrell) features Rihanna rapping (the first time we’ve ever heard Rihanna rap) & the music video (watch it here) features Mette Towley, a dancer who got her head shaved on camera by Rihanna (!!!) who proceeds to dance for the remainder of the video. That sparked even more interest around the buzzcut. When Rihanna’s involved in a project, the people pay attention. I have no doubt we’ll continue to see even more buzzes pop up after this.

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The acclaimed hair stylist Guido Palau had this to say on the return of the buzzcut (as told to Allure): 

“[A buzzed head] makes you feel that a woman is strong, she has her own mind, and wants to let people see her the way she wants to be seen.” says Palau. “I often find that when I do buzz cuts, girls would change the way they dress, the way they stand, their whole attitude.”

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A sentiment I’m on board with – followed by a video of Mette dancing for a Beats x Nerd advertisement 

I couldn’t have said it better myself. My fashion, my stance, & my attitude have made leaps & bounds ever since I consciously made the decision to maintain my buzzcut. As someone who struggles with body image, thanks to chronic illness, that’s incredible to experience. It’s an incredible existence to live. & it makes me feel more comfortable with my sexuality.

So – sorry, everyone! If you don’t like my buzz, it’ll be staying around for at least a little while. I don’t have any plans to grow it out at the moment. Who knows what the future will hold, right? In the moment, I’m grateful to my clippers, my own personal growth, & my Instagram explore page for initially introducing me to the style.

Have any of you thought of buzzing your hair? Let me know if you have already done it, if you’re planning on doing it – or if you’re just not sure! I do get this question a lot: “Will a buzzcut look bad on my face shape?” To that, I say:

Do men wonder the same thing before getting a buzzcut? Do little boys? There are always a few exceptions, but the overwhelming majority would probably not worry about it. Remind yourself of that – & if you still want the buzz after that, go for it. Be free.

Check out my YouTube video on shaving my head here – & check out my other video on why I did it here!

Stay bald.

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Love,

Sofia ❤

#TopTenSeries: Finale! Ten Things I Wish I’d Believed in Early 2017

Welcome my final piece of #TopTenSeries! It’s December 31 – so Happy New Year (Eve) – that means it’s time for my top tens to end. I thought I’d end it on a more personal note. This is more of a diary entry than a review post or an advice post.  It’s about how I got to the mental space that I’m in now: I’m not always happy, but I’m always happy to be alive. That’s a complete 180 from the beginning of this year. I was very depressed about my health, someon else’s health, my hands were starting to fall apart & I felt as though my life was, too. It was a dark, sad time, & I wish I could go back in time to January 2017 Sofia, just so I could tell her: it will be okay. 

Photographs by me!

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I can’t time travel, so this is the best thing I can do – here’s a list of the top ten pieces of advice I wish I’d known about/been ready to accept at that time.

  1. You will find joy & happiness in existing. I know that doesn’t seem remotely realistic right now – just keep that in your head. Be patient; I know it’s hard…but you will be able to live a happy life. You deserve that.
  2. Do not dangle your feet over the edge of that building. You have so much to show the world; you have so much time to express your true identity, be happy that you’re alive…don’t let that go. So many good things are coming.IMG_5604
  3. You will lose your ability to play violin at university – a career in violin performance is something you’ve dreamed of forever. For a little while, you will feel numb & angry; emotionless & depressed. Listen: your last concert will be the best one of your life. You sound beautiful. I can’t believe we did that with our hands, despite the arthritis making my fingers swell; despite my achey knees. It was worth it. I’m infinitely proud of the emotion you put into that. When watching that performance after it was taped, I knew that it was the best I’ve ever given. The most painful? Yes. Most beautiful? Yes. You’ll be crushed by this, but you will forever remember that concert.
  4. Keep making those little videos. They’ll get better in time. Film/photograph anything that you see beauty in.IMG_5595_Facetune_08-12-2017-17-27-05-1
  5. If they say your buzz cut doesn’t look good buzz it shorter. You will look incredible. Know your worth & beauty.
  6. You’re currently feeling confused & lost with who you were/are. You feel very lonely. You are afraid of the word lesbian. This will come easier in a while. I promise.
  7. It’s okay to like girls.IMG_5583
  8. Dance in your room, dance while you’re going on a walk, dance anywhere where there’s space. Dance down the street in a busy downtown if you must. It’s a magical feeling; you’ll feel very much yourself.
  9. Surround yourself with people who will stick by your side. It is okay to have chronically ill friends; in fact, it’s great! You don’t have to be friends with someone simply because they’re ill. You’ll find some great people who will be of great help to you; you’ll share a lot in common because you have the same interests. Chronic illness doesn’t have to be the root cause of any friendship – just know that if you find a chronically ill person you can relate to on many levels, it will be a beautiful friendship.IMG_5578-1
  10. You deserve to be alive. You deserve to feel proud of your identity. You are much more than your illness. No one can ever completely understand your situation…but keep your treasured people near you. They have & will continue to light up your life.

Happy New Year! Let’s make 2018 a good one. I’ll be optimistic this time. & please trust me: it will get better – it really will. It may become different, but it will get better.

Love,

Sofia

#TopTenSeries: Top Ten Outfits of 2017 + Style Tips

Welcome to part three of my #TopTenSeries! I’ll be honest: I’m not sure how many top tens I’ll be posting, but this is definitely one you’re getting. Welcome to my first OOTD-type post, where I’ll be breaking down some of my favorite outfits…ensembles…whatever you want to call them…of 2017. I’ll include some tips I’ve picked up over the years, how my style has developed as my hair has gotten shorter (& shorter) & show you what’s worth splurging on vs. what’s worth saving on.  

For my #TopTenSeries, I tried to pick things that had actually been released in 2017. All these outfits have been worn in 2017. You’re welcome! In chronological order – let’s do it.

“Two Words: Hospital Glam”

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 @sofhoney: “hospital art sucks” (taken at the University of Chicago hospital system in early March)

This was one of my favorite outfits of 2017; it’s a bit funny, but some of my best outfits end up being worn at doctor’s appointments. I like a good dose of hospital glam – it makes me feel more confident when I’m dressed creatively – & so a lot of my favorite outfit photos have been taken while I’m sitting on an exam table or laying down on a hospital bed. Let’s break down the outfit!

  • Fishnet shirt – Urban Outfitters
  • T-shirt – Champion
  • Jeans – Topshop
  • Shoes – Dr. Martens
  • Necklace – Graduation gift from parents (from 2015!)
  • Earrings – ??? I can’t remember, but they were less than $10

I know there aren’t colors in this outfit – but that’s kind of the point. I was going for an edgy, punk-type kind of look. My jeans are black, the fishnet shirt is black, the T-shirt is a heather grey, & my boots are black. The only real color here was my lipstick, which was Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick in Serafine. It’s a pretty dark red on me, & it added to the punk/edgy vibes I was trying to pull off. I usually wear gold jewelry (especially in the last few months) but silver worked really well with the black & grey color scheme I was pulling off.

Okay. Urban Outfitters, Champion, & Topshop are not known for being cheap. This outfit wasn’t very expensive, though – so how’d I do it?

Sale. Section. My mama taught me well. I do not pick up anything from Urban Outfitters unless it’s on the sale rack. I can’t remember if the Champion T-shirt was mens’ or womens’, but either way: sale rack from last fall. Fishnet shirt? Sale rack from winter 2015. I hold onto things for a long time. I shop “out of season.” When you have your own style figured out, it’s completely fine to hold on to items that are no longer “trendy.” Develop your own style, & it’ll fit you like a glove, no matter what. Let’s face it: fishnet is never out of style, & neither are black jeans.

Quick word on jeans: I’ll say it now, because most of my outfits on this post include black jeans – because I wear black jeans more than any other clothing item. How many pairs do I have? Two. I have two pairs of black jeans that I wear almost every single time I go out somewhere. One pair has lasted me since freshman year of college (that’s two & a half years now); the other I got right before my sophomore year. They’re both the same jean: MOTO Black Leigh Jeans by Topshop. If you have jeans that are cheaper & better – by all means, continue to wear the ones you love. For me, these are something worth investing in. They’ve lasted me countless wears & washes, they fit the exact way I want them to, & they look good with every outfit I put together with them. If you’re looking for a mid/high-rise pair of black jeans that are durable & will last you a long time, these are definitely a great option.

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If we’re talking about classic clothing items: hi, Dr. Martens! My mama has been a huge fan of the brand since before I was born, & she’s been sporting them since the early 90s. The first pair I ever wore were some baby ones when I was around 5 years old. These are a “winter boot” – same as the classics, except with a little faux fur around the ankles. I find them really cozy! These were a Christmas gift in winter 2015, & they’ve lasted me very nicely. In my opinion, Dr. Martens develop more character (& become more comfortable) as time goes on; as you continue to break them in. The only “trendy” thing here is my Champion T-shirt, & that was on sale. Win-win-win.

“It’s Your Birthday”

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My 20th birthday consisted of two stressful doctor’s appointments, a good long crying session on the way home, & these two really pretty photos. I hate my friend for sending me such a big birthday box (no I don’t – thank you Tiffany, I love you) & this is the majority of what my outfit is made of. My hair was at its longest here – I shaved it a few days after this, so it’s the end of “long hair Sofia.”  Details:

  • Dress – Free People
  • Bodysuit – Urban Outfitters
  • Shoes – Steve Madden, I think (they’re my mama’s)
  • Scrunchie #1 – Free People
  • Scrunchie #2 – American Apparel (Rest In Peace)

This dress is absolutely gorgeous, but my bust didn’t fill out the dress enough to wear it by itself; lucky I had a bodysuit from Urban that I’d gotten from the sale rack over a year before I got the dress from my friend. The color goes really well with the dress; it doesn’t look like an unthought layer. It doesn’t look like underwear, it looks like lingerie – in a good way. The shoes were a quick choice made as I ran out the door. Boots would’ve been too heavy; gladiator sandles would’ve been cool but weren’t available. The shoes I grabbed from my mother’s closet ended up suiting perfectly. Scrunchie #1 is on my wrist as a “bracelet” – something I continue to do to this day. Scrunchie #2 is holding up my hair with a bunch of bobby pins, & quite a bit of hope.

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I miss my slicked-back hair quite seldom, but when I do, I usually think of an outfit like this one.

“I Just Shaved My Head So I Feel Great!”

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This is a testament to the fact that you don’t need a lot of fancy clothing/fancy items to make something look cool! This was taken about two days after I shaved my head for the second time (in very early July of this past year) & I was feeling great about it. I decided to take a pose next to a chart of the digestive tract at my surgeon’s office; I think that’s what really makes the outfit pop – but let’s go through details.

  • Tank top – H&M
  • Jeans – Topshop
  • Shoes – Zara
  • Jewelry – Ventrone Chronicles
  • Bag – Pop & Suki
  • Sunglasses – Sunglass Museum
  • Scrunchie – Free People

My birthday present from my grandma was a check; I took advantage of that by buying the smaller camera bag from Pop & Suki, which I’d been eyeing for a while. I put a cute little tag on it with a “S” monogrammed on it, which gives it a personal touch. It’s one of my favorite bags to carry, & while it’s small, it holds just enough stuff that you know you’re set for the day – but isn’t big enough that you’re in danger of overcrowding your bag with lip balms (can you tell I do that a lot?). Anyways – this bag is a staple for me still, & I love it almost as much as the little wallet I got with my birthday money, too (that one says “Sofia”).

