10 Skincare Favorites (Right Now!)

I love skincare. I love trying new moisturizers and serums and anxiously awaiting the product that will allow me to wake up to a face radiant enough to blind my peers. I receive new samples and pick up new products constantly, and am not nearly as responsible as I should be about waiting a decent amount of time to 1) see if a product really truly works on its own and 2) make sure it doesn’t break me out. I get too excited and I don’t have the fortitude to type out a spreadsheet of sample trial dates. That being said, this is my current official routine of tried & true products I use consistently and recommend. 

  • SimySkin Micro Exfoliating Toner ($30) – I received this toner last August in a BeautyDNA box (no longer accepting subscriptions). I don’t entirely buy into the “toning” step of a skincare routine, but this toner is so worth the money. I use it twice a day most days, or only in the morning if I feel like my skin is extra sensitive. It contains 10% glycolic acid along with lactic acid & salicylic acid. I’ve been using the SimySkin toner for 8 months now and I’m only halfway through the bottle! 
  • Pearlessence Cucumber Water Hydrating Face Mist ($20, or $7 at TJ Maxx!) – I impulsively grabbed this at TJ Maxx here in Nashville after noticing the beautiful glass bottle & packaging that looks astonishingly like the Herbivore Rose Hibiscus Coconut Water Hydrating Face Mist, but for a fraction of the price! The ingredients aren’t exactly the same, but they both are alcohol-free and contain coconut water, aloe leaf juice, and witch hazel. I especially love keeping these sprays in the refrigerator during the summer for an extra refreshing burst of moisture. 
  • Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate ($46) – I have been using this serum for almost a year now and it has consistently saved my skin. I try so many serums in search for something “better”, whatever that means. But if I sleep in my makeup, or have a hormonal acne flare up, or try a product that breaks me out or turns my cheeks red, this is the serum I always come back to to calm things down and bring my skin back to normal. However, like with all skincare, your mileage may vary – the Midnight Recovery Concentrate gives my mom a rash, which is a great reminder to ~always patch test your skincare~. 

  • Philosophy Anti-Wrinkle Miracle Worker Retinoid Eye Repair ($68) –  Another skincare product I don’t really believe in is eye cream, so I certainly wouldn’t have paid $68 for one, but through a serendipitous event over the holidays, this full-sized eye cream came by mistake in a package I ordered from Sephora. The consistency is my favorite of any of the eye creams I’ve tried and it absorbs quickly. I don’t have crow’s feet yet but by the grace of this Philosophy eye cream, hopefully they’ll be kept away for a few more years. 
  • By Terry Baume de Rose Lip Balm ($60) – I am savoring every last drop of this deluxe sample I received in February’s BeautyFix. It is luxe and makes my lips feel moist and full for hours. I love the soft rose scent and frosted glass packaging. The weak, easily manipulated girl in me desperately wants to shell out the $60 for the full size, but I know better. The one aspect keeping me away is that I don’t like my skin care products packaged in tubs or jars – I feel like it’s less hygienic than tubes or pumps. This lip balm really is incredible, though. 
  • Julep No Excuses Invisible Sunscreen Gel ($28) – This product is aptly named, as it is the first facial sunscreen I’ve found that invalidates any of my excuses for not wearing sunscreen responsibly (which means every single day, rain or shine). The gel is clear and applies smoothly, like primer. It leaves no white cast whatsoever and has only a faint scent. I have always hated sunscreen on my face and avoided it when I can, but Julep’s No Excuses is the best I’ve found. The only con is the need to reapply every couple of hours (but I think that’s the case with every sunscreen). 

  • Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Cleanser ($22) – This cleanser came at the perfect time in my Dermstore BeautyFix box last November. I had been using Kiehl’s Oil-Free Ultra Facial Cleanser, but the “oil free” aspect was stripping my skin & making it a little too squeaky clean. This cleanser from Juice Beauty is for oily/combination/blemish-prone skin, but it’s gentle & doesn’t leave a raw sensation after use. It’s also cruelty-free, organic, and Gwyneth Paltrow is the company’s Creative Director, so I’m into it. 
  • Julep Love Your Bare Face Hydrating Cleansing Oil ($28) – I don’t use traditional makeup remover (like, ever) so double cleansing is a necessity for me. For those who may be unfamiliar: first you apply an oil cleanser to dry skin and massage it in for 30 seconds or so, then rinse with warm water and follow with your usual cleanser. If you struggle with dry skin, an oil cleanser may be exactly what you need. I’ve tried quite a few cleansing oils, and while I also really love the oils from Shiseido , Tatcha, and Erno Laszlo, I think Julep’s is great (it smells like oranges!) and I will use up the bottle before purchasing a new brand (which will probably be the Shiseido – it’s the most affordable of my options and still offers good results).  
  • First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream ($12) – If you only buy one moisturizer for the rest of your life, make it this one. I have bottles and tubs of body lotions & butters, I have an entire drawer (small drawer!) full of facial moisturizer samples, but nothing for either compares to First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream. I’m a huge First Aid Beauty fan anyway – they’re cruelty-free, budget-friendly, and all of their products are great for people with sensitive skin. My favorite thing about this specific moisturizer is that it works just as well on my face as it does on my arms and legs, so realistically I could throw out all of my other lotions (but I’m too weak for that). The only (seriously, only) downside is that I always buy the travel-size tube because the full size comes in a tub. 
  • ORG Skincare Organic Mineral Peel for Face ($44) – Last but certainly not least is the O.R.G. Mineral Peel I received in my Winter FabFitFun box. I had been using Boscia Exfoliating Peel Gel, but it stuck like glue to all my teeny facial hairs and I’d rub my face raw trying to scrub it off. The ORG Peel is a spray on exfoliator and it couldn’t be more user-friendly. After cleansing, you spray it onto dry skin and wait three seconds before rubbing it in in circular motions. You’ll immediately feel your dead skin coming off in little granules beneath your fingers (gross but cool). When you feel nice and scrubbed, splash your face with warm water (it should come off easily!) and voila! You have silky smooth skin. 
So that’s what I’m using right now! I have day serums and morning moisturizers and various other products I’m incorporating, but I don’t know that any of those are making enough of a difference to write home about. These 10 products really do live up to the hype & really do save my poor skin from all the product-sampling and accidental-makeup-sleeping I put it through. 

March Check-in & Small Goals

I am so glad it’s March, my heart could almost burst. I’m alarmed by how quickly time flies, but for this brief moment, I’m happy about it. I have seventeen weeks of school left!!! Seventeen weeks until I have my weekends back, until I can travel, until I can focus fully on work and spend my free time doing any frivolous thing I desire.

currently reading: The Possessions by Sara Flannery Murphy
currently lusting: Affordable skincare goodies from the Ordinary
currently planning: Booking.com is my new favorite travel site to play on; I love being able to sort search results by price & review simultaneously. I also keep daydreaming about our sweet little Montreal hotel, Auberge le Pomerol

Now let’s review my February Small Goals!
  • Low-buy/No-buy of makeup and clothes | Yikes. You may already know how that went due to my post here discussing recent purchases. (Spoiler: It went terribly)
  • Make time to exercise | Truth? I bombed this one big time, too. I worked out a total of zero times over the entire month. I even wasted an entire paid month of Classpass!
  • Pack my lunch | One success, thank goodness! Other than my sweet parents gifting me a Postmates gift card for Valentine’s Day (they know me so well), I didn’t order any food delivery. I ate out here & there, but nothing over-the-top, and I was pretty responsible about packing my lunches.
  • Finish a book | I accomplished this one, too! I finished Behind Her Eyes from my February Book of the Month box. It was engaging and easy to read, with dynamically written characters that I mostly cared about. SPOILER, KIND OF: I just wish it had been marketed as a supernatural thriller rather than a psychological thriller, which would’ve made the twists much less disappointing & more in-line with reader expectations. 

