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The Blog

Approachable inspiration for a stylish life. 

 

Filtering by Category: Beauty

My Little Pony

Kristen Berry

I’ve never had the kind of luxurious locks that reach halfway down my back. But up until my early twenties, I consistently maintained the same, just beyond shoulder-length hairstyle. No cut, no color, just regular relaxers and semi-consistent trims.

In my early twenties, I took a calculated risk and added bangs. I got addicted to the change those shiny scissors could bring, and got tired of the same old length, and decided to make an even bigger cut. I mean, my hair had always been a decent length. Surely it would grow back. Right?

So I chopped it again. And again. 

But it’s never grown fully back, no matter how hard I’ve tried. And now, in addition to struggling with weak ends, I’m also currently dealing with some breakage around my edges. Once I’ve found a solid solution, I’ll report back. In the meantime, I recently decided to dip a toe into the hair extensions pool.

I purchased this ponytail from Irresistible Me during a recent online sale (which they seem to have frequently!), but the regular price is also quite reasonable ($139 for the 18” length I purchased – also available in 14”, 16”, 20” and 22”). I went with the Natural Black color, which is a deep dark brown with golden undertones, closest to my own hair color.

The hair is super soft and silky, is incredibly easy to install, and simple to style. It is comprised of a single piece, with a comb and a ribbon attached, which you can tie into a bow or elect to hide. I put my own hair into a semi-high pony, installed the extension by slipping the comb just above the base of mine, wrapped the ribbon around the base, tied it securely multiple times, and hid the ends of the ribbon with bobby pins. I wrapped a section of hair around the base, and also secured it with pins. Before I installed the extension, I curled the ends a bit with a wand to give it a bit of movement.

It’s such a quick and easy way of changing up my look, and does so without causing damage to my own delicate hair.

Do you use extensions to add variety to your look, too?

Kristen

My New L.A.-Inspired Glowy Skincare Routine

Kristen Berry

It has been quite a while since I posted a new makeup tutorial. This is due to a few factors:

  1. When I relocated from the SF Bay Area to L.A., I was living out of a handful of suitcases while everything else was hidden away in storage, including the bulk of my non-essential cosmetics. Once I was reunited with the remainder of my makeup collection, I realized I rarely reached for much of it, and kind of enjoyed the simplicity of my pared-down, essentials-only makeup kit.

  2. I’m still in the process of settling into my new-ish apartment, and haven’t landed on a solid “studio” area just yet for filming.

  3. Now that I’m in L.A., the epicenter of the effortless, glowing no-makeup-makeup look, I’m increasingly inspired to focus less on elaborate face painting, and more on achieving beautiful skin.

So I’ve been experimenting with my skincare routine. This of course takes time, both in proving whether the new products work over the long-term, and finding the right balance of products to create my happiest skin.

I can confidently say I’ve landed on a new routine that’s working great for me, and has made a noticeable difference in my complexion. Below are the current products that I’m loving right now.

Herbivore Botanicals Travel Set for Combination / Oily Skin

Herbivore Botanicals’ all-natural, gorgeously packaged skincare products have been lauded by some of my favorite magazines, blogs and Instagram stars for a few years now, and I’ve been dying to try them. But they have so many amazing-sounding goodies that I didn’t know where to start.

When I came across their well-priced travel-sized set for folks with combination/oily skin like me, I knew I found my ideal entry item. The set comes equipped with several of their popular products – their Lapis Facial Oil, Rose Hibiscus Face Mist and Bamboo Charcoal Face and Body Soap.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that this little set goes a long way – I’ve been using the products every day since the end of January, and still have about a month to go before I’ll use them all up.

I’m in love with this charcoal soap. It has a gorgeous lightweight lather, and makes my skin feel fully cleansed without drying it out. And the Rose Hibiscus Face Mist is like a spa in a bottle. It’s a lightly scented instant shot of refreshing hydration. It’s definitely not designed to be a moisturizer-replacer, and is probably the product that feels the least as though it makes a noticeable difference in my skin, but it’s a wonderful pampering experience. I bet it’s also killer after a long, skin-drying flight.

I’ve been dubious about the whole facial oil thing, given the already oily nature of my skin – even though I’ve heard for some time that using the right oils can actually be incredibly beneficial for someone with my skin type, and help to create the right, healthy oil balance. I’ve found that to be incredibly true for the Lapis Facial Oil. This product was especially formulated for combo/oily skin types, and is designed to reduce redness and clarify the complexion. The product is made from pure plant oils, and it makes my skin feel comfortably, lightly hydrated without clogging my pores.  

