Meow Mineral Foundation Review + Swatches

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Meow Cosmetics is an indie brand known primarily for its mineral foundation, but it also offers a wide variety of other products, like eyeshadow, eyeliner, and bronzer. Here is the super awesome part of Meow: they offer foundation in 86 shades! That blew my mind when I first stumbled across them. This makes them a great option for pale-skinned girls. (And frankly, pale girls aren’t the only ones who struggle. Dark women have similar issues, as many of the drugstore shades only go up to medium-deep tones.)

I have hesitated in the past to try indie makeup brands. I wonder whether they are truly good quality, if the owner knows what they’re doing, etc. Looking up reviews from real people has helped me immensely, so I hope this will help you as well!

Coverage & Undertones

Meow offers light, medium, and heavy coverage, each labelled with cute cat-centric names such as Purrr-fect Puss, Pampered Puss, and Flawless Feline.

They are also divided by a multitude of skin undertones. Rather than sticking with the well-known but imperfect theory of “warm” and “cool” tones, Meow explores the unique range that exists on everyday people’s faces. Here they are!

  • Snow Lynx: white, no undertones.
  • Persian: peach.
  • Chartreux: peach/yellow.
  • Angora: soft yellow.
  • Manx: yellow/peach.
  • Korat: golden/beige.
  • Abyssinian: yellow/beige.
  • Siamese: neutral.
  • Mau: warm.
  • Sphynx: beige/pink.
  • Himalayan: warm pink.
  • Chausie: cool pink.
  • Bengal: cool beige.
  • Ocicat: olive/beige.

Phew! That’s an unbelieveable amount of choices, isn’t it?! This made me ecstatic the first time I came across Meow. I’m very pale, usually the palest person of any group. However, I have a tiny touch of warmth to my skin, and I freckle easily. So oftentimes when I find an extremely pale foundation (yay for redheads!) it’s often half a shade too light for me (sad for me!). It’s hard to find that subtle balance between very pale leaning towards fair warmth. So this is a big win.

Shades

Next up! (Yes, there are more options for customization.) Here’s how the light to dark shades range.

  • 0 – Inquisitive (lightest, almost white)
  • 1 – Sleek (very light)
  • 2 – Frisky (light)
  • 3 – Naughty (medium)
  • 4 – Fierce (medium/dark)
  • 5 – Slinky (dark)
  • 6 – Independent (very dark)

It’s important to note that some of the undertones don’t go up to certain shades. However, there are very few like that. So, with this many options, how could you possibly choose? Meow offers 1/4 tsp. sample baggies for $1 so that you can grab up to 10 samples in an order and see if you can find the right shade. You can also mix a couple together for an even more customized shade.

My swatches are all from the Mau (warm) undertone. Here’s a photo of the whole range from their website.

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Courtesy of Meow Cosmetics

Let’s talk about the downsides, as it’s not a perfect product. It’s advertised as an alternative to big brands, like Bare Escentuals, who have a lot of mica in their products, an ingredient some people are sensitive to. It can contribute to the itchy feeling of some formulations. Meow’s product does still contain the ingredient, however there’s much less of it. At the same time, it should be noted that mica irritation is not a common occurrence. I’ve experienced more itch with BE than with Meow though.

Packaging

The foundations are offered in Munchkin and Full-Size. I went for the Munchkin. And I hate the packaging, sorry to say! It’s flat and large and hard to hold without spilling your foundation all over the place. I recommend putting it into some other container. I scoop it into an old Bare Escentual’s jar. You can also purchase something like this. I like buying empty cosmetic jars, bottles, and the like, as you never know when they might come in handy. And they’re not too expensive! I get mine from Amazon, because I’m an Amazon Affiliate, and you can find so many options. You can also check out Sally’s Beauty or ULTA.

In the middle photo you can see that I add a touch of 1 – Sleek in the bottom left corner.

Next time I buy from them, I’ll get the full-size which is in a standard jar with sifter. It also has a large lid like the Munchkin, to make it easier to “swirl” in, which will probably be fantastic when paired with a sifter. The whole jar is huge!

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Courtesy of Meow Cosmetics

Swatches

Time for the fun part: swatches! I have 3 shades to show you here but because Meow offers affordable samples, I hope to buy more (maybe all?!) and eventually create a blog post filled with swatches!

These are all from the undertone Mau, perfect for my blend of fair skin and tawny-colored freckles. As you can see, the very palest shade 0 – Inquisitive and 1 – Sleek are very similar. Trust me, however, that Inquisitive truly is lighter. It contains very little undertone and is nearly white. It’s great for mixing with other mineral foundations to lighten them up.

2 – Frisky, which is what I got in the full-size, jumps to a darker shade pretty quickly. I blended it with 0 but next time I’m going to go with the regular fair shade 1. I think Frisky would be a good option for those who are on the fair side of the spectrum, maybe fair-to-medium, but still find drugstore foundations too orange.

Meow Foundation Swatches

Before & After

Both fortunately, and unfortunately, I have very bad acne. This can be helpful in really seeing the difference a foundation makes, though! 🙂 Silver linings to everything, eh? (My skin is so much better from when I took this photo, at least. Yay YoDerm! lol)

Here I’ve applied a mix of 3/4 Frisky and 1/4 Sleek. The formula is Pampered Puss, medium coverage. I applied it with a soft kabuki (not one of the flat-top, very dense ones), and layered it twice.

