The Story of My Skincare Struggle, and the Products That Saved Me

The skincare struggle is real, people. That’s why it’s like, a billion dollar industry. And I am all for it.

I didn’t used to be. In fact, I hated skincare. Absolutely hated it. You know why? Because anything that adds ten minutes to my morning routine is not welcome. No thank you, sir. But then I became a college student, and my skin rebelled. Apparently as an adult, I still have teenage skin, because it is angry and oily and loves to erupt in acne right before important social functions, such as fraternity date parties, and my college graduation. Sigh.

So I got desperate and started trying everything. I tried my roommate’s put-toothpaste-on-it trick, I tried using spot treatments but all over my face, I tried moisturizers, Proactiv, Exposed Skin Care, everything. I kept playing Whack-A-Mole with my face: Every time a pimple popped up, I squashed it, and then another pimple would pop up next to it. Finally I knew it was time to get my butt into the dermatologist.

Taking the bitter pill

At some point, you have to suck it up and do an acne treatment that sucks for a few months before it gets better. I had cystic acne, which meant I had those awful monster bumps deep under the skin that won’t go away. My derm patted me on the arm and said, “We will beat this,” like I had some kind of horrible disease. And then we did. We beat the crap out of it. I knocked the thing out with Doxycyclin, a powerful antibiotic that I was very happy to stop after three months. The bad news: I had to start a skincare regimen. With prescription products. And because one of those products is an antibiotic, if I didn’t do it right, if I wasn’t consistent, the products would stop working. Eek.

The new skin workout

I told myself that I would rather have to take ten minutes out of my day to fix my problem, than face another cystic mountain zit. People face worse things. People have worse health problems with worse treatments. So why was I so frustrated? Maybe because it still felt unfair that I had to deal with this while other girls have beautifully clear skin. Bu that was stupid thinking, because everyone has their thing they need to deal with, and I’m lucky that my thing is skin. Because, hallelujah, I could fix it!

My prescription products include a daily face wash, an antibiotic lotion, and prescription Retin A. Beyond that, I mix it with other products to keep my skin feeling fresh, clean, and happy. No more angry zits.

My current skincare routine, with life-saving products

Some of the products I use are prescription, but for the ones that aren’t, I provided links!

Every day

Morning: I start by washing my face with PanOxyl, a benzoyl peroxide face wash. Then I apply prescription face lotion (this prevents the cystic acne). The benzoyl peroxide kills all the bacteria, which not only helps acne, but also makes sure my skin doesn’t get used to the antibiotic lotion that I put on after.

Sometimes I do see a little pimple starting to pop up, especially if I’ve slacked on washing my face, so I’ll apply a spot treatment.

Next is SPF, the most important step. I’ll put on a BB cream with SPF in it, or a primer with SPF, or I’ll wear a tinted sunscreen moisturizer. SPF is so, so important. Not just for preventing wrinkles, but also for preventing cancer. 

Finally, I’ll usually wear a foundation specifically for acne-prone skin. Lately I’ve really liked Clinique! It gives me moderate coverage with acne-fighting, medicated ingredients.

Night: Remove makeup, cleanse face, then apply Retin-A (well, the generic version of Retin-A). Retin-A is a retinoid, which is basically a vitamin A derivative that helps unclog pores and speed up cell turnover. Mine is prescription strength, but you can find retinoid creams over the counter, too. Whether you have acne-prone skin or not, they’re super beneficial for improving lines and discoloration.

Important Note:If you use a retinoid, only use it at night (sunlight makes the ingredient stop working) and be sure to use SPF in the morning!

Once every few days

At night, sometimes I’ll use a sonic facial cleansing brush (like a Clarisonic, but a different brand) and a sonic face wash to give my face a deeper cleanse. I would never have tried a sonic brush if I hadn’t worked in beauty PR, but now I’m a believer. It’s like an electric toothbrush, but for your face.

I’ll also put on moisturizer every couple days, because even oily skin types need hydration! It’s easy to forget that when your skin gets too dry, it can overreact and start producing even more oil, causing more breakouts. I also have a lot of redness, so moisturizers help calm it the eff down.

Once a week:

I love face masks, and I try to treat myself to one every week. Depending on how dry the weather is and how oily my skin is feeling, I’ll switch up my routine with a mask and put on an episode of This Is Us. And try not to cry the mask off.

I also use sleep masks, which are ideal for dry times. You just put it on, go to bed, and let the mask do the work.

Once a month/Whenever I can afford it and I’m feeling rich:

Occasionally, I’ll get a professional facial! It honestly feels better than a massage. The Dermologica Skin Bar at Ulta Beauty is pretty awesome and inexpensive– you can even get the 10-minute facial for $10, if you’re like me and you’re short on both time and money! But really, it’s worth a splurge, because it’s your skin. And your skin deserves all the pampering you can give it!


There you have it…my skincare story! Have you overcome any skincare struggles? Let me know in your comments, and be sure to share your secrets to success!

