With holiday season basically here, it is time to start making your shopping list for all of the loved ones in your life you are gifting to this year. I always feel like as you get older, the harder it gets to find the perfect gift for your friends and siblings. Once you're at a certain point in life, if you need it, you buy it, so what possibly can I gift you?
I am always a fan of the gift of experiences (a winery tour, a staycation at a local hotel, etc.), but if you are looking for some perfect gifts for you friends to unwrap, I say, focus on adding a little luxury to their life. I like to gift my friends and sisters things that they wouldn't necessarily splurge on for themselves or something that they didn't even know they needed. When they open a gift like one of these, I hope it brings back a little excitement instead of just checking something off of a wish list. I also get weirdly excited when I gift a product/item that I am so obsessed with and know the recipient will be too. I try so many products so I know I'm picking out the best stuff for the people I'm excited to gift to.
Of course, these luxurious/thoughtful/actually affordable gifts are sometimes hard to find, until you know about them... then you know. I've curated a list of my favorite giftable items that range in price from $15-$200, so you have some options on what to spend, or you can mix and match a few to create a perfect bag of goodies.
Barefoot Dreams Blanket
I'm starting with the most expensive item first, but also the most amazing. This was a gift to me from one of my best friends last Christmas (of course inspired by The Skinny Confidential), and it is probably one of the most used and favorited things I've ever gotten. I never imagined a blanket would be worth $180, but, guys... it really is. This is the softest, most durable, coziest blanket you will ever own. It is perfect to gift to a friend who just moved into a new home or really anyone. These come in a range of different colors and they even have a matching baby blanket for the new mamas in your life.
Barefoot Dreams Socks
If you want to go a little more cost friendly, but still gift the ultimate comfort of Barefoot Dreams, these sock are the way to go. They are a perfect little piece of luxury that you can look forward to when you get home from work or throw in your carryon for a long flight. If you are gifting a gift card for a mani/pedi or spa day, these are a great extra to throw in or you can make a little relaxation kit with these, a cute mug, and some mint tea.
Uncommon James Jewelry
You can't go wrong with these beautiful pieces. Uncommon James pieces are always trendy, but accessibly trendy so that you can wear them season after season, therefore, worth investing in. The quality is great and definitely feel a little luxurious. All of the pieces have a super delicate feel and can go with just about any style. This makes them great for gifting!
Gift Boxes from Winc
A good bottle of wine is one of my go to gifts, but I always feel like I'm missing a little something by just giving a bottle. Winc's gift boxes give a little festive extra-ness to your wine gift, which adds some personality and fun when you're opening it. I also love these for friends you have to ship gifts to, since Winc will package and send it directly for you.
Drunk Elephant Skincare
I am obsessed with this skincare and I wish I could gift it to every person I know, because its that freaking good. I love the mini sets that allow you to try a few hero products at a great price point. If you're going for a bigger ticket item, opt for one of their larger kits that contain a fuller range of products. Amazing skincare doesn't always make everyone's budget, especially when you're spending left and right around the holidays, so being able to give the gift of a little self care can feel magical.
Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask
This stuff Is a game changer. I've talked about it on the blog and my Instagram so many times before so I will spare you some of the details. This lip mask is great for everyday and overnight wear, and is especially crucial in the colder months. At $20 per jar, it can feel like a bit of a splurge for what you think you could use vaseline for. But seriously, that's why you need to gift this stuff. What one of your friends may not buy for herself, she will truly appreciate the benefits of this skincare essential. This is NO vaseline and definitely worth the $20.
Peter Thomas Roth Face Mask Kit
Or really any face mask kit. I love sampler style beauty kits that give you a chance to sample more than one product and indulge a bit. It might just be me, but face masks feel like a universal sign of relaxation so gifting a variety of them is truly the gift that keeps on giving.
Capri Blue Candles
The best smelling, most beautiful candles ever. You can never have enough of these and no one is EVER disappointed opening one. They are perfect for basically any lady on your list. I also love that they come in the standard size and the minis which are great to throw in with a gift card or a bottle of wine.
I love these monogramed totes from Marley Lilly. They are cute, cost effective, and super durable ( I know because I have a few myself). These are great for just about anyone of your list, but super special for the newly engaged or married ladies. There is nothing like seeing your new monogram as a bride to be! Marley Lilly also always has really great deals so you can spoil your friends without breaking the bank.
A Subscription Box
A subscription box if the ultimate gift that keeps on giving. FabFitFun is one of my favorites because it incorporates a mixture of wellness, home, fashion, and beauty products that will definitely appeal to most tastes. If you gift a year long subscription (under $200), the recipient also has the option to customize their boxes each quarter. I love this idea because it makes you feel like you are getting a special gift four times a year and you get to choose why you really want.
So, that's my curated list! What lovely ladies are on your gifting? Is there anything you are SO excited to give this year?! Drop a comment and let me know.
