Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Best and Worst Natural Beauty Products of 2013

Just like last year, I've put together a roundup of the best and worst natural beauty and skincare products I used in 2013. I always appreciate when bloggers post on not only what works well for them but also what doesn't, so hopefully this is helpful to you!

For reference (to get an idea if these products may work for you), I'm:

  • Blonde with blue-green-grey eyes and pale skin.
  • I tend to burn easily and then tan. My skin is dry but mystifyingly prone to breakouts. My skin tone is pale and pretty neutral with a slight tendency toward blue undertones (blue-based clothing/makeup look better on me, not yellow-based colors like olive).
  • My blonde hair is fine, previously processed, and prone to greasiness/limpness. It isn't frizzy or easily tangled, and it dries quickly and can hold a curl  but is naturally straight.
  • I don't have rosacea, eczema, etc, although I do have acne and blackheads.

Best Natural Skincare of 2013:
  • Skin Apotheke Ubtan Scrub (my review here) (two-time Best Of winner!)
    • I really loved this scrub until I got some water in the container and mold grew :( However, when I went to buy another I saw that the price had increased from $20 when I first bought it to $32 currently! In my opinion that's too much for this scrub so I'm on the search for another, but I really do love this one.
  • Stark Skincare Cyprus Oil (my review here)
    • My love affair continues with this oil--I'm on my second bottle. It smells divine, adds the perfect amount of dewiness and moisture to my skin, and soothes my skin when it becomes inflamed. When I'm not going anywhere, I'll wash my face and just add this for the day. It's so light and soaks in quickly so I forget I even have it on!
  • Devita Solar SPF 30 Protective Moisturizer (apparently I never reviewed this?!)
    • Holy Grail product! I'm on my third tube of this moisturizer because it's so fantastic. It's perfectly lightweight, not greasy, but really moisturizes. I've mixed mineral foundations with it as a tinted moisturizer, and I like to layer it over Stark's cyprus oil too. I love that it's SPF 30, and it doesn't break me out.
  • Andalou Naturals Glycolic Brightening Pumpkin and Honey Face Mask (my review here)
    • I loved this so much I ran out of it! I thought I'd play around with other masks but I find myself missing this one so I'll probably repurchase it sometime soon. 
  • Badger's Damascus Rose Beauty Balm (my review here) (two-time Best Of winner!!)
    • This balm is a perennial favorite (seriously, it made last year's Best Of list). It's too heavy for me in the summer and during the day, but I love it in the winter as a night cream. It makes a noticeable difference in the moisture of my skin but never causes breakouts. I put this on any time my skin needs a nice drink and I wake up with the softest skin :)
  • Devita's Cocoa and Cappuccino Masque (my review here)
    • I really really loved this mask until it developed mold (booooo!) The above link takes you to their Cappuccino Cocoa mask, which has a slightly different name and different packaging than the product I bought and I'm not sure if they are the same. Either way, I'd rebuy!
  • Andalou Naturals Cleansing Milk:
    • I've been loving this cleansing milk as a nightly facewash. It's super gentle and doesn't dry out my already-dry, sensitive skin. It takes off makeup and face grime easily. The consistency is like a runny lotion--not thick at all, and it spreads easily on the face. Sometimes it doesn't feel like it's getting everything off my face (like my face feels like it should be more 'stripped) but it really does! This doesn't completely conquer my breakouts but it does reduce the prevalence of them. I'm on the lookout for another similarly gentle cleanser than can kick my acne to the curb, but until then I'll continue using this. 
  • Rainwater Botanicals deodorant (my review here)
    • Since discovering this deodorant I think I've gone through 3 sticks. I love the lavender sage and lemongrass scents! I also tried the Jasmine Wind scent but for some reason it was really ineffective for me. I worried that the shop owner had changed the formula but I bought another stick of Lavender Sage and it works just as well as ever. So if you try out this deodorant and it doesn't work for you, try another scent and it may work better! She even has a great sample package so it's easy to find your best fit :)
Best Natural Makeup of 2013:

  • W3LL People Universalist #2 and #8 (my review of #2 here)
    • I love number two "Moonstone Glow" as an illuminator--I put it in the inner corner of my eye, on my cupid's bow, and on my cheekbones for a little extra touch that perks me right up! Number 8 "creamy dusty rose" is a perfect coral/pink color that looks great as a subtle blush. I don't typically use this on my lips but it's designed for both. Since these are cream-based products, I do have to reapply mid-day but it's a pleasure to do so anyway so I don't mind :)
  • Real Purity mascara in navy (not in purple!) (my review here)
    • I really loved this product in navy. It was great at darkening, lengthening, and curling my lashes. It still doesn't hold up to my former 'dirty' mascaras in performance but it's a good everyday staple. 
  • Oh Sudz concealer (my review here) (two-time Best Of winner!!)
    • This concealer continues to be my favorite, especially once I figured out that it's better to blend it with a concealer brush than my fingers. It has lasting power and blends flawlessly into my skin. My stick has lasted all year!
  • Silk Naturals Heavenly mineral glow
    • I bought a sample of this just before Christmas and plan to buy a full size. This glow is essentially a powder blush--it's a gorgeous subtle shimmer and looks very natural brushed across my cheeks. It's perfect for those 'no-makeup' looks and, with a tan in the summer, would make a great replacement for bronzer.

