Beauty Review: Matrix Biolage R.A.W. Uplift Shampoo & Conditioner*

biolage raw shampoo

Disclaimer: I received these products for free via Influenster & Matrix Biolage in exchange for an honest review. To learn more about my disclosure policy, please click here

It's been a while, hasn't it? A few weeks ago, I decided to take a step back from blogging and decide what I really wanted to do. I'm still debating on what, exactly, my goals are anymore, but I think I'm back on the blogging train. More about this later. 

For now, let's get on to a simple little product review. 

I was extremely excited to try out some new hair products, especially these ones from Matrix Biolage. You can learn more about this new line of shampoos here.  

After taking an Influenster qualifying quiz, I was sent the Matrix Biolage R.A.W. Uplift Shampoo & Conditioner set. Here's what both the shampoo and conditioner promise: "Biolage R.A.W. Uplift Shampoo, with black sesame and grapefruit, purifies flat, fine hair without stripping for lightweight body." These products are 71% natural-origin and 99% biodegradable; as well, they contain no silicones, no parabens, and no artificial colorants. 

All good things, yes? 

Here's a little hair background on me: I have very thick, but very fine hair. (This is not an oxymoron: "thin" describes my hair's texture; "thick" describes the amount of hair I have.) My hair, overall, is very healthy, but very straight and very flat by nature. I also do not use heat on my hair unless absolutely necessary. I haven't used a blow drier in over two years and a straight iron in over three years. I've been using eSalon's shampoo and conditioner for color treated hair and while I like it, it doesn't do anything spectacular (although it does help eSalon's so-so hair dye last longer). 

So what did I think of the Biolage shampoo and conditioner? 

Firstly, both products have a pretty... odd smell to them. I'm 100% behind not using artificial dyes, but they smelled like, for lack of a better word, wet dirt. Not exactly what I want my hair to smell like. I soldier on, however, and used them. 

Secondly, the shampoo made my hair feel very clean and it rinsed extremely well. The conditioner made my hair feel very smooth and easy to comb after using. 

Thirdly, after letting my hair air dry, I didn't notice any additional volume or body. In fact, my hair is somewhat flatter after using both products. 

So, what's the summary? In all, I wasn't particularly impressed. The shampoo and conditioner did make my hair quite shiny, but after using both together, I feel like they don't actually do anything to provide any additional body or volume, especially if you don't use heat styling tools. My hair often has more volume if I don't use conditioner; that's an experiment I'll need to run soon and I'll adjust my review accordingly once I get the chance. 

However, for the sake of honesty: I did not notice any benefits, in terms of volume or body, in the shampoo & conditioner combination. Which is, of course, disappointing. That being said, my hair did appear quite shiny and healthy after using. 

Overall, not a terrible product, but, as with most volumizing shampoos, without heat treatments, they fall flat.  

4 Summer Toddler Essentials

summer toddler essentials

Summer weather has just barely started here in Oregon. If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen a few stories about playing outside with Forrest in the afternoon. One day, the weather even topped 75 degrees, a true feat! 

However, as the summer rapidly approaches, I start thinking about all the things that toddler's need during the day--especially during the summer. If your toddler is like my toddler, they are, essentially, needy creatures. 24/7 need. And again, if your toddler is like my toddler, they want to be outside, and playing, and not eating or sleeping or drinking, 100% of the time. 

For that reason, I made a list of our summer essentials. The 4 things that, if nothing else, I will make sure we have to keep Forrest entertained and healthy. Here they are. 

sunscreen for toddlers

1. Lots of sunscreen. 

If you've ever read my blog (and fingercrossed you have), you know that I wear sunscreen all year round. I'm incredibly pale and very prone to sun damage. Needless to say, my son did not inherit my husband's olive-toned, hearty skin. Ugh. He gets absolutely slathered before we go outside, even on overcast days. We are barely making it through molars; I am not adding sunburn to that mix! 

I'm a big fan of Babyganics sunscreen (as well as their other products) for my son. He has pretty sensitive skin (again, like mine, sorry kid!) and gets rashes very easily. I have found that Babyganics is the only thing that doesn't end up giving him a bumpy rash. Also, the sunscreen sticks are super convenient.

2. Hats.

Being totally honest, I really despite the hats that are available for toddlers. They're all bucket hats. Yes, all of them. It's awful. I guess they're cute, if you stretch your imagination and accept that anything slightly smaller than normal is cute. But they're still bucket hats. 

