Best. Discovery. Ever.

I love Chicago.

Seriously. You never know what you’re going to stumble upon on your Sunday evening walk. There’s a huge new Walgreens near my apartment that just opened up a few months ago, and I finally paid it a visit a couple days ago. My roommate had mentioned that it housed a pretty impressive beauty section featuring some brands we both love–Klorane, for example–so my curiosity was piqued. But I was not expecting to see a beauty emporium rivaling Ulta and Sephora upstairs from a sushi bar, cafe area, extensive wine and liquor section, and a huge cooler with fresh fruit. Mind. Blown.

The beauty section is called the Look Boutique. I did a little research and discovered that not long ago, Walgreens bought Duane Reade (a NY drugstore chain), which had begun to feature a Sephora-like beauty concept in order to elevate their image {which is a totally cool idea}! So, select Walgreens across the country are remodeling and beginning to feature Look Boutiques. Chicago has three, I think–Clark/Diversey {near me, just opened} in Lakeview; Milwaukee in Wicker Park; and State Street in the Loop. The one in Wicker Park sounds gorgeous–check out this article I found about it here!

I just think this is the coolest concept, ever. A couple of the brands I saw when I first walked in–TheBalm, Cargo, Klorane, Pop Beauty, Avene, La Roche Posay–aren’t really extensively carried at Sephora or Ulta. I did a quick search, and Sephora only carries four TheBalm products. Ulta doesn’t carry it at all. I’m super stoked to have found the complete line there! I used to use Bahama Mama bronzer back when it was still sold at Sephora, but it kind of fell off my radar. Birchbox also samples TheBalm pretty frequently; I’ve tried their Mary Lou-Manizer highlighter, as well as In-Stain blush, and loved them both. My roommate got a sample of their How Bout Them Apples cream blush, and it’s the sweetest-looking product I’ve ever seen.

The best part is, this week only–it’s all 20% off. All of it! As long as you have a Walgreens rewards card, and if you don’t, it takes about two seconds to obtain one. I’m planning on going back later this week before the sale ends and stocking up. On my list:

{1} TheBalm Bahama Mama Bronzer
{2} TheBalm Stainiac Lip & Cheek Stain
{3} TheBalm Frat Boy Shadow/Blush
{4} Cargo New Essential Lip Gloss in Fresno
{5} Klorane Dry Shampoo with Nettle {a Birchbox discovery, and my all-time favorite dry shampoo ever. I was so thrilled to discover that the Look Boutique carried it.}

It’s a little difficult to find information on these Look Boutiques, so I’m not certain where they’re popping up at. I know there are several in NYC, the three in Chicago I mentioned, and at least one in LA and Houston. Safe to assume major cities will be getting them first, but keep your eyes peeled!

Oil Pulling Update

More about oil pulling! I’ve been going strong and pulled almost every day since I started! The only days I skipped were last Saturday and Sunday, because I was out of town for a wedding and had zero desire to bring a whole jar of coconut oil with me. It gets easier and easier every morning! I actually look forward to pulling when I wake up. The taste has grown on me so much, and so has the squeaky clean sensation it causes.

A few things I’ve noticed:

1. My skin is improving. I can’t tell if I can chalk it up entirely to the oil pulling, because I also think I’ve FINALLY found a skincare routine that works for me, but there is a definite improvement. Acne on my forehead has cleared up, and so has the blotchiness. Oil is reduced as well.. I can wear only BB cream without any touchups or need for concealer, which is unheard of for me. My skin feels super soft, as well!

2. I’ve been sleeping pretty well. If you read my post about my new FitBit Flex, you see that you can track your sleep cycles with it. I had heard that oil pulling can help with sleeplessness, and again, I don’t know if the pulling is helping or not… but according to the sleep tracker, I fall asleep quickly and barely toss and turn. It hasn’t made it any easier to wake up in the morning, but it is what it is!

3. It really clears up any oral pain I have. Last Thursday/Friday my gums were SO swollen on the bottom right hand side. It felt exactly like when my wisdom teeth came in a few years ago. I was actually sort of afraid… I had all four wisdom teeth removed, but maybe there was a fifth mutant tooth hidden beneath and now it was breaking through??!? It was super puffy and painful and I couldn’t chew on that side. But the oil pulling really soothed the pain and helped de-puff, and after a few days it was completely back to normal. My tongue also was feeling kind of icky. My favorite favorite favorite snack in the whole wide world is sunflower seeds. They’re so bad for you {all that salt!} but I’m hooked. The salt makes the surface of my tongue feel raw and gross sometimes, like it’s been burned, but oil pulling helps it feel normal much quicker than usual.

The psychology student within me is totally flipping out right now, though. The tenet that is driven into the mind of every psychology {and anything research-related, really} student will not leave my head. I’m talking about CORRELATION ≠ CAUSATION. Just because two things are related doesn’t necessarily mean one is causing the other… for example, global temperature is increasing, and the number of pirates in the world is decreasing, but I don’t think warmer temperatures are making the pirates disappear. {That was my favorite professor’s favorite example.} So who knows… there is definitely a correlation between oil pulling and my improved skin, sleeping habits, and oral health. But in order to find out if the pulling is the cause, I would have to eliminate all outside factors, and it would be really really interesting but also very complicated and since I’m not a student anymore I don’t have any desire to embark on that.

If any more improvements occur, I will definitely write about them, so stay tuned!!

To Pull Or Not To Pull

… That is the question.

