Winter Skincare Routine

I turned 25 yesterday. I feel old. I am officially in my mid-twenties, not that my skin is aware because currently I am fighting a breakout that should have happened a solid ten years ago. So while my skin is misbehaving, I decided to show you all my winter skincare routine, which, turns out, is exactly like my summer, spring, and fall skincare routine, because I am lazy.

winter2016-skincare-routine

Morning

I don’t shower in the morning, wrangling my post-shower/humid bathroom hair would add a whole half hour to my already rushed morning, so I wash my face with Clinique’s Acne Solutions cleanser bar. It costs just as much as the liquid, but lasts so much longer, and since it’s a solid bar, I don’t have to decant anything into a smaller container when I travel.

I follow the cleanser with Pacifica’s Cactus Water Micellar Cleansing Tonic. This gets any remaining oil and gunk off my face, and is so super gentle that I can even use it around my eyes. It smells wonderful, and as a bonus, it’s cruelty free.

Then I moisturize. I don’t like feeling oily or like I have anything heavy on my face, so in the mornings I use a dab of Garnier’s Moisture Rescue Refreshing Gel-Cream. It sinks into my skin pretty fast, and is so light. It’s also kinda cold, no matter where I store it, so it de-puffs my skin.

Around my eyes I use Benefit’s It’s Potent! Eye Cream. It’s very hydrating without being heavy, but one thing I will say is that it makes my eye area feel a little delicate after I put it on, so I do all this before I’m out of my pajamas so by the time I need to put makeup on, it’s worn off.

Finally, I put on Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm, which is SPF 25. I like it because it dries matte, and isn’t overwhelmingly flavored or scented. I guess that’s because it’s marketed towards men and heaven forbid a macho manly man has glossy lips.

Also, throughout the day I use various hand lotions, my current favorite for dryer weather is this Bliss High Intensity Hand Cream. It’s not overly scented, and a little bit goes a long way.

Night

I shower in the evening, about an hour before bed, because it helps me relax and unwind, and I don’t like taking all the dirt and grossness of the day to bed with me. When I get out of the shower, while my hair is still wrapped up and out of the way, I put on Bliss’s grapefruit and aloe body butter. It’s super thick and smells so nice. I put it on first so by the time I’m ready for bed it’s absorbed into my skin.

Once my hair is brushed and put up in a big giant bun, I wipe off my face (that I washed in the shower) with the Pacifica micellar cleansing tonic again, and let it air dry. When that’s happened, I use a bit of Mario Badescu’s Seaweed Night Cream. This absorbs into my skin really nicely, and doesn’t feel greasy at all.

My eyes get Aveeno’s Absolutely Ageless eye cream, I put it in my under-eye area, on my eyelids, and between my eyebrows, because I’m already noticing that vertical wrinkle (maybe I scowl too much?), and crepey eyelids run in my mom’s family. So that’s what I’m trying to avoid.

Finally, I slap on a lip balm, my current favorite is this Brambleberry Rose lip balm by the Rosebud Perfume Co., which are the same people that make the cult worshipped Smith’s Rosebud Salve. It’s basically the same thing, but I like this smell better. And it lasts for years.

I know I haven’t been posting much, but y’know. Grad school. I’m going to try to stick to a reasonable schedule now. As always, you can find me on Twitter, Instagram, or by email, thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.

Disclaimer: All of the links are Amazon Affiliate links, which means if you click on them and buy the thing, I get a (very) small commission. But, I really do use and love all of the things mentioned, or else I wouldn’t recommend them to you.

 

A Beginner’s Makeup Kit

Getting into makeup is hard. Especially with trends like contouring or strobing or baking or whatever the kids are calling it these days. So I figured I would put together a quick list of things to look for when you’re just starting to use makeup.

basic kit flatlay

Don’t let the picture fool you. That’s actually not a lot of stuff, and a lot of it is optional. Now, I don’t have much drugstore brand stuff, but I’ll include links to Amazon* to products in a variety of price ranges.