As ugly as I find them though, I put one on Forrest's little head every time we go outside. Why? It covers his face, protecting his eyes and face from the sun. Again: sun damage. If your toddler has more hair than mine (which, 98% of toddlers do, unfortunately), you might be able to skip a hat if you get a good layer of sunscreen on the face. But for the bald toddlers out there, solidarity; my kid has to wear one of these things. (This one from Carter's isn't too tragic, and even with Forrest's 66% size head, he can fit into the 9m size!)  

3. A toddler leash

You read that right! You see that picture correctly! I am recommending, yes, a leash for your child. Here's why: toddlers are super independent. Their growing independence is linked to their bad behavior (terrible 2s, anyone?), their sleep regressions (ugh), and their occasional refusal to eat. Those trips to the zoo, to Target, to Disneyland, to the grandparents, they don't want to be held. They don't want to be worn. They don't want to sit in their hot, uncomfortable stroller. They wanna walk, baby!

So let them. Buy the leash. I like these backpack versions. (We actually own a dog-shaped version ourselves.) They can love it by helping you put their things into it: a favorite toy or book, a sippy cup, a sunscreen stick, and then zipping it up. Then attach the leash and let them get their independence on while also being able to keep them close. It's a win-win. 

4. Some kind of outdoor toy

I am not personally a fan of the water table (in Oregon, these just mold within a few weeks), but some people (and climates) totally love them. If you're really coveting the one in the photo, you can check it out here. Otherwise, I have a few other suggestions: 

  • Bubbles
  • Sand toys (even if you don't have a sand box or table) 
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Toy brooms
  • Soccer ball or tennis balls

Basically, I'm a fan of keeping outdoor toys simple. Forrest has the most fun outside with his little bucket of sand toys, some bubbles, and nature, honestly. 

Refresh Your Workout Wardrobe This Spring

spring work out clothes

My husband and I recently rejoined the gym. If you read my blog(s) (um, this one or the one before, or the one before that), you probably know that, until I got pregnant, I worked out nearly every day. At least 5 times a week for sure. I love working out, but once I had Forrest, it became really challenging. 

Going back to a gym routine lately has been so much fun. On the downside, however, all my work out clothes are from pre-pregnancy. Can you see where I'm going with this? 

It's a sad situation right now. Especially the sports bra situation. So let's look at some options for refreshing our spring workout wardrobes. 

1. Sports Bras

Sports bras are always a challenge. Hopefully I'm not alone in this. Everyone has a particular style they favor and a particular fit they like. I picked three different types: a very traditional sports bra (the Nike); a cute-almost-crop-top sports bra; and a high-backed sports bra with lower sides. All three are super cute and not super expensive. 

2. Tops

Athletic tops are one of those things that I believe are inherently a little scammy, right? You can wear just about any shirt to workout in, as long as you're comfortable. I prefer loose fitting tank tops, so I picked three cute ones for your enjoyment (I'm loving the World's Okayest Runner tank). In general, I buy my workout tops at Forever 21 or Target: wherever I can get some affordable that I'm totally ok getting covered in sweat. 

3. Leggings

Honestly, I could spent the rest of my life in athletic leggings and be absolutely fine. Also, if I ever become magically super wealthy, I will just buy hundreds of pairs of the best leggings I can find. I love them. My favorite workout leggings are from Aerie and they unfortunately don't make them anymore (grumble), but these "chill joggers" look super comfy for workouts and for lounge. If you're more a traditionalist, the black Nike workout pants are classic and the GAP leggings are perfect for late Spring/early Summer runs outside. 

3 Summer Beauty Essentials

summer beauty essentials.png

It's gonna be MAY! 

Can you believe it's May? Wasn't it just September... and Forrest's birthday... and Halloween... like a few weeks ago? Man, time flies. 

Summer is approaching at an astonishing rate and that means it is time to talk about beauty essentials. Everyone has their own ideas of what they like during the summer, but when it comes to the basics, I stand by my 3 choices: sunscreen, a summery nail polish, and a boss body cream. Here's why. 

1. Sunscreen

summer essential sunscreen

I sunburn in a matter of about 10 minutes. I still have sunburn lines on my legs from when I was pregnant. Yeah, that's a solid two years ago. Yikes. Hi skin damage! I don't leave the house without sunscreen: even on cloudy days, even when I'm not planning to be outside, and especially when I do plan to be hanging outside. Reminder: you should use an entire bottle of sunscreen if you are outside for more than 6 hours, reapplying every 45-60 minutes. I know, but most sunscreens do not last past 60 minutes, with 80 minutes being the highest threshold. Here are my top choices: 