For March, I’m not entirely sure what my goals should be. I feel a little discouraged by only fulfilling half of February’s, and overwhelmed by the prospect of everything that will be going on throughout the month. I think I’m going to focus on building up the habits I’ve already started working toward. 
  • Read a chapter a night
  • Practice French every morning with my coffee
  • Go on a walk once a week
  • Watch one video for school every day
  • Wait 24 hours before making any purchase
Hopefully these aren’t too lofty and can be worked into my super cramped schedule. They’re also all things I really want to accomplish and habits I want to craft for the long-term. 

Saturday Reading List

I’ve been slowly reading through The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but most recently I’m drooling over this space-saving style of folding clothes. The only issue is that I think I’d have to set aside an entire day to get it done!

The fact that I’m in my mid-20’s is started to make me aware of the passing of time in a way I hadn’t noticed before. I enjoy making lists and goals (big & small) and I think this list of 25 Things Before I Turn 30 (& Why It’s Okay That I Didn’t) is great.

I’m starting to plan international travel for the first time since 2009, and in the midst of our current political climate, this post from Adventurous Kate, “For the Love of God, Don’t Sew A Canadian Flag on Your Backpack“, couldn’t have come at a better time.

Jess & I went to a networking event called Girl Geek Dinner this week and left feeling empowered and inspired and ready to ….. kick some metaphorical career butt, or whatever. While the topics are familiar, this list of 3 Things Women Can Make for Career Success is a good reminder.

This article on habit building is a few years old, but it has really inspired me to start deliberately crafting healthy habits. One of my February small goals was to finish a book, which I’ve done!, so the habit of reading before bed vs. playing on my phone before bed is well underway. I’ve also picked Duolingo back up to practice my French before my trip to Montreal this summer. Now if only I can force myself into a fitness habit …..

No-Buy Failure


I’m sure this comes as a surprise to no one but my no-buy lasted all of …. oh, ten days? Then suddenly NastyGal is being acquired and marking all of their inventory down, and my poor hair desperately needs a new heat protectant, and I find the perfect striped tee AND I find the dream Madewell sweater dress for <$60 ….. you get the picture. Here are the items I broke my (very brief, very futile) fast on…

  • Bumble & Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Primer – My hair is color-treated and damaged, so I constantly use oils and heat protectants and smoothers on it. However, I don’t have any products that are fine with being applied to dry hair, and my hair is never going to be wet/damp as often as my products want them to be. This oil primer will be my primary heat protectant. It was $28, but the bottle is humongous for a hair product. 
  • Madewell Split-Neck Whisper Tee – I’d been searching for a black & white striped tee, and I love this one. I think the red embroidered “mwah” accent is cute & different. I ordered a Medium & it’s a fairly relaxed fit. 
  • Sephora Collection Make Up Remover Wipes – FYI, I actually ordered the yellow Yuzu wipes (which is what the link should direct to!), and they have been gentle and effective on my skin. If I’m home & just being lazy, I still splash my face with water after using them, but the leave a clean enough finish to use them after the gym without fear of lingering residue. 
  • Nasty Gal Hungry Like the Wolf Dress – Full disclosure: I have no idea how this will fit, or what it will look like or feel like. It hasn’t come in yet & I’ve never ordered from Nasty Gal before. However, with their 40% off all inventory sales and a desperate desire to restock the dress section of my closet, I ordered two. This one ended up being $20, so I think it’s a fair gamble to potentially end up with a semiformal maxi for Summer that will show off one of the only body parts I’m not self-conscious about! 
  • Madewell Button-back Sweater Dress – I caved on the dress I posted last week. I was in-store and they ordered it for me with an additional 30% off.
  • Nasty Gal Wrap Battle Floral Dress – Same disclosure as the previous Nasty Gal dress. It feels bohemain and flowy – I just hope to god it fits.
On Saturday I was finally able to see my girlfriends again for the first time in a couple of months (thanks, school & a full-time job!) and we played at Sephora before gorging ourselves on burgers and beer. I tried a few (a lot of) products and these are a few of my absolute, desperate omg must-buys for the future:
  • Maison Margiela ‘Replica’ Roller Ball in Lazy Sunday Morning ($28) – This is such a fresh, clean scent. The description is nothing I ever thought I’d like: “This floral fragrance combines notes of lily of the valley, patchouli, iris, and white musk to evoke a familiar but forgotten moment—a sun-drenched morning of relaxation.” I hate patchouli and musk, but I can’t smell those at all on my skin. I love it!
  • Urban Decay Naked Color Correcting Fluid ($28) – I have been using a teeny sample of the green color corrector & I love it. Redness is my main skin concern these days and I’ll dab this on the corners of my nose and over any healing blemishes before applying foundation and it truly helps neutralize my skin tone. 
  • Milk Makeup Holographic Stick ($28) – THIS IS THE BEST PRODUCT THAT HAS EVER TOUCHED MY FACE. I swiped this stick across my cheeks in store the other day, and I have never felt more like an angel alien sent from the galaxy (my main beauty aesthetic) than I did with the Milk Holographic Stick. It’s shimmery and lavender and catches the light super well and flattered my cool skintone and is truly my top priority purchase right now. Infuriatingly, it’s sold out online, but there were plenty in-store. 
Is everything at Sephora $28? Yes.
Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you. 

