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My minimalist beauty routine

Kim applies MakeupIn addition to my minimalist wardrobe, I also observe a pretty minimalist beauty routine. I know this because I recently got some free issues of beauty mags like Cosmo, Marie Claire, and Glamour, and I was absolutely flabbergasted by the 10-step smoky eye instructions and “what you should have in your emergency makeup toolkit” articles. My emergency makeup toolkit is some oil blotting cloths and lip gloss!

Clearly I am not a trendsetting fashion queen. :)

The reason I do minimal beauty isn’t for the same reason I have a minimal wardrobe (which is $$), although I have to say that saving a ton on beauty products is definitely a nice side effect. No, the reason I don’t do too much with my appearance is because, over the years, I’ve gotten more comfortable in my own skin, and I don’t feel like I need so much to make myself “presentable” before I leave the house. (The Hubby likes to tell me I don’t need to do anything to look good in the morning, but if you woke up with my fluffy curly afro every morning, you’d know he’s just being nice.)

At any rate, here is everything my fantastic morning beauty ritual consists of:

Hair

As mentioned, I have fluffy curly poodle hair. I HATED it as a child (and as a teenager, and a college student…). It’s only recently that I’ve learned one of the ultimate life and beauty wisdoms: The more you let go and let things do what they want to, the better it turns out. At least when it comes to fluffy poodle hair.

I wash my hair every other (in the winter, sometimes every third) day because, for one, it’s a pain to style curly hair straight out of the shower, and for another, my hair tends to look shinier and bouncier when I’m not stripping its natural oils every day. In between, I use a dry shampoo, and if the curls start to look a little limp, I dampen them slightly, add a little more curl gel, scrunch, and air dry. Instant refresh.

Even straight out of the shower, my routine is pretty simple: apply a decent amount of leave-in conditioner to combat frizz, some curl gel to keep the shape, and air dry (if home on the weekends) or blow dry with a diffuser (on work mornings). Spray with a humidity-resistant hairspray to hold in place, and I’m done! The whole thing from shower to “ready to leave the house” takes 15 minutes max if I’m blow drying.

One thing I will give the fashion mags: one of them suggested you keep wavy or curly hair intact by sleeping with it in a loose bun held in place by bobby pins in between washings. I’ve tried it, and it works! No more waking up with pillow-flattened hair, where half my head is droopy and the other half is a fluff cloud!

Skin care / Makeup

I used to have pretty bad acne when I was younger, but thankfully I’ve (finally!) outgrown that. So, I cleanse every morning and every night (and after workouts) with a gentle cleansing cream, then swipe my face with a mild Oxy pad just to combat any random breakouts since my skin is kind of oily. (If you suffer from oily skin, too, disposable blotting cloths are the best thing ever. They take away all the shine throughout the day without smudging any makeup if you’re wearing it.)

I don’t like the feel of foundation, so I just pat some pressed powder over my face to control shine. I never leave the house without mascara and lip gloss, and if I feel like it, sometimes I’ll add some soft eyeliner…especially if I have a big work presentation, since I have sort of a young face and don’t want people to think I’m fresh out of college.

And that’s about it. Shocking, right? If I’m really getting glammed up for a date night or a party, I’ll add some fun-colored eye shadow or a pop of bright lipstick, but for everyday wear, that’s all I really need. Like I said, the older I get, the more comfortable I feel with my looks, and lately I feel like I look “overdone” when I put on too much makeup. (Never will a smoky eye be for me! I’d look like a raccoon.)

So all in all, it’s extremely simple. It takes me no time at all to get ready in the morning, I never really feel like I have to touch things up throughout the day, and I save a ton on beauty products.

What about you? Is your beauty routine ultra-glam, or ultra-simple? (And have you experienced the “less is more” phenomenon as you get older, like I have?)

 

~Heart,

Em

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photo credit: Len “Doc” Radin

Listen to what your body is telling you

HeadacheWhen we’re little, we’re totally in tune with what’s going on with our bodies. If we’re tired, we take a nap. If we get the flu, we’re happy to stay home from school and rest. But as we get older, we learn to “tough it out” and “power through” feeling bad because that’s what grownups do.

While I know you do have to power through in some circumstances (I can’t miss a big presentation at work just because I have a headache or I’m sleepy), I do try to listen more and more to the signals my body’s giving me and pay attention to them when I can. Because if you work in tune with your body, things are so much better.

