Monday, July 21, 2014

DIY: Custom Face Mask

Face masks are kind of awesome, right? They can give you smoother, clearer, more even skin and all you have to do is slap some goop on your mug and kick back for a cool thirty minutes or so. That's awesome. Very few things in life have such a favorable effort to results ratio, and for that reason alone, I feel it's necessary to dedicate a little time (and the internet version of ink) to this unsung hero of skincare.

I've tried my share of face masks over the years - from the thick, green ones popularized by every movie portrayal of an old woman ever seen to the oh-so-satisfying peel off numbers, and every squeeze tube in between. One of my main girls is Queen Helene and her tingly Mint Julep Masque - so fancy it requires a 'que' ending (although, I don't know who she's trying to fool because it costs less than a fiver), but the 'Most Noticeable Results I've Ever Seen' award goes to Aztec Secrets Indian Healing Clay, hands down.
And the award goes to...
I love this stuff. Not only is it super powerful on its own - it even claims to be "the world's most powerful facial" - but it mixes quite nicely with your favorite add-ins, much like a delicious overpriced frozen yogurt. Did you realize you could customize your own face masks? You totally can. I love to pair this clay with organic apple cider vinegar that has "the mother" intact because it gives me better results and feels more 'active' than when I just use water. Because this stuff is so powerful, it can leave my face a little dry, but I counteract that completely by adding a dollop of honey to the mix. Soft skin ahoy! Finally, I like a little acne fighting help courtesy of tea tree oil.

There are a million ways to mix a custom face mask for your skin (e.g. aloe, vitamin E or jojoba oil for moisture, oatmeal or sea salt for exfoliation, green tea for antioxidant power) but this is how I do my thing - and how you can try it too:
+ Clay Mask {Aztec Secret. which you can get here}
+ Apple Cider Vinegar {raw is best}
+ Tea Tree Oil {cheap at Trader Joe's!}
+ Honey {raw and organic it good, but here I just have the regular stuff}
+ Plastic Mixing Utensil & Plastic Bowl/Cup

Measure out your clay. I use about 1 tablespoon and mix it with an equal part of apple cider vinegar.

Stir with a plastic spoon or other utensil (I'm using an Ikea chopstick). Metal makes it angry.

Add in a healthy plop of honey and a few drops of tea tree oil.

Mix it allllll together and slather on your face. This one is on the thinner side, so it might be easier to apply with a cheap foundation brush (like the $1 one from ELF), but I just used my fingers.

This mask has deeply enveloped my nose stud. Also, ewww.
Let it dry - it should take about 15 minutes but you can leave it on a little longer if you wish. You will look fantastic at this juncture, so this is a great time to schedule any upcoming blind dates and/or photo shoots.

I recommend doing this before you get in the shower because rinsing off a mask at the sink takes forever and annoys me. You can also use a face cloth, but then you get clay all over it and that annoys me too. Try to be less annoyed than me because, hey - you have awesome skin now! 

Have you ever customized a face mask before? Do you like feeling like a swamp thing-type creature for beauty? What would you add to your custom mask?


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

FASHION: Fun Beach Bags

Typically, all of my beach stuff (towel, sunscreen, book, snacks - always snacks) gets stuffed into whatever bag is closest to the door when I realize that I have way more stuff coming to the beach with me than I can carry in my hands. I do have one dedicated beach bag - complete with a bikini-clad kitten in a hammock and the caption "Cat-Nappin'!" - but it is sadly starting to show its age, and I'm keeping an eye out for a cute new beach buddy. Here are some of the cutest beach bags and totes I've seen lately:
One  //  Two  //  Three  //  Four  //  Five  //  Six  //  Seven  //  Eight  //  Nine

Can you even handle that banana print bag? What are you storing all your beach crap in these days?