XO,

CC

Holiday Gift Guide 2017

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It’s time for that post-Thanksgiving panic: Holiday gift shopping!

Just in time for Cyber Monday and the chaos that ensues in the weeks leading up to Christmas, I’ve created the Caffeinated Holiday Gift Guide. The categories are based on Caffeinated Californian personality traits: Traveler, Girlboss, Creative, Intellectual, Trendsetter, and Caffeine Addict, with curated gift ideas in each.

Warning: Lots of pink. This was not intentional.

ALSO NOTE: None of these are sponsored! All opinions and ideas are 100% my own.


The Traveler


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I’m Outta Here Luggage Tag, $10

There’s also a matching passport holder if you really want to feel coordinated.

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Carry On Cocktail Kit, $24

These come in different drinks, so choose your friend’s favorite! Just add booze. If you bring your own airplane-sized bottle, don’t show the flight attendant or tell them you got the idea from this blog.

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Scratch-Off Map, $26

These maps are gorgeous, inexpensive, and perfect for anyone who seeks out new destinations all the time. I actually have one of these in my room, and I’ve taken it with me everywhere I’ve moved because it’s so fun scratching off all the places I go!

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Pink Polaroid Camera, $69.95 (Cyber Monday special: $59.99)

The instant classic.

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Herbivore Rose Hibiscus Coconut Water Face Mist, $32

After all the plane flights I’ve taken, I can say with full confidence that any frequent flier would kill for this face mist. I haven’t quite mastered the art of glamorous travel, but this mist is a step in the right direction, and perfect for your travel buddy.

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Parks Project Apparel, range of prices

Every purchase helps support a project in a national park, making this gift probably the coolest one on the list.


The Girlboss


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I Am Very Busy Pencil Case, $12

I saw a girl at work with this case and I have envied her ever since.

Bonus: Fill it with the Like a Boss Pencil Set, $10!

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Personalized Stationery, $14

I should probably get this for myself, actually.

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Day Designer Planner, $59

Ughhhhh WANT. Want want want.

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Boss Lady Coffee Mug, $20

For some glam on the go. I need to stop making this gift guide or I’ll start buying everything for myself.

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Adorn Bath Bomb, $8

Help the woman relax, for goodness’ sake. Buy some bath bombs.


The Trendsetter


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Personalized Eye Mask, $11

Insert their celebrity dreamboat here.

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Kate Spade New York: All In Good Taste, $21.61

Coffee table books are the ultimate gift, because no one goes and buys them on their own, but everyone wants them. They’re chic, Instagrammable, and super fun to read. Here are more ideas for coffee table books on Refinery29.

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Faux Fur Slides, $29

Slippers are the most diva thing I can think of. You can’t go wrong.

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Sonia Kashuk Brush Set, $24.99

Speaking of gifts you can’t go wrong with: You can never have enough makeup brushes. Never ever.

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Yoga Mat, $32

Also has a matching gym bag and water bottle! Yay yoga! Yay for excuses to buy cute yoga accessories!

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Victoria’s Secret Tease Rollerball, $18 (on sale for $6 as of post date)

My absolute favorite thing to stash in my purse. This one is great for a stocking stuffer.


The Creative


 

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Urban Decay Naked Smoky Palette, $54 (on sale right now for $27!)

If you want to be the best friend ever, and I mean THE BEST friend ever, this is the palette. Creative types love their dramatic eyeshadow. I should know.

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Lists Make Me Happy Notebook, $12

For the thinking woman with a love for lists. All the lists.

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Gallery Wall Art, range of prices

Collect art prints to get your creative friend started on decorating some inspiring walls.

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Pantone Watch, $119

Anyone obsessed with design and color is probably obsessed with Pantone. Trust me on this one.

Split Decision Throw Pillow, $24

For the indecisive overthinker! This pillow flips, so one side says Make It Happen, while the other says Sleep On It.

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Letter Board, $50

For whenever they need to make a statement or feel inspired. Could also work for the Caffeine Addict, which leads us into our last category…


The Caffeine Addict


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I Want My Coffee Black Print, $5.99

Enough said.

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The Original Coffee Scrub, $13.56 (or DIY it!)

Beauty and coffee in one. There’s a reason this scrub took off on Instagram.

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Kate Spade Sugar and Creamer Set, $29

I wish I were fancy enough to actually have a place to put sugar and creamer.

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Eileen 8-Cup French Press, $50

For the coffee lover who spends too much money on store-bought coffee.

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Starbucks Gift Card, range of prices

For the coffee lover who spends too much money on store-bought coffee, and you want to enable them.


 

Whew, that was a lot to get through! I hope this list took away at least some of that post-Thanksgiving stress. Happy holiday shopping!

XO,

CC

 

Caffeinated Travels: Planning a Last-Minute Road Trip to the Rockies

So you want to go on a road trip? Well, let me tell you, it isn’t as simple as it sounds…or so I thought. It’s super out-of-character for me to just up and leave for a weekend to a place I’ve never been, with no plan or budget to speak of. I’m normally a planner, an overthinker, a Type A to a T. I’m at my most comfortable when I’m armed with a strategy, weeks in advance, with everything going according to a plan.