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My tank top is legitimately a $5 basic from H&M; I usually turn to the Gap or H&M when looking for basics. They’re always 100% cotton & super comfortable; whether I want something fitted or loose, either of those brands have my back. Put that with my favorite black jeans & that’s half the outfit. These boots are a pair of Zara ankle boots I’ve had since winter 2015-2016, when I was trying to ride the Harry Styles YSL ankle boot wave – without spending $1000+, which is money I don’t have. I was getting endless compliments for these my winter term of freshman year of college…& I’m still getting compliments today, no matter what the season! When I first got them, I made sure to spray them with a protective spray; that’s kept them relatively safe from dirt/salt, depending on the season, & makes them easier to clean. They’re staples for me without a doubt.

If an outfit is really simple, I’ll just spice it up with some accessories; in this case, I wore a choker & some small hoops from Ventrone Chronicles, slapped on some red lipstick (Glossier Generation G in Zip with an Urban Decay lip liner – I forget the name), & put on some sunglasses. These are from Sunglass Museum. Let me just take a minute to say that I love their site! I’ve gottten some incredibly unique sunglasses for really low prices from them; these look a bit like some Versace glasses, but nope! Less than $25. I love these, & I have a few others from SM – I’ve bought some wild pairs from there that have upped my accessorizing game. You probably recognize the scrunchie from the outfit above – the one where I had longer hair. That’s because it’s the same one; I know it’s a little ironic to wear scrunchies on my wrist when I have no hair, but they’re pretty accessories & soft, comfortable bracelets – that’s how I like to look at them! I wear scrunchies as bracelets to this day, as you’ll see.

When in doubt, wear all black – it won’t cost you a bunch of money if you look around a little. Throw on some cute sunglasses (also many cheap options there) & a pretty lip & it’s a look!

“Ladybug”

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I think it was right before the 4th of July, & while I don’t celebrate the holiday (at all; my family grills sometimes but that’s it) I was feeling the red, white, & blue color scheme, except I don’t like blue denim for the most part…so I made it a little bit my own.

  • Shirt – Tommy Hilfiger
  • Skirt – ???
  • Phone case – Pop & Suki
  • Sunglasses – Free People
  • Earrings – Ventrone Chronicles
  • Bracelet – Croatian, have no idea where from

I usually build an outfit off one object/piece/whatever you want to call it! I don’t like sounding pretentious because I don’t think I’m a fashionista. I don’t deserve the label. Anyways – I built it off the sunglasses, which I got on sale summer 2016 while in Aspen, CO. These had been $40, but were last call for $14. I snatched them up; they reminded me of some UNIF/Dollskill sunglasses I’d seen a season before, & I still liked the dramatic look. A steal for sure. The Tommy shirt I got in the (you guessed it) sale section of Urban Outfitters, I think the skirt is my mother’s, but I can’t be sure. Sometimes, clothing floats around my house – I just accept it. It’s mine now; no one’s claimed it. It’s just a simple black denim skirt that’s frayed at the bottome – nothing too special!

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I made it a little more “girly” with my earrings, which are Ventrone Chronicle Perla Hoops (I think that’s the name); my phone case at the time was a Pop & Suki. Although the color is adorable, it was way too flimsy for my precious phone. I had to give it a toss a few weeks after this because the sides started cracking. Invest in a good case, kids! My bracelet is very special to me & has a lot of meaning; I got it in Croatia when I spent my first summer there around age 11-12. It’s made with Croatian coral – one of the many things Croatia’s known for! I don’t remember the jeweler, & it doesn’t really matter – I wasn’t looking for an expensive piece of jewelry, I was looking for something that’d remind me of Croatia. I think I used my birthday money to get this & it was the only thing I wore as jewelry for a very long time. There’s a lot of sentiment behind this bracelet – I think outfits become more special if you wear things you truly love.

“Sleepy, Cold Girl x Hospital Glam x Fall”

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Another hospital exam table photo! This was much later in the year. I’d just gotten a mustard yellow puffer jacket, which I was extremely excited about. I really had wanted to get a few mustard yellow pieces in my wardrobe for fall/winter, & I succeeded – by actually biting my teeth & paying full price for this jacket.

  • Jacket – Zara
  • T-shirt – ???
  • Jeans – Topshop (my MOTO Leigh ones; these are the older ones so that’s why they have holes in the knees)
  • Beanie – Tommy Hilfiger
  • Boots – Jeffrey Campbell rain boots (storm boots perhaps?)

For this outfit I wanted to focus on the jacket. That’s why I can’t remember what T-shirt I wore. The beanie was another sale item from this past spring – right before I left school for the summer (& fall). I think the T-shirt is a long-sleeve white one from the Gap that I probably stole from my mama, but can’t be sure. These black jeans came intact at the knee – my parents get angry when I pay money for ripped clothing – but one of the knees started fading around February of this year, so I took matters into my own hands & gently distressed then cut holes in the knees of both legs. They look essentially the same as the originally distressed Topshop jeans – just more distressed. I like them, & I like the character they bring.

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The beanie is simple, but the Tommy logo on the front adds a bit of color to my otherwise monochromatic look – aside from the jacket, of course. The boots were a pre-Christmas sale deal from fall 2015. I keep my clothes around for a good while.

“When You’re Waiting For UPS”

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These photos were definitely not taken seriously…but I was very excited about the pants I’d just gotten on sale & wanted to share them with the world – hence, why these photos turned out well (I think). Color coordination with flowers/pumpkins etc. not intentional, but definitely added to the aesthetics.

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  • Top – Guess
  • Earrings – gift from a friend (a little shop somewhere in Japan; thank you S!)
  • Scrunchies – Urban Outfitters
  • Pants – Zara
  • Vans – Vans…
  • Sunglasses – Sunglass Museum

The top was the only thing I bit the bullet on to buy full price; everything else I’d gotten on sale (this was the weekend after Black Friday; I’d gotten some good deals & hoarded some good things, too). I rarely, rarely wear anything other than black jeans, so these pants were (& still are) a big exception. But – they’re super comfortable, they’re bell-bottoms, so I suppose they’re on trend (aren’t bell-bottoms the thing right now?) & the tie around the waist makes them easy to keep up, even though they’re pretty high-waisted. I tried to keep the color coordination on-point, too; there’s a little red on my shirt, & the yellow of the scrunchie isn’t too off from the color of my shirt. I stuck to my gold jewelry rule that I’ve been keeping since late spring, & threw on my Vans & sunglasses. I like wearing my Vans with any/every outfit; I think that the classic checkerboard pattern goes with everything, & that they’re a cute addition to any outfit – just like Dr. Martens. My sunglasses are the same ones from my summer hospital glam, & the little gold lion detail on the side fits with my gold/yellow color scheme I have going.

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I love these pants – they’re pretty recognizeable, obviously, & I’ve fondly come to refer to them as The Pants. I don’t wear them as often as my black jeans, but I have no problem “repeating” an outfit – which some people find embarrassing. If you like it, wear it. If you still like it…wear it again. #RepeatOutfits2k18

“Cozy Sheep”

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This is a super simple outfit I threw together while going out the door to take care of some school paperwork back in November; I got a lot of questions about the hat/sweater, though, so I thought I’d indulge! You obviously can’t see the full ensemble here, but I’ll break it down.

  • Sweater – Urban Outfitters
  • Hat – a gift from a friend (& my favorite beanie currently)
  • Coat – Fjallraven
  • Pin – ??? it was a gift from my mom (shocker)
  • Jeans – Topshop
  • Boots – Jeffrey Campbell rain boots (same ones as the photos of me in the puffer jacket)
  • Earrings – Mejuri (PR-gifted)

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Whenever I bring out this sweater, I get questions. Oh! FYI, my phone case is by Speck here (I have an iPhone 7 & I’m pretty sure this case is still available) & my nails are an OPI color – the Tiffany Blue one. My mama owns it, not me, but I steal it from time to time. Back to sweater coziness & everyone asking about it. I don’t blame anyone; I ask whenever I see anything remotely cozy, too. The sad story behind this one is that it’s definitely not available anymore – not this exact one, anyways. I was shopping my last year in high school over Christmas break, found this sweater in my size at Urban Outfitters – originally $70, paid $25 because of sale – snatched it up, & have been wearing it ever since. It’s super warm…like…extremely warm (& remember I’m always cold) so I can’t ever really wear this unless it’s truly very cold outside. It’s all worth it, though – I look like a little sheep in it, & I feel like one, too. The hat is extremely cozy; my friend bought it for me & she has the same one. They’re a ribbed knit, you can see there are a lot of fall/winter neutral stripes, so it goes with pretty much any outfit – at least, that’s what I tell myself, because god knows I wear it almost every day.

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The coat was a winter present from my parents last year. This is a Canada Goose quality jacket; made for arctic temperatures (which is what it’s like where I am) – it’s just more ethical, because Fjallraven doesn’t use real fur on their hoods! I can’t remember which exact one it is, but I think it’s called the Polar Guide. Another plus to not having a fur hood: it’s significantly less expensive than Canada Goose, but just as warm. Love love love! The pin is a present from my mama – I keep joking that I’ll get it tattooed on me one day (am I really joking, though?) – & I keep it there all the time. I think it’s cute! I added the Mejuri earrings to the ensemble to make the beanie look a little more feminine; I had on some cute lip gloss & wanted a bit of a “girly” touch. All Mejuri stuff I own is incredibly comfortable; if you’re wondering whether you should spring for these (the Sapphire Pearl Studs) or their famous mini hoop earrings, go for it. Not sponsored; they’re really just very comfortable & minimalistic with a touch of glamor.

There you go! That’s the outfit!

“The G.I. Jane”

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I took these photos for a piece I’m writing on…the G.I. Jane – aka, the takeover of the buzzcut for women, how it’s breaking out on runways as well as in real life, how it’s helped my confidence (& style!) & a whole bunch of other things, too. I’ll post that soon, I promise! That’s just a little backstory on the photos. I’d freshly shaved my head in these photos – the point of the piece I was writing – & I wanted to look very “androgynous” & dress the way I felt in that moment. This is how it turned out! This is more about my hair (or lack thereof) than the clothing.

  • Tube top – Urban Outfitters
  • Jeans – The Gap
  • Boxers – Jockey

The top is a simple sock/tube top that I bought from Urban in March. They have a really nice underwear/bra line that goes along with this, & I love the bralettes in that collection; they’re very stretchy, very durable. Same fabric is used here with this top, & it’s only natural that I’d like the fit of this, too. It doesn’t fall down; it stays up very snugly, even though I’m pretty (okay, very) flat-chested. I rolled up the bottom a little to show off my boxers, but it stretches just to my bellybutton if I were to wear it normally. Oh – no weight comments, please. Yes, I’m thin! No, it’s not healthy! I am not this thin because I want to be; I’m not this thin because I have an eating disorder (though that’s not meant to imply people with EDs want to be ill). I’m thin because of my Crohn’s Disease, which you probably already know I have. If not, check out my chronic illness tab. Okay moving on! 

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I filtered the heck out of these photos because again – I wanted a certain aesthetic – but the boxers are a faded turquoise/dusty turqouise. The jeans are a pair of old Gap jeans that my mama picked up for me at the sale rack years ago. I never wear light denim, but these are a pale blue/baby blue. I liked the way it went with the white of my tube top; I have a little scrunchie in the back, which is somewhere in between the color of the jeans & the boxers. The boxers were pulled up high on purpose (so you could see the Jockey lable) & I needed something to hold them in place. What better thing than my best friend, the scrunchie – right?

