Grinning Through It // Smiling Brilliant

Bonjour Mis Amis!

First of all, how are all of you? I hope as we move out of (hopefully - Texas why you so hot?) the blistering heat of summer you all are braced with sunscreen in hand and working AC. As some of you know I spent this summer traipsing around the Middle East and Europe. Which, speaking of, I promise there will be a full post filled with photos and videos (???) soon! 

Now, I want to chat with you all about an incredible product I used this summer. Mis amis, hold on to your hats. Let me present to you Smile Brilliant

For the past few months I've been using a new teeth-whitening routine from my friends over at Smile Brilliant. They've been wonderful and patient with me while I get through these past few difficult months. I'm going to be completely transparent with you all, when things in my life got really difficult I let a lot of partnerships down. I was unable to make time, and I wasn't in a place where I felt like I could really write in an upbeat and plucky way. So I postponed my partnerships, asked for extensions, and tried to work through my personal problems. I know that this blog is still very small, but these partnerships mean a lot to me, and I try to take this blog very seriously. So, here we are, months later, and I am ready and excited to share with you all the joys of Smile Brilliant

Without further ado, let's talk about mental health again, shall we? (A.K.A. my favorite topic) Something I realized this past semester is the truth behind the phrase "fake it till you make it," and how helpful this was for me when I was at my lowest. For me, grinning through all of the mess that was happening in life, all of the stress of school, adjusting to everything, was a way to choose happiness. At the end of the day, if I put on that I was happy, after a while I genuinely felt happy. I didn't have to fake it anymore, and instead of grinning through the upset I felt, I was grinning through happiness and joyfulness with an optimistic attitude. 

Having a beautiful, white smile, as cliché as this sounds, really helped me with my confidence. You all know how much coffee I drink - and if you don't take my word, it's a lot - so my teeth were pretty badly stained in the beginning (I blame Cuban and Arab coffee culture). So, when Smile Brilliant reached back out, really checked in on me, I was overjoyed to start the whitening process. I genuinely thought to myself, "if I have a beautiful, white smile, it'll be easier for me to smile through everything," and as the adage goes, it was. Your smile is one of the first things people see, and having one that is gorgeous and brilliant really helps with confidence. Here's a little more about Smile Brilliant that really sold me; all of the whitening products are organic and non-harmful to the environment (a big thing for a gal working towards sustainability), they offer custom whitening programs specific for your level of tooth sensitivity, it's all at-home but it looks just like a professional whiten, the whitening trays are custom made to fit your teeth specifically, and if you have any problems they have a team of people dedicated to helping you. Click to see the specific teeth whitening kit I used! Use code himonami at checkout for 15% off your purchase!

-> So without further adieu, *calling all my fellow coffee addicts and wine drinkers*, if you're interested in trying out Smile Brilliant, they've generously offered to let me host a giveaway, where one person will get a free custom teeth whitening kit! So, if you're still dubious and don't want to take my word for it, enter my giveaway here and try Smile Brilliant out on your own (Must submit name and email address on the giveaway page in order to enter! The winner will be selected and contacted via email 2 weeks after the post is live. Giveaway is for $149 credit and is open internationally).

I'm positive you will love the results as much as I have. Feeling confident, especially as someone who is a shy introvert and recently back on the singles market, is incredibly important, and it starts with grinning through it and smiling brilliantly. 

Peep below to see my before and after pictures and a small video on what the Smile Brilliant at-home whitening process looks like. 
 

Before:

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After:

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General cute photos (if I may say so myself) of me and the products:

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With the custom trays

With the custom trays

With the custom trays

With the custom trays

Don't forget to enter my giveaway here and try Smile Brilliant out on your own (Must submit name and email address on the giveaway page in order to enter! The winner will be selected and contacted via email 2 weeks after the post is live. Giveaway is for $149 credit and is open internationally). <3 

And let me know how you love Smile Brilliant :)

A Month's Impressions // With Verb

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After almost a month of using the Verb Ghost Collection exclusively, I love it. My hair feels light, bouncy, and clean. I wanted to write this post so you all could see how my hair looks after a month with the Verb Ghost Collection. If you're interested in getting some of the products for yourself, you can use code MonAmiXVerb for 16% off, and all of the products are only $16 which is so affordable given the quality! Here's what a month of Verb's Ghost Collection looks like with my hair (both up and down!).

