Done and Dusted Product Review – YSL Touche Éclat All Over Brightening Pen

The empty product.

Hi all – back with a very quick “done and dusted” product review. This is on the *eponymous* YSL touche éclat brightening pen. This pen is a “cult favorite” per Sephora’s website and I’ve purchased this a few times over the past 15 years. I have to say, this will be my last time and I don’t recommend it for others in my age group. While the packaging is beautiful and functional (and it should be for the price) the product no longer suits my skincare needs.

This is somewhat of a hybrid product, crossing between a concealer and highlighter stick. I mainly use it under my eyes for brightening and concealing purposes. It is very lightweight and goes on very nicely and blends beautifully, and it has a nice consistency. While it has some good elements, I think that if YSL would formulate this product as one or the other (concealer or highlighter) it would make for a better product overall. While the consistency is great, it doesn’t provide enough coverage concealer wise or enough highlight to make it worthwhile. I may have liked it more when I was younger because my skin was different and doesn’t require the, ahem, ~upkeep~ it now requires. However, I have always felt that this product leaves something to be desired, and I am finally putting my foot down. This will be my final purchase of this product!

Bottom line: This $38.00 hybrid product just isn’t worth it for me. I have a bigger need for concealer under my eyes than highlighter at this point. If you don’t have dark circles/ bags, then this may work for you! An added bonus- this pen will last a very long time (I purchased this one in November of 2018 !). I still think there are probably better products for way less. I do think that YSL makes a more concealer heavy version, but at this point, I’m ready to move on, and keep using my Covergirl concealer until it runs out.

Price: $38.00

Repurchase: No

Why: Cost, product effectiveness , skincare needs

The Easiest Way to Save BIG On Rugs

Hi all-

A few days ago I posted a few stories about how to find expensive rugs (and other products) for way less. I got a ton of messages so, today, I am going to write about how you can do this. It could not be any easier, and you would be crazy NOT to do this before purchasing decor for your home.

I came about this method as I was researching rugs to buy for our home. I read that Pottery Barn rugs aren’t the best quality, and that is somewhat surprising given the price point of their items (although not surprising to me personally because I think most of their stuff is cheaply made). Further, I also read that Pottery Barn resells rugs that you can find elsewhere for a fraction of the price. Pottery Barn is not the only offender in this scheme!

So, how do you find a rug for less?

It’s simple. It’s called “Reverse Image Search” and it basically just means you search the image itself vs. searching by a title or the name of a product. Brands will rename items to differentiate them, so it can be difficult to find the “dupes.”

How do you Reverse Image Search? It’s all of three steps. 1. Open Google Images search bar on one tab of your browser. 2. Drag the selected image of the item you are searching into the Google Images Tab and 3. Hit Search! It couldn’t be easier. An even easier way? If you have a Mac, you can right click on the image and hit, “Search Google Image.” You will get a lot of random results sometimes because Google is literally searching the image. You may have to do a little bit of digging, but wow is it worth it!

I am going to share some of my best finds below. Happy shopping!

If you’re interested in the above rug, it’s linked here.

I think it’s pretty nice for a printed rug. $674 at Pottery Barn vs. $209 at Overstock.

McGee & Co does this too with their rugs. Maybe not quite as bad as an of offender as Pottery Barn but you can find almost all of their rugs on other sites.

This is another pretty rug – feminine with warm colors. If you’re interested in getting on the waitlist, Wayfair is excellent about notifications for in stock items. Check out the Wayfair option here.

This next item a hand-knotted rug by Erin Gates. I actually really love it, but with having a dog I honestly doubt we will ever buy a hand-knotted rug. Just look at the price difference. At McGee & Co it’s $4,025. At Wayfair, it’s $1,399.99. Click here for the Wayfair version and add yourself to the waitlist! As a side note, we do have a rug in this Erin Gates brand (indoor/outdoor), and we love it.

Back to Pottery Barn. Here’s another one I had saved and found for much cheaper. $359.00 vs $109.00. Add to your wishlist/ in stock reminder here.