For instance, I’ve been getting the worst headaches over the past couple weeks. They weren’t like the sinus headaches I get sometimes, they were achy and right behind my eyes, and they always struck midway through the work day. It’s been kind of hectic in my office lately with some big projects due, so I just figured it was stress and too much time in front of the computer. Then I went for my annual eye exam yesterday, and I learned my contact prescription needed to be seriously strengthened.

I’ll have to see what happens when my new contacts come in, but I’m willing to bet my headaches will go away. Random headaches were how my parents realized I needed glasses as a kid…the same kind of headaches, that came right in the middle of the school day. If I’d been paying attention to my body instead of popping Tylenol and powering through, I might have made this connection.

Way too often, we ignore the signs our bodies are giving us

We go to work even when we’re deathly sick because we want to prove that we’re a trooper…even though it just makes our illness last longer and gets everyone else in the office sick.

We push ourselves late into the night when our bodies are screaming that we need to get some rest.

We eat way more than our body needs because we don’t know how to recognize when we’re full.

We ignore signs of stress like headaches, tight shoulders, and clenched jaws and pop a pill instead of trying to figure out how to reduce the stress in the first place.

Our bodies are trying to tell us what we need to do to take care of them, but we’re not listening…or refusing to do anything if we are. And that’s not good for business. While it’s necessary sometimes to tough it out and push through discomfort, more often than not we should acknowledge when our body is trying to tell us something. It knows better than we do.

How have you been feeling lately? Are you missing any important signals?

 

~Heart,

Em

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photo credit: Eric Havir

5 Ways to Save Money on Long Distance Phone Calls

antique phone

[This is a guest post. Think you’ve got what it takes to be a guest poster? Contact Em at em [at] blondeandbalanced [dot] com to learn more about becoming a guest poster yourself!]

Wouldn’t it be great to live in the same place as all of your friends and family? You’d get to see everyone any time you wished and would automatically save heaps of money on phone bills. Yet many of us have friends who have moved across the ocean or family living several time zones away. Although it’s nice to have an excuse to travel and visit them, you’ll often pay the price to stay in touch. If your phone bills have been sky-high lately, you’ll want to think about incorporating the following money-saving tips into your communication strategy.

1. Use Voice over Internet Protocol Services

If both you and your contact have an internet connection, you can use Voice over Internet Protocol services like Skype, Vonage, or Rebtel to make calls over the computer. These are free of charge if you’re both using the same service, with features like video chat as an added bonus. You can also call both landlines and mobile phones abroad, for a low per-minute rate. Some services offer subscription plans. For example, Vonage offers unlimited international calls starting at £6.99 per month.

2. Sign up for an International Package

Perhaps the simplest way to reduce your bills if you still want to use your landline is to ask about adding an international calling package to your list of regular services. These start at quite low prices, allowing you to place calls to any country on the list of destinations. You’ll want to shop around to see what different providers offer in order to find the best rates, but these plans can be a simple and cost-effective way to lower your bills.

3. Make Prepaid Phone Calls

Many mobile providers offer a range of options for placing international calls, including prepaid or SIM-only options. For instance, you can use free SIM cards with Lebara to call a variety of international destinations, paying in advance so that you know you won’t go over your budget. In addition to making cheap phone calls with Lebara, providers like Orange and Virgin Mobile also offer prepaid options to help you place calls abroad at lower rates.

4. Purchase International Calling Cards

One of the most traditional ways to dial abroad, international calling cards still offer fairly competitive rates. These charge you as little as a penny per minute, and are available from supermarkets and convenience stores in most countries. They’re usually preloaded so that you can use them immediately, which is useful if you’re travelling and need to call home.

5. Read the Fine Print

No matter which of these plans you’ve chosen to save money, you’ll need to compare the rates, terms and conditions carefully because these can vary widely. International packages may not include the destinations you need, or you may get charged extra administration fees when you use your calling card.

By reading the fine print and shopping around for the best international rates, you can help stay in touch with loved ones no matter where in the world they may be.

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Photo attribution: Matthias Ripp

Blog Roundup (11-8-13)

I always love sharing my favorite blogs with people, so each week I’ll be giving you guys a roundup of the posts I’ve really enjoyed reading.

If you like them, make sure to subscribe and follow these great bloggers on Twitter and Facebook to share the love!

~Heart,

Em

  • Looking for something fun to do this weekend? Check out Free in Ten Years’ list of 100 cheap hobbies.

Are there any great posts you came across recently? Share them with us in the comments!