Rather than buying all of these products separately, I fully plan to re-purchase this exact same set when it runs out. It has become an essential step in my go-to skincare routine.

Herbivore Botanicals Travel Set for Combination / Oily Skin, $48 at HerbivoreBotanicals.com.

Caudalie Polyphenol C15 Anti-Wrinkle Eye & Lip Cream

I’m pretty fortunate when it comes to the whole undereye area. I’ve never really suffered from undereye bags or darkness or wrinkles (knock on wood). But now that I’m in my thirties, I feel like taking preventative measures might be a good idea. And I have begun to notice a bit of dryness in this sensitive spot.

A Sephora sales consultant recommended that I try the Caudalie Polyphenol C15 Anti-Wrinkle Eye & Lip Cream. He said that it’s lightweight and hydrating, helps to smooth, moisturize and gently brighten the area, and sinks into the skin for easy makeup application. I’m nearly done with my first tube, and have been pleased to find that everything the consultant said was totally true.

Of course, while I only purchased this product in early February, and I’m already falling in love with it, it’s already been discontinued (though it’s still currently available in limited quantities on Amazon.com). Though given my experience with this product, I’m planning to try another Caudalie eye cream next.

Caudalie Polyphenol C15 Anti-Wrinkle Eye & Lip Cream, $37 on Amazon.com.

Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment

While completing another recent Sephora purchase, I elected to put a few of my Rewards points toward a sample of Sunday Riley’s Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment. I’ve heard quite a bit about Sunday Riley’s products (and their luxury price points), and I’ve been curious.

I Googled the product that night, and was immediately floored by the price for a full-size bottle – $105 for a single ounce. I balked. I proclaimed that such a price was against everything I stood for. I searched online for dupes.

And then I tried it.

Good Genes is billed as a powerful exfoliator that brightens skin, smooths fine lines, and reduces hyperpigmentation to reveal a more youthful complexion. A major skin-related annoyance of mine is post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation – dark spots that linger on my skin long after my blemishes themselves have faded. It’s one of the primary reasons why I reach for my MAC foundation on a daily basis. While I’ve tried a number of over-the-counter products to treat this over the years, nothing has really seemed to speed up this healing process.

After just two nights of using my itty-bitty Sephora sample of Good Genes, I already noticed a difference in my skin. My old spots were fading, and my overall complexion appeared smoother, and more luminous. In short, this stuff WORKS.

A little also goes a long way – it’s pretty powerful stuff, and I’ve started to use it just every other evening. My tiny little sample is still going strong after more than a week of use. The smell is pretty unpleasant – strong and chemical-y – but for something this effective, I’ll suffer through it (it also fades pretty quickly). I decided this was one splurge I’d be willing to make – I bought a full-size bottle this afternoon.

Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment, $105 at Sephora.com.

What are your current skincare faves?

Boka’s Dental Care Subscription is Something to Smile About

Kristen Berry

There’s a subscription box for everything these days. Yet while it’s easier to dismiss those for products you simply want, such as new jewelry or trendy clothing items, the model makes particular sense for things you actually need and use every day – like dental care products.

Which is why I was eager to try the subscription box from Boka. But before I get to the practicality of this idea, let me tell you about the fun stuff. Boka specializes in natural products to keep your smile sparkling, including chemical-free toothpaste, an all-natural breath freshener (more on that later), and a beeswax-coated dental floss.

The toothbrush also includes the beauty/skincare equivalent of the cold shoulder trend – activated charcoal. While the American Dental Association has not yet pointed to proven benefits of using this agent in your teeth cleaning regimen, activated charcoal has been cited as reducing odor-causing bacteria naturally, which is never a bad thing. Boka also notes that the smaller head of their toothbrush is designed to more easily reach the nooks and crannies of your mouth. The first time I used it, I instantly realized that the Oral-B Pulsar toothbrush I’ve been purchasing for years barely reaches my back molars. It also uses softer bristles than I’m accustomed to – Boka notes that many of us inadvertently cause damage to our mouths due to over-brushing. Brushing your teeth with Boka’s brush feels like a lovely gum massage.