Thursday, June 26, 2014

BEAUTY: Summer Beauty Essentials

Awwww yeah - it's officially summer! Just like clothes, food and my general outlook, there are plenty of beauty products I change up just for summer. These picks work great year round, of course, but they keep me smoother, brighter and generally more glowy in these hot summer months. Here's my version of required summer reading, except without all the books and with a bunch of nail polish (but also you should totally read books all summer even though no one is making you write a last minute essay on them).

1. Milani Color Statement Lipstick in Flamingo Pose [$5.49 Here]
This shade just pops off your face! A very pink coral, this lipstick is creamy and opaque and stays put much longer than a lot of my other drugstore lipsticks. Milani knows what's up with lipstick. This color would work on so many skin tones and shines as the focal point of a summer makeup look.

2. Revlon ColorBurst Balm Stain in Smitten [$8.99 Here]
Has there been a better drugstore lip product in recent memory than Revlon balm stains? The answer is no. This shade, a deep raspberry pink, works for seriously anybody. It moisturizes and opaquely colors, while its light mint scent tingles and refreshes. The chubby pencil makes for easy application, even without a mirror, and the buildable color is perfect for someone just dipping their toes into the lipstick world.

3. Neutrogena Clear Face Sunscreen [$10.49 Here]
This light formula absorbs quickly with no greasy feeling.
SPF is not optional in summer (or really ever) and I like to use a separate one for my face since body sunscreens can be greasy and thick. This light formula sinks into my skin so quickly and doesn't leave an oily feeling or sunscreen scent. It feels more like moisturizer than sunscreen, but the SPF 55 will keep your fragile face protected even in the craziest of summer suns.

4. Burt's Bees Coconut Foot Creme [$9.00 Here]
This stuff is hardcore - it stays all thick and gooey for hours if you let it just absorb.
I am passionate about this stuff - yes, passionate. I sing its praises to all open ears because it is literally the only foot moisturizing product that has ever caused measurable improvement on my dry feet (Mmmm). I will never stray from this if I want to keep my feet in sandals all summer long. NEVER.

5. Maybelline Color Tattoo Metal in Barely Branded [$6.99 Here]
The hype is real, people! I fell in love with Color Tattoos recently and I fell hard. Application is simple (smush on with fingers!), the color is rich (opaque in one swipe!), and the wear is loooooong, like must-scrub-it-all-off-before-bed long. This shade is soft and shiny, perfect for a light summer 'barely wearing anything' makeup look, but it can also double as a highlighting product! Due to its champagne shade and creaminess, I'm calling this a dupe for Benefit Watt's Up, which is a HUGE compliment. Plus, these babies are waterproof for anyone who doesn't want to give up their beauty routine - even at the beach.

6. Sally Hansen Extreme Wear Nail Color in Lacey Lilac [$2.99 Here]
Pastels are a perennial summer hit and this poppy lavender shade is so pretty you'll want to douse your fingers and toes in it until the leaves start to change. It's somehow soft and pretty while also being bold and interesting. Hands Nails down, the perfect purple. {You can see me use this shade here}

7. Wet n Wild Nail Color in I Need a Refresh-Mint [$2.29 Here]
If I had to pick one polish color for the rest of my life it would be something like this shade. A great formula, wide salon brush, and an absurdly cheap price make this an essential summer polish. This bright turquoise cream works well with many other shades for summer nail art or on its own for an oceanic splash of color. Buy this! {You can see me use this shade here}

8. Sally Hansen Extreme Wear Nail Color in Coral Reef [$2.99 Here]
When I first bought this I was just looking for a coral polish, no big deal. When I applied it and wore it outside I saw that it was, in fact, a very big deal. This shade is SO pretty in the sunlight it almost makes me angry. It's distractingly pretty. Opaque in one coat, this is a very pink coral that's bright and cheery and just the perfect summer shade. I'm getting mad all over again!

9. Mr. Pumice Bar [$2.79 Here]
This goes hand in hand (foot in foot?) with the Burt's Bees foot cream to create the perfect cocktail of smooth, non-wintery feet. The softer side gently rubs off dry skin, while the coarser side hits your feet with fresh pedicure realness for baby feet-like results. The best pumice I've ever used, ever.

