Happy Wednesday, dear readers! As I’ve mentioned before, it’s Summer Love week, and I’m showcasing things that I’m loving this summer here on the blog.
Back in May, I attended a yoga class benefiting my friends at Aunt Flow! While there, I met Tina from local skincare brand Under Aurora. I loved her setup and ingredients – really beautiful formulations using natural ingredients and eco-friendly packaging. Everything of hers is vegan with the exception of the honey in one of her perfumes.
I purchased a skincare set from her at a bit of a discount due to my blogger status. I’ve been using it quite a bit this summer and I wanted to bring you a review – because we’ve all been missing out if we haven’t tried Under Aurora! This has been my day skincare for a lot of this summer. I use a more Asian Beauty-based routine at night, but these simple and great formulations have really been keeping my skin in great condition this summer.
First up is the Gentle Facial Cleanser. I was intrigued by the ingredients – aloe vera leaf juice, sunflower oil, rose flower water – just to name a few. This has no added scent, but smells herbal and a bit lavender-y from the ingredients inside. You massage a small amount of this onto a damp face. HOLY HECK, Y’ALL, THIS IS MAGIC. It’s gentle and leaves my skin feeling refreshed and moisturized. It removes my makeup. It doesn’t dry me out and it’s so wonderfully textured it’s an actual joy to use. I have very reactive, breakout-prone skin, and the Gentle Facial Cleanser hasn’t broken me out or exacerbated any of my skin issues.
Follow cleansing with the Balancing Facial Toner. I spritz this on damp, freshly washed skin. It’s very simply formulated – just rose hydrosol, aloe vera, and lavender hydrosol. The rose and lavender give it a nice herbal fragrance and the aloe vera keeps me from getting dry or tight, which some toners totally do to me. This isn’t my favorite product in the line, but it’s a really great way to keep skin feeling moist and refreshed.
I follow up with the Nourishing Facial Oil, then. This stuff is a real treat to use. I have chronically dry skin with a few oily/acne prone patches, and as I’ve said before, my skin is really reactive. I have to be really careful about what oils I’m using on my face as a lot of them will just break me out. What I love about this one is that it’s coconut-free! Coconut oil is used in a lot of skincare, and it just breaks me out. This is jojoba oil, rosewood oil, rosehip seed oil, and helio carrot oil. All of these oils are GREAT for the skin, and won’t make you too oily as they are sebum-balancing. The best part? It sinks in quickly, but the moisture and balancing lasts for me ALL. DAY.
About two to three times a week, I use the Brightening Facial Scrub. It’s got beet sugar, sunflower oil, coconut oil, olive butter, pomegranate extract, shea butter, rosemary, essential oils. The beet sugar in it is so fine, it’s some of the finest-ground exfoliant I’ve ever used. This will buff and polish skin to brightness, but doesn’t overexfoliate or tear skin up. Even though it has coconut oil in it, it hasn’t broken me out! This leaves a nice moisturized feeling along with the soft smoothness of being exfoliated.
You guys, I can’t recommend this enough and it’s even better that she’s local to me. I love supporting local businesses, and Tina’s made it easy with her amazing skincare.
What skincare have you been loving this summer? Let me know!
Happy Tuesday everyone. This week I’m exploring my favorite summer products and things I’ve been using a lot this summer. sixteen92 is an indie perfume house that I recently got into when I subscribed in April to their Circle yearly subscription, which allows you to try out all of the seasonal collections (with a few goodies thrown in, like discounts!).
Since then, I’ve discovered that I really like the blends that Claire Baxter comes up with, and I’ve become a huge fan of sixteen92. The summer collection this year has been on my pulse points more than once, and today I’m sharing my review/impressions with you!
The first thing I really enjoy about sixteen92 is their minimal branding. Sure, I love a great bottle label as much as the next person, but since these labels and bottles are simple, the perfumes really stand out for themselves. I loved sampling the Summer collection so much that I ended up buying the entire collection full-size. Here are the perfumes! The Summer 2017 collection is inspired by Greek mythology.