My jewelry is limited; I’m wearing the Baby Cable Gold Chain from Ventrone Chronicles, which was a Christmas present last year from my dad. It has a lot of sentimental value! Super simple, super affordable – but I never take it off…ever. Even though the instructions say to remove, I break the rules. This doesn’t come off, just like my tattoos!

I guess the point of me including this outfit that was oddly filtered was:

  1.  Me feeling very androgynous; this happens a lot when I have a fresh buzzcut. I’d call this a butch look/dyke look, whatever your lesbian preferences are. Outfits don’t “make you gay” but this outfit “made me feel gay” – aka, I was confident in my body, proud of how I presented in that moment, & proud of my identity. Very lesbian!
  2. Me wanting to show off how comfortable & confident my buzzcut makes me feel. The confidence it has given me is incredible, & I’m so glad I decided to do it.

If we’re talking comfort: everything worn here is extremely comfy! The top is still available; the boxers are too – just not in this color. Jockey’s underwear is great, & I want to try out a few of their bralettes. The jeans are super soft & fitted very nicely, even though they’re skinny & had to deal with the bagginess of the boxers. That goes to show you: women can wear boxers, too! & guess what: they will look lovely! Back to my point: my pride/my identity heavily influences the way I dress, & the confidence I’ve acquired from my identity evolving has positively affected me mentally. I think it’s pretty evident in these photos, & it’s another testament to the fact that you don’t have to wear a lot of fancy stuff to look good & feel confident.

“Hospital Glam, But Make It Extra”

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I’ll admit it: I went for blood here, & that was intentional. I was making a video (which you can watch here!) on how to be confident/act confident in a doctor’s office or any other medical environment. Shameless plug: I also wrote a piece on that for Unbound Babes, which you can (& should!) check out here! I tried to focus on hospital glam, how it’s helped me feel powerful in overwhelming situations, & how women/people with “feminine bodies” are discriminated against way too often in the medical field – whether they’re professionals or patients. Anyways! This was an over-the-top example of how I dress if I want to truly go all out/be glam in a hospital bed or at a doctor’s appointment.

  • Shirt – Urban Outfitters
  • Bralette – Urban Outfitters
  • Faux fur scarf – Zara
  • Necklace – Zodiac Gemini by Mejuri (PR-gifted)
  • Scrunchies – Urban Outfitters
  • Glasses – Sunglass Museum
  • Earrings – Maria Black Jewelry (PR-gifted)
  • Eyeshadow –  Fenty Beauty Shimmer Stick in “Ridiic” (just the one product)

Let’s talk about the Urban things first – did you guess I got it all on sale? You’re actually wrong this time; I paid full price for this bralette last winter – & it was worth it! I repeat: it was worth it. Seriously, though: it’s hard to find any bralette of this type that’s not full price, so I went for this one. It’s definitely cheaper than For Love & Lemons, that’s for sure. The sheer shirt & scrunchies (also both Urban) were on sale; I think there was 30% off loungewear or something like that, which is what this shirt qualifies as. Still, though – if you can’t find this one, there are infinite options out there. Sadly, we no longer have American Apparel to rely on for these kinds of basics, but we have ASOS. We have independent shops. These aren’t hard to find!

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Obviously, the focal point here is the scarf…& oh wow! I sure do love this scarf! It’s from Zara, it’s faux fur but not itchy, & it was $25. I’ve only worn it out once as an outfit, but we have many cold months ahead. I’ll make some real time for this gem very soon. The sunglasses are steampunk-type shades I got from Sunglass Museum; when I got them I’d just seen the Migos walk a red carpet wearing really put-together suits & sunglasses. I wanted some like that, so I peeked at what SM had to offer. Turns out: I matched them pretty well! The hoops are pretty, & since I have the bright yellow going in the scarf – & since I was already wearing my every day necklace – I decided to keep it coordinated with the hoop earrings. These went nicely with the yellow in my scarf, & emphasized the blue & purple.  I’m going hard with the red eyes, colored scarf, & cheeky top –  the classically-shaped hoops just give the outfit a little bit of softness. Over the top? Absolutely. Worth it? 100%.

“Bald Sugarplum Fairy”

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I didn’t really think this was a “look,” but I got a lot of questions about my dress in this. The outfit is super simple: boots, tights, & a cute dress. What makes it special to me is knowing how genuinely happy I was when these photos were taken! I get cold easily, so I don’t really hang out in the snow, even for a quick photo op…but it was Christmas Eve, I was driving home with my mama, & she agreed to stop quickly to take some snow photos. I was excited! Never done before (by me), okay?

  • Dress – ???
  • Tights – ???
  • Boots – Zara
  • Scrunchie – Urban Outfitters
  • Earrings – Maria Black Jewelry

My mama made a tradition a while back: she picks out my Christmas Eve dress & my siblings’ Christmas Eve dresses. She doesn’t go far – just to a small boutique store near me. It’s been a tradition for a good while! I don’t come home for Easter (not since I went to college) so Easter dresses aren’t a thing in my family; Christmas Eve ones are, though! I don’t know the brand, I just know it says “Ella” on the back label. The tights are just…good old dark grey tights! I have a bunch of these; they were a staple for me when performing places (along with black ones) & this shade of dark grey usually goes with any winter outfit I have planned that shows leg. It’s just a good neutral color that gives a tiny bit more dimension than black tights with black boots – because these boots are black! I got them last Black Friday weekend at Zara’s online sale, & they make me feel really tall, look really tall, & though I’m not sure how I look when I’m walking, I do at least feel like I’m walking a runway. It’s something about the platform boots!

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I wanted this look to be festive & feminine – great example of how you can feel however you wish if you have a shaved head! I don’t think it ever “takes away” anything from the look. If anything, This is quite admittedly a very simple, elegant dress; I think my hairstyle gives it a little bit of edge. Maybe heads turned, maybe they didn’t – but I felt like that’s what I was doing, & at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Bonus points to the boots for giving a little extra edge & to the bell sleeves for a little extra elegance. I felt amazing here!

That’s all I’ve got: my top ten outfits of 2017 have been picked & documented. If you’re looking for a style philosophy or some words of wisdom, I’ll say this: shaving my head helped me think more creatively about how to dress on a certain day. It pushed me to find out just how “edgy” I could get; it showed me that I could still look & feel feminine with my haircut. I’d thank my buzzcut for helping me with my style this year! Also thank you to every sale section ever. Keep your eyes peeled for bargains, wear scrunchies as bracelets, & if you think it’s cute but are worried that you’ll look weird…wear it anyway. I promise you’ll look great. 

Tell me what your favorite look out of all of these was, if you feel like it! Until next time – I have a few things I may post before the year is over, so keep up your guard. 

Love,

Sofia ❤ 

#TopTenSeries: Top Ten Most-Played Songs of 2017

Welcome to part three of my #TopTenSeries! I’ll be honest: I’m not sure how many top tens I’ll be posting, but this is definitely one you’re getting. As you might’ve guessed from the title, these are songs of 2017. 

For my #TopTenSeries, I tried to pick things that had actually been released in 2017. There are two exceptions on here, but other than that, all this music is new to 2017.

These are picked right from the “Your Top Songs 2017” playlist Spotify generates for you. I’m listing the top ten in order from most listened to least listened. Let’s do it! 

1. “Green Light” – Lorde

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I remember the exact date this song was released: March 2, 2017. I was in Chicago at a different hospital to get an opinion from a different specialist. It was a stressful week – I was there for two days & had anxiety leading up to it – but Lorde teasing her single’s release kept my excitement up while reducing my anxiety. I’m a huge fan of Lorde’s music & got on the bandwagon as soon as I heard “Royals” for the first time, downloading the complete album, memorizing all the lyrics in a heartbeat – then, first patiently, then impatiently waiting for another album. We were all ready, but Lorde had to take her time.

I’m glad she did. “Green Light” was the first single dropped from her album, Melodrama. It grabbed me by the shoulders from the very first line: “I do my makeup in somebody else’s car.” It’s intense yet quiet at the beginning; we hear a steady, fast buildup to the chorus (“I’M WAITING FOR IT, THAT GREEN LIGHT, I WANT IT!”) that is impossible not to get up & start dancing to. It’s a breakup song – that’s made clear when she says “be seeing you down every road” & then mentions waiting for a green light; her signal that she’ll feel when she’s finally let go of the sadness/anger of losing what she previously had.

It’s a breakup song, but it’s not a sad song. There’s something beautifully joyous about “Green Light.” Ella has started to let go; she’s happy that she’s moving on – but there’s a tiny bit of resentment in her heart still. She needs to let it go. Something beautifully vengeful yet pure about this song. There aren’t many breakup songs you can bop to – but this is one of them. Count on the Lorde to make it possible.

Oh – & when asked by Rolling Stone about “Green Light,” she said it was all about her “shouting at the universe, wanting to let go, wanting to go forward, to get the green light from life.” Asked a follow-up: did she think she got it? “‘Oh, my God,’ she says. Yes.'” There’s something delightfully encouraging in reading that – at least that’s how I felt. If Lorde can find her green light, so can the rest of us. Until we have, we shout at the universe.

2. “Fetish” – Selena Gomez (feat. Gucci Mane)

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Let me be honest: I’m really not a fan of Selena’s. I never listened to her old music unless it was on the radio; I’ve never had a desire to attend a concert. “Fetish,” however, caught my eye. First, it was the lyric video: everyone wanted the shiny lip gloss on Selena’s mouth as a camera filmed her mouthing the lyrics on close-up – that, & the neutral shade of nail polish she was wearing. The Internet was abuzz for a few weeks about it. Then, the official music video dropped, directed by Petra Collins – I’m a huge fan of her visuals.

It played out beautifully, but to me, “Fetish” wasn’t about an ex-lover. The way the video was shot; the way the video looked – Selena wasn’t speaking about a person, in my opinion. She was speaking about her illness.

I wrote an article on why I think “Fetish” is about chronic illness, & you can read that here so I don’t clutter this space – but to me, it’s almost unthinkable that the song is about an ex. It’s about an abusive relationship for sure – but I think it’s between her & her illness. The way the visuals are presented, the dark undertone to the video…& no implication of any kind of lover, past or present.

Then, of course, we got the news late this year that Selena had had a kidney transplant. When I read that, my jaw dropped. Though she’s never said what “Fetish” is about (to my knowledge, at least) it is too coincidental for the video to have dropped right around the time Selena was either preparing for or just beginning to recover from her kidney transplant. The expressions in her face are almost painful in the way that I can read/relate to them. Maybe I’m way off the mark here, but that’s just my opinion.

If we’re talking song: visuals are beautiful, as you’d expect in a video directed by Petra Collins. Soft, sparkly lighting; delicate dresses – combined with biting of soap & sitting on top of a table covered in candles; wandering around aimlessly in a giant, seemingly endless freezer, with frozen eyelashes & a vague expression. It’s incredibly striking, & for me, I’ll always feel as though the song is about chronic illness.

I listened to Selena’s other single & wasn’t a big fan. Again – I’m not usually one for her music. “Fetish” struck a chord with me, though, & I can’t ignore it. A soft yet powerful beat with a drop that’s impossible to ignore, combined with whispered lyrics, & then the contrast of Gucci Mane’s verse that somehow fits just perfectly with the track. I think it’s very well done; certainly the best track Selena has put out – in my opinion, at least.

3. “Watch Me” – Jaden Smith 

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This was named the second single off Jaden’s record SYRE (which dropped in November). I considered it the first; I had not been paying any attention to Jaden’s music – I’ll be completely honest – but the song “Batman” was officially the first single from SYRE.

