Following the success of Marvel’s Daredevil, I was ridiculously excited for the release of Jessica Jones. Not only was I dying for more of the same depth of content that Daredevil brought, but I also couldn’t wait to see another solo female-led project (only Marvel’s second, after Agent Carter). In fact, when I started my binge, I was anticipating that same level of intricacy, symbolism, and a plot begging to be strategically analyzed, that I picked up my old habit of taking notes during the show. Continue reading
I have a lot of shower products. Like, a lot a lot. I just did a quick inventory, and I have 26 products in my shower, not including razors, face brushes, exfoliating mitts, loofahs and the like. 4 body scrubs, 3 intensive hair masks, 2 face scrubs, 3 face cleansers, 6 body washes, 1 shaving cream, 1 bar of soap, 2 daily conditioners, and 4 shampoos. I live alone, and all of those products live in my shower. I had to get two shower caddies to hold all the products I have.
I know it seems excessive, but when it comes to shower/bath and self care products, I love experimenting. I started switching up my shower routine when I was in middle school. I noticed that when I swapped back and forth between my Sunsilk De-Frizz conditioner (which has since been discontinued, which is honestly probably a good thing, it made my hair greasy as hell) and the Herbal Essences Tousle Me Softly conditioner, my hair would end up softer and less frizzy than if I would just stick to one or the other. Soon I started trying to experiment with my routine in other aspects of my shower, trying new shampoos and face washes to see the effect they had.
I thought I might run through my current rotation of shower stuff, and what better place to start than where I usually start my showers: Shampoo.
The four shampoos currently living in my shower make up a pretty solid rotation, and I really love 3 out of the 4 of them.
For Daily/Every Other Day Use:
- Lush Solid Shampoo Bar: Jason and the Argan Oil – I had never tried a solid shampoo, and the concept seemed odd to me. Like, soap, but you rub it in your hair. Seemed weird, I wasn’t into it, I stuck to bath bombs at Lush. But my all time favorite Lush scent is Rose Jam, and when one of the girls at my local Lush store told me there was going to be a Rose Jam scented shampoo bar, I decided to take the plunge and try it out. I had to wait a couple months before I could actually get my hands on it; the bars kept breaking in shipping because there’s so much Argan Oil in them that it makes them really soft. But once I could find them in the store, I fell in love!
- Lush Solid Shampoo Bar: Karma Komba – Once I took the plunge and started with one shampoo bar from Lush, getting another was a no brainer. I’ve always loved the Karma scent from Lush, and when the girls there told me that the oils in Karma help with detangling your hair, I grabbed this one as well. The shampoo bars are easy to use, you just run the bar quickly under the water, and rub it along your wet hair until it lathers. Then you just work the shampoo into your scalp like you would any other shampoo, and it leaves your hair feeling squeaky clean!
For Color Treatment:
- John Frieda Colour Correct Anti-Brassy Cleansing Treatment – I had read on The Beauty Department about the benefits of Cleansing Treatments for curly hair, so when I saw that John Frieda had released a cleansing treatment that would specifically help remove brassy tones from dyed blonde hair, I was definitely interested in trying it. The product is supposed to work as a substitute for your regular shampoo 3 times a week; I rarely shampoo my hair 3 times per week, so I started replacing 1 wash every week with this treatment to give it a try. The formula is bright purple (which I know is beneficial for blonde hair), and lathers really easily. However, the second ingredient (after water) in this product is Sodium Laureth Sulfate, which is a huge skin irritant. Since it’s a surfactant, it’s commonly used in lots of shampoos to help lift oil from the hair, but in the process can also dry and irritate the skin. Because of that, I’ve started using this product once every two or three weeks, just to refresh my color slightly, and I always follow it with a nourishing hair mask, to help replenish some of the moisture in my hair and scalp.
For a Deep Clean:
- Pantene Damage Detox Deep Cleanse Purifying Shampoo – Because of the amount of product I put in my hair, combined with exercising frequently throughout the week, I like to do a deep cleanse once every 10 days or so to help remove all of the gunk and product build up that my other shampoos might be missing. This shampoo is probably the most intense cleansing product I’ve ever used on my hair. The mint oil in it helps make your scalp feel tingly and clean, and it’s color safe for dyed hair. It really helps to give a great blank canvas for your hair for the following week. However, because it can be so stripping, I always like to use a really moisture intensive mask to help soften my hair and make it less straw-like (my favorite is the It’s a 10 Miracle Hair Mask, but I’ll be talking all about that in my Spotlight On Conditioner post later). I’ve found this combination gives me the cleanest, softest hair possible.