Also, make sure to check back and follow along on Instagram for my other upcoming gift guides and gift recommendations. You can also check out my Spoonie Gift Guide from last year!
For the past few months, I've been on this Apple Cider Vinegar trend. Before people were doing shots of it and then it transitioned to the beauty world where Youtube was flooded with bloggers hyping up the benefits. I'm not going to lie, I usually am a sucker to try out whatever the hot new beauty ingredient is. Obviously I hopped on the ACV train, but months later, I think I'm actually sold long term. There really are some great benefits that you can get from ACV based products that actually do live up to the benefits they boast. The main area where I've seen the benefits? My hair. I've consistently been using ACV products as part of my hair care routine for the past few months and I have to say, the results are pretty good. My hair always struggles in the summer with build up from swimming, sunscreen, and my usual excess of dry shampoo. I have cycled through various clarifying shampoos and treatments without a ton of success. These Apple Cider Vinegar products I've found are the first to actually clarify my hair without stripping my color or making my hair feel sticky/dry/gross -- you know the feeling I'm talking about. For someone who doesn't like washing their hair that much, my hair better feel damn good when I do wash it.
My favorite ACV shampoo that I've found is this one from Maple Holistics. I usually really love their products because they truly have great ingredients, their products really work, and they are SO cost effective. I highly recommend this for anyone really, but specifically if you have color treated hair and are swimming a lot during the summer. This stuff is a life saver because it actually conditions the heck out of your hair while removing chlorine build up. Another time when this stuff saves the day? After getting an updo or your hair done for an event. I know this sounds rather specific but hear me out, it is wedding season after all. Getting your hair styled for an event looks great in the moment, but the trauma of taking out all of the bobby pins and combing through the styling products when you get home at night is not on my top list of greatest feelings. I always feel like my hair is stiff, sticky, and dry, even after multiple washes. Good news, I've tested this shampoo out in that exact situation and it exceeded my expectation. Something about the clarifying properties mixed with the conditioning ingredients was the perfect combination to get the gunk out of my hair but also leave it feeling healthy and shiny. Who knew that hair miracles could happen for only $12 per bottle? And you can get it via Amazon Prime (my fave, you know).
So my Maple Holistics is my most used ACV product, but I do have a few others I like to keep in rotation for specific needs. DPhue has a great line of ACV products that are great supplements to your routine. They are a bit pricier (and worth if for sure) but that is why I like to use them a bit more sparingly. I'm really into the ACV Hair Rinse. I shared the details on my love for this product as part of my Budget Friendly Beauty Breakdown for haircare. You can get all of the details on how to use it and why I love it, there. The bottom line is, you can use this between actual washes to keep your hair looking and feeling fresh.
Another supplementary product I've looped into my routine this summer is the DPhue ACV Hair Masque. I've been picking these up in the travel sized packets and toting them around with me on vacation. After being in the water I pop this stuff in my hair BEFORE I shampoo. It helps to smooth things out before you comb through your hair. I leave it in for a bit then rinse and shampoo. It helps with the detangling and hydration without weighing your hair down a lot. Since I have pretty fine hair, I only need a little so one of the tiny packets can last me usually around three washes.
As I continue exploring ACV products and their benefits, I am branching out into skincare next and trying an ACV face mask this weekend. I'll report back, but for now, enjoy these gems of products that will certainly help your hair look and feel its best. Especially after this last weekend of summer when everyone is trying to get their last of pool and beach time in, you will need these come Tuesday morning......
Okay, let me pause you right here... If you haven't read my first Budget Beauty Breakdown, go check it out. I give you the whole scoop in why I decided to start sharing these tips and I dive into the bank account shattering expenses of haircare.
For round two, we're going to talk nails. I remember when I got my first manicure when I was 7 years old, my mom told me that she didn't have her first manicure until she was 35. Now, doing the math, I realize that her first manicure was maybe a year before I came home demanding someone professionally paint my nails. This seems crazy to me because I have been getting regular manicures for the entirety of my adult life. When I was working in the events industry, it was an expectation that your nails were well kept and polished. That expectation has stuck with me ever since and now, like clockwork, I see my favorite nail tech, Tracy, once every 3 1/2 weeks. It makes me feel put together and honestly, I really like trying out new styles, colors, and designs that are "me".
Nail upkeep is not, at all, a cheap endeavor. I do have some tricks that I implement to make the whole nail situation a lot more affordable and I'm here to share......
For nails, SNS manicures (otherwise known as the dip powder), are the way to go... If you find someone who can do it well, your manicure can last for a really long time. I usually can go for 3-3 1/2 weeks without them looking bad when I get the SNS. It doesn’t chip or peel like gel does and it give your nails strength so they are less prone to breaking. Usually I pay between $40-$55 per SNS manicure depending on if I get designs or an ombre or something. Compared to what I would spend to get a gel manicure that would last me maybe a week, this is a not only a cash saver but a time saver as well. You will only have to be in the nail salon once a month instead of a couple times a month at least.