  • Clinique Virtu-oil Body Mist Broad Spectrum SPF 30: spray sunscreens are a true gift because they are easy to apply and reapply. This mist is also paraben free and goes on smoothly. It also provides a "cooling sensation," so if you're already a little bit burnt from earlier sun exposure, it will sooth those burns as well as protect. 
  • Beautycounter Protect Stick Sunscreen: BeautyCounter is famous for their organic products that are free from "toxic ingredients." This sunscreen stick is kid friendly and super easy to apply. It's basically a deodorant stick. It smells extremely good, especially the limited edition scent "Sweet Tooth." 
  • Sun Bum SPF 50: This is the highest SPF sunscreen I have here. I usually do not wear under 50 SPF (except on my face for daily wear) and Sun Bum is the brand I pretty much always turn to. Their sunscreen is hypoallergenic, cruelty free, and water resistant. For $14.99 for a bottle at Target, it's also the cheapest & most accessible. 
  • Fresh Sugar Sport Treatment Sunscreen SPF 30: This is another stick sunscreen and here's why I love it: it smells seriously amazing and it's formulated to actually go on your eyelids. Most sunscreens are not safe around the eyes (not even BeautyCounter's), but this stick from Fresh is. I've gotten sunburns on my eye lids before and let me tell you: no bueno. The only downside is that this sunscreen is a little on the oily side, but if you're outside in the sun, sweating and having fun, you're going to be sweating--sorry, I mean, "glistening"--anyway. 

2. Nail Polish

summer beauty essential nail polish

Nothing like a new summer nail polish to be your "signature color." I stopped wearing nail polish for the last few months, except for a few occasional applications that totally wrecked my nails. However, I still have a few favorites on my list this year. 

  • Essie in Madison Ave-Hue: I love a bright pink and this one is perfect for the summer. It's an electric jelly polish that goes perfect with the trendy, muted summer looks this year. 
  • OPI Nail Lacquer in A Great Opera-Tunity: I love a nude polish and this one is honestly so pretty. I would describe it as a coral-nude with a slight metallic sheen (like a lot of OPI polishes). It's perfect for all those summer events (weddings, barbecues, pool parties, great Instagram photos...) 
  • Nails Inc in Boho Notting Hill: this glitter topper literally makes me want to drop everything and go buy it immediately. I have a few Nails Inc glitters and they are so pretty. I love that this one looks like splatter paint: artsy, bright, and summery. 

3. Body Lotion

summer body cream

"Body lotion, Michelle?" you're probably thinking. Yes, girl, body lotion. Pools, oceans, sprinklers, sun screen, potential sun damage, drinking, barbecues... all that summer action can leave you with dry skin, especially if you get sunburned or spend a lot of time in a pool. There's nothing like a nice refreshing body lotion at the end of the day to keep you looking fly. These are my favorites. 

  • It's Skin Mini Bebe Hand Cream: I've grown increasingly obsessed with Korean beauty products and this hand cream is one of them. Firstly, it's so cute. Look at it. Secondly, it is the perfect hand cream to keep in your purse or beside your bedside table. It's thick and moisturizing without being heavy or greasy. Also, it comes in amazing scenes; my favorites are Lime and Vanilla Cotton. 
  • Lush Charity Pot Body Lotion: I resisted Lush for a long time because I am not totally sold on bath bombs (so much glitter everywhere). However, this body lotion is so good, it makes up for it. With the scent of rosewood oil and ylang ylang, it's pretty mild, but it gets the job done. Also, I love tubs of body lotion; it just feels a little bit more effective, right? 
  • Kiehl's Crème de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Body Polish: Ok, I lied a little bit. This is a body polish; however, it does moisturize as it exfoliates. In the summer, you can build up a lot of product (sunscreen, chlorine, salt water, body lotion, bronzer, etc.) on your skin, which can lead to dullness, dryness, and red spots. This polish is perfect for getting a fresh start once a week. Then apply some of that Lush Charity Pot and call it a night. 

Why I Got Rid of All My Notebooks

decluttering as a writer

I've been receiving notebooks as gifts for as long as I can remember. Well, as long as I was telling people I wanted to be a writer. Notebooks are easy gifts: they can be beautiful, they can be practical, and it's an easy writing accessory that everyone understands. 

As someone who has kept a journal my entire life, these notebook gifts have been a blessing, honestly. I've rarely had to buy my own journals, especially if someone goes above-and-beyond and gives me a Moleskine for Christmas. However, it also has meant that I've always had a surplus of notebooks. 

In fact, this surplus started to get really embarrassing when I was pregnant. I unearthed a box of blank notebooks while getting organized and cleaning out Forrest's room. I had a stack of empty notebooks on my desk, on the bookshelf in my office, in a drawer under my desk... I had notebooks. I had notebooks upon notebooks. I had more notebooks than I would ever use in my life. Why? Because I cannot hand write fiction, or poetry, or anything. The only thing I use notebooks for is journaling. And a girl can only journal so much. 