A friend sent me this song in late August. I was completely floored by it; I immediately thought the beat was reminiscent of Kanye West’s song “Black Skinhead” off his album Yeezus – something that all of the YouTube comments definitely made note of, & something Jaden himself alluded to, saying that the making of SYRE was inspired by Kanye, among others.

The electric guitar grabbed me by my face from the minute that it started; I really like the steady “monotone” that Jaden maintains in the opening verse. This “monotone” is used quite consistently throughout the song, but depending on what point we’re at in the song, Jaden raises or lowers this “monotone” by a few notes. It’s a great way for the song to build suspense.

I’m not quite sure what about this song really grabbed my attention, but I’ve been enjoying the intersection of different musical genres. I found that Jaden’s album SYRE accomplished this as a whole; this song was a great introduction to it. Drastically different from “Batman,” this song was impossible for me to ignore.

As someone whose confidence was at a bit of a low in August & September of 2017, this was a great song for me to listen to; it boosted my own self-esteem, it was impossible to be sad when listening to it, & “WATCH ME….DO THIS!” are four words that are a great way to grab someone’s attention. It’s a good way for me to move into 2018 – more confidence than before.

The music video was really enjoyable for me as well. The color scheme is reflective of the single’s artwork; if you want to see Jaden moonwalking in the desert, dressed to the nines in black leather, surrounded by a fancy car – this is for you. There’s a bit of an otherworldly touch, too – sometimes, the trees seem to wave & flicker, turning different neon colors. It’s impossible for me to tear my eyes away from, & it caught my attention. By the end of September, I was drooling excitedly for the complete release of SYRE. I’m not sure what Jaden has in store for us next, but it definitely includes another album, as well as a book of poetry (if his tweets are speaking the truth). “See me dancing like I’m Elvis/just tell your man that it’s all in the pelvis” was another line that was slightly tongue-in-cheek…or was it? It’s impossible to tell if Jaden’s hyping himself up, dissing an old flame…or doing both at once. That’s the beauty of the Smith kids: we’ll probably never know exactly what they mean. Therefore, we can project our own experiences onto the beautiful music/visuals they’ve created for us. Thanks for “Watch Me,” Jaden – it was a big upper for my own confidence.

4. Love On The Brain – Rihanna 

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This is an old song – I’m fully aware. ANTI, Rihanna’s eighth studio album, was released in late January of 2016. I didn’t really fall in love with the album until late 2016. By September of that year, though, I was naming songs like “Desperado,” “Higher,” & finally “Love On The Brain” as my album favorites. “Desperado” has made a few comebacks for me, but “Love On The Brain” has made top ten appearances last year – as well as this year.

There’s something about “Love On The Brain” that really distances itself from the rest of ANTI‘s tracks. As a whole, ANTI is predominantly pop & R&B, with some elements of dancehall music (ex. “Work”) & soul – incorporated into “Love On The Brain.” As a whole, ANTI is about Rihanna’s power as a woman; some of the tracks are a little dark. Most of them are pretty “sexy” – & so are the music videos that accompany these songs. No complaints there; like I said, I really enjoyed the whole album, though it took me a little while to get used to Rihanna’s “new sound” – but “Love On The Brain” is my favorite track of ANTI at this point, simply because it’s Rihanna stripped down to her most emotional. According to Billboard, “Love On The Brain” “is a doowop, R&B and soul ballad inspired by 1950s and 1960s music” something quite different from the more electronic song “Sex With Me” or “Kiss It Better.” It was written by Norwegian producer Fred Ball, who said that they wanted it to have a juxtaposition of “old school soul feel with modern lyrics.” I think they accomplished it perfectly. The warm beat contrasts with lyrics like “throw me against a wall” & Rihanna gives up her femme fatale demeanor when she sings “must be love on the brain…that’s got me feeling this way…it beats me black & blue but it fucks me so good & I can’t get enough…” definitely one of the most vulnerable tracks on the album.

Rihanna focused on the vocals here, did a few riffs here & there…& kept it gender-neutral. I’ve been able to apply this song to my own life on multiple occasions, & something about it keeps me feeling warm & sentimental, just like the retro background track. It’s probably going to be on my top ten in 2018, too. We’ll see.

This track is definitely something “different” – I love it, as does my mother (not a Rihanna fan or a fan of pop/R&B/Top 40 in general) & even my father (even less of a Top 40 fan). It’s a testament to how music can cross genres & get incredible amounts of love. At its highest point, “Love On The Brain” reached #5 on Billboard‘s Hot 100, breaking Rihanna’s tie with Elvis Presley as artist with the 5th most top-five singles…& it’s still getting radio play in late 2017 (as I type this).

Rihanna’s here to stay – her fashion line, makeup line, & album ANTI made that more than clear to the public. There isn’t much chatter about another album, but I’m more than happy listening to “Love On The Brain” for the next 40 years, if need be.

5. “Don’t Take The Money” – Bleachers 

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Bleachers – a name you might not have heard over the past few years; a name you might have heard more than once in 2017. Bleachers is the official stage name for Jack Antonoff; it’s his band/side act/”American indie pop act” – Antonoff is also part of the band fun. (famously behind the album Some Nights), & Bleachers has been most active during periods of time where other acts he was part of (like fun. & the band Steel Train) were on hiatus/working on their own side projects.

I’d vaguely heard of Bleachers; I knew quite a bit about Antonoff, first thanks to fun. – then thanks to Lorde. Antonoff worked closely with Lorde on her second album, Melodrama, helping with both lyrics & production.

Interesting that Antonoff worked so closely with Lorde; “Don’t Take The Money” is a song off Bleachers’ album Gone Now – the second album by the band/act – & “Don’t Take The Money” was the lead single. Who co-wrote the song/was featured in background vocals? Lorde/Ella herself. Near the end of the song, Lorde’s unmistakeable voice is heard in the background, crooning the main chorus…but softer, as though she’s whispering it to herself.

The song is about difficulties of navigating a relationship; Antonoff has said that the phrase “don’t take the money” is something he says all the time, & “has nothing to do with actual money. It means to follow the light. Don’t ignore a gut feeling. Not following a deep gut feeling destroys your art and the people around you. so I say it in my head constantly; sometimes about something very specific relating to music, sometimes about a bigger question about marriage or depression. Point is, it’s become my phrase to stay on track” (x).

The phrase clearly has several meanings; when repeated in the chorus, there’s a pleading quality to it that gets quite emotional. The quieter verses, followed by the little burst of energy in the chorus – “Somebody told me once/Love is a currency” is the opening lyric, as opposed to the chorus “You steal the air out of my lungs/You make me feel it” – gives the song its addictive up-&-down quality. It’s a song that’s made me cry, though I’m not sure why; it’s a song that’s defined several important moments in my summer, though I’m not currently navigating a relationship. I suppose that, like all the artists I enjoy, Bleachers was able to make an emotional melody, an addicting beat, & add lyrics that can apply to a lot of different things. Like Antonoff said, “don’t take the money” isn’t referring to a robbery. It’s a plea; a reminder to stay on track. Yet – the addictive, dance-like chorus makes it impossible for us to not throw our heads back & immerse ourselves in the joyous sound of the music. It incorporates a lot of different emotions – & I love that about it.

6. “Hard Feelings / Loveless” – Lorde

melodrama-lorde-album-new-artwork-cover.pngAhh…another favorite from Melodrama. This two-part song was impossible for me to ignore. The lyric I can’t go without mentioning is “I’m at jungle city, it’s late & this song is for you.” We don’t exactly know who Ella is singing for or to, but we do know that there’s a lot of emotion behind this quiet song “Hard Feelings,” which starts with a simple finger snap & a quiet beat.

“Hard Feelings” is Lorde’s last breath of air for a relationship that’s been over & done with: “Now we sit in your car & our love is a ghost” – but though the love itself is gone, the feelings that the singer has are not. She works her way through this: “I light all the candles/Cut flowers for all my rooms/I care for myself the way I used to care about you.” “When you’ve outgrown a lover/The whole world knows but you,” & these little pieces of Lorde learning to be with & by herself turn into a scratchy, screaming dance beat; a wordless chorus that has an overwhelming amount of overlapping harmonies, resulting in a beautiful discord of emotion & musical notes.

We segue into “Loveless” which reveals another side of the singer – it’s short, but definitely not sweet. A man’s voice saying “What is this tape??? This is my favorite tape!!!” builts up to a beat, which builds up to a shake-up of the beat; within a minute, we’re into the actual song “Bet you’re gonna rip my heart out/Bet you’re gonna skip my calls now – well guess what, I like that” “We’re L.O.V.E.L.E.S.S. Generation/all fuckin’ with our lovers’ heads,” shows us Lorde’s colder side; perhaps the side that she briefly acknowleged in “Hard Feelings” but didn’t want to completely reveal quite yet.

Together, these two songs make way for a beautiful transition into the second half of Melodrama. It’s hard to pick “one” of the two “songs” in this compilation, but “Hard Feelings” stole my heart with its succinct yet incredibly emotional lyrics. That, & the whispered “go back & tell it” by Ella at the very beginning gives an intimate introduction to the track even before we’re more than eight beats into the song.

7. “Liability” – Lorde 

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Last song from Melodrama – I promise! You probably have a pretty good idea at what my favorite album of the year was by now, though. You’ll see soon – for now, let me talk a little bit about “Liability,” which was the second single released from the Melodrama album. This was released only one week after the initial single, “Green Light” – & it was a sharp contrast to the anthem-y, dance-y vibes of “Green Light.” It’s the most stripped-down Lorde has ever gotten on a song, in my opinion – “Gone are the booming drums, crackling bass and waves of glistening synths that colored her early work,” says Billboard. Yes, it’s a complete 180 from “Green Light” – but that’s what made it so popular, in my opinion.

Lorde’s always been one to build herself up in her music (which I’m all for) – Pure Heroine was about the little goth girl who distanced herself from popular surroundings/culture with pride. “Liability” is a whole new story. On it, Lorde talks about the pain that might come with “being different”…or, perhaps, the pain that might accompany her fame – we get the lines “Says he made the big mistake of dancing in my storm/Says it was poison” followed by the now unmistakable chorus:

They say, “You’re a little much for me
You’re a liability
You’re a little much for me”
So they pull back, make other plans
I understand, I’m a liability
Get you wild, make you leave
I’m a little much for
E-a-na-na-na, everyone

Of course, the song is deeply personal – by the end, Lorde says that we’re gonna watch her disappear into the sun – but a song about liability will inevitably capture the attention (& hearts) of listeners everywhere. No matter what your social status/career/love life…everyone’s found themselves feeling a liability at some point – perhaps at many points. I think this is why the song was such a winner, & I think it was a great call to make it the second single. It showed the range of Melodrama – the sheer contrast to “Green Light” made me wonder how the album would play out.

On a personal level, I was able to make this about being sick/chronically ill. I constantly worry about having to pull away from something because I don’t feel well enough to go – I worry that other people will “pull back, make other plans/I understand…I’m a liability/Get you wild make you leave” & so on. This is applicable in my situation; it’s applicable in thousands of others’, too. Which is why it’s such a beautiful song; a great song. Lorde’s stripped-down SNL performance – with its touch of White Witch-y magic – only made the song more beautiful, in my opinion.

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Lorde performing “Liability” on SNL – back facing her pianist, which is a metaphor for her lonelinss (probably, anyway. I just came up with that myself).

The piano ballad was meant to be sung live. Ella did a beautiful job with it, hands-down. A great song – a song that’ll make you stop, sit back, & take a few moments to listen. You might even cry in public when it comes on shuffle (if you’re me). You’ll have to test your character. No matter what, though, “Liability” is a 2017 song to remember.