I love the above rug and was *this* close to buying it from Pottery Barn (we are looking for a new rug for our bedroom). Just look at the price difference (not to mention the fact that Overstock offers free shipping)! If you are interested in checking out this rug (I think ALL the colors are beautiful) click here.

Moving on to every blogger’s favorite home decor store- Serena & Lily. I will say that the hand knotted rugs on Serena & Lily appear to not be mass produced, as I could not find many dupes there. I am also not looking to spend $6,000 on an area rug from Serena & Lily tbh, so it all works out. I did find a dupe pretty easily though, and it’s a style I actually love – jute. Unfortunately, jute/ sisal/ other natural fibers do not work great with pets, because the weave is much looser and the natural fiber absorbs dirt/ stains/ etc.

If you love this rug, you can check it out on Rugs.com here. Personally, I love everything about this – can go in any room, with most types of furniture and adds nice texture and warmth. If we didn’t have a dog, this would be at the top of my list. Also, I actually have ordered from rugs.com before and had no issues, even though the website itself leaves something to be desired.

So there you have it – a few finds and favorites from my rug search. I believe this also happens with furniture from various retailers, so be sure to use the image search function as you are looking at home decor!

Kayaking the Upper Cuyahoga River

If anyone is looking for a fun socially distant summer activity, I highly recommend kayaking! There are lots of places to kayak in the northeast Ohio area, including the Upper Cuyahoga River. I’ve been kayaking in this area half a dozen times or so, during different seasons, and it’s always lovely. My mom started taking my sister and I to this area when we were young and I’ve been going ever since!

If you don’t own a kayak, there are a variety of places you can rent kayaks from along the Cuyahoga. Ryan and I actually have an inflatable kayak which worked great on our recent trip to North Carolina. However, because the Cuyahoga is very rocky/shallow in certain areas, we ended up renting some from Burning River Adventures. We’ve rented kayaks from this company before, and we felt safe with the social distancing precautions they had in place. Burning River Adventures also provides shuttling and drop offs if you do own your own kayak.

Ryan organized our excursion as a birthday gift for his Dad, and it was so fun. We had perfect weather and it was beautiful out. Birds were chirping, dragonflies humming, and the cicadas whirred as we floated down the river. You do not need kayaking experience to head out and paddle the Cuyahoga. It is slow paced with a few “rough” spots of water, but you mostly just glide with the (2 mph) current the entire time. As I mentioned before, the water is shallow in some parts, so you can get stuck! Just push with your paddles and scoot your way out if this happens.

We rented kayaks and did the 4.5 mile trip. I would love to do the longer 10 mile trip next time.

Some beautiful flowers near the river.
A serene setting.
👋🏻

We rented sit on top kayaks which I love. They’re much more comfortable than traditional sea kayaks in my opinion, and much more open. This leaves you exposed to the elements so they wouldn’t be ideal in open water or inclement weather, but for a slow paced trip down the river, they were perfect.

Debbie and Gregg paddling along.
📸 by Ryan

There are also some other great areas to kayak in the greater CLE area.

  • 41 Degrees North Kayak Adventures – kayaking rentals and tours out of Rocky River. My mom and I did the Lake Erie sunset tour years ago and it was amazing!
  • Hinckley Lake – another great spot for any skill level. You can rent kayaks through the Metroparks here.
  • LaDue Reservoir – a big reservoir with lots of nooks and crannies to paddle around. I love that this company gives you a sizable discount on rentals if you help keep the area tidy while out paddling- check out Breakaway Excursions, here.
  • The Metroparks has additional rental options on their website. They usually have special outings but unfortunately have scaled back this year.
  • River Cruiser Kayaks offers a couple of unique routes – one of which ends up downtown.
  • More Upper Cuyahoga River rentals through Camp Hi. Camp Hi also offers canoe rentals as well as pavilions and campgrounds.
Camp Hi started as a camp back in the 1930s – photo c/o Camp Hi website

Kayaking is a beautiful way to spend a few hours and it felt so peaceful. I think getting out in nature is always so good for the mind, body and soul, especially in the craziness that is 2020! What other activities do you think would be fun? Leave some ideas in the comments below!