A typical week of shampooing for me would look like this:
|Pantene Damage Detox||No Shampoo||No Shampoo||Jason and the Argan Oil||No Shampoo||Karma Komba||No Shampoo|
Stay tuned for my Spotlight On Conditioner post coming soon, where I’ll discuss a little more about the 5 products I use for moisturizing and nourishing my hair.
There was a period of my life where I was regularly getting a few hours sleep every night. Maximum. And I was so cranky, and tired, and irritated, and exhausted all the time. There are only a few things that feel as great as waking up really refreshed from a great night’s sleep. But it can be difficult to know how to trigger that kind of sleep that really makes you feel like you can accomplish anything. Since that time where I was exhausted and irritable, I’ve perfected some methods that help me sleep well and wake up fully rested every morning. You can try each step, or pick and choose the ones that work for you, but this routine is normally what helps me the most.
1) Shut off the Netflix. I know it’s hard.
I’m the first to admit that I’m a chronic Netflix-overuser. I always have an episode of something playing, even if it’s just as white noise in the background. But this can be difficult on your sleep schedule for a bunch of reasons. The main one is that looking at a bright screen signals to your brain that it’s time to be awake. Your melatonin levels get suppressed, circadian rhythms get delayed, and you actually end up feeling sleepier the next day. Another reason to pause your binge watch before bed is that Netflix has a tendency to keep you sucked in and engaged. With autoplay and cliffhangers at the ends of episodes, I’m incredibly likely to keep saying “just one more episode” late into the night, severely messing with my sleep schedule. The best thing to do is just close the laptop or walk away from the TV.
2) Light some relaxing scented candles.
I hoard candles. It’s a problem. I go through them incredibly fast. Something about the soft natural light and the soothing scents just helps me feel at ease. I really like to strategically place a lot of candles all around my room and light all of them, then shut off all my lights. If you don’t want to splurge for a room full of pricey Yankee Candle votives, you can get one nicely perfumed, cheap candle from Target or Walmart, and then buy a big box of inexpensive tea lights. You get the same visual effect of a room full of candles, and you’re not missing out on the scent. I really like the Signature Soy candles from Target, because they’re really cheap and last a decent time. When I do my yoga (see step 8), having a room of natural light is soothing, and I normally leave one or two of the Lavender scented candles in my room so that when I get into bed, the whole room smells soothing and calm already.
3) Put on aromatherapy lotion.
It doesn’t even have to be aromatherapy lotion. Even unscented lotion works. But taking some time to tend to your body, to nourish your skin that’s been working so hard all day really helps to calm you down and prepare your body for sleep. I really like the Earth Theraputics Liquid Pajamas Lotion, because it has lavender and valerian root, which are both really soothing scents that encourage healthy sleep. Regardless, just pay attention to your body, put love into it, and it will love you back.
4) Wash your face and brush your teeth.
Maybe this is just me, but I find that my face washing routine can be a bit on the intensive side. After about 15 minutes of washing, scrubbing, rinsing and brushing, my heart rate is normally pretty elevated. I like to get this step out of the way relatively early in my routine so that I still have time to relax and wind down after.
5) Hydrate your skin, take care of any problem spots.
Like I said in step 3, take care of your skin! Love your skin and it will show you love right back. Your face has been working hard all day. Take some time to nourish it with a serum or an overnight mask. I love the Lush Full of Grace Serum Bar (which I wrote about in my Top Face Masks post), and lately I’ve really been liking the Caudalie Cell Renewal Night Cream, but it’s definitely on the pricey side. Any type of moisturizer works, as long as it doesn’t have SPF in it. Putting sunscreen on your face overnight not only makes no sense, but it can also clog your pores unnecessarily. This is also a great time to take care of any blemishes problem spots you might have. Once my skin is washed and hydrated, I like to take a Q-Tip and dab a little bit of straight Tea Tree Oil on acne that’s starting to pop up. If I have a spot that I know will be really noticeable in the morning, I’ll put on a little layer of Clearasil Rapid Action Vanishing Treatment Cream, and it helps reduce redness overnight.
6) Put on your comfiest pajamas.
It’s hard to sleep when your bottoms are too tight or your shirt is too itchy. Take yourself to Cozytown with your softest, comfiest sleep clothes. I’m a particular fan of my fleece sweater-printed pajama bottoms and an oversized crewneck hoodie.
7) Throw a rice bag in the microwave then put it in your bed.
Rice bags are an absolute life saver, and I swear by them. They’re a much less complicated version of a heating pad (if you have a heating pad, feel free to use that instead). All you have to do to make one is to take a tube sock (preferably a new one, or at least a clean one), pour in a couple cups of dry rice, tie off the end of the sock, and throw it in the microwave. Times will vary, but I set mine for a minute and a half, and then throw it in my bed and pull up the covers. It warms up the sheets while I’m doing yoga, and is the perfect temperature to put on my neck once I’m ready to get back in bed. The heat from the bag will help relax tense muscles in your neck, shoulders, low back, or wherever you’re feeling the stress of the day.