Eyes

basic kit eyes

I figured we would start with basic eye makeup, namely eyeliner and mascara, because that’s what I started with. At the top I have Smashbox’s Full Exposure mascara. It retails for about $18 a tube at Ulta, and it’s seriously so great. It’s not super thick or super clumpy, and makes my lashes look so full. A decent drugstore brand is Maybelline’s Great Lash, which has been a cult favorite for years. Under that I’ve got a liquid eyeliner pen, Revlon’s Color Stay Liquid Liner Pen in blackest black. I’ve been using this pen or Maybelline New York Master Precise Liquid Eyeliner for as long as I’ve been using liquid liner. I somewhat prefer the Maybelline pen tip to the Revlon, because it’s thinner and slightly more flexible, but Revlon is alright too. For absolute beginners, however, an eyeliner pencil might work better, since they’re easier to control. This is the classic Wet & Wild eyeliner pencil,  which is a first eyeliner for a lot of people.

Beyond eyeliners, I like at least using a gel to keep my eyebrows in place. I use Benefit’s Speed Brow, but I know e.l.f. makes a good one too. Finally, I wanted to mention Benefit’s They’re Real Tinted Lash Primer, which I use in place of mascara when I want to do a super natural look.

I haven’t included any eyeshadows, because I never used them when I was just starting out, but if you want to use any I suggest a super neutral palette.

Face

basic kit face

I don’t use much on my face. Because I am lazy. So I’m not super into foundations or concealers or any of that. But when I do need to do full on makeup, like when Desiree got married, I used that Smashbox Photo Ready Powder Foundation, which I got in a Try-It Kit, which includes a primer and BB cream as well. Before this, I would use a Maybelline powder foundation,  but again, I rarely used foundation. I still barely do, since I nanny and the baby likes pressing his face against mine all the time.

Blushwise I’m really really enjoying this Too Faced Love Flush 16-Hour blush. I have How Deep is Your Love, and it’s such a great corally pink that’s very pigmented, and really buildable. On me it looks super natural, which is great because I don’t like super prominent makeup. A cheaper alternative is the e.l.f. blush in Candid Coral, however, the color is not an exact dupe. e.l.f. has pretty good quality makeup, especially for beginners.

And on the left I’ve got Benefit’s Hoola bronzer, which, just like the blush, is pretty pigmented but buildable. I really like that it’s matte, because I tend to get oily so the less shine on my face the better. I don’t really have a comparable drugstore brand here, because I was never into bronzer before I got Hoola.

Now, for anyone who wants to try contouring but doesn’t want to drop a ton of money on makeup, I’ve heard great things about NYX’s contour palettes. You all know I love NYX in general, but I’ve never actual tried the contour palette. However, I feel okay recommending it, because I’ve loved absolutely every other NYX thing I’ve tried.

Lips

basic kit lips

Speaking of NYX, it’s a great brand for beginners in general, because while everything is reasonably cheap, it’s also really good quality.

So for a beginner makeup kit, I recommend having at least one lip stain, because those are super easy to apply and they’re pretty sheer, so good for if you’re younger and not really allowed much makeup, especially at school. As I mentioned in my post about my favorite reds, Covergirl lip stains are so fantastic. They’re buildable and last for ages, and look super natural the whole time. However, if your lips are dry, stains will make that super evident. So apply a balm over it if you need to, and stay hydrated!

On to lipstick, which is so often the first kind of makeup anyone starts with. Those two NYX matte lipsticks are the most wonderful thing. The dark one is called Goal Digger, and the red is Alabama. I feel like every beginner makeup kit should have one more dramatic shade, like a red or purple, and then a more nude shade. My first lipstick every was that Revlon cream lipstick, it’s a very classic red that’s called Scarlet Velvet, but it’s been discontinued and I’m constantly on the hunt for something similar.

Nude lipsticks are tricky, because they vary based on your skin toned. The one I’ve got pictured is an Estee Lauder that my aunt gave me, but Desiree really loves NYX’s Soft Matte Lip Cream in Stockhom, which I’ve been meaning to buy.

Speaking of NYX, I’m really loving their Liquid Suede lipsticks, the one I’ve got pictured is called Vintage. I feel like for beginners, liquid lipsticks are so much easier to apply neatly than regular lipstick. And the NYX ones are so inexpensive that you can grab a few to experiment with different colors.

