What’s In My Bag: College Edition

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a few months shy of an Associate of Arts in Paralegal Studies. I spend a lot of my week reading cases, writing briefs, and carting my life between home, work, and school. I have a tendency to live out of a backpack or large bag. Ever since I’ve needed to have my computer with me most days, life is a lot easier with a bag that’ll haul it around safely.

I’m currently using a Western Pack backpack, one that I’ve used for year. It’s got enough sections to make storing things easy and efficient. And, the part that is against my back is padded, which allows a bit of safety for my computer.

So, what do I have stowed in my bag?

The simplest items are my keyring and my wallet. It has a fob with a Shakespeare quote, my front door key, my car key, and a key for the lock I use at the gym. I recently downsized my keyring and am so happy I have done so! I’ve been reprimanded for not using a wallet, so I’ve forced myself to use one. Sure, I can see why it’s safer, but it still drives me crazy. Being the tomboy that I am, I usually like just carrying one card, my license, and a few dollars.

My parents were amazing and got me an iPad air for Christmas. I didn’t think I’d love it, but I do. This awesome device goes with me most places. I love having it accessible in case of waiting moments. I have a few books stored on it, a couple magazine subscriptions, and some Mr. Selfridge episodes. This makes travel time seem less tedious. Also, it’s great when I’m at the gym and opt to workout on the elliptical or bike instead of run.

Of course, my iPhone 5c is in there. Honestly, I miss the days of simple cell phones and wish I never made the smartphone leap. I do love the fact that smartphones are a lifestyle efficiency tool, and it’s great to have access to, what seems, the entire world at the tap of a finger. With that, I have a USB cord & USB wall adaptor. Usually, I have an external battery, but it is at home due to being charged earlier today.

Of course, I have my iPod with me. On lunch breaks, at the gym, walking places, doing chores; these are all times I love listening to music or podcasts. I feel engaged when I’m listening to good music or a funny podcast. I also love informative podcasts, too. Having my iPod accessible gives me the chance to feel engaged in the world, even when it is just me.

Depending on the quarter, I can be on campus anywhere from 7 hours to 11 hours per day. I’m not a huge fan of school cafeteria food, especially as I am a vegetarian. My options are limited and usually to dodgy looking salads and french fries. So, I like to keep some sort of small, nutritionally dense snack on hand. I’m addicted to salty cashews. Today, I’ve got a small bag of cashews waiting to be eaten when that 4.45pm slump hits.

Stemming from a few years of school in England, I’ve always been in the habit of using a pencil case. I still like to switch mine up every year or so and do have a couple going at all times. Right now, I have an illustrated one with cat faces on it. (Yes, I’m a proud cat lady.) In it, there are a plethora of ball point pens, mechanical pencils, a couple sharpies, and some paper clips. And, I have a mini leatherman in there, too. It’s come in handy quite a few times.

I keep forgetting that I have two fragrance rollerballs in my backpack, and am always happily surprised when I see them. The ones I have are Bobbi Brown’s Beach fragrance and LaVanila’s Vanilla Summer fragrance. As you might be able to gather, I like warmer fragrances. I always love any fragrance that has vanilla, coconut, pineapple, and even notes of Coppertone Water Babies SPF in it. Bobbi Brown’s Beach reminds me of being a child and being slathered in Water Babies.

Of course, I have two spiral bound notebooks. I always have something ready to take notes in while at school. I’m old school and learn better if I actually write lecture notes down. Typing has never proved an efficient way for me to truly retain information. At home, I do have a stack of partially used spiral notebooks and I definitely need to organize them. So, the notebooks I have in my bag are leftovers from last quarter, and I am determined to use them up. I have promised myself I won’t buy any more until I’ve used up the ones I have.

Speaking of spiral bound notebooks, I have my journal in my backpack. I’ve been working on this journal for five years and have a bad habit of going through phases of writing almost everyday to months of not writing, hence the fact I’ve been using the same one for five years. I like to keep it with me at all times, though. I’m not a fan of snooping eyes. I’m open with plenty of things, but my journal is for things I need to release without sharing with anyone else.

I do have a book in my backpack that has nothing to do with school. It is a book that I keep wanting to check out every time I go to the local library. Who knows if I’ll get around to reading it before it’s due, but I have it with me in case I am compelled to. It is Locas by Yxta Maya Murray. This book takes a look at Mexican women involved in gang life in East Los Angeles. First and foremost, I am actively trying to learn Spanish & am interested in working with immigrants from Latin America. So, this is one of many books that should be included in my learning process. I always love reading stories told from the female perspective, and as this is a life I am not familiar with, I hope this will be an enlightening read.

Lastly, I have five empty Lush Fresh Face Mask pots. They have been sitting on my desk for awhile, just waiting to be returned in exchange for a new mask. If we are let out of class early enough tonight, I am going to try and go get one. I want to try their Cupcake mask, but fear that I won’t use it very often, as I’ll only use it across my nose & cheeks. I might stick with Oatifix, as I know I like it and it’s easy to use.

