my totally radical, transformative, borderline spiritual skin experience with my new korean beauty routine

Monday, March 27

OK I am pumped about this post! A few days ago on insta-stories, I talked a little bit about the crazy changes that I've been seeing in my skin after only a few weeks of implementing my new Korean skincare routine. Specifically, a complete elimination of the perpetually clogged pores in between my eyebrows, a shrinking of the pores at the end of my nose (seriously, it's so smooth, feels like a baby's butt right now), an evening of skin tone, and zero of those sporadic breakouts that I would get on my chin from time to time.
Like, major major strides for me! 
My skin is still by no means perfect. I went to go get my first facial the other day, and the facialist strongly recommended microderm abrasion to even the texture and tone of my cheeks. But man, if I'm experiencing this kind of a response in my skin after only a few weeks of using these products, what does a year of care look like?? Is this turning into a soapbox now?

I do realize that k-beauty isn't exactly a new concept in the beauty world, but it took me a hot second to hear about it. When I first heard about the traditional 10-step routine, my first impression was, 
woah, INTENSE. 
This may have something to do with the fact that my own personal nighttime routine has traditionally involved a solitary make-up wipe, and some moisturizer. But I had long-admired the skin of the women who were now raving about their experience with the routine, and so I did some research, made the investment and went for it.

One of the first things I learned, what that it's not ACTUALLY a full 10-step routine every single night. Some of the steps are only implemented once or twice a week. And it's totally customizable to your own needs or preferences. Like so far, I've totally skipped doing the face mask step (although I'm headed to Ulta to grab some soon). And I've also left out the spf step too, because I've relied on other products I use that already have spf in them.  So anyway. You do you girl! And I'll walk you through exactly everything that I've been doing, and the skin science behind them.

Here's my counter right now. Is the sheer amount of product shocking to you? Because it's shocking to me. I'm still getting used it. But getting used to it in the way that one gets used to basically getting a facial every night. I'm not struggling.
Before I ordered each item, I did a ton of research and read SO-HO many reviews. So know that each of these are well loved and tried and true favorites in the skincare community. And for good reason, I've discovered!
 K! So here's it is.

When I first heard that you're supposed to clean your face twice, my initial reaction was, WHO HAS THE TIME.
But now it makes sense. And it's honestly one of my favorite parts. The first step is to cleanse with an oil-based cleanser. Most of our make-up is oil based, and since oil and water repel each other, when I was only water-based cleansing, I was leaving behind a lot. I've been using Banila Clean It Zero, and it's lived up to every bit of hype. 
Then, even though I'm left feeling pretty clean, I water-base cleanse with Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cleanser to remove the leftover stuff like sweat and dirt and whatever my two-year-old wiped on my face that day. 
The result is skin that is so SQUEAAAKY clean, it's been a bit of an eye-opening experience how not clean my skin has been over the years.

This step, depending on the sensitivity of your skin, only needs to be done 1-3 times a week. Right now, I exfoliate twice a week using Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Wine. And dude. Your initial reaction after opening the lid might be to drink the stuff, because it smells SO GOOD, but try to restrain. The lactic acid on the pads really gets in there, removing dead skin and debris from your pores, with the star ingredient being reservatrol, which naturally comes from red wine and helps prevent pigmentation issues and wrinkles. Rave reviews on this.
 // TONER //
Toner preps the skin for the remaining products, shrinks pores, balances your skin's PH levels, and protects, and moisturizes. So a super hero basically. I use Pixi Skintreats Glow Tonic, and I actually read about the cult following of this toner last year, purchased it, and then just didn't use it! I know! I have tried a sampling of a couple other toners since getting into a routine, and this is by far my favorite.

So I had never heard of Essence before learning about the 10-step routine. But it is the very heart of the skincare within the Korean culture, and is considered one of the most important parts.  I use Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence, and with both the toner and the essence, I drop a small amount in my hand and pat evenly over my face instead of wasting product on a cotton pad.
This is when it starts to feel like you're throwing everything on your face at once, but there's a method to the madness. First, I smooth on a retinol cream called Resurface. I got it after seeing it over and over and over again on the beauty counters of celebrities whose skin I admired. It softens and smooths and lightens pigmentation in association with photodamage ... which I have a lot of because of my freckle-inclined skin type. 