Orvieto, Italy

Today, I am sharing some photos and snippets from our short visit to Orvieto, Italy. If you didn’t read my blog posts on Florence or Praiano, Ryan and I went on a two week trip to Italy last fall. It was the kind of trip that you spend months dreaming about before, and years dreaming about afterwards. I still think of this trip regularly, and cannot recommend a stop in Orvieto enough. I know that traveling to Italy and much of the world is impossible right now, but it has been amazing to revisit these trips through photos and memories. There will come a time when it is safe to explore, and when that time comes, I know Italy will again be at the top of our list.

Orvieto is a small town in the Umbria region in central(ish) Italy. We wanted to visit this town for a number of reasons. First of all, it was in a convenient location for us, having not rented a car. It is right off the train in between Florence and Rome, so logistically, it was a no brainer. Secondly, Orvieto is a very unique town with so much history. Founded by the Etruscans (or perhaps even an earlier civilization), it sits on top of a cliff in the middle of one of the most beautiful regions in the world. It is truly stunning to behold.

The town is very small and easily walkable. To enter the city, you can either take the funicular up to the top or walk up from a number of roads, however, I do not recommend this. It is an extremely steep and challenging walk and there are no sidewalks for pedestrians until you reach the very top, at which point, you may be covered in sweat, blood and tears (just me?). If you are renting a car, there is ample parking once you make your way up the winding roads to the top. Although the town is small, there is plenty to do. We visited the Orvieto Cathedral which was incredible, saw ancient underground caves, ate delicious food, and walked all around town. We also did an incredible sunset bike tour, where we learned all about the history of Orvieto and enjoyed spectacular views along the way.

We had two full days in Orvieto which was amazing. I think three would be even better, but you probably don’t need too much more time if you are just hoping to get a sense of what a small Umbrian town is like. If you have more time, I encourage you to stay even longer and see everything it has to offer.

Things to do in Orvieto:

Visit the Duomo. The Cathedral in Orvieto is breathtaking, especially when you consider it was built in the Middle Ages (starting in the 1300s) on top of a giant cliff. The church has a striped basalt facade with beautiful frescos inside. It is reminiscent of other churches in Italy, including the cathedral in Siena. The exterior, especially the sculpture and marble work, is exquisite.

The stunning exterior. It had just drizzled, hence the water droplets on my camera.
Detail of the interior. The beautiful carvings, the interior gate, and frescoes. Swoon!
Detail of tile work. I love this pattern and the colors so much.
The magnificent organ. How?!

Because of the town’s strategic location (and topography) between Rome and Florence, it became popular with Popes during the 13th and 14th Century. Several papal palaces were built and various Popes sought refuge in the town during wartime. It became a Papal State until 1860 – when Italy as we know it was formally created.

A look at the Cathedral from atop a Bell Tower. The beautiful surrounding countryside beckons.

Climb the bell tower for the most beautiful views! The bell tower is in the center of town and is a fairly easy climb. Enjoy beautiful vistas with rolling countryside and farms as far as eye can see.

The view from the bell tower. This is what dreams are made of!
While it was upper 70s and low 80s in Praiano, it was mid 60s in Orvieto!
The Bell Tower we climbed.

Visit the underground caves: This sounds pretty mundane, but hear me out. Orvieto has a massive system of over 1200 underground caves, passages, labyrinths, etc. Back in ancient times, the caves served as means for rich folks to escape siege or conflicts. In fact, most homes/ buildings in Orvieto have their own personal wine cellars built under ground. On our second night, we enjoyed a feast at a local restaurant and the owner took us underground to check out his cellar, stocked with his family’s own wine! Sidebar: Orvieto also has it’s own distinct white wine, which we found delicious.

Holes that used to keep pigeons. Pigeons were used for messaging hundreds of years ago.