Worst Natural Beauty Products of 2013:

  • Real Purity mascara in violet
    • I'm not sure what went wrong here, since RP's mascara in navy is my current favorite natural mascara. It's like the violet one has an entirely different ingredient list! The violet is much too light, for one--it barely darkens my naturally light-brown lashes. On top of that, the violet version does nothing to lengthen or curl my lashes. At $15 a pop I expect more out of this product and will never repurchase it in this color.
  • Acure organics dry shampoo (my review here)
    • As I stated in my review, this was a rare fail for Acure in my opinion. I love many of their products, but this powder was really ineffective for me. In fact, I returned it and have since just used cornstarch, which is more effective than this product. 
  • Acure Organics Mint Shampoo (my review here)
    • I used to love this shampoo, but somehow over time it lost its efficacy on my hair and I started to notice that my hair looked greasier and greasier after using this. I'm bummed, because it used to be a Holy Grail product for me. I've switched to another tea-tree based shampoo and don't love it, but it performs better than this mint shampoo did at the end. Still on the hunt for a perfect replacement!

What are your favorite products of 2013? Any big fails I should avoid?

Monday, 30 December 2013

Best of I'm Glad I Exist 2013!

It's insane that tomorrow is the last day of 2013--this year flew by! Like last year, I thought I'd post my most popular and/or favorite posts of the year. Here goes!

Most Popular (1,000+ views):

Special thanks to the No More Dirty Looks crowd for stopping by to view this post!

Andalou Naturals Get Started Brightening Kit Review 
Thanks to a 2012 Christmas gift from a good friend, I was able to dabble for the first time in Andalou Naturals...instant love!

One In, One Out: Choosing Skincare Products 
More experience in natural beauty products has led to a different combination of items than what I used when I first started out with natural products. 

Update: I no longer use either of these products. Overall I don't think that the Mad Hippie serum made much of a difference in my skin, and while I liked the Sibu oil I much prefer Stark's Cyprus oil (see link below for my review of the Stark oil!)

My Favorite Posts: Fashion 

Packing a Week's Worth of Business Casual in a Carryon 
An October business trip to LA necessitated a post on how I pack lots of outfits into one small carryon. 

Hot Pink Madness Continues: Flowy Trousers 4 Ways 
Bought 'em, love 'em, have worn all of these outfits already.

Wedding Guest Attire: Remixing Wedding Clothes! 
Here are some tips on how to make wedding clothes stretch to other events!

Mix and Match: Green Leather Skirt 
Another item from my "One Item Four Ways" series that I ended up buying myself!

Feel-Good Go-To Summer Work Outfits
This popular posts is an easy way for me to pull together attractive outfits without having to think too hard in the early morning. Maybe I should do a post on my winter go-to's?

If I'm going to post on my go-to work outfits, I'd better show what I use for playtime too right?

My Favorite Posts: Beauty
My beauty/skincare posts are by far the most popular posts on my blog. I've somewhat settled into a great routine for me so I'm not trying as many products as I used to, but in 2014 I'm going to dabble more in natural makeup products--stay tuned!

(No image for this one, but it's one of my all-time favorite posts)

Current Natural Beauty Shopping List 
Here's one of my early natural beauty routines. I don't use the same regimen anymore, but I still like all of the products listed!

Summer Beauty Regimen plus mini-reviews! 
Here's a more recent post on my skincare regimen--although things have changed even since then. Winter Beauty Regimen post is in the works so check back soon!

Product Review: Stark Skincare's Cypress Purity and Defense Oil! 
This face oil is a key player in my current skincare routine--I'm on my second bottle!

Rainwater Botanicals Deodorant Review 
Another product I've repurchased multiple times, this deodorant (in "Lavender Sage" or "Lemongrass") is my favorite natural, non-irritating deodorant. 

My Favorite Posts: Interiors

I've redesigned my plan for our living room so many times now I lose track of what I wanted originally. This is the closest to how the room actually looks, although I still have lots of work to do before I get to a final look.

Living Room Firewood Storage DIY Plan
Quick DIY I dreamed up for firewood storage.

