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The Reason For My Absence …

Health

I firmly believe that I do not owe anyone rationalization for my life choices. In fact, I firmly believe that we should all try a bit harder to explain our decisions less. And while I completely see the irony in me writing a personal essay explaining my absence from blogging, I also believe that sharing my experience and journey with mental health is important.

While it might seem harmless to nitpick and say, “but why haven’t you been blogging? Just do it,” there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye. After all, blogging is a very personal journey that illustrates an individual’s experience as they learn and grow. And I don’t believe that I personally should be cranking out content as quickly and consistently as possible. My journey says otherwise: right now, I’m focusing on myself and who I am on a much more intimate level.

Earlier this summer, I had a harsh eye-opening experience, one that made me realize that I would like to focus on who I am as a person: my health (both mental and physical) and my happiness. While I’m not ready to openly discuss what made me come to this realization, it’s helped guide me and put my life on a new track. And, even though I am the kind of person who always looks after others before myself, this means focusing on putting myself first.

Below, 5 secrets that have helped me become happier and healthier.

  1. Eating healthier.

    I’ve been using Weight Watchers recently. Although my goal is not to lose a specific amount of weight, it’s helped me A LOT with portion sizes and looking at what I put in my body. (Spoiler alert: Frappuccinos are not good for you. Who knew?) Every week, I meal plan for the week and choose new recipes to test out. And, I’m happy to report that my body has responded in the most wonderful way: I feel more energized, less bloated, and excited to take on the day.

  2. Doing what makes YOU happy. 

    For the longest time, I thought that what made me happy was writing. But now that I’ve graduated and writing has become my main career, I have realized that I’m able to do whatever else I please with my free time. I get to write 8 (8!!!!) hours every single day, and that doesn’t mean I have to do that when I get home too. Instead, I’ve found out that there are other activities that make me happy in my free time. Recently, Jorge and I decided to start traveling more. We most recently took a spontaneous road trip to Rhode Island, Boston and Cape Cod, and we’re planning trips to Denver, New Orleans, Washington D.C. and Europe (fingers crossed on that one). On a much smaller (and more affordable) level, I’ve taken it upon myself to spend more time educating kids and teens. As a former dance teacher, I really miss the trade. Starting this fall, I’m going to be an SAT prep instructor and tutor through a volunteer service, and I could not be more excited.

  3. Focusing on mental health.

    In the past, I’ve talked candidly about my struggles with Depression and Anxiety. And while I have a lot of help thanks to my medication, meds don’t solve everything. I sometimes forget that I live in the most chaotic, insane city. In New York, people work hard and play harder. And, to be totally blunt, that’s not who I am. I’ve made a conscious choice to leave my work at the doorstep and to not feel pressured to live a crazy going out New York lifestyle. In fact, in the past few months, I no longer feel as though I have to drink and go out to have fun. Removing myself from that NY mindset has helped extraordinarily.

  4. Embracing the mornings.

    I’ve always been a morning person, but working  9-5 is DRAINING. But mornings are so freaking important; they set you up for the rest of the day (and week!). So that’s why Jorge and I started setting our alarms earlier: we make morning smoothies, drink water, eat avocado toast, watch the news and take a few more minutes to relax and ready ourselves for the day ahead. Obviously some days are easier than others, but I can feel a HUGE difference when I get an extra hour in the morning time to prep. Next step: morning runs. (Any advice?! Comment below!!!)

  5. Spending more time with the people you love.

    This seems like a no-brainer, right? Wrong. As they say, “in order to love others, you have to love yourself.”  And the four little things above have helped me do just that. Now that I’m creating a more positive me, I can give Jorge the love he deserves, call my mom more often, and hang out with the girls I’m so lucky to call my best friends. But that would never be possible if I weren’t taking care of myself in the first place.

April & May Beauty Favorites 2017

Beauty, Skincare

Phew! It’s been a crazy past few months. It’s been so crazy, in fact, that I forgot to write a monthly favorites for April! Oops. To make up for my lack of monthly favorites during April, I’m combing April and May for aa huge spring favorites post. And unlike my other monthly favorites, the following products have been carefully curated and much loved this spring (so much in fact, I have to refrain from sounding overly sing songy). Proceed reading with caution, some of these beauty products might be the best of the best (and you might not want to go back to your old standbys ever again).

Skin Laundry Gentle Foaming Face Wash

I’m on a constant search to find a cleanser that is gentle enough for my sensitive, dry skin yet powerful enough to remove my makeup. I’ve searched tirelessly, and yes I’ve tried all the brands you’re probably thinking of: Simple, FAB, Burt’s Bees, you name it. It’s not that these cleansers are bad necessarily, it’s just that they’re not the best thing I’ve ever used. But this one, this hidden gem, might just be the closest I’ll get. I got this deluxe sample in my Sephora Play, and I didn’t think anything of it. But after using it daily for a few weeks now, I’m happy to say that this cleanser is amazing. The formula is gel at first, but when you suds it with water it foams up on the face nicely. It’s very gentle and non-irritating which my skin loves, but it also takes off basically everything but a little bit of left over mascara. Color me impressed.

Belif Hungarian Water Essence

This is another goodie found amid Sephora Play. I really like essences, and I enjoy their weightless feel, but sometimes I wonder if it’s even making a difference. This essence has helped to change my POV. I feel completely different if washed my face and not followed up with this essence. It is very hydrating, like water (as the name aptly says), and it provides the most wonderful base for my serum. 100% worth it.