Walk around town! This should be a given, but walk around and take in the ancient and rustic alleyways of Orvieto without any plans. When we visited it was not crowded at all. We had some gelato as we strolled, admiring the sites and beautiful buildings at our own pace.

The beautiful streets of Orvieto.
Beautiful carved door.

Visit and Have Dinner at La Badia di Orvieto: We actually stayed in this hotel during our time in Orvieto. I would NOT recommend staying here as it is removed from town (amongst other reasons) and it ended up being difficult to get back and forth during our few days here. Learn from us, stay in town, save money, and spend more time exploring! Now, all that being said, the hotel and surrounding area itself was breathtaking and I think it is completely worth it to go visit during your stay. We also enjoyed an amazing dinner here, so I would definitely add it to your to do to list if you are in the area.

On our first day we arrived, it was drizzling a little bit and we walked into town. As noted above, I do NOT recommend doing this, but, it ended up being an amazing day. We had a glass of wine on the main square and saw the Cathedral. After a few hours, we went back to the hotel, via one of two town taxis, and were greeted by one of the most incredible sunsets I have ever seen.

The town is in the distance under the arch.
The sky changed dramatically from one moment to the next.
This is kind of how I pictured Umbria. Cyprus trees, olive groves, hills and mist rising from the green valleys

Have lunch at Antica Bottega del Duomo. We had lunch here and it was one of my favorite meals on our whole trip. It is a small deli type of place and we enjoyed some of the most delectable sandwiches ever. Friendly service and family owned with very reasonable price points. I highly recommend.

Bike Tour: If I could recommend doing one activity in Orvieto, it would be this night time bike tour. We found this last minute on AirBNB and it was one of the most memorable nights we had (on any trip we have been on). I cannot recommend this tour enough. Paolo took us all over the city where we were able to take in incredible views and learn about Oriveto’s storied past. We stopped at churches, cycled through residential neighborhoods, and ended the night with a fantastic dinner at a small restaurant. Paolo had invited some Italian friends to join us for dinner, so it ended up being a fun group. We had course after course of amazing local cuisine, homemade in the restaurant (our server’s grandma cooked for us). Each course came paired with wine and our server explained the significance of each dish. We had pasta, truffles, rabbit, roasted duck, cured meats, cheeses of every variety, and more. I loved everything, especially the chocolate torte. Our stomachs and hearts were completely full by the end of the night and we are so thankful we were able to experience the magic of Orvieto at night.

We rode around the perimeter of Orvieto, and were able to see our hotel from afar!
At the end of our bike tour, Paolo offered to take a pic. A rare photo op with us both!

Even though Ryan and I only stayed in Orvieto for two nights, it has a special place in our heart. We would definitely go back and loved every minute of our stay. There are soooo many amazing small towns in Italy, I would love to see many more some day.

I am slowly but surely working on my fourth and final Italy post- Rome. Until then, stay safe everyone!

Cocktails 101: Spicy Palomas

Hi all! This past Friday I posted a cocktail on my Instagram stories and got several messages, so I thought I may as well let you know how I made it. It could not be any easier and Ryan and I both thought they were refreshing and delicious (and tasted like a fancy cocktail from a restaurant, remember those?).

We will be making these all summer long (once it finally arrives!) . If you don’t like spice, I would recommend omitting the jalapeños. Try adding in some fruit slices instead – oranges, strawberry, mango, etc. Now is the time to get creative!

Ingredients (for one drink):

  • Tequila (one shot glass full)
  • Lime juice (3/4 of a shot glass)
  • Simple syrup (1-2 tsps)
  • Sliced jalapeños- I used 1-2 slices per drink and they were pretty spicy (I have a moderate- high spice tolerance)
  • Grapefruit LaCroix (1/3 can) – feel free to use any flavor or juice you have on hand!
  • Ice – I used ~4 normal sized cubes

Put your ice in a glass. Add tequila, lime juice and simple syrup. Stir to combine. Add jalapeños and stir again, trying to muddle the jalapeños as you stir. The muddling is not super important because the peppers will impart a lot of flavor naturally. Top off your drink with Grapefruit LaCroix (although I think any flavor would be good). That’s it! Enjoy!

