When the brilliant Green Day frontman Billie Joel Armstrong wrote the lyrics, “Summer has come and passed / the innocent can never last / wake me up when September ends,” I doubt he thought it would become a meme that circulated at the end of September every year. (The same can probably said for Justin Timberlake’s “It’s Gonna Be Me” at the end of April.) I do know that I am sincerely happy to see the end of September and the beginning of October; these next three months fill me with a joy that’s noticeably missing for the rest of the year.
Perhaps it’s the electricity that fills the air as the holidays grow closer, or the activities that are unique to fall (hello hayrides and pumpkin carving). Or maybe it’s just the fact that I can stop sweating for the first time in 6 months when I go outside. All I know for sure is that the beginning of fall brings me renewed energy and peace that I look forward to all year long. Keep reading for my thoughts on the things that have helped me get through the home stretch of the summer and on my way to the first few (still very warm) days of fall!
Mario Badescu Cucumber Cleansing Lotion — $26, Ulta.com
I definitely didn’t realize until recently that this toner actually has isopropyl alcohol in it (which I also just learned is poisonous—not ideal) but do you ever discover something is bad for you after you’ve already fallen in love with it? (I think that’s a common trope of romance novels.) I actually started using this toner last summer when my face looked like I had just doused it in the grittiest baby oil known to man (not cute) but then once I moved to Nashville and ran out, I didn’t really have the time or energy to go out and repurchase. Since I’ve been trying my hardest to give my skin its best fighting chance of looking decent, I have fallen back in love with this product. And romance novel tropes be damned, I’ve only noticed improvements in my skin since I started using it again.
In a conversation I had recently with my dear friend Eli (keep your peepers open for a whole post about that conversation coming soon), I learned that alcohol is one of the worst things to find in a skincare product because it saps the moisture from your skin. (It might seem counterintuitive but oily skin needs moisture and hydration almost as badly as chronically dry skin–if not more–because the lack of moisture is what’s causing the skin to overcompensate in its sebum production.) However, I think there are other good ingredients in this product that separate it from a true astringent. As the name indicates, this cleansing lotion (an old school term for toner) contains cucumber extract, which is quite hydrating (picture the people in the spa with cucumbers over their eyes). I might be totally off base here, but this toner seems to be working quite well for me for this month. I might test out the Glycolic Cleansing Lotion in the future to explore my non-alcoholic options, so I will be sure to report back with my findings if I do!
Too Faced Sweet Peach Papa Don’t Peach Blush — $30, Sephora.com
Does anyone else remember when the Sweet Peach Palette craze hit the beauty market? I definitely do. I remember seeing so many beautiful looks on YouTube and wanting to get my paws on one so badly so I could create a look of my own using the rich hues. Plus, in true TooFaced fashion, it smells divine and is consistent in texture, color payoff, and formula. It’s honestly one out of 4 or 5 palettes I know I can reach for and create an eye look without having to put much thought into it–what more could a girl ask for?
Turns out, there is a lot more a girl could ask for. In fact, there’s a whole line of peachy-keen beauty items a girl could ask for. Between the glosses, the setting spray, the setting powder, the primer, the lip sticks, the lip scrubs, the foundation, the bronzer, the child palettes, the blushes, and the highlighting palettes, Too Faced could probably invest in its own peach farm to cut down on production costs. (OMG could you even imagine how unexpectedly on-brand Jerrod Blandino would make a Too Faced peach farm?)
This blush in particular was one of the first products launched after the original eye palette, and of course it lives up to the reputation of its predecessor. It’s peachy and rosy without being too overpowering and it gives the perfect sun-kissed glow. It can sometimes be a bit excessive if used with a heavy-handed highlighter (say that five times quickly) but with an understated approach, it has a real wow factor. I used to think nothing could come close to the infamous NARS Orgasm Blush, but I think I will need to rethink that as much as I’ve been reaching for this blush this month!
Warby Parker Hallie Frames — $95, warbyparker.com
Something else I’ve been reaching for? These frames that were purchased somewhat impulsively a few months ago.
There’s a funny thing that happens when you’re surrounded by a fashion-related commodity at work. It’s the same thing that happened when I worked at Gap in college–the more time you spend staring at the same items day-in and day-out and the more energy you spend helping customers purchase said items, the more likely you are to spend your own hard-earned money doing the exact same thing. I shudder to think how much of my paycheck went right back into the pockets of the people who profited off our sales (it certainly wasn’t the plebeian retail team) any time a new season arrived for us to put out on display.
Let me be perfectly clear–Warby gives its employees 4 free glasses per year. That many pairs alone is more than some glasses-wearing people will have in their lifetime. But then they also give us personal discount codes to use, which only adds fuel to the fire of justification for another new pair. Sometimes I think I have more frames than I know what to do with (and honestly needing to use a label maker for my eyeglasses cases hasn’t disproven that inclination), but as soon as I start thinking that a new collection launches and I find myself fantasizing about all of the cute outfits that would only be enhanced by that particular frame. I know I’m incredibly privileged to work for a company that gives its employees cool perks like this (among many others) and honestly, deep down I think my attitude towards prescription eyewear is one of accessory more than solely necessity (although it certainly is that, too). I think Neil and Dave would agree with me when I say that just because something is required to help you function on a day-to-day basis, doesn’t mean that it can’t also be stylish and confidence-boosting at the same time. If you’re going to put something on your body and you have the option to seize it as an opportunity to express your personal style and identity, why wouldn’t you do so?
