My Favorite Shops in NYC-Beauty Edition

Happy Tuesday, peeps!

So I was running an errand for my mom at the Macy’s on Livingston Street in Downtown Brooklyn, and I was perusing the makeup floor to look at some of the new(wish) goodies. It was weird seeing such a shiny new beauty concept store with brands that I’m used to seeing in Sephora. I mean, I remember the days when the cosmetics were sold by women in white lab coats behind elegant glass counters and I would watch my mom buy a compact and a lipstick, then leave with the GWP (Gift With Purchase). I wonder if Estee Lauder knew what she was getting herself into when she started the concept of GWP back in the 1950s as a way to get women to try new products…..

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Consistency in the Midst of Despair: The Key to Success

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

It’s a rainy day here in the Five Boroughs. A very warm and rainy day here, perfect for cuddling up in bed with hot chocolate and a good book. Or maybe you’re someone who prefers to take advantage of this warm weather by spending the day outdoors. In either case, you do you. No judgement in my corner.

If you had the opportunity to have dinner with Jeff Bezos to ask him about his billion-dollar secret to success, I’m sure that he would give you a variation of these three cornerstone answers: (1) Hard work. (2) Dedication. (3) Sacrifice.

Yet, no one talks a lot about the fourth cornerstone in that foundation of success: (4) Consistency.

Now, consistency is very important in regards to helping you achieve success. In fact, I would argue that it is even more important than the previous three answers because it is what keeps you successful. The ability to be consistent is what separates the Oprahs, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos of the world from the Billy McFarlands (Magnises & Fyre Festival), Bernie Madoffs (Ponzi scheme), and Doug Evanses (CEO of Juicero) of the world. Being persistent in the pursuit of consistency is what gets people the corner office with all the perks. In short, if you can’t deliver the peak results on demand every single time…in today’s economy, you’ll be replaced by someone or SOMETHING who can.As I always say: “Persistence is the key indicator of consistency, for what someone works hard to get, they work even harder to KEEP.

But when you’re in the midst of a low period, though…….consistency is, quite understandably, incredibly difficult to maintain.

I mean, how can you be expected to produce the same stellar results day after day, week after week, month after month and so forth when you’re in one of the worst periods of your life?

The answer is simple: Know your limits.

We all know that the ultimate mantra of super millennial everywhere is #NoLimits, and that’s fine. The #NoLimits mentality has inspired us to reach new heights beyond what our parents ever imagined for us, and it is our rallying cry when we need to crush our goals. However, when things hit the fan and you’re in a place where you have no desire to be in without an end in sight, sometimes, you have to make peace with the fact that limits exist for a reason.

Keep this in mind: I’m not saying that you shouldn’t keep pushing forward regardless of what heartbreaks and tragedies you may be going through at the moment. You absolutely should. However, the key to producing consistent results during that time is knowing when to take a break and replenish yourself. You can’t run on empty forever. Sooner or later, your engine will stop in the middle of the road after burning through the last dregs of fumes.

If you must do work of any kind during times of despair, know that there will be times when you have to stop and acknowledge the fact that you are not in a healthy, emotional state. You will have to feel the feelings. You will have to cry in the bathroom, write in your journal, offer a prayer to God for help or strength to get you through things, release a woo-sah, whatever. Furthermore, please realize that doing so does not make you weak. Rather, it strengthens you. Why? Simple. Releasing pent-up and pain renews the body, mind, and spirit. Releasing these previously avoided emotions allows your worst fears to happen so that you can move on and focusing on your tasks at hand. Most people believe that consistency is about recreating the same results for the rest of your life. Rather, true consistency is the ability to maintain the same level of effort to produce greater and greater results over time. You can’t produce greater and greater results if your energy is depleted on all fronts.

So…take that time to cry if you have to. Go on that vacation you’ve been dreaming of. Eat the croissant. Whatever you need to do to replenish yourself…just do it.

And watch yourself soar.

Three Product Roundup-Vitamin C Serums

Happy Friday, lovely people!

For the second Three Product Roundup, we’re going to talk about Vitamin C serums!

Now, I love Vitamin C serums. They are great for two distinct reasons: (1) They work wonderfully in conjunction with your sunscreen to provide you with antioxidant protection from the sunlight and environment during the day, and (2) They work really well at percentages over 20% during the nighttime to help brighten dull skin. If you are someone who chooses to ignore warnings about the sun and go out during the hottest times of the day especially, you need a Vitamin C Serum. Period.

However, here’s the catch: there are a LOT of products on the market, and as with most skincare trends, we are now seeing an explosion of products coming out at lower price points with the intention of making such ingredients a line-item in someone’s skincare budget. So, with that in mind, we’re going to discuss three well-known Vitamin C serums today which are well-known and figure out….which one is the best!

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Three Product Round-Up :Cleansing Balms

Greetings, readers!