My boyfriend has his own philosophy: Play everything by ear. No plan necessary.

This drives me absolutely nuts and probably causes 90% of our arguments, but at the same time, it’s the best thing for me, because he pulls me out of my fixed mindset and gives me the courage to do something spontaneous. And then it turns out to be easier than I thought.

Today, I’m sharing my own experience of going on a last-minute road trip, with some quick pointers at the end if you want to try it yourself!


Getting out of my comfort zone and into a 12-hour drive:

If I’m being honest, it was shockingly easy to just up and leave. Granted, I’m a college student right now, and it’s a lot more complicated to get away when you’re working a full-time job. Still, it was surprisingly doable. I told my professors and my supervisor at work that I needed to take a personal day off (we wanted to leave before the weekend started), and they completely understood.

Probably because I’m a stress case who is never, ever absent. Even when I’m sick. So. I’m guessing they were like, “Yes, please, for the love of God, give yourself that day off!”

Boyfriend and I got out some maps, figured out what was in driving distance, packed the car, and just…left. Just like that.

We had a few criteria when picking our destination:

  • It had to be an outdoor destination, so we looked for national parks
  • We wanted to go somewhere we’d never been
  • It couldn’t be expensive

We ultimately decided on Rocky Mountain National Park, a whopping 12 hours away.

I was freaked out.

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Figuring out what to do when we got there…

We knew nothing. Absolutely nothing. We went into the entire situation blind, except for the fact that Rocky Mountain National Park existed and it was open.

But that turned out to not be a problem. Once we got there, we stopped by the visitor station, and the ranger gave us recommendations for hikes to take.

And off we went.

Of course, hiking wasn’t my only goal. I couldn’t help stopping by the local coffee shops in Estes Park, the town at the park entrance.

But enough about me. It’s time to share what I learned, so you can take a last-minute road trip of your own!


So you want to go on a road trip…

When you decide on a last-minute getaway, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Use Priceline and/or similar websites to find the cheapest hotels.

We didn’t book hotels until we needed them. One day, when we were done hiking, we realized it was too cold to sleep in the car, so we Pricelined a Rodeway Inn that was five minutes from the park entrance. The deals you can find at the last minute are amazing. However, this also might depend on where you go and what season it is- we went during a less crowded time, so there was more hotel availability.

Find good podcasts to listen to.

A podcast will get you far. “Dirty John” got us all the way through Kansas. I’m normally skeptical about podcasts and audiobooks, since I have a horrible attention span when it comes to audio. I can’t sit still and just listen to something for an extended amount of time. But in a car, you’re sitting still anyways, so you might as well give it a try. And I was hooked.

Bring physical maps and trail guides.

Whether you travel to a city or a national park, you’ll need more than Google Maps. Partly because you don’t want your phone to die, and partly because Google Maps will not help you when you’re on a snowy mountain and you’re trying to stay on the path. Also, maps are fun. You feel like you’re exploring and getting somewhere instead of just checking an app to see how many more hours your drive will take.

Pack for every situation, but don’t overpack.

Bring layers, and make sure everything fits in a backpack and a duffel. Things like flannels, leggings, shorts, and more socks than you think you need because you’ll inevitably get lazy and not want to keep digging around to find a pair of socks. Colorado was weird because the Rockies were snowy and freezing, but then the city of Denver was a nice 65 degrees. I made the mistake of wearing my North Face jacket out to the clubs in downtown Denver on Halloween night…not my best fashion moment. Still had the best night, though.

Stop by a Wal-Mart for car snacks.

Car snacks are the best. THE BEST. And getting hangry on a road trip is no fun. Chowing down on trail mix and Cheez-its while binging episodes of Serial? Way fun. And speaking of fun…

Remember that the journey is the destination.

Half the fun should be the road trip, and this is a time to relax, reflect, and enjoy the moment you’re in.


Happy travels!

XO,

CC

A road map to your travel beauty bag

Do you ever daydream about getting in your car and running off to the mountains? Is this just me? Well, this week, I actually decided to go for it. I’m such a Type A personality that it’s super out of character to just up and leave, but sometimes, you just gotta get away, and this weekend was one of those times.

My boyfriend and I spontaneously decided to drive 12 hours to Rocky Mountain National Park…why? Because we’re going stir-crazy here in our college town and we literally picked a place on the map. Colorado, here we come!

Here’s the catch with last-minute road trips to the wilderness: Camping. Hiking. Limited access to showers. Which is great for a getaway, but not so great for a beauty-obsessed, sorta high-maintenance girlfriend. But I don’t let my boyfriend see me sweat (literally and figuratively), because I have my bag of beauty tricks. Which is just as important as the road map.

With dry shampoo, travel sizes and double-duty products, you can still look like a normal person even while living in a car or tent for a few days.

Scroll down for my must-have travel bag of mini beauty goodies!

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Kate Spade Scenic Route Tote Bag

For holding it all, of course.