Pick a light color... This is a trick I use especially when I’m about to be traveling. The last thing I want to stress about while on a trip is how my nails look and I’m definitely not taking a day out of my plans to get them redone/ touched up. Thats why I will go for a light color instead of a bright hue or funky design. With light colors it is way less noticeable when your nails start to grow out and any chips are easily camouflaged. Like I said, this is great for traveling as well as when you are going long amounts of time between touch ups.
Stock up on Vaseline... This one I thought was super weird until I tried it. Vaseline reminds me of my grandma, smothering it all over my face before I went outside in the winter. I definitely can say it hasn’t ever graced my must have list. Until now. Vaseline is the ultimate cuticle moisturizer. One of the first things that will start to annoy me when I haven’t gotten my nails done in a couple of weeks are my cuticles. As soon as they are dry and start to crack and peel away all hell breaks lose and I’m frantically texting for a nail appointment. Vaseline actually helps to moisturize your cuticles and even if you start to have pesky pieces of unruly skin, it smooths everything down, making it way more bearable. Vaseline is also way more cost effective than fancy cuticle oils and, in my experience, works even better.
Opt for a Polish Change... This is a game changer in the toe nail department. This is such an easy swap for a pedicure that saves both time and money. If I’ve gotten a pedicure in the past month or so and my feet are looking and feeling good, with the polish being the only problem, this is my answer. I’m a fan of moisturizing my feet and hanging out in aloe socks so often times I can make a full pedicure last a while. That doesn’t mean the polish always lasts as long though or I want to keep the same color. Asking for a toenail polish change at the nail salon let’s you refresh the paint job without the whole shebang. It usually runs anywhere between $12-$20 depending on the type of polish/where you go and it takes a fraction of the time. I also love this trick in the winter when my feet don’t get a ton of out and about action but I could use a freshen up for an event. I also ALWAYS recommend getting gel on your toes. First off, it lasts longer, and they eliminate any chance for oopsie moments that will mess up your polish since you leave the salon with them dry.
Wear gloves... As a Maryland girl I love picking crabs. Seriously, summer is not the same without Old Bay doused crabs that you pick yourself out on the back deck. What also is not the same is the state of your nails after you’re done a crab feast. I was complaining about this to my nail tech, Tracy, and she looked at me like I was crazy and said “why don’t you wear gloves?”. WOW. How had this never come to me before?! Now I wear gloves for most messy activities that can cause wear and tear on my nails. Whether it’s handling potent spices, painting, or gardening, I keep gloves (you can do medical or catering gloves, both work) on hand at all times. This has really increased the longevity of my nails and preserves the color/polish for much longer.
I hope these tips help you to stay within your beauty budget while still allowing you to indulge a bit. Drop your favorite nail tips or polish preferences below!
I freaking love beauty. Not in a vain way, but the beauty industry. The science, technique, and marketing behind the products and services that make us feel our best. I have always loved the beauty industry for as long as I can remember. From watching America’s Next Top Model in high school calculating how many hours I’d have to work at the local pizza place to afford hair extensions, to graduating from hair school, to working in makeup sales for years. I have lived and breathed that space for a long time. Now I consider beauty my hobby. It truly brings me joy to try a new face mask or to let my hairstylist experiment with a new coloring technique on me. I love how the industry fuses together innovation with art. I can nerd out over this for hours.
Anyway, throughout my teenage and adult life, I have spent a LOT of money on beauty products and services. A lot of these expenses are for the pure sake of trying new things and reporting back. Even before I had a blog, I took so much pride in being the person who could recommend the best new foundation or could share details about an upcoming haircare launch. Seriously guys, that stuff gets me so pumped. Some girls collect shoes, I collect beauty knowledge and experience. I will always have my hair colored, my nails done, and an Ulta haul waiting to hit my bank account. Honestly, that’s who I am and I am self aware enough to accept it. But I am also fiscally aware enough to have picked up some tips throughout the years that allow me to indulge in my beauty routines without breaking the bank. Some are product swaps that work wonders and others are service hacks to get the most bang (and longevity) for your buck.
People think I spend a whole lot more on beauty upkeep than I actually do. I am certainly bougie, but I am bougie on a budget. I know when to invest, when to save, and when to modify your routine for budget’s sake. In the coming weeks I will run through everything from hair to nails to skin to lashes, and let you know what is worth the money, what you can save on, and some great budget friendly solutions, I’m starting with hair tips because honestly, these took me a while to figure out and are some of the best cost saving tips I’ve found.