10. ELF Shimmering Facial Whip in Lilac Petal [$1.00 Here]
There's no better time to glow than summer and this cheap-o highlighter is a great way to get there. I dab a bit of this on my cheek bone with a small stipple brush (love the ELF one) for a shimmery summer look and it stays put all day. You only need a tiny amount to make a difference, and what a difference it makes!

11. Suave Dry Shampoo [$2.89 Here]
Dry shampoo would probably be in my holy beauty trinity if such a thing existed, and this very affordable and very effective Suave version has a permanent place on the top shelf in my bathroom. Top shelf, ladies. I reach for this a lot to spruce up my bangs or perk up my roots, and in summer - when sweaty foreheads and humidity blossom - this is essential to looking normal without having to shower multiple times a day. (Duh, not happening. I have makeup on.)

What are you favorite summer beauty products?


Monday, June 9, 2014

COOKING: Homemade Italian Soda

It's like clockwork - every year when it gets sunny and warm, I decide to devote my spring and summer to making refreshing homemade treats like popsicles, ice cream, sorbet and slush with fresh fruits and herbs. I decide on ingredient combos, I make lists, the whole nine, but then it's suddenly the end of summer and I'm lamenting all of the fresh raspberries and mint that I didn't buy at the farmer's market and therefore didn't go into my popsicle molds. Bummer.

This year, I'm dipping my toes (SEASONAL PUN!) by trying out some fun drink recipes. I made these homemade Italian sodas a while back and figured you guys might want to try them too since they're very easy to make (this is more of a "recipe" than a recipe) and very, very good. Check it out!

Club Soda
Flavored Syrup
Cream or Half & Half
Ice Cubes
Whipped Cream & Cherries [optional]

Normally, I'd include measurements for the ingredients in a recipe, but this drink wasn't really an exact science - it was more of a spontaneous concoction. I'll give you approximate measurements, but if you make it yourself, play with the ratios to make it sweeter or less sweet, depending on your tastes.

Start with plenty of ice and about 1/2 cup club soda per drink.

Add 3 TBS flavored syrup to each drink. It should mix quickly to color your club soda. I could only find sugar free raspberry Torani syrup at the time, and unless you like diet-tasting things I wouldn't really recommend it. I've since found regular raspberry Torani (at Stop & Shop for you New Englanders), but I also had luck making this with plain ol' grenadine.

Top each drink off with 1 TBS cream or half & half. Don't mix it in - let it sink down into the red and make colorful drippy designs.

This is optional, but you should probably top these babies off with whipped cream and a cherry because there's really no good reason not to, right?

As you drink it, the half & half will mix with the soda and syrup to make a creamy pink liquid that tastes delicious even though your brain will be all like "ummm, why is there cream in my soda?" but then you'll remember that root beer floats are amazing and all will be right by the second sip when your brain is silenced by the constant slurping of your straw.

Have you ever had Italian Soda? Are you a little creeped out by putting cream in a perfectly good soda? Forget that - why aren't you already drinking this?!


Sunday, May 4, 2014

DIY: Hand Chain Tutorial {2 Ways}

They just keep finding new places to add decoration! The back of your hand?! Yes, please. When I see people wearing these bracelet/ring hybrids (I'm calling it a hand chain) I get all excited, but I don't see them much in stores. Somehow it only now occurred to me to DIY some for myself, a fairly obvious solution. I made it two ways: one is more involved and bulkier, and the other is super simple and understated. Pick your poison and grab your arts and crafts bin, we're doing this!