DESTINATION: SKIN

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Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30

This is a newer product that takes care of a few things at once: SPF, moisturizer, and a bit of light coverage. When you’re on the road, heavy foundation isn’t a priority, but you’ll definitely want to protect yourself from the sun and dryness.

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Tarte Double Duty Beauty Shape Tape Contour Concealer

You’ll probably need to cover up some serious undereye circles from the travel fatigue, but this product’s got you. Better yet, you can also use it to contour. BOOM. You’ve got a coverup and a highlighter in one. Bonus points: Apply it with the Double Duty Beauty Quickie Blending Sponge.

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Soap & Glory Clean On Me Creamy Clarifying Shower Gel

For when you’re using the communal shower in a campsite. This will wash all your germaphobe worries away. Plus, whenever I use it, the song “Lean On Me” pops into my head. Anyways. It’s great.

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First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser Mini

Don’t ditch skincare just because you’re ditching your regular life routine for a few days! This cleanser gets the job done: It removes dirt and makeup, moisturizes, and helps soothe redness.

DESTINATION: EYES

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Urban Decay Travel Size Original Eyeshadow Primer Potion

A favorite essential in the cutest, tiniest bottle I’ve ever seen. Just because you’re on the road doesn’t mean you should skip your shadow primer!

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Maybelline The City Mini Palette

With limited space for giant palettes, this mini one has all the essential colors in a small package. Stick to neutrals, and apply with your finger if you forget to pack brushes!

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Clinique Chubby Stick Shadow Tint

Sometimes you need a quick eyeshadow boost on the go, and I keep these in my purse even when I’m not traveling. You never know when you’ll need to swipe on some drama. Also works great in bar bathrooms during a night out.

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Clinique Travel Size Chubby Lash Mascara

This one’s pretty straightforward: Just one of my favorite mascaras in a smaller size. But I also stock up on my mascara samples (like the free gifts with purchase) because they’re the perfect travel size. Next time you get a mini mascara, save it for the road trip!

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e.l.f. Eyebrow Kit

It’s a tiny, two-shade palette, but it works surprisingly well and fits nicely in your bag. Simple is best here. Road tripping it does not mean overdoing it when it comes to brow business.

DESTINATION: LIPS

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e.l.f. Tinted Lip Balm

The challenge here will be keeping your lips from drying out, especially if you’re flying or traveling to a dry area. Chapstick is a must, and the e.l.f. lip balm has the added bonus of adding color while moisturizing. And maybe the biggest bonus: It’s $1.99.

DESTINATION: HAIR

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Batiste Travel Size Dry Shampoo

Another classic in fun-sized form. Arguably the most important item on the list.

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Bumble and Bumble Travel Size Pret-A-Powder

Another great hair solution in a pinch– it’s a dry shampoo, but also a volumizer. I have such fine, thin hair that this is an absolute life-saver on the go.

 

And there you have it– your travel guide to travel beauty products! Do you have any must-have beauty products for when you’re on the go?

Happy travels!

XO,

CC

Fave Five: Rocking the red lip in fall

Growing up in southern California, I never experienced the fall season at full force. Now, in the middle of Missouri, I love nothing more than the crispy cold air, the gold and red leaves, the endless corn mazes, and the excuse for fall fashion and beauty. Well, and the excuse for pumpkin spice lattes. But you already knew that. And who really needs an excuse for PSLs, anyways?

What I love about the fall is the drama it brings. Halloween parties? Haunted houses? Hayrides? Thanksgiving break? Outdoor concerts? Football games? It’s all the prime opportunity for some dramatic beauty looks, and no dramatic look is complete without the right red lipstick on hand. Because when the leaves turn red and the basic girls start dressing as vampires, it’s time for your lips to follow suit.

In this Fave Five post, I’ve rounded up my top five lip products for achieving the bold red lip, with both mass and prestige products to pick from. Let’s rock ‘n roll, shall we?

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  1. Chanel Rouge Coco Ultra Hydrating Lip Colour: Chanel lipstick is iconic. So iconic that no respectable lipstick roundup would leave it out. It’s a classic for a reason– it makes you feel like Coco herself. After all, it was Coco Chanel who said, “If you’re feeling sad, add more lipstick and attack.” Wise words from a wise woman. Buy her lipstick.
  2. NYX Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick in Kitten Heels: I love how smoothly this goes on, and you honestly can’t beat the $6.99 price tag. It’s sold in places like Target, so you can easily pick it up next time you’re getting groceries. An excellent dupe if, like me, you don’t currently have the resources to spring for Chanel.
  3. Ulta Lipstick in Chili Pepper 203: A deep brownish red that fits flawlessly into fall. This is my weapon of choice for hayrides and bonfires, and because it’s such a small, convenient size, I keep it in my purse at all times for when I’m seeing red and need to add a lip on the go.
  4. Kylie Cosmetics Mary Jo K Lip Kit: I first tried the Kylie Lip Kit when I got the holiday edition for Christmas (Santa gets me and my beauty needs), and I. Am. A. Believer. In spite of my skepticism, I wore the lip kit out one night to a Christmas bar crawl, and it stayed perfectly in place like nothing I’ve ever seen. For a long haul like Halloween or football tailgates, the Lip Kit is a lifesaver. Try it in this shade of true red.
  5. Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in F-Bomb: With a name like F-Bomb, how can you not buy the shade? This is a classic red cream color for when you need to summon your inner Marilyn (Monroe, not Manson) and bring the drama. F-Bomb is truly The Bomb.