Getting your hair done is EXPENSIVE. And for good reason. It’s complicated. It’s an art. It’s a science. It takes time. And NO you cannot get the same results at home. Especially if you are a blonde. Being blonde is fun, but expensive. Even if you are naturally blonde, achieving that specific tone and depth you want can really add up. I’ll first say here, hair is something I will ALWAYS spend the money on. If you mess if up trying to do it yourself, trust me, it will cost at least double the amount to get back to normal. Color corrections are no joke. Then add in the potential of damage which you can’t just pay someone to fix. To keep your long thick locks you’ll find yourself investing a couple hundo or more in extensions until it grows back. Just honestly not worth it. What is worth it, is letting the professionals work their magic. Luckily my hairstylist, Lauren, is truly amazing and keeps it really honest as far as price and upkeep. That leads me to my first tip.
Ask what the realistic upkeep for your hair color/style looks like. You need to know if you are going to have to be in the salon chair every six weeks like clockwork, or if you can maintain more of a lax schedule. Here is where you really need to be honest with yourself and with your stylist. If you can’t afford to be visiting so often, let your stylist know and they can help you come up with a look that fits your lifestyle, budget, and gets you where you want to be color wise.
The purposeful root being in style really can be a money saver (YAY!) but if you are like me and want to keep your blond as fresh as you possibly can, here is how you do it.
Between your “full” salon visits (where you get the whole shebang) you can have a few highlights popped in around your face and along your hairline. This runs a whole lot cheaper than a full highlight and gives you the look of the brightness you want, where it matters most. Another option is to opt for a toner. Especially with blondes, sometimes you just need a little adjustment or brightening. Your colorist can get you back to where you were tone wise, usually pretty easily, in a quick (and less expensive) salon visit.
Now you have to continue the hair TLC at home if you want your color to last as long as possible. I personally do this by not washing my hair that much. Dry shampoo is my best friend and so is the Apple Cinder Vinegar Rinse from Dphue. On the days where you probably need to wash your hair but don’t want to give it a full shampoo, this stuff is perfect. You pop it onto your damp roots, massage throughout, let sit, and rinse. It doesn’t have any stripping effects and doesn’t dull your color. It also leaves your hair looking not greasy, but shiny and healthy. This has been a HUGE hack for me that I truly am obsessed with. Think about it. If your toner usually looks amazing for, lets say 10 washes, after you get it done, you can swap the ACV rinse out for at least a third of those and, boom, you’ve prolonged your color by at least a few weeks. To be honest, I was skeptical about if you really could use this to replace a shampoo for a midweek freshen up, but I was so pleasantly surprised. It has gotten me through after workout classes, long weekends, and everything in between.
When you DO have to shampoo at home, you can make sure you are keeping your color vibrant by using a color safe shampoo and conditioner. On top of that, I also like to use a toning shampoo to help keep my blonde the shade I like. Ask your colorist what hue of shampoo they recommend you use to brighten up your specific color. As a blonde, I love purple shampoo and I want it to pack some punch. The Dphue Cool Blonde shampoo and the Amika Bust Your Brass Cool Blonde shampoo are two of my favorites right now. They aren’t super drying like other toning shampoos can be but I still like to use a hair mask on my ends when I am washing. I’ve dropped a few of my favorite hair masks that I use as conditioners below as well.
I’m getting my hair refreshed this weekend so I will have a few quality hours inside the salon. Drop me any questions you have about hair color/care in general, my hair upkeep, or product recommendations and I’ll gladly answer.
What budget friendly beauty breakdown do you want to see next? Nails? Makeup? Lashes? Skincare?
The incoming of summer sunshine reminded me that I was overdue for my annual dermatology appointment. I made an appointment to be seen this Friday and have a nice skin check up to make sure all is well. I never used to put much thought into skin abnormalities because the chances of it being skin cancer seemed so far fetched to me. This was seriously naive behavior considering both of my grandfathers have a history of skin cancer and in college I was visiting the tanning bed like it was my second home. Bad. Idea.
As I took more of an interest in skincare I realized how horribly I was ruining my skin by baking it in the sun. I started lathering up with SPF instead of tanning oil and called it a healthier lifestyle. Once I was diagnosed with Crohn’s, my awareness of the risks of skin cancer heightened. The more research I did, the more I understood the link between Crohn’s and skin cancer. The immunosuppressants us with Crohn’s are often on, can highly increase the likelihood of skin cancer. While the exact reason for this link is not 100% explained yet, the correlation can’t be ignored.
I started lathering SPF 50 all over my face, neck, and hands on the daily. I started covering up my scalp while on walks with my dogs. And I started spending a whole lot more time under the umbrella while on the beach. The risk of skin cancer is not worth a balmy glow I can easily get from a bronzing lotion. Even if you are not at a high risk for skin cancer, the sun is the most damaging thing to your skin. Is it worth getting prematurely wrinkled? I vote no.
All things in the table here, I am a firm believer in regular dermatology evaluations, especially if you have an autoimmune disease/ are on immunosuppressants. No matter how much you do to protect your skin now, you can never be 100% immune to the dangerous effects of UV rays, and sadly, the damage you have done can contribute to problems you may face now or in the future.