Also, it’s pretty. Seriously, this is the first set of dental care products I’ve come across that I’ve been excited to share on Instagram. While this isn’t exactly crucial to keeping your teeth clean, if you’re a visual person like I am, enjoying the entire experience can definitely help encourage you to keep up a healthy routine.

Despite all I’ve heard about the importance of using natural beauty/skincare/wellness products, I must admit that I have in no way shied away from including chemicals in my everyday routine. I’m always a bit skeptical of natural alternatives – sure, it might be “better” for me, but will it actually work?

I was pleasantly surprised by Boka’s toothpaste – while it doesn’t have the whitening agents I usually look for in a toothpaste, it has a deliciously minty taste, and keeps my mouth feeling fresh just as long as my typical drugstore brand.

The natural breath freshener I mentioned above, called “Cocorinse,” also intrigued me, largely because it uses the ancient oil-pulling method recently popularized by folks like Gwyneth Paltrow.  Oil-pulling essentially consists of swishing oil in your mouth for an extended period of time (like, ten or more minutes) to reduce bacteria that can lead to cavities, whiten teeth and freshen breath without the use of harsh chemicals. Boka’s Cocorinse product comes packaged in smart, single-serving pouches containing coconut, peppermint and spearmint oils. You’re instructed to warm the packet in your hands to help turn the oils into more of a palatable liquid, then squeeze it into your mouth, and swish for ten minutes, ahead of brushing first thing in the morning.

So, I’m glad I had the chance to try this whole oil-pulling thing, but – no offense to the folks at Boka – the overall practice just isn’t for me. While I warmed the product in my hands and under the tap, the oils didn’t fully liquefy before I squeezed it into my mouth, which wasn’t entirely pleasant – though it did turn to liquid fairly quickly shortly thereafter. Also, ten minutes feels like a long time to swish anything around in your mouth, though doing so as I showered definitely helped the time pass. The aftertaste was subtly minty, but didn’t pack that chemically-enhanced, longer-lasting freshness that I must admit I prefer.

Luckily, Boka offers customizable subscriptions, so you can include as much or as little Cocorinse in your every-three-month box as you like. I find the subscriptions to be quite reasonably-priced, at $16 paid each quarter. And the frequency of the deliveries is one of the most genius aspects of this product. It’s easy to keep forgetting to buy floss, or to remember to replace your toothbrush as regularly as your doctor would like. Because Boka’s product is delivered right to your door, it’s like getting a pleasant, pretty reminder to update your dental game.

Have you tried any natural dental care products? If so, what are your faves?

The Drugstore Polish That *Actually* Lasts a Full Week

Kristen Berry

I’ve never been the kind of girl who can wear a standard, self-applied, drugstore polish manicure for more than a day or two before it becomes hopelessly, embarrassingly chipped.

Maybe it’s because my nails are dry and brittle and flaky. Maybe it’s because I’m always rummaging blindly in my purse for my keys or my lipgloss. Whatever the reason, I can’t be bothered to paint my nails these days if there isn’t a special occasion involved – not because I like the look of my nude, aforementioned dry/brittle/flaky nails, but because I can’t stand repainting them every couple of days.

When I heard that Essie – my go-to nail polish brand – released a line of lacquer that lasts up to 14 days, without requiring a UV lamp to set it or harsh chemicals to remove it, I had to put it to the test.

  Essie Gel Couture Polish in    Touch Up   , $11.50 at Target.com; Essie Gel Couture    Top Coat   , $11.50 at Target.com.

Essie Gel Couture Polish in Touch Up, $11.50 at Target.com; Essie Gel Couture Top Coat, $11.50 at Target.com.

I purchased a bottle of the new Essie Gel Couture polish line in “Touch Up,” a beautiful, neutral, pinky mauve shade, as well as bottle of the corresponding top coat. I painted my nails using my typical routine: one layer of a standard clear base coat, followed by two coats of the Gel Couture color polish, followed by a layer of the Gel Couture top coat, with 2-5 minutes between coats.

I painted my nails on a Wednesday night. And they remained perfect through Thursday. And Friday. And Saturday. And Sunday....

I was dumbfounded. I treated my nails exactly the same as always, doing dishes, rooting through my purse, etc. And even when I closely examined my my nails four full days later, I found zero chips or dings or imperfections of any kind. The only other time I’ve experienced this is when I’ve sprung for a pricey shellac manicure at a salon – but they’re not great for your nails, and require soaking your nails in harsh acetone to remove the varnish.