Cheers!

Spring, or April Fool’s?

Good morning and happy weekend everyone!

What a weird spring it has been. Aside from COVID affecting every aspect of normal life, we’ve also had some really weird weather in Northeast Ohio this month. We went from almost 70 degrees to snow overnight! It’s almost as if Mother Nature knows *something* is up and is throwing her hat in the ring too!

That said, I can’t complain at all. I’ve been walking outside every single day (multiple times a day) and have really enjoyed being able to see all the spring blooms and shoots sprouting up from the frosty earth. Even my morning walk in the recent snowfall (on April 16th 😭) was peaceful and beautiful. I feel extremely lucky that I am healthy and able to experience the beauty of the season, more so than in past years.

Here are some shots from walking around the neighborhood these past few weeks! These are all on an iPhone 📱 so nothing too remarkable from a photography perspective, however I enjoyed noticing little bits of beauty, rays of sunshine, and other things I may have missed in years gone by when I wasn’t getting outside as much this time of year.

Our lovely little street. This day was perfect weather wise!
This house is on a street we walk by frequently. I love the symmetry (shocker) and the little dormer windows. What a beautiful home!
My two favorites on one of our regular routes.
Happy daffies!
Blossoming beginnings

Same tree as above but in full bloom!

Snowy morning April 16th, 2020
This house ☺️

I hope that you’re having a great weekend and spring season, staying healthy and safe. Cheers to warmer, sunnier days ahead!

Easy Filling Breakfast Hash

Back with another quick, filling recipe for my readers. This one comes from the “Always Hungry?” book I wrote about in my smoothie post. This recipe is great for breakfast/ brunch but we’ve also had it for lunch and dinner as well! It couldn’t be easier and it’s so filling.

And the recipe is: Black Bean Tofu Hash. To some readers this might sound delicious, to others (like myself), it might sound more like, “ew, beans and tofu?” I too was a skeptic but we’ve had this recipe at least half a dozen times in the last two months and it really is delicious. I had only ever had tofu sparingly in the past, but I’ve been buying it on each grocery trip (or grocery delivery) these days.

I love this recipe because it’s quick, feels hearty, and is inexpensive to boot. Like all great recipes you can easily modify it 😆 and add to it based on what you have in your kitchen.

This is basically all you need!

Let’s get to it! Without further ado, here’s the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 block of extra firm tofu (or whatever firmness you prefer) well drained/ pressed*
  • 1 clove of garlic (or more if you are a fellow garlic lover) minced or microplane-d (I think I just made that a verb)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 can of black beans drained and rinsed
  • Southwest seasoning (we made our own blend using 1 tbps Chili powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp chipotle, 1 tbsp Cumin, and a dash of salt)
  • Toppings: cheddar cheese, scallions, cilantro, sour cream, taco sauce (go nuts here!)

How to make it:

  • Start by heating the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds or so. Yum… the smell of garlic and olive oil is just the best.
  • Add the tofu, crumbling it with your fingers as it goes into the pan. It will kind of resemble ground meat at this point. Stir around for another minute.
  • I add about 3/4 of my seasoning at this point, stirring to make sure all the tofu is coated.
  • Dump in the can of black beans and stir. Add the rest of the seasoning.
  • Let the mixture sit over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until the flavors meld together.
  • That’s it. Scoop it into a bowl and enjoy. Yes, you’re literally done except for toppings!
Doesn’t look like much but it’ll taste great!

I love to top this with cilantro (the original recipe calls for adding into the mixture whilst in the pan, but I like the fresher taste of it on top) or scallions. I would also recommend using sour cream or cheese to get in some fat as the rest of the ingredients have no fat, except the tsp of olive oil. You could also add some taco sauce or salsa!