Obviously none of us are perfect. There have been days I forget my SPF and there are days I’ve spent too much time in the sun in favor of a good time with friends. I’m not saying you can never allow your skin see the light of day because, let’s get real, that’s super unrealistic. What I am saying though, is that you can do your best to 1. protect your skin and 2. do your due diligence with check ups.
Hopefully I’ll be reporting back after my appointment tomorrow with good news of no skin concerns. Until then, I wanted to leave you all with a few kick ass sunscreen recommendations. These are a few of my favorite products that infuse my love of skincare with the responsibility of protecting my skin.
Drop me a comment and let me know your SPF loaded product recommendations. I’m always in for a good new product to try.
Photo by: Madison Short
Not going to lie, the blonde part of Crohnically Blonde, definitely takes some upkeep. Especially when you are like me and are insanely specific about the exact tone of blonde you want. Not too warm but not on the gray spectrum, just a nice, icy in between. I don’t ask for much.
The reality behind getting the “perfect” blonde is a lot of wear and tear on your hair. Bleaching, toning, breakage, toning shampoos that can by super drying… I’ll thrown in hair extensions and a high heat curling iron sometimes just to really push things over the edge. I am no stranger to needing some extra TLC on my locks and handling the aftermath of damaged hair.
Since my last hair touch up, I’ve been trying out some new products to help keep my hair looking and feeling its best. Shampoo is something I feel like I never can get 100% right so that has been a big area of focus. I limit the number of times I wash my hair per week to truly the lowest number possible without looking totally unpresentable, so when I DO wash my hair, I want to make sure I am loading it up with good products that actually serve a purpose. Got to multitask.
I have been a long time fan of the purple toning shampoo and tried so many different types and brands. The issue I always run into is, as color perfecting as they are, they are so drying. Recently, I feel like I have discovered the ultimate solution to this situation. It seems simple but it is a total game changer. I have been double shampooing. The first time with whatever toning shampoo I am going to us, and the second time, following up with Maple Holistics Silk18 Shampoo. I let that sit in my hair for a good five minutes and then rinse it out. I am telling you guys this stuff has really smoothed out my hair and made it less prone to tangles and knots.
In the past I have been skeptical about using super nourishing shampoos because I have such fine hair. Sometimes using thick, hydrating products will really weigh it down and make it look greasy. Fortunately, Silk18 doesn’t have that effect. It cleanses your hair to remove build up and then nourishes it with 18 silk amino acids so you are actually “feeding” your hair instead of just piling conditioner on it to smooth it out temporarily.
Pairing Silk18 with any purple shampoo is my go to way to keep my hair color great while keeping it healthy. I also have loved using Silk18 alone and leaving it on for 20 minutes or so when my hair needs some extra loving. I even have used it on my extensions a few times which has really helped to smooth out the ends.
Maple Holistics continues to be a brand I can count on for quality natural products that won’t break the bank. It is less than $20 for a 16 ounce bottle. I highly recommend getting the largest size for sharing purposes…. More on that to come. I have super sensitive skin and have actually broken out in rashes along my hairline from using new shampoos. With this stuff I haven’t had any issues and it feels super soothing on your scalp. You know when you get your hair colored and you scalp feels dry afterwards? Use. This. Stuff. Leave it on for 20 minutes and you will feel so refreshed and the discomfort will be gone.
As I’ve been tracking my results over the past couple of months, I also discovered that when my husband ran out of his shampoo, he started using this too! I am not good at sharing my products but I let this one slide because, to be honest, his hair gets CRAZY in the winter and needs some help. If he was going to use my shampoo he at least needed to report back with his findings. His verdict was that his scalp feels so much better and he is having less dandruff throughout the day. I have noticed his hair looking and feeling smoother and overall it being easier for him to tame and style. I guess it looks like I am Amazon Priming a 16oz bottle to my house ASAP.
I hope this suggestion helps my fellow blondies (and not blondies!!) out, especially going into summer when chlorine and salt water can do a number on your hair. Maple Holistics is also a brand you can feel good purchasing from because they are naturally formulated, have recyclable packaging, and are cruelty free!
Have you tried any other products from Maple Holistics? Any other favorites that I should pick up?
The holiday season is upon us which means you are looking for gifts to give to the special people in your lives. I love consulting gift guides of my favorite bloggers to get some ideas especially when it comes to buying for my sisters and friends. I wanted to kick off my series of gift guides with one that is near and dear to my heart.... a Spoonie Gift Guide!
If you are someone living with a chronic illness you know there are some really special comforts in life that truly are some of the best gifts. There may not be a magic pill you can gift to someone who has a chronic illness that will make it all better, but there are plenty of gifts you can give that can help reduce anxiety, create a more comfortable way to relax, and provide a bit of luxury to a day of self care.
You can shop my picks below so you can treat the spoonie in your life this holiday season (or yourself... alway appropriate to treat yourself). I also have included some brief descriptions, giving you the scoop on why these are the perfect gifts!
