General Summer Favorites

Semesters are starting up again soon (or for an unlucky half of the four Novel Nests editors, has already begun) so it’s time to discuss what we’ve discovered and loved this summer!

Amanda Cordero

This summer, I’ve started taking baby steps towards living better, specifically living more sustainably and more toxic-free. Part of that process has been switching up a few products in my beauty routine, starting with deodorant. I won’t expound on why traditional, aluminum-containing deodorants are bad for you, but I will say that I’ve found something special with Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant. I recommend the Charcoal + Magnesium and Bergamot + Lime scents.

As mentioned earlier, I’m trying to live more sustainably – and using a French press is a chic way to do just that! First pro: I’ve eliminated the need for coffee filters and plastic-lined tea bags. Second pro: I’ve been making bulk iced coffee for cheap. I simply pour my coffee from the French press to a large mason jar and let it chill overnight. The next morning, I add almond milk and some coconut creamer, let it sit in the freezer while I get ready, then I’m good to go! Buh-bye Starbucks!

I’ve been a workout addict this summer, and Austin’s HEAT Bootcamp has been enabling me. By far my favorite part of HEAT has been the trainers: their positivity is contagious and they never let you sell yourself short. There’s always one more push-up to be had, one more lap to be run, one more pull-up to struggle through. I love it. Going to HEAT five to six times a week has built my self-confidence, not to mention some muscle definition!

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I’ve been addicted to podcasts this summer. They’re perfect for traffic-filled commutes and long runs (especially if you get bored when you run). My recommendations are Fat Mascara (beauty and makeup), Full Coverage (more beauty and makeup), The Sporkful (food!), and Rewrite the Rules (interviews with interesting movers-and-shakers, hosted by my friend Alex Starr).

Cindy Liu

Glow Recipe Pink Juice Moisturizer: I have been loving this lightweight, gel, jolly-rancher smelling moisturizer all summer. It is so refreshing and just seeps right into the skin. The moisturizing benefits are long lasting o it keeps my t-zone from turning into an oil swamp by noon.

Cherries: a bit random, but I have been having a love affair with cherries all summer. They are so sweet and refreshing, especially straight out the fridge. Best of all, they’re a healthy alternative to satisfying my sweet tooth and they contain loads of antioxidants.

Not wearing makeup: another weird one, but it’s one I’ve embraced almost every day this summer. Thanks to a revamped skincare routine, my skin has been a lot happier recently which has left me confident to leave the house bare-faced. While I ADORE putting on my face, there is something so nice about letting my skin breathe all day and rocking an actual no makeup look.

Ella Liu

Smashbox 24 hour Photo Finish Shadow Primer: After literal years of complaining about my eyeliner smudging off, Cindy finally said “why don’t you use an eye-shadow primer?” I’m not sure why I hadn’t used it until now but definitely regret having such an easy solution to my smudgy problems and not noticing for four years. This smashbox primer basically glues any liner to my eyelids (though it all comes off easily enough with some coconut oil and micellar water). It was a bit pricey so I’m definitely in the market for an effective drugstore shadow primer.

Jillian Dempsey Lid Tint in Bronze: I know I’ve talked about this one before, but it’s honestly just such a fantastic summer find. It’s sheer and buildable and doesn’t come off with sweat. The slight shimmer in the pigment makes it the perfect for that glowy summer look. It does crease, but it supposed to.

Book by Commodity: I bought this a while ago but decided not to use it until recently because it’s a great summer perfume. It smells like the Dove cucumber body wash but in a super sophisticated way that makes it suitable for me to spray around until I choke.

Anna Lam

Every season brings its own newness. Change is a constant, and with change almost always the developmental process of growth. Sometimes the growth is painless, other times it’s uncomfortable and accompanied with the persistent feeling of being somehow unmoored. It’s the feeling of idle drifting that, unless you’re paying attention, can leave you with a sense of stranded-ness in a place unfamiliar. It’s precisely this feeling that has encouraged me to adopt certain stable “rituals” throughout my day. Though it’s summer, one of my favorite new habits has been drinking warm tea in the evenings. I’ve always loved tea, but making a conscious habit of drinking it at the close of each long summer day has a delightfully calming effect. I’m a fairly anxious person, always a little wired, and my productivity tends to feed most on my own stress-induced frenetic energy. So, naturally, I try to look for simple ways I can do daily to calm the nerves. Most recently, this has been the humble warmth of a favorite mug filled with freshly brewed tea. I drink everything: chamomile, mint, jasmine, lavender, red raspberry leaf, rose, bitter melon, ginger, chai. All of these teas have amazing health benefits (particularly, I’ve found, the ginger—boiling fresh ginger root definitely helps with sore throats and slight colds, although this is the one tea I recommend sweetening with a little of honey, as it has a bit of a bite to it). I typically drink these teas unsweetened, but share your tea with a friend and it comes naturally sweet.

