Steppin' Up My Sporty Style

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I can't resist some good alliteration and a pun. Get it? Step up... and I'm posing on stairs? At least I amuse myself. 

So, I have a secret to share today. I have a dark past of wearing oversized sweatpants to school every day. 🙈 While my sporty style has clearly improved over the years, it's definitely true to who I am. I love casual outfits and being comfortable at all times. Given the choice between a pair of sneakers and a pair of heels, I'll always go for the sneakers.

As a casual clothes-lover, denim is a staple in my wardrobe. I'm so glad I discovered the athleisure trend and stylish sneakers because I used to think it was basically a sin to wear tennis shoes and jeans together when I was in middle school and high school. (Maybe that's why I always wore sweatpants) Anyway, I found this denim bomber jacket at TJ Maxx, and I think it's the perfect thing to layer over tank tops in the spring. It looks fashionable and sporty at the same time which is everything I love. I can't find this exact one, but I've linked some similar ones at the bottom of the post for you!

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Photography by Cindy Ha

Madewell top | Puma jacket | Madewell jeans | Puma shoes

 

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Spring Skincare Update & Sephora VIB Sale Haul

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It’s that time of year again! The spring Sephora sale is happening. I always use the sale as a reason to stock up on my favorites and try new products. This time around I mostly picked up new products, so this is more of a first impressions post since I haven’t had a long enough time to give these a thorough test. I just wanted to share what I picked up during the sale in case you were planning to buy anything during the second weekend of the sale which starts this Friday by the way!

 

I made a YouTube video!

I’m also excited to share that I filmed a YouTube video about this as well! YouTube is something I’ve wanted to try for years, and I thought it would be nice to occasionally create videos to go along with my blog content for people who prefer watching rather than reading. Check it out, and give me some love since it’s my first foray into the world of video! Now onto the products!

  • Farmacy Green Clean Cleansing Balm // I got this to see how it measures up to my trusty Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm. I’ve heard a lot of people raving about it, and it won an Allure best of beauty award! My first impression is that it smells amazing, and not in a fake overpowering way. As of writing this I’ve used it a few times, and I already love it! It does a great job taking off all my makeup including mascara. The Clinique version is just slightly cheaper, but I think Green Clean is just as effective, and I do like that the brand is completely cruelty-free and focuses on sustainability.

 

  • Farmacy Green Screen Sunscreen SPF 30 // I have been nothing but loyal to the Algenist Sublime Defense sunscreen for years now, and while I still love it, I wanted to give something else a try. After researching the new Volition Beauty Luminizing Shield, I went into the store fully planning to buy it. It’s supposed to be an innovative new sunscreen for “sunscreen haters” that gives your skin an all-over highlight. Sounds great right? When I got to Sephora though I tested out the Farmacy one to compare, and there was just something about the Farmacy sunscreen I liked more. Plus, I liked the price (and what the brand stands for as I mentioned above). The Volition one is $35 for 1oz and Farmacy is $36 for 1.7oz. For comparison my Algenist one is $28 for 1oz. It’s also worth noting that Farmacy Green Screen is SPF 30 while the other two are SPF 50, but that doesn’t concern me too much since research shows that there’s a negligible difference in 30 and anything above it. So far I like the way it feels when I apply it, but I need to give it a good test in proper sunny weather because it’s been really gloomy here since I got it.

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  • Youth To The People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Oil // This is another product I switched up last minute. I knew I wanted to pick up a new oil for my morning routine to replace my vitamin C serum and rose hip oil from The Ordinary. I was planning to get the Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil, but I found the Youth to the People oil nearby and decided to check it out. Like a magpie for the word glow (I’m a marketing sucker), I had to pick it up to read more. I discovered that it’s actually an antioxidant oil with vitamin C which is exactly what I wanted, and again I was swayed by the price. While I’m sure it’s great, the Biossance option was $72 and the YTTP option was only $44, both for 1oz. The Superberry oil is actually a new product launch from the brand, and I’ve seen a lot of rave reviews for it. So far I LOVE the smell. It’s one of the best smelling products I’ve tried. It definitely feels hydrating without disturbing makeup application which is a plus for a morning face oil. I’ll probably do a proper in-depth review soon!

 

  • Herbivore Phoenix Cell Regenerating Facial Oil // I needed a new night oil as well because I ran out of my Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate earlier this month. Herbivore is a brand I’ve always wanted to try more from. In the height of the Sunday Riley Luna Oil craze of 2016 I bought the Herbivore Lapis Oil thinking they were more or less the same thing (not true). I didn’t really get on with it, but I wasn’t as into my skincare research back then. Now that I’ve taken the time to read more about the Lapis Oil I realize that it’s made for problem skin that’s oily and acne-prone (i.e. not my skin type at all). This time, I did my research and I decided to give the Phoenix oil a try. It’s supposed to be a cell-renewing oil that’s great for dry or aging skin. I often find that “aging” is synonymous with “dry skin” so even though I’m only 24 (almost 25 😬) I gravitate towards products marketed for mature skin.

