It Goes Down In The PM: My Evening Skincare Routine

Chalk it up to being hella insecure in my youth, but for many years, I rarely left the house without at least ten products spackled on. I'm talking about a smokey eye during the day! These days, I'm much more comfortable in my skin and have no problem running errands or showing up to a coffee meet-up bare-faced. I love makeup, but like a bra, I can't fully relax until it's off. 

I start my P.M. routine pretty quickly after getting home if I'm in for the night, and the first step is always removing makeup. If I've got a lot to take off, I'll start with a swipe of a pre-soaked wipe. Favorite brands include Bliss (now re-branded and sold at Target), Neutrogena, and Simple. Because pulling the skin can cause wrinkles, I use wipes very gently as a preliminary step to loosen everything up and don't worry about how much comes off. 


Another option is this luxurious Blue Moon Tranquility Cleansing Balm from the goddess Sunday Riley. It's the most soothing shade of Caribbean blue and is subtly scented. The balm turns into a milky cleanser that gently exfoliates while it removes makeup and clarifies. You can even leave it on as a mask if you like! I like options, people. It's pricey, but I've made the jar I got for Christmas last until now. 


Next, I use a cleanser made especially for makeup removal. My go-to is Glossier's Milky Jelly Cleanser. The texture is divine, it smells clean, and though it's gentle, it's a champ for getting off stubborn mascara and heavy foundation. And of course, the bottle looks adorable in the shower. Their package design never disappoints! At $18, it's far less than many high-end brands. It's safe to open your eyes while using Milky Jelly, so feel free to check for monsters and murderers as often as you like! 


Next up is a foam cleanse. You'd be surprised how much can linger on your face after a wash, so I lather up with the super effective Lancome Mousse Radiance Clarifying Self-Foaming Cleanser. It gets errthang off, and smells lovely. If the price point makes you cringe, I also recommend Too Cool For School's Egg Mousse Soap. It's affordable and works just as well! 


I was given Thayers Witch Hazel for Christmas by a pal who swears by it, and though I was skeptical, I'm now a convert! The rose petal scent is intoxicating, and the alcohol-free formula tones without drying or over-tightening the pores. It's a steal of a deal at $7.49 for 12 ounces (at Target), so there's no guilt in fully soaking a cotton pad. I use it even when my skin is feeling a little sensitive because it's not harsh or irritating the way that some acid-based formulas can be. This toner is ethically produced, as well as vegan, organic, and cruelty-free. What's not to like?


If you're into skincare at all, then Sunday Riley is already on your radar. The brand is hyped beyond belief, but it's well-earned. Luna Sleeping Night Oil is their signature product, and it's a miracle! A miracle, I tell you! The oil's scent is soothing and its texture is silky. Don't be frightened by the color! It's a natural pigment that disappears right into your skin. Luna is a retinoid that has visibly evened my skin tone (I really struggled with redness and irritation), shrunken stubborn pores, helped out with my hormonal acne, and smoothed my face's texture. It's a one-stop shop and I can't recommend it enough. But wait! There's more! Luna has a best friend! 


After waiting the recommended 20 minutes for Luna to fully absorb, I apply one pump of Sunday Riley's Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment to my entire face. These two products together are the cornerstone of my routine and I will sing their praises to my grave, where I will obviously still look great. Good Genes will improve the appearance of your skin in three minutes. You read that right. It tightens, it brightens, it does ALL THE THINGS. It's reduced the stubborn hyperpigmentation on my forehead and makes my whole face glow. A little goes a long way, so don't go overboard and make sure to wear sunscreen the mornings after you use it. 


I have oily skin, but that doesn't stop me from moisturizing like crazy. I have a few lotions that I love, but the one I've stuck with the longest is Belif's The True Cream Aqua Bomb. It's feather-light but packs a punch. My skin feels refreshed, supple, moist (Chill. It's just a word.) but never greasy. It layers well over the previous products and is a lovely shade of blue. Don't forget your neck and chest! 