Brushes

basic kit brushes

Okay so this is a little tricky because up until about two years ago, I wasn’t really into brushes, and I still don’t have a set of expensive brushes. I’ve had my eye on It Cosmetics brushes,  but currently I’m using a set I got off Amazon. I’m not sure what the brand is, but they’re super soft and don’t shed, so that’s great. And brushwise, you don’t need much. If you don’t use your fingers to apply eyeshadow, which I admit I still sometimes do, you need a rounded fluffy brush, like the one on the way right, to get the shadow all over your lid, and a brush to get into your crease, like the one on the way left, and one to blend it, like the center brush. And that one second from the left is what I use for blush, and obviously by the sate of the bristles you can tell that the one second from the left is my bronzer brush. Now, disclaimer, that might now be the technical name or use for that particular shape of brush, but that’s just what I personally use it for, and it’s what’s been working for me.

Eyelash curlers look scary, and the first few times you use one is terrifying, but they do wonders for you eyelashes. Curling my lashes makes me look awake and interested in things, even if I’ve just driven an hour for a twenty minute long meeting. I got mine from Sephora, and it was fairly inexpensive. It even came with extra cushions.

Primers

Basic kit primers

Primers help a lot, especially if like me, you have super oily skin and your makeup tends to disappear after a few hours. I can’t really recommend any other primers, because these are the only ones I’ve ever used, but they last for so long that I feel like the price is justified for both. On the left is Benefit’s Porefessional , which is for your face, and on the right is my beloved Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion. This stuff is seriously wonderful. It keeps my eyelids from looking and feeling oily, and keeps my eyeshadow in place right up until I take it off myself. I usually put it on even when I don’t plan on putting on eyeshadow.

So to summarize, all you really need in a beginner makeup kit is an eyeliner you’re comfortable with, a mascara that won’t clump on you, a brow gel if you need it, blush, bronzer, and foundation if you want it, one neutral lipstick and one fun one, and maybe a primer or two. Brushes are highly recommended but completely optional, well all of this is optional I guess. That’s the fun part about makeup, you can pick and choose what parts you like. I have a hard time shopping for clothes, but makeup always fits.

As always, you can find me on Instagram, Twitter, or by email, thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.

*I’m in the Amazon Affiliates programs, so if you click on one of the links I’ve provided and end up buying the product, I do get a very small amount from the sale. However, I really do love and honestly recommend all of these products.

My favorite lipsticks for when I’m feeling a touch melodramatic.

Remember last week how I made you a list of my favorite red lipsticks? Well, last summer I went on a quest in search of the perfect dark, vampy purple. And I found a few that I really really liked, and I’m finally starting to branch out from my standard reds.

purple swatches

Now, these aren’t all drugstore like my reds. A few of them are fairly pricey, especially if you’re not gonna wear them every day. I’ve provided links to Amazon*, but I’m sure that you can find most of these at your local Ulta or Sephora.

At the very top is a lip stain, Revlon’s Just Bitten lip stain and balm in Beloved/Adoration. This is a fairly sheer (at least on me) raisiny-brown purple, which looks pretty natural, so this is what I wear if I’m not wearing any other makeup, or if I’m doing my eyes super dramatic and don’t want to do super dramatic lips as well. It’s very versatile. Now, there’s a balm on the end of it that’s supposed to either make it stay for a while or to make your lips softer, but I really don’t use it.

The wine-y color underneath is NYX’s Soft Matte Lip Cream in Copenhagen. It goes on so soft and velvety, and dries matte, and lasts seriously forever. This perpetuates my obsession with NYX. I know Desiree loves one of their Soft Matte Lip Creams too, I think it’s called Aspen, it’s a neutral nude shade, and looks perfect on her.

That perfect dark vampy shade underneath it is also by NYX, it’s a Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick in Vintage. I do have to warn you, it’s cheaper at Ulta than on Amazon. But it’s so perfect and lasts for so long that the Amazon price really isn’t that bad.

Alright, now to the more expensive things.

The next one is Smashbox’s Be Legendary Lipstick in Plum Scene. It’s a nice raisin purple, with just a hint of a shimmer. And it stays on for a while. On me it looks almost wine colored, but in the tube it looks much darker, so it’s fairly buildable.

