My Top 5 Face Masks for Oily Skin

If you follow me on Instagram, you are probably aware that I'm kind of a face mask addict lately. I buy, and use, a lot of them. They're one method of self-care that I absolutely love doing: it's quick, it's easy, and it feels infinitely refreshing. 

My favorite face masks are ones that, realistically, are best for oily, acne-prone skin because that's what I have. In the future, I'll share some masks for moisturizing dry skin or for sensitive skin. But for now, these are my five favorite masks for my oily, acne-prone, dull skin. 

I luckily have skin that, while sensitive, I can try new things with relative ease. I do 2-3 masks per week (exfoliating the day after usually) and have yet to have a serious allergic reaction. That being said, always spot test if you're unsure about using something on your skin! 

1. Tony Moly, I'm Real for Clear Skin 

I love Tony Moly sheet masks; you can find them in surprisingly cheap packs on Amazon. But I usually buy them as a special treat at Ulta (because I get the most points for purchases there). The I'm Real for Clear Skin mask has rice water, as well as some other cool ingredients to help soothe skin that's broken out. I always save the packet after I use a mask and use the leftover serum the next morning; whenever I have one of these masks, I get so excited about the extra serum! 

2. YesTo Tomatoes for Clear Skin Paper Mask

YesTo is a great brand and here's why: they're relatively affordable and available in most drugstores; they're also cruelty free. I love the YesTo Tomatoes line, including the charcoal sheet and mud masks. However, my favorite mask is the standard Tomatoes for Clear Skin mask (the white pack); it feels amazing on my skin and I always feel like my redness is diminished the next day. As with Tony Moly masks, I save the extra serum for the next day.  

3. Shea Moisture African Black Soap Clarifying Mud Mask 

Mud masks are really my favorite type of mask, but they are much more drying than paper masks. They tend to do more, typically. I started buying the Shea Moisture African Black Soap mask in packet form at Target and have quickly graduated to owning a tub of it. It's that good. It has African black soap (duh), as well as tea tree oil: tea tree oil is one of the best ways to treat break outs. I save this mask for when I'm most broken out and in need of some major skin TLC (this usually happens when I neglect my skincare for a few days). If you have dry skin, this is definitely not the one for you. But if you're oily, it's a miracle worker. 

4. Tony Moly, I'm Real for Pore Care 

Another Tony Moly mask, another day. This is the Red Wine mask for pore care. I love how it smells and feels on my skin; plus, the idea of using red wine to shrink my pores is truly magical. I found 10 of these masks at Marshals for only $5, so I have a ton of them to use. I also genuinely think regular use (one a week) is shrinking the size of my pores. Wishful thinking? Maybe. 

5. YesTo Grapefruit for Dull & Uneven Skin

Another YesTo mask! This is one of their mud masks; I find it so soothing and it smells so good (like grapefruit, obviously). I have very dull and uneven skin, with a lot of redness and melasma spots. This mask is specifically for that purpose because it has vitamin C in it. If you need a treat, this is one mask that I think could work for dry skinned people too; it's not too harsh and the ingredients are meant to sooth, smooth, and work as anti-aging tools. 

How to Stay Healthy As A New Mom [+Free Printable!]

Being a new mom can be really overwhelming. I've written about this before, but my experience in the first 6 months after having my son was really tough. I spent a lot of time having to track everything I did: pumping, feeding, ounces, diapers. Beyond that, I needed a way to track things for myself. 

Unfortunately, there is no app that combines tracking your baby's feedings and diapers as well as tracking your meals, medications, and more. In an ideal world, I'd be developing just that app because I believe there is a huge place for an app that does that! Most baby tracking apps were clunky to me and either didn't have all the features I wanted or those features were hard to use. 

Instead, I made these printable tracking sheets. I stuck one to my fridge every morning and jotted notes throughout the day. I have a binder full of these that I can't bring myself to throw away. They were infinitely helpful with tracking patterns when Forrest was tiny and my memory was very hazy, especially when our pediatrician would ask questions like, "How many diapers does he have a day? How much is he eating every day?" 

