Monday, September 2, 2013

Welcome Back!

Oh gosh, it's that time of year again.  S and I are both starting work again tomorrow, so I can't deny that summer is over any longer. It has been a really activity-filled, exciting summer during which I've been not home more often than I've been at home, so that has made it fly by way too quickly.  To be honest, part of me is happy to be home.  I'm ready to get back to a healthy routine and start writing again.  As a substitute teacher and nanny, I don't get a paycheck during the summer, so it will also be nice to be able to contribute to the household again.

Despite the fact that I've physically been on vacation, I do feel like I've accomplished a lot this summer.  I've applied to a lot of jobs, published an article in XO Magazine and did a lot more editing for them, and I've done a lot of thinking about what this blog should be.  Since I haven't been posting every day, I've had more time to come up with well thought-out posts with some substance to them, sort of like this one.  I think I would rather post less often -- maybe once or twice a week -- but write posts that are a little more meaningful.

On the other hand, I'm going to start off with something on the lighter side today.  We'll work our way up to more serious stuff later, but today is the last day of vacation for many of my friends who work on an academic calendar.  A few of my favorite bloggers have posted recently about the drug store beauty products they use regularly.  I might not be the best person to take beauty advice from.  I don't even wear makeup on most days.  In fact, stop reading now.  This post idea was a mistake.  No, not really.  Are you still there?  Just listen; it'll be fun.  It's true that I have a very, very simple beauty routine.  Unless it's a special occasion or I'm really trying to impress someone, I have just a few makeup essentials that just make me look polished and put-together.  There are a few items I insist on buying from high-end stores like Sephora: perfume, any powders or foundations, real grown-up lipstick, etc.  I think these items are worth investing in because of the quality of ingredients and how long they last once you put them on.  I find that drug store make-up tends to run/bleed/smudge or wear off easily.  I'll write a post about my "splurge" beauty essentials some other time.  For now, I honestly do get by with drugstore cosmetics in my everyday life.  The fancy stuff is really just for special occasions.  My most important beauty products are benzoyl peroxide face wash (it's easier to wear less makeup if my skin is already clear), mascara, and a little tinted lip balm.  If you take care of your skin, just some mascara and light lip color will make you look more awake and, frankly, like you give a crap.

Clean and Clear Continuous Control acne cleanser is by far the most important beauty tool in my arsenal of beauty tools, or how ever that metaphor is supposed to work.  It has 10% benzoyl peroxide and is mineral oil-based rather than oil free.  This might seem counter-intuitive, but oil works best for dissolving other oils.  This cleanser doesn't dry out my skin, but I have that perfect* mix of Italian and German that makes me very pale but somehow oily at the same time.  I'm not sure I would recommend it for people who have dry skin all the time, but if that's the case for you, you might not have to worry about acne so much.  Clean and Clear does have a similar product with only 5% benzoyl peroxide and exfoliating beads, which I use in the winter.  This might be your option if you have dry skin.  Since I've started using benzoyl peroxide instead of salicylic acid cleansers, my skin has never been clearer.  This makes for a smooth, clean canvas for accenting my best features.

My go-to mascara is Maybelline's "The Falsies" line.  I've tried all iterations of it except the most recent, "Big Eyes," version.  My favorites are Black Drama and Flared.  They are all true to their word -- my lashes become very long and defined, like false lashes, but without the effort it takes to put on real falsies.  (Ha.  "Real falsies."  Oxymoron!)  Some drug store mascara runs/smudges or clumps easily, but I haven't had any of those problems with this one.  I have noticed that it dries out more quickly than high-end mascaras, but experts suggest that you replace your mascara every three to six months anyway, so I don't mind buying a new tube at such a reasonable price.

Baby Lips, another Maybelline product, provides the perfect amount of color and moisture for everyday wear.  I've just started using this type of lip balm (in the "Cherry Me" color) and I think it's my new favorite.  It keeps lips protected from the elements, but it's not too thick or sticky.  The color is light, but noticeable.  You'll look like you're more alive, but not like you've been standing in front of a mirror for an hour.

I'm lucky not to have very high-maintenance hair, but now that I've tried Herbal Essences "Honey I'm Strong" conditioner, I'm spoiled and no other hair product will do.  It feels rich, smells great, and makes my hair silky smooth.  It looks like I've styled it, even when I've literally done nothing to it.  This is worth using one of my 3-ounce liquid containers when I travel.  I can live without it, but I'd rather not.

In other news, the blog now has a Twitter account!  In celebration, I think it's time I do my first giveaway contest!  Just follow me on Twitter, Instagram or Bloglovin and then post a comment that you've done so.  Each platform on which you follow me is one contest entry.  I will put all of the entries into a hat (literal or proverbial) and pick one at random.  The winner will receive all of the products featured above and a nice, little, personalized note from me.  We'll discuss the logistical details for shipping once you've won.  
Disclaimer:  I am not in any way affiliated with Clean and Clear or Maybelline and am just doing this contest for fun.  For the one or maybe two of you who is/are already following me on all of those platforms, you can still enter the contest by promoting this post on one of your Twitter/Instagram/blog accounts.  

With that, dear readers, I leave you to your final summer holiday.  Thanks for sticking with me.  There's a lot coming in the near future.

*and in case anyone is wondering, the word "perfect" to describe being both pale and oily is sarcastic.

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