Erinyes: Sweet wood, golden amber, wild tuberose, nectarine blossom, lychee jam. I love Erinyes. It opens up with a very sweet and juicy nectarine blossom with just a hint of tuberose. On my skin, it blossoms into the most juicy lychee jam scent, with the woods and amber grounding it so that it’s not too sweet. This one is just so juicy.
Hesperides: Apple wood & blossom, sweet cherry, magnolia flower, clover honey (vegan), hedione. As a honey-obsessed fragrance lover, I knew that I wanted to smell Hesperides. And I get so much honey from it and for that I’m glad! This is a bright cherry honey fragrance on me. There’s the tiniest whiff of jasmine from the hedione, and there’s just the light crispness of apple blossom as well. This one is really really gorgeous, and I’ve been reaching for it more often than not this summer.
Keres: Blood orange, black iris, metallic accord, vetiver, sun-warmed musk, ISO E Super. Keres was surprising for me. On my skin, it is all metallic blood orange. I liken this one to an abandoned cabin in the woods in a summer forest. It’s darker than the others, but it’s still beautiful. The ISO E Super gives this fragrance a velvety smell that goes well with the blood orange, musk, and metallic smell. There’s just an earthiness to this that is really nice.
Moirai: Black fig, black and red tea leaves, ginger root, coconut milk, papyrus. Moirai was the one I was looking forward to most after Hesperides. I love fig scents, and I don’t think they’re usually done well. Diptyque Philosykos is one of my favorites, and it’s a perfect blend of every element of a fig tree. Moirai is very green on me, but a dark sort of green. The black fig is prominent, and it’s not sweet, but is further greened out by the tea leaves and ginger root. It’s not spicy, but it’s an earthy green. The coconut milk and papyrus give it some necessary lightness. I find Moirai pretty moody and dark, even compared to Keres.
Nereids: Surf & shoreline, driftwood, dried coconut shell, pistachio, sweet sea grasses, salt. Nereids was another surprise for me! I don’t normally love aquatic scents, I prefer heavier things and gourmands as they do better with my chemistry. And along came Nereids. It’s an aquatic gourmand – akin to standing at the seashore, eating some pistachio gelato, watching the waves come in. It’s salty and warm and the pistachio is really beautiful in this. I love this in the Aura mist so I can spritz it on my clothes and bedsheets. This is summer in a bottle for me, as it reminds me of vacationing on the Outer Banks.
The sixteen92 Summer Collection can be found here, and there are also individual sample sizes available on the site. Thanks for reading! What are your favorite summer fragrances – or what has been your favorite summer collection thus far? Let me know in the comments.
What else do I have in store for you for Summer Love? You’ll just have to find out 🙂
Hey everyone! This week I’m going to be posting about a lot of summer collections and things that are just encapsulating summer for me. I initially had a perfume post scheduled for today, but I wanted to get this Zoya collection up sooner than the perfume post! Today I have for you the Wanderlust collection by Zoya for Summer 2017.
As always, Zoya polishes are cruelty-free, 5-free, and vegan! What’s also awesome is that they’re made right here in Ohio, in my hometown of Cleveland. Thanks so much to Zoya for sending these my way!
On to the swatches!
First up we have Zoya Arbor. Arbor is a fitting name, because when I hear it I think green. Zoya describes this as a rich olive green creme and I agree with their assessment on that. What I love most about Zoya cremes is that they’re so saturated and wonderfully formulated that you can usually get away with just one coat. This was the case with Arbor – just one coat with no topcoat is shown here, and isn’t it gorgeous?
Zoya Byrdie (like the singer) is described as a muted fuchsia pink creme. This wasn’t muted at all to me, but it was definitely fuchsia pink! This one had a bit of a thinner formula than Arbor, and so I needed two coats for my swatch. As with my other swatches, this is with no topcoat as well. I have a lot of colors like this, but I think it fits in the collection quite well.
