Lionesse Gem Skin Care.

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When a representative from Lionesse Gem Skin Care recently reached out to me to ask if I would be interested in reviewing some of their products with a handful of selected bloggers, I was flattered and floored. I am always on the prowl for new brands and cosmetics/skin and hair care to try- and after some correspondence and a little bit of research of my own into the brand and their history- I eagerly agreed.

A little blurb from Lionesse about their company and customers:

“Lionesse Beauty Bar is a luxury boutique offering high-end beauty products and professional makeovers. Our stores are located in California, Las Vegas, Canada, and Singapore.

The Lionesse is a sexy vixen that takes control of her life with style. Every man wants her and women want to be her. She is fierce, strong, stunning, and comfortable in her own skin. She glides down the street with unwavering confidence as if it’s her very own runway… She owns it.”

The Lionesse Gem Skin Care line is comprised of five collections, each based off of a precious gemstone (White Pearl, Black Onyx, Amber, Yellow Sapphire, and Diamond, respectively-) and each collection is designed to target different concerns for different skin types using unique combinations of vitamins, brightening and anti-aging ingredients.

Now, I try to keep myself on a bit of a budget when it comes to beauty products. I DO splurge every now and then to treat myself, but if I bought every product I saw and wanted on a whim- so, so many of my bills would go unpaid and I’d probably be siphoning gas to fuel my car. That being said, my jaw hit the floor when I first saw the price points of Lionesse’s collections. Ranging from $1,300 – $6,000, with $400 eye creams and $600 serums- I needed a moment to recover. Would I ever be able to afford this stuff? With weeks of saving and some sacrifice, sure- but would I want to spend that kind of money? Would dropping that kind of cash be worth it? To answer those questions- I turned to the products themselves.

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Lionesse was gracious enough to send me two full-sized products for my skin type: the facial peel from the Amber Collection ($300) and the Vitamin C serum from the White Pearl Collection ($400) along with detailed directions on how and when to use each. I’ve been testing them out over the past few days, and am ready to weigh in on the results.

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Amber Facial Peel:

“Banish filth and all its cohorts. This gentle formula works to remove toxins, dirt and oil from your skin. Formulated with Vitamin A (Retinyl Palmitate) and Vitamin E (Tocopheryl Acetate), your skin will feel rejuvenated and fresh.” – From Lionesse’s website.

As directed, I’ve used this peel just a couple of times over the past few days (it’s not for everyday use) to clean out my pores and even out my skin’s tone and texture. I had a product similar to this years ago and had loved it- only to find out it had been discontinued when I went to replenish my bottle, and up until now- I’ve been unable to locate anything like it. Using a small amount, I spread the gel-like substance all over my face, and wait about five minutes before I begin to gently massage it with my fingertips in circular motions to exfoliate my skin. Once the peel begins to flake off, I rinse my face with cool water, pat dry with a clean towel- and then moisturize as usual.

Even after only a couple of uses, my skin looks and feels smoother, appears brighter, and even feels a little tighter- which I didn’t think was possible. This product isn’t abrasive at all, which is also a plus for those with sensitive skin. The only downside to this peel, and it’s nothing major- is that some of the flakes that form when massaging it into the skin pre-rinse don’t come off so easily, and have to be picked off prior to moisturizing- which can be a little uncomfortable. Other than that, though- this product has been working well for me and will more than likely become a part of my weekend deep-cleansing regimen.

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White Pearl Vitamin C Serum:

“Unveil your greatest potential. This serum replenishes your skin with vital nutrients to maintain the skin’s youthful appearance and luminescence. This potent product will reduce the evidence of time and wear to create smoother, softer looking skin.” – From Lionesse’s website.

Like the Amber Facial Peel, this highly concentrated serum is not designed for everyday use. I’ve been using this every other night before bed after cleansing my skin and without applying moisturizer afterwards (the serum doesn’t sink into the skin super fast, so extra hydration isn’t really necessary.) When I wake up in the morning after each use, my skin is glowing, and feels really, really soft. Also like the Amber Facial Peel, a little goes a LONG way with this serum- so applying a ton of the product isn’t necessary at all. Only a pump, maybe two- is enough to give your face even coverage.

Side, somewhat unrelated note: this serum smells really, really good- like a mixture of different types of fruit. I’m liking it a lot.

THE VERDICT:

With their chic packaging, interesting gemstone-inspired collection concept, and skin care that has a nice, not-too-thick consistency- Lionesse definitely grabbed my attention. Based purely off of the results I’ve achieved so far- I’m a fan of both of the products they sent me to review. My skin continues to look and feel great as I use the peel and the serum, and with how concentrated they are- both full-sized bottles will last me a long time since I don’t have to apply an excessive amount with each use- and only have to use them a couple of times per week at the most.