This is my first beauty post of 2018, and one of my resolutions was to create more meaningful content in the space of beauty which actually discuss care in detail.

So I’m starting a new series for this blog called “Three Product Round-Up.” In this series, I’m going to test three different versions of a product at three different price points:

Drugstore:$

Department Store:$$

Higher End:$$$

For my first foray, I’m going to do a three product round-up of cleansing balms. Now, what are cleansing balms, you ask? Cleansing balms are solid, oil-based cleansers which are mostly used as the first step in a skincare routine. Now, most people use them to remove sunscreen and make-up before using a second treatment cleanser, however, depending upon the product, there are some products which can be used as a second cleanse. 

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The three cleansing balms which I am going to be comparing are the following:

Pixi’s Nourishing Cleansing Balm ($20) Available at Target  

Clinique’s “Take the Day Off” Cleansing Balm ($29.50) Available at Sephora and Macy’s

Sunday Riley’s Blue Moon Tranquility Cleansing Balm ($50) Available at Sephora and Space.nk Apothecary

Now…let’s begin, shall we?

I. Amount in packaging:

Pixi-3.04 oz

 NourishingCleansingBalm Open 04AUG16 web large

Photo Credit: Target

Clinique– 4.2 oz (Originally 3.8 oz)

 Clinique Take the Day Off Macys

Photo Credit: Macy’s

Sunday Riley-3.38 oz.

 Sunday Riley Sephora

Photo Credit: Sephora

II. Marketing Jargon (Taken directly from company websites whenever possible)

Pixi: :A gentle cleansing balm that removes all traces of makeup as it nourishes, leaving skin silky-soft.”

Clinique: “Lightweight makeup remover quickly dissolves tenacious eye and face makeups, sunscreens. Transforms from a solid balm into a silky oil upon application. Cleans thoroughly, rinses off completely. Gently helps remove the stress of pollution so skin looks younger, longer. Non-greasy. Non-drying. Ophthalmologist tested. For all skin types.”

Sunday Riley: “Blended with gentle sugar-based cleansers, Sunday Riley’s ‘Blue Moon Tranquility’ balm will remove impurities and makeup without stripping your face of essential oils. It’s infused antioxidant-rich Cocoa Butter, moisturizing Mimosa Flower Wax and a calming blend of Blue Tansy and German Chamomile to soothe irritation. Tangerine and Sweet Orange Essential Oils tone and clarify while creating a relaxing, spa-like experience.” (Taken from Net-a-Porter.com)

III. Ingredients:

Pixi: Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Cetearyl Isononanoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glyceryl Behenate, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Glyceryl Stearate, Glyceryl Cocoate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Lecithin, Tocopherol, Cetyl Alcohol, Benzyl Alcohol, Fragrance. 90 ml / 3.04 fl.oz

Clinique: Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Caprylic / Capric Triglyceride, Sorbeth-30 Tetraoleate, Polyethylene, PEG-5 Glyceryl Triisostearate, Water / Aqua / Eau, Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol.

Sunday Riley: Glycerin & Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides & Aqua & Sucrose Laurate, Jojoba Esters (And) Acacia Decurrens Flower Wax (and) Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Wax (and) Polyglycering-3, Glyceryl Behenate, C10-18 Triglycerides, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides (Coconut Oil), Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Moringa Oil/ Hydrogenated Moringa Oil Esters (Moringa Butter), PEG-8 Beeswax, Cetyl Alcohol (and) Ceteth-20 (and) Steareth-20, Polyglyceryl-6, Polyglyceryl-3 Beeswax (and) Cetyl Alcohol, Squalene, Tangerine (Citrus Tangerina) Oil, Citrus Sinensis (Sweet Orange) Oil, Tanacetum Annuum (Blue Tansy) Leaf Oil, Matricaria Recutita (German Chamomile) Essential Oil, Vanilla Planifolia Fruit Extract, Ylang Ylang (Canaga Odorata) Flower Oil, Citrus Aurantium Var. Amara (Neroli) Flower Oil, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile Roman) Flower Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin And Caprylyl Glycol. (Taken From Dermstore.com)

IV. Directions for Usage (According to company directions)

Pixi: • Use AM & PM 
• Step 1: Apply a coin size amount onto dry skin & neck. 
• Step 2: Massage gently for 30 seconds. 
• Step 3: Remove with damp face cloth, using circular movements. 
• Petra’s Recommendation: For best results, follow with Glow Tonic.

Clinique:  How to Use
Use fingertips to massage balm over dry skin.
Rinse well with warm water. Pat dry.
Follow with your 3-Step Skin Care System.

Sunday Riley: How to Use
Massage balm into dry skin and remove with a warm cloth or apply as a hydrating mask on clean skin. 
Once open, most effective when used within 12 months. (Taken From Dermstore.com)

V. Texture and Scent

Pixi: This product feels like a solid oil. It’s very smooth, and goes on like a very slippery oil when rubbed on the face. I love the mild rose smell.