Then in my palm I combine a few drops of Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil, and Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Serum and press it in evenly over my face. I've used Biossance's pure squalane as a moisturizer for years now, and loved it even more after reading a few months ago that my skin idol Hilary Rhoda claimed squalane as one of her secret weapons. Like... have you SEEN her face.
Squalane is incredible and has been a staple in the K-beauty market for a long time. It's is a mega-moisturizing molecule that instantly hydrates while locking in essential moisture. It's the natural moisture we were born with, but as we reach our late 20’s (hi!), our natural production significantly decreases, so adding back in plant-derived squalane helps boost cellular regeneration and heal dry skin. That, compounded with the heavy hit of oil soluble vitamin C ( which is 50 times better than ascorbic acid just by the way) brightens and evens, and protects everything. It's one of my most essential products.

Then, Kiehl's Powerful-Strength, Line-Reducing, Eye-Brightening Concentrate, which is POWERFUL holy crap (only use a little bit) and so so effective. The puffiness and darker skin tone around my eyes has always given me trouble, and I feel like I've already seen such an improvement.

And Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate, which has had a cult following for a while now, so I had to see what the hype was about. It smells like essential oils, and has an incredible list of ingredients to back it up (including squalane!). In the mornings, I've started getting used to waking up with brighter, plump, super "awake" skin. Totally normal, it's fine.
 The first week or so that I was going through this routine, I got to the moisturizing step and I was like, seriously if I put one more thing on my face, it's going to start dripping. It felt like such an excessive departure from my one-and-done mentality. But, somewhere between a change in mentality and an actual, real, physical change in my skin, when I got to the very last moisturizing step, there was suddenly "room" in my skin for more. The last layer of moisture didn't feel excessive, or like it would drip off my already layered face, it actually absorbed EVERYTHING. And continues to, both morning and night.
These are my holy grail moisturizers.

Because Squalane is such a heavy hitter in the skin department, I love using Biossance 100% Squalane oil in combination with pretty much everything. With my nightly face mask and with daily face creams, as a face prepper before applying make-up and as a full-on replacement for a body moisturizer. Which P.S. if you want to try a sample, they'll actually send you a really good portion right here for $4 shipping!

For a day cream, my husband and I both use and love Kiehl's ultra facial cream, and for night, I am obsessed with the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask, which I first ordered after reading the raving reviews on Amazon and have it loved every since (I'm about out!) It's so light and dries quickly and is not at ALL what you think of when you imagine a "mask".
And that's it people! 
(She says ... thirteen products later ...)

I know everyone's skin is different, and not everyone is going to respond the same to every product and genetics and hormones and all that can really mess with a person and how their skin behaves. But I've loved feeling free to go without make-up, and this routine and what it's done for my skin so far, has kinda changed my life in that way. 
Hopefully it can help a few of you too!
Let me know if you end up trying and loving anything!!

This post was in partnership with Biossance, a company whose products I am obsessed with and use daily.  Like I mentioned before, if you want to try a sample, they'll send you a really good portion right here for only $4 shipping!

my daily uniform two ways

Monday, March 20

My daily look, for some time, has been some sort of variation of a t-shirt and jeans. With keds, or with a well-made sandal or heel, it works. With a top knot, or hoop earrings, it works. With or without a sweater or jacket, it works. I can and will monologue to you about a t-shirt and jeans and the way in which having a small collection of a perfectly-fitted set of each will change your life. In terms of going into your closet in the morning, and spending exactly zero minutes on pairing what with what. This is not news to anyone of course. We know these things about t-shirts and jeans.
And so did I, I suppose, until one day I realized that I was holding onto a pair of jeans because I liked the wash and the cut, but literally never wore them because they started to stretch and sag after a few hours, and I was constantly having to tug them up. So that day, I went through and cleaned out everything that wasn't an absolutely perfect fit, which ended up eliminating a lot of my trend-based items too. At the end of the day, I was left with a super basic closet, but one that fit me really well and felt like me. I highly recommend the experience.  So now, whenever I shop, it's felt super easy to add new items into the mix, because of the all-knowing, all-filtering set of criteria. Does it fit really really well? Can it be easily paired with everything else that I own? And is it a white shirt? (jk I just really like a good white shirt. I have a solid collection going.)
Kork-Ease is celebrating this concept of owning one's signature look with their #originalyou campaign, so with this in mind, lez break some outfits down.