This past summer I also picked up music again in earnest. It’s amazing how things come back to you—the familiar chord progressions of at this point well-aged soft pop hits from the likes of Coldplay and Regina Spektor are now tinged with just enough nostalgia to be fun to play again. I’ve also started writing my own music. What a pleasure it’s been to indulge a creative impulse again. There’s nothing like creating something you can call your own, especially when you’ve worked at it until you satisfy yourself. At this point, my music hasn’t hit many ears, but I’m hoping to share more of it in the very near future in the hopes of connecting my own personal experiences with others. Until then, I’ve been uploading covers of some of my favorites to YouTube as my creative project (check out my cover of “On Melancholy Hill” there—it’s my favorite so far).

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Cindy’s Empties – Pt. 1

Hey everyone! I’m coming at you with part 1 of a gigantic empties review today. It’s eternally long, so let’s just dive in.

Curology: I’ve been using this for about 7 months now and have seen a massive improvement in my skin. I haven’t had a single breakout in the last 2 months and I haven’t had a significant breakout in the last 5. Really remarkable. The nice thing about Curology is that the formula is custom made for you by a dermatologist who looks at your pictures and works with you to discuss your skin concerns. 10/10 would recommend.

Lancome Energie de Vie Pearly Lotion: I finally finished this off! I did a full review in my September favorites last year (here) and I still love it! It lasted nearly a whole year of almost daily use.

Thayers Witch Hazel: A tried a true cult classic. Love! Took me about 6 months to finish off the bottle. This toner isn’t drying and definitely does the job of evening out skin tone and keeping oiliness at bay, which is a must for my combination skin. I haven’t repurchased since I am going through some other toners at the moment, but will definitely restock once my toner stash decreases.

Avene Eau Thermale: I fell in love with facial mists after using this. It is just a gentle spray that does what it says on the can: reduces redness and soothes sensitive skin. I give my face and neck a once over whenever I come out of the shower before my skincare routine, before and after derma rolling, and whenever my skin just needs a little pick me up. It’s an affordable luxury that just adds a bit of extra pampering to your routine.

Caudalie Vinosource Crème Sorbet: This was a lovely moisturizer from one of my favorite French brands. Pros: it was light weight yet creamy and moisturizing. Cons: the bottle is quite small for the price. I finished it off almost a year ago and haven’t repurchased. I still quite like it, but there are more affordable moisturizers of better quality that I have found.

Caudalie CremeExfoliante: This was a heavy duty exfoliant, which I have found I don’t like all that much. It definitely did it’s job, but I prefer a more gentle exfoliant or a chemical exfoliant. If you like rough ones, this one is for you. It’s thick and creamy and jam-packed with exfoliating bits.

Caudalie Mousse Nettoyante: Caudalie’s gentle foaming cleanser is just that: gentle and foaming. I liked it a lot as it was quite gentle and did the job without stripping my skin. I wasn’t a massive fan of the instant foam – it reminded me of hand soap. But other than that, it was quite good.

Caudalie Lotion Tonique Hydratante: A nice moisturizing toner. I wasn’t particularly blown away by this, but it did what it set out to do: moisturize. I actually liked the Thayers Witch Hazel a little more since it did basically the same thing for half the price. If you’ve got a few extra bucks for a toner, I’d recommend this one, though. It lasted a good 6 months and I enjoyed using it.

Caudalie Reservatorl Lift: This was a sample moisturizer I got from somewhere (Cult Beauty maybe?) and it was quite generously sized. As a more oily-skinned person I didn’t love it. It was very thick, very creamy, and very oily, which just didn’t sit too well on my face. I also wasn’t a massive fan of the scent. Definitely won’t buy a full size. If, however, you are more dry-skinned, I think you’d quite like this one.