Meow Before and After

For myself, I would buy Flawless Feline, heavy coverage, next time. You can still see my acne but I’d rather have fresh skin with some acne than heavy, cakey “clear” skin. It’s a balancing act! I do like that it gives an overall improved tone to my skin. Normally, I put on some concealer before I apply the foundation, so it looks better. But I wanted you to see what it looked like all by itself.

I would absolutely recommend Meow’s foundation. Grab some samples and see what works for you! How about you guys? Any favorite mineral foundations?

I am not affiliated with Meow Cosmetics.

Interview with a Vegan: a Chat with Amanda Arebalo

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A fair amount of my readers have expressed interest in veganism, especially as it relates to makeup and beauty. I met Amanda when I came across her Instagram and started trying out her recipes. Here she shares more about herself and her personal values! Keep an eye out for a guest post from her in the future. 😉

How long have you been vegan?

I have been vegan since September, 2016. So about 9 1/2 months. I have sincerely loved every minute of it!

How did it begin?

The first attempt at being a vegan happened back in 2012. I had watched the documentary Forks Over Knives on Netflix, and I was intrigued mostly by the effects of giving up animal products simply for health reasons. I had not yet encountered any animal abuse videos.

So, being intrigued, I first gave vegetarianism a try for 3 months, then I attempted veganism, which I was successful at for another 3 months. Unfortunately my new husband was a gigantic meat-eater. He would eat some type of meat or eggs for every meal, and would often have snacks of both as well. (Hard boiled eggs, or beef jerky.) Unfortunately, I was less than seasoned in the kitchen, so absolutely I dreaded cooking. Even being in the kitchen made me uncomfortable. Making two meals per meal time for us, when one was difficult enough for me, just didn’t work. I ended up quitting.

Fast forward to September 2016, I was online and unintentionally clicked on a slaughterhouse video. I could only watch about 6 seconds before I screamed out, and my husband came running. It broke my heart into a million pieces. From there I cried and watched a few more as I followed my husband around the house announcing that we were never eating milk, eggs, cheese, chicken, beef, or fish ever again. He thought I was being dramatic.

I then came across this amazing, amazing man on YouTube. His name is James Aspey. James is the main reason my husband is now a vegan. I recommend everyone watch his video on YouTube called, “This speech is your wake up call”.  It is worth the time invested (About 40 minutes) your whole outlook on veganism will change and ladies, he is very easy on the eyes!

Why is it so important to you?

I know most people are against animal abuse. Very few of us would ever be able to kill an animal such as a piglet, fox, a baby chick, or a cow, on our own.  We would always choose a watermelon as a snack, over a live chicken for some nuggets. What does it being dead have to do with it being ok? It is that choice, every meal we consume, is choosing if an animal lives or dies. There is a disconnect along the way. The only difference is, instead of doing it ourselves, we are paying companies to do it for us. In doing so, we don’t see the harm and suffering they are enduring every single day.

I feel that it is important to educate and spread the knowledge I’ve learned over the past 9 months, In order to try to make as many people aware of this horrible abuse and unnecessary torture. We are paying for it, and don’t even realize what happens. We are not bad people, but we are taught that it is normal. It is not normal. What is happening to each and every single one of these animals we use for products, I assure you, is not at all normal. We need to become more aware of the impact our actions have.

For those who don’t feel that they’re ready to commit, do you have any advice on how they can still make a difference?

In my opinion, you have to be all-in, if you want to truly make a difference. Go hard or go home. You can be a vegetarian, but honestly, that isn’t good enough. If you believe there is no difference between a baby pig playing with a toy and a puppy playing with a toy, then you must choose veganism. Baby cows are stolen from the mothers, and denied milk, so that the grocery stores can have it instead. After that, the boys are sent to become veal. While the girls get raised into a life of forced pregnancy and heartbreak as each baby born is also taken from her. As bad as these sound, this is just for milk and cheese. Vegetarians eat cheese and drink milk, vegans do not.

There are so many vegan options in stores today to ensure the greatest success with this. From vegan hotdogs, to vegan eggs and delicious vegan ice cream. Anything you can think of, has a vegan option to choose instead. So there is no excuse, to not choose cruelty-free.

My husband going vegan was the best support I could have ever asked for. All it took was a couple of videos, some studies on health and animal products, and me making simple, yet delicious real food meals. He doesn’t miss the meat a single bit. I would have never imagined he would be happy about not eating meat! But he is.

Do you have any favorite charities or organizations?

I don’t believe many charities out there give back to organizations properly as they should. That being said I do believe in Farm Sanctuary. They house and rescue animals from all over, and give them the best possible life. For my 30th birthday I asked my husband if he would consider “adopting” an animal from Farm Sanctuary. I thought he was humoring me when he said he would consider it.

2 weeks later I received a package in the mail. My sweet husband had adopted a chicken for me! Her name is May. She was rescued from being shipped to someone in a cardboard box for over 72 hours. Bless her sweet little heart. She lives at the Northern California Farm Sanctuary not far from where I live, and we can visit her any time. They are a truly wonderful organization that proves their money is going to the right place.

