Monday, March 30, 2015

Current Skincare Routine

With it finally being above freezing here in Michigan my skincare routine has gotten a bit of a revamp. I wanted to achieve the perfect mix of hydrating and pore cleaning and this bunch is doing the trick.

The first step I always, always do is use Clinique's Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm to massage away all the makeup on my face. It's downright amazing and really gets me into the skincare mood. It doesn't have a scent which I really appreciate (as I'm quite sensitive to them when they're around my face) and does an amazing job at removing everything from lipstick to mascara.

Depending on what routine I'm doing, I'll either go into a face mask or follow up with another cleanser. If it's the face mask route I've been loving the Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal mask to get into my pores (I'm talking to you nose) and get all the built up junk out. I'll then follow up with another cleanser to make sure all of the mask is removed. 

If I'm doing the daily routine then I'll go right into using the First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser. It's light enough that I don't think I'm irritating my skin too much with all the cleansing, but good enough that I know my skin is getting all the remaining makeup off of it. 

I have yet to find a toner that beats out the Body Shop's Vitamin E Hydrating Toner. It's so gentle yet moisturizing and feels so amazing. I'm downright obsessed and will have to be forced to try another one. Next is serum and there's just something about the Perlier Honey Miel Royal Elixir that has me coming back to it. It smells so gentle and sweet on the skin. I feel downright luxurious when I use this lovely stuff. I'm on the hunt for another, more affordable serum though so any recommendations for ones that don't leave the skin too unnaturally silky send them my way!

Eye creams are the part of this routine that changes most regularly. I somehow have like ten to fifteen different ones and I like to switch them out as they all do relatively the same thing. Right now I'm using the Clinique All About Eyes to try and combat my pesky under eye circles. They're consistently the most annoying part of my complexion. 

If it's the evening I'll finish my routine with Origins High-Potency Night-A-Mins to let the thick cream sink into my skin while I'm sleeping. It has a very herbal scent that surprisingly enough doesn't bother me too much. If it's the morning I go for a cream that'll help wake me up and give my skin some extra moisture before I head out into the world. Origins takes it on this one too with it's GinZing Energy-Boosting Moisturizer. It smells like oranges and instantly wakes me up. It doesn't feel sticky on the skin and absorbs quickly. 

I'd love to hear about your skincare routine as I'm always looking to shake things up and move in new products into my routine! Let me know your routine in the comments!!

xoxo Kayla

Friday, March 27, 2015

This Week's Most Loved #63

This may be the last This Week's Most Loved post around these parts for a minute as I'm in the process of switching things up in my content schedule. If you're shell-shocked and desperately want them in your life, let me know as I would hate to take away something so important to you (wink wink). I wish this possibly final post in this series was a little bit more glamorous, but sometimes favorites are just simple and to the point.

I always seem to forget about my LORAC Pro Palette. When I finally pull it out from between other more beloved palettes, it's an immediate reminder as to why I purchased it in the first place. The shade range is spot on, pigmentation insane, and just a great overall palette. Although I do love a good Naked palette, having one like this with the variety of colors is perfect. Sorry LORAC Pro. I'll try to pay more attention to you in the future.

Another product that I've had for quite a while but lost some serious appreciation for until recently is the Essence Match2Cover Cream Concealer. It comes with two shades to mix and match for the perfect coverage and boy is it creamy. The creamiest concealer I've tried yet covers so unbelievably well. I tend to use it around my nose and it works wonders. Plus it's so affordable. 

Although spring seems to be starting here in Michigan, my skin is still demanding some serious moisture. I've been using up a lot of my Bath and Body Works lotion collection and have moved on to "Into the Wild." This is a scent I'm not sure why I picked because it's so unlike me, but lately that's been just what I've been looking for. I'm feeling a makeup rut coming on and doing stuff outside my comfort zone is definitely on my to do list. Now I can't seem to find a good link for this particular musky, woodsy lotion, but Bath and Body Works is always coming out with something new and I'm sure quite similar...

I've more or less shunned foundations lately for no particular reason and my BB creams and tinted moisturizers have slid right in. The OFRA BB Cream is surprisingly good. I don't know why I didn't expect much from this product; the large amount of product probably had something to do with it. Yet it's the perfect amount of light coverage, moisture, and staying power. You can never judge a BB cream by its packaging...

What are your favorite products this week? Should I keep the TWML posts going or switch it up?

xoxo Kayla

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Top 5 Favorite Brushes

top 5 makeup brushes

Makeup brushes are one of my favorite things to purchase when I'm out and about feeling spendy. They're also the things I tend to avoid most knowing my great weakness for them. I've tried out quite a few lower to somewhat higher end brushes in my years of loving makeup, but these five make the cut as my favorites.

My favorite fluffy eye brush for blending everything out and adding some highlight below the brows is the Mirabella Eye Blender. It doesn't shed, still picks up product nicely, and is still as soft as the day I got it in an Ipsy bag. 