I really don’t like to jump on bandwagons. That being said, I felt like I couldn’t not try this new trend out. I’m talking about oil pulling–maybe you’ve read about it? This blog post went viral on my newsfeed, but I’ve also seen this one multiple times, and just a few days ago my favorite blogger, Grace Atwood of Stripes and Sequins, posted about her experience here! I’ll be honest, my curiosity got the better of me! I decided to give it a try.

Basically, oil-pulling is when you put a teaspoon of organic coconut or sesame oil in your mouth and swish it around for twenty minutes or so. It’s supposed to clear all the toxins out of your mouth, and improve oral health, bad breath, whiten your teeth, clear up skin problems, and basically cure any malady you suffer from. So they say. You swish, and then spit into a bad or trash can {the oil can harden and mess up your pipes}, then rinse and brush your teeth as usual.

I’ve only done it a few times {using organic coconut oil from Trader Joes}, but I think I can tell a difference. For one, my mouth feels SQUEAKY clean–way cleaner than they usually feel four hours after brushing, drinking coffee, and eating breakfast. My teeth appear a little whiter. And that’s really about it, so far. I’m sure it takes time for big results to make themselves known, which is why I want to keep at it! I don’t have any major health issues.. but maybe it’ll cure my minor acne and dry skin? I’ve heard it can help with headaches, too, so there’s that.

It can be really difficult to swish oil in your mouth for twenty minutes. But it does get easier! I try and do something to distract me while I’m pulling. Once I learned how to slot it into my morning routine and multitask, it got so much easier. A few times I’ve just gotten back into bed and read or watched Netflix briefly, but for some reason I’ve noticed that I produce more saliva and have to spit some out when I do that. On the contrary, when I’m up and moving around {doing my hair or makeup, picking out my outfit, tidying up, etc.} there is way less saliva involved. I’m not really sure why that is.

One thing I feel I should mention is the placebo effect. I know, I know. My psychology background is showing, but I just can’t help but wonder {Carrie Bradshaw moment}. Oil pulling is getting so hyped right now. Google it, and you get roughly 2.5 million hits. Everyone is singing its praises. But is it only working because we think it should? Maybe all the people with awful arthritis and other ailments read about how fantastic it is, and that’s what cured their pain. Also, what if my teeth aren’t really getting whiter–but I think they are, because I’m oil pulling? Now I’m paranoid.

Regardless of psychological theories–I’m going to keep at it. Stay tuned for updates, if there are any!

Dreaming of Spring

Hello, and Happy Monday! I’m so excited right now because I can see a slight rise in the temperature in the extended forecast {and by rise, I mean two days in the forties and one in the fifties. It’s the little things.}! As if I wasn’t already excited for spring to roll around so I can start buying and wearing a new wardrobe. Now it’s starting to feel a little more real! There is still snow projected in the forecast, but I won’t let that dampen my spirits. Goodbye boots of snow and rain; hello flats {loving these d’orsay ones from Old Navy} and cute sandals {jellies! with a bow! for $12!}

This isn’t so much a wishlist as it is a random collection of my favorite recent pins. Check them out, and also visit my Pinterest page!

spring pinterest2

{1} This flowy skirt is dreamy and beautiful. A must-have! {2} A lovely quote from The Great Gatsby. {3} Lupita Nyong’o at the Oscars. Completely obsessed with her; she’s so humble and graceful. {4} Loving this watercolor painting of colorful poppies. {5} Pastel hair is everywhere right now! I couldn’t commit to an abnormal hair color myself, but look at how gorgeous that cotton candy hair is. {6} A demure but sexy Marc Jacobs bralette. {7} This sweet look by Lauren Conrad is my spring wardrobe inspiration. That baby blue blazer! And I love the sleek high pony and fresh makeup. {8} I can’t not love the Olsen twins. Even though MK just got engaged to her French financier beau, Olivier Sarkozy, who happens to be seventeen years her senior–and the half brother of the former French president. So bizarre. Ashley was always my favorite anyways. {9} This skirt is the epitome of I don’t know where or when I would wear it, but I MUST HAVE IT. I never knew how badly I needed a sequined maxi skirt until I saw this picture. Unfortunately, it costs over $300; and even more unfortunately, is sold out. I weep.

Alright folks, that’s all for now! Have a good week 🙂

Images {all taken from Pinterest}: 1|2|3|4|5|6|7|8|9

A Year of Samples

Doy! When I posted the reviews for the contents of my February box I think I forgot to mention that it was my one year anniversary of being a Birchbox member! I wanted to do a post of my favorite samples I’ve received in the past twelve months. {For any of you out there wondering how on earth I’ve managed to keep track of a year’s worth of samples–I haven’t. Log into your account on birchbox.com and click on “Box” > “Women’s Box”, then scroll down and click view all to see what samples you received for each month. Easy peasy!}

1 yr-page-0

{1} Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk {2} Model Co Party Proof Lipstick {3} Paula’s Choice RESIST BHA 9 for Stubborn Imperfections {4} Jasmine Seven Wipes {5} Egyptian Magic Skin Cream {6} Hail Merry Macaroons {7} Evologie Intensive Blemish Serum {8} amika Bombshell Blowout Spray {9} Atelier Cologne Mistral Patchouli {10} COOLA Classic SPF 30 Cucumber Moisturizer for Face

* all images come from birchbox.com, and are of the full-size products. not sample sizes.

Enjoy your weekends, everyone! I’m off to Cincinnati to visit my boyfriend for the weekend. Lots of traveling coming up in the next few months.. yipes!