The Hidden Gems of Walmart, Vol. II

I've been meaning to do this for awhile, but my usual desire to slip in and out of Walmart as quickly and elusively as possible has deterred my aspirations. However, Walmart's clothing department has been really impressing me of late. During my last jaunt into the fray of bargain shopping, I was so astounded by the offerings in the womenswear department that I just had to whip out my phone and bring you...THE HIDDEN GEMS OF WALMART, VOL 2! 

1. THESE FLANNELS! 

IMG_1114.JPG

But really...THESE FLANNELS! Here we have a rack full of closet staples for fall. The black one looks just like a Rails button-down I've been eyeing. The green with the embroidery is spot on. The real test for me--the softness factor. These passed with flying colors...SO SOFT!! One thing with these, as with many Walmart items, the sizing is weird. For these shirts you will want to SIZE THE F**K UP if you want it oversized at all. 

IMG_1115.JPG

Does this one-piece even need an explanation? Love the side cut-outs, the ribbed fabric and the color. This one could totally be worn as a bodysuit into the fall once the pool closes. 

IMG_1116.JPG

I don't usually go for patterns, but this jumpsuit caught my eye for the bandana-inspired print and color! Upon closer inspection, the fabric was extremely soft with a linen feel. I have a black jumpsuit (not from WM) in this spaghetti strap, straight neck, wide leg cut and I wear it ALL the time. This one would be a fun addition to any closet (hello Labor Day weekend outfit??). 

IMG_1117.JPG

I think I may have featured this find in my last hidden gems post, but it is still available and still prevalent. This $9 bag is a very close rendition of a $100+ style by Rebecca Minkoff. If you want a bag that looks high end, but you don't have the cash--this is your find. 

IMG_1118.JPG

Here are the shorts you'll live in to lounge around the house, go to the gym and even run errands. They are so comfy, but the heathered fabric and cut of these doesn't look super sloppy. At only $4, you will want every color...and be able to afford them, too! 

As I mentioned in the first Hidden Gems of Walmart post, these images aren't linked to shop online because finding a specific item is nearly impossible in the behemoth that is the Walmart shopping website. Plus, hidden gems should always be the fruits of an adventure; and going to Walmart is ALWAYS an adventure. Happy bargain shopping! 

Five Finds | Cute Slide Sandals Perfect for Summer!

Simplicity and comfort--two essential elements that I look for when buying new additions for my closet. When it comes to summer footwear, nothing fits that bar better than slide sandals. Don't get me wrong, I love a cool, strappy gladiator sandal; but there's just nothing more wearable than an easy slide-on choice. When buying sandals this summer, prioritize purchasing a slide and see your investment have a MAJOR return on number of wears! 

Shop five of my favorite slides for summer below, just click the image! Bonus--all under $100! 

1. Matisse Moody Sandal 

Grab these while they are still available in tons of sizes at an AMAZING sale price! I'm a sucker for neutrals and animal prints. Love the black mixed in to ensure these guys will go with everything from denim to a little black dress. You guys might be seeing these pop up in a styled blog shoot soon... *adds to cart.* 

2. Melissa Cosmic Slide Sandal 

While I have never heard of the brand Melissa before, I am glad I ran across these slides while browsing Nordstrom Rack! I love the juxtaposition of the sport tread and black rubber composition with the traditionally preppy tortoise shell. Since these are rubberized, it makes them perfect to head from a day at the beach or pool right into your night time look. 

3. Bueno Shore Thing Slide Sandal

I picked these slides by Bueno up in the camel color the other day at Free People, so I can personally attest to how fantastic these sandals are. I was looking for a standard natural leather slide and these fit the bill to a T. The color is spot on, the leather is super soft and the sole is comfy. Nailed it! 

4. Soludos Embroidered Tassel Leather Slides

To break up the black and neutral tan theme I was getting into with the previous picks, this slide by Soludos is a great way to add some color to your footwear, yet remain versatile. I can see this pair teamed with nearly any summer look--beachwear, white jeans and a black tank, or a romper. At 50% off, you can't find anything wrong with these beauties! 

5. Dolce Vita Pacey Studded Slide Sandal

Jumping right back into black color options, I had to include this amazing pair of slides by Dolce Vita. If something is studded, chances are I am going to be quite into it. Black studded sandals are one of my top joys in life. Dolce Vita is one of my favorite brands of shoes, so these are bound to be high quality. The studs will instantly elevate any outfit! 

The New Essentials | Current Favorites | Beauty + Travel

Lately, I've given in to the temptations of Sephora a bit more than I probably should. Between full-size products I've purchased, samples included in orders and even products I've randomly grabbed at the drugstore, I've found some new gems that have been on high rotation in my beauty routine. Since my life is always chaos more or less living out of my FJ Cruiser caravan with how much I am on the road for work or traveling on vacation, many of these products are geared towards packability, making this post a perfect fit to consider as we enter summer vacation season. Pro tip: click the pictures to shop! Enjoy! 

Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask by Glow Recipe

Glow Recipe's Watermelon Sleeping Mask first came to me as a Sephora sample. I thought it would be a gimmick. My stupidly hydrated (and yes glowing) skin the next day told me I was wrong about that. Long story short, you need Watermelon Glow in your life. If you are living that carry-on-only life like me, you'll be happy to know there is a travel size to bust that post-flight dry dullness. 

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer in Radiance 

This post could alternatively be titled the glow edit. For me, I gravitate towards lighter weight, products in the spring and summer to achieve that natural dewy look. This Laura Mercier Radiance primer does just that. It has a slight tint and provides a natural glow plus offers outstanding lasting power for foundation. I wear this primer both layered under foundation as well as on its own as it provides a lovely boost to my natural skin. Multi-functional, quick makeup products are a must when I travel--Laura Mercier Radiance goes in the bag every time! 

Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat 

To be honest, I am not completely sold on YSL Touche Eclat as the "holy grail" cult classic that some swear by. However, I do find myself reaching for it a lot for two reasons. First, convenience and travel. The packaging is sleek, easy to use, and not messy (since the product is all contained), making it perfect for purses or TSA approved zip-loc bags. Second, it is subtle and lightweight. As I mentioned before, I do not like wearing heavy makeup during the warmer months--particularly concealer. Touche Eclat provides a light, glowing (I know, I know) coverage. Maybe it will reach cult classic status for me after all. 

Pravana The Perfect Brunette 

As the more observant amongst you may have noticed, I am no longer a blonde! I've gone back to my roots (sorry for the oldest pun in the well-worn book), and am now trapped in that sometimes awkward phase of the blonde to brunette process where the newly darkened locks can be a bit unpredictable. For me, this manifested in a horrifying red, brassy tone starting to come through about a week after the initial dye job. Luckily I found Pravana Perfect Brunette products. Just like blondes can use purple toned products to keep their shade icy, brunettes can avoid that uncomfortable orangey red from sneaking in by applying the teal-toned Pravana suite of products. I have the shampoo, conditioner and hair mask. I only use the mask once a week because this stuff REALLY works! I already have broken my own carry-on lifestyle rule to bring these products with me on vacay, they are that good. 

Garnier SkinActive Moisture Bomb Sheet Mask

I grabbed this Garnier Moisture Bomb mask while cruising through Wal-Mart picking up last minute supplies for my trip to LA. "Moisture bomb, hmm...I could use a bomb of hydration on my face after a morning of travel," I thought to myself. Impulsively, I threw the mask in the cart, and subsequently into my suitcase. Cue me the next day, on my balcony overlooking Hollywood Hills enjoying an instant skin refresh. Garnier Moisture Bomb masks are a traveler's best friend. The mask is refreshingly cool on the face, and the clean up is easy--simply remove the sheet and massage any remaining product into your skin. Another pro-tip: apply mask in your Uber while en route from airport, and freak out your driver, bf, or anyone around you. 

FYI, if you are interested in my ESSENTIAL PRODUCTS OF ALL TIME click here for that (obviously) still relevant list! 

My Skin Care Routine | Beauty Bar

It's the season of New Year's resolutions once again--for better or worse! This year, I am focusing inward and resolving to be more vigilant and aware of my depression. 2016 taught me the lesson that depression doesn't just disappear; it's a beast in the brain that lives there permanently and must be tamed. Seasonal affective disorder can bring out this beast in everyone, so take care of yourself after the comedown from the holidays as we head into the long winter! Surely by now, you are saying to yourself "Wtf, Elise, where's the skincare?" Dear reader, I don't mean to disappoint you. Another beast that must be tamed especially in winter is dry skin. Getting into a good skincare routine is a great external resolution for 2017. Read on to see what works for me and get inspired to take better care of your best accessory--your skin! 

*SIDE NOTE: All of the following pictures are taken by me. All selfies are no make-up, and all of the product shots are no skill, haha. Enjoy :) 

Step 1: WASH OFF YOUR MAKEUP

 A for-real "woke up this way" image filter by the morning sun. :)

A for-real "woke up this way" image filter by the morning sun. :)

I used to be HORRIBLE at washing off my makeup, especially during college. I would fall asleep still in heavy makeup and then wake up, and with a couple touch-ups, rock that second day makeup to class. This was bad for two reasons: first, it's terrible for your skin, and second, I wasn't confident enough to be barefaced around my then-bf or in public. It's a vicious cycle; if you let your skin stay dirty constantly, of course you aren't going to have the glowing, fresh skin that makes you feel confident to go bare. And, ladies, if you are dating a guy who makes you feel like you need to be in makeup 24/7, he doesn't deserve to have you staying over at his house. Long story short, wash your face; it may be a hard habit to get into but your skin will thank you. To wash my face I use Olay face wash and Garnier make-up removing wipes (as you will see through this post, I keep my face routine drug store and affordable for the most part). 