Beyond that, they helped me remember to take care of myself too. For me, that was the hardest part of being a new mom. A whole day would go by and I would realize all I'd eaten was Cheez-Its while holding Forrest for a nap or a hasty dry piece of toast as I pumped. I forgot my vitamins more often than not, didn't remember to drink water, or just plain couldn't remember when I last showered. 

That's why there's a section for you, the mom! Eating healthy, taking care of yourself, remembering to take those vitamins... it's all important when you're taking care of a newborn. Why? Because they need you to be healthy! You can't take care of a baby if you yourself are starving. 

Often, printables like these focus on one thing or the other: just pumping, just breastfeeding, or just formula. For me, I was doing a little bit of everything! So whether you're formula feeding, trying to keep up with pumping, or settling into a good breastfeeding relationship, these tracking sheets work. 

If you'd like to check it out, click below to download and learn more! 

Beauty Review: BITE Beauty Lip Masks

Let me tell you about lip balm: it's probably not that great for you. 

I know! When I first heard it, I was like, "No, that's wrong. I need my Chapstick." But then I started to think about it: when I have access to Chapstick (or any similar stick-style lip products), I tend to use it a lot. Like, every hour, I feel like I need in. I listen to the podcast Natch Beaut and my girl Jackie J recently talked about she stopped using lip balm because she realized it was making her lips drier. 

I was, honestly, a little shaken. But I've backed off using lip balms for the past few weeks, I've tried to drink more water, and guess what? I'm not putting my EOS lip balm on every few minutes. 

The only routine I maintain is brushing my lips with my face brush every other night and then always applying a layer of either Smith's Minted Rose balm or Vaseline Lip Therapy. Or, if I have them, applying a dab of BITE Beauty Agave Lip Mask. Let's talk about those, since obviously it's the point of this review! 

I received these BITE Beauty Agave Lip Masks in a Sephora order. Immediately, I wanted to try them. Look at those sample packages! They're lips! I received Regular, Champagne, and Rose colors. The idea is that you can wear them during the day or you can slather them on at night to prep your lips for lipstick the next day. 

My first impression was they are thick. This isn't like a lip balm that you have to scrap out of a tin; they aren't solid. They aren't really a Chapstick texture either. It's like a very thick, goopy lip gloss. I was suspicious, but I persevered. The first night, I woke up to super moisturized lips: the softest lips I'd had, honestly, in months. (All that Chapstick, destroying my pout!) 

They smell great too, which is definitely a bonus. I love my Vaseline Lip Therapy tins, but the smell of them sometimes it's a little too... Vaseline-y? These had a light scent, kind of sweet, but not overpowering. Mostly, I loved having super moisturized lips every morning. My favorite was the original because it was completely sheer (great for sleeping and not smearing pink lip balm all over your sheets); these aren't something I would wear during the day because they are so thick and goopy, but if you are okay with that, the Champagne color is really pretty. 

If you want to buy these BITE Beauty Agave Lip Masks, they're available on Sephora here. Yes, it's $26 for a tube (I gasped a little too), but realistically, a tube will last you ages. You don't need a huge amount (I used probably less-than-half a pea sized drop every night) to cover your mouth. 

Beauty Review: Ole Henriksen's 3 Little Wonders

ole henriksen review.png

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed a slight increase in my skincare efforts. Ok, not just slight, major. I've always really loved make up, but I'll admit to being lazy and using the cheapest face washes possible until quite recently. In fact, I didn't use moisturizer at all until about 6 months ago, unless I had a free sample. 

I'm on the skincare train now and here's why: after I had my son, I developed pretty bad melasma spots. Melasma spots are hormone-related dark spots on your face (or elsewhere on your body really). Genetically, I'm pre-disposed to them; my mom had them, it was always going to happen. I have a spot on my cheekbone underneath my left eye, as well as a darkened line over my lip. The lip is the most common spot and is often referred to as "pregnancy mask," because so many women develop it during pregnancy. I also developed mild rosacea in the past 6 months. 

For that reason, I ordered the Ole Henriksen 3 Little Wonders set from Sephora. It includes the Truth Serum, the Invigorating Night Transformation Gel, and the Sheer Transformation Perfecting Moisturizer. Here's a review of each product. 