8. “White Iverson” – Post Malone

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I wouldn’t consider myself a Post Malone fan, judging from all the enjoyment I get from some of the more snide memes about him. I really know little to nothing about the man; I enjoy “Rockstar” when it’s on the radio (who doesn’t) & yes, I like “White Iverson.”

I first was introduced to it by a friend in early 2017. I listened to it a little bit in the early winter; I gave it a break once Melodrama & a few other albums began being teased. I revisited it in the summer, when I was trying to find some things to do to “replace” performance. It doesn’t come close, but dancing to some songs with a steady beat – & I say dancing with a big eyeroll – is a calming thing for me to do late at night, in the middle of a panic attack…or in the middle of the day, when I’m getting ready to go out…or when I’m feeling extra happy or sad. Whenever I need to “bop,” I need to blow off some steam; sometimes it’s happy steam, other times it’s sad. “White Iverson” has a great beat. I don’t listen much to the lyrics, I just listen to Post Malone’s voice carry the faster-paced verses down to the slower chorus…then speed it up again. I enjoy the way the beat completely stops in the middle of the song, “rewinds,” then starts up again. In case you can’t tell: I like the beat of this song a lot. I’ll always think of it fondly; not because of my admiration for Post Malone, the song’s music vidoe (wasn’t a huge fan), or the lyrics – just because of the way it planted myself in my life, & was in the back of my head during some of the most important moments of 2017. There’s no explaining why…it was just there sometimes. I chart that up, once again, to the catchiness of the beat. I’ve jammed to it in my bedroom at 4 a.m., I’ve sat outside during the midsummer heat & watched the sun go down to it…& many things in between. It’s been a constant for me in 2017, & it’ll be a marker of 2017. I guess that’s what makes a hit a hit, right?

9. “Lemon” – N.E.R.D. & Rihanna 

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“HAVE YOU SEEN THE MUSIC VIDEO?” I got via text in early November. “Of what?” I asked. It could be anything; I constantly follow music videos, & I’ve been doing it especially closely since midsummer. “RIHANNA,” I got back…but Rihanna had been busy with Fenty Beauty, & I told my friend so. “JUST GO TYPE IN LEMON,” was the response…so I did. & I haven’t shut up about it since.

The thumbnail of the music video caught my attention right away: “TUTORIAL No. 1. LEMON” featuring a woman with a shaved head, staring straight at the camera.

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I clicked on the video, & first a voice told me (on a black screen) “The truth will set you free. But first, it’ll piss you off.” Before I could reflect on the truthfulness of the phrase, BAM – there was Rihanna under some neon lights, staring right at the camera (panning out slowly). First it was just her face. Then we saw what she was doing: shaving a woman’s head. I started screaming internally, & texted a few people, getting a “I KNEW YOU’D LIKE IT” type response from everyone.

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We get a full 40 seconds or so of Rihanna shaving this woman’s head. There’s not much context behind it, & I wondered what kind of feature Rihanna would be getting. This was a N.E.R.D. project (a band formed by Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo, & Shay Hayley – N.E.R.D. is an acronym for “NO_ONE EVER REALLY DIES,”) & all I could hear was Pharrell rapping. That’s when I got hit with the realization: Rihanna was rapping on the track. nerd.jpg

We get a quick visual of the woman whose head Rihanna had been shaving – dancer Mette Towley, who has been working with Pharrell for a few years now – & then it’s time for Rihanna’s lyrics…& some serious dancing on Mette’s part.

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The music video got so much attention, between the on-camera head shave, the addicting verses done by Rihanna, & the incredible dancing by Mette – that the song shot to the top of my most-played on Spotify…a song released in November is on my top ten most-played of 2017 (let that sink in for a minute).

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Mette along with N.E.R.D. (in background) for a Beats by Dr. Dre “Beyond The Noise” ad video, which featured Mette “doing the Lemon” while wearing her music video outfit & a pair of Beats headphones.

I’ve been “bopping” to “Lemon” almost non-stop. It’s as though the song was tailored for my interests: beautiful women, Rihanna, heads being shaved, & some great dancing…& an incredibly hard to forget beat. I’ve been following Mette (Mette Towley is her full name) pretty closely as well, & I have to hand it over to N.E.R.D. for including a bunch of big names on their self-titled album: No One Ever Really Dies. Lemon was the album’s first single, which featured Rihanna; we got Future on “1000” – we even got Kendrick Lamar on “Don’t Don’t Do It!”

I really enjoyed the album as a whole…but Rihanna’s feature on Lemon, along with the now-iconic visuals is what made the album so attractive to me. I have no shame in saying it’s been on almost constant repeat; how else do you think it got to my top ten most-played so quickly?

10. “Neon Lights” Kraftwerk 

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I am perfectly aware that this song was released in 1978. Let’s put it in the “Love On The Brain” category – this is not a new song (by any means) but it was just something I played a lot this year, particularly during the months of March, April, & May.

Kraftwerk is another band that has particularly strong beats; in March, I started decreasing the amount of violin I was playing, due to the arthritis diagnosis I had gotten. I prepared to play a final concert in late April, but most of the time couldn’t attend orchestra rehearsals, lessons, etc. I had to sit out my final orchestra concert…so, in general, there wasn’t much playing, practicing, or performing going on during my final months of sophomore year of music school – something that was incredibly sad & frustrating for me.

I took a few courses to examine some scores (mainly Beethoven’s violin sonatas), but also took a lot of time to go through soundtracks, playlists, & books of music that I really hadn’t looked at much previously. For my whole life, I was hyperfocused on classical music, what went into performing it, what went into writing it, & the lives of those who had written the music that I played. Pop music was not the focus – &, when I started making my own little “videos” for fun, I wanted to look into new music…except it wasn’t necessarily “new” for me. I started with some good old British favorites, like Pink Floyd & Queen. I listened to the Stranger Things soundtrack – that introduced me to a lot of 80s rock, & heightened my enthusiasm for bands like The Smiths & Joy Division. I started getting into music my father had listened to; Kraftwerk was one of these bands, & “Neon Lights” was one of their most popular songs.

The beat is hyper-electronic; it’s very warm, though. The lyrics are ultra-simple: “Neon lights…shimmering neon lights…” sings the lead singer, until it’s time to sing the German translation. I’ve fallen asleep to this song; it’s a great song to write to, to think to…or just stare at the ceiling at 3:41 a.m. to. I have a few notes written out around that time somewhere in the middle of March, & the song is always mentioned.

That’s not to say the song is boring; it’s merely comforting & nostalgic to me, now. I’ll still tear up sometimes when I hear it.

Can you tell that that’s what makes a good song a good song to me? Tear up when you hear it. Okay…”Lemon” is an exception. It’s a lose if you’re crying to that one.

That’s it, folks! Those are my top ten most-played songs of 2017. If you want to hear them from 1-10, here’s a playlist featuring these 10 songs. How great, right?

What were your top ten favorite songs of 2017? I’d love to hear about them; let me know in the comments if you like.

Love,

Sofia ❤

#TopTenSeries: Top Ten Makeup Products of 2017

Welcome to part two of my #TopTenSeries! I’ll be honest: I’m not sure how many top tens I’ll be posting, but this is definitely one you’re getting. As you might’ve guessed from the title, these are my favorite makeup products of 2017. 

For my #TopTenSeries, I tried to pick things that had actually been released in 2017; there are a few exceptions, but for the most part, this is all brand new to 2017. 

What’s my makeup style like? Well, if you follow me on Instagram (you should; do it right here) you probably know that I keep it quite minimal if we’re talking face makeup. Foundation-type products break me out, clog my pores, irritate my skin…all that good stuff. I try to take good care of my skin/invest in skincare products that work well enough so that I don’t feel like I have to wear face makeup. 

Rant over – let me actually talk about my makeup style. I love a good dramatic eye look, I adore glowy skin, & *gasp* though I never thought it would happen, I actually do like lip gloss now – though I’m pretty sure I have it on record somewhere on the Internet that I’d never convert. Well…when it’s made by Rihanna, I have no other choice than to love it. 

So – glowy skin, minimal face makeup, bushy brows & a dramatic highlight/eye look when I’m feeling up to it are my “defaults.” Some of the products I’ve listed pushed me out of my comfort zone in the best way possible; I wouldn’t ever have thought that I would like blush…but here we are. None of these products should be a surprise to you; I’ve probably posted at least a little bit about each one of these – but here’s a quick run-down on why I love these products so much, & what they’ve done for me. As with skin care, let me start from the “beginning” – or, what I tried earliest in 2017, then move chronologically from there. Enjoy!

1. Tarte Tartelette In Bloom Clay Eyeshadow Palette

I don’t have any actual photos of my personal Tartelette palette, because it’s that banged up – but I’ve included some photos of me wearing Tartelette In Bloom (& Tartelette In Bloom only) on my eyes.

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I picked this up last Christmas, & didn’t really start wearing it until mid-January – I was on a no-makeup run for the last half of December 2016 & the first half of January 2017, since I had a staph infection on my face (ouch) & needed time to let things heal.

I always have trouble finding simple neutral palettes that work with anything – anything at all, no matter what. I’ve been on a matte eyeshadow kick this past year, too, so I was drawn in by the fact that the Tartelette In Bloom palette only has two shimmer shades; the rest are matte.

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There are some cool shades, some warm shades, & some neutral shades. I would recommend this to anyone of any skin tone. It’s the perfect palette to travel with – if I take this & this alone for a trip, I know that I can create a two-minute neutral eye for the daytime…& I can also amp it up in the evening, smoke things out with some of the darker shades, & even pop one (or two) of the shimmer shades in the very middle of my lid. This palette is a winner from start to finish, & that’s because it truly works for any & all occasions. The mirror & sturdy packaging score some extra points in my book, & again: if you’re looking for one palette that can do it all, this is the one for you. My favorite thing to do: use these shadows as my base, then grab whatever “crazy” eyeshadow color I’m feeling at the moment. Try some Colourpop Super Shock Shadows, yeah?

2. Diorshow Mascara

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It’s hard to aesthetically photograph a mascara – but here’s my feeble attempt.

I’ll be the first to admit it – seeing Bella Hadid plastered all over Sephora, Instagram, & basically everywhere else was what initially spiked my interest in the Diorshow Mascara. I had never tried any other Dior makeup product before; I’d assumed they were outdated & that I could get better for less. So – Dior, if you’re reading this (which I highly doubt) good job! Your campaign succeeded. It sold me.

I’m not a big mascara fan; my lashes are pretty dark & I usually just focus on eyeshadow if I’m going to be doing eye makeup. Pre-Diorshow, I was wearing Benefit Roller Lash Mascara, which I really liked. I saw this in the checkout shelf at Ulta when I was shopping with my mama in the spring, & decided to put back my refill of my Benefit & give the Dior a go. They’re both about the same price, give or take $2. I swiped it on, & I was sold.

This gives all the volume that Roller Lash does, but the wand makes the mascara feel less stiff. My lashes feel more like they have a pomade on them, as opposed to a heavy, sticky paint (which is how most mascara feels on me). It felt light, but my lashes looked extremely long, dark, & luxurious. If I’m wearing mascara, I’ll usually curl my lashes – but Diorshow Mascara doesn’t make me feel like I need the extra boost of volume that a quick curl might give.

Long story short: I’m sold on Diorshow, until I find a better one. But I doubt I will. I guess casting Insta-Girls really does work. (See above selfies for a closer look at Diorshow in action; I’m wearing that mascara plus Tartelette in Bloom palette on my eyes in both of the above photographs!)

