summer beauty basics

While everyone else is ready for back to school, I feel like I’m just now getting into a summer routine. Luckily for me, I still have a month or two of almost-hundred-degree weather. Here in Texas, summer is definitely still here. And these super hot days always necessitate a change in beauty products. These are my favorite summer beauty products right now.

This was a Birchbox find and may be exclusive to the site. It has great coverage for a bb cream, and a golden shimmer that’s not really noticeable except for adding a brightening or dewy effect. It’s perfect to use in place of a foundation during the summer when my skin is tanned and doesn’t need quite as much coverage.

Not just for summer, this is the perfect palette for a basic neutral eye. I use the matte colors only for combining with the dewy face and cheeks. Walk of Shame (very light nude) and Naked2 (taupe) on the lids, and Crave (deepest, darkest brown/black) smudged across my lash line. These warm colors are great for summer, and I’ll definitely check out the cooler-toned Naked2 Basics palette for winter.

This is the first year I’ve ever tried using a bronzer, and I’m hooked. It took a lot of looking before I found this little guy. It’s inexpensive (less than 4$) and shimmery without being glittery or sparkly. Throw out the little brush it comes with. I use it in place of blush on my cheeks and as eyeshadow too if I’m in a hurry. Fun fact: I used Cheekers blushes all through high school.

Ok, this mascara isn’t actually waterproof. I’ve worn in the pool and looked like a raccoon after a few dips. But it is more natural-looking than my usual (let’s be honest, few mascaras are less natural-looking than Diorshow BlackOut, and can stand up to the sweat and sun. It’s impossible to remove with just soap and water; I use almond oil to remove it before washing my face.

I’ve gone through three tubes of this sparkling caramel pink gloss. It’s the perfect nude gloss for my skin tone, and a staple for casual style. Your perfect nude will probably be a different shade, but you can't go wrong with Nars glosses.

This is summer’s answer to a red lip, although it’s a staple year-round. It’s the perfect glossy orange-red shade, buildable so it can go from sheer to bold, and as easy to apply and wear as chapstick. This is one of my all-time favorite lipstick shades, so of course they discontinued it. Next, I think I’ll try Urban Decay Super-Saturated High Gloss Lip Color in Punch Drunk as a possible replacement.

On no-lipstick days –  whether I'm jogging along the river to heading to the pool   this Banana Boat lip balm with SPF 45 replaces my strawberry Chapstick.

I put this on instead of moisturizer in the morning under makeup. It’s not greasy, absorbs right away, and doesn’t leave a white residue, even though I use a lot of it. It doesn't irritate my eyes and, most importantly, doesn’t cause breakouts. It’s also water-resistant, although I always add a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses when I go to the pool or the beach. It’s pricy, but less expensive than the moisturizer it’s replacing, and totally worth it for protecting my face.

Most drugstore spfs cause major breakouts, but not this one. If you read the fine print, you’ll notice it is fragrance free. It absorbs easily and is inexpensive enough that I can slather on as much as I want to, and I use a lot of it. (This is for when I’m going to be outside for a little while. If I’m going to the pool or the beach, I use the SPF 50 or 100.)

The first shampoo that my husband and I both love to use. It smells like a day at the beach, and not in a fake coconut-scented way. I have to wash my hair much more often in the summer and this stuff combined with some surf spray makes it seem like I didn’t, but in a good way. Tips: Skip the matching conditioner – it’s no good – and make sure to swap it out for a clarifying shampoo about once a week to prevent build-up.

Velvet Goldmine

I overheard my husband’s youngest son ask him if he had to choose between Led Zeppelin being the only band he can listen to for the rest of his life, or picking ten different bands to listen too but never hearing Led Zeppelin again, what would he choose? I thought it was a hilarious, but then I started thinking about what ten bands I would choose and, the truth is, I have no idea. The only music I listen to lately is the 90s grunge rock satellite station or my workout playlist! But current, not nostalgic (90s) music? Music that I would fall in love with now, not music that still I love because I’ve always loved it? Got to work on that.

I finally watched a movie that’s been on my list for years, Velvet Goldmine, and I should’ve watched it a lot sooner. Ewan McGregor, Christian Bale, and Jonathan Rhys Meyer decked out in 70s glam rock looks? Yes, please. I can barely tolerate Christian Bale in most movies; this made me like him so much more.

This movie is weird. And awesome. And has a small role for one of my favorite bands (probably one of the ten I would pick to listen to forever), Placebo. They are 90s, yes, but I didn’t listen to them in the 90s so it doesn’t count.