Unfortunately there are many out there, that are scams. So you must be cautious. I donated money to a fraudulent farm rescue once, they tricked a lot of people. It is very sad that people can tell such an elaborate lie in the name of saving animals.

What effect on one’s health and even outside self can result from it?

This is a good one! I can tell you, not only will you feel less weighed down, you actually will be! I will get to that in a moment.

All my life I’ve had some degree of ADD along with brain fog most of the time. I just thought it was normal for me. Let me tell you, that is now a thing of the past! I’m clearer headed, less forgetful, more aware in general and I have a better capacity for learning. Just to name a few. Also, I am a lot more compassionate now. Go figure!

My skin is better than ever, my cellulite is completely gone, and I just feel great! I know that is so cliché, so here is the fun part: I never considered myself overweight. Actually most of the time I was told I was “thick” and that it worked for me. I haven’t told anyone how much weight I’ve lost since I’ve been vegan, but I’ll say it here.

Drum roll please…..I have lost 45 lbs! I am a size XS and a size 3 in pants now. I don’t work out either. I do some ballet toning, and that is all.  Which let me say, I am absolutely loving!! I barely recognize even myself in old photos, which I find so shocking. I don’t starve myself either, actually just the opposite.

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I’m always munching on fruits and veggies. I try to eat as raw as possible, with “raw bowls” being my favorite go-to. Which consists of raw fruits and or veggies, cut into small pieces and mixed together with a drizzle of avocado oil and tossed with salt and pepper. It’s incredibly filling, refreshing and delicious! If I can do it without even a hiccup, or craving for cheese, anyone can! I promise. Cheese cravings are gone within days!

Not to mention the plethora of other health benefits to veganism. Lowering cholesterol (which is only found in animal products), lowering body weight, preventing and reversing diabetes and obesity, getting rid of depression**, mental fog as well as skin problems. There are many, many other benefits as well that I didn’t even expect. It’s a fun surprise!

Favorite vegan beauty products/brands?

Unfortunately some of the biggest names in beauty, also animal test. A lot don’t, but most do. It was something I never thought too much about to be honest. I thought it wasn’t too bad. I will tell you it is much worse than we all thought. It is very, very sad the lives these animals are forced to live. In doing my vegan version swaps, I’ve thrown out a ton of products. MAC was the most saddening for me. I used to be a makeup artist, and that was always my favorite brand. However, now knowing that my eyeshadow had to be “tested” by some poor bunny, having its eyes become infected all just so I could use it. Made me sick. I couldn’t throw it out fast enough.

I absolutely adore the company Radha Organics. They are vegan and cruelty free, offer the best line of shampoo and conditioners I’ve ever used, and they all smell fantastic! The rose water, and eye cream works wonders too! My top picks for makeup, would have to be Kat Von D’s everlasting liquid lipsticks. They stay put, all day long! I wear it every single day. It is also vegan, of course.

There are vegan subscription beauty boxes as well as a few vegan meal and snack boxes too. The Purple Carrot box is perfect for food beginners and I would recommend the beauty box from petite four for only $15 a month! There are a lot of really fantastic vegan products out there. I just love them.

Thanks to Amanda for sharing her experiences! Be sure to follow her on Instagram: @gingysnapps

**If you feel seriously depressed, please speak with a professional, whether a doctor or a therapist. As a mental health advocate, and someone with bipolar disorder, I have to emphasize that healthy lifestyle changes should be an accompaniment to a plan of treatment/therapy with a professional. For more, check out this list of helpful websites.

Featured Strawberry: Elizabeth

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This month’s Featured Strawberry is Australian model Elizabeth. When she’s not modelling, she’s working on a law degree whilst continuing her passion by working as a paralegal in a law firm. Additionally, Elizabeth is two months off launching a non-for-profit organization specifically aimed at supporting those in the modelling industry (more on that in the interview!).

Elizabeth says she is, “constantly exhausted and overwhelmed. Haha. I am always on the go and always have a coffee in hand. I am a huge music fan, I love a classic Blink 182, Smith Street Band, the Front Bottoms and Modern Baseball. Business, fashion and education are very important to me. As the Oscar Wilde saying goes, “you can never be too overdressed or overeducated.” It’s something to strive for.”

Thank you for being willing to be featured this month! I was struck by your photos on Instagram, which are all so lovely, and you have a sense of class about you. So I ask everyone this first: Any other redheads in your family? 

Yes, red hair does run in my family. My little sister and mother have red hair. My father has black hair, but obviously carries the gene as his mother (my grandmother) has Scottish roots. My sister, Emily, has the exact same shade of red as me. Emily and I share a love for fashion. She is studying fashion design and currently making a sustainable fashion collection. I am modelling her look book, which is very exciting.

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What was your experience growing up as a redhead? Some girls out there (and, hey, let’s include boys too!) feel uncomfortable with how they look, and occasionally wished they looked more like everyone else. Do you have any advice for them?

Well I’ve had an interesting experience. I hated my height and hair growing up. I was always a head and shoulders taller than the other children (and I didn’t stop growing until I was twenty years old). As a consequence, I was bullied in primary school. And I was never ever considered ‘cool’. Now these two things – height and hair colour – are the reason I am a model.