3. Glossier Cloud Paints in shades Beam & Haze 

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I’m not “a blush person.” My fair skin makes most blushes pop – not in a flattering way. I usually just end up looking sweaty, or like a clown. Sometimes, I’ll look like a sweaty clown. The only blush that ever really worked for me was NARS Orgasm – & I have to use the tiniest tap for it to look flattering. No swirling of the brush for me.

I was skeptical of Glossier’s Cloud Paints, because they were cream blushes (which I thought would be more difficult to work with) & they looked very pigmented…& they are – but they’re sheer to buildable before they’re pigmented.

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I did not expect to like Haze & Beam best; those were the two shades that I thought would be least flattering on me. Once again, I was proved wrong. Beam is the only coral shade of blush that has ever looked flattering on me; I used it all summer long on the apples of my cheeks & on the bridge of my nose (for a sun-kissed look). Now that it’s cold, & darker colors are “the thing,” Haze works just as beautifully. I’d compare it to the Generation G Lipstick in Jam; both are a berry shade. Haze has a little more brightness to it than Jam, but they’re quite similar. I was very nervous about Haze being too over-the-top for my skin tone, but I didn’t have to worry. A tiny dot on my fingertip works just fine. I tap it onto my cheeks (use it as a contouring blush or on the apples of your cheeks for a more natural flush) & blend it in with a face brush if I feel like it’s still a bit much.

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Wearing Beam on my cheeks & the bridge of my nose in May 2017 (before my big buzz. Obviously)

All-in-all, these were a big win for me in 2017. I discovered that I could actually wear blush without looking like a clown. Don’t worry about them sliding around, either – these set very nicely, even if you’re not wearing setting spray. It’s just a natural flush that you can make as pigmented (or as sheer) as you wish. That’s why they’re so great for all skin tones, too. Try mixing them together if you own more than one shade; I love combining Puff & Dusk for a dusty rose blush. Super pretty. I’m now a tentative blush fan; I say tentative because I have yet to find any other blushes (besides NARS Orgasm) that work on my face as well as the Cloud Paints do.

4. CLĒ Cosmetics Essence Air Cushion

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This wasn’t the first CLĒ Cosmetics product I tried, but it’s remained a favorite ever since I put it on my face. The Essence Air Cushion is great if you need a lot of sun protection (50+ SPF? sign me up) but don’t like the heavy/tacky feeling that a lot of foundations/BB creams/CC creams can give you. It feels like CLĒ’s cushion was made for me; it goes on sheer, & blurs everything beautifully. It acts almost as a color corrector, but doesn’t smudge or cake up in odd places. The cushion comes with a little applicator sponge, but I use my $8 Real Techniques brush to apply it; I just dip my brush into the sponge, buff the product over my face, & go from there. It’s like a snap filter for my face – my skin still looks like my skin…just a little better. Extra points for the shade range – most cushion foundations have two shades at most. CLĒ has five. For reference, I wear light.

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This is what the shade Light looks like in the “pan.” I know – I was worried, too! It goes on very sheer. Remember: this is a cushion completely soaked with the product, so it will look darker in the container.

The price will probably make you blink the first time you buy it – but after you’ve purchased the compact, just re-fill the cushion when yours runs out (or runs dry). Those will only run you $23. Much better.

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The included applicator, if you choose to apply your product that way.

Even more extra points for the all-day dewy glow it gives me. I’ll be carrying this into 2018 without a doubt.

5. Glossier Boy Brow in Clear 

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Glossier’s Boy Brow is a product that’s been around the block a few times; I’ve been wearing Boy Brow in Brown since early 2016. Clear was a new shade debuted in spring 2017, though – & it became a regular for me. I’d say I use Clear even more than I use Brown now.

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Sporting Boy Brow in Clear 

From February to April of 2017, I had had bleached brows – then, when I was growing them back, they obviously had some color to them, but they weren’t their natural dark color (just scroll through my Instagram; you’ll see!). I relied on Boy Brow in Brown to make my brows look their normal dark shade, but once my brows went back to normal, I started making use of Clear.

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Even my cat can’t let go.

There’s nothing different about the formula; it looks transluscent-white in the tube, but doesn’t dry down white. It doesn’t feel crunchy – it has the same pomade texture that the colored Boy Brows do. Not something that was revolutionary for my face this year, but definitely something I picked up more often than I picked up the brown BB. Give it a go, if you’re unsure about which Boy Brow shade is best for you.

 

6. CLĒ Cosmetics Melting Lip Powder in Desert Rose 

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I first tried the CLĒ lip powders around the same time I tried their Essence Air Cushion – but the shade Desert Rose wasn’t released until September, for CLĒ’s fall collection. It’s currently sold out…for good reason. This is a shade that’s very flattering on any skin tone & all skin types.

As the name might suggest, the powder is primarily for lips. I was a bit skeptical when first applying one of these; I worried that they’d have the dreaded liquid lipstick effect: aka, my lips dry down to the texture of sandpaper in less than two hours. Not so with the Melting Lip Powders. I apply a little to the center of my lip – yes, it’s a powder in the tube & comes out of the tube as a powder as well – then wait for the heat of my skin to melt it down. I pop my lips together, apply a lighter layer to the remaining parts of my lips, pop them together again, & I’m all set. This gives a great liquid lipstick finish – without the drying effect. Even better: they can be used on the cheeks & eyes, too! I’ve had a lot of fun with the shade Red Cherry on my eyelids (I love a bold red eye look) & the shade Milk Choco (the first shade I ever tried from CLĒ) looks beautiful as a dusty, contour-y blush. If you have deeper skin, try Hot Choco for the same effect.

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Powdery texture evident here, just as the name promises!

When using the powders as blush, I like to take a little smear of Glossier Balm Dotcom & mix it with a tap or two of the pigmented powder. I then dab it into my cheeks. The balm sets within a minute, & it’s easier to move around on my dry skin. If you have oily or combo skin, you probably can skip the balm step & just apply straight to your cheeks!

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You could probably build Desert Rose up to this color, but I’d say it’s a little dustier than this colored sticker. On the lips, it’s truer to the color that it looks to be in the tube.

All-in-all, this is a super unique product. I’d never heard of a lip powder before I heard of CLĒ’s products, & I haven’t seen any other products like these powders! They’re worth a go. A very cool, unique product with lots of fun shades, from neutral to wild. Desert Rose is my favorite – as you probably could tell from the listing of the name – so if you’re interested in this shade, sign up on their site to get notified when Desert Rose is back in stock.

7. Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb

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Like everyone else on Planet Earth, I could hardly contain my excitement for Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty launch in September of this year. We got some sneak peeks in the weeks leading up to the brand’s launch, & I deliberated very carefully. Almost right away, I decided on getting the gloss, because I was shocked at how “affordable” the gloss was. Okay…it’s not a $4 gloss from e.l.f., but for a celebrity brand, $18 isn’t bad at all (let’s just take a look at Kylie’s prices). I was also intrigued by the fact that it looked different – but beautiful – on all of the models. Fenty made sure to be diverse from the moment they dropped their first “intro video” – we had a fair-skinned ginger, Mallory Merk, all the way to Duckie Thot (one of my favorite models of the moment, & the face of the deepest shade of Fenty Beauty’s foundation). There was only one shade of the gloss: Fenty Glow, which everyone found quite surprising – in fact, Fenty’s Gloss Bomb is the only permanent collection lip product for now, along with the Stunna Lip Paint (there are lots of lipsticks coming the day after Christmas). The gloss looked beautiful on all of the girls, & it showed off different undertones on each skin tone. I was really curious about how it’d look on me, so I made sure to snap it up. I was not disappointed.

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If I’ve done an eye look & want some color in my lips (no clear gloss) but am not really sure what to reach for, I grab Gloss Bomb. If I’m wearing some Glossier Boy Brow & a little concealer, I grab Gloss Bomb. If I’m wearing no makeup at all & am running out the door – but want a little polish to my face – I grab Gloss Bomb. No matter what, I get compliments. It smells amazing, it looks incredible. The shape & shine of the packaging itself makes it its own accessory; it’s not something you’ll be embarrassed to pull out of your pocket/purse/backpack/sock/whatever you carry your lip products in.

Gloss Bomb didn’t live up to my expectations…it went above & beyond. This is something that I’ll continue to refill until the day I die. Also, Rihanna’s little statement about it is beyond cute:
“I made it because I wanted the girls to get kissed more.”—Rihanna, Brand Founder (via Sephora’s site)

8. Fenty Beauty Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter in Trophy Wife

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Second purchase that month – Fenty again. I couldn’t help myself. Trophy Wife was the shade that had been teased most, tested most, & the one Rihanna herself had worn to the brand launch.

I knew this wouldn’t be a “natural highlight on me” – & I was right. I was, however, surprised at how wearable this product is as a highlighter. I worried I’d have to return it if it didn’t serve the purpose of a higlighter…but I’ve been pleasantly shocked at some of the looks I’ve been able to accomplish with Trophy Wife & Trophy Wife alone.

If you don’t like glitter, this isn’t the one for you. Just know: it looked beautiful lightly dusted across my cheekbones for the daytime (still calling that a soft look; I wasn’t wearing any other eye makeup or lipstick); it looked dramatic when built up on my inner corners & cheekbones as a night look; I use it all the time as a lid topper & love using it on my cupid’s bow.

Long story short – the color is beautiful. If you have medium/deep skin, you’ll probably be able to wear this as a comfortable highlight. If you’re not in that range – it’ll still be a very fun product, & I don’t believe it’s looked ugly on anyone I’ve seen wear it. It’ll turn heads, but let’s be real: we already kind of get that vibe just looking at Trophy Wife in pan.

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Trophy Wife is a winner for me, because I’ve been able to do several things with just the one product. I can glimmer slightly, or glitter like a disco ball – that’s up to me. New Year’s Eve look? Most probably.

9. NYX Dewy Finish Makeup Setting Spray

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Let’s not pretend this product is news to anyone. It’s been around the block more than a few times – but I decided to include it because I’m often asked how to keep makeup on while maintaining a dewy/glowy finish to the skin. I’ve given a few sample-size setting sprays a try this year, & none of them lived up to the NYX. I tried Caudalíe Beauty Elixir (okay…almost as good, but not as much staying power & way more expensive), a few spritzes of the famed Tatcha Dewy Skin Mist (don’t waste your $$$), & stole my mama’s Urban Decay Setting Spray, which is probably the best known out of the three I just mentioned. My mother loved it – until she ran out, & I converted her to NYX as well. Now we’re both the spray’s #1 fans. You can join our club if you like.

Truly, though: this spray is great. The spritzer doesn’t soak one part of your face while keeping another part completely dry; it dispenses very evenly. It doesn’t smell of alcohol or burn when first applied (a problem I get a lot when using setting sprays), & it just lasts really well…& it keeps my skin dewy all day long. Remember: I have dry skin. Oh – & if you’re about the matte finish, NYX has one for you, too. Same price. I’m sure it’s great, too.

If you’re looking for a high-quality setting spray for under $10, go for the NYX. Save your money – buy a Tom Ford lipstick you don’t need or something instead.