It was time to bite the bullet. I always wanted to be the kind of person who could quietly sit with a notebook and write a story. At least get out the bare bones of it. I like journaling by hand and I like taking notes; I like writing out my grocery lists and to do lists. But trying to describe something, to actually write, by hand is a huge challenge for me. I know myself well enough now to know that it's just never going to happen. That's fine! 

So I had to get rid of all those notebooks. 

Some of them were beautiful, and expensive. Some of them I had bought myself, sure that the "right notebook" would spur my creativity. Some were cheap ones I'd bought in the last days of School Supply sales. Some were gifts. Some were party favors, or I received free from work. 

They all went. Into a box, that went to Goodwill, that hopefully sold them to someone who needed them, who can actually write in a notebook. It felt weird to let go of them, to let go of the idea of the kind of person I thought I could try to be. 

5 Tips to Make Working from Home Easier

working from home with toddler

It's easy to think that working from home will be, well, easy. You're in the comfort of your own home. You can stay in your pajamas. You can eat a real breakfast, drink as much coffee as you want, lounge in bed as you look at spreadsheets. 

Reality sets in promptly the first time you try to work from home. At least for me. The moment I started working from home a lot (when I was pregnant with Forrest, primarily), it's like everything in my house became way more... distracting. I worked from home an average of 2 or 3 days a week when I was pregnant, thanks in part to exhaustion, preeclampsia, and morning sickness. There were days where it felt like I could not focus and, of course, days where I got everything I needed done completed so I could wallow in bed and try not to throw up again. 

I don't work from home anymore. Why? Well, working from home with a toddler is near impossible. (If you somehow achieve this, I need your secrets.) I do work from home if Forrest is at my mom's or daycare, like when I was sick in March. 

If you're thinking of starting to take some work from home days, these tips are for you. 

1. Have a "I'm working" spot. 

And I don't mean the desk where you normally charge your computer. I've always been a person who has a desk where I spend most of my evenings, but I know this is becoming less and less common. However, when I'm working from home, I clear another space in my house--usually the kitchen table--to be my "office." Having a clearly designated space, as if I was actually in my work office, helps me to stay focused. 

2. Use the same background noise that you use at work. 

If you listen to music, or podcasts, at work, do that at home too. When I first started working from home, I tried to use my "at home" background noise--the TV--and found it way too distracting. If I listen to music or a podcast, it's like my brain assumes I really am at work and I stay more focused. 

3. Use that familiar study tip: take 10 minute breaks every 30 minutes. 

Honestly, I do this at work (in the office) too. Every 30 minutes, stand up, stretch, walk around for 10 minutes. Then get back to work. Your brain will feel remarkably refreshed and you'll be better able to focus. 

4. If you can, turn off the Wifi. 

If you have the kind of job where you don't need a 24/7 connection to the internet, turn off your Wifi when you're really getting into a task. I often do this when I'm trying to write and getting distracted by Twitter notifications and everything the internet has to offer. 

5. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. 

Hey, if you try to work from home (to reduce commute costs or because you're sick), and it's just not working--hey, that's ok. It's not for everybody! Don't try to keep forcing it if you are aware that you aren't getting everything done or achieving the goals you want. It's possible that getting out of the house might help--working from a coffee shop or bookstore might work better for you. Or, maybe you're just an office kind of person. 

Just a Little Spring-to-Summer Outfit Inspiration

spring to summer outfit inspiration

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably noticed I had a small blogging crisis the other night. I've been struggling to feel motivated regarding my blog lately... and then I start to panic about what I'm doing, whether what I'm doing opens me up to criticism I'm not sure I can handle, and if what I'm doing is safe for my son. I don't talk about Forrest very much anymore and I'm very careful about the photos I post about him now, especially on Instagram and Twitter. But opening yourself up can be challenging. I love blogging and it is very hard for me to separate my life as I know it from my blog... because blogging is so much a part of my identity. 

I guess what I'm saying is: thank you for the messages I received, the notes of love for my blog. It really helps me feel like what I'm doing has some kind of purpose (even if it is just bringing a small piece of joy to other people) and I feel more comfortable with what I've shared so far. 

Anyway, whenever I'm feeling a little down about my blog, I try to go to some of my "easier" post ideas. I wanted to share some of the pretty Polyvore sets I've been liking for that spring-to-summer transition. If you follow me Instagram, you know I've been working out a lot and eating healthy. I have finally (FINALLY!) after nearly 5 years of struggling started to lose weight; I think I just found the right balance and motivation. So I'm excited for summer, obviously. 