1. slip Silk Pillow Case - When you aren't feeling so hot it's no secret that you can spend a lot of time in bed. Having a luxurious pillow case can make you feel at least a bit pampered while you are getting your beauty sleep. The numerous benefits for your skin and hair simply by switching to this pillow case can make you feel like you are treating yourself while you snooze.
2. Herbivore Detox Bath Salts - Baths are won of my favorite ways to unwind after a long day and they help a lot with chronic joint and muscle pain. I also love how cute this jar is because you will actually want it to be displayed in your bathroom.
3. slip Silk Sleep Mask - I never understood the hype around sleep masks until I wanted to sleep in a bright doctors office. Game. Changed. This is a gem to someone who is constantly exhausted.
4. Audible Membership - Audible is the gift that keeps on giving. It allows you to consume content straight through your earbuds in a relaxing way. When you are nauseous or have a migraine the last thing you want to do is read a book or look at a screen. Audible solves all of these problems and is also a great companion for when you are getting infusions or suffering through a long wait at the doctor's office.
5. Pajama Set - Feeling cute and put together goes a long when when it comes to mindset and morale. Even if your hot date this weekend consists of Netlixing by yourself it feels good to get a little fancy in these adorable (but still ultra comfy) pajamas.
6. Earbuds - This goes hand in hand with the Audible Membership. Listening to books, podcasts, or music can be a great distraction during medical procedures or when you just aren't feeling great and need to take your mind somewhere else. Also, great to wear when you don't feel like speaking to any other humans.
7. Mask Frenzy by Peter Thomas Roth - Masks are another great way to practice self care. This set has all of the greatest highs from PTR but isn't necessarily something you can justify spending the money on yourself. This is a special gift that will remind the spoonie in your life to spend a little extra time treating themselves.
8. Gravity Blanket- These are proven to help with anxiety and insomnia which are two things many spoonies experience. Who doesn't want the gift of better sleep?
9. Teddy Bear Faux Fur Bath Robes - Again, sometimes its nice to feel pampered without having to leave your home.
10. Acupressure Mat - These are out of this world when it goes to helping decrease muscle pain and discomfort. They are are proven to help lover anxiety.
Did I miss anything? Let me know what else you would add to the list.
Also, stay tuned for my next gift guide coming soon.
When it comes to beauty treatments and tricks, I am always down to try just about anything, especially when it comes to skincare. My husband is still confused at how I have so much space in our home dedicated to storing my various cleansers, face masks, sunscreens… you name it and I probably have it somewhere in my museum of skincare treasures. He has slowly warmed up to my excessive supply as I’ve slathered creams on his face that he admits “make him feel smooth”. You. Are. Welcome.
As you can imagine, the weeks leading up to my wedding I was CRAZY with my routine. Yes, I was getting airbrush makeup (done by my friend/makeup artist who is seriously the best) but good skin is the foundation to a beautiful makeup job. I didn’t always understand the importance of this, it took working in the makeup industry and putting makeup on such a variety of skin types to realize that even the best foundation won’t look perfect if your skin isn’t up to par. When my Crohn’s acts up (aka when I get stressed aka when I am planning the best but most stressful day of my damn life) my skin rebels and I break out especially around my jaw line. I’m not talking about a little blackhead that can be covered, but serious cystic volcanos that no matter how much you push and prod, don’t erupt. You all know what I’m talking about. They are the kinds of blemishes that you need a live Facetune edit to cover.
Leave it to me to get one of these nasty guys RIGHT before my wedding. I shouldn’t have been surprised since, you know, wedding, stress, Crohn’s, but like, seriously? I tried my usual at home remedies but none of my regular combos were working rid my face of this thing. The week of my wedding I called the doctor that does my Botox in extreme panic. How do I make this thing look normal? I had researched a ton of different in office treatments that I blurted out over the phone. They told me to come in ASAP and they would laser it off for me.
I had never tried lasering before but I was like hell yes sign me up. Not only did I get to try a new skincare treatment that could make me feel great about my skin for my wedding, I also got to do it for free because my doctor’s office is the best fucking place (shoutout Dr. Tag, ILY). Side note, I also love my doctor’s office because they are SO real about treatments and what they suggest to do and not to do. I was begging them to inject my face with cortisone to make my acne go away and they gave me a serious education on how that can actually cause divots in your skin, basically scarring your face. Yikes. This is why I appreciate their honesty.
I got to the office and had this tiny laser that looked like one of those mouth rinsing tools at the dentist, zap my huge pimple a few times in a row. I was expecting pain to the extent of some light botox but it actually felt like nothing but a little heat and a tiny shock. I immediately looked in the mirror and saw a difference. The redness and swelling had dramatically decreased. I follow up with an in office topical retinol treatment and was on my way with some fun free samples and a less inflamed face in about 20 minutes total.