“I think it’s really difficult to embrace your quirks but you manage to love them over time.”

I think you do come into your own as you get older. I was such a shy and quiet child too, and when people from my childhood meet me now, they are taken back by how assertive I am. I am a completely different person because I genuinely think you just grow into yourself over time. Also, things external to your image become less important. I think intelligence, elegance and how you treat others, at the end of the day, is the more important thing.

How did you get started with modelling?

I actually got my start in the Miss Universe Australia competition. I’ve always been tall and have had people approach me to model, but I was so focused on my studies I never really gave it a second thought. However, one night I was going for a jog and a lady who lived down the hill from my house approached me. She worked for Miss Universe Australia in their accounting team and suggested that I enter. She said they don’t get enough redheads entering, (Australia has too many blonde models haha). I had actually just broken up with my boyfriend and had more time on my hands. So I thought why not, life is short right? I was already twenty one years old at this point, which is older to start modelling, I knew I had a very small window to give this a go.

I entered and made it to the State finals (much to my surprise). After the competition, I didn’t think much would happen but within three months, I was walking in five runway shows in Melbourne Spring Fashion Week. My career grew from there. I genuinely owe my career to my natural red hair. It’s definitely my point of difference and calling card.

What’s been the best (or a few of the best) experience(s) you’ve had in modelling?

I’d have to say walking in Melbourne Spring Fashion Week and Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival. They are the two big fashion festivals in Melbourne and it was exciting to be a part of it. But as cliché as it sounds, the other people that I have met along the way have been the ultimate best experiences. Photographers, make-up artists and other creatives have made working in the modelling industry an absolute pleasure. I’ve made some amazing friends with other models who are genuinely lovely and down to earth girls. If I have a week of working hard at the law firm or studying at law school, I look forward to a runway show or shoot and consider it a creative outlet in what is a busy week. It has definitely made law school a lot easier, when I have something to look forward to.

You’re the founder of the Model Association Australia. How’d that start?

Model Association Australia will be launching in about two months. It is a non-for-profit organization and a way for me to combine my interests. I am three subjects off completing my Juris Doctor (yay) and also have a BA in International Relations with a focus on women’s rights. So the Model Association is a way for me to combine my legal knowledge with what I’ve experienced in the modelling industry. I felt that having had the two experiences, I have a unique perspective on how matters should and shouldn’t be handled.

Illegal and questionable practices are sadly a reality for the modelling industry. The Model Association enables its members to report and seek assistance for inappropriate conduct or work related issues. This is something I am truly passionate about. I love that I can combine my unique experience of legal skills of tort, privacy and defamatory law with my experiences as a model in the fashion industry to support other creatives in an attempt to make the industry a safer place for young women.

What’s the future look like for you?

I think as I get older, I will move away from modelling and into law/business. Most models end their career around twenty-five years of age because the next generation of seventeen year olds come through haha. I’m not quite at that age yet, (and having a round childlike face helps a lot) but I imagine when I hit around twenty-five, I’ll probably be working full time in the legal field. I am also planning on moving to London. But I will definitely continue to develop the Model Association and carry that forward with me. As I grow in legal expertise, I hope that the Model Association will benefit from that too. Also, for the immediate future, I have three subjects left of law school, so finally graduating will be an absolute thrill.

Time for beauty stuff! Have you picked up any tips from makeup artists on photoshoots?

I have a baby face, it’s so round!!! So to anyone else who has a childlike face, I’ve learnt how to contour by asking the make-up artists what to do! I use a bit of the brown Models Prefer Contour Stick Cream under the cheekbone and blend. Then using a really great brush, apply a bit of rose blush to really soften the roundness in my face shape. (Editor’s note: a couple good options might be Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso or MAC Desert Rose.) I also use brown bronzer around my jaw line to make it stronger, which I find also helps remove some of the roundness.

I’ve learnt to do my eye make-up first. Make-up artists tend to do eye make-up before the foundation so no residue from the eye shadow falls onto the cheekbones, ruining the contouring.

I’ve learnt to slightly over-line the top of my natural lip line for fuller lips. Then fill the lips with lipliner before you add lipstick and lipgloss.

The last tip that I’ve learnt from make-up artists is to lightly spray your face with hairspray before leaving the house, so your makeup stays on longer.

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What are your favourite foundations, mascara, and eyebrow products? I know I’m always searching for all of those and many redheads are as well!

A good foundation match is always hard for me. I don’t have the classic redhead peaches and cream skin tone, I actually have a yellow undertone that I inherited from my father, who can tan. So I have absolutely no freckles, just white skin. So trying to match white skin with a yellow undertone is really difficult. At present, I am using Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation. This is pretty good as it is thick. So if I have to do my own make-up for a test shoot or casting, I can do so (and not look like a ghost under the lights).

My favourite mascara is Too Faced Better Than Sex, and it truly is haha. It is fabulous. It gives you full and long lashes. I highly recommend it. I actually use the black one very day.

I have really hard eyebrows for a natural redhead. They are naturally brown, it’s so strange. So I don’t touch them at all. But my sister has the typical redhead light eyebrows. She uses a classic brown pencil to fill them in.