Clinique: This feels like Lard or Crisco. When you rub it between your fingers, it goes on like an oily cream. This has no fragrance, which is perfect for those who don’t like scented products.

Sunday Riley: This product feels rich, but it is quite grainy. I found the blue tansy scent quite calming, though. Still, the grainy texture..nah. I’m not a fan of it.

VI. How Did I Use It?

All products: I took a quarter-sized amount between my hands, rubbed them once, and then massaged it into my face for one minute to remove makeup. Then, I used a warm, clean washcloth to remove my make-up and sunscreen.

VII. My Thoughts on Each Product

Pixi: This was my least favorite. I used my usual method, and my face felt as though it was coated in wax. I had to use a stronger second cleanser to remove the remnants of this cleanser. Even on my hand, my hand felt as though it was coated with wax. A really nice smelling wax….but still…I don’t like wax near my face. Ever.

Clinique: I really liked this product. I’m normally a sucker for scent, but the performance of this was so good that I didn’t miss the scent. I was able to remove this in 1-2 swipes, and it even removed my waterproof eyeliner as well as my makeup. WIN! 

Sunday Riley: I do like this product. It performs well, and it can actually double as a moisture mask. However, I will not be repurchasing this product because there are much better cleansers which can be purchased for the price, and the grainy texture just wasn’t my thing. 

VIII. Final Verdict

Pixi: I will not be repurchasing this. Ever again.

Clinique: I really love this product. The issue that I have is Clinique is one of the flagship Estee Lauder brands. If you don’t know…Estee Lauder Companies sells their products in China, which requires internationally-owned brands to test their products on animals before they can be sold to the Chinese market. This issue is a LOT more complicated than it appears, and I will be making a separate post on it in the near future.

Sunday Riley: If the price point were $20 lower, then absolutely. However, it’s just not worth it to me.

What is Self-Care?

Happy Tuesday, Everyone!

This is my first ever Health and Wellness post, and I loved the topic so much that I decided to make it a combo “Talk Tuesday” post as well.

Self-Care. Fun.

If you follow the Millennial, upper-class heteronormative definition of Self-Care, then you ascribe to the idea that self-care is all about using the latest and greatest superbly influencer-marketed-beauty product, workout supplement, magical-superfood, time-saving app or fitness craze to assist in the elevation of your consciousness to a higher level.

Now, I happen to love all five of the things listed above. I especially love beauty-products like no one else, and thanks to my devoutly-Catholic yet health nut grandmother, I’ve known about superfoods since I was young. However, I get a little ticked off when I see these methods being packaged as the only true way to take care of yourself. That is when I have to call the ultimate BS.

To me, self-care means something completely different. To me, self-care is taking care of your NEEDS first before taking care of your wants. Self-care is taking care of your mental health. Self-care is taking care of your physical health. Self-care is nourishing your relationships. Self-care is making sure that you have enough money to pay your bills so that you’re not without the necessities. Self-care is making sure that you are doing what you HAVE to do so that you can do what you WANT to do. So with my definition in mind, here are some ideas to reclaim self-care.

Self-care is:

*Seeing a Therapist for Your Anxiety and Undiscussed Traumas. Many cultures have attached a negative stigma to discussing issues with a mental health professional. This is the reason why there are still so many people who suffer needlessly. I’ll readily admit that I was once one of those people who saw therapy as a weak person’s thing. However, I ended up in therapy at the age of 25, and it was one of the best things which could have ever happened to me. I was forced to confront a lot of personal traumas which stemmed from childhood and affected the progression of my adulthood. You may not be able to say anything much at first, but the day will come when you are able to be vulnerable, and I promise you…you will feel SO MUCH BETTER!

*Paying Your Bills on Time. This will save your name in the long run. I know, paying them sucks. But if you want to live independently in the future, you need to show that you are able to handle small responsibilities now. Plus, it builds up your credit. ALWAYS work on building up your credit.

*Visiting a health professional to discuss a medical issue that you have had for a long time and were too afraid to discuss. Many of us need to do this, myself included. Bringing a family member or friend who can support you during this visit is crucial. Too many of us don’t go to healthcare professionals and we catch diseases too late. Let’s change the cycle. I hate the dentist, but I will be making my appointment to go. Go. To. The. (Insert-Healthcare-Professional-Here).

*Spending Time in Prayer and Reflection. Don’t ascribe to the idea that prayer is perfection. Let’s be real: prayer is hard. Really hard. Showing vulnerability of any kind is hard. But it helps to take your problems to whomever you pray to. Stop listening to the people who say that prayer is easy. Pray however you can. If it’s easier to pray by writing, write. If it’s easier to pray by reading from a book, read from that book. If you have to use the mode of Gregorian Chants to get your prayers to God, do it.