This button-up, for instance ...
... I loved that it felt classic but still relatively cool because of the cropped cut. And I really only wear a mid/high-rise to full on mom jeans anymore, so I knew I could wear it comfortably with whatever.
And this pair of Paige denim which was magically one of the first pairs of flairs I've ever found that didn't immediately require a hem job for my short legs. For a second I did think that the distressing at the bottom was alllllmost hinting too much 2004, but then I decided that it was actually what made them ideal ... takes them a step away from those fancy flair jeans that take themselves too seriously, you know the ones.
And then, these perfectly seventies Kork-Ease Adelphi wedges, which I kid you not, I have not taken off since they came in the mail. I did not know that my other shoes were non-arch supporting until I put these on. Like, I would walk a marathon in them. Speed walk ... you know.
 Shoes: Kork-Ease, Jeans: Paige, Top: Nordstrom Rack, Bag: ASOS, Sunglasses: Target

Here's another version of what you could expect to see me in should we ever run into each other at Chick-Fil-A.
White tees and jeans, white tees and jeans, I could sing you a song about white tees and jeans. Super stretchy jeans to be specific. Taco Bell jeans to be even more specific.
I'm again wearing Kork-Ease here, this time the Amboy sandals, which, ok I lied about the first shoes, because I have also almost exclusively been wearing these since they came in the mail. None of my other shoes exist anymore. My life is about arch support now. Arch support and skin care and daily uniforms, I am aging just reading this.
In all seriousness though, I love settling into myself. Feel less inclined toward experimentation and more inclined towards simplicity and knowing what is and isn't me.
Makes it real easy
Shoes: Kork-Ease, Jeans: Topshop, Top: Nordstrom Rack, Hat: F21, Sunglasses: Old Navy, Choker: ASOS

P.S. I did a little interview over on Kork-Ease blog if you'd like to check it out HERE!

This post was in partnership with Kork-Ease, a footwear brand whose style stays true to its 70's roots and whose sandals could probably also double as slippers. Just saying.