10. Fenty Beauty Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter in Lightning Dust/Fire Crystal

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This was not (surprisingly) one of the first Fenty items I sprung for when Fenty Beauty initially launched; I was getting mixed reviews on the powder highlights, & I decided to wait a little while. I finally made the choice to spring for the dual panned Lightning Dust/Fire Crystal highlight, part of the Killawatt powder highlights the brand has (along with their cream shimmer sticks). I was worried it would be too chalky or glittery, because the arm swatch wasn’t that promising – but I was desperate. I’d finally run out of my Anastasia Glow Kit in Gleam, which was what I used for two years. It was cool-toned, it was luminous, it was finely milled…it was perfect. Then Anastasia decided to make it limited edition, & I never had a chance to pick up a second before they were gone for good. From what I could see, Lightning Dust/Fire Crystal was close enough to be a combination of the shades Crushed Pearl & Starburst from the Gleam kit: my two favorite shades to combine, & a highlight that could be blindingly bright or just perfectly natural, depending on how much I layered. It didn’t look muddy or dirty on my cool-toned, fair skin – & this Fenty highlight seemed to have the same undertones that the combination of those two Anastasia highlights had. I heard they applied better on the face than when swatched, so I decided that if I didn’t like it, I could return it the next day.

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Don’t let the pan fool you; this is a glowy highlight, not a glittery one. I promise.

I love it. I love it; it’s almost identical to the finish of the Gleam kit – though I will say that Gleam will always hold a special place in my heart. Still, the highlight lived up to the reviews. It didn’t swatch well on the arm, but it applied beautifully on the face. I tried it layered with a cream highlight underneath for a truly blinding effect; it looked more natural when just used by itself.

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See this shine on my cheekbones? Lightning Dust/Fire Crystal combo. No sparkle – just glow.

To close the case: I’ve found my “natural” higlight. It’s one that I can use without worrying that it won’t go with my eye look or my lipstick; it’s one that I can build up to look super dramatic (in a natural way); it’s one that I can use day in & day out without having to worry about whether it’ll be limited edition. Fenty Beauty is here to stay, & so is this highlight. Stay it will.

There you have it! My top ten makeup items of 2017. I tried to keep it as interesting as possible – but I also tried to be most honest about what I used most. I think I nailed it as well as I could. Tell me your top ten (or just top one) makeup product of 2017! I’d love to hear it. Maybe it’ll inspire me to bring something new into 2018.

Stay tuned for another #TopTen very soon. Until then!

Love,

Sofia ❤

#TopTenSeries: Top Ten Skincare Items of 2017

Hello, friends! Welcome to the end of 2017. I’m going to spare all of you the sentimental words, because I think there’s a time & place for that; right now isn’t the time. Right now, let me talk about my top tens.

My “#TopTenSeries,” as I’m calling it, is a collection of my…top ten ____ of 2017; an article for each category, if you will. In this post, you’ll see skincare. Next up, I have some makeup. Then: top albums, top songs…a few other cool things, too. These things will be either made/released in 2017, or heavily used/listened to in 2017. Basically, I’ll try to keep everything as “new” as possible. We don’t need to hear about the five products that I’m currently loving that have been on shelves for 5+ years…however:

I didn’t know much about skin care until late 2016/early 2017. 2017 was the year that I started nailing down a routine that worked (& still does work) best for my skin. Some of these products will not be brand new, because I didn’t always need the latest & greatest to make my skin look better. I made more of an effort to include makeup brand new to 2017, albums made in 2017, songs made in 2017, etc. Skin care is my one exception to this rule. If something has truly switched up my style, my music taste, etc., I will take care to mention it, even if it’s not made right in 2017. Don’t worry, though – I’ll stick to this year as much as possible!

I’ll churn out as much (quality) content as I can these next few weeks. Then, I’m off: back to school again. I’m incredibly excited to do this once again. You can rest assured that I’ll keep writing on here, but the type of content I write might change a little. Maybe more personal pieces/creative nonfiction pieces, which is what I’m choosing to focus my cognate on my last few years of undergrad.

You’ll come to see what’s next – & I’m not even quite sure what’s next myself – but for now, here’s my #TopTenSeries. These are in chronological order, not in the order of “most to least favorite” – for me to choose favorites in this list would be tortorous, truly. I hope you enjoy it

1. Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich

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Glossier hinted & hinted last holiday season that they had something special for us in January 2017; we were not let down. Priming Moisturizer Rich was Glossier’s first new product release of 2017…& it remains one of my favorite Glossier products of all time. A cult favorite – as in, “I use this every day” kind of cult favorite.

In the dry winter months, I’ll wear PMR (as it’s affectionately nicknamed) twice a day. Glossier has a seeecret “Anti-Redness Complex” & an “Oxygenating Agent” which are the base ingredients of PMR. Add some murumuru & shea butters, lavender (one of my favorite, most relaxing scents in the world), red algea complex, & a few other things, & you have a rich – super rich – face cream that isnt greasy, cuts redness, & wears well by itself or under makeup.

I’m constantly asked to dupe PMR, & the true answer is that I really can’t. The texture, scent, & effect it gives my face is unique – that’s why I continue to fill & refill (& refill) my jars. It’s coming into 2018 with me without a doubt – probably 2019, too. Try to find a more luxurious-feeling face cream for less money than PMR…you can’t. Give this a go; you won’t regret it. Good for dry skin (obviously) & oily skin alike…everything in between, as well. Like I said, this is a daily staple for me – it’s a twice-daily staple for me in the cold dry months, but even in the humid hot summers, I can’t completely let go of PMR.

2. Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial

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This was the first Drunk Elephant product I ever tried. It was the beginning of 2017, I was at a hotel, staying the night because I had some hospital testing in another city, & I’d stopped at a Sephora on the way in to get some samples. When you’re bored in a hotel room, there’s nothing better than trying out the free samples that Sephora employees angrily dole out (seriously, why are they angry when giving you samples? Asking for a friend).

Anyways – thanks to Into The Gloss, I’d heard a lot of buzz about the Drunk Elephant Babyfacial, & I was seeing the #millennialpink packaging on every top shelf I came across on Instagram. I had a few friends who assured me it was worth it, but I was still skeptical. Babyfacial isn’t cheap – as a brand, Drunk Elephant isn’t cheap – so I decided to get a sample, try it out once or twice, then make my call.

I’ll admit: I was scared to give this a go. The words “Drunk Elephant’s dream team blend of glycolic, tartaric, lactic, citric, and salicylic acids” in the product description had me shaking in my shoes. I hadn’t really tried chemical exfoliants before; I was of the (false) opinion that chemical exfoliants would dry out my face & only hurt my skin. In retrospect, I couldn’t have been more off the mark: chemical exfoliants are actually gentler on my face than physical ones (ex: sugar scrub masks, etc.).

I took my tiny sample of Babyfacial, braced myself for the tingle that I was warned I would feel, & started applying. Yes. It burned…but only for about 20 seconds. After that, I felt a slight tingle or two, but nothing major. I didn’t feel as though my skin was peeling off my face. I left it on for 10 minutes, which is recommended if you’re using it for the first time (especially if you have sensitive skin).

Immediately after I took it off, I sighed to myself, because I knew that I’d be buying it for real. My skin did actually feel baby-soft. I showed my mother. I showed my friends. I told the Internet. I told the man passing me by on the street. My skin hadn’t felt this soft in forever – & within a few days, I noticed that my skin looked smoother & brighter, too.

Long story short: it took me a little less than a year to use up one full-size “jar” of Babyfacial. Was it worth it? Yes. Did it change the way I treat my skin? Yes! I focus more on chemical exfoliants, especially AHA/BHA products, like Babyfacial – & Drunk Elephant Framboos serum, which you’ll read about below.

Are there cheaper options/cheaper AHA/BHA products? Absolutely! Try The Ordinary’s AHA peel, aka “the vampire facial.” It’ll run you less than $10, & it gives off a similar effect. I’ve tried a few different “peels,” “masques,” & “facials,” trying to dupe Babyfacial…but the truth is, this one stands on its own. If you want something cheaper, there are many options out there – but if you want the overnight results, Drunk Elephant is the way to go. A good way to spend some Christmas/holiday $$$. Trust me on this one.

3. Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum

IMG_9946Another product that wasn’t developed in 2017 – but a product that changed my life in 2017.

If you’d told me that I’d be religiously using this serum last year, I’d have laughed in your face, & said that no product this expensive was truly worth it.

Well, I’m crawling back now in shame to admit that I was wrong. This product completely switched up my skincare routine. It made my skin clearer, brighter, & it even made my routine shorter. This serum doubled as several things; suddenly, I didn’t need three serums to make a clarifying concoction. This one just did it all.

I use one pump a day – or evening, since it’s a night serum – focusing on the areas of my skin that aren’t too dry – this is an AHA/BHA product, so it’s no good to put it on dry areas of your skin (they’ll just get more irritated). Treat your skin gently – but don’t be afraid of this serum, even if you have dry skin. Coming from someone with extremely dry sensitive skin: this will not kill you. In fact, it’ll revive you.

The AHA/BHA blend is incredible: you have glycolic, lactic, tartaric, citric, and salicylic acids, all blended with raspberry extract (hence the name “Framboos”). This cocktail of acids sounds overwhelming, but it is not. The balance is perfect. It won’t burn your face off; just prepare for a slight tingling if you have sensitive skin, like me. There’s no odor or color to the product. You’ll feel a slight tackiness, but that fades after you’ve put on a cream – plus, the effects of the serum are worth any tackiness you might have on application.

Drunk Elephant says: “This high-tech gel resurfaces dull skin, lifting dead skin cells away by gently dissolving the glue that holds them to the surface. The results are greater clarity and a smoother, more even-looking complexion.” I couldn’t say it better myself. Drunk Elephant doesn’t need to overcompensate while describing its products…simply because they always work – hands-down. The product description of Framboos on Sephora’s site doesn’t quite do this serum justice, but it comes pretty close. Without a doubt – worth your time & money.

4. Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay

IMG_9299.jpegI don’t usually expect my mother to introduce me to skincare products that will become staples on my top shelf – but this is exactly how I came to discover the Origins Rose Clay mask…a mask that I now admittedly cannot live without.

It was another hotel room stay. My mama suggested we do face masks, to relieve the anxiety I was feeling about the next day’s doctor appointment. I didn’t have any in my travel skincare bag, but she had a little 200 point Sephora sample of the Origins Rose Clay mask. I tried it out. I took it off, & I saw softer, smoother skin that had absolutely no redness – even around the areas of my face that are most prone to redness. I felt clean, detoxed, but not dry. Just super soft, clean, & nourished. I saw the sample was still available, so I snapped it up that evening when refilling a sheet mask I needed. By the time I’d squeezed the sample tube empty, I knew that it was time to go full size.

I’ve been through one full tube of the rose clay mask now, & I have another one (one-quarter empty) sitting on my top shelf, staring at me right now. I just did it last night.

This is a clay mask that I feel safe using even in the driest, coldest months of winter. The Mediterranean rose clay & Canadian willow herb are soothing & reduce redness, while the small jojoba beads give the mask its signature exfoliating texture – but don’t worry, it won’t rip your skin apart. Delicately swirl the product across your face with warm water when removing, & the jojoba beads will gently exfoliate without leaving any microabrasions.

It’s a deep cleanse; takes the garbage out of your skin & leaves behind refined pores, super-soft skin, & absolutely no redness – anywhere. It’s a mask that detoxes my face in the stickiest, most humid months of summer – & it’s just great for fall & spring, too. It’s a year-round must-have for me, & it’ll stay this way. That was just the beginning of my love affair with Origins; there are so many products I adore from that brand now…but this one has a special, special place in my heart. Thank you to my mother for putting me on to this one (but I’m still taking the credits for putting her onto Drunk Elephant, okay? Okay!).