What’s in your bag? Do you have three separate bags you constantly use? Soon, I’ll be doing a What’s in My Gym Bag post & What’s In My Purse post. Be on the lookout!

Simple Night Skincare

For two decades, I’ve routinely taken care of my skin in the evening. I remember starting off with the basic Clinique system as an 11 or 12 year old, then moving on to Prescriptives. I loved the Prescriptives system I was using, and felt really special when my mother took me to the Army-Navy on the Bromley High Street when I was 12 or 13 to get it. By the time I was in high school, I soon switched to a hodgepodge of skincare products, still making sure my face was clean and hydrated in the evening.

Now that I’m in my 30’s and have spent the last ten years working in the beauty industry, the one thing that has remained constant is that same kind of nightly skincare ritual. The removal of makeup, cleansing my skin, and hydrating it is very refreshing and peaceful.

I don’t do too much skincare in the morning; I just rinse with water and put some moisturizer on. So, in the evening I stick to a few key products and add makeup remover if makeup was worn that day.

The first step, if I wear makeup, is to remove all traces of the makeup. I’ll start by removing my eye makeup with Aveda’s eye makeup remover. This one is great for me. I don’t like dual-phase removers, but I need to be able to remove waterproof makeup, and this does the trick! Next, I remove the rest of my makeup (foundation, blush, etc.). I switch between Ren’s Purity Cleansing Balm and Nude’s Cleansing Oil. Both are amazing for removing every last bit. They both are massaged onto dry skin for ~30 seconds, then emulsified with some warm water, then either rinsed off or removed with a muslin cloth or washcloth. I always remove with a cloth of some sort to ensure total removal of makeup.

Next, I cleanse my skin. Right now, I am in love with Origins’ Never A Dull Moment cleanser. In the last few years, I have been wary of foaming gel cleansers, as quite a few of them can be drying. But, this cleanser is amazing. Although it is suggested for combo & oily skin types (I have dry skin), this cleanser doesn’t dry me out. It has papaya extract in it, which helps dissolve some of the dry skin lurking, as well as decongests my pores. Even though my skin is dry, I still have blackheads that I’ve been struggling to minimize. Some nights, I use it with my Clarisonic Mia2 and either a deep pore cleansing head or a cashmere cleanse head. Other nights, I just use it by itself.

Next is some toning water. In a bottle I mix Lush Cosmetics’ Eau Roma and Tea Tree Toners, then spray the concoction directly on my face. The Tea Tree is for my pores and the Eau Roma is for my dryness. I pat it into my skin, then let any residual moisture to dry.

Now my skin is prepped for treatments and moisture. The serum I am using right now is Ren’s Radiance Perfecting Serum. It is designed for uneven skin tone, redness, and hyper pigmentation. As it is hydroquinone free, I have never expected it to get rid of my sun damage. But, I have noticed that it does really help with my redness and some scarring I have around my chin from a combination of not diluting pure tea tree enough and a later rash I got from a prolonged overheated environment I was exposed to. As my skin is on the dryer side, this serum sinks right in. If you are looking for a hydrating serum that evens everything out, this is a great choice.

For my eyes, I am using this wonderful treatment I just discovered a couple weeks ago. I’ve never been a fan of really heavy eye creams or treatments, so anything in a gel or serum consistency is ideal. For the last two weeks, I have been using Radha Beauty’s Intensive Youth Eye Gel. Because of the light consistency, I actually want to put this eye treatment on. I pump a little out on my ring fingers and warm it up, then I tap it around both eyes, including eyelids. A huge selling point for me is that this brand is cruelty free. Who doesn’t love cruelty free!? This eye gel is chock full of wonderful, nourishing ingredients, such as (vegan) hyaluronic acid and vitamin E. It is lovely how hydrating this gel actually is. With any skincare, I don’t expect miracles, but I do expect this eye gel to keep my eye area hydrated.*

Lastly, I pop some moisturizer on. I’ve been using Ren’s V-Cence Day Cream. Even though it says it is a day cream, it doesn’t have any SPF, so it works as a moisturizer for any time of day or night. This cream is for all skin types and is designed to keep the skin supple and even. Ren is known for using quality ingredients and not diluting its products with water. This cream is full of nourishing fruit & seed oils and butters that my dry skin appreciates. Because of the synergistic blend of ingredients, it never feels heavy on my skin and absorbs very quickly. Half a pump of this moisturizer is perfect for my entire face and neck. If I’m feeling particularly dry, I might add a little more.

This has been my routine for the past few months. I did run out of eye treatment and went without it for awhile, so it has been a pleasure to start using a treatment again. Especially as I am prone to smiling and laughing a lot. Any way to protect those laugh lines!!

 

*As per the FTC Guidelines, this sponsored post is powered by BrandBacker. I received the eye treatment as a free trial. Everything else was paid for with my own money. Please note that I will only ever accept products that are in line with my lifestyle and I will only discuss products I actually enjoy. Thank you!

Sunday Skin Favourites: Wallet Friendly Masks!