Which lipstick makes you feel your most badass during the fall? Comment below if you have your own favorites!

XO,

CC

Lip color: Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in F-Bomb

Fave Five: Spa Night Essentials

When it comes to a night in with Netflix and facials, I have the essentials. With combination skin, stressed-out pores, and a college lifestyle with a questionable diet, it’s not just a luxury to do facials once a week: It’s a necessity. Add in body lotion, nail polish, Chinese takeout, and Gossip Girl, and I’ve got a beautiful night in (that sometimes rivals a night out, TBH).

Self-care is real, people. And Spa Night In is not to be taken lightly.

I’ve rounded up my favorite five must-have products for the perfect spa night in:

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1) Philosophy Purity Made Simple Pore Extractor: This face mask is the real deal for pulling any gunk out of your pores. The main ingredients are white clay and salicylic acid– the clay extracts your pores, while the salicylic acid helps with acne. It only takes about 5 minutes for the mask to harden, so this is a good one to do on busier nights. I try to do it around once or twice a week, and it’s always my first step on Spa Night In.

2) Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief: After literally scrubbing the crap out of my face, I moisturize with a tried-and-true Clinique product. It makes me feel like I’m at a resort in Palm Springs getting a face massage and I’m all about it.

3) Bliss Lemon + Sage Body Butter: Even though I’ve always thought “body butter” is a slightly weird term, I became a believer when I started using it during the drier months. Body butter is thicker than a regular lotion, and Bliss does it best. My skin gets super dry and even starts cracking once the weather gets cold, and the Bliss Lemon + Sage body butter does the trick to keep my skin soft. Plus it smells like pure stress relief.

4) Living Proof Restore Mask Treatment: Your face shouldn’t have all the fun– give your hair a facial too! The Living Proof mask is luxe AF and lasts a long time. If you use it once a week, you’ll notice the difference, and believe me, I rarely notice the difference when it comes to hair products.

5) Butter London Glazen Nail Lacquer in Rose Quartz: You’ve got the hair and the skin covered, so lastly we’re on to nails! Lately I’ve been obsessed with the shinier rose-gold polish colors as we go from summer to fall, because if the trees are turning gold, why shouldn’t my nails?


Treat yourself to a spa night at least once a week, even if you only take one episode on Netflix to do it. Have other ideas for spa night essentials? Let me know in the comments!

XO,
CC

What I’m Reading Right Now

Happy National Read a Book Day! I celebrate this day every day, but all hail the Instagram holidays. I’ve been meaning to do more book-related posts, so I guess this day is as good as any for a first book post. I’m not going to give detailed reviews, because there are professionals that do a better job, but I will give you an honest perspective from an exhausted graduate student with very little time for leisure reading in the first place. If I’m still taking the time to read it, you know it’s probably decent.

Lately my reading material hasn’t been too serious, since I have about 200+ pages a day of serious reading material for my master’s thesis preparation. Sometimes I just can’t keep thinking hard about theoretical vocabulary or my brain will fry more than it already has.

Here’s what’s on my list:

The Alchemist

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This is my boyfriend’s favorite book. I thought originally that this is because the book is short (kidding. He likes reading almost as much as I do). But the book is actually pretty cool. It’s about finding your destiny and all that, which is music to a Millennial’s ears. Apparently the the author only took two weeks to write it. Which means he clearly knows something I don’t. So I went ahead and started reading.

The Alchemist is one of those weird books that seem like it’s going to be all preachy with life lessons, and it kind of is, but I don’t even mind because the life lessons are actually pretty dope. The morals are scattered throughout the story of this guy’s journey to find treasure in Egypt. Have you ever heard the quote, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”? Yeah, that’s from this book. It’s almost more self-help than it is a classic novel, but I’m cool with that.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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I never got into the Harry Potter books when I was younger, and I’ve been really feeling the FOMO lately, so I decided at the age of 22 to finally read through the whole series from start to finish. I’m on the last one. And it’s true– I have been missing out. It’s an obsession for a reason. I don’t know how J.K. Rowling did it. Enough said.

#GIRLBOSS

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The Netflix show wasn’t great and the Nasty Gal business went bankrupt, but Girlboss is still a story with serious inspiration. It’s about the real story of Sophia Amoruso, founder of fashion retail brand Nasty Gal, and how she found her success in an unconventional way. The book also offers career advice and anecdotes from other successful women.

I was a Nasty Gal fan early on, and got the book when it first came out, before everything started going downhill. It made a huge difference in the way I approached my career– I felt that I could think of an impossible goal and make it happen if I’m creative enough. And I’ve actually managed to achieve a lot of impossible possible goals since then, including getting dream internships and even starting this blog!