I watched as the swelling went down over the next few days and by the day of my wedding (three days later) the situation had really improved. It hadn’t totally vanished by the big day but it was way more manageable and my makeup and photos turned out AMAZING. I was really happy with the results and I am glad I tried this treatment out.
After a few cocktails, the days after my treatment I would show everyone who would listen my close up before picture followed by an excited “do you see how good it looks now?! like look! seriously!”. Everyone was pretty intrigued and the biggest question I got was “how does that work?!”.
I’m no doctor but here is the scoop on how it was explained to me. Basically, cystic acne is nasty bacteria backed up under your skin. The laser targets that area with heat which kills the acne causing bacteria. No bacteria, no cystic acne. Boom. If you want to read more, “The Pretty Pimple” has a great article on laser treatments that I majorly stalked.
Full facial laser treatments can cost around $200+ but for just a spot or two I recommend talking to your doctor because you can do specifically those areas for a discounted rate. If you suffer from chronic cystic acne you can get a sequence of treatments (usually around 3-5 treatments depending on severity) and clear up the acne you are experiencing. While it isn’t immediate, it is definitely effective and it also helped to prevent scarring. About a third of the time I get some type of acne scar when I have a cystic breakout (probably because I try and handle it myself, whoops) but with this treatment there was absolutely zero scarring.
So what’s the verdict:
I will 100% do this treatment again. It yielded great results with little to no pain, not a huge investment, and no recovery time.
There was no scarring after the treatment and no scarring after the cystic acne healed.
I saw instant, positive results that continue to improve over a few days.
The only thing I would advise against is doing this the week of your wedding like I did. Of course if you are in a pinch, you have to do what you have to do but ideally avoiding trying new treatments immediately before a big event is the way to go. You never know how your skin will react so you want to try new products/treatments out in enough time where you could recover if something went awry. Out of all things to get done last minute though I would say this is not super risky and probably one of the better ones.
Overall…. I saw GO FOR IT.
Now obviously due to expenses and time I can’t run to my doctor every time I have a breakout so I have to find some treatments at home to help remedy the situation. I have shared some of my favorites in the past, one of which being the Fresh Umbrian Clay Mask. I only use it as a spot treatment instead of on my whole face and you only need such a tiny bit that I’ve had this bottle so long that they’ve redone the packaging. It’s not cheap so I’m not mad about it.
I also have been loving the cult favorite Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion for like 7 years now. I use it mostly for whiteheads as opposed to cystic acne but it works super quick and is under $20. I have a set of pimple extracting tools that I keep on my vanity at all times (it was less than $10 from Amazon). I am the type of person that like NEEDS to pop a pimple when I have one which is not great for your skin but with the right tools it can be done in a proper way.
My last trick for fighting breakouts is to actually hydrate my skin. People automatically assume that when your skin breaks out you should dehydrate the shit out of it and turn your face into a desert. From my experience this only makes things worse because then your skin will overproduce oil and it becomes a vicious cycle. Do not be afraid of hydration. If done properly it won’t cause your skin to break out and it will only keep your skin looking tighter and younger which is honestly all I can ask for. I just started using the Peter Thomas Roth Rose Stem Cell Bio-Repair Gel Mask and I am in love with it. For my daily moisturizer I have really been loving the COSRX Snail Cream. It is affordable and insanely hydrating without feeling too heavy.
Maintaining even and smooth skin sans breakouts can be hard when you have underlying health issues, but it definitely is possible to a certain extent. While I have accepted that my skin will never be “perfect”, I love keeping my skin as healthy as can be and I love sharing my finding with you all!
Our new podcast is live here on iTunes and we are super pumped about it. This is a fun and lighter episode than we have be doing recently. Diane is preparing for a trip, we talk about some things that we are loving, and we talk about our experiences with botox (+fillers).
We mentioned a few weeks ago that we were going to experiment with some injectables and report back. By now we've had time to let them sink in and share the details on our experiences.
Not only do we talk about how to use botox in a preventative way we also talk about how it can fix medical issues. I've had horrible TMJ for as long as I can remember so I went for it and got some needles to the masseter muscle in hopes it would bring me some relief.
We are sharing ALL of the details so give it a listen. Obviously we are not medical professionals so before your choose to do anything please consult with a board certified plastic surgeon.
If you live in Maryland and need referrals or want to know where we went specifically/who we saw drop us a message and we will give you the scoop.
My hair and I spent many years fighting with each other.
My natural locks are a mousey dirty blonde/light brown and was super thin and scraggly for the longest time. And by that I mean up until like last year.
I cycled through extensions and treatment products for almost a decade before I realized my body's effed up way of absorbing my nutrients (thanks anorexia + Crohn's!) was what was causing my hair to just literally not grow the way I wanted it to. This is a whole other post in and of itself but once my Crohn's got way more under control miraculously my hair started thriving for the first time I could ever remember.