Zoya Cora, a muted coral creme, was such a stunner for me. It was bright like it had a drop of neon in it, but was so totally wearable and I was really impressed. The formula was great, not streaky or had to deal with at all. This was JUST ONE COAT, no topcoat.
Next up we have Zoya Esty, which Zoya aptly describes as a rich bubblegum pink. This one had the same buttery-smooth formula as the others but I found it was just the tiniest bit sheerer as well. I used two coats with this swatch, but you could definitely get away with one if you’re careful. This is two coats with no topcoat. Also not unique in my collection, but really pretty and summery nonetheless!
Zoya Journey is a shimmering strawberry red. This has Zoya’s amazing “glass fleck” type formula, it looks like crushed up crystals on your nails. This is definitely strawberry to me, and I see red, and even gold shimmers in there. I used two thin coats without topcoat for this swatch. These shimmers have some of the best formulas – but Zoya sets a high bar with formulas anyway.
Zoya Lois is a magenta violet cremeand it was the ONE exception formula-wise in the whole collection. The above swatch is only one coat with no topcoat, but this formula for Lois was pretty bad. It was really thick, a bit gloppy, and it resulted in a thicker coat than I’d like. I’m not sure if my sample is a bad one or if it’s affected by humidity or something, but I was not a fan of the formula of this one. The color is GORGEOUS though. I wonder if this would benefit from me using some nail polish thinner.
Next up we have Zoya Mandy, which is a shimmering berry pink. I feel like Zoya has put out a lot of these shimmery pink ones, but it doesn’t stop me from loving them when I try them. This is one coat with no topcoat – I found it a bit more opaque than the other shimmers in this collection.
Why hello there, Zoya River. River is a shimmering cobalt blue and is very true to description! I am such a sucker for blue nail polishes and this was no exception. Two coats with no topcoat in this swatch. This is way more multi-dimensional in person than it is in this photo. It was bright and shimmery and beautiful and definitely reminded me of summer.
Zoya Sawyer, a soft taffy orange creme, was my standout #1 favorite of this collection. I’m not usually one to gravitate towards too many oranges or corals because they can go so weird on my pink skin tone. This one was gorgeous – it reminds me of circus peanuts and the formula was AMAZING. This was two coats with no topcoat. I will definitely be revisiting this one in a manicure or pedicure!
Zoya Scout, a shimmering moss green, really intrigued me in the press release photos because it looked different than anything I’ve seen Zoya offer in a long long time, in all of my years of being a swatcher for them. When I got the polish, it certainly did not disappoint! This is a moss green with a gold shimmer, that sometimes can give it a bit of a yellowy-green look. This is one of those “ugly pretty” polish colors that I love so much. Two easy coats with no topcoat, and this is a favorite of mine.
Next up we have Zoya Sonja, described as a summery crimson red. If Journey was a shimmery strawberry, then Sonja is a strawberry creme to me. This was ONE coat with no topcoat, and had a really beautifully smooth formula. I really like this color!
Last but not least is Zoya Winnie, a soft watermelon pink creme. This one is really bright and vivid, and the formula was buttery smooth as well. Two coats, no topcoat. It really is a watermelon, and I don’t think that shows up in this photo. It’s not as bubblegum-y as Esty or Byrdie. It’s really gorgeous!
What do you guys think of the collection? I’m really partial to Sawyer, Scout, Cora, and Winnie! These all had amazing formulas with the exception of Lois, which I think could easily be fixed with some polish thinner. Nevertheless, this summer collection has me really feeling summery and I’ve been playing around with them all summer to bring you this review.
The collection also includes three lipsticks, which I may or may not be including in an upcoming post this week about summery makeup! 😉
These are summer in a bottle, and I highly recommend you pick them up! If you’re interested in the collection, feel free to hop on over and check them out on Zoya’s site for $10 each.
Happy Pride month everybody! I’ve got lots of stuff in the works for this summer. Hope you’re all doing well! As some of you may know, LGBTQ+ issues are near and dear to me. I’m all for inclusion and making sure their world has the same rights as mine.
This year, I’m marching in the Pride march on Washington D.C. It’s this weekend and I’ll be posting lots of pictures!