Method 1: What You Need
Jewelry Pliers  //  E6000 Glue  //  Chain Cutters  //  (Thick-ish) Chain
Blank Ring  //  Pendant with Loop  //  4 Jump Rings  //  Clasp

How To Make It
First thangs first: we need to made the necklace pendant into a ring. This is done by simply gluing the blank ring base to the back of the pendant with the E6000 glue.
Maybe don't pose yours for a picture and it won't drip everywhere.
Press the glue-topped ring base to the pendant and let it dry.

While you wait, measure around your wrist with the chain. Make sure to leave a little wiggle room - wrists love to wiggle. Use the chain cutters to trim the chain to your desired length.

Use the pliers to attach a jump ring to each end and add a clasp to the jump rings. 

Now that we have the bracelet section ready, we want to add 2 more jump rings to the bracelet. These will connect the bracelet to the portion of chain that'll drape over your hand. They should be evenly spaced on top of your wrist (when you have the bracelet on) so try it on to make sure the jump rings sit where you want them. Use the pliers to add the 2 jump rings where you'd like them, but don't close them just yet.

Attach the chain to one jump ring and close it with the pliers. Measure to see how much length you'll need to go from there to the pendant/ring and down to the other jump ring. Cut the length. (Remember - cutting a little extra is cool. You can always trim, but you can't add.)

My ring was dry so I put that on my middle finger and ran the length of chain through the loop in the pendant. The reason I'm using a necklace pendant is because it has this loop - obviously it's meant to be put on a chain for a necklace, but it works just as well here. You'll want to wear it so that the loop is facing your wrist, not your fingertips. (Was that insultingly obvious?)

Next, just attach the free end of the chain to that still-open jump ring and close it up. 

This is how it looks when it's laid out:
'A' for effort. I'll take it - thanks, self!
You're done now. That's it. Show's over...go home. Oh, you want to see it on an actual hand, do you?

Oh yeah! You want to make sure the chain you use will fit in the loop in your pendant.
In action...very still action.
When you wear it, I suggest putting on the ring first and then struggling to clasp the bracelet for five entire minutes before angrily conceding that you will never be able to wear non-bangle bracelets and then letting/forcing your boyfriend to clasp it for you. Very effective.


Okay, so maybe you like this free spirit-esque look, but also want the free spirit-esque lifestyle that just doesn't allow for time-sucking activities like waiting for glue to dry and opening a clasp. Wow, you're really in a rush there, aren't you? Luckily for you, I have a WAY easy solution for you if you can slow down for maybe 120 seconds. Do we have a deal?

Method 2: What You Need
Jewelry Pliers  //  Chain  //  Jump Ring  //  Long Bead

How To Make It
Use the pliers to add a jump ring to the open ends of the chain. This makes a closed loop of chain.

Slide your long bead (so many kinds will work) over the entire chain loop, from the non-jump ring end. Obviously, the bead needs an opening that's wide enough to fit the doubled over chain.

Position the bead close to the top side (away from jump ring). This gives you a vaguely bow tie-shaped situation. Like a bow tie in a fun house mirror. Probably worn by the clown in your nightmares.

That is literally it. I think we have a few of those 120 seconds to spare if you care for a lemonade or something? Okay, maybe another time. Yeah, I'm busy with...friends and stuff.

To put this guy on, insert your hand into the larger section of the "bow tie" so you're wearing the chain around your wrist with the jump ring underneath [A]. Then, slide the bead up and move the bracelet portion up so that the small side of the "bow tie" can reach over the top of your middle finger to wear it like a ring [B]. Side the ring part down, slide the bead down and adjust so the bracelet part sits around your wrist [C]. Picture [D] is the underneath view.

It sounds a bit complicated to put on, but you'll see how intuitive it really is. If you cut the chain on the longer side it will be easier to put on, but it will also move around more when you wear it. I wanted a pretty fitted look and feel, so I have to wiggle it on like this, which is fine since, much like a wrist, I love wiggling. Here's the final look:
A simpler, more understated hand chain.
Are you into hand chains? Do you know what these things are really called? Do you jump at the chance to add decorative jewelry in MORE places, such as myself?


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