Every few days, I end my routine with this Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial. It is the best sleeping mask I've ever encountered. I apply it just like a moisturizer on my entire face and neck then wake up to skin that's positively radiant. There's a significant difference after using this pink goodness, and the rose scent is just a plus! I've noticed a more even skintone and a healthy glow after using this. I've repurchased it 3 times, so you know it's a winner. 


My final touch is a generous swipe of any of these lip balms. Smith's Strawberry Lip Balm is a classic and I love its sheer formula. I also recommend the brand's Rosebud Salve if you're not into the fruity flavor. Glossier's balm dotcom (I use rose and cherry) is thicker and great for an extra shot of overnight moisture. Laneige's Lip Sleeping Mask was my first encounter with a mask for the mouth, and I'm a convert! I didn't expect much, but I found my lips were plumped and smoothed by morning after one use. It's thick and smells a bit like bubblegum in a way that makes me reminisce about middle school lip glosses.  


Sweet dreams, folks! For a little extra bedtime comfort, check out this weighted blanket we've been using for over a year now. It's great for folks with insomnia or anxiety and feels like a hug while you sleep (or try to!). Combine that with some lavender pillow spray and you're that much closer to snoozetown. 

48 Hours in Reykjavic: Day 2

Color me surprised to find that Icelandic hotel breakfasts are far more than cold bagels and single servings of cereal. The Radisson Blu offered a dang smorgasbord of smoked fish, steaming oatmeal, charcuterie, and fresh juices. After that jet lag sleep, we needed a jolt of coffee and some good eats to get moving. Iceland takes its fishing culture so seriously that the breakfast bar featured not one, but two offerings of fish oil! I chose a capsule rather than a shot of cod liver oil. Hard pass. 


The Hallgrimskirkja cathedral stands like a guardian over the city. Its iconic façade was the perfect place to meet our I Heart Reykjavic tour guide. Jide and I have found that walking tours are our favorite way to learn about a new city, and I Heart had glowing reviews online. We knew we'd made the right choice upon meeting our guide, a tiny, elven woman in a giant parka wearing two pairs of woolen mittens. 


 We learned some history, sure, but it was great to get a feel for the city as it is today. Curious neighborhood cats rubbed up on our legs and children in a preschool pressed their faces against the windows to greet us. Iceland is friendly as hell. We couldn't help but be envious learning about the government-funded child care and paternity leave. Those perks made me think we should cross an ocean and get to puttin' a bun in the oven. K I D D I N G.


Street artists are encouraged to put their work pretty much wherever, and we got a taste of their talent.


We learned it was "Beer Day," a celebration of the anniversary of the repeal of a 74 year long beer ban. I don't drink beer (the whole "no gluten" thing), but I cosign any holiday that encourages raising a glass. Just make mine cider! I also banked info on how the streets are de-iced (the naturally scalding water underground is fed through pipes under the city) and that the jail is a pretty regular building in the middle of town. The guide even admitted she often sees Bjork at one of the local public pools! 

I'm crazy about any experience that gives me more factoids for my future stint as a Jeopardy contestant, so this tour was perfect for me. I can't recommend I Heart Reykjavic enough and it's safe to say I heart them too.

We had half an hour to kill before our whale watching tour, so we warmed up with steaming bowls of ramen at Ramen Momo. Jide is a ramen freak, so he was pretty stoked. Luckily there were rice noodles for L'il Miss Gluten-Free. Properly fed, we headed over to the dock to go hunt (ahem!) spot some whales.


We were given giant suits for the cold, and I thought I didn't need it. That didn't last long. I soon zipped up that sucker and was able to stay functional. I'd never seen a whale, and was excited that one might appear close to our boat. 