I think this change in perspective has inspired me to reach for this particular frame more frequently. When I first received Hallie, I felt it might have been a bit too bold for me to wear often. It’s certainly an editorial look–bold lines, wide fit, interesting color. And when I have other frames that blend into my face rather than stand out, it’s easy for me to gravitate towards those instead. (As a forcibly-extroverted introvert, there’s usually a voice in the back of my head telling me it will be far more comfortable to blend in with the crowd rather than put myself on display.) But since I’ve become much more comfortable with my daily life and a little more confident in myself, I’ve found myself taking more risks when it comes to style and how I present myself to the world.
It’s kind of a gratifying feeling–putting yourself out there, knowing full and well people will have criticisms and opinions that only serve to cut you down, but knowing even better that you like who you are regardless of what anyone else thinks. I certainly have my fair share of insecurities, but when I wear something as simple as a slightly overstated pair of glasses, I can feel them slowly continuing to melt away. Perhaps that particular feeling is why I’ve been wearing these glasses more in September than I have since I bought them months ago. Confidence is such a slippery thing–when I feel it washing over me, I tend to scramble to clench it as long as possible before it slips away. But I’m starting to realize there’s no reason confidence can’t be a part of who I am rather than a fleeting feeling. Right?
China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan — $10.51, Amazon.com
Okay, y’all. I have too many books. My bookshelf is almost full and I know I’m going to have to either purge it of some of my books from college or buy a bigger shelf. (I think we all know which option will prevail–with that said, if anyone is looking to get rid of a bookshelf, please let a sis know.) I know I should probably start going to the library more to save some coins and minimize the weight I’ll have to shovel around the next time I move, but there’s something so gratifying about owning a copy of a book you truly enjoy. You can highlight in it and make notes and dog-ear the pages and carry it with you wherever you go without fear of damaging it and being responsible for a fine (or even worse, the judgmental look a librarian gives you for damaging public property). I love owning a good book because it also means I can share it with people and allow them to experience the same joy (and also because I’m quite vain and I enjoy looking at a book cover without the “Property of Nashville Public Library” sticker getting in the way) (what can I say, at least I know my flaws) (#relatable).
When I bought Crazy Rich Asians, I didn’t really know what to expect. A few BuzzFeed quizzes I had taken had recommended it to me as a more adult, less white crossover between Sex and the City and Gossip Girl, the latter of which was one of my favorite TV shows as a pre-teen (this was before I really became an avid reader and right in the midst of my Ed Westwick obsession). As I mentioned in my Summer Reading List post, you get a taste of the character dynamics a little bit at a time until it eventually bubbles over and the smallest detail that might have been easy to miss actually has major implications for how the story ends. I knew when I finished the last page I needed to know what happened next to all of the characters. Would there be a new marriage? Would one end? Would family relationships be repaired? Or would they only be further destroyed?
This second installment in the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy offers more of the same trance-inducing descriptions and juicy plot twists. As Kwan takes the reader on an exploration of new character dynamics and relationships while also continuing those from the first novel, it’s easy to understand why it’s quickly become one of the biggest series of 2018. I’ve loved getting to read more of this incredible story tin September, and I’m excited to read the third and final novel soon!
CoffeeMate Pumpkin SPice flavored coffee creamer
I am not even ashamed to admit how excited I am for my beloved PSLs to be back in season at Starbucks. To me, PSL season is reminiscent of hot chocolate season as a kid except with more caffeine. I do have to limit my trips to the green mermaid, though, so I can save my coins for other things (like groceries) (and rent). When I have to make due with my plebeian ways and forego the $6 cup of autumn-flavored bliss that makes my heart feel whole again, this coffee creamer makes me feel less like I’m settling and more like I’m cheating the system. It’s likewise only available for a limited time during the year, but when I see it in the grocery store I know that candy corn, sweet potato pie, and candy canes are right around the corner. What makes this creamer even better than a true PSL, one might be inclined to argue, is that I can add a splash of it to my regular coffee on weekend mornings when I just want to lounge around in my jammies for most of the morning. (Which, let’s be honest, is just about every weekend morning.)
Vogue September Issue
I think every fashion-inclined human eagerly awaits the September issue of Vogue once we approach the downhill side of summer. There’s something so exciting about opening your mailbox and seeing the magazine (it feels too simple to call it a mere magazine) in all it’s thick, glossy glory. It just feels so…meaty. (Is that a weird descriptor for a piece of literature?) Usually when I get a magazine, I skip over the ads and get to the actual substantive parts—with this issue, though, I savor every page and absorb it with an acute ferocity. I gingerly pulled out the pages that spoke to my soul (looking at you Burberry and Gucci) and have added them to the mood board in my closet.
What I love most about this issue in comparison to others that have come before it is how monumental it is. Beyoncé reportedly had unprecedented artistic control over the cover and her shoot and since she usually seems so intensely calculated when it comes to press, this felt like an especially unique issue. It’s not an interview, as most magazine profiles are. Instead, it’s written in the first person and feels like you’re actually sitting down for a chat with Queen Bey herself. The cover was also photographed by the first ever black photographer to shoot a Vogue cover.
Just let that sink in.
Perhaps that should come as no surprise. In this moment, when revelations are made left and right about the abhorrent actions of someone in the public eye, the sickness I feel in the pit of my stomach about how long it's taken to have a black photographer shoot the cover of Vogue is mediated only by the inspiration of gripping the thick pages between my fingers. While it might be long overdue, the attitude this magazine signifies about the staying power of minorities and the stamina of women is what makes everything else that’s happening in this world feel a little more manageable.