Glamglow Supermud Activated Charcoal Treatment: This thing is potent! I got it when my skin was having a particularly bad time last summer. It does really work, though the scent is incredibly strong. This was the smallest size and it went down fast. The product does tend to dry out in the can, so be sure to properly close the lid and use in a speedy manner. It’s a great allover mask for just sucking all the nastiness out of your pores or as a spot treatment for particularly stubborn spots overnight, which is how I primarily used it.

 

Phew! That was part 1! Keep an eye out for parts 2-4 which will be coming your way soon!

 

— Cindy Liu

January Favorites

It’s time for another favorites post! Check out what makeup, skincare, clothes, and more impressed us in January!

 

Makeup

Cindy:

By Terry Ombre Blackstar– I have been wanting to try these since they first came out. I’ve recently been wearing more eyeshadows (I used to be a mascara-only type of gal) and it was the perfect excuse to nab one of these beauties. They are definitely on the pricey side, but they are SO worth it. They are butter and creamy and blend stunningly well with your fingers or with a brush. The color pay off is intense and they are still so blend-able! I have the lovely purple color, Misty Rock, which looks great with brown eyes. I’m looking forward to trying out Bronze moon and Blonde Opal soon!

Ysl All Hours Concealer – Concealer is always a bit of a struggle. Between color matching, finding the right consistency, and the right tool to apply and blend and after all that actually concealing blemishes, I have found very very few (read one) concealers that work (my ever so trusty Nars Creamy Matte). Enter Ysl All Hours Concealer! This beauty almost, ALMOST, tops the Nars one. It is a more watery cream in a tube with a doe-foot applicator. The coverage is amazing and the shade I have is a PERFECT color match for me. The trick with this one is to dab it onto spots with the applicator, then WAIT a couple minutes while you do your eyes or lipstick or whatever, and then buff it out gently with a fluffy concealer brush. The coverage is complete and natural. You really can’t ask for more from a concealer. This one is amazing. Go and get yourself a tube!

Ella:

Glossier Haloscope: I’m generally too lazy and rushed in the mornings to do a full face of makeup, which means swiping on a heavy highlight over a bare face usually looks pretty silly. Haloscope in Moonstone is the perfect solution to my laziness and desire for a glowy complexion. It’s natural and subtle and isn’t caked with glitter, like many heavier highlights are. I usually just swipe this on over my milk makeup primer, for a that dewy “wet” look we all stare at on Instagram. It’s definitely build-able, though, and I’ve also easily worn it with a full face of makeup. I would suggest applying it with a finger instead of swiping it directly onto your face if you don’t want it to move your foundation around.

Skincare

Cindy:

Glossier Serums – I decided to try these out over the holidays and have been using them religiously every morning for the last month. They are AMAZING. I usually use all three at once, starting with Super Pure (niacinamide and zinc) to calm down redness after washing my face. Then I’ll pat on a bit of Super Bounce (hyaluronic acid) to help bring in moisture. Finally, I’ll top it off with Super Glow (Vitamin C) before moisturizer, sunscreen etc. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be Super Bounce because I am having a love affair with hyaluronic acid at the moment. Big tip for fellow oily/combo people: Moisturize! Pretend you have dry skin! It’ll prevent your skin from producing extra oil and therefore combat acne! Be on the lookout for a morning skincare routine to see how these three fit in to the big picture!

Balm dot com Mint – There is a little trend in this post with Glossier… The balm dot coms are cult staples, and for good reason!  Little goes a long way and they will outlast the nuclear apocalypse. I’ve been particularly loving mint this month to use as a nighttime lip balm. The tingly and refreshing mint really makes it feel like its doing its job.

Stacked Skincare Dermaroller – Microneedling has been in the limelight for a while due to claims that it helps with skin elasticity and increased effectiveness of skincare products. It’s been about a month of me using this and I am seeing definite improvement. The overall tone of my skin has gotten better. It is more glowing and plump for sure. Additionally, it definitely helps skincare products do their job. One weekend I was particularly lazy and did not use the roller and the next morning there was a noticeable decrease in the noticeability (repetitive, I know) of the effectiveness of my overnight masks and serums. Regular use is key! There is a tiny bit of pain, but not very much and definitely bearable. I would definitely suggest using it only a couple times a week and following up with sunscreen.