Truth Serum

This vitamin C serum is a tried-and-true for many in the skincare world. Vitamin C is said to help melasma spots, which is primarily why I wanted it. After a few days of use, I rapidly realized this would probably be the only thing from the set I would repurchase (more on that later), because my rosacea was vastly diminished within days. My melasma right on my cheekbone is looking lighter; not super significantly, but enough that I'm impressed. In general, I love putting this serum on in the morning. I'm not exactly sure it does a ton, but it's also not doing me a disservice and I love that it includes collagen. It's very light and it smells good; I really like how it feels under my day moisturizer (sunscreen, girl). 

Invigorating Night Transformation Gel 

This is a product I really go back and forth on. It's probably my least favorite of the set, mainly because I'm just not sure it does anything. Unlike the Truth Serum, it's a gel consistency, so it's not as pleasant to put on personally. It feels really heavy and sticky on my skin. This gel contains AHAs. I wasn't sure what AHAs were supposed to do, so I researched it and these are the basics: 

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA's) might be the anti-aging miracle workers of the new millennium. These New Age, wrinkle-smoothers from plants or milk products also help clear blemishes, hydrate the skin and lighten pigment spots by loosening one to several layers of dead cells clinging to the skin's surface.

That sounds great, except that I didn't notice any of those things happening. I got the same acne I always do. It may contribute slightly to the lightening of my hyper-pigmentation (melasma), but I really do think the Truth Serum does a better job at everything listed there. 

Ultimately, just the way this product felt on my skin was enough to make me not want to use it, but I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. 

Sheer Transformation Perfecting Moisturizer

This is a great night moisturizer because it is so thick. After a few days, I opted to not use it in the morning; I felt it made me too oily. At night though, it's great to have that extra dose of moisture. According to Ole Henriksen, it has "multifruit" acids and antioxidants, which can help in skin turnover and anti-aging. I do think it's a lovely night cream for those with issues with rosacea; it felt very soothing. Again, it is also very heavy, so combined with the Transformation gel it felt like a lot of stuff on my face at night, which isn't a huge issue, but can feel unpleasant to some people. I don't think I would repurchase this moisturizer; I think there is potentially another out there that can better help me and my issues. But for coming in the set, it's a quite good one. 

The 5 Best Apps for Disneyland

the 5 Best Apps for Disneyland

I've written two posts about going to Disneyland in June: tips for taking your toddler here; and everything you need to pack into the parks here. I wanted to write just one more: the apps that made our Disneyland experience much, much better and easier. 

Apps are definitely not something I first think of when it comes to Disneyland. Isn't that odd? But my last two trips, I have found myself downloading apps while in the park so we can better plan our day. Want to know what I used on our most recent trip? 

1. The Official Disneyland App

Cost: Free

This is honestly my favorite app. It connects to your Disneyland account, so when you get photos with a character or at a landmark, you just scan the card they give you and it automatically adds the photos to your account. It makes it much easier to purchase photos later! (Note: They are expensive!) Also, the Disneyland app has wait times for everything, from gift shops to rides. It's great for figuring out official wait times, what's broken down, and where crowds are congregating. 

2. MouseWait

Cost: Free

MouseWait is another wait time app, but what I specifically like about it is that it shows the capacity level. I don't know exactly how they calculate this, but it shows at what percentage capacity the park is at. In the off-season, the numbers are anywhere from 10-40%, which is really low and manageable. In the summer, anything over 85% is going to mean crowded walkways and long lines. Danny and I like to go in the morning, then leave once it starts to hit 70%+, then return at night when it's dropped back to 65%ish. 

3. Hidden Mickeys: Disneyland 

Cost: $5.99 

It's not all planning! Hidden Mickeys is a great app for identifying and collecting Hidden Mickeys. Hidden Mickeys are not really my thing that I enjoy collecting, but I do love finding them spontaneously. This app is a lot of fun though, especially if you're a Disney fanatic who wants to find every single one on your trip! 