Step 2: Moisturize 

This step is important year-round, but winter is a time when moisturizer becomes even more essential. I moisturize my face twice a day. In the morning, I use Jergen's Natural Glow face lotion and the L'Oreal eye cream pictured above. At night I use a richer moisturizing formula, plus eye cream. Lately, I've been enjoying this L'Oreal night cream with added collagen. For me, I am hoping to prevent wrinkles by taking good care of my skin before they start. Since I do not need serious wrinkle repair, I just buy moisturizers from the drug store. It's affordable and gets the job done. Consistency is key--once you get into the habit of moisturizing your face, you will feel the difference and not want to go without lotion! Don't forget about the rest of your body as well. After every shower, I use Jergen's Natural Glow Firming Lotion

Step 3: Add-On Treatments 

Everyone's skin has its own unique set of issues. Luckily there are lots of products out there to help out your individual need! For me, my top three issues are puffy under eyes, spot acne and face hair.

I was always annoyed by my under eyes crinkling and puffing when I smiled in pictures, so two years ago I started using this roller ball formula by Garnier. It cools and tightens skin when rolled on, which feels great, plus it does fix under eye puff! I use it every morning and night. 

Luckily, acne has not been a big issue for me. Once I went on the Pill back in the day, all mass breakouts stopped. However, I still do get spot acne. About once a month, I'll have a gross spot on my face that requires action. That's where this Clean & Clear Advantage acne spot treatment comes in. I have been using this stuff since college and it is my holy grail. It really does work! I have also used it for body acne when I get a spot on my chest or thighs during sweaty summer runs. 

As I typed "face hair" as one of my skin problems, I laughed to myself at the visualization of having a beard. While the hair situation is great for my eyebrows, it's not so great having that excess peach fuzz that makes your makeup go on less smoothly and can even make you look like you have a mustache--yikes. So, long story short, I shave my face. And this is one of my best skin care tips! And NO the hair does not grow back faster or stubbly. The process is technically called dermaplaning. You use an eyebrow razor (the pink thing in the pic above) and carefully shave your face. Not only will you be amazed at how much downy fuzz comes off, but the process is also extremely exfoliating as the razor takes away the thin layer of dead skin on your face. Studies have shown that this exfoliation can prevent wrinkles and keep the skin looking fresher longer. Take my word for it, your skin will have a new glow and will feel soft and smooth as a newborn! I first learned of derma planing through Carli Bybel's YouTube channel. Click here to watch her how-to video on shaving your face! 

Step 4: Face Masks

 Sorry for my crappy pictures! :) Literally the products I use, though. 

Sorry for my crappy pictures! :) Literally the products I use, though. 

It saddens me how long it took me to start using face masks. I feel like I missed out on an essential chapter of girl-hood. Until now. I bought the Peter Thomas Roth Meet Your Mask set this summer and I was instantly hooked. The set is a great way to start if you don't know where to start with masks. It's only $25 and you get to try six different masks. I went through two of these kits before I narrowed it down to my favorites. Now I love to use the Blue Algae for hydration, the 24K Gold for a gorgeous lift and glow and the Pumpkin Enzyme for exfoliation. I usually put on a mask every evening. The pumpkin enzyme is perfect to follow a demaplane treatment for that extra level of exfoliation! For a more affordable mask option, the L'Oreal clay mud masks are actually very good and available at drugstores. Not only do masks make your skin feel amazing, they also make you feel very glamorous ;) I encourage you to give them a try!

Step 5: HYDRATE

Hydrate should have been step one. This is the most important thing you can do for your body and your skin. Drinking enough water, like washing off my makeup every night, was a conscious choice I made for myself a few years ago and I have been sticking to it. Obviously, water is key. I like to keep a big water bottle full with me at all times. It's easier to drink more water that way as opposed to a glass which you have to fill up all the time. I love my S'Well water bottle because it holds lots of water, keeps it cold and looks cute! 

Coconut water is a hydration game changer. I read an interview with Adriana Lima in which she swore drinking coconut water daily has made her skin as gorgeous as it is. With a reference like that, I had to try it. It might be in my head, but I do notice more of a glow when I drink a glass of coconut water daily. Hard evidence for coconut water is its unfailing ability to make me feel better if I have a touch of a hangover! I recommend Vita Coco coconut water; it is all natural with no additives. Whatever brand you buy, make sure it has no added sugar! 

This may all sound like a lot of steps and products, but once you get into the routine of taking better care of your skin, it will become second nature. Plus, I guarantee you will thank yourself for investing in yourself as you feel more hydrated and healthy and more confident and beautiful fresh faced! If you enjoyed this post for external New Years resolutions, check out my feature post on myrisestory.com which features self-reflection and inspiration to make those internal resolutions come true as well. :)