For blush I've tried and failed to fall in love with anything like I have with the Crown Deluxe Angled Brush. It gets the perfect amount of product on the apples of my cheeks and makes it a snap to blend the product upwards towards my temples. 

Oddly enough one of my favorite brushes isn't actually a makeup brush, but a paint brush I picked up from a craft store. The Loew-Cornell Maxine's Mop in the 3/8 size caught my eye one day while I was wondering the aisles (one of my favorite pastimes) and I thought I'd give it a go as an eye shadow brush. This brush is amazing at picking up a lot of product and distributing it on the lid with minimal fall out. The bristles are packed tightly together and have just the right shape. I always feel so clever when I pick this brush up to use. Cheapest one I've ever purchased.

A new favorite in my collection is the Real Techniques Contour Brush. I've had this for quite a while, but now that I'm exploring contouring more it has risen to the occasion. Fro someone who isn't 100% sure what they're doing with contouring, this brush is small enough that you can get the product in the hallows of the cheeks, but good enough to blend everything out evenly. The bristles are packed really close together, but the shape makes it easy to get into the spaces you want to.

Finally I was quite late to the MAC 217 bandwagon but now I have to stop myself every time I walk past a MAC counter from picking up another one. It's the perfect brush for creating definition and adding an outer edge shadow to your lids. It fits super well in the crease of my eyes and is just one of those brushes you need in your collection. Hands down.

Which brushes are your top five? Are there any that I just need to have?

xoxo Kayla

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

After The Purge: Thoughts on a Minimalist Life

It's been quite a few days since I finished up my spring cleaning project and I thought I'd sit down and chat with you lovely gals (and guys?) today. While I was rifling through my favorite parts of my apartment it really got me thinking. I'm one that completely loves going shopping. Picking up an item here and an item there as a little retail therapy or for a job well done is one of my favorite treats. Yet as I was sorting through dozens of washi tape rolls and countless lipsticks all similar in shade, I decided it was time for a change.

Growing up I loved things, but these days the minimalist life is getting more and more appealing. I'm currently working on getting a capsule wardrobe around of a few staple pieces I love. I'm rethinking silly keepsakes (except Alex's 3D printer makes this harder to avoid) and the keeping of things for memory's sake. Now I definitely will not be chucking all my baby photos to clear up a few shelves, but I'm starting to feel like I really need to start weighing exactly why I want to keep certain things.

I never really understood what people meant when they said minimalist life until recently. Although I still think I'm developing my definition of it, to me it's living smartly as well as living with less "stuff." It's definitely going to be a challenge to scale back on all my beauties, but I've already made giant progress in saying goodbye to the things taking up space. 

I won't deny myself my guilty pleasures, but the way I go about them needs to be adjusted. Each purchase should have thought and meaning behind it, not just to have it in a collection of other things I don't really use.

If you're interested I'll continue to document my wobbly quest towards the best minimalist life I can manage. 

xoxo Kayla

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How to Use Google Analytics to Grow Your Blog

So you've set up Google Analytics on your blog. Now what? Beyond just the basic visitor stats and return visitor information, Google Analytics is packed with a lot of information to help you understand where your readers are coming from, what they do when they get to your blog, and how to better engage them. Here are a few ways that I use Google Analytics to beef up my blogging game.

Referral Traffic

There is a handy little tab called Acquisition in the sidebar of the Google Analytics dashboard that I spend way too much time looking at. Once you click on Overview, you'll see all the different categories of ways people get to your site (referral, direct, etc.). We're interested in referrals, so once you click that, you'll get a list vaguely like the one above. Now this shows you the top places people are coming from to your blog. The first couple make sense as the majority of my followers come from Bloglovin', but it's important to look for names of sites or other blogs. See at the bottom. When you find something like this, click on it. You'll be taken to a new page that will (hopefully, but not always) show you exactly where people are coming to your blog. There's even a little icon you can click that will open up the exact page in your web browser.

This particular referral traffic is coming from a blogroll my blog is on from a fellow blogger. Yet I would have never known that she was sending me traffic unless she told me specifically (which doesn't actually happen that often in my experience).

Using this tab and poking around for a bit is a really great way to find out who is talking about your blog. Maybe you were featured in someone's favorite blogs post. You never know who is talking about you (good or bad), but this tool is a great way to start finding out. You'll be able to engage with your community more by thanking them for posting about you, engaging with their content, and really showing that you have an understanding about what's going on in your blogging world.

Behavior Flow

Another really interesting, yet sometimes confusing feature in Google Analytics is the Behavior Flow chart. Now, I'm still figuring the ins and outs of this myself, but it's cool to look at in order to see just how people engage with your content. What I take out of this page is the amount of people that continue on past just the initial blog post. Each session beyond the first one is someone looking at another page from that first page. Let's have an example...