Again, the only thing that makes me, and would probably make anyone on a budget wince- is the price per product and the price of an entire collection. Would I re-purchase the peel and the serum? Yes- but probably not for a while and probably not both at the same time- since such an investment ($700) would require some serious saving, and probably a little more overtime at the office. If these products and collections were a little more affordable, I wouldn’t be so hesitant- and would probably go on a bit of a shopping spree- because they ARE great quality and they DO give really good results.

I want to thank Lionesse for being so generous in letting me try these products. The opportunity is greatly appreciated. You can find and connect with Lionesse Gem on Facebook and Twitter!

*Note: All opinions in this post are entirely my own. I do not work for, nor was I paid by Lionesse Gem Skin Care to write these reviews.*

A Visit to Boston Comic-Con ’14!

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I was actually getting ready to photograph the guy on the right when the guy on the left showed up. The two of them were so adorably excited that they had on the same costume. I had to snap a photo of them both!

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I ran into a little trouble in the Artists Alley.

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This guy right here.

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Wilfred!

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I found my twin, Daryl- and big brother Merle!

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SO. MANY. DEADPOOLS. This group just kept getting bigger and bigger with every Deadpool cosplayer that came into the mix. You can’t really see the bubble someone held above them, but it says “I hope no one has the same outfit.”

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The cutest little Sharknado ever.

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And the cutest little Harley!

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Sorry, Rick. No one ever knows where CAR-UHL is.

I thought for sure that after San Diego Comic-Con, I’d be convention’d out through October, at least- but yesterday afternoon I found myself once again donning my Daryl Dixon costume and heading down to check out Boston Comic-Con 2014 at the Seaport World Trade Center for a few hours. The photos above, some taken with my cell phone (it’s very difficult to juggle a cell phone, camera, and a crossbow all at once, by the way,) were some of my favorite cosplays and props that I saw while perusing the exhibitors hall. I ran into a couple of familiar faces- which is always a treat- and I met a lot of really fun people, too. Shout-outs to the other Walking Dead enthusiasts I got to pose with!

The convention was a lot busier than last year’s, which made stopping to shop around with such a large crowd milling about at any given time a little difficult. Ultimately, I didn’t take home anything save for a few pamphlets and flyers. I think it may have been for the best, anyway- since I already spent enough money in California.

There were some great guests in town for B.C.C. this year, including James Marsters, John Barrowman, and Jason Momoa- but the one I was most excited to see was none other than Darryl “DMC” McDaniels from Run D.M.C., who has his own comic book coming out later this year. With good timing on my part, I made it into Darryl’s panel, and with my knowledge of useless movie trivia- I answered a question correctly prior to the panel’s start-time and got to sit in the front row- as well as have a moment with the man himself backstage afterwards. The panel was a lot of fun, and Darryl is such a kind, sweet, down-to-Earth guy. Getting to see him was the highlight of my day.

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Darryl and Daryl.

I had such a great time, but with a fully-loaded work week ahead of me, I’ve got to hang up my angel winged vest (for now!) and get some much needed rest.

On a Personal Note…

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Belchertown, Mass. August 2014.

Belchertown, Mass. August 2014.

When I first started writing Legally Redhead, I had intended for it to be a lifestyle blog: a little bit of everything from my love of makeup, to my travels, to my unusual affection for bad horror movies, to fashion, food, urban exploration and photography- and everything in between. For the most part, I’ve stuck with that formula- pumping out a couple of posts per week that delve into subscription boxes, recipes, time spent with friends in and around town, adventures at comic-conventions (Boston Comic-Con is this weekend!) or in the wilderness, movie reviews and the occasional giveaway. I love blogging. I love connecting with people from all over the world and from all walks of life. I admire and appreciate every single one of you who follow Legally Redhead or read it on a regular basis. It means the world to me and I hope you’re all enjoying the content I deliver as much as I enjoy putting it together.

This being a lifestyle blog, of course- I do have to occasionally blog about some of the more personal aspects of my life- even if they’re not always fun and upbeat. Some of you may remember my post from June of last year where I opened up about my struggle with an anxiety disorder and coping with my father’s death, for example.

Don’t get me wrong- I consider myself so, so blessed that my life is overwhelmingly positive. I have wonderful friends, a loving and supportive family, a great job that I look forward to going to (almost) every day, an adorable and mischievous dog- and financial stability and freedom that I achieved through hard work and perseverance. I am grateful.

So the reason for this post, some of you may be wondering? Well, there’s one aspect of my life I rarely blog about. Sure, I tweet about it sometimes- but the discussions and conversations are usually kept at a minimum and in private (and are usually hysterically vulgar and raunchy depending on the audience and the overall mood at the time.) I’m talking about my romantic and sex life. I consider myself pretty open in that I’m blunt and willing to discuss pretty much anything- but when it comes to publicly declaring my affections for someone I’m spending a lot of time with- especially on my blog- I’m a little more reserved. I do value some privacy, to an extent. It’s always nice to have a little mystery and keep some things to myself.