8) Do bedtime yoga.
I swear by bedtime yoga. It’s my favorite way to practice mindfulness and also relax and slow my heart rate to get ready for bed. If I’m feeling particularly tired, and I want to get into bed ASAP, I’ll do the 15 minute Bedtime Yoga video from Sarah Beth Yoga on YouTube. If I have a little more time, I’ll do the 30 minute video from Yoga with Adrienne, which I love love love. She has a way of speaking with terms that really help me quiet my mind, relax my body, and feel more mindful and grateful at the end of a really long day. Now I know what you’re saying: “Lily! You just told us not to look at any screens before bed! How are we supposed to watch a yoga video without the screen time?” And you’re right. It’s not great to watch screens before bed. I normally play the video on my phone, and set it aside, with the volume at a level where I can hear the speaker’s instructions without needing to see the screen. Both of these videos end in a Shivasana, or Corpse Pose, which is the most relaxing yoga pose ever. I like to make sure I have a blanket on hand with me to cover up during this final pose, just so I can relax even more.
9) Get in bed and use an eye mask over night.
Along the same lines as Step 1, if there are any lights in your room or shining through your window, that light can mess with your circadian rhythms and melatonin levels. I scored a cheap mask at TJ Maxx for a couple dollars, you can get them in the bath/spa section at Target. They’re super helpful if, like me, you have a really bright street light that shines through your blinds at night right onto your bed. If you want to get extra fancy, you can sprinkle a couple drops of lavender essential oils on the outside of your eye mask to help soothe even more.
10) Rain sounds.
When I started babysitting my baby cousins, part of their bedtime routine was to turn on a loop of 6 hours of rain sounds that would play all night. It put them out like a light. I like having the ambient noise to help put me to sleep as well. It also helps me quiet my mind at the end of a stressful day because I can focus on the sounds instead of mulling over the same toxic thoughts in my head in complete silence over and over again until I find myself in the midst of an existential crisis. A while ago I bought the app Calm Down Now for $1.99 on iTunes, and I’ve really enjoyed it a lot. There are a handful of guided meditations that I like, but my favorite is the sound mixer. You can choose from two pages of sounds, set your volume, and set a timer to turn the sounds off after a certain point. I usually set mine to turn off after 30 minutes, and I’ve never been awake at the end of those 30 minutes to realize it turned off.
11) Use a sleep tracking app like Sleep Time.
Working where I do, I’ve learned that everything you do should be based off a certain amount of data. And the best way to gather data on your sleep is in a sleep tracking app like Sleep Time. You just turn the app on, tell it what time you’re going to wake up, and then place your phone face down on your bed. When you wake up, it gives you data based off your movement over night and tells you how well you slept that night, how much time you actually spent sleeping, and the difference between deep sleep and light sleep. From there, you can tweak your sleep recipe based on that data. Did you get super great sleep every time you did bedtime yoga before going to sleep? But did you sleep poorly when you used your eye mask? Try committing to doing yoga every night, but ditch the mask. It’s easy to tweak your recipe to get your best nights sleep when you know what factors help you and which ones hurt you.
12) Resist the urge to text/blog/pin on your phone in bed.
I know. I know it’s hard. It was second nature for me for a very long time to get all wound down and ready for bed, and then turn over and scroll through Tumblr for another hour or two. You already know what I’m going to say about it: Melatonin levels and circadian rhythms. Not only this, but I like to check my phone first thing in the morning and scroll through the news for a bit. So what I’m essentially doing is training my brain to act the same way in the early morning as it does late at night. That either means that you’re trying to wake your brain up at night, or you’re getting sleepier in the early morning. Either way, it’s not great for getting a good night’s sleep and feeling refreshed in the morning. Just put the phone away.
Face masks are a great addition to any pamper evening, or even just at the end of a hard day when you feel like you need to pamper your skin a little more than usual. I love trying new face masks, because I feel like you can see results faster than with other types of treatments or regimes. Below are my favorite skin masks for different uses. Continue reading
I am a huge promoter of self-care. Devoting 100% of your time to people and things other than yourself can be devastating to your wellbeing. I started working on my self care routine about a year and a half ago, and I’ve got it perfected now. I like to do my full routine on Sunday evenings because this can be a pretty rough time of the week for my anxiety. The week is full of unknowns, which generally lead me to have lots of snowballing distorted thoughts of how terrible the week will be. Instead of giving in, I like to nip it in the bud and put more time into listening to my body and my mind, and taking care of myself. Continue reading