Hey everyone, Happy Monday and Happy May 1st! Recently I was approached by a PR agency and asked to review an upcoming book from an author of theirs – Cask Strength by Layla Reyne. The second book in the Agents Irish and Walker series, I was drawn in by the description and the fact that the book had some elements that I don’t normally choose when picking books to read, namely romance, and I was excited to kind of step out of my comfort zone to give this book a read – I’m glad I did.
(Note: I did receive this book free electronically for review in exchange for my honest opinion.)
Cask Strength, which releases TODAY, is the second book in a three-book series about FBI Agents Aidan “Irish” Talley and Jameson “Whiskey” Walker, some of the most successful detectives in the Bureau. There’s more to them than on the surface – they’ve recently been through a harrowing case involving a terrorist, and Aidan’s husband was caught in the crosshairs and killed. I’m hearing that the first novel really started to plant the seeds of Aidan and Jamie’s romantic relationship but in Cask Strength, things get a bit more complicated. Aidan has just experienced unfathomable loss, and Jamie is craving Aidan’s love. Aidan seems content to keep Jamie at arm’s length, making it known that he’s seeing other guys as well as Aidan. This type of romance novel is not one I usually read, but the tension between Aidan and Jamie was so palpable that it truly helped make this book into even more of a page-turner. I’ve historically read some classically heterosexual romances, so the fact that this was a gay romance was refreshing to me – and Aidan and Jamie’s romance is pretty hot to boot.
When it becomes clear that Renaud, a terrorist they’ve been tracking, is hot on their heels, Aidan and Jamie head to North Carolina on an undercover case. Jamie is going to play the part of assistant coach at a local college, which is exciting and daunting for him as he had left the court years earlier before becoming an FBI agent for fear of being “outed” in an environment where being gay did not feel okay. During his first day as the new assistant coach, “Whiskey” Walker encounters homophobia from the players (directed at each other, not him), and it makes him feel like he’s right back in the thick of it. Not to mention, other parts of his past come crawling out of the woodwork – in the form of Derrick, his ex-boyfriend. The mission of going undercover is to find out who is running an illegal gambling operation against NCAA rules.
Balancing Derrick’s reappearance (and his begging them to get back together), as well as Aidan’s flirtation with the Athletic Director (is it REALLY just part of the cover?), while the both of them seem to avoid the elephant in the room: their feelings for each other had me turning pages pretty quickly. It’s quickly discovered that the illegal gambling site is also tied to identity theft and the drug cartels – but who is behind it? Clearly there are some insiders running the show.
I don’t want to give away the story, but it’s clear that you don’t know who you can trust, and I actually was a bit surprised by the twist at the ending. The ending has me reading the first book to get the rest of the backstory and EAGERLY awaiting the third and final book in the series.
As part of getting to read this novel before release, I was able to ask author Layla Reyne a question about the writing. My question was: How did you decide to write a story about identity theft?
When I started plotting the Agents Irish and Whiskey series, I researched the FBI’s Cyber Division and their investigative priorities, which include cyber terrorism, cyber intrusions, ransom/malware, identity theft, and online predators. Those priorities form the basis of the cases Aidan and Jamie work together over the course of the series. Early in Single Malt, they work an online predators case, then they go to Texas to investigate a series of hacks on a biocontainment facility there, a cyber intrusion matter that escalates to a cyber terror threat.
For Cask Strength, I shifted focus to an identity theft/malware case, which was, at least for me, a little easier to follow. These days, we pay increased attention to potential scammers and to spyware on devices that can steal our personal information. But in Cask, the people whose information is being stolen are engaging in questionable activity on the dark web, thus less likely to report it. That concept I pulled, in part, from the file-sharing craze that went on when I was in college. Not likely to report you got hacked while on Napster, right? (How many of you actually remember Napster? I feel old, alas…) So I combined those two ideas, wrapped them up with basketball, and voilà, the perfect undercover case for Irish and Whiskey.