Three hours later, and no dice. The tour guide was struggling and was pulling whale facts out to keep everyone entertained. It wasn't working. Children began to fall asleep on their parents' laps and young folks bought mini bottles of Kahlua to keep warm. Oh, whale! At least we got some laughs. The guide offered us tickets for a cruise the next day, but we declined and said farewhale.

Next up was the Saga Museum. Everything I'd read about the spot proved it was right up my alley. I love a weird attraction, and this one was certainly that. An audio tour led us through the history of Iceland, and the wax figures that depicted said history scared us the whole time. I swear I saw one move. We were the only folks in there, so there was no need to stifle our giggles. I knew so little about Iceland's history but afterward walked away feeling much more competent in the subject, despite the super creepy wax people. Are you sensing a theme here? I WANT ALL THE FACTS, PEOPLE. 


Jide got to play dress up in the museum's lobby, and I had no problem art directing his Viking photo shoot. The "look away" is his go-to Blue Steel, so feel free to rib him about that! 


We snagged some souvenirs (loose leaf tea, postcards, and volcanic salt) then headed out into the cold. I spotted a pretty rad horse statue and despite not being very limber, was able to hop onto its back. There's a long running joke in my family about my fear of horseback riding so I had to send them a quick text saying I'd loved my equestrian experience in Iceland. Trolling from across the world? Now that's dedication. 


48 Hours in Reykjavic - Day 1

Iceland is trending hard, and that's for good reason. The tiny country is an example of nature at its finest. Its capital city boasts half of the entire nation's population, but it doesn't feel like a metropolis. Reykjavic's citizens are warm (even when it's freezing), its restaurants offer world cuisine as well as local delicacies like fermented shark, and the museums range from silly to stunning. 


Folks have called The Blue Lagoon a tourist trap, but lemme tell you that it's a heaven-sent oasis after a trans-Atlantic flight. Y'all know I flew coach, so I felt less than rested and WAY less than clean. I made the mistake of taking a sleeping pill for a five hour flight and arrived loopy and exhausted. Once we got our rental car, it was straight to the Lagoon. It's located conveniently between the airport and Reykjavic's city center, so it's the perfect place to stop before you check into your hotel or AirBNB. The staff are friendly and were able to check us in quickly. With robes and sandals in tow, we split off to our separate changing rooms. The rooms are clean and well-appointed with helpful staff. Folks are encouraged to stay off their phones in order to keep everything moving smoothly. After a quick shower (required), we waded into the warm, milky water. It was instant relief from our day of travel. We tried out two different face masks, chatted with other visitors, and sipped on a free cocktail (included with our ticket). I don't recommend having more than one drink because one could get a little too relaxed in the water or overheat in the sauna. Overall, we loved the experience and found it a peaceful way to wash off the air travel and perk up. 


After checking into the hotel, The Radisson Blu 1919, we went exploring. One of our favorite ways to learn about a new city is to aimlessly walk with a few landmarks in mind. The first stop was the Opera House, which boasts a lovely geometric facade, perfect for photos. 


Next was the shipyard, where we wandered among the huge dry-docked boats. At Saemunder, a gastropub, we ate langostines doused in lemon butter and enjoyed a cocktail. The drinks (some boasted 10 ingredients) were intimidating, but the servers weren't. It was cozy and just the heat and sustenance we needed.


Afterwards, we happened upon Shalimar, a Pakistani restaurant, for dinner. It was some of the best butter chicken I've ever had. I didn't know what to expect food-wise in Iceland, but found that, like most metropolitan areas, there's many styles of food to be had. Shalimar was bright, warm, and light reflected off the glinting, gold decor. 

Next stop was Apotek, a pharmacy-themed gastropub. Drinks are categorized as stimulants, tranquilizers, or painkillers. I'm sure I asked if I could get a combo of all three. That sounds like me. We didn't have my juice left in us, so we retired to the hotel (meaning I begged to go back to the hotel) to watch The Beach on an iPad and sip some crowberry aquavit. We made it through 20 minutes of the movie before some coma-like sleep.