Archive for January 2017

My Favorite No-Fuss Beauty Products

I’m a pretty low-maintenance kind of girl. Time is money, and I don’t have a lot of either, so all of my beauty products need to perform and make my life easier.

I have three clothing styles: lululemon, “shirts with words,” and real clothes. I wear real clothes about 10% of the time, and my collection of lululemon is so large that we recently had to buy a new dresser just to make room for it all. I work from home, so sweatpants and comfort and those soft fuzzy socks are what you’d find me in if you rang my doorbell at 2pm on a Tuesday.

Even though my uniform may scream casual Friday, I do like to feel put-together from the neck up most days. Here are my favorite, no-fuss beauty products.

Chanel Primer and Foundation

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I wear very little makeup because I have a little beauty secret which makes me look like I have my “face on” when I really don’t…I’ll get to that later. There are 3 products that I use on my face each day: Chanel foundation, MAC Dollymix blush, and eyebrow filler. If you’ve never used eyebrow filler, test it out sometime. It really helps to frame the face and make the eyes pop.

I have tried many kinds of foundation, and without a doubt, Chanel provides the best high-quality, flawless application. While it is pricey, one pump goes a long way. I like the Le Teint for a more studio-finish matte look (think date night) and Les Beiges for a more casual glow. I pair both with Le Blanc primer to make sure it lasts all day.

Beautycounter Charcoal Face Mask, Cleansing Balm and Peppermint Lip Conditioner

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I started using Beautycounter products about 6 months ago when I began to learn more about all of the harmful ingredients contained in many of our beauty products, many which are banned in other countries. I have tried almost every product from their line, and my top three favorites are these.

The Nourishing Cleaning Balm removes makeup, but I wear it as an overnight mask each night. It is very pricey at $80, but a small amount of this Vaseline-like balm goes a very long way. It has helped my skin stay hydrated during these long winter months, and my skin always looks refreshed and plump in the morning. The Charcoal Face Mask draws out impurities from the skin and soothes. It’s actually a bit scary what my face looks like as it starts to dry, specifically over my nose and forehead. You can just SEE it working. It’s like a 10-minute facial for my skin. Each night before bed, I turn on my essential oils diffuser and apply some of the Peppermint Lip Conditioner. My lips have never felt so soft. I also love Beautycounter’s lip glosses in opal and dahlia. Considering we probably swallow about 50% of our lip applicants, I want to make sure that mine are free from any harmful ingredients.

Contact my Beautycounter rep Molly Hauck to learn more at mollyhauck1@gmail.com.

Rodan+Fields Micro-Dermabrasion Paste

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Speaking of facials, I really wish I could see my girl Charlene Mazariegos at Vaughan Diann Salon in Annapolis a bit more. She gives the BEST facials in town.

Since I can’t make the time to see her as often as I would like, I use Rodan+Fields Micro-Dermabrasion Paste a few times a week in the shower before I get my face wet. It contains sugar and salt crystals to help exfoliate the skin, and the base is silicone, so you’re not left with oily skin. I LOVE the way it makes my face feel – a mini facial in a jar.

Contact my R+F rep Jennifer Premo at jpremo5776@gmail.com to learn more.

The Body Shop Round Brush

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While I’m on the topic of exfoliating, I became an expert in exfoliating when I prepared for my first bikini competition last fall. In order to get a flawless application of that orange spray tan for stage day, you must be thoroughly exfoliated. I ended up buying one of these body brushes randomly, and now it’s one of my favorite items that I own. I use it in the shower with soap, and it feel so good so scrub your skin down with it. It makes me feel refreshed and renewed, and it gets my skin ready for my after shower lotion, which happens to be my next favorite item.

Skin Food by AB Body Butter and RAW

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Never heard of Skin Food? We’ll you’re not alone (for now). Local to the Ohio area, my best friend in Cleveland turned me on to these natural, homemade products that are sold in her local Whole Foods. The buzz is catching on, however so hopefully they will be nationwide soon. I started with the deodorant, but honestly I really don’t wear deodorant that often (weird I know, but I only really sweat during my workouts). I have recently come to love the body butters and RAW. Unlike many butters which are greasy, this thick cream goes on so smoothly without that oily feeling left behind. Listea is my favorite scent. RAW can be used as an all-purpose balm for dry patches and redness. I even use it on Gianna. You can buy Skin Food on Etsy here.

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Next up is Living Proof Dry Shampoo. I used to wash my hair everyday, and then I had a baby…and then I realized that there were some corners I could cut in life and no one would know and no one would care. Washing my hair (or not washing it) is one of the corners I cut several times a week. Now, trust me, if I happen to teach a spin class one day, you can guarantee that I’m washing my hair (because it’s that kind of class), but if I’m just lifting or lifting plus the stepper, I’m definitely not washing my hair afterwards. I was very skeptical at first, but this stuff actually works, and I actually like my dirty hair better than my clean hair. Day 2 or 3 it looks the best. Try it and see for yourself.