What are your 5 favorite things right now?

  1. I am obsessed with this face mask called Quick Fix Facials – Anti-Blemish Mud Mask. It is amazing for clearing your skin. I find that after a day of shooting or being on the runway, you have heavy stage make-up on and it can damage your skin. The anti-blemish mud mask gives your skin a really deep and thorough clean. I have noticed a difference after I’ve used the mask.
  2. I love Sukin’s Hydrating Mist Toner. It combines chamomile and rosewater to soothe and tone the skin. It really leaves your face feeling fresh. I usually take it on planes with me.
  3. Benefit’s High Beam Highlighter is great for under your eyes. It makes under your eyes glow – and covers those bags when you have had a late night of study.
  4. I am in love with green tea and coffee. I have about three cups of green tea a day. But I am also a coffee lover. Living in Melbourne it’s hard not to be. So I genuinely drink a lot of Nescafe Green Blend which combines roasted and unroasted coffee beans which has more anti-oxidants than green tea itself.
  5. I modelled for an online store called ‘We Dash Love’. I highly recommend you check it out. It’s run by a fantastic lady who only sells sustainable fashion – check out their Instagram page here.

Thanks again to Elizabeth for taking the time to chat with me, and I encourage you all to follow her on Instagram @eliz_abeth_h to keep up with her, as well as checking out her non-for-profit organization @modelassociation_au!

My Top 5 Favorite Face Oils

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I think by now everyone knows that oils can be very beneficial to the skin. Brands are now pumping out oils left and right, each one of them attempting to find the next new thing. So we’re left with a plethora of options, and it can be overwhelming. These are the oils that I have incorporated into my skin care, and which I find very good specifically for my dry, sensitive, acne-prone skin. I hope this can help you make a decision for yourself!

1. Jojoba: This is the first oil I started using, years before this trend hit. I began using it as a young teenager to gently remove my makeup without the need to scrub my skin and irritate my acne. It’s definitely a slippery oil, but not as much as coconut oil, in my opinion. I’ve never used it all over my face to moisturize; rather, I’ll add a few drops to a lotion or even a serum. Recently though, with how dry my skin is from aggressive acne treatments, I do occasionally slather some on and let it sit for a couple hours. I’ve used the same brand for years: Trader Joe’s, available in-store or on Amazon. ($12)

2. Tamanu: This was the next oil I really got into. I came across it whilst doing some research on natural ways to help out my inflamed skin. And I liked what I read about it! It’s derived from a fruit tree native to the South Pacific, which accounts for the earthy scent of it that I love, and many others hate. It’s green and kind of thick rather than slippery. This oil specifically can be really great for some, and terrible for others. You just have to try it for a week and you can always return it if it doesn’t work for you!

It’s not only supposed to help with active acne, but with scars as well. A few years ago I successfully eliminated moderate acne simply using tamanu oil and Ortho-Tri Cyclen birth control pills. Lamentably, I can no longer take birth control as it interferes with my bipolar disorder medication. But my skin really cleared up and had great tone and texture. I definitely recommend trying it! I’ve always used the one from Aura Cacia, which is $16 and worth every drop! Buy it here, or at Whole Foods. They also make a tamanu serum which I really love, as it has a lighter feel and ingredients like lavender and tea tree oil. Buy it here for $12)

3. Coconut: This is an all-time favorite for many people, and with good reason. It has a lot of uses, from your diet, to your teeth and, of course, your skin. This is my second choice, after jojoba, for makeup removal. It’s a bit drippier, which you might prefer. Just use it over a sink, and wipe up any excess when you’re done. (You don’t want coconut oil going down the drain as it will clog your pipes.)

It lets my fingers glide gently around my face and that’s great for irritated skin. I sometimes put a teaspoon or two into a moisturizer if my skin is especially angry, red, or dry. My favorites are Garden of Life ($10) and Nature’s Way ($15).

4. Maracuja: I discovered these next two oils from the ipsy (here’s my referral link), which is my favorite beauty box! I had never heard of them and to be honest, I gave a tiny sigh and eyeroll when I first received them. It just seemed like all these brands were always trying to out-do each other with new beauty oils. However, I gave them a fair try, and I am SO glad I did!

So far I’ve only tried one brand of maracuja, which is from Tarte ($28). It’s a bit pricey but personally I think it’s worth it. I always recommend buying products that you’re unsure of through a seller who has a great return policy! ULTA and Amazon are my favorites. (Not affiliated with ULTA, but I am with Amazon.)

One of my favorite benefits is that it has vitamin C in it, which should be part of everyone’s routines as it’s an antioxidant that helps fight sun damage, and gives a great glow over time. After about a week, I noticed a real difference in the softness and radiance of my skin. Woohoo! Also it’s vegan, for those of you who are interested.

5. Marula: And finally, my recent favorite is Pure Marula Facial Oil. First of all, it is really expensive. Way more expensive than I’d ever pay usually. So that testifies to how much I like it! It just gives me such a great glow, and I don’t mean sheen from the oil. Even when I’m not wearing it, my overall tone has improved. Because my skin is dry and irritated from acne and the acne treatments, giving my skin some life is a big deal to me. I’m so happy I got the sample from ipsy.