Over the past 6 months or so I have been experimenting with styling products and tools to style my newly healthier hair and have been getting used to a life of styling my natural hair not just with extensions!
I have done a couple other posts about my haircare favorites before and don't get me wrong, all of those products are great and a lot of them are still in rotation in my routine. Here is the thing though, trying new beauty products is pretty much my hobby so I am always finding new sh*t that I am obsessed with.... hence the title of these posts.
I'm going to give ya'll a short rundown on why I love each of the products and you can click the link to purchase them via Amazon. Yup, extra bonus here, all of these products you can easily get 'primed' to your home so you literally do not have to leave your sofa.
If you're into the products I usually share (these included) make sure to check out my Amazon Influencer Shop where you can see all of my favorite things in a variety of different categories. There are a ton of haircare, skincare, and makeup products I love along with other things like books, office supplies, an even selfie lights.
Okay now let's do this thing....
I am a hairspray brat. I remember when I was little my mom used to spray hairspray while I was talking to her and it would get in my face/mouth and I would LOSE my shit. I've always been weird about how it smells, how sticky it is, and how impossible it makes restyling your hair without washing it. The thing is, when you have hair on the thinner side you need a decent amount of spray to keep any curls in tact but the formula cant be too heavy that it makes weighs your hair down.
I recently had the chance to try this product for free thanks to Influenster and I was a huge fan. This blog post is not sponsored by them so just putting that out there. I actually like this stuff. The hold is great like to the point where I had my hair curled during the outrageous Northeast windstorm and it kept my curls in tact.
The formula isn't super sticky and it actually gives your hair a pretty but non greasy shine. This stuff is perfect for the girl who hates washing her hair because it holds well but you can easily brush your hair and restyle without dealing with yucky buildup or a crunchy feel.
There isn't much to say about this stuff besides it is a lifesaver. To be honest, I don't even know all 25 things this stuff does but I can gladly tell you what I use it for. I put it in after I wash my hair as a leave in conditioner. It helps to detangle and moisturize my hair as well as helping to manage frizziness and as a heat protectant.
It is super easy to use and a little goes a long way. It is totally not heavy at all and doesn't leave any kind of residue.
Drybar products are my JAM. Literally I have never used something from them that I haven't fallen in love with. A little goes a long way with this sea salt spray. I love putting it in wet hair if I don't have time to dry it because it will leave my usual stick straight hair with a bit of texture. I love spraying this in with a tiny bit of hairspray after doing some tousled curls. It gives your hair a sexy, undone looks and looks like you aren't trying too hard. Usually to look like you aren't trying you have to put a lot of effort in but seriously, not with this stuff. It is also great to throw in your beach bag on vacations. Also, I'm a huge fan of this for second (and even third) day hair to amp it up a bit. The delicious smell doesn't hurt either.
If you haven't gotten the theme here, I just really don't like washing my hair. Don't judge me. I know at least 80% of ya'll reading this only wash yours 2-3 times per week whether you want to admit it or not.
Dry shampoo is my best friend. I actually joke at work that our team runs on dry shampoo. Why? Because we are all boss ass babes that have a lot more important things to do than wash our hair everyday. Just. Saying.
I've tried almost every type of dry shampoo on the market. Expensive, cheap, spray, powder, you name it and I've tried it. My tried and true favorite always is Batiste. It is reasonably priced, gets the job done, and I always order this 3-pack from Amazon because that is how quickly I go through it.
I have been through my fair share of curling irons but I have never found one that is as easy to use and totally efficient as this one it. Matt got this for my for Valentine's Day last month after I had been obsessing over it when I got my hair done at Drybar. Best husband award.
This tool is super easy to use. It heats up to 440 degrees almost instantly so it is great for when you are rushed in the mornings. The barrel rotates to it is ergonomically friendly and ensures you have a smooth curl every time. The 1.25 inch is great for my length of hair and perfect for curling my extensions as well.
It definitely is an investment but I have learned over the years that in my opinion it is definitely worth investing in quality hair tools because they DO make such a different.
This T3 dryer is another great investment in the hair tool category. It is so light weight and dries my hair insanely quickly. Another one that makes rushed morning before work 10x easier. It also isn't super loud so you won't wake your entire house up at 6am. The speedy drying time is the thing that will forever sell me on T3 dryers because part of the reason I hate washing my hair is because I hate the time it takes to style afterwards. This has undoubtedly cut down my drying time at least in half. 15 extra minutes that I can sleep in on a Monday morning? Sign. Me. Up.
I hope you all enjoy the products I mentioned and they help to make your hair styling experience a lot more efficient and hopefully more fun! Make sure to check out my Amazon Influencer Page to shop my other favorite items and drop me a message/comment with any recommendations you have! I am always looking for new things to try!
Blonde babe. Maryland native. Crohn's crushing puppy mother to two sweet rescues.
Welcome to my unfiltered commentary on crushing chronic illness in your 20's and everything that goes along with that.