9 Jul

Cleaning Your Makeup Brushes on the Cheap

We all know we’re supposed to do it regularly, but how often do you ACTUALLY clean your makeup brushes?  It’s so easy to skip, but it’s recommended that you clean your brushes every week.


Dirty brushes can actually affect how well your makeup looks, but more importantly, you can expose your skin to dirt and bacteria that can cause serious breakouts and even eye infections.  You can clean your brushes with gentle shampoo and water, but I prefer a much faster method…

Elf brush cleaner is super inexpesive ($3!) and an easy addition to your daily routine.  After you use your brushes, spray the bristles and wipe them with a paper towel.  They’ll dry almost instantly and you can avoid the shampoo cleaning a little longer (although, I recommend doing a more thorough cleaning every month or so.)

How often do you clean your makeup brushes?  What product(s) do you use?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

14 Jun

Bronze in a Bottle

We all know that getting a golden glow from the sun or a tanning bed is a big no-no. But we also know a streaky, orange mess from self-tanner-gone-wrong is horrifying. Take it from a very pale gal, I get it; baring it all (or most of it) is much easier with a bronzed bod.

Over the years, I’ve become somewhat fanatical about finding the best self-tanners, so let me help you navigate the beauty aisles and the application process so you won’t head to your next party or tropical vacation looking like an oompa loompa.


Of course, airbrush tanning is always a great option, especially for special occasions or vacation. But if you’re more of a DIY kind of girl, here are a few of my favorite self-tanners that promise to be golden (not orange) and fade evenly.

What to try:

St. Tropez: You can find this – my personal fave – at Sephora in a lotion, spray, or foam. Even with fair skin, the darker color of these products is fine and gives a nice, instant color that gets darker after about four hours. Keep in mind that if you aren’t a self-tanning expert or fast worker, the foam may not be the first product for you to try. It dries faster than the lotion, so you may not have enough time to blend.

Sephora Collection Self-Tanning Tinted Body Mist: Since St. Tropez is so pricey, try using it only on your limbs and chest and use this spray on your stomach and back. I do this and can’t tell a difference in color. It’s fast, it’s even, and it’s not orange.

From the drugstore: Although my favorite drugstore tanners have been discontinued, I recently tried L’Oreal Sublime and am pleased with the color and evenness. Plus, once it dries down (about three minutes after application) your skin feels smooth, not greasy.

Best Practices:

1. Exfoliate before applying tanner. Doing so removes dead skin cells so that tanner will be more even. But make sure you don’t exfoliate after you’ve started using tanner. This will make it come off quickly and unevenly.

2. Wash as you go: Since some self-tanners are quite dark, after I do each leg or arm I wash my hands well with soap and warm water. This way the tanner doesn’t have time to dry and stain hands. To avoid white hands, though, scrub the insides of them together and open your fingers to get in-between them. Don’t wash the backsides of your hands because then they won’t match your newly bronzed arms.

3. Keep your fingers together: To avoid streaking, make sure your fingers aren’t spread apart while blending the tanner.

4. Be careful where you start: Never put a glob of tanner in your hands and then start at your knees or on your shin. These areas tend to be drier. For example, on your lower leg, start on your calf and work your way toward your shin and then down to your ankles and tops of feet.

In a pinch:

The best quick fix is Perfekt’s Body Perfection Gel (either matte or non-matte; the latter is shimmery). Unlike tanners, it gives skin a boost of color that washes off after showering and won’t sweat off or stain clothes. Plus, it’s super forgiving. If you want some extra oomph, use a standard self-tanner all week, then apply this on top before a special occasion. It’s a lifesaver if you run out of time for or are hesitant about self-tanner. If nothing else, try this stuff. You’ll fall in love!

Do you have any favorite self-tanning products or application tricks you swear by? Share them in the comments so we can all improve our safe-bronzing knowledge!

P.S.- Seven tips for the perfect airbrush tan.

10 May

Summer Sunscreen Pledge!

It feels like summer has officially arrived in San Francisco this week.  It has been so warm and beautiful— pretty rare in the city!  I even took a day trip outside of the city yesterday and enjoyed some luxurious pool time:

I grew up in a beach town, and I have to admit that I wasn’t always good about putting on sunscreen (especially in my teens.)  I’ve been known, even in recent years, to skip sunscreen on short poolside outings and I’m determined to take better care from here on out.

The truth is, we should all be wearing sunscreen every day (not just when it’s hot out.)  So I’m officially— and publicly— pledging to be a daily sunscreen wearer.  I know my skin will thank me later in life, and I proved to myself yesterday that I can still get a tan while staying protected from the sun.

Are you with me?  If you need help, here are some tips on choosing the perfect sunscreen.

Do you wear sunscreen every day?  Will you pledge to take better care of yourself and start incorporating it into your routine?  Got a favorite sunscreen brand?  Share in the comments!

25 Apr

My Crazy, Exciting, Terrible, Wonderful Half Marathon

Five and a half months ago, I struggled to run two miles.  You might not have known it from looking at me, but even after getting fit for my wedding, I wasn’t in very good cardio shape.  A friend suggested I start running, and although I had watched my dad transform himself from a non-runner into an ultra-marathoner at the age of 47, I wasn’t sure I could do it.