After Nasty Gal declared bankruptcy, a new brand arose from the ashes: Girlboss Media, a resource founded for women to help them reach success. So I still believe in the power of the book, and I continue to read it over and over. Every time, a new piece of wisdom sinks in. It’s inspired me to take myself more seriously, walk into a workplace with confidence, and find creative ways to make my own magic. Yes, you should take some of it with a grain of salt, but it’s still worth reading for the message it brings.

Cosmopolitan

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I know this technically isn’t a book, but in between all the dense scholarly journal articles about social science theories that I read for class, it’s nice to take a mental break and read about people’s horror stories of sex gone wrong. 10/10 recommend.

And that’s it for now! A short list, yeah, but it’s about all I can manage with all the other literature I need to chug every week. Which reminds me that I should probably stop blogging and get back to chugging.

XO!

CC

 

 

Why the self-care trend shouldn’t be just a trend

We Millennials get a lot of smack for talking about “self-care” and its importance, while spending money on face masks, Netflix, yoga, crystals and candles that will promise to heal our souls. This NPR post recently described the Internet obsession with self-care, with increased Google searches in the past year.

I say, bravo. Because not only has the self-care trend increased the understanding of mental health, but it also gives us permission to take time for self awareness and happiness (not that we should even need it in the first place). In a world where we’re constantly under pressure to work our butts off while looking perfect on social media, we feel guilty for putting our lives on pause to watch TV at home and eat Chinese takeout, when it’s a super normal thing to do. We feel ashamed for doing something selfish, doing something that makes us happy. Why are we so upset over doing what makes us happy?! Since when is it a bad thing to do what we want?

Unfortunately, the flip side of a trend is that there are a lot of BS self-care tips and products out there, so it’s important to understand how to apply it to your life without getting duped into thinking a magical(ly expensive) body oil will do the trick. After lots of research, experimentation, and digging through my Instagram feed to figure out the difference between brands that actually care and products that have nothing to do with my well-being, I came up with my own version of no-BS self-care tips:

Self-care can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.

Practicing self-care doesn’t necessarily mean doing yoga every ten minutes and eating spinach for every meal. You don’t have to adopt a whole new lifestyle– but you can, if that’s what you need.

Try new things to see what works.

It might take some trial and error to understand what you benefit from. Going to a concert or getting drinks with a big group would definitely count as self-care if you’re extroverted and you need more of those times in your life. If you’re more on the introverted side, maybe you need to try spending an extra hour on yourself. If you’re active, a new fun workout class could be it. If you’re a workaholic like me and want a way to relax “productively,” watch Ted Talks or listen to podcasts.

Or maybe none of these help and what you really need are cupcakes. Point is, you won’t know until you try it. Good excuse to eat cupcakes.

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There’s a difference between indulging and over-indulging.

“Self-care” doesn’t equal “not doing my dishes.” Even if you think math problems are detrimental to your mental health, your algebra professor will probably not enjoy “I was practicing self-care!” as an explanation for “I didn’t do the homework assignment.” Self-care habits should be productive to your mindset, instead of an excuse for procrastinating on things you just don’t want to do. **ALSO: Self-care is not a replacement for seeking professional help if you need it!**

Don’t get marketed to.

Speaking as a PR professional, I totally get why brands are jumping on the health/wellness/self-care trend…if they’re relevant and could actually help someone. But I don’t believe in trying to make a buck off someone’s well-being if you’re just trying to get Instagram likes and not being truly beneficial. Think before buying the overpriced oil. Is it your thing? Does it fulfill a need? Does the brand seem like it actually cares? Don’t let self-care lose its meaning by buying into an ideal, as this article reminds us.

When it comes to spending money, though, don’t be afraid to spend a little on yourself.

Buy yourself flowers for once. Or Lollapalooza tickets, in my case.

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Make it personalized.

Don’t just take self-care tips at face value from BuzzFeed, or even this post. What might make some people happy might not work for others, and you need to try different things before you see what’s best for you. I personally have no use for “be one with nature” during allergy season, but “try yoga once a week” has actually worked wonders in clearing my mind and giving me positive energy. As dumb as that sounds.

Long story short: If you think crystals are New-Age nutso, ditch them for a face mask and call it a night. You do you.

That said…

What does your version of self-care look like?

Spill.

My version of self-care looks a little like this:

  • Go to as many concerts as financially possible
  • Find an excuse to get dressed up for something
  • Play video games and drink beer with my guy friends
  • Watch rom-coms and drink wine with my girl friends
  • Sit in a hot tub
  • Buy a coffee instead of making it at home (shocker)
  • Embrace my inner nerd and do homework on a Saturday without feeling like a loser, because getting homework done relieves my stress during the busy week
  • Grab Panda Express for dinner, because even though it isn’t the healthiest thing, it makes me a lot happier than it should. And that’s okay.
  • Put in 20 minutes on the yoga mat by watching a Yoga With Adrienne video
  • Catch up with someone I haven’t talked to in a while
  • Stop by an Ulta Beauty and buy a fun new lip gloss or highlighter
  • Use a minute to think about all the positives happening in my life, because it’s easy for me to get dragged down by small things
  • Take the world’s longest, hottest shower, and then wear a face mask while watching really terrible videos on YouTube

Honestly, sounds amazing right now. I think I’ll go get Panda Express, buy new mascara, and watch Sex and the City while wearing a face mask.