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  • IGK Thirsty Girl Coconut Milk Leave-In Conditioner // Finding the right hair products sometimes feels like a never ending quest. I generally find makeup and skincare products with relative ease, but haircare is a whole other ballgame. Maybe I’m not reading the right blogs or watching the right YouTubers, but I don’t find many tips from people with a similar hair type to my naturally curly hair (that I usually just air dry). Maybe once I actually get a solid routine down I’ll share some more tips. I discovered IGK a while ago, but I definitely started lusting after their products after the blogger trip to Miami. I know it was paid for, but the girls just genuinely seemed to love the products. I spritzed a tiny bit of this in the store and the first thing I noticed was how amazing it smells. That seems to be a common theme in this haul. It’s also unlike any other leave in conditioner I’ve ever seen. Normally, leave in conditioners come in a tube or a spritz bottle, but this one is a continuous fine mist. I’m not sure if that means it’s an aerosol product though. I’m really excited by the ingredients in this because in addition to coconut oil, it’s main ingredient is hyaluronic acid! It’s not something that’s commonly used in haircare, and IGK have actually patented the Hyaluronic Acid Technology they use for this product.

 

  • Pestle & Mortar Pure Hyaluronic Serum // The Hyaluronic Acid from The Ordinary has been one of my favorite recent product discoveries. Even though I’m passing on buying new Deciem products, I couldn’t not have a hyaluronic acid in my skincare stash! I decided to go for the Pure Hyaluronic Serum from Pestle & Mortar even though it’s significantly more expensive than my go-to Deciem product. It comes highly recommended from Caroline Hirons. I’m still waiting for it to arrive, so I don’t have much else to report on now. I didn’t buy this during the Sephora sale since they don’t carry it at Sephora, but I did buy it from the Pestle & Mortar’s website and they have a 10% off code for new customers in case you’re interested.

How I feel about The Ordinary, and my new approach to purchasing skincare.

I wanted to give a quick little update on my feelings about Deciem considering the drama surrounding the brand at the moment. I won’t be using or featuring Deciem products anymore because as much as I love the products (and prices) I just don’t feel comfortable supporting them. I think this raises a really valuable lesson though that has made me think twice about the brands I’m supporting. As I mentioned in my first post of my Beauty Challenges series, I want to be a more conscious consumer so as part of that I want to do more research into the brands I buy from. Do they have a positive work environment? Are they good for the environment? Cruelty-free? The list goes on and on, and while I won’t be changing everything at once and imposing strict rules on myself, it’s just something I want to consider with any future purchases.

Everything You Need for the Perfect Bath

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As a writer, it can be hard to keep imposter syndrome from creeping in whenever I write about something I don't feel like a total expert in. But if there's one thing I feel like I know enough about, it's baths. Not that drawing a relaxing bath is a marketable skill, but if it was, it would be at the top of my resume.

Last fall I wrote a bath guide for every occasion, but it was more about curating specific bath products according to your mood. See, I told you I was a bath pro! Have you considered the vibe of your bath before? If not, let me tell you, it's life changing. But first, I wanted to break down the bath basics. Even if you're a bath hater, this might just change your mind!

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How to Turn Your Bathroom Into a Spa

Turning your bathroom into a spa-like sanctuary is key for achieving the full escapism a bath can provide. If you have a small apartment bathroom and shower/tub combo you’ve got a little work cut out for you, but I promise it’s possible. If you have a freestanding tub congratulations! You’re living my dream.

If you just want to know the one thing that will take your bath to the next level, it’s candles— lots of them. One candle just won’t do. I actually recommend using LED candles because they provide more of a glowing effect than the measly flicker you get from regular candles. My personal preference is to use a mix of LED and normal scented candles, so I get the glow and the fresh scent. Scented LED candles though are a no go for me. When choosing your candle scent, make sure it plays well with any other bath add ins you’re using. For example, if you’re using a lavender bath bomb, you might not want a super spicy candle to clash with it. That’s not to say that if you use a lavender bath bomb you have to use a lavender candle (although you could if you really like lavender) Think complimentary scents. Something like rose would pair nicely with lavender. Or when in doubt go for vanilla. It’s a nice inoffensive scent that plays nicely with others.

My other major recommendation is a bath caddy. A bath caddy keeps all your favorite things in reach— candles, beauty treatments, a book, a glass of wine...  It doesn't have to be anything fancy! I used to have one that I bought from the store, but then when I moved into my current apartment it didn’t fit anymore. Instead of buying a new one, I made my own! Check out my last post for instructions on how I made my own wooden bath caddy. It’s super simple!

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What to Add to Your Bath

This part is the hardest to narrow down because there are so many options! Did you think bath bombs were the only fun thing to put in your bath? Here's a list of all the major types of bath products and how to use them. Be sure to read all the way to the end to see some of my favorites from these bath products! It’s also worth noting that you can mix and match these things as you please. You don’t need to use all of these at once for the perfect bath. I think that might overwhelm you more than it would relax you. I often use a bath bomb and bubble bar together for example. Bath oil can be added to pretty much any bath. It may sound silly, but if you want help choosing the right mix for you DM me on Instagram or shoot me an email. I’m happy to be your bath guru.