The large block in the top left is my homepage. Most often when people come to my blog they see the homepage first, then let's follow it to the 1st interaction that's highlighted. 9 people who started on the homepage went to check out a post about my current drugstore favorites. A few dropped off there, meaning they stopped reading my blog. More interestingly enough is that a few went back to my homepage in the 2nd interaction.

Although this section can be a bit confusing, I find it interesting to explore where exactly people are going when they look at my blog. That way I can see exactly how people interact with my content as a whole because most often I find myself thinking about my content on a post by post basis. This page offers a lot more information than that (like all pages in Google Analytics), but I rarely go beyond just surface information.

Site Content

Another interesting page in the Behavior Tab is Site Content. Within that tab is All Pages, which can help show you which blog posts are your most popular. Depending on what time frame you want to look at, you'll have to change your date range in the top right hand corner of your dashboard. I'm looking at information from the start of the year (date range Jan.1 - March 23). The first page that shows up as "/" is my homepage, which obviously gets the most views. The second page listed is a post I did on how to take better blog photos. The third one is about creating new content without new products

It'll become pretty clear after reading a few of the names of the top posts what your community responds best to. This can help you target posts to better suit what your readers want without having to guess what they'll be interested in. You can even go back to the start of your blog and see what was popular out of all your posts by changing the dates you're looking at in the top right corner.

Google Analytics has way more information than the three sections I walked you through in this post, but I find these areas the most interesting from what I'm looking to gain from poking around in the analytics. Everyone is always so focused on views, but drilling deeper into what your community is interested in can help you better target your content, figure out who is talking about you on other parts of the internet, and ultimately help make you more informed to produce a better experience for anyone coming to your blog.

If you're interested in hearing more about different aspects of Google Analytics or have any specific questions definitely ask! It can be a confusing world, but one that has a lot of information to make your blogging life easier.

How do you use Google Analytics? What else would you like to know about it?

xoxo Kayla

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Capsule Wardrobe Project

During my massive clothing clean out last week I really got to thinking. I used to think the more clothes the better. I'd have options, I'd stay up with trends, and I'd be much happier in the long run. Yet I just didn't feel excited to look through my clothing every morning before work. Loads of clothing was going unworn and just taking up space. I found that I was wearing only a handful of pieces time after time and felt lost when they were in the wash. As I was bagging up basically my entire wardrobe I decided that I would try something new: a capsule wardrobe.

Now I've read my fair share of fashion and minimalist blogs to help me figure out exactly how I want to go about doing this capsule wardrobe. My favorite blog I've found is Un-Fancy. She showcases a 37 piece wardrobe each season as her capsule wardrobe. At first I thought this could be the perfect thing for me, but now I'm rethinking it to make it all my own.

When I first starting toying around with the idea of a 37 piece wardrobe I thought 37 items (besides undergarments and socks) would be impossible, but as I was tossing my wardrobe away happily it became clear that 37 pieces may be too much. I know. I'm still shocked at the idea. So now I'm approaching my wardrobe in a less structured way. I want to spend more time thinking about each and every piece I purchase to include in my wardrobe, but not stress too much about the perfect number. Maybe one will emerge over the next few seasons, but right now I want to get comfortable with the ideal that my wardrobe has been cut down by leaps and bounds.

I'll be checking in periodically to let you all know about my quest for a minimalist capsule wardrobe that fits my somewhat classic/comfy style. Maybe one day I'll have a fully baked sense of what I want out of my wardrobe and I can pass that wisdom on to you...

If you have a capsule wardrobe or work with a very small closet, how do you do it? What are your methods? I'd love to pick your brain!

xoxo Kayla

Friday, March 20, 2015

This Week's Most Loved #62

Although I haven't said much about it this week, it's been more or less hell. Last Friday I lost my grandpa quite suddenly and the entire weekend and week has been spent at the visitation, funeral, and helping tidy up his affairs. Makeup hasn't been at the forefront of my mind, but there have been a few products to help make this week a little bit easier.

I forget how amazing the Rimmel Lasting Finish Pro nail polishes are until I break one out again. This one is in the shade "Steel Grey" and the consistency is perfection. The brush in these polishes is huge and makes it so easy to do a few swipes. I really need to pick up a few more shades in this range with all the YouTube videos featuring my hands I've been doing. 

Another product that has been making my life that much easier is the Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray. The past few days have been long ones, meaning my makeup had to stand up to the day and then some. I contribute it's success to this setting spray. Definitely my favorite out of the ones I've tried, it dries quickly and doesn't leave my skin feeling sticky or like there is a film on it. 

Finally my Orla Keily makeup bag from Target has been my best pal this week. It has a place for brushes as well as a nice big compartment for all my makeup goodies. I'm not sure if the pattern still exists, but I linked something similar. I've tried a lot of different makeup bags in the past and this one is the best for keeping my brushes safe and all my makeup in one place.

I'm happy to say that this week is over. Here's hoping yours was a good one! What products did you love this week?

xoxo Kayla