Bedroom Design Board 
We've slowly upgraded our bedroom, and I should really take pics to show you--we stayed pretty true to this design board for once! Just need lampshades and then I'll post on the improved bedroom :)

Nature-Luxe Living Room 
Essentially my dream living room. 

Small Space Solutions
This was a popular post on how to make the best of a small space. As a former dweller of a 245-square-foot studio, I've learned a thing or two about living small!

This is actually a pretty popular pin from my Pinterest DIY board--has anyone attempted it?

We are still mid-renovation on our bathroom (some key pieces for the shower are on back-order) but things are looking good and once again, this board is a fairly accurate representation of the look we've ended up with!

I had fun imaging what my best friend's home would look like if she had limitless capital. She approved!

You May Be a Design Blogger If...
I actually really liked this post, although it didn't get much reader attention. Which of these hot items do you have in your home?

Any favorite posts of yours that I missed?

Happy holidays everyone!

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Revisiting 2013's Resolutions

With the turn of the year comes the inevitable new batch of resolutions. I'd like to revisit last year's resolutions to see how well I did and what I should improve upon in the new year.

Last year's resolutions: 

1. Cook more/eat out less: My boyfriend is a wonderful cook and actually went full-time with his food truck this year (shameless plug: Off the Grid SLC is his truck--if you're in the SLC area check it out!). So between those two facts, we actually did lots better about eating in and cooking healthy. We also made more vegetarian meals than we did in past years.  

2. Drink more tea than coffee: I did so-so on this resolution. I did drink more tea than last year, but I also drank more coffee. My friend gave me a new tea mug for Christmas though--it's from Teavana and you brew it in the cup, so hopefully I'll improve upon this resolution in the new year.

3. Learn to use a sewing machine: Complete and utter fail. Never opened our sewing machine, never read/watched any tutorials on how to use it. Next year's goal!

4. Spend less time on the internet: Sadly, this was overall a fail as well. I did better at first but by the end of the year I fell back into old habits. I plan to get a gym or yoga membership this year, which will help keep me busy and off the interwebs. Hopefully!

5. Floss more: Another relative fail. I'm flossing more, but still not as much as I should be. 

All in all, I did improve on several things but failed to really capitalize on all my goals. This does make setting next year's goals easier! ;)

Friday, 13 December 2013

Weekly Wishlist: My Christmas/Birthday Wishlist

As a kid, I was always jealous of people who were born in the summer. They get to receive seasonally-appropriate gifts twice a year! Me, as a January baby...I get lots of wintery gear and cancelled birthday parties due to snowstorms. And (#firstworldproblems) it's also hard to think up a long enough gift list to get you through 2 celebrations back-to-back!

This year I started a running Pinterest wishlist early on so that when my family asks me what I want, I can tell them gifts that I've been wanting all year long, instead of scrambling like I do every year ("ummmm....I don't know.....that tshirt! These shoes? I don't know!"). So here's a sort of 'best of the best' of things I'd like for the holidays. As always, clicking on the image will bring you to the Polyvore board where all of the sources are linked.

Christmas/Birthday Wishlist

  • Blue decanter: This decanter is created in Mexico at a workshop that employs artisans with disabilities. This is a topic near and dear to my heart, so I love supporting artisans while getting a pretty pitcher for my bedside! This product can be purchased at The Little Market, a shop created by Lauren Conrad to support female artisans internationally.
  • Astrology calendar: I love this little Etsy shop and its beautiful astrology calendar. Use it throughout the year, then frame them all en masse with the calendar portion cut off! The gift that keeps giving...
  • Remix: every year I put an interior design book on my wishlist. This looks like a great resource to show you how to use what you have to a beautiful effect.
  • Candle holder: This Pottery Barn candle holder is perfectly simplistic and slim. I plan to hang it on an awkwardly-sized wall between two doors. 
  • Anthro mug: So pretty! Perfect to help me wake up with a cuppa joe every morning at work.
  • Ikea end table: I love this new Trysil line, including the 3-drawer dresser version. This end table is screaming for an Ikea hack, and it's only $40!
  • Green Gypsya rug: for $72 this local-to-SLC artist will hand-knot this amazing rug in a 2x3 size. I'm lusting over it for our new bathroom!
  • Small painting: This week 8x8" painting reminds me of home and would be great as part of a floating-shelf gallery wall.
  • Rope bag: I don't know if you know, but rock climbing ropes are super heavy. This bag has a great tarp attached that you can spread your rope on (to limit damage to the rope).
  • Dakine backpack: I have a small backpack that's usually stuffed with my climbing gear, so I'd like another pack for all the other activities I do! This pack is highly rated and can carry a water bladder, skis, or a snowboard, plus pockets for goggles and other goodies.
  • Remote starter: Maybe I'm just a wuss, but this winter is already beating me down cold-wise. Every time I have to get out of my toasty bed to warm up my car in the literally freezing cold, I curse the fact that I don't have remote start on my car. The ultimate Utah luxury!
  • Dangle earrings: These earrings are perfectly simple-yet-eye-catching. From the same beautiful store as the ring I featured in my last BESTY post.  So essentially, I'm obsessed with this shop. 
  • Tulle skirt: I want to do my best Carrie Bradshaw and wear this with tshirts and a sparkly necklace. Or a sweater and flats. Or boots and a long-sleeve tee with an infinity scarf. Or just everything I own.
  • W3LL People Universalist #8: the perfect coraly pink, this stick works well on lips or cheeks.
  • Infinity scarf: to pair with my new tulle skirt, obviously. See also: keeping warm in Utah wintertime.
  • Gap striped skirt: because stripes go with everything, and so will this skirt.
  • Gold earrings: These fun mismatched gold earrings are unique enough to make every outfit better, but simple enough to wear on a daily basis. Only $31 for this closet staple!