*Eating Healthy Homemade Meals That Fit Comfortably Within Your Budget.  Listen, not all of us can afford Whole Paycheck. However, it’s worth it to find stores which sell high-quality fruits, vegetables, and other staples which fit within your budget. I’ll admit, I love JuicePress, but for the price of one of their tiny salads, I can make salads which will last me a week. Eating more home-made healthy meals will do WAY more for your health in the long run than the superfoods and supplements which cost more than your food budget for a month ever will.

*Saying “Peace-Out!” to Keeping Up With (Insert-Your-Favorite-Influencer-Here) You do not need to have what they have. Heck, half of them are broke people trying to make free money off of you by faux-stunting on various social media outlets. Here’s a tip: the real rich…do not stunt on social media. It makes them kidnapping targets. Live. Within. Your. Means. Your wallet, peace-of-mind, and mental health will thank you. So will your retirement account.

*Addressing Conflicts With Your Loved Ones. It seems as if everywhere I turn, I see people bragging and boasting about how they can cut people out of their lives with nothing more than a smile. It’s not impressive, and it’s actually frightening. Instead of cutting people off, how about learning to effectively communicate your displeasure and talk things out? Call up your friend or family member whom you have an issue with and discuss it like adults. Better yet, meet up in person. This will save you so much heartache. You may not agree with everything this person says, and you may not be able to save the relationship, but you will have the peace of mind knowing that you were able to communicate your thoughts and feelings in a mature and effective manner.

*Spending Time With Your People. This is a big one. I’m always hearing excuses about how we don’t have time and we’re always busy with work, school, etc. Here’s a radical thought: MAKE TIME. Time is the most valuable currency in existence because it is the one currency which we can never recoup. Call your parents. Visit your aunt and uncle. Meet people for Sunday dinner. Studies have shown that the longest-living people have robust and vibrant social networks. Do you want to help your elders live longer? Spend time with them. Regularly. You want to live longer: spend time with your friends laughing over some stupid stuff.

*Doing Hobbies that Make you Happy.  I never really see this one on Self-care lists, but it’s the most important one. Hobbies are so important because they encourage us to use different parts of our brain to stimulate us. If you love playing in beauty products, do it. If you love the gym, go often. Love to dance? Take a class! Now, I love to read, knit, sing, and dabble in the beauty product realm (as you can see) so I do all of those things. Often.

I hope that I’ve given you some new ideas for self-care and brought it to a level which you feel more comfortable with. Let me know what are your favorite methods of self-care!

Faith In Medias Rex-Strengthening Your Faith in The Middle of Despair

I’m sure that there are times when, no matter how much you strive to live a God-like life, the Devil does everything and anything to keep you from being on that path. Maybe you’ve gotten into extreme blow-out arguments with your loved ones. Perhaps you’ve had a really bad day where nothing went right and one final indiscretion sent you over the edge. Who knows? Maybe you just woke up in a funk and can’t seem to find your faith in God at that moment.

Well, all three of those scenarios have happened to me. Some of them have happened all in the same day. On those days, I struggle to hold on to my faith in Christ. I’ll admit, I don’t even consider whether or not God is present in those moments because my despair is that deep. However, once that feeling of abject despair subsists, I always hear a voice in my head, that being God’s voice.

The voice is never like actors portray it in the movies. It’s never the heralded trumpet voice of St. Michael the Archangel with grandeur and rigor. Rather, for me, it’s always a calm voice. A comforting voice. A voice that soothes and nourishes. Once that voice starts to speak, I listen. Now, God knows all of us, and he knows what we respond to best when he soothes us. Nevertheless, he is honest with us, and he often asks us to trust him as he helps us in our moments of need.

In my moments of need, God often calls me to act by doing the following:

(1) Say the Rosary at a nearby Church– If I’m out and about when my despair happens, I get to a Church for a Rosary if I have the time. I’ll usually complete a whole Rosary, and then spend additional time in prayer.

(2) Look up an inspirational Psalm or passage– Sometimes, you don’t have time to say a Rosary or spend an hour (or two) in mental prayer and contemplation. My favorite Psalm is Ps. 121: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills….” 

(3) Meditate on Images or Music- I’ve always believed that God speaks to us and through us through the gifts that he has blessed us with. Now, I have sung all of my life and taken part in some sort of visual art all of my life, so art and music speak the most to me. Listening to music  or look at artwork in books, churches, or in person at museums if I’m close to one of them. To me, the biggest sign of God’s existence is the sheer amount of beauty that artists of all mediums  create in his name. Having found musical artists as Ike Ndolo and Matt Maher in addition to the constant Beyonce rotation that I keep on repeat. 

In any case, I hope that I’ve offered you something to think about today. What are some of your methods?