And finally, is my 23rd birthday present to myself, MAC’s Gunner. This one was part of a limited edition collection, so it’s not available from MAC’s stores or online, but they’re selling it via their Amazon account. It’s the bluest of these purples, and I on;y really wear it if I’m feeling melodramatic and it’s nighttime.

That’s all I’ve got today, maybe next week I’ll show you my favorite pinks.

I think I do have a problem with lipsticks, lol. Comment below with your favorites!

As always, you can find me on Twitter, Instagram, or by email, thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.

*I use affiliate links, so I would get a teeny bit from each sale using my referring link. However, the opinions are totally my own, and I really do love these lipsticks.

Things I Liked Putting on My Face in 2015

I know, I know, monthly favorites is the trend around here, but let’s be real, I am a creature of habit. I don’t try new things, and when I do, my skin breaks out or I pout the whole time. So instead of giving you guys a list of the exact same thing every month, I decided to tell you about the things I kept reaching for for an entire year.

fave products 2015

See? Simple creature. Told you so.

The first thing I liked a lot is my Clarisonic Mia 1. I use it every other day, and it’s really been helping with my acne. Along with this, I use Aveeno’s Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser. It hasn’t got any exfoliation on its own, so using it with my Clarisonic is great. I also just use it on its own on the days I’m not using Clarisonic.

Makeup wise, I don’t like wearing a lot of things on my face. At 24 years old, I’ve yet to figure out how foundation and concealer work. And don’t get me started on contouring. Seriously, don’t. I wouldn’t know what to tell you. What I do wear every day is eyebrow gel. I like Benefit’s SpeedBrow. It’s a lightly tinted brow gel that sets pretty fast.  When I do wear other eye makeup, I use Urban Decay’s Eyeshadow Primer Potion. Even if I’m not using more than a little eyeshadow, it keeps my eyelids from looking oily. Which is a thing that happens, apparently. My favorite eyeliner is Maybelline’s Eye Studio Master Precise liner pen. I love the tip on this thing. It’s so thin, and I can do the most perfect little wings with it.

Above the eyeliner is Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara. It makes my eyelashes look all full and soft, and doesn’t clump at all. And my favorite eyeshadows are in the Too Faced Matte Eye palette. They’re great for a pretty natural look.

To the right there is Love & Toast’s Gin Blossom perfume, both in the bottle and the rollerball. It’s been my go to scent. I also like Love & Toast’s Gin and Lime lip balm, but was all out so it’s not pictured. I need to grab another pot of it.

Finally, I’m loving basically every lip product NYX makes. Pictured above are the Simply Red Lip Cream, Matte Lipstick, and Soft Matte Lip Cream.

Whew. Favorites. Done. All the links go to Ulta, or to the Love & Toast website. Sometimes L&T is at Ulta, sometimes it’s not. Depends on the store, I guess.

As always, you can find me on Twitter, Instagram (and here!), or you can email me at thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.

Urban Decay | Gwen Stefani Eyeshadow Palette: First Thoughts

Yesterday was my birthday (holy shit I’m 24) and as is our little tradition, my mom took me shopping, since I am notoriously difficult to shop for. We went straight to Ulta, and I made a beeline for the Urban Decay shelves, because I had my eye on the palette that Gwen Stefani had created for them.

GS Palette outside

And it’s so pretty! I’ve been going through a phase where I love anything that’s black, white, and gold, and that’s Gwen Stefani’s favorite color theme, so this palette is just wonderful.

GS Palette Shades.jpg

Inside, there are fifteen shades, most of them neutral, which is great because I don’t really use wildly colorful eyeshadows anyway. I like keeping makeup simple and natural. And unlike Urban Decay’s Naked palette series, a decent proportion of these shades are matte, which is great for people who don’t do a lot of glitter.

GS Palette texture closeup

And look at those textures! All of the eyeshadows are so incredibly smooth and pigmented, even the glittery ones. I was going to do swatches, but had to run to work so use your imagination. But I will say, my skintone is an awkward caramel-tan so I have a hard time finding good colors for it, and all of these look great.