As you know, in my last post, I raved about GlamGlow’s Thirstymud Mask. I’m still obsessed, even though the mothball scent is starting to occur. Surely that means it’s starting to turn. Right? Whatever the case, I think it is pretty awesome, despite the smell change. When I wrote the post about Thirstymud, I was so tired that I couldn’t focus on writing much more. I did want to talk about all of my favorite masks and promised myself that I would write a post about them.

First, I should clarify what kind of skin I have: dry, sun damaged, mildly sensitive, with blackhead issues on my nose. Also, I do get the very occasional hormonal breakout (so annoying as my skin is dry). In an effort to take care of my skin, the products I like to use are generally in the hydrating, calming, soothing, brightening, and occasional exfoliation realm. Therefore, the products I use frequently and love are not suitable for everyone.

The masks I have been obsessed with lately are:

  1. Lush Cosmetics Oatifix ($6.95)
  2. Lush Cosmetics Catastrophe Cosmetics ($6.95)
  3. Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque (ranges from $3.99-$5.99)

For those of you who don’t know, Lush Cosmetics makes masks completely preservative free, called Fresh Face Masks. Every week, each store is shipped small batches of these masks and they are kept in a small refrigerator. Those of us who are obsessed with these masks know the day of shipment, so that’s when you’ll find us at or local Lush. I generally shop at the two South Bay locations: Valley Fair & Oakridge malls. Their delivery day is Thursday. For a long time, I really wanted to try them, but I always seemed to go to Lush on a Wednesday. Of course, no fresh face masks left! Finally, I went in one Thursday & decided to purchase a mask. The first one I purchased was Catastrophe Cosmetic, then a week later, I bought Oatifix. Ever since, I’ve been totally in love. Another fun fact about Lush is their recycling program. Pretty much all of their packaging is recyclable. So, if you bring in 5 clean, empty pots (make sure it has a recycle marker on it), you can get a Fresh Face Mask for free! I was able to get a new pot of Oatifix on Thursday, which allowed me to splurge on a Catastrophe Cosmetic & some leave in hair treatment.

Oatifix is a blend of oatmeal, bananas, kaolin, ground almonds, illipe butter, and some essential oils & other ingredients. I have a feeling I can make a duplicate of this at home & get pretty much the same results. At $6.95, I don’t mind buying a tub of it every few weeks. The main purpose of this mask is to hydrate & calm the skin, so it is ideal for normal to dry skin, especially anyone with a sunburn! Two consecutive Sundays, I managed to burn my face. Oooops! This helped, at least, soothe the skin and add a bit of hydration to the raw skin I had left of my face.

Catastrophe Cosmetic is another great mask for soothing irritated, angry skin. Its main ingredients are calamine powder, irish moss, and blueberries. We know how wonderful calamine is for bug bites, poison oak & ivy, and other topical rashes. Irish moss is a great hydrating and calming agent. Blueberries are little antioxidant powerhouses. Another great ingredient is Blue Chamomile, which is commonly used topically for irritated, sensitive skin. Between this & Oatifix, my skin has been able to heal itself, even just superficially. (I am well aware of the deep damage the sunburn has done to my skin & there is not a lot of repair that can be done.) This mask is great for all skin types, from super dry to insanely oily. It does have some kaolin in there, which helps draw out impurities without stripping the skin.

All Lush Fresh Face Masks are left on the skin approximately 5-10 minutes. You can leave them on longer, but I find that 10 minutes does the job. Enough time to make a cup of tea and get my bed ready for cozy time.

Finally, let’s talk about Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque. If you live anywhere in the US, you must have seen this at some point in your life. Most of us have been in a CVS, Longs, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Safeway, etc. We’ve grabbed toothpaste, sunscreen, body lotion, soap, shower gel, or any other hygiene necessities at some point in our lives. Therefore, by default, we have seen the ultimate drugstore staple: Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque. And, quite a few of us have used it in the past, currently use it, and/or call it a staple. For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, let me break it down. It is a simple clay mask that is targeted for clarifying the skin, whether it be acne, blackheads, or plain old oily skin. It has the added benefit of being minty fresh. As I mentioned before, I have dry skin. So, why would someone like me use a mask like this? Because, people with dry skin get breakouts and blackheads too! Also, clay isn’t bad for dry skin. It can be very healing on any skin. I use this frequently on my nose and leave it on overnight. Once a week I’ll use it all over & simply rinse it off once it is dry. This also serves as a great pimple fighter when I get hormonal breakouts.

There are other amazing masks that are cost effective. But, these three are my favorites & the ones I use most regularly. Freeman, as many people know, make some great inexpensive masks. Anyone born in the 70s & 80s are surely Freeman savvy. Also, I do use some expensive ones as well, but not as frequently, and have mentioned the two I love before: GlamGlow Thirstymud & Ren Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask. I hope this can inspire some of you to try Lush & their Fresh Face Masks. They have quite a few options for many different concerns. They also have vegan options!! Both masks I mentioned are vegan, which is a huge bonus for me. And, Lush is very much anti-animal cruelty, so you are supporting a positive, supportive, worldly company by purchasing from them.

Hope everyone is having a great summer so far! Stay hydrated & protected! And, if you are in the Southern Hemisphere, I hope you are enjoying your winter!