It’s supposed to have 75% more antioxidants than argan oil (which you’ll notice isn’t on my list, despite the fact that it’s hugely popular; it just doesn’t work as well for me as these do), and it absorbs the best out of all these oils. It makes a great makeup base, when I put a few drops into my usual CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion ($12). The full size is $78 but fortunately they also offer a Travel Roll-On which is $15, and a great way to try it out. Buy the full-size here and travel size here.

What about you? What are your favorite oils? Share in the comments!

Featured Strawberry: Hannah Sabus


This month’s Featured Strawberry is a small-town girl from Nebraska, Hannah Sabus. She describes herself a classic introvert who likes to curl up with some books and a cup of tea, but she’s always up for adventures around town with her friends. She loves her family, thrift store shopping (who doesn’t?), and has a green thumb. In her own words, “I’m only 18 so I have lots to learn, but I’m just trying to grow into the best version of me!”

Enjoy the interview, and take note of Hannah’s experience with henna, because there are many redheads out there interested!

I’m excited to have you as this month’s Featured Strawberry, Hannah! So the first question I usually ask: does red hair run in your family? 

Yes! On both sides actually. My mother was a curly redhead when she was young. My father’s father had red hair as well. So my parents were blessed with two redhead babies haha.

Have you ever been teased for it?

I actually don’t remember being teased about it at all. Expect for when South Park decided it would be nice to come out with an episode calling Ginger Kids DayWalkers…but that was thankfully very brief.

I’ve also never been teased so it restores some faith in humanity that not everyone wants to poke fun at redheads! 😛 Have you always liked your own hair or did it take time to appreciate your unique coloring?

I have always been celebrated for my red hair. Always been stopped in the streets and told how beautiful it was. So, in turn, I have always celebrated it right along with them – no reason not to!

Tell me about your experience with henna. Why did you decide to try it out? What was your hair like before, and what did you hope to accomplish with it?

I have been searching for ways to make my red hair more red for awhile now. I tried hibiscus tea soaks and color depositing treatments galore. Being a ginger is part of who I am so I never wish to give it up. (SR’s note: I felt exactly the same way and so many of us do!) Growing up my hair was always undeniably red. But my family and I have lived in Florida for ten years now, and this sun has given my red a blonde beating.

I was in denial for awhile that my locks had turned more blonde than red. I knew I wanted more of a strong red/ginger color rather than strawberry blonde. I was just so nervous to use anything permanent to disrupt my natural color.

My close friend actually sent me a brand of henna online that in the reviews natural redheads had used and loved. If anyone’s interested, I used the Hannah Natural brand. I researched a lot (came across your amazing blog series) and finally decided to take the plunge.

Was it easy to mix and apply? What recipe did you use?

I used 50/50 henna and cassia. I also added a half part sulfate-free conditioner to make it into a henna gloss. I just used hot water and lemon juice until the consistency was right. It was very easy to mix for me. You just have to make sure you get the lumps out. I applied it in the shower for easy cleanup. I also had a towel around my neck and used my fingers to work it in.

I would recommend gloves because it did stain my hands for a week or so. I put a shower cap on and kept it in for 2 hours. It wasn’t hard for me to rinse either. The henna smell did stay for a little over a week when I got my hair wet.

What do you think of the results? 

I absolutely love it!! It looks like my hair still, just enhanced. Brighter and better.

Would you do it again? Any tips for other natural redheads?

YES. I’m sad I didn’t do it earlier. I know how nerve-wracking it can be but I would recommend starting with a gloss like I did.

Red hair is much harder to dye than any other hair color so you do need something a little more powerful, yet gentle, to give you a good change like henna. I plan on doing another gloss treatment soon!

So, what are your favorite makeup products?

All my favorite beauty products come from my HowToBeARedhead subscription box!! I have so many but here are some of my favorites so far:

EyebrowsJust for Redheads Brow Stick in GingerAuburn, or for something more subtle the Damōne Roberts Eyebrow Pencil in Ginger.

Foundation: At the moment, I’m using Kat Von D Lock-It Foundation in Light 44. Their foundation has such a great range of colors and has amazing coverage!! My favorite powder for us pale ladies would have to be Amanda Blakley Mineral Powder in Light.

Concealer: Giella Custom Blend Cosmetics

Mascara: My favorite mascara would have to be Just for Redheads in Ginger Auburn.

Lips: My favorite everyday lipstick is Burt’s Bees Moisturizing Lipstick in Blush Basin.

And what are your 5 favorite things right now?

  1. Book: Taste in an Age of Endless Choice by Tom Vanderbilt.
  2. My favorite face oil is rosehip seed oil. Smells yummy and super moisturizing! (SR recommends Radha.)
  3. Favorite healthy snack, plantain chips!
  4. Weird but I’m in love with my new Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Hand Sanitizer hand sanitizer!
  5. Clothing item: overalls!!

Thank you to Hannah for taking the time to chat with me. I hope that reading someone else’s henna experience in addition to mine will help some of you out there! Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Instagram! ❤

White Noise

This is part of a series sharing old essays from my personal blog years ago. Hope you enjoy.