Barton Springs pool

Austin is one of those places that I listened to people rave about, and figured it was all hype. It’s not. It’s one of my favorite cities to live, and the longer I live here the more I find to love about it. Today, it’s Barton Springs Pool.

I had zero desire to go to a community pool – we already have a pool in our building – until I saw pictures of it. This place is incredible, and so close to downtown. I can’t believe some people grow up with a place like this in their community.

The “pool” is huge, and divided lengthwise into a shallow side around 5 feet and a deep side over 8 feet. There’s a diving board and a very shallow kiddie area with a stone beach (fossilized shells!).

The pool is surrounded by grassy hills. On 100 degree days it’s so nice to dip into the freezing water for a few minutes and then lie out in the hot sun. The water is fed by natural springs and is incredibly cold year round – I don’t believe it’s the 68 to 72 degrees they say. I can’t remember the last time I actually lay down in grass, rather than on sand or pool chairs, and it brought back such reminders of childhood.

birchbox favorites

My sister gave me a gift subscription to Birchbox for Christmas last year. Birchbox is a monthly subscription service that sends you a box of 4-5 beauty samples a month for $10 a month. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it.

I’m not really an experimenter when if comes to beauty, in fact I’m the opposite. My goal is to find the perfect version of whatever I need and never have to look for it again. Turns out that I love getting a present in the mail each month, and I really look forward to it. Even on months when I don’t like most of the samples, I still love getting my box. But there is usually one standout that I’m so glad to have tried (hello bb creams!). Here are my favorite new products from the first half of 2014:

This stuff is supposed to be mix into your moisturizer or serum and used to fade dark spots. I used it directly first on two small recent burn scars (on my arm from my curling iron and on my hand from a hot pan), and I swear I could see the difference right away.

Supergoop! is my new favorite sunscreen brand. It goes on smoothly and absorbs without leaving a white residue. I used it after washing my face in place of moisturizer when I’m going to be outside or exercising and haven’t had any breakouts or dryness. I’ve sampled the Everyday and the Anti-aging City Sunscreen Serum and they are both great, but I prefer the Everyday because it’s water-resistant.

I adore the matte texture of this spf, and it’s one of my sister’s favorite products. It goes on so smoothly that I was ready to order the first time I used it, but then my face broke out right afterwards. I’m not sure if it was this product, my new exercise routine, or just a coincidence, but I’ll probably hold off on using it, just in case.

The first (and only, so far) alphabet creams I’ve ever tried came in Birchboxes. This one is comparable to a sheer tinted moisturizer – it doesn’t provide much coverage – mixed with an illuminating lotion and is great for a very natural look. Bonus: It’s got a nice scent and SPF.

This BB cream is thicker than the Origins and provides a bit better coverage, with the same glow effect. I don’t know if the one universal shade with self-adjusting pigments would actually work on everyone, but it did on me. I like to mix it in with my liquid foundation (to get the coverage and the glow) and I love that it’s perfume- and oil-free.

I’d never heard of Coastal Scents before, but I loved the 4 eyeshadow colors in my sample so much that I found myself looking for duplicates of the colors at a beauty store, then ultimately decided just to purchase the Coastal Scents palette when I finish my Urban Decay Naked palette. This is the most excited I’ve been about eyeshadow in a long time.

Even though the Pixi Pink I sampled wasn’t the best choice for my coloring, I still really loved this lip balm. It’s soft and moisturizing, but not greasy, with buildable color that really lasts. Bonus: it’s inexpensive and available at Target.

I am a die-hard jet black liquid eyeliner fan, but Birchbox sent me this eyeliner in silver and it’s absolutely beautiful. The pencil is more like a gel than a pencil –  it’s creamy rather than hard It glides on and blends well, doesn’t break, and hasn’t dried up after several months. What more can you ask for? Plus, the silver is just so sparkly and shimmery. It won’t replace my stila, but I would definitely recommend it to others.

In Midnight Monarch, which is described as having “top notes of jasmine and bergamot over a base of patchouli and sweet vanilla amber”. This is really thick and way too scented for me to ever use as a hand lotion, but I love the scent and wore it on my pulse points like I would a solid perfume. (This is the only perfume/scented product that I’ve gotten from Birchbox and liked.)

Hands down the best dry shampoo I’ve used, and I’ve used a lot of different brands. Expensive relative to most, but this is one product that lives up to its reputation.

Birchbox isn’t perfect. Annoyingly, their website never lets me write product reviews (using my computer, although I can from my hubby’s iPad). And these 11 products are the only ones I’ve liked, less than half of the samples I’ve received. (This could be improved greatly by asking about scent and color preferences in the user profile.) But, it’s still a fun experience and I’ve found some products that I love, so I consider that a win.