This recipe makes four servings and it keeps really well for next day consumption :). I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do! If you haven’t used tofu before #tofubie (tofu + newbie, no, just me?), I think you should give it a chance. It’s a great substitute for meat and takes on the delicious flavors of this dish – the more garlic the better! Honestly I do not think ground chicken or turkey would taste any better in this dish, but if you have those on hand you could substitute as needed and they would work well.

*Editor’s note: I wrapped our tofu in a dish towel and set a pan on top of it for ~20 min to get more liquid out, but I normally don’t have time to do this and just press as much water out as I can with a dish towel or paper towel. The joys of the weekend hours!

One Skillet Wonder Dinner

Hi friends!

Today I’m sharing a tried and true recipe that Ryan and I absolutely love. The original recipe is from Chelsy’s Messy Apron, linked here.

Almost done!

With current social distancing measures in place, Ryan and I have been eating every meal at home (obviously). This adds up to a lot more dishes than we have ever had! Seriously, every day, there is a stockpile of dishes waiting to be rinsed (and yes, we do have a dishwasher which we are running daily).

I love this recipe for many reasons: it’s easy, cheesy, delicious, adaptable comfort food and, the kicker…. it only requires one pan! We have made this dish a LOT (it’s pinned to our “Favorite Recipes” board) and everyone seems to love it. It’s super filling and soooo easy – the perfect meal for when you just really don’t feel like cooking.

As I mentioned above, it’s also easily adaptable to different dietary restrictions or preferences. We substituted Banza elbow pasta (made entirely from chickpeas) for normal elbow pasta. You can also include chipotle peppers, bell peppers, or any other items you may need to use up in your fridge! You can make this as spicy or mild as you want, depending on the salsa and taco sauce you use.

If you have kids it could be a fun recipe to have them help out with, and it’s sure to please the pickiest of palates.

Without further ado – here is the recipe that we have modified a bit along the way.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef (could also use ground turkey/chicken, tofu, or even a few cans of beans!)
  • 1 cup of salsa (or a can of tomatoes with some spices and scallions would work too!)
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 1-2 (or more) cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 cup of taco sauce
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • Taco seasoning – you can buy a premixed packet or make your own! We made our own using 1 tbps chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp chipotle powder and 1/2 tsp salt. Yum!
  • 2 cups of elbow pasta (or other small shaped pasta). We used Banza pasta.*
  • 1- 2 cups shredded cheese (we erred on the generous side here)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • Toppings: Sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt), scallions, cilantro, etc.

  1. Start by browning the ground beef (or substitution) in your skillet over medium heat. This should take around 4-7 minutes depending on the amount and type of meat you use.
  2. Remove beef from stove and drain (I skipped this step so it is technically optional and saves additional dishes #lazyAF)
  3. Add your onion and garlic to the pan with the ground beef. Sauté for a minute or two over medium heat.
  4. Add in your taco seasoning and stir so everything gets evenly coated.
  5. Add in the corn, taco sauce, and salsa. Stir so everything is well combined.
  6. Add in the pasta and 1 cup of water and stir to combine.
  7. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat and then reduce heat to low or medium-low and simmer, covered, for 5-7 minutes. If you are using a nonstick skillet, you’ll need to stir the mixture every two minutes or so.
  8. Remove the cover and add in the last cup of water, again, stirring to combine everything. Cover again and continue to cook for an additional 5-7 minutes.
  9. Turn off the heat and stir. Add in the shredded cheese and stir until it’s all melted and delicious 😋.
  10. Serve in a bowl with your favorite toppings!
Pin this recipe for later!

* Please note, if you substitute the small elbow pasta for something more substantial (like penne, rigatoni, etc.), you may need to add a few additional minutes for the cooking time.

The Perfect Smoothie

Happy Sunday friends! After a crazy week, it feels nice to relax.

I am in the midst of reading a book (recommended by my sister) called “Always Hungry?” by Dr. David Ludwig. It provides the science behind why many Americans always feel hungry (hint: sugar and refined carbs, hiding out in places you wouldn’t even realize), and how to overcome this feeling by fueling your body with real, whole foods (including fats 😲). I love that this book dives into the ‘why’ and that it provides it a detailed meal plan with step by step instructions for literally everything you eat!