I’m at the coffee shop inside a Borders bookstore, sipping an iced coffee and flipping through magazines. I open to the cover story in Time magazine, about the drug wars raging in Mexico. There’s a photograph that fills two glossy pages and I stop for a moment and spend some time with that photograph. Its subject is a murdered cop’s family and friends, grieving at his funeral.

I want to disconnect from the initial impact of it, the pity I feel in my heart at seeing these people. I try to break it into bits, to look at the eyes of each person and then turn around and look out through them. There are two women, overcome with horror and grief, who are held close by their family or friends. Did their bodies give out, their limbs so soaked with weary sadness that they could not possibly stay upright any longer? There’s a man with dirt in his hands, falling through his fingers, onto the grave I assume. His face is calm, ceremonial almost. In the corner of the photograph stands a small boy with a smudged face. He looks subdued yet curious. He doesn’t comprehend what’s happened.

This isn’t a rare thing for them. This is Juarez. This is their town. This has become their life. But maybe, maybe, some of them had only been waiting. Maybe the women. Maybe the man with the dirt. They’d seen it happen, over and over, to all those around them. Not yet, they said to themselves. It’s not here yet. Someday, any day. But it wasn’t there. They just waited.

I look up and it is beyond peaceful. It’s hot today, in the hundreds, but we are so comfortable in the air conditioning. I can taste mint, chocolate, and bitter coffee on my tongue. The sunlight is bright and falls on the tables in front of me, where couples sit reading, drinking their coffee, talking very quietly, considerate of others.

Someone’s laugh rises above the hum of white noise.

I know it’s only chance that I am here, looking from far, far away at pictures of unimaginable things. I have the fairly unbelievable privilege of closing this magazine, picking up a gossip mag or a fashion journal, and directing my mind to less disturbing thoughts. I get to look away. That simple thought, that when it gets too much for me, I can close it, toss it, forget it, walk away, be in the sunshine with my love and my coffee and my dreams…well, I don’t have words for that.

But I have this image sometimes, of one of those women sitting at a table in her kitchen. Her baby is asleep. Her husband is dead. I see her with a fashion magazine, completely engrossed in runway trends, the best way to rock blue eyeshadow, an interview with a celebrity with a life so far removed from her own it is hard to accept they are both human beings sharing the same planet. The sunlight is bright and she stops for a minute to appreciate the brilliant orange that is her breakfast, illuminated with golden, dripping, delicious sunshine.

Outside, someone laughs.

Featured Strawberry: Jasmine Brown

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Jasmine, like previous Featured Strawberries Mounia and Soteria, is a natural black redhead who breaks the stereotypical mold. She agreed to share her experiences and give us a little insight into herself!

Thank you for being this month’s Featured Strawberry! What’s it been like for you growing up?

I’m a natural black redhead which is unique to some. As a kid I didn’t think anything of it, but I noticed people would come up to me and say, “Is that your natural color?”. As an adult most people assume I dye it, but some know it’s natural. I think people think my hair isn’t natural because my eyebrows and eyelashes are black.

Are there any redheads in your family?

As of now I would say there are no redheads in my family that I know of. My dad was a redhead when he was little, but his hair is black now. I’m the youngest in the family and I’m the only one out of five kids that has red hair. Some of my brothers and sisters have a little bit of red in their hair mixed with brown. I find it kind of crazy being the last born and the only one with all red hair. I also have a twin sister but she does not have red hair. I did not have any negative experiences growing up.

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It’s great that you never had any negative experiences. I didn’t have any either, so it’s encouraging to know that there are plenty of people who like the unique shade of red hair!

Is there any particular makeup you like? What sort of goals do you have? I know you have some possible interest in modeling, and there are plenty of successful ginger models, such as my previous interviewee Cat Carney.

The only make up I wear is black eyeliner. I have considered modeling but it’s kind of hard to get into when you live in a small town. I would love to be a model one day but it’s hard not knowing where to begin. I’ve always wanted to model since I was young, and now. Many people have told me I should be a model, which inspired me even more, but as I said I live in a small town and I’ve only been to three states.

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Finally, what are your five favorite things right now?

My five favorite things as of right now are:

  1. My two rabbits.
  2. Orange Gatorade.
  3. Sour Patch Kids.
  4. Nexxus hair products.
  5. And fishing.
Thanks again for taking time to talk with me! If you’re a reader who’d like to be featured, feel free to send me a message through the contact form!

Second Graders Have Feelings, Too

This is part of a series sharing old essays from my personal blog years ago. Hope you enjoy.

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I found this picture of my wee little sister Fiona rocking out in our old music room. I think she was 2. She’s 7 (edit: now she’s 12, whoa!) and the smartest kid I’ve ever known, and I’m not just saying that because I’m her big sis! I’m proud of her, and I miss her.

I don’t recall if I’ve mentioned that she travels with my mom and step-dad. They live a nomadic life (Canfield of Dreams) and she gets to see all sorts of different places and people. I think the exposure she’s getting to other cultures, people, and ways of living is valuable for someone her age. Still, I miss her very much. When you’re watching from a distance, the whole growing-up thing goes even faster.

(Update: I’m happy to say that they have decided to settle down just a couple hours away from me and I see her all the time now.)