Tatcha The Water Cream

I think I might have an addiction to face lotions and face creams. At one point in time, I most likely have 10 different lotions and creams to choose from. I’m not complaining in any way, but it does get hard to formulate a concrete opinion when there are so many options. This cream is, hands down, one of the best I’ve ever used. It ranks up there with my First Aid Beauty cream, and that’s high praise. What makes this so unique is it’s consistency: it’s a cream, but it’s not too thick. It’s watery, so it gets absorbed fairly quickly (which is ideal for spring time). At the same time, it leaves behind a very faint scent. It’s no wonder this is the #1 best seller right now at Sephora. It’s phenomenal, and I highly recommend to any skin type.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dolly Wink Liquid Eyeliner

I’d heard rumor that this eyeliner was good, but I didn’t image it was this good. This eyeliner blows other liquid felt-tipped liners out of the water. I first heard about the liner a couple months ago when Estee Lalonde talked about picking one up when she was in Japan. Estee happened to pick up the pencil version pf the liner. But when I was at Disney World Epcot earlier this spring , I found the Dolly Wink felt tip in Epcot Japan. TBH, I’m sort of obsessed with Japanese beauty right now (but more on that later – hint, hint, nudge). Since that day — literally — I haven’t stopped wearing it. This. Eyeliner. Is. The. Shit. Unlike other felt-tipped liners I’ve used and struggled with in the past, this liner applies in one flawless swipe, the pigment is true black, and it stays puts all day.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Lip Shine

I’m unsure why other companies don’t put Hyaluronic Acid in more beauty products. I think Neutrogena is onto something with this product. Unlike most glosses or lip toppers that feel sticky and heavy, this gloss is light weight. For someone like me who doesn’t wear lip glosses every single day, it’s ideal. I love having this in my bag at all times (similar to the Korres Lip Butter Gloss), because it’s an extremely sheer rose color that just adds the slightest something something. I’m also a huge fan of the applicator: it’s a large oval that makes it easier to cover more surface area quicker.

My Favorite Products For Banishing Breakouts

Health, Skincare

neostrata glycolic washAhhhhh, adult acne. The wonders and woes of adult acne. Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder, “why am I 22 and still suffer from the occasional breakout on my face?!” Whether they’re caused by hormones, inevitable stress, pollution or oils, I continue to find my face plagued with acne from time to time. As I type this, I have four sprouting up on my chin and cheek. And, unfortunately, I know I’m not the only one.

In order to cope with the unfortunate friends on my face, I’ve come up with a system of sorts. Its because of four trusty products that I’m able to say that I’ve drastically cut down on the amount of acne scars on my face, as well as the frequency which I get acne. And, my skin thanks me. Interested in my secret formula? Check it out:

1. Spot Treatment

I have to be extremely careful when it comes to applying spot treatments. Most treatments with benzoyl peroxide can burn my sensitive skin, so when I do, I reserve spot treatments for the acne that’s really bad. I go for spot treatments when I have deeply rooted acne (the kind that’s painful) because those are the times when I really need the medicated treatment to get into my skin and do its thing. Sometimes, I can’t lie, I pick at my face and pop my white heads (don’t we all??). When that happens, I like to use Neosporin on my open acne. Somehow, when I use Neosporin, my face responds really well and the open cut goes away much quicker. Obviously, this might not work for everyone, and I highly recommend spot treating Neosporin elsewhere before putting it on your face where your skin is very sensitive.

 

2. Chemical Exfoliant

I have completely fallen in love with the NeoStrata Resurfacing Foaming Glycolic Wash. This face wash contains 18% glycolic acid, an AHA, that helps to resurface the skin, retexturize and get rid of those nasty acne breakouts. It’s a chemical exfoliant, meaning it strips away the top layer of the skin chemically, rather than with an abrasive physical exfoliant. I love how gentle the wash is, and my skin feels immediately different after using it, never tight or dry like other chemical exfoliants I’ve used. I have to be honest, you have to be careful again and make sure that you’re not over-washing your face. This stuff is powerful; it won’t take more than a pump, and it won’t take long to work its magic on the face. Use it sparingly, only when you’re suffering from bumpy skin or inflamed breakouts, because it’s definitely not an everyday acne wash.

3. Toner

Say it with me: toner is so important. Especially if you’re looking to banish an acne breakout, or prevent one, toner can help a lot. Gone are the days of using toners only to rebalance a skin’s PH level after cleansing. With that said, it’s still so important to use toner to wipe away the water build up (phosphates, fluorides and what not) that might be left on your skin after rinsing it when cleansing. Even more, so many toners offer side benefits to the skin. As I mentioned before, my irritated or acne-ridden skin loves this carrot oil toner from Snowy Owl Cove. But if you weren’t so keen on trying a chemical exfoliant, you can also try a chemical toner, like the Pixi Glow Tonic (it’s personally not my favorite, but a lot of people swear by it).

4. Vitamin C Serum

Say it with me: Vitamin C is ALSO important. Seriously. If you’re not consuming it, or even if you already are, it’s important to apply topically. Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant, so it does well to fight breakouts. It’s also important if you’re using chemical exfoliants with AHAs because your skin will be more prone to UV rays, and Vitamin C protects the skin from inflammation caused by UV rays (still apply an oil-free sunscreen though, just to be extra safe!!!) This one from Lumene is great. I love that it’s formulated with hyaluronic acid so it moisturizers while also killing any acne. I use this one every morning when I’m feeling the need for some vit C!

 

 

Special thanks to Neostrata for sending me their product to test out. This post was sponsored and back by Brandbacker, but my thoughts and review are my own!