February Small Goals

rifle paper co constellations wall calendar 2017 orion february

So February is here, and I feel …. relieved? I view the past month in a positive light, but there were a lot of stressors and I feel accomplished at having simply made it to February. Let’s all hope that those emotions aren’t a forecast of what we can expect in 2017 (though with our current President …….).

How did I do on my January Small Goals?

  • Use food delivery no more than 5 times. | This one went pretty well. I think I used Postmates exactly 5 times, but I got a bit better at actually going grocery shopping and at saying “no” when I saw those delivery fees pop up. 
  • Exercise more & don’t cancel classes I sign up for just from chickening out | Well… I didn’t cancel any more classes because I didn’t sign up for any more classes! I got busy and unfortunately, fitness fell to the wayside in my attempts to balance work and school.
  • Start reading before bed instead of scrolling my phone | I got a little better about this, though I definitely haven’t broken the habit. I bought a few books for this month so hopefully I can get really invested in something & have that “can’t put it down” feeling again. 
  • Finish homework ASAP/don’t procrastinate & get overwhelmed/no days off from code | Eh, I’m in a better head space now than I was at this point in the semester last year, and I’m better about time management, but I have already missed a day or two of coding and I didn’t perfect a couple of assignments before moving on to new projects.
  • Order plane tickets/plan trip for 2017 | Okay, THIS I have accomplished! James and I bought tickets to go to Montreal in August and I’ve booked a hotel in Aruba for early November! 
So, what am I going to aim for in February? Staying alive, for one, but also … 
  • Low-buy/No-buy of makeup and clothes | I have spent a truly exorbitant amount of money this week and I spent more than I should’ve in January. Our new pay structure at work makes me feel like I have a lot more money than I actually do, so I have to be more responsible about sticking to my budget. You’ll see a lot of subscription box posts this month and I may post about some of the things I bought in January, but I am going to really try to talk myself out of every single frivolous purchase.
  • Make time to exercise | I’m constantly working or at school or study groups or rushing home to spend time with my dog or my boyfriend or my sister and trying to juggle basic house maintenance/cleanliness in between it all. I have no idea where to find that spare hour, but I need to. 
  • Pack my lunch | One of my favorite ways to throw my money away is to eat it. I’m a lazy schmuck when it comes to cooking or even throwing together a sandwich, so I’m often defaulting to eating out or ordering in. I have to cut it out! It’s a waste of money and it’s making me gain a heck of a lot of weight.
  • Finish a book | I haven’t decided which one yet, but I’d like to finish an actual, tangible book. I listen to audiobooks often but I’ve been working on the same (800+ pg) paperback for over a year now, which is really unlike me, so I want to surmount that. 

currently reading: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
currently watching: finally finishing season 12 of Grey’s Anatomy
currently listening: Honestly? This, every day at work for the past week

Waking Up in January

rifle paper co constellation wall calendar january2017 cassiopeia

There are few things more definitively “me” than kicking off the New Year midway through January. I went to Disney World with my family over the holidays and celebrated New Year’s Eve with a 103° temperature, so coming back to Nashville greeted with a heavy workload and immediately starting school was a little overwhelming.