Ella:

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% – At the end of the spring semester last year, I broke out in pretty horrific acne (I’m looking at you, stress-induced midnight Taco Bell visits. All thirty of you…). Although it went away pretty quickly, I was left with a few acne scars, which is not something I’ve really had to deal with previously. I bought this serum on a whim, which was definitely influenced by strategically placed Instagram ads, and was blown away by the results. My scars and blemishes have nearly disappeared and my skin tone evened considerably. I don’t think this necessarily prevents acne, but it’s an incredibly effective solution to scars.

 

Clothes

Cindy:

Keds – I have had these for years since I nabbed them for a couple bucks brand new from a thrift store. This month I’ve been wearing them a lot because Texas weather is bipolar and boots are too hot and flats are too cold. So, I turned to my Keds, which were being neglected in the back of the closet, and I fell in love again. They are oh-so-comfy and the navy polka-pattern goes with most of my wardrobe and adds a little quirk and fun to my every day uniform. I had forgotten how much I loved them and they are not going into the back of the closet anytime soon.

Ella:

Someday I will buy clothes that are not black, white, grey, or denim blue, but today is not that day. This sweater is from Costco, where I normally buy a sixty-pack of vitamin gummies. However, I was pleasantly surprised when this sweater turned out warm, stylish, and comfy. It’s easy to dress up or down and matches pretty much everything. Well done, Costco.

 

Other

Cindy:

Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – I’ve recently re-discovered this Netflix original. It’s upbeat, honest, quirky, and the best way to start a day or wind down in the evening. I’m on season 2, and I’ve got to admit, Titus is still my fav.

Ella:

Fleurie – I started listening to a lot of alternative/indie music over Christmas break and, thanks to Spotify’s convenient playlists, I stumbled on American singer Fleurie’s music. She doesn’t have a lot of music out yet, but what she has is phenomenal. Her music is haunting yet familiar, wistfully sad but powerful. And generally, if I can write to it, I like it.

Turtles All the Way Down – Cindy bought me this book for my birthday last year and, already being a John Green fan, I was pretty excited to read it. It’s one of those books which you can put down if you need to, but you could also read in one sitting if you wanted. It’s witty, sad, funny, and most importantly, addresses mental health in a realistic way that doesn’t leave you feeling bleak or hopeless.

 

Monthly Favorites: September 2017

It’s that time of month! Here is our very first Monthly Favorites. Let’s just dive right into the skincare, makeup, and miscellaneous items that have impressed us in September:

Skincare

Tatcha Rice Enzyme Powder: This exfoliating scrub has been go my go-to for a good while. I had been experimenting with some others, but I kept find myself returning to this when I wanted effective exfoliation without stripping my skin. This is a dry powder to which you add a couple drops of water to create a creamy and light mixture. The best thing about it, I think, is that the powder melts into the water, preventing you from over-abrasion and making sure your skin feels clean but moisturized.

Soap and Glory Peaches and Clean Cleansing Milk: I just discovered this on an impulse Target run, and it is absolutely amazing. I’ve only been using it for the past two weeks, but I know this will be one of my holy-grail makeup-removing cream. It removes makeup brilliantly, including waterproof mascara! It is incredibly moisturizing so that your face doesn’t feel stripped or oily afterwards. But the absolute best part of it is the SMELL! It smells exactly like fresh, white peaches; not an artificial peachy scent, like the Haribo Peach Gummies (which I am a little addicted to), but a true peach scent, as if you were rubbing a peach all over your face. Sounds weird. Smells divine.

Lancome Energie de Vie Pearly Essence: I tried this essence when it just came out a couple years ago and I was initially quite unimpressed, but recently I decided to give it another go simply because the reviews were stellar. This time around I LOVE it. First of all, it is incredibly hydrating, but in a plumping way, not an oily way. You can see the difference almost immediately and a little goes a very long way. It is quite viscous and spreads beautifully. Second of all, it makes such a great canvas for makeup, helping foundation sit better.