XO,

CC

 

 

 

 

 

Fave Five: Eclipse-Inspired Beauty

As someone lucky enough to be in the path of totality for this year’s Solar Eclipse (score one for Missouri), I can say with full confidence that I have no idea what I’m about to witness. But it does say a lot about 2017 if the highlight of the year is the sun getting temporarily blocked out by the moon.

I can also say with full confidence that any celestial event is a good excuse for celestial beauty (and for listening to David Bowie). While the sun glows from behind the moon, your face can glow from behind the best highlighter, eye shadow and moisturizer a girl can find.

To celebrate the fact that my world will be plunged into total darkness for two minutes and thirty five seconds, I present my top solar eclipse-inspired beauty accessories, from head to toe: starryeyed

  1. Sequin Scrunchie: I absolutely love this oversized sequin scrunchie from Free People! No one does hair accessories like FP, and this one’s no exception. Your basic pony will shine bright in the starlight today or any other day!
  2. NYX Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick in Little Denim Dress: Okay, so I know it’s a little out there to wear bright blue lipstick, but hear me out. With the Mermaid trend and Unicorn trend taking over mainstream beauty and mainstream Starbucks drinks (I never did try the Unicorn Frappucino), blue lipstick will become the norm. So jump on this trend now in anticipation of my predicted Alien trend.
  3. OPI Nail Lacquer in By the Light of the Moon: I always loved a good glittery pedicure, in spite of my desire to be less basic. And this shade name is just too spot-on to not wear for an eclipse.
  4. Ulta Beauty Liquid Illuminator in Bright Lights: This is my favorite everyday highlighter, and when I want an extra oomph, I add extra glow.
  5. Anastasia Beverly Hills Glow Kit – Moonchild: The ultimate kit for even MORE glow. There can never be enough glow.
  6. Urban Decay Moondust Eye Shadow in Intergalactic: The Moondust shadows are a fan favorite, and it’s because they’re super pigmented and gorgeously colored. If you want a glitter smoky eye, this is your stuff. End of discussion.
  7. Anastasia Beverly Hills Metallic Luster Liner in Liquid Silver: You can’t forget a good metallic liner for this, even with solar eclipse glasses on. Anastasia Beverly Hills does it right.
  8. Algenist SPLASH Absolute Hydration Replenishing Sleeping Pack: I was always skeptical about overnight moisturizers since I have combination skin on the oily side. But I’ll try anything once, and a perk of working in PR is getting free samples. So I gave this sleeping pack a go, and I was amazed at how much it made my skin glowy and dewy the next morning. And no breakouts! I think it’s a general skincare rule to moisturize even with oily skin, because dry skin can cause more breakouts.

 

Last, but not least…

Of course, don’t forget your most important accessory: Grab a pair of solar eclipse glasses! Check that the vendor is on the approved list before buying. Please don’t burn your eyes out. And remember to protect your phone if you take pictures– the sun can burn your camera the same way it burns your eyes!

XO,

CC

Post-Lolla Playlist

Lollapalooza is my favorite weekend of the year. It’s like my birthday, spring break and Christmas all rolled into one. It’s the place I get to see all of my favorite (and next favorite) bands all at once, and for someone who loves alternative music as much as I do, this is heaven on earth.

For the past 3 years now, I’ve somehow managed to make it to Lolla, even when my summers are unpredictable and I have no idea where I’m going to be. This year, I didn’t even buy tickets until the week of (and on Thursday, I bought a Thursday pass the day of for $30), and got to go on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. It’s 100% worth it to me. I strategize my entire schedule around which bands are playing at what times, and this often causes dilemmas (Arcade Fire vs. Justice), but if you do it right, you can see a solid 6 or 7 shows in one day. Now multiply that by 4….I’ll let you do the math, since I can’t do math.

And now it’s Monday, which means no more Lolla-land and back to reality. But that doesn’t mean the Lolla fun has to stop at work. Every year, I create a Post-Lolla Playlist compiling the best songs from the bands I saw, so I can re-live the memories of Cage the Elephant crowdsurfing from my desk at work.

In order of appearance as I saw them at Lollapalooza:

Day 1 (Thursday)

I hadn’t planned on Thursday since I knew I had to work, and it wasn’t worth going at 5 for a pass at full value. BUT my coworker wasn’t able to sell her pass, and I took it off her hands for $30. Super worth it. I sprinted from work to my apartment, underwent a transformation, and then showed up in time to see Cage the Elephant start their set.