5. CLĒ Cosmetics Oxygen Foam Cleanser 

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Ever since I discovered Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser, I was strictly a fan of non-foaming cleansers. After evaluating my routine several times, it wasn’t too difficult to figure out that my skin dried out every single time I switched from a non-foaming to a foaming cleanser.

I was skeptical of CLĒ Cosmetics’ Oxygen Foam Cleanser because of this – in fact, I’d specifically ordered their Melting Cleanser instead, which is a non-foaming cleanser. They happened to include several sample packets of their Oxygen Foam Cleanser. When I was out of town for one night, I grabbed this packet, figuring that one night wouldn’t hurt.

It didn’t – it actually helped. I was in awe of my skin within half an hour of using the cleanser. I applied it as directed: massaging it into my dry skin with circular motions of my fingertips. Wait 30 seconds, & the gooey liquid turns into a foam – it bubbles up on your skin, kind of like the pop rocks of skin care.

Why’s this one work so well for me? I’m not entirely sure, but I don’t question it too much. it quickly oxygenates and forms bubbles, helping to produce collage and elastin to give skin a soft, healthy and youthful appearance. The first time I used it, I gently rinsed off my face, patted it dry, & looked in the mirror (side note: you can also simply wipe this off with a warm damp towel). My brows shot up. The sensitive, red areas around my nose were gone. My pores looked tighter. My face looked bouncier. All that…& not a sign of dryness.

I haven’t fooled around much with other foaming cleansers since then – the other two I’ve tried dry out my skin, too. If you like that bubbly, foaming sensation but do not like the way your skin responds to it afterwards, this is a great product. It’s a foam cleanser that somehow is also incredibly brightening & hydrating. Again – I won’t question it too much. I just keep an extra bottle (or two) on my top shelf. Besides Milky Jelly Cleanser, it’s the cleanser I use most.

If you want a lighter review on the cleanser, check out what I wrote on CLĒ’s blog right here!

6. Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask

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This was new to Sephora this year, & it was abuzz on YouTube in the spring & summer. Every single dry-lipped YouTuber was raving about it: so much product, so effective, good for day or night. It wasn’t expensive, either. After seeing 3+ of my favorite, trusted beauty bloggers sing the praises of Laneige’s Lip Mask, I decided to check it out. At the time, it was online-only – I couldn’t check it out in-store, & where I’m currently located, there still are not any Laneige products at my local Sephora stores. Sad.

Anyways…I took the leap, made the order, & applied it the night it arrived.

Sephora says that the special Laneige “Berry Mix Complex™ offers a nutritiously sweet and fragrant blend of raspberry, strawberry, cranberry, and blueberry extracts,” while the “exclusive Moisture Wrap™ technology boasts hyaluronic acid and minerals to form a protective film over the lips to lock in moisture and active ingredients.” Basically: this lip mask’s formula has an antioxidant blend of “superfoods” that hydrate the lips & strengthen them, too.

I appreciated the way the mask was packed: it has a gloss-like texture (& can be worn as a “glossy balm” during the day to complete a makeup look) & is packaged in a jar. It is not solid; the jar comes with a little spatula (complete with its own little envelope case) that you scoop product out of & apply to the lips – like a lip gloss wand. I liked the sanitary way in which the mask was packaged, & found the texture to be super rich, glossy, & hydrating. Unlike many glossy-ish lip products, this texture didn’t draw moisture out of my lips…it felt like it was sucking moisture in. I struggle with perpetually dry lips – but I woke up with smooth, soft, supple lips.

Now, whenever I feel my lips getting dry again, I usually realize that it’s because I’ve forgotten to apply the lip mask before bedtime. The Lip Sleeping Mask has sat comfortably on my bedside table since I got it, & I reach for it every single evening. Sometimes, I might even wake up to apply it a second time. If you’re a fellow sandpaper lips, give this a go. You probably will feel as though your lips are a part of your face for the first time in what may have felt like forever. Also great to wear while doing your makeup, if you’re prepping your lips for a liquid lip/pencil/drying lipstick. A good, effective, cheap product to have around – & I’ve been using this almost nightly since July & am not halfway through it yet. I apply librally, by the way. Don’t worry. This will work, & it’ll last you forever to boot.

7. Kypris Antioxidant Dew

IMG_7315.jpgI was conflicted about including this product, but the last few days is what pushed me to include the Antioxidant Dew in my top ten.

This past summer, Kypris sent me a very generous box of gifts, including their famous Antioxidant Dew. I was skeptical, because the product looked so lightweight. I put three drops on my face in my morning routine (following toner, before applying serum) & by the afternoon, I could see my face looked brighter. It felt softer. I had little to no texture on my forehead.

I took a break from the Antioxidant Dew these past two months. I tried to dupe it with another product, after a lot of research into botanicals, & which ones would be best for my skin.

After 3+ weeks of testing this product…I tried a few drops of Kypris Antioxidant Dew two days ago, after not using it for nearly a month. By that evening, I could see – no texture, clearer skin, softer skin…it really had made a big difference in my routine.

Kypris is not a cheap brand – & I made that clear in my brand review. I did say, however, that if I had to pick one product to keep purchasing myself, it would be the Antioxidant Dew. After trying it out the whole summer, taking a break to try a dupe or two, & seeing the quick & incredible improvement my skin made in the last two days after starting to use it again, I’ll say it again: this one is worth it. Spend $10 on your toners, spend $18 on your cleansers (hi, Milky Jelly – hi, Thayers Witch Hazel)…but Kypris Antioxidant Dew is worth every single dollar. Oh – & also, less is truly more with this product. Three drops is all I use. Just once a day. The bottle should last you 6 months at least. If that’s not another selling point, I don’t know what is. I’ll probably cry a little when I have to refill, but I still have a ways to go. Three drops a day = enough, which = good skin, which = me not having to buy it too often that it’ll hurt.

8. Thayers Alcohol-Free Lavender Witch Hazel Toner

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“Your skin will think you’re at a Spa,” is the selling phrase on this product’s description page.

Thayers’ toners have been around forever, & they’re no secret to the beauty world; I’d go so far to call them a cult favorite. For whatever reason, I refused to try them. Don’t ask me why. I stuck to my Mario Badescu Facial Spray & just shrugged off my friends’ suggestions to try the (cheaper) Thayers toner. I think it had something to do with the fact that I felt odd putting product on a cotton pad & then applying it to my face. I finally broke in October when I was picking up a prescription at Target & saw a bottle of the Lavender toner. It’s no secret: lavender is probably my favorite scent, & it’s very soothing on my skin. I decided that it would be $11 either well-spent or wasted, but either way, I wasn’t throwing a huge amount of money at a product. I went for it.

Since then, Thayers has released spray bottle versions of their toner – but I’m actually more than happy with the cotton pad method at this point. I “upgraded” my cotton pads (I use the Shiseido ones; they’re worth it – trust me. Just don’t remove your makeup with them. I think that’s a waste) & my skin has been brighter, softer, & clearer since I started using Thayers Lavender. I’m not sure if I’ll try another…scent? Flavor? Whatever you want to call it – I don’t know. I’m not even halfway through my bottle right now, & I use it twice a day. Thank you to Into The Gloss, probably ten of my friends, & all the comments on Instagram urging me to “go for it.” I’m glad I did.

9. Jade Roller 

IMG_7492.jpeg“What’s that green thing?” is probably the most asked question when I’m doing my skincare on Instagram live. I’ve been asked this so many times, in fact, that I wrote a post about jade rollers…called “What’s That Green Thing?” I know; very funny.

Jade rollers aren’t new to the market; they’ve been used for thousands of years – especially in China (where they originated). They’ve broken the mainstream market, thanks to brands like GingerChi, Herbivore Botanicals, & good old Amazon.com. There are even different colored jade rollers now – & now, you can get rose quartz facial rollers, too. Fancy fancy.

Basically, it doesn’t really matter how expensive your roller is. You can get one for $200, sure – you can also get one for $10. The end result will be the same! Vogue says: “This Chinese skincare tool will cool, tighten, & de-puff your face in seconds.” That’s partly because of jade’s ability to stay cool for long periods of time – & even after it’s been warmed up by the heat of your face, set it down for a second, & it’ll cool down to its original temperature (stick it in your fridge for an extra dose of cool).

Jade rollers are tools that assist lymphatic massage: they reduce inflammation by moving – & improving – your skin’s circulation. This means that it’ll eliminate toxins (less breakouts!), tighten the pores (make your skin look younger & more lifted!),  improve blood circulation, elasticity of the skin, & reduce puffiness. For me, that’s especially helpful around my under-eye area. I use the smaller end of my jade roller to gently massage my under-eyes. Although my dark circles are still present, I don’t mind the look of them – I just want to get rid of the puffiness that my on-&-off insomnia gifts me.

All-in-all, it’s a super relaxing tool that you can use morning & evening. For a spa-like treatment, use a facial oil on your face before going in with the roller. It’ll massage all the good ingredients of whichever oil you choose deep into your skin, resulting in healthier, plumper, tighter, & brighter skin. This was a big win for me in 2017!

Check out some jade rollers here – Herbivore Botanicals & GingerChi both have high-quality double-ended ones, if you’re trying to target large & small areas of your face…but Amazon has the $10 ones that work just as well. Trust me – I’ve tried both.

Glossier Body Hero Duo 

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Is this skin care? I don’t know, but I have to say: this was one of Glossier’s 2017 releases that I thought I could live without. After refilling both the cream & the oil wash, I take it all back.

What I love most about the duo is its amazing fragrance, shared by both the Daily Oil Wash & the Daily Perfecting Cream: the “Orange Blossm Neroli Blend,” which is light, but very herbal. I think it’s unisex, & I like the scent of it a lot – a solid perfume of this fragrance would be incredible.

The Oil Wash is probably my favorite between the two – surprising, since I fully expected the cream to be my favorite. I like the Oil Wash because it’s so unique to any other body soap/wash I’ve ever tried. The Oil Wash has 0% water in it; it’s made up of seven oils, which turn into a creamy lather when rubbed into the skin. They attract grime, then melt it away. Thanks to the 0% water, the pH levels of this wash are great, too – so you can use it anywhere on your body without worrying about imbalancing your skin. I suffer from perpetually dry elbows, but this wash helped eradicate that problem. Usually, when I step out the shower, I need to frantically apply moisturizer. My skin will feel dry & cold if I don’t. After using Daily Oil Wash, I step out of the shower feeling super clean – but already very hydrated. That’s because of the lack of detergents in the wash; I step out feeling like I already have a protective hydrating layer over my skin. You’d think that’d be an oily, unpleasant sensation, but it’s not. My skin just feels baby-soft & pampered, even before I’ve applied the cream. Oh – & the stuff is so good, I use it as a shampoo, too (shh). I know…I barely have any hair, but I need a moisturized, well-scented head anyways, okay? Okay.

As for the cream – I can only describe it as though someone decided to put a few drops of those beautiful illuminating CoverFX drops into the body cream, then blended it together. The result is a super glowy, dewy lotion that smells delicious (like its sister) & looks like you have a healthy, magical sheen on your skin. I especially love the way it looks on my neck, collarbones, & shoulders. The consistency is super rich, which I love. It’s a great cream for the cold months, but it’s not sticky or greasy, so it’ll work for the warmer months too. I decided to include this because I was truly surprised at how good it was – I didn’t think this would be one of my favorite Glossier releases of the year. But hey, we all learn something new every day.

That’s all for now, babies! Tell me your top ten skincare items in the comments – or just one, if you wish. Or none at all. Stay tuned for some makeup, music, & other cool top tens. 

Love,

Sofia