GS Palette open palette

And look at that giant mirror! This palette is very solid. An issue I had with my Naked 2 palette was that the casing felt flimsy and I was afraid that the shadow trays would pop out of the plastic.

Overall, I really like this palette. A lot. I’ll update in a few days when I’ve used it for a while.

 

Long Hair, Care a Little.

I have very long hair. When I was younger, it was down to my butt. Although, since I topped out at 5’1 by the time I was 12, the distance from my head to my butt wasn’t anything to brag about. I chopped off and donated about ten inches when I was eleven, but it was still pretty long, and I’ve kept it pretty long ever since.

I have issues with split and frayed ends, and the main thing I’ve been doing to prevent that is avoiding heat. When I was in high school I would straighten my hair, but as I’ve gotten older, the curls have moved from wild frizz to actually manageable big curls/waves, which is in part because the weight of my hair keeps it down. So it’s become a lot easier to keep it looking nice without heat. When I do get frizzy, I like using an anti-frizz serum. My favorite is Garnier Fructis’s Sleek & Shine Anti-Frizz Serum. It’s available in most drug stores, and just half a pump is enough to tame my hair.

While avoiding heat is the biggest preventative measure, I also try remedying split ends when they do happen, with coconut oil. I use Vatika Coconut Hair Oil, available in most Indian grocery stores. I like it better than regular coconut oil because it’s easier to get out of my hair. Regular coconut oil, like the kind you use for cooking, is solid at room temperature, and gunks up pretty fast. The Vatika kind needs to be warmed, I pop a mug of water in the microwave for a bit and let the bottle sit in it for a few minutes. Then I start by putting it on the ends, and working it up. My mom tells me to really saturate my scalp with it, but I don’t like to. So I just coat the strands, concentrating on the ends, because those get pretty scraggly after a while.

When I don’t coconut oil my hair, I use a leave in conditioner spray after I shower, while my hair is still damp. I like using the Not Your Mother’s Way to Grow leave in. It absorbs really well into my damp hair, and smells nice too. As a bonus, it helps detangle my hair, which prevents breakage.

Beyond products, I bought a little pair of hair scissors, which I keep in my desk drawer, and every few weeks as I’m watching Netflix, I just go through my hair and cut out the individual split ends. This helps me avoid getting hair cuts, which although are great, can end up with me losing a lot of length, which is something I hate. I’ve also had the same hairdresser for ten years, and now that I’ve moved to Texas, I’m nervous about finding a new one. I do like going in for a trim if the ends are beyond repair.

That’s basically it. My hair is surprisingly low maintenance, to a point. As long as I keep it healthy, I don’t have to go to incredible lengths to keep it nice.

I don’t know how I survived winter without this. 

So in the winter, my skin gets super dry. Not cracked, but uncomfortably tight. And I hate how greasy lotion makes me feel if it doesn’t absorb right away.

And then I went to Nordstrom Rack with my mother, and found this massive tube of magic.

It is a super-sized tube of Bliss Lemon+Sage Body Butter Maximum Moisture Cream, and it is wonderful. It’s super thick but absorbs surprisingly fast, and the scent is very light. I think it’s a little too heavy for using on my face, especially since I break out easy, but for the rest of my body it’s great.

I don’t really like traditional “wintery” scents like  vanilla and other sugary stuff, and around this time of the year that’s all that’s in stores. However, I really like this candle that I got in Bath and Body Works a few years ago but never burned, called Snowed In.

I don’t know if they make the scent anymore, and if they don’t I kind of regret buying the tiniest one. It’s almost completely gone. It smells vaguely like men’s cologne, not like Axe but a very subtle masculine sort of smell. When I was in college, the girls living down the hall bought a spray bottle of Febreeze called Warm Winter Comfort or something, and after smelling it we promptly dubbed it Sexy Man Febreeze. This candle smells like a more subtle version of that. But it might just be more subtle because we’re not spraying it all over the place.

In addition to the lotion and the candle I am wrapped in a quilt, next to the space heater, wearing the cutest booties (more on those later) taking a study break and spending my snow day knitting a sweater (that’ll also be another post).

Stay warm! And remember, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @vrishalimk, tumblr at gradschoolblahg.tumblr.com, and for collaborations and Go Through My Stuff submissions, email me at thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.