 

Finally, my best kept beauty secret isn’t a beauty product, it’s a beauty person. Her name is Amber Kwong, and she is hands-down the BEST in the area for lashes and professional airbrushed makeup. I have been seeing Amber for five years now, every 3 weeks for a 75-minute last appointment where I leave feeling like a supermodel in sweatpants.

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Amber is a perfectionist and her standards for her work are extremely high. Sometimes I’ll look in the mirror and compliment her work, and she’ll say, “Wait I can put a lash there. Lay back down,” She’s sweet, professional, approachable and the best in the business. Because of this 1 beauty service a month, I rarely wear eye makeup, but I look like I have it on. With summer coming, schedule your lash appointment with Amber, and say goodbye to running mascara forever.

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Amber can be reached at makeupmemories@gmail.com or on IG @ makeupmemories_amberkwong

So there’s my two cents. Take it or leave it. I’m certainly not a beauty expert, but I do love having nice skin that is no-fuss with very little effort. These products help look like I have it all together, when I really don’t. Shhhh, don’t tell.

 

Bikini Prep – Round 2 – Sometimes You Just Have to Say "F*ck It"

I love the beginning of a new year. Similar to the beginning of a new week, I feel recharged and refocused on new challenges ahead. The past two months, I have really enjoyed doing a whole lot of nothing. Less cooking, less cleaning, more playing, more asking for help.

“Can you please pick up dinner?”

“Can you please babysit, so my husband and I can have a date night?”

“Can you please come clean my house twice a month, instead of once?”

“No, I don’t want to go there.”

“No, we don’t make plans on Sundays. They are ‘family days.'”

“No, I’m not available.”

As a result of more asking for help and declining things that don’t give me joy, I feel refreshed and renewed. I was almost getting borderline complacent as well which was a new feeling for me. Last fall was extremely taxing on me, mentally and physically. Training for my first bikini competition was so challenging and mentally draining that I just really needed time to rest. I reduced my gym time from 12 hours a week to 6. I reduced my cooking time from 5 hours a week to about 2. I ate out several times a week, enjoying lots of chicken and steak kabobs from Zoe’s Kitchen and salads from Panera Bread – a few more burgers too. I put my food scale away completely for 6 weeks. I ate cookies after lunch some days. I never turned down seconds. I pretty much ate whatever I wanted, whenever I felt like it. It was amazing. I still ended up choosing healthy foods most of the time, because I prefer the way they make me feel, but I had a lot more treats over the holidays. I avoided the bathroom scale too. I got on every once in a while, only for a good laugh. I honestly didn’t care what it said. I knew I would get back to work in 2017, but the end of 2016, I just said “f*ck it.”

So when I took my first set of photos for my coach this week and finally stepped on the scale after a weekend of eating a burger, french fries, wings and some homemade chocolate chip cookies (my last “hurrah”), I was curious as to what he might say to my 6 pound weight gain. When I started training for my show last July, I weighed 135 most days. When I stepped on stage in October I weighed 129. When I stepped on the scale on Monday, I weighed 141. Hot damn, I guess I ate a lot more cookies than I thought.

I pressed send on my email with my photos, and I waited. I checked my email about 20 times in the hour it took him to respond with my plan. What was my penance for said cookies? The email came through, and I held my breath as I opened it. The result: a shit ton of cardio (plus my normal weight training 5 times a week). For a split second, I regretted all of the delicious chocolate chips and endless scoops of peanut butter and mounds of buttered bread. How was I going to do ALL THAT CARDIO?

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141 pounds vs. 129 pounds

I took it one day at a time.

Day 1 – 60 minutes of weights then 75 minutes of cardio

Day 2 – 60 minutes of weights then 40 minutes of cardio

Day 3…I stepped on the scale again. 136 pounds. Say what? Did I really lose 5 “pounds” in 2 days? I was in disbelief. Maybe they were never “real pounds” anyways but water weight?

Day 4…I stepped on the scale again. 136 pounds. Seriously?!

I texted my coach the results of crushing 2 days of work and a killer diet, and his response: LESS CARDIO.

Thank goodness.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because sometimes the body just needs to rest. It needs a break from being “on” all the time. It needs help. It needs to lean on family and friends and the nice salad maker at the restaurant across the street. It needs to stop thinking about goals and putting pressure on itself to be everything for everyone and it just needs to take care of itself.

As a result of the rest, I gained 1 real pound. That’s about 1,000 chocolate chips and they were all delicious. They say that chocolate is good for the soul, and I believe it.

This spring I’ll be back on stage again competing in two local shows, one in April and one in May. I won’t be eating too many chocolate chips over this 4 months, but I will still be doing less and asking for help more. In 2017, I hope you’ll join me on this journey. Give your body what it needs. Be kind to yourself. But never EVER stop chasing your dreams.