But due to some health stuff and the fact that I wanted to feel my absolute best, I decided to train for a race.

If you’ve been following the blog, you know that I ran a 10k in February, which was a really big deal for me and brought me a lot of satisfaction.  By then, I had already discovered that “runner’s high” that everyone talks about (the one that I thought was made up until a life-changing 5 miler in late December.)

After the 10k, I set my sights on a half marathon.  I trained and pushed my body beyond what I ever thought I could do, and on Sunday the big race had finally arrived.

I woke up at 4:30 on Sunday morning, full of nerves and excitement and disbelief that I was actually going to run 13.1 miles.  I had completed 11 miles in my training, and I was praying that the adrenaline and excitement would take me farther than I had ever gone.  My dad was running the race with me, to support and coach me as I ran (which turned out to be infinitely more important than I ever could have anticipated.)

(feeling strong and excited)

My goal was to run the half in 2 hours and 8 minutes (a 9:45 pace), which was an ambitious goal for me, but I knew it was possible.  The race started off slow— it’s hard to run with 2,000 other people crowded around you!— and by the second mile when everyone had spread out, I’d already lost a little bit of time.

(mom cheering me on and dad making a ridiculous face… typical)

The course ran through wine country.  Translation: it was MUCH hillier than 99% of my training runs through the relatively flat Golden Gate park.  Needless to say, I continued to lose little bits of time and then gain them back as I navigated the hills.

When I reached mile ten, my body started to fight me.  I was tired in a way that I can’t put into words.  I knew I had to stay hydrated, but drinking made me nauseous.  I had 3.1 miles left and it felt like an impossible feat.  It’s amazing how much mental strength it takes to do long runs.  This is where my dad’s support made all the difference.

He encouraged me up every hill, reminded me that it was almost over, and wouldn’t let me slow down because he knew how badly I wanted to hit my goal time.  I had nearly a minute to make up in the last mile, and I started to feel the disappointment of not meeting my goal before I had even crossed the finish line.

But somehow, thanks to my dad’s encouragement and the sheer will to finish what I started, I finished the race in 2 hrs. 7 mins. and 06 seconds, narrowly achieving the time I had trained for.

(checking my watch as I crossed the finish line)

(moments after finishing the race)

(proud hubby)

I should have been happy, but something else happened instead.  Almost instantly, my body went into shock. I was dizzy, nauseous, disoriented.  I went to the med tent and asked for an IV, thinking I must have been severely dehydrated.  But after two IV’s and a few hours of medical attention, it was clear that hydration wasn’t the issue.  I was suffering from extreme exhaustion, likely caused by factors outside of the race.  Pushing my body for 13.1 miles literally pushed me over the edge, and I spent the rest of the day in a completely altered state.

(congratulations from mom… I was feeling beyond terrible at this point, but I still love this photo :)

Even now, days later, I’m still drained.  But I’m still proud to say that I achieved something I never thought I’d be able to do.  If I were to do it again, I might have postponed the race until I was able to reduce the level of stress in the rest of my life.  But all things considered, I’m happy to say I’m a half marathon survivor!

Sorry for the enormous post (I told you on Monday it was a long story!)

Have you ever run a 10k, half marathon, or marathon?  Training for one now?  Got your own athletic story to share?  Please do in the comments!

24 Apr

15 Minute Vacations for the Stressed-Out Girl

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, life is full of stress. Whether it’s your job or your family, sometimes things we’re supposed to love end up being the things that raise our blood pressure. With that in mind, here’s a week’s worth of 15 minute mini vacation suggestions— free or cheap ways to take you from frazzled to fabulous.


Bubble bath + book: although I could separate the two, reading in the tub requires a guilty pleasure paperback and guarantees you a long soak in the muscle-relaxing hot waters. Your body will thank you, and your mind can move from mergers to throbbing manhoods, if only for fifteen minutes.

Call your best friend: When was the last time you called someone on the phone to talk? Even if it’s recent, stepping outside to hear a familiar voice can be a grounding experience and a great one. I feel like I never make phone calls these days, and texts just aren’t the same as chatting and giggling with a friend.

Breathe: This might seem like a simple enough one. “Breathe for fifteen minutes? I breathe all the time!” Yet breathing mindfully is one of the best things you can do to clear your head. There’s a reason that the last ten minutes of every yoga class is dedicated to meditation. Focusing inward for a few peaceful minutes is like spring cleaning for your soul! For $0.99 you can download the Long Deep Breathing app, which helps you track your breathing in a way designed to lower your anxiety.

Make something: Even if you’re not the artsy type, sites like Polyvore and Etsy allow you to make visual stylesheets or collections that will still get you in the crafty spirit.

Walk down a new street: Maybe it’s your lunch break and you’re going to get some food. By walking instead of driving or stopping to eat at a park you’ve never seen before, you can maximize your fifteen minutes by turning it into break from the familiar. Isn’t that what a vacation is? Exploring the world around you can be as simple as turning down a new street or getting a little more natural light than you usually would.

Whatever you do, make sure to take a few minutes each day to love yourself.  This little investment in your sanity will pay off big time!

What do you do to de-stress during your day? Which of these tips above are you most excited to try this week? Share in the comments!