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I've loved working with Verb this past month. Verb's Ghost Collection is so amazing, especially with this heat in Texas (I've been washing my hair everyday). So whether you're interested in products that feel light as air in your hair, you want added shine, you have fine hair, or you just love that these products are cruelty free, this collection is for you. Hope you all are off to a great start this week, let's kick Monday's butt. XOXO

Verbing // With Verb

Hi guys! I am so excited to share with you all the newest line of products from VERB! You all know how much I love VERB, so I am thrilled to be working with them again. VERB just sent me this package filled with their new Ghost Collection, which is for people with fine hair or people who do not like feeling product in their hair (me!), or for people who wash their hair everyday. All of the products in this collection are vegan, paraben, sulfate, gluten, and cruelty free! The Moringa Oil blend is in each of the products to soften, shine, and de-frizz, everything I've ever wanted and more. ;) Every product is only 16$, which is amazing when you think about how good these products are, and additionally, you can now use Code: MONAMIXVERB for 16% off your purchase throughout the month of September! Shop the new collection here. I'm so excited for you all to try this collection, and I'll keep you posted with some luscious hair photos in the next few days! Until then, check out this unboxing video I did above!

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Follow along on Instagram to see how my hair looks from day to day!

Favorite Lipsticks // Everyday Wear

Summer is officially coming to a close ... well, at least summer break is. Everyone is back to school shopping, kids are headed back, and we're all getting that fall itch. At least here in Texas where the temps are still three digits (and there is no end in sight) we are ready for some cooler weather. I wanted to share with you all, since the end of summer is so near and the start of fall right around the corner, my favorite lipsticks. 

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To clarify. My perfect every shade, everywhere, everyday lipsticks. 

Starting from Nude to Vibrant.

Tarte Cosmetics Tarteist Creamy Matte Lip Paint in Birthday Suit - this is the perfect matte nude lip. I use this for a very subtle amount of color and a brilliant matte finish that feels like chapstick. Do you know how sometimes nude lips are just a little dry? Not this lip paint - it feels like a cloud on your lip. No exageration.

L'Oreal Cosmetics Colour Riche Lipcolour in Fairest Nude (800) - For a touch more on the pink side. I use this lipstick when I just want to run out the door. A slight shine perfect for everyday use.

L'Oreal Cosmetics Colour Riche Lipcolour in Toasted Almond (843) - This is a deeper nude that is perfect for when you're a bit tanner, or those with darker skin tones! 

YSL Rogue Volupté Shine Oil-in-Stick in Nude Lavalliere - For a slightly baby pink nude option with loads of shine.

YSL Rogue Volupté Shine Oil-in-Stick in Rose Saharienne  - Moving away from the nudes, this vibrant pink is great for going out on a date or for a little more color added to an outfit.

YSL Rouge Pur Couture Lipstick in Red Clash Matte Finish - A bold, matte, deep pink. Worn casually with a white top, or for going out with a black top (pictured above).

Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Gazpacho -  The true deep blue-red. Not a perfect red, and not an orange red, this lipstick is perfect for the night out, or the coming holiday/fall seasons.

These are the lipsticks currently in my rotation. A little matte, a little shine, and enough variety to get me through any occasion. I like to keep variety without feeling like I have an excess of beauty products. What are your favorite lipsticks?? Let me know and check out more of my shenanigans on Instagram!

Top:   Pleione Clothing    Bottoms:   Lucky Brand     Shoes:   Target

Summer Essentials // On The Go

This summer I have been very busy - between traveling, working, and hustling I've had to create a comprehensive beauty routine to combat this Texas heat. 

Here is a glimpse at some of my summer on-the-go products. 

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid. A good friend of mine showed me this miracle formula. If you have pesky blackheads, or buildup of any kind, this product is amazing. I use this between washing and moisturizing my face in the morning and at night. Perfect for sensitive skin!

Origins Plantscription SPF 25 Anti-Aging Cream Moisturizer. I love Origins - I've never been lead astray and this anti-aging moisturizer has worked wonders. I really love how it has sunscreen in it - I can't go anywhere without a little sunscreen on. We've got to protect our skin!

Origins Modern Friction Cleansing Oil. I have used the Clean Energy cleansing oil religiously, and I just recently tried the new Modern Friction - it's amazing. It works the exact same way as Clean Energy but it smells like cucumbers. If you've never used a cleansing oil, it comes out as an oil you rub onto your face. You gently rub water into your face after the oil and it turns into a cleansing milk. I personally like using cleansing oils more than a general cleanser because it gives you a little added boost of moisture. 

Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream. This is a very new find for me. I (as mentioned before) have trouble with clogged pores, and I had been using a full coverage foundation, which is great every season besides summer. This BB Cream gives my face the coverage I need, adds some SPF, and doesn't clog my pores. Plus, it has a gorgeous matte finish.

Davines OI Oil. I use this after I get out of the shower to give my hair a little added moisture. Perfect for a touch of shine as well. Love, love, love.

Real Her Beauty I Am Perfect Liquid Lipstick in Ladylove. Brush on and go, for a nude-pink matte look. Perfect with any outfit, and it's cruelty free!

VERB Sea Spray. I've already gushed. Read my previous post about all of my favorite VERB sea collection products here. I love this for sprucing up my curls - and just about everything else. Always $14!

Summer Essentials // VERB

It's finally summer down here in Austin, and thank goodness! I know it's been a quick minute since my last update on here (sorry guys), but to make it up to you all I'm doing a GIVEAWAY with VERB! I've partnered with VERB to bring one of you beautiful readers their newly released Sea Collection!

I've had the pleasure of using the Sea Collection for a little while now, and let me tell ya, this line has worked wonders for my curls. As I get older I find that my mane of curls is slowly falling. Don't get me wrong, I still have big curls and a ton of hair, but I used to have the most ridiculous ringlets and so much hair it would take two hours to get it cut, so recently I've felt a little more protective of my curls. Specifically, I've been having trouble keeping my curls bouncy especially as I grow out my pixie cut. Most days my curls fall after drying and I'm left with a wavy mop on my head. Not only has the VERB Sea Collection revived my curls, but it looks like my hair took a trip to the beach and came back healthier, more relaxed, and bouncier than ever. 

First, I use the Sea Shampoo and Sea Conditioner in my shower. I try to get all of that shampoo sudsy goodness deep into my roots, then I moisturize with the Sea Conditioner. After my shower, I always let my hair air-dry. I try and use as little heat as possible on my hair to keep it as healthy as possible. After my hair is dry, it feels soft, light, and breezy. 

Second, I lightly spray in the Sea Spray and scrunch up my hair to revive my falling curls. You can also section off your hair and curl individual pieces by twisting them through your fingers. I prefer to just scrunch my hair since I have naturally curly hair, but for my more wavy-hair friends sectioning and twisting your hair is probably a better idea.

Top:  Mary Claret  | Bottoms:  Madewell  | Jewelry:  Britta Ambauen

Top: Mary Claret | Bottoms: Madewell | Jewelry: Britta Ambauen

Third, after letting the Sea Spray settle in, depending on how loose my curls look, I add in the Sea Texture Cream. I rub the cream on my palm until it reaches a clear consistency then lightly work it from tip to root, defining my curls as I go. I find that this last step helps my curls stay bouncy throughout the day. 

My favorite thing about the Sea Collection is how even though my curls look bouncy and full, my hair feels soft, beachy, and loose. I've never experienced crunchy hair or found clumps of product laying around, which a lot of products (especially for curly hair) can do. Be sure to check out my Instagram to enter into the GIVEAWAY! I'll be giving away the entire Sea Collection! 

Special thanks to VERB for supporting this post. 

Fresh Faced // Daily Beauty Routine

After questions from you all on what products I use/what my beauty routine is, I decided to give you all a small look into my daily routine. 

It has been an uphill battle, friends, trying to find products that work for my skin and hair types. After years of trial and error, I feel as though I finally have a good routine down. That being said, if you are a beauty guru and have tips, I'm all ears!

I'm a firm believer in twice-a-day face washing - I can't sleep at night if I have a dirty face. There's just something so beautiful about going to bed and waking up fresh faced. My beauty routines are very basic because on a daily basis I don't really need to do too much - plus I have very sensitive skin that gets easily irritated. The foundation on which I started my skin/haircare journey is the idea of natural beauty. I want to feel confident in my natural skin and hair... and maybe one day look like Kiera Knightly without make-up (one can only hope). I try to find products that are natural, minimal in ingredients, and good for extra sensitive skin - here is what I've found.

Hair.

My hair, as I have told you all before, can be a mess of crazy curls or awkward waves. Currently I'm trying to grow it out, and I want it to be as healthy as possible. This means keeping hot irons and blow driers to a minimum and loading up on the moisture, especially in these dry months. My hair goals are obviously Kate Middleton who rocks the ever-elusive "rich girl hair," essentially this is the hair that always looks incredibly perfect and hydrated - my ultimate hair desire. 