Bath Bombs

Bath bombs mostly just put on a show by turning your bath water fun colors or exploding with glitter. They're fun to watch, but don't typically pack many skin benefits. It's also worth noting that you use one per bath, unlike a lot of other products that you can get multiple baths out of. Throw one of these in at anytime while your bath is running or after you’ve already filled the tub. I always get my bath bombs from Lush because I think they've got some of the best ones out there. My personal favorites are Dragon's Egg, Cheer Up Buttercup, and Big Blue.

Bubble Bars

Everyone is probably familiar with traditional liquid bubble bath of course, but I prefer bubble bars. I find them to be less stripping on the skin than traditional bubble bath, and (again) I usually get mine from Lush. Some of my favorites are The Comforter, Brightside, and Rose Jam. Bubble bars are great because you can break them apart to use for as many baths as you like, but whatever you do make sure to crumble them under running water! If you throw a bubble bar into a full bath without crumbling it under the tap nothing will happen. I have made this mistake!

Bath Salts

Bath salts don't add much to your bath visually, but they're supposed to soothe and detoxify the mind and body. (Not to be confused with epsom salts, which are a specific category of bath add-in all on their own) Himalayan Pink Sea Salt is a common ingredient in a lot of bath salts, along with clay-based salts in the more detoxifying versions. 

Epsom Salts

Epsom salts are another one of the most common bath add ins. They're particularly great for soothing sore muscles. I actually found out recently that you should use about 2 cups of epsom salts per bath! Apparently it takes a lot to reap the benefits! Most stores like Target or Walmart should have big bags of epsom salt which are just fine. There's really no need to splurge on any fancy epsom salts.

Magnesium Flakes

Magnesium flakes are relatively similar to epsom salts. In fact, magnesium flakes are made from magnesium chloride and epsom salts are made from magnesium sulfate. Sounds like the same thing, right? Well, they generally both make similar claims about restoring muscles, but a lot of people seem to prefer magnesium flakes because of their ability to calm the nervous system. I haven't tried them yet, but if it makes me feel more calm and rested before bed I'm interested.

Bath Oils

As you might guess, bath oil is great for skin that needs a moisture boost. It’s especially nice in the winter months for this reason. A little bit goes a long way, so bath oil is something I like to add to all my baths. It's also interesting because there's a really wide price range between budget-friendly options and really high-end expensive options.

Bath Soaks

“Bath soak” is kind of a catch all term for any liquid you add to a bath. There are all sorts of bath soaks out there that serve various purposes, from relaxing muscle soaks to cold & flu soaks.

Bath Milks

If you have dry skin and you’ve never tried a bath milk, you need to! Unexpectedly, bath milk actually comes in a powder form (not liquid), and it turns your bath milky when you add the powder to water. If you have eczema, a bad sun burn, or any other skin ailments a bath milk can be really nourishing for your irritated skin. Just don't make the water too hot!

Bath Teas

Bath tea isn’t something you see all too often, but it’s a type of bath add-in nonetheless. It’s sort of a gimmicky product that you dip in your bath water like an actual tea bag. The contents are usually similar to ingredients you find in bath bombs or other dry bath products, but if your tub is prone to clogging, a bath tea is actually a great option because it means less bits are going down your drain.

Soaking Crystals

I’ve never used soaking crystals myself, but I’m definitely intrigued. Apparently they’re similar to bath salts (both often made from Himalayan Pink Sea Salt), but just mixed with essential oils to create a larger form. Because of their size they pack a lot of nutrients and minerals that release slowly as you bathe.  

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What to Do In the Bath

Obviously, whatever you want to do in the bath is totally up to you. Some people like to relax in total silence, while other people (like me) get bored of that and just want to watch YouTube or Netflix. Or maybe even eat. Is that gross to some people? I like a good bath snack and beverage. It's not like I would eat a full meal in the bath, but next time you take a bath make yourself some chocolate covered strawberries. It's nice. A glass of cold water is a must, but I’ll never say no to a cup of tea (or maybe a glass on wine).

If you do want to go the more zen route, spa music is actually kind of nice. Spotify and Apple Music both have pre-made spa sounds playlists. Meditating in the bath is another great way to zone out. I've been using the Rituals app recently because they have really great guided meditations for various lengths.

The bath is also a great opportunity to take your time with beauty treatments you may otherwise skip. Do a hair mask, exfoliate your body, and just all around pamper yourself! Always wash your face before you get in the bath because the steam can clog your pores if you have makeup on. Then, when you’re about 15 minutes away from getting out of the bath slap on a face mask. That way when you get out your skin is ready to rinse and go (or glow)!

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Have I earned a PHD in baths yet? Can this be my dissertation? Let me know if you're a bath person and what your favorite bath rituals are!