Cage the Elephant, “Cold Cold Cold”

Cage the Elephant was incredible. They gave an energetic performance (which is crucial for an outdoor festival like Lolla), with the frontman running back and forth and even jumping into the crowd. I think they might’ve dropped him. Oh, well. This song was my favorite of the night.

Spoon, “Do I Have To Talk You Into It?”

I was literally walking by the stage without any clue that Spoon was performing on it, but I heard them playing this song and was like, wow, who is this? They sound awesome. Turns out it was Spoon, and while I’m obviously not a knowledgeable fan, I still really enjoyed their show.

Muse, “Dig Down”

GOD I LOVE MUSE. They were actually my first concert ever my sophomore year of high school, and even though I stopped listening to them as they came out with their newer albums, I was impressed with this new single that they opened with at Lolla. We watched them in the pouring rain, and they killed it for a few songs before the thunderstorm finally came and we had to evacuate the festival. I was beyond bummed, but grateful I got to see them perform at least a little bit.

Day 2 (Saturday…skipped Friday due to work)

Was super salty that I had to miss the Killers on Friday, but Saturday made up for it.

The Shelters, “Gold”

Possibly my favorite song of the weekend. The Shelters were a 12:45 p.m. show, a slot usually for smaller-up-and-coming acts, and I am always blown away every year by at least one band that I hadn’t heard of before. They had three guitarists and performed with the energy that I sometimes only see in those smaller bands.

Alvvays, “Archie, Marry Me”

Not my favorite, I’ll be honest, but my friend was a fan and no one else in the group had a preference on any of the shows playing at that time, so we went over to Alvvays. They were chill, and I liked their sound, but the vibe was probably too chill for me. I tend to like the head-bangers at festivals, but that’s just me.

Colony House, “You & I”

We got to the front row for this one, since they were playing at a puny stage. They were great. “You & I” is probably my favorite new song from the weekend. It’s just so swingy and beachy and dance-y. They also were one of those bands that sound the same live as they do in-studio. Normally I have a slight distaste for bands that sound too mainstream alternative, but Colony House was pretty decent.

Alison Wonderland, “I Want U”

That said, I was tired of the swingy, beachy alternative bands at this point, so we took a break and stopped by Perry’s (the notorious EDM stage frequented by the high school crowd). Unfortunately I could not tell you what exactly we were listening to. I can tell you that I’m pretty sure this song was something I heard. I think. I was kind of distracted by the flames shooting out of the stage.

The Head and the Heart, “Library Magic”

In the middle of the show, I turned to the group and was like, “I like these guys.” Which was surprising, because this isn’t a band I listen to. I’m just not a folk fan. But I was impressed by the artistry of each band member, since they played actual instruments like the piano and the violin. I guess it’s hard to follow Alison Wonderland with a violin, but they made it work, and I had an awesome time. We also made it onto the jumbotron.

Chance the Rapper, “Chain Smoker”

Ah, Chance. I saw him 5 years ago, when he performed at my college (I saw him for free, since I worked on the concert committee) on his Acid Rap tour. Then he blew up overnight, and I was seeing him performing on SNL. WTF. Seeing him in Chicago was a surreal experience, since Chicago is his hometown and the crowd was absolutely packed.  I chose “Chain Smoker” for this list because I got to see Chance perform it twice– first early in his career at an auditorium on a college campus, and then at the pinnacle of his career, with a field filled with passionate fans.

I have honestly never felt such unity in a crowd. Chance should probably start his own church. We all were just happy and having fun listening to great music. And that’s all you can ask for in a music festival.

Day 3 (Sunday)

I was exhausted at this point, but ready for one last round. I was most excited for this day of the three– if I hadn’t found passes for cheap, I would’ve splurged on just Sunday. The main dilemma of the day, of course, was Arcade Fire vs. Justice, since both played at the same time. Read on to find out what we chose…

Car Seat Headrest

Whoops, we missed that one…

Milky Chance

Missed it.

The Shins, “Australia”

The Shins were alright. They made me happy. They were fun. I think I spent the show mostly dancing around and getting excited for Justice (or Arcade Fire?).

Grouplove, “Sabotage”

Grouplove was our most anticipated act of the day, and thankfully we made it to this one, because they did not disappoint. While I love their classics like “Colours” and “Tongue Tied,” what really won me over was their cover of The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage.” I am a sucker for covers.

Justice, “Pleasure”

Justice was FIRE. I can’t even pick just one song because they blended everything so seamlessly and beautifully that it was like hearing everything for the first time. Which is hard for an electronic artist to do, since the songs are all produced electronically and basically sound the same live or not.

Arcade Fire, “Wake Up”

Surprise! We saw both Arcade Fire and Justice, since we couldn’t bring ourselves to choose. We tore ourselves away from Justice when Arcade Fire had 20 minutes left in their set, and made it back to see plenty of Arcade do their thing. Wake Up isn’t normally my favorite Arcade Fire song, but this was just absolutely perfect for a Lolla setting. The crowd went nuts. And it was such a bonus that we made it there after Justice.