-Layla Reyne, Author
Thank you Layla for your answer to my question. I really found this crime thriller/suspense novel surprisingly well-informed, and it was really clear that Layla had done her research. This definitely made me want to read the other books in the series even more.
Feel free to check the book out and add it to your TBR list on Goodreads!
And awesome giveaway time! To celebrate the release of Cask Strength, we are hosting a giveaway – four winners will win a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Feel free to enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.
Let’s talk periods, y’all. Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to be able to sit down with Lindsey McEntee, the COO of Aunt Flow, an amazing up-and-coming social enterprise right here in Columbus, Ohio. Aunt Flow is a buy-one, give-one subscription box of 100% cotton tampons and pads. Subscribers simply go online, customize their box of 18 pieces (can be pads or tampons or any combination your heart desires!), and have it delivered to their door.
For every box purchased (a monthly subscription runs $13, which is pretty great value considering you’re getting great product and shipping built in), the subscriber can select one of Aunt Flow’s featured organizations to receive a “give-one” box. So far, 22,000 pads and tampons have been donated thanks to Aunt Flow’s awesome charitable donation subscription model!
My chat with Lindsey was illuminating, hilarious, and informative! Lindsey is a recent grad of The Ohio State University with a focus in marketing, English, and women’s studies – perfect for helping lead an organization like this! Lindsey enjoys Gilmore Girls, The Office, Broad City, and anything Harry Potter, so we hit it off pretty well. If you haven’t already read up on the company, you might not know that Aunt Flow’s founder, Claire Coder, launched the business at just 19 years old. (Uh, for real!) After deciding that college at The Ohio State University just wasn’t for her, Claire dropped out and started blazing her own trails. She attended the Columbus StartUp weekend in November 2015, where she got her period. A sustainable solution for periods came to her throughout the weekend and the idea was built through the course of it.
I was at a Columbus StartUp weekend November 2015, and all I could think about were my cramps. The period pains reminded me of how my mom would share with me that many of her clients (she is an art therapist) would come to group wearing multiple layers of clothing or plastic bags to stop the flow.
I didn’t understand why women who are living at or below the poverty line had such a hard time getting tampons and pads until I started doing some research.
Menstrual hygiene products aren’t covered by WIC or food stamps and many organizations do not have budget line items for the necessary items. I was tired of donating money/tampons, so at the StartUp weekend I pitched the idea to create a sustainable solution to the need. Thus Aunt Flow begun.
-Claire Coder to Every Ella
Claire came in second place during that StartUp Weekend – businesses don’t usually come out of this weekend, Lindsey tells me.
In May 2016, Coder launched a CrowdRise campaign and earned $25,000 from that campaign. According to Lindsey, Claire has been going full speed ahead ever since. And yes, thus, Aunt Flow was born. (What an amazing way to both sell menstruators an amazing product and help out others while destigmatizing menstruation, am I right?)
While with Lindsey, I wanted to know some #realtalk: How does Aunt Flow compare to other subscription/tampon services out there, like Lola and Cora and Conscious Period?
Lindsey was actually pretty pumped I had asked this question, and her passion about Aunt Flow’s model truly came out here, which was beautiful to see – and infectious! So according to Lindsey, “there are a lot of alternatives to a subscription box. Lola just started to donate, but it’s not built into their business” like it is with Aunt Flow.
And what’s more, companies like Lola and Cora really don’t seem to be very period-positive. If you look at their websites, they really kind of shill the “unmentionable” aspect of menstruating. Cora even sends their tampons with cardboard cases that you can put the tampon in to hide it away. In my personal opinion, those two brands are fashionable, but they’re not really trying to take the stigma out of periods like Aunt Flow is.
Conscious Period, Lindsey says, is most similar to their subscription model but is still not a one-for-one model like Aunt Flow is. Conscious Period focuses on homeless women, while Aunt Flow focuses on multiple different charities and they are more gender-neutral, calling their customers “menstruators” instead of solely marketing them toward women, which is a beautiful thing. Also, Conscious Period is solely donating pads, while Aunt Flow donates both as they truly see a demand for both. Aunt Flow also rotates out their causes quarterly, working with at least three to five charities at any given time.