Here are a few outfits to get you inspired too. 

1. Neutral

I'm feeling extremely covetous of that little lace top, but for now, it's outside of my current confidence zone. That being said, the blush-tan neutral is a great way to transition a winter wardrobe to spring and then to summer--and these items are particularly work appropriate. 

2. That floral


Spring by duma-duma featuring a sun hat

If you know me, you know I love a floral--and I'm particularly loving the lush, vivid florals we are seeing lately! The bold print of this shirt dress would be perfect for the office (with some leggings or tights, of course) topped with a blazer; and then you could also wear it to the 4 million weddings and graduation parties we are all attending in the next few months. 

3. Day-glo

I'm normally NOT a neon fan, but when I saw this set, I actually looked at this dress and seriously considered buying it. It is gorgeous, right? I love a Peter Pan collar and I love a floral, but this dress is unlike any I've ever really seen. Combined with some funky sunglasses, it's another great graduation party option--just remember to slather on the sunscreen because in an outfit at bright as this, you're gonna need some sun protection. 

4. Striped Preppy Classics

Again, not confident enough to high-waisted short shorts at this point in my life, but I'm really loving the bomber jacket and letterman jacket trend. This one is particularly cute (and comfy looking). Paired with a striped top and jeans, it would be perfect for a casual weekend day or even a more casual workplace. Plus, you'll stay warm in the air conditioning that I know is torturing most women in office buildings right now. 

5. For vacation

I'm actually looking for a dress like this for my vacation this summer. I love blush pink, but it does wash me out a bit. However, I also love the off-the-shoulder look (I know) and this dresses silhouette is particularly flattering. Paired with a strappy sandal and a little bag, it's perfect for a fancy dinner at home or on vacation. 

Did you enjoy this post? If so, please take a moment to subscribe to my newsletter. I'm on a small hiatus for it at the moment, but it will resume soon! 

5 Easy Non-Food Items for Easter Baskets

non food items for easter baskets

Easter is one of those holidays that is just very easy to love, but loving it can feel a bit... odd. Especially if you, like me, are not Catholic. I just really enjoy Easter baskets: my mom always went all out for our Easter baskets. I distinctly remember a few Pokemon themed baskets one year! 

I wanted to share a few ideas for easy, non-food items for your Easter Baskets--whether it's for your kids, your husband, your friends, whoever. I try to avoid giving candy as a gift because, to me, it's just a temptation! Here are a few ideas. 

1. Books

One of my favorite gifts to get Forrest is books! We picked out the book Thumper's Furry Friends together, and he has another surprise book for Easter morning. To me, there is nothing like a new book. One year, Danny got me A Wrinkle In Time for Easter. It was one of the best gifts I've ever received! This book is on my list for Easter this year.

2. Lip balm

Right now, I'm loving Vaseline Lip Therapy with Aloe. They have a limited edition Easter tin available at Target through Easter and it is so cute! However, the best part is that with the purchase of any Vaseline product, they provide skincare products to those in need. That's a win-win! 

3. Wet'n'Wild Liquid Catsuit

If you haven't tried this liquid lipstick yet, drop everything and get to a drug store! If you have a friend, a daughter, or a mom who loves to rock a strong, matte lip, Liquid Catsuit is puuuurrfect. (I'm sorry, that was a terrible pun.) It comes in a ton of colors. I personally own Rebel Rose and Berry Recognize. Both last all day without a single reapplication. Yes, even through eating and drinking, talking, touching my mouth, working out... For $4.99 a piece, they're the best gift. (Oh and Wal-Greens is having a buy one, get one deal, so you can snag one for yourself too!) 

4. Gift cards

Ok, I swear I put this on every list I make, but gift cards are the best gifts. Period, end of story. Whether they're for the grocery store or your favorite restaurant, they are endlessly adaptable to the person. My favorites are Starbucks gift cards (I can send them straight from my phone!) and Amazon gift cards (because Kindle books). 

5. A make up themed basket

I've been lusting after so many blush, highlight, eyeshadow, and contour palettes lately! There are so many cool affordable ones right now. If you have a friend who loves make up, it's really the way to go. I love this palette from Makeup Revolution and for only $18 (and available at Ulta), it's amazing. Throw in a few brushes, some face masks from Target, a pack of fancy make up wipes, and some lip balm and it's a make up lovers dream! 

Disclaimer: I received samples of the Vaseline Lip Therapy with Aloe in exchange for a post featuring them. However, all praise of said product is my own--it's a great lip balm! For information about my disclosure policy, click here