our bedroom! a before and after

Tuesday, March 7

You guys! I decorated my room! This gets extra exclamation points! Because! Our room! Has been! A dumping ground! For nine years! And now! It's not!
Ok, I'm done.
And dumping ground may be a little strong. But seriously, for the almost decade we've been together, we've never ever put any thought or effort into our room because, I don't know. We were the only ones who would ever see it/spend time in it and therefore it wasn't worth our time/money? That's basically the gist of it. We've stored bikes in our room, mismatched furniture, an ACTUAL bow and arrow, and over the years it has served as not only as a sleeping room, but as an office, a toy room, a dining room (which drove my husband a specific brand of nuts), a TV room, and has never not once, seen anything hung on its walls.
I did a little home tour of our place a few months ago, but our room was not part of it and this would be why. But there's something about buying a house, and still not having done anything with your room eight months later that makes you say, yes ... it is time.
So with that, here are our 'befores'. (Excuse the pile, it was laundry day)
Our room is actually quite small, so a king bed, with the extra width of the platform right in the middle of it takes up most of the space. We've had this platform bed for over a year now ... I liked its clean, low-key vibes, plus it made it really easy for our kids to get in and out of bed with us. It's essentially what set the tone for the whole space.
And this is how it looks now! Little bit boho, little bit southwestern, a touch of mid century?
My goal was to choose items simple enough and versatile enough, that if I wanted to, I could change out the whole vibe with a switch of a rug, and maybe a plant. I could easily see a kilim or persian rug working in there, next time I feel like throwing $1800 out the door, you know? (So, never? haha) The giant one I have in there now was on sale for a STEAL of $150.
One of my favorite things I did for the space was installing our curtain rod up near the ceiling. I was second guessing myself about it, cause I thought it might look a little ridiculous, but it ended up making the room seem taller, and larger. All those design shows ACTUALLY know what they're talking about. Here, you can also get a view of both our book basket and laundry basket, which are inaccurately not overflowing with clothes and/or random stuffed animals. It will never look like this again.
My sister over at Pacific Loom is the weaver behind this gorgeous macrame creation above our bed, and it's like the cherry on top of the whole room. It ... completes me.  
(Excuse Isla while she takes a quick power nap)
These two photos that I had framed through Shutterfly were the ones that also really helped solidify the direction of the room, if not just make it entirely. I really wanted something that felt very personal but also complimented the space with a contemporary vibe so I went with the photo gallery print frames. I deliberated FOREVER on which two out of the billion photos on our computer that I should frame. I had a couple picked out that held a lot of nostalgia from our time in Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley where our babies were born, but at the last minute I chose these ones, which were taken on a late summer day just 10 minutes down the road from where we live now. Hanging them really made the whole space feel even more like home.
But because it is, after all, OUR room, I also wanted a picture of just the two of us by our bedside. I ended up choosing this one, which after playing around a bit with all the bordering and color options on Shutterfly, decided to offset it with a large matting and white frame. I just love that the photo visually feels more emphasized that way. The pic, snapped by my sister a few years ago, was taken on a very good day watching Everett pick out a pumpkin at our favorite farmer's market in Winchester, a place which will always hold a sweet spot of nostalgia for us.
Our bathroom was tricky, not because it's particularly unusual, but because I don't have the first idea as to how one is supposed to decorate a bathroom. Up until now, I just haven't really. (Does one actually hang pictures in a bathroom??) But then I came across the mounted wall art options on Shutterfly, and got this idea to do sort of a photo-strip inspired framing, and just rolled with it. It was so easy and fun, and the kids have absolutely loved discussing each picture individually while they take their bath haha.
And there you have it! Our itty bitty room in a nutshell. And I have to say, how NICE it is, to go in there at the end of a day and truly truly enjoy it. It's our little family sleeping haven and it's basically like a spa experience after all these years of going to sleep amongst heaven only knowssss.

This post is sponsored by Shutterfly. Awaken your space with your vision. Shop Shutterfly Home D├ęcor for personalized home accents that are uniquely you.

a very belated valentines day breakfast

Wednesday, February 22

Our family was hit with a cold like a truck this past week. First it got me, and then the kids, and the germs took us out one by one like they were actually enjoying it. As it is, there is very little that's redeeming about February. Especially a sick February and a February where my husband is gone for a significant chunk of it. But we do have Valentines Day. We have pink, and red colored everything, and chocolate, and each other. So, to make up for the fact that I was congested and consequentially unfestive on actual Valentine's Day, we had a belated celebratory breakfast when I felt like I could function without dying.
We decided on a very pink breakfast. These two are very much into food dye lately. The other day, we made four different colors of homemade playdough, and I regretted it immediately haha. (I TRY to be a fun mom I really do, but that crap is STRESSFUL.) But this was just one color, and closely monitored, so they were so excited to take turns mixing everything up.
 Some VERY pink waffles coming right up.
 And pink milk too.
With of course, our favorite milk of all time. We love using fairlife because in terms of protein, it's much more nutritionally dense (a whopping 13 grams vs. only 2 grams compared to regular milk), and it has 50% less sugar.
They were only slightly disappointed when the dye didn't magically transform the milk into strawberry flavored milk, but it was still QUITE magical.
When I served their plates up, Everett said, "wow mama you're like a chef now, we should live in a restaurant." And that's why you have kids. Because when you do only slightly above average work, they're convinced you're actually at the top of your game.
And because Everett is the special breed of human that he is, he doesn't enjoy syrup on his waffles. Instead, he prefers two fried egg whites on top, with salt.
All cut up of course, and fit just so on top of each bite. He is not sure why this amuses me so much.
Isla's more of a traditionalist.
I don't know what I did to deserve these sweet little love muffin valentines, but they love each other so much, and I am so lucky.
(My husband just read this line and said, "you married me that's what you did." So. Glad we solved that mystery. ;) )
So happy belated v-day guys!

This post has been in partnership with fairlife, a company that we use and love in our home daily.
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