4. Maps

Cost: Free

"Michelle," you whisper, "That's an app that comes on everyone's iPhone." Yes, and? It's the best. If you have Maps and an iPhone, you can share your location for a single day with everyone you know. That means if, say, you and your husband decide to split up while you change a diaper and he grabs FastPasses, you don't play a super fun game of hide-and-seek in a super crowded part of Main Street USA. My husband and I did this to make our lives easier; we shared locations each day in Disneyland so we could find each other if we got separated. It works like a charm! 

5. A Color Story

Cost: Free 

A Color Story is my favorite photo editing app. It's perfect for fixing up those quick photos you take in the park because you can save pre-set directions depending on how a photo looks. At the end of each day, I would lie in bed at the hotel with ice on my shins (I am old) and edit photos. Because that's what I do. 

How to Make Your Summer Better (Even if You Hate Summer)

Make Your Summer Better

I know, I know. Everyone is supposed to love summer. It's sunny! It's warm! There are barbecues and pool parties and everything! Sorry, I'm not buying it. When was the last time I was invited to a pool party? That's right--never, because I don't live in an area where in-ground pools are common.

Summer is classified as "fine" in my book. I don't like it, but I don't really hate it. It's nice that my husband gets the summer off; it's nice that the weather is nicer and we can go outside (minus the horde of horrible bugs that plagues us). Those things are nice. 

That being said, summer can be better. I recently posted a thread of ways to make your summer better, right now. This thread was for if you have anxiety, if you feel bored, if you feel like you just aren't doing the right "summer things." 

When I was younger, I definitely always felt like I was "wasting" my summers. (Looking back, I was. So many summers off!) Summers are about living it up, right? And what do you do if you hate summer and you feel insecure about your hatred of summer? Here's the original thread if you want to check it out. However, it can broken down to three key steps. 

1. Wear your sunscreen. 

Do you feel like I harp on about this? It's because it's serious. On a podcast I listen to (All Killa, No Filla, if you're interested), one of the hosts said she goes tanning once a year; her doctor told her, straight up, she's giving herself cancer. And that's the truth: laying out; getting sunburned without worrying about it; and getting sun damage is giving yourself cancer. Don't do it! Also, sunburns hurt. Here are my tips for protecting that beautiful epidermis of yours

2. Wear what you want.  

Whatever! Going to a pool party (you lucky dog, you)? Wear the bikini. Feeling stressed about it? Does the thought of putting on that bikini make you feel stressed? Then don't. Don't wear the bikini. Wear a cute maxi dress instead. Or your favorite leggings. Or sweatpants! Wear what makes you feel comfortable and confident. If anyone asks, just say, "It's really none of your business."

3. Eat what you want.

So you took my advice on Twitter and went on a spontaneous trip. You find yourself staring down a slice of pizza, or a massive ice cream cone. You think about those goals you set for yourself: eating less dairy; making healthier choices. Your mouth is watering just looking at the ice cream. 

Girl, do it. Eat the ice cream. Eat the pizza. Eat a big, beautiful healthy salad tomorrow. Enjoy a smoothie in the morning. Chow down on nachos when offered. Life is too short to spend it trying to dictate what you enjoy every moment of the day. Moderation is important. 

Things I Love: Seasonal Scents

Things I Love: Seasonal Scents

A few weeks ago, I posted a thread on Twitter about the scents I like in my home during specific seasons. I, luckily, live in a place with 4 distinct seasons and for that reason, I'm very particular about home decor and smells during those seasons. I get very caught up in the whimsy of changing seasons and what each one represents. If you want to see my original Twitter thread, click here. (And share your favorite scents with me there too! Why not!?) 

I thought it would be fun to do a round up of my favorite candles, air filters, and more to help bring these seasonal scents home. Here they are. 

Summer

My favorite scents in the summer are fruity, citrusy smells: lemon and orange, specifically, but also pineapple and coconut, as well as mint, eucalyptus (very clean), and even something kind of smoky, like a musk or bergamot. 

Fall

Fall is my favorite season and, therefore, contains my favorite scents: flannel shirts, crunchy leaves, foggy early air, cinnamon, caramel, sandalwood, and bergamot. Deeper, rich, spicy scents alongside smoother, sweeter ones. 