I was shocked and a little nervous when I heard she was in 2nd grade now. (See, I can’t keep up with these things!) Shocked and nervous because she’s my little baby who has no worries or cares, and I remember being in 2nd grade, and I did in fact have many worries and cares. A 2nd grader is a full-blown person. I had opinions, fears, neuroses, and deep complex thoughts. How did she get there already? She’s just a baby! I have to wonder what her opinions, fears, and deep complex thoughts are.

My job as a big sister (an extra big sister, since I have 16 years on her) is to make sure she knows I am always here. That she can talk to me about deep complex thoughts. Or laugh. Or cry. I never had a sister growing up, and I love having one now. I love being the big sis. I just want to keep doing a good job at it.

Who remembers what it was like to be a second grader? I remember that I hated math, because I cheated on a math test then realized the classmate I was copying from was doing an entirely different worksheet. I loved Anne of Green Gables, and the kinship I found in this fictional, imaginative, redheaded girl. I wore flower-printed leggings and thought it was cool to wear my flowered scrunchie on my wrist like a bracelet. (Who else was an early 90s kid? lol.) I made my dad homemade cards expressing sentiments such as, “I don’t care if you’re a dirty man…I still love you!” (He worked on cars and, to be fair, was often quite unclean!) I wanted to grow up to be a missionary in a foreign land.

What about you – what do you now look back on as an adult with surprise, nostalgia, laughter, or the like?

My 5 Favorite Vintage Clothing Websites

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As a fan of vintage clothing, I have sometimes found it overwhelming when searching for brands online. There are so many out there, as the retro look has been popular for many years now. It’s very easy to find basic 1950s retro-inspired and rockabilly clothing. What I prefer myself, however, is to find clothing from particular decades rather than the generic vintage look that is often seen.

My favorite era is the 1930s. It’s characterized by slender silhouettes, uniquely-crafted hats,  padded shoulders, and mid-calf skirts and dresses. I’ve found it a bit hard to find what I want. In my search I’ve come across many websites that provide a broader range of options when it comes to eras. So, I want to share them!

Here are my top 5 favorite reproduction brands! Dollar signs indicate general prices.

1. reVamp Vintage ($$$) Wow, do I love this brand! One of my absolute favorites. It is very expensive. However, if you have the money, these items are totally worth it! They’re completelt accurate to their eras (all the way from 1910s-1940s) and they’re made with extreme care. Conscious effort is made to use sewing patterns from the time and even the fabrics commonly used. You can buy one high-quality dress, take care of it, and it will last you forever. This site is essential if you like true vintage clothing, not just that 1950s look.

2. Lindy Bop ($-$$) This is a very affordable brand that comes in sizes XXS-6XL and has a wide variety of decade inspirations. Their Swing & Jive dresses are very 1940s. I also found 1930s influences in their Jumpsuits & Playsuits, 1960s looks in the Wiggle/Pencil dresses, and so on. Definitely check this place out! Super cute patterns and prints as well.

3. Shabby Apple ($$$) Shabby Apple was one of the first brands I came across that offered high-quality, unique items. Some pieces would fit right into a catalogue from the 1940s or 50s, etc. And many borrow concepts from the past and blend them with modern ideas. I really like that. They also offer a rewards program, which is especially nice with a pricier brand.

4. Queen Of Hearts ($$$) What I like about them is the range they have. I can find clothes fairly accurate to specific decades. I love that. They’re definitely on the pricey side as well, but again I think it’s worth it. Their sizes run from XS-4XL so everyone will be able to find super cute clothes that fit!

5. Collectif ($-$$) This U.K. brand is pretty affordable, with diverse collections. You can find sweet floral-print 40s day dresses, 1960s mini-skirts, and everything in between. Great, affordable prices for the quality! There’s tons of accessories to choose from: hats, belts, scarves, jewelry, etc. They have some modern pieces as well, such as bohemian maxi dresses, and modern playsuits. If you live in the States, the prices will be a little bit higher, but not too much. There’s something very sassy about their designs!

How about you guys? I’d love to hear what your favorite vintage-inspired brands are! Please share. ❤

I am not affiliated with any of these brands. These are my own personal opinions.

Review: Maybelline Define-a-Brow Pencil in Dark Blonde

5 Minute Review + Swatches!

I was really excited to try this product, but I was pretty disappointed. I love the concept of it, which is similar to the NYX Micro Brow Pencil and the Anastasia Brow Wiz Pencil. I haven’t tried either of those yet, so I can’t compare them. However, I wasn’t impressed with the quality of this. It’s very hard and is a completely ash-based color. That will work great for blondes or very light brunettes. A redhead needs more warmth, though, so I wouldn’t recommend this for them. My search continues!

EDIT: Because I don’t like to waste products, I kept trying to see if I could make this work in some way. I’ve discovered that I do like it a bit! I use it very lightly on the tail of my eyebrows, as a softer pencil can smear and be too obvious. It only takes a moment and when blended with my usual eyebrow products (Wet N Wild Color Icon Eyebrow Pencil in Ginger Roots and Maybelline Eye Studio Brow Drama Sculpting Brow Mascara in Auburn) it fits in quite nicely.

You can buy Maybelline Define-a-Brow Pencil at Amazon for $6.60. Check out a soft and natural eyebrow routine here.

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