So there’s lots of similarities, but Aunt Flow? They’re different. Claire and Lindsey are period-positive, gender-neutral, loud and proud. They’re selling a movement rather than just an organic cotton tampon. Their model has a built-in charity aspect and the products are customizable. What more could you ask for? I truly believe a model like this, as it continues to grow, has the potential to disrupt the market and continue doing so.
How do you see the business growing in the next year?
Lindsey: “We hope to expand the product line a little bit to include bigger pad variety.” (This was something that Lindsey said she was super passionate about, and as a pad user personally, I’m also all for this. IUD periods are no joke, y’all.) They get a lot of feedback about people wanting menstrual cups, and they have been looking into it, but they are choosing to continue with their pad and tampon subscription and hope to continue growing. What I found amazing and enlightening was that right now, Lindsey and Claire are a two-woman show, handling all the social media, the appearances, media, and the hundreds of subscriptions (+more being added monthly)!
What does fulfillment look like right now?
Aunt Flow has a warehouse, and once a month they all go in there and get the subscription boxes ready. They have the little boxes their product comes in, the shipping boxes, and all the tampons come in bulk and they have to read off the customizations. Imagine doing that for thousands of customers! But that’s what they do, and they do it well. All of their subscription boxes are shipped at the same time, on the first of the month. Any time after the 20th of the month, there might be a delay in getting your box for the next shipment. For instance, I ordered my box on March 31, so since that’s after the 20th, I’m getting my first box in a couple weeks at the beginning of May. It can be a bit confusing for a new subscriber, but they are loud and clear about this on the website, and I appreciate the transparency!
Are there charities or causes you will be looking into supporting in the future?
Lindsey is the recruiter of charities and causes, so she is super passionate about this topic as well. They have a survey that people can contact them through their website for in order to be considered as a partnering charity or cause. Lindsey looks at how many people they serve and how the Aunt Flow donation will affect them. Ideally, they work with a variety of causes, but Lindsey specifically called out that Aunt Flow would love to work with more LGBTQ+ organizations, prisons, schools, and other nonprofits, specifically with a focus on menstruators. Any interested charity can contact Aunt Flow through the Contact Us portion of their website.
I hope you all choose to support this seriously awesome business run by seriously awesome women selling seriously awesome product and donating to seriously awesome causes. Some exciting news for Aunt Flow – Claire, the founder, will actually be on TLC’s GirlStarter show, airing April 28th! Check out her blog post here about the show and what she wants to do with it.
Thank you so much, Lindsey, and Aunt Flow, for spending some time with me spreading the love!
Check out Aunt Flow and subscribe here. For May I’m donating my give-one box to Dress for Success, an amazing local Columbus charity dedicated to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.
With over 300 shades rooted in a healthy philosophy, it’s no surprise that we’re committed to helping you green your beauty routine! That’s why each year we give you the opportunity to exchange any old nail polish bottles (any brand) that you may have laying around your house collecting dust, or that are not BIG10FREE formulas, for brand new toxin-free* Zoya Nail Polish shades to celebrate Earth Day.
Rest assured that your unwanted polishes will be disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner. Make Mother Nature proud by following the instructions below and get started by picking out your NEW Zoya colors at http://www.zoya.com! Please note this promo excludes Zoya Treatments and Naked Manicure Base and Top Coats.
How The Exchange Works…
1. Visit www.zoya.com and add your desired nail polish colors to your cart.
Consumer Accounts: Minimum 6, maximum 24 bottles
Professional Accounts: Minimum 12, maximum 48 bottles
2. Apply Code: EARTHLUV and a 50% credit will be added to your exchange order – free shipping included! Offer valid 4/10/17- 5/10/17 (11:59pm EST)
3. Complete checkout and you’re all set! Please see details below for instructions on sending back your unwanted polish.
USE CODE: EARTHLUV
Offer valid 4/10/17 – 5/10/17 (11:59pm EST)