Disclaimer: I fully realize that this post is very 'first-world problems'-y. It should be noted that I feel very blessed to have the life I do and realize that many people don't ever get gifts, much less back-to-back :)

Monday, 9 December 2013

B(est of) ETSY: Christmas Gift Guide

This year I'm making a strong effort to support small and local businesses during my Christmas shopping. Obviously Etsy is a great way to access small, handmade goods, so for this year's Christmas Gift Guide I decided to share my favorite Etsy finds.

Magenta, teal, tan gift guide

How pretty are these four together? Highlights:

  • that rug is handmade. I know, right?!
  • I can't get over how pretty the colors of that bottom right-hand print are together. I just want to make a gallery wall with those two prints, while standing on the rug wearing that scarf. Yep.

Etsy Christmas in Black, White, Silver, and Gold

Etsy Christmas in Black, White, Silver, and Gold by mjchirpich-1 featuring black accent pillows


  • That monogram pillow would bring some personalized polish to any room
  • The top right print is by my perennial favorite, Clare Elsaesser. Get you some!
  • How amazing are those laser print leggings?!?!? Like seriously. 
  • The silver ring is by my new favorite jewelry artist. Click through the image to see more of her beautiful work!
  • The wooden snowflake? They make tons of other options, and I bought a set for my parents that are monogrammed with each of our initials. So pretty for the holiday!

Blues, Oranges, and Yellows: Etsy Christmas


  • That top left print? You tell them a location and they make a map out of the streets--personalized and cool!
  • I want to get the top right print for all the sassy, amazing ladies in my life.
  • I'm obsessed with shibori dyeing techniques right now! I want that yellow pillow in a bad way.

What are your latest favorites from Etsy?

Sunday, 1 December 2013

This is how my brain works: DIY's I have yet to DIY

One of my more popular Pinterest boards is my DIY board, where I pin all the projects that I have grand plans to complete but never actually will. Many of the projects link to the DIY itself--projects that talented people have completed and for which instructions are available.

Other pins look more like this:

...with a random caption like "acrylic rods and pipe parts"....which serve only to remind me of the DIY I have cooking in my brain. Since there's no telling when or if I'll ever get around to these projects, I thought I'd outline why those seemingly random items are pinned and how I'd go about completing them, in case anyone out there is more ambitious than I. As always, clicking on the image will take you to the Polyvore board with all of the image credits and links.

First up, the candlestick I'd DIY from the above inspiration image:

DIY Acrylic candlestick

Caitlin from Sacramento Street posted the above lovely tabletop. The candlesticks reminded me of the Skona Hem DIY pictured, which I've adapted a bit. I'd use acrylic rods and copper tubing to create a fun candelabra!

Next, I pinned the below image from Houzz of an interesting chandelier:
DIY Necklace Chandelier

DIY Necklace Chandelier by mjchirpich-1 featuring round shades

I'd use a basic lighting kit, a bunch of necklaces from either a store like Forever 21 or thrift stores. I'd hang the necklaces from either a couple of embroidery hoops, or buy a couple cheap lampshades, strip the metal frame, and use those. Lastly, add a pretty Edison lightbulb to finish the job.

Last up, here's a lamp that was formerly sold at Anthropologie, I believe for multiple hundreds of dollars. I'd hack my own this way:

DIY Wood Log Lamp

The Ikea lamp base unscrews, so you can detach the large head from the stick itself. I'd drill a hole through a log (use either a long adapter, or make a shorter lamp--your average drill bit won't make it length-ways through the log otherwise). Spray paint the lamp gold, if so inclined, and slip it over the stick of the lamp base. Screw the whole thing together and add a light bulb!

This skinny lamp base lends itself well to all kinds of DIYs actually. I want to track down some large wooden beads and stack them on the base. What other projects could you create with this base?