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser: I’ve always had a weakness for Glossier packaging so when I bought this, it was definitely for the cute bottle and the stickers. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the gentle effectiveness of this cleanser. I have sensitive skin that always seems to sting whenever I wash my face with water I’m not used to (aka Waco water). This cleanser took care of that problem immediately! It’s soothing on the skin, cleans effectively, and smells slightly like roses. Come for the aesthetic, stay for the value!

Glossier Balm Dot Com: From someone with perpetually dry and cracked lips (not to mention a slight chapstick addiction that I need to deal with), Glossier’s Balm Dot Com is the perfect solution. It’s hydrating, long lasting, and rejuvenating. I dab a little on my lips before I go to sleep and then rub whatever’s left on my finger onto my cuticles. The result? Super smooth lips. And cuticles. I got it in the rose scent, so it has a slight pink tint, which is perfect for days I don’t want to wear makeup, but also need a little extra color.

 

Makeup

L’Oreal Lash Paradise – Waterproof: This is an amazing mascara for being drugstore. It is very volumizing and lengthening without being clumpy at all. I may even like it better than my holy-grail Burberry Cat-Lashes. It is not a dramatic mascara that screams “Look at my lashes! They are fabulous!” Rather, it is a very natural but effective mascara for the “why yes, my lashes are naturally this fluffy and full.” I’m in love with this.

Becca First Light Priming Filter: This is amazing. Absolutely floored. As you can see I’ve used half a bottle already and it’s only been a month and a half. At first glance it looks odd, since it’s a kind of iridescent purple. Originally I thought it was a fluke, but I was convinced by another blogger to try it out. I’m so glad I did! It looks like an Instagram filter on bare skin and makes matte foundations glowy without losing the anti-oil aspect. It evens skin tone and is perfect for those no-makeup days when you want your skin to breathe but look amazing. It is so moisturizing and smells so good as well. I would recommend this to any skin type. It is the best primer I’ve ever tried.

Glossier Lip Gloss: I promise I don’t have a Glossier habit (or do I??). I impulsively bought this lip gloss one night, thinking I’d regret leaving my trusty matte lipsticks as soon as my hair started getting stuck in the shiny gloss. While I wasn’t a fan of the 2000’s drippy-lip look, I was pleased to find that this lip gloss, while it’s glossier (heh, heh…) than your normal balm, it’s not insanely shiny and doesn’t make you look like you licked your lips a billion times. It goes on pretty glossy but in a few minutes dries to a nice dewy finish. I don’t have to reapply super often during the day and it’s perfect either over another lipstick or on its own!

Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Eye Crayon Liner: Although it has a mouthful of a name, this eyeliner is an easy, no hassle essential in my everyday makeup. I have oily skin, which means most of the time, my eye makeup ends up transferring down my face during the day. I’m sure it looks great on some, but the goth panda look isn’t for me. This Marc Jacobs eyeliner stays put, come rain, sweat, hurricanes, you name it. It glides on super smoothly has great pigmentation. Even though it’s slightly on the pricey side, it’s worth it.

Miscellaneous

Niall Horan – Too Much to Ask: I’ve been listening to this so much. One Direction was my guilty pleasure for a long time and now their solo albums have been fantastic and unique. Too Much to Ask is very nostalgic and lovely and perfect to listen to alone on a rainy day.

Sezane – LADP Wrap Dress: I’m in love with this dress that I daringly purchased from Sezane, which is my new favorite store. It’s an online, French boutique that sells the most beautiful and most well made clothing. I’d been looking for a true wrap dress and a red dress (both trends that have been big this summer and are carrying into the fall), and this checked both boxes. It fits beautifully and I get so, so many compliments. Additionally, it was created in collaboration with L.A. Dance Company, run by one of my favorite coreographers. In short, this is the perfect little-not-black-dress.

Maison Margiela – ‘Replica’ Jazz Club: This fragrance is, in the words of a dear friend of mine, my “sexy perfume.” It is technically a men’s perfume, but I ADORE it. It has notes of tobacco, whisky, and leather, making it the dream fall scent. Anytime I need a mood or confidence booster, I spritz a little of this. It is quite strong, so one or two spritzes is enough, and it lasts all day long.

Well, that wraps up this month! It is rather a long list, but hopefully you found it inspiring. Comment below if you were impressed by these as well! Thank you so much, again, for visiting. Let’s dive into October!