Ryan and I have been following the recipes in the book for two weeks now, and it’s honestly some of the best food we’ve ever made at home! I haven’t missed refined carbohydrates at all, which is shocking to me. We both feel better overall (much more satiated) and are going to continue with the meal plan. It’s easy to follow when each meal truly feels like a treat.

One of our favorite breakfasts from the book is called the “Power Shake.” It couldn’t be easier and keeps us full from 7am to noon (however I would recommend getting a snack in between). If you’re looking for something simple, filling, and downright decadent, look no further!

Power Shake (serves 1, just double everything for 2 people):

  • 1/2 cup frozen berries
  • 1/3 cup whole milk (or unsweetened almond or coconut milk)
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons almond or peanut butter
  • 5 (yes 5!) scoops of whey or collagen protein powder (plain, unflavored, and no additives)
  • 1/2 pear (or additional half cup of berries)

Add all these items to your blender and blend! That’s it. I recommend adding the cream at the end to make the shake a little less thick. I also almost always opt for extra berries vs. half a pear just because I love berries. It tastes like a milkshake and it is so delicious.

There’s no need for honey or any sweetener because the berries are so sweet naturally.

For the whey protein, I used unflavored collagen powder from Trader Joe’s. I couldn’t taste it whatsoever.

Would love to hear what you think of this recipe, or if you’ve read the book!

My Skincare routine and favorite products

Hello all & happy weekend!

Today I am going to walk through my skincare routine and some favorite products. A few friends, coworkers, and others have asked me about skincare (much to my bewilderment), so I decided to do a quick little post. To be honest, my skincare routine isn’t the most regimented, and I think that I was (very fortunately) genetically blessed with fairly low maintenance skin, which always helps. However, over the last five years or so, I have been focusing on trying to use better quality products and take better care of my skin overall.

So, what prompted my skincare journey (aside from realizing I am no longer 22)? My sister also has great skin, and several years ago, I asked what her routine was. She sent me down a rabbit hole of Korean skincare products that I still use today, in addition to some other items I recently picked up. Let’s get started!

Step One (Wash your face): Cleansing Oil

So the first step in any skincare routine is to obviously washing your face. I do a “double cleanse” which is just fancy talk for slathering on a cleansing oil, and then washing it off with a typical gentle cleanser (step 2 below). I absolutely love this oil and it’s a very affordable option. I have used it for about 3 years, and one jar lasts anywhere from 8-10 months. It blends really well and gets off absolutely every last bit of makeup. It smells incredibly fresh/ wonderful and is really a treat to use. Your face will feel soft and luscious after using this cleanser. For a more luxurious option, try this Elemis cleansing balm. The scent is ridiculously good and it can also be used as a face mask! It is also a good sized jar that will likely last a long time. I have both and will do a splurge or save post in the near future!

Step Two: Foaming Cleanser

I used this Hadalobo product for a couple of years and loved it. It’s gentle and does a great job of cleaning off any residual dirt/grime/residue after the oil cleanser. Buy it here. Again, this cleanser usually lasts me upwards of a year! You just need a pump or two each time you wash your face. I recently started using Cerave foaming cleanser. It works equally well! With the double cleanse system, you don’t need to use any cleansing products with lots of harsh chemicals or astringents.

Step Three: Serum or Essence

This is the step where you want to tailor your selections to your skin type specifically and can get creative. You can use vitamin C, salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, ampoules (basically supercharged serums), etc. all based on the needs of your skin! I always use this lotion right after I wash my face. It instantly makes my skin feel moist (ew) and honestly, plump (double ew). It almost acts like a primer* (*I think, I do not use primer so I am unsure) in that it makes my skin feel super smooth. As part of Step Three, I also recently started using one of my all time favorite skin care products, Dr. Dennis Gross Peel Pads. These are honestly transformational and make my skin look completely revitalized like no other product. I was definitely #influenced to buy them, and they are one of the pricier items on this list (and in my entire skincare/beauty regime), but they are 100% worth the hype and the price. This is one of the only skincare products I have ever seen visible results with. If you buy one thing from this entire list, I would buy this. I would also highly recommend doing some research on which serums/ essences would be best for your skin type!