I didn’t spot any blemishes until Monday – one noticeable chip on my right pinkie, and the polish was beginning to grow out slightly from the cuticle under close inspection. By Tuesday, I noticed small micro chips at the tips of some of my nails, though thanks to the neutral color I selected, it wasn’t very noticeable. By Wednesday, I noticed more visible peeling from the cuticle, and additional small chips at the tips of my nails. But this was day 8 – day 8 of my mani with the Essie Gel Couture line looked like day 4 with my standard drugstore polish.

Bottom line – I’m in love. Sure, the range didn’t last a full 14 days on my nails before I was ready to remove it, but the same goes for my shellac manicures. By day 10 my shellac polish is so incredibly grown out that I can’t stand it any more. And when I remove the Gel Couture product, my nails feel just as healthy as when I remove a standard polish – when I remove a shellac manicure, my nails always feel stripped, rough and ultra-dry.

If you’re looking for a long-lasting nail polish at a drugstore price, I highly recommend the Essie Gel Couture system. I’m running out to buy a handful of new shades right now.

– Kristen

May Faves (2016)

Kristen Berry

It’s that time again! From a punchy pout to my go-to YouTube yoga guru, here’s a quick rundown of the various awesomeness I’ve been digging lately.

  Yoga with Adriene, Free on    YouTube.com .

Yoga with Adriene, Free on YouTube.com.

As I recently shared, I’ve ditched the gym and haven’t looked back, favoring at home workouts via YouTube instead. I’ve found a number of fine cardio replacements, but still ventured to a studio for my regular yoga fix. That is until my pal MK pointed me in the direction of the Yoga with Adriene channel on YouTube. Adriene offers a wide variety of tutorials for yogis of all experience levels, whether you have five minutes or an hour to spare for your practice. She’s incredibly down to earth and funny, making every online class fun, approachable and enjoyable. Adriene encourages her viewers not to take the whole yoga thing too seriously, to allow themselves to explore the practice that’s best for them, and to grow stronger without unnecessary pressures or comparisons to the practices of others. Her classes are always the best way to start my day.

  “Another Round” Podcast, FREE on    iTunes .

“Another Round” Podcast, FREE on iTunes.

This month’s podcast shoutout (because apparently this has become a monthly thing) goes out to Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton, the ladies behind “Another Round.” These smart and funny women tackle topics including pop culture, race, and gender as well as the latest in hilarious animal news (courtesy of “Tracy’s Animal Corner”). They also regularly feature a slew of impressive guests, from Lena Dunham to Lin-Manuel Miranda (creator and star of “Hamilton”) to Melissa Harris-Perry. Beware before you listen to this podcast at the office, though – I’ve been known to explode in uncontrollable laughter thanks to these two.

  NYX Matte Lipstick in Indie Flick, $6 at    Target.com   .

NYX Matte Lipstick in Indie Flick, $6 at Target.com.

I’ve already found my go-to, pared-down makeup look for summer: smooth glowy skin, a flushed cheek, loads of mascara and a punchy lip, no eyeshadow, no eyeliner. It’s fresh and youthful, and it also shaves several minutes from my makeup routine. With a bold color like NYX’s Indie Flick, that vivid pop is all you need to make a statement. I love the matte finish of this shade, and somehow the formula isn’t drying the way many other matte lip products often are. I also adore the simple, sturdy packaging, which clicks satisfyingly as you snap the cap into place. All of these elements give this lipstick a feeling that’s so much more luxurious than its $6 price tag.

  You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, by Jen Sincero, $25 at    Audible.com   .

You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, by Jen Sincero, $25 at Audible.com.

You are a Badass isn’t a self-help book so much as it is a funny and affectionate must-needed kick in the pants. Jen Sincero’s book is all about facing and annihilating the fears, doubts, and self-destructive behaviors that keep so many of us from living our lives to the fullest. Sincero approaches career, money and relationship subjects the way your wittiest, wisest, most sharp-tongued and no-nonsense friend might. I’m keeping this audiobook on my iPhone for easy access any time I need a good pep talk, a reminder that I’m capable of so much more than I realize, or the reassurance that I have the power to completely transform my world by willing it so – and by putting in the necessary work.

What are you loving this month?

- Kristen