Winter

Winter is my second favorite season, so, obviously, these are my second favorite scents. Because I celebrate Christmas, a lot of my scent memory comes from Christmas. That means, evergreen trees, pine needles, cloves and ginger, coffee, cinnamon rolls, and the smell of wrapping paper. One of my friends on Twitter pointed out one of the smells of Winter: that smell when you first turn the heating on in your car or house after a long time. It's that dusty, dry, warm smell. It's so distinctly wintery. 

  • From Yankee Candle, the Winter Glow candle is so perfect. Oranges, rosemary, cedar, amber, and spruce combine to give that perfect light, winter smell.  
  • Another Yankee: Soft Blanket has bergamot, blackberry, vanilla, rose, amber, and musk for that perfect mix of sweet and subtle. Great for a classy party. 
  • From Archipelago, the Black Forest Diffuser is a perfect moody winter scent. It combines black currant, ebony wood, and douglas fir tree for a luxurious, cozy smell. 

Spring

Spring is not my favorite season. It's very ho-hum for me. However, there are still some scents I love, that make me think of Spring and Spring only. I always think of lemon soap (different from lemons!), roses, linen, rain, and the smell of wet roads. 

  • From Archipelago, the Magnolia Diffuser has the perfect smell of a magnolia flower tree. It's also very classy looking and perfect for hiding up on a shelf. 
  • From H&M (really), the No. 9 Tulip candle is a light, sweet, floral scent--very reminiscent of the Tulip Festival in Oregon every year! 
  • The Mineral Springs candle from Bath & Body Works is a really unexpectedly amazing smell: mineral water, water lily, and a dash of lime. It's fresh without being over scented. 

Why I Started Double Cleansing

Why I Started Double Cleansing

For as long as I can remember, I have dutifully washed my face every evening and then slathered on moisturizer. That exact routine for years. It was only recently that I started to get a little, well, wild with my skincare. (Can you tell, thanks to the million posts I’ve written about it recently, like this one and this one?) 

Double cleansing has been a big game changer for me. And I think it can be a big game changer for you too. 

What is double cleansing? 

It sounds intense, but it’s actually very simple. Double-cleansing is the process of using an oil cleanser first (such as micellar water), followed by a foaming, cream, or gel cleanser. From Bustle

The theory is that cleansing oil removes the initial layer of dirt and grime and dead skin cells from your skin, pulling those nasty bits out of your pores and allowing the face wash you normally use to really get in there and do its job more effectively.

Sounds wild, right? It’s a process borrowed from Korean skincare, which is sweeping the beauty world right now. 

What I use

For my oil cleanser, I currently am using up my last bottle of Garnier Micellar water. (Garnier tests on animals, so in my attempt to make my beauty product entirely cruelty free, I won’t be repurchasing.) After doing some research and actually calling the brand information line, I’ll either be purchasing Simple brand micellar water or Sephora Collection’s Micellar Water & Milk. (Micellar water is an oil suspension in very soft water! If you want to go more intense, there are cleansing oils out there too.) 

For my regular cleanser, I use Ole Henriksen’s Find Your Balance Oil Control Cleanser. (I reviewed the whole line here.) 

Has it helped? 

Firstly, has double cleansing changed my skin? Honestly, yes. I feel like my face is much cleaner after I wash now. By using oil, you get all your make up off first thing; then, the second cleanser basically gets off any stubborn bits. I always struggled to get my eye make up off, but using an oil cleanser for my eye make up really changed things. 

The thing about having oily skin is that we produce more oil because our skin is actually dry. It’s just how our skin responds to hormones and dryness. There is a misconception that if you have oily skin, you shouldn’t moisturize. This is categorically false; you can take yourself from excessively oily to very dry really quickly. 

So not only did my skin feel cleaner, I felt like I was finally starting to produce less oil by using oil. In combination with my other skincare, I felt like the texture of my skin totally changed. 

Would I recommend it? 

Yes! If you want to take the plunge, there are lots of affordable micellar waters and cleansing oils out there. I like the looks of this cleansing oil from Sephora Collection. It’s an easy first step to add to your routine. If you’re using make up remover wipes to start your nightly skincare, this is a great way to reduce waste too.