Step Four: Moisturizer

Again, this is where you want to tailor your selection to your needs. I have fairly oily skin, so I usually use a light moisturizer. You can’t go wrong with classic Oil of Olay (although it’s categorized as on the “heavier” side it’s always worked for me and feels light). I think I have been using this moisturizer for ten years. I also just recently bought Elemis Pro Collagen Marine Cream. This is waaaay more expensive than Oil of Olay, so unless it’s a miracle worker, it may just be a one time purchase for me. First impressions though – amazing. The smell alone is *almost* worth it. It’s one of those smells that just feels clean, luxurious, and fresh all at once. Kinda makes you feel like you are in a spa overlooking the ocean somewhere (and hey, that’s worth something right!?). Also, a little goes a long way, it is super blendable and absorbs quickly. I have heard this compares to the famous “La Mer,” cream so we shall see.

I love to also use a night time moisturizer, especially in the winter months when my skin resembles that of a shedding snake. This Banila mask is a winner in my book. I have also loved some other products from Laneige, so I want to try this one soon too.

A few more options – all of these have been on my list to try. This Banana Sleep Mask – love the packaging and have read multiple good reviews! Missha is another great K-Beauty brand. I have tried other products from this company and loved them. This sleeping mask is only $12 (on sale right now) and I have also heard good things about it.

Step Five: Sunscreen

Last but not least, you must finish off your skincare routine with an SPF. This is the one step of my skincare routine I need to focus on more (I tend to forget it). It is so important from a health perspective, as well as for an anti-aging routine if that is a concern. The one SPF I love (recommended by my sister 🙂) is this Biore product (from Japan). This doesn’t feel or look like a sunscreen at all and is more of an essence-type product. It is so lightweight and better quality than much more expensive sunscreens like Supergoop, La Roche Posay, etc. This sunscreen is recommended on tons of Korean beauty forums/blogs, is inexpensive, and it lives up to the hype. This is probably the other product I would recommend most (after the peel pads).

Some other favorite skincare products:

  • Lip balm: Nivea Lip Balm – So moisturizing and so lightweight. Love the smell too.
  • TULA Eye Balm: This product is wonderful. It is very cooling and provides a little bit of highlight under the eye which is great especially if you struggle with baggy or dark circles.
  • Neocutis Lumiere Eye Cream: This eye cream is wonderful. I have literally tried a bazillion eye creams over the years and this one has actually provided a noticeable brightening effect.
  • Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil: This bright blue oil is applied before bed and turns clear as you rub it in. It contains trans-retinoic acid ester complex and gives a nice glow the next day. It does contain retinol, just something to keep in mind.
  • Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Treatment: I bought this and had it over a year! I use it at night paired with the Luna Sleeping Oil. This is an exfoliating product and contains purified lactic acid. It also has a nice fresh citrusy scent. If your skin is sensitive, I would definitely ease into using this item. You can almost feel it tingling immediately on your face.
  • If you are a fan of face masks, I highly recommend this Caudalie Exfoliating Mask. I have had this product now for two years (is that even allowed with skincare!?) and it is amazing. Apply to clean, dry skin and leave on for ten to fifteen minutes. I notice visible clarity and that *glow* factor after I use this mask. I only use this mask every other week at most.

Editor’s note: I am obviously not a dermatologist (or a beauty product expert) and you should probably speak to one if you are starting a new skin care regimen and you plan on using items with any sort of elevated pH. I also think it’s great to speak to a dermatologist in general about these products as they may be able to recommend some items with prescription level retinol, glycolic acid, lactic acid, etc. These are just my personal favorite items that I have used consistently and have made a difference.

What are you favorite skincare products? Any must haves? Let me know in the comments below. Stay tuned for an another beauty products related post, coming soon!