To keep my hair looking smooth and silky I use Verb Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner. I really like the way these products feel. They go on smooth and never tear apart my hair like some shampoos do. After my shower I apply Verb Ghost Oil to lock in all the moisture I can. Once a week or so I use the Verb Hydrating Mask to help repair some latent damage from a week of non-stop running around. Typically when I style my hair I like to add a little volume and I apply Verb Dry Shampoo to my roots for added lift - guys, this stuff is a dream. I love the way my hair looks effortlessly tousled.

Skin.

Winter is very rough on my skin. I always have problems keeping it hydrated. After months of peeling from severe dehydration, I popped over to my local Origins store. OMG guys, Origins has saved my face - I can't imagine going back to where I was before this.

My absolute favorite product from Origins is the "Clean Energy" Cleansing Oil. It rubs on like an oil and washes of like a milk. It adds that little extra boost of moisture I need, and it smells amazing. Washing my face has become my favorite part of the day - it's relaxing, cleansing, and joyful. I love being able to have a couple of minutes to myself.

After I finish washing my face I use Origins Make A Difference Plus + Rejuvenating Lotion every morning and evening. I have never found a moisturizer that didn't cause me to break out, but this Origins lotion has changed the game. I have never had any problems with it and it doesn't clog my pores - a huge problem for me. 

Make-up.

I just wanted to give you guys a small peak at my make-up routine since I was already making this post. I think it goes hand-in-hand with skincare, and for all my sensitive skin gals out there, this one's for you. 

So, we all know by now that I have sensitive skin, however I also have a really hard time keeping blackheads away - gross. It's something I have always struggled with, and generic make-up foundations make everything worse. For a long time I stayed away from anything resembling full coverage, but recently I stumbled onto a foundation/concealer duo that has changed my life. To start, I always use Clinique Superprimer - alright, this little guy has saved my face from intense blackheads. Ladies, if you have any blackhead/breakout problems like I do and ALSO have sensitive skin, this guy is for you. After priming my face, I use Clinique Beyond Perfecting Concealer+Foundation. It goes on even, is silky smooth, and covers even the tiniest blemish without added makeup. To spread my makeup I use an Oval brush set (similar to the Artis brushes), which if you haven't tried these brushes out, you really should. Make-up goes on seamlessly, is never spotty, and looks radiant. 

And there you have it! One small glimpse into my daily routine. I try to keep everything simple and minimal, utilizing quality products for my face and hair. It's so important to take care of yourself, and my beauty routine is one piece of my day I have found to be very enjoyable. 

New Beauty Routine: Arbonne

I recently started using Arbonne face and body products in my beauty routine. I have naturally sensitive skin that, as I go through my twenties, is still changing with my hormones. I have days of oily skin on my face and dry skin on my body, horrible black heads, and an occasional pimple pop-up. I’ve been having a really difficult time finding products that don’t irritate my skin, while clearing it of its imperfections. When I look for new products, I want products that are all natural, vegan, and simple. That’s how I discovered Arbonne.

A little about the company.

Arbonne prides itself on using all-natural, botanically based ingredients. Arbonne goes above and beyond to curate quality products by always improving the ingredients they use.

A little about the products.

The products are clean and sleek, even down to the smallest detail; the design. The bottle design is minimal with a touch of color, featuring elegant lettering and a simple text layout.

My thoughts.

I’ve been using the Arbonne Calm collection’s Gentle Daily Cleanser and Soothing Eye Gel, and they have made a world of difference for my face. The daily cleanser purifies and cleans out pores to give your face a brighter, healthier glow, and the eye gel moisturizes and lightens dark under-eye circles. I use the daily cleanser every morning and night to clean my face before using the eye gel. I saw a difference in the lightness of my face within a week. Additional to skincare, I’ve also been using the Arbonne Awaken Sea Salt Scrub for my dry skin. I noticed improvement in the moisture and shine of my skin in one day! Arbonne products have a very long lifetime, I only have to use a little bit to fulfill my beauty needs.

I found out about Arbonne and bought my products through Melissa Stephenson, a friend and fellow creative. She works with Arbonne to educate people on healthy beauty and lifestyle products. I enjoyed spending time with my dear friend and grabbing some really amazing products while I was at it. If you grab your products through her shop, melissastephenson.arbonne.com, there’s a special free gift for all my readers when you comment on this post after purchasing. Plus, if you sign up to be a preferred customer with a one-time fee of $20, you’ll get an additional 20% off of every order you purchase for the next year (talk about shopping beauty products on a budget).

I have had such great experiences with my Arbonne products, and I hope you all do as well.