So, on the 17th of January, I’d like to say Happy New Year! 🙂

Life Right Now:

Additionally, I was inspired Nicole @ writes like a girl to make “small goals” rather than huge resolutions this year. I do have some travel, school, and work-related resolutions, but I love the idea of breaking it down into monthly surmountable tasks. So without further ado… 

January Small Goals: 
  • Use food delivery no more than 5 times. I’m already at 2 Postmates orders for the month, and my Postmates Plus account expires in February, so here’s hoping that I can kick my food delivery habit. 
  • Exercise more & don’t cancel classes I sign up for just from chickening out — I went to a reformer Pilates class last week that kicked my butt so badly, the instructor was continuously lowering my weights 🙁
  • Start reading before bed instead of scrolling my phone
  • Finish homework ASAP/don’t procrastinate & get overwhelmed/no days off from code
  • Order plane tickets/plan trip for 2017 — whether I go with James or by myself (or both!) is up in the air right now
Some personal motivation of places to see this year. 

A bit of my Christmas List

Christmas List sephora favorite give me some bold lip my bucket list journal by axel and ash madewell saucony dxn trainers in burgundy rifle paper co 2017 constellations wall calendar ban.do lady of leisure getaway bundle rose gold hardshell luggage set kensie target matt + nat hope circle bag black vegan leather

Christmas List by abidina

Since Christmas is fast approaching (20 day countdown, woo!) and I’ve finished wrapping nearly all of my gifts for the season, I thought I’d share a few things on my Christmas list for anyone who may still be fumbling for things to suggest to their grandmother. I have quite a few Christmases to attend every year – immediate family, bio-dad’s side of the family, mom’s side of the family, stepdad’s side of the family … you get the picture. I curate little wishlists to keep separate and send to each individual family group, to try and avoid overlap. This is one of those lists!
  1. Sephora Favorites Give Me Some Bold Lip, $28 – I bought myself the more neutral/pink Sephora Favorite lip set earlier in the year, but this one is more my style with brands I already know I love.
  2. My Bucketlist, Journal by Axel and Ash, $40 (but $25 on Amazon!) – I have such an affinity for journals and planners and beautifully bound books, and I’d love to add this one to my collection.
  3. Madewell x Saucony DXN Trainers, $75 – I tend to get myself a pair of Madewell x Saucony sneakers every year. My navy/red accent pair from 2015? 2014? are still happy, but my blush pair is about ready to be replaced – though I absolutely adore them – and I’m tempted by the gray pair. However, in high school my uniform included gray & white New Balance in an equally pale shade, so I don’t know if I’m ready to embrace it. Burgundy is my favorite of the Fall colors, so burgundy it is. 
  4. Rifle Paper Co. 2017 Constellations Wall Calendar, $28 – Rifle Paper Co. has multiple gorgeous calendars for 2017, but being an insatiable space nerd with a penchant for rose gold, this beauty speaks to me. 
  5. ban.do Lady of Leisure Getaway Bundle, $28 – I love the over-the-top girly print on this luggage tag & passport holder. Since I am saving for international travel in 2017, I have my eye on lots of different travel “necessities” this season. 
  6. Matt + Nat Hope Bag, $70 – My mouth has been watering for a Baggu Circle Purse all year, but I never bit. Now I’m glad I didn’t! Matt + Nat offers a vegan circle purse, 100% of the proceeds of which go to a charity of your choosing (among the options).
  7. Kensie 3pc Expandable Luggage Set, $200 – Again, since I’m making travel plans for this year, I figured it was high time to attain a luggage set. The hard shell seems like a safe bet for my accident-prone self and, as usual, I’m drawn to the rose gold.