However I know a few people were concerned and curious with a few brief updates I’d made on social media over the past couple of days, and I wanted to clarify what they meant on here where I have more than 140 characters!

I was recently preparing to make a pretty big change in my life: specifically, I was going to be moving in with a dear, longtime friend of mine that I suppose you could say I was dating depending on how you look at it. I digress. I was on the verge, mere weeks away, from packing up my things and moving out to Western Massachusetts to live in the lovely town of Northampton with said dear friend by September 1st. I had mentioned it in my “In a Nutshell” post for July, and at the time- was nearly done making plans to re-locate. Despite the change in scenery, I was going to keep my job, since I never mind spending time in my car- even when it’s during a commute (that, and I can’t completely leave the city behind!) Ultimately, I’d like to live in San Diego- but this move seemed like a step in the right direction.

I was nervous, definitely frazzled- but excited nonetheless. I love the area- which is always buzzing with activity and has so many unique nooks and crannies to discover and explore, is a forty minute drive away from my mom and older brothers- and an hour and a half away from my friends. I was eager to paint, redecorate, cook in a new kitchen, and do all the fun things that typically come with getting a new place. More than anything, I was positively elated at the idea of living with someone I know, trust, and care very deeply for in a cozy, chic apartment downtown.

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Belchertown, Mass. August 2014.

Unfortunately, my guy-friend and would-have-been roommate received a once in a lifetime temporary job offer out of state earlier this week, and accepted it- which is not surprising at all since he had been holding out hope for it. The move could have still happened for me, since living in a semi-new town on my own for a few months until he returned to the area didn’t seem too terrible- but the job has the potential to become permanent after the trial period is up- meaning that I may never see him again, and if I do- it won’t be for a very, very long time. Not exactly comfortable with looking for roommates on Craigslist (nobody can fault me for that one,) and not knowing anyone in my current area who would be eager to drop whatever they have going on to move an hour or so West on such short notice- I begrudgingly had to give up what would have been our apartment and scrap my plans to move while preparing myself to say goodbye to my friend when he leaves in a couple of weeks.

I’m hurt, sure. Disappointed? Absolutely- maybe even a little angry (mostly because of the disappointment and the fact that I had really, really wanted to get new furniture. Argh!) but I’m trying to keep my head up besides the setback and continue moving forward. I’m happy for my friend. I’ll miss him, but I know he’s going to be a tremendous success in his new endeavors.

As for me- it looks like I’ll be staying right where I am for now, which isn’t a bad thing at all. I’d still like to re-locate to the Northampton area eventually, maybe with more time and preparation. It won’t happen overnight- but I’m confident I can make it work sooner than later.

And that’s it- the disastrous failed moving debacle in all it’s frustrating glory! My apologies if I’ve been aloof or seemed like a bit of a Debbie Downer over the past few days to anyone! I’m just in the process of bouncing back from this minor setback.

I do want to say a big thank you to those who had reached out to me when they heard the news and attempted to cheer me up or take my mind off of it all together (usually by forwarding hilarious .gifs to my inbox.) You guys are the best!

xox

The Life Aquatic.

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The last time I went to Mystic Aquarium, I don’t think I’d turned 21 yet- and I also think I may have called out of my job at the time just so that I could make the trip to Connecticut with some of my friends (who also may have called out of their jobs, too. None of us were exactly responsible back then.) Before that, spending a day in Mystic was a family Summertime tradition for years- only gradually fading out as my brothers and I got old enough where we could bring ourselves or go with friends whenever we felt like it.

Much like Roger Williams Park Zoo’s efforts, Mystic has the distinction of not only being a great place to view so many species of fish and sea mammals in one convenient location- but the facility is also a leader in oceanic research and in the education of how to care for and protect the marine life within and around the waters. Their conservation efforts over the years have been really admirable- and there are so many ways visitors and locals can get involved to help, too.

This past Sunday, having a lazy afternoon with no concrete plans- my friend Stef and I decided to head down to Mystic for the remainder of the day (coincidentally enough, Stef was with me during the last pilgrimage there before I turned 21, too.) to look at the penguins, sharks, and seals. The place was crawling with temperamental toddlers, so we didn’t stay long- but we had a nice time for the couple of hours we were there- especially in the “Titanic” inspired exhibit within the indoor 4-D theater area. I’m not sure how long that particular exhibit will be on display, but it’s worth checking out if you’re in the area and need to escape screaming children for 15-20 minutes.

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Directly across from Mystic Aquarium is Olde Mistick Village, which was also a yearly stop for my family and I when I was a kid. OMV, which hasn’t changed much over the years- is just a series of pathways, small restaurants, and shops. When Stef and I left the aquarium, we headed over and perused a few different clothing boutiques, natural remedy shops, and even a store that specialized in Wicca/Pagan materials until we started getting hungry and headed towards downtown Mystic to grab some food.

Unlike the area on the Mystic River that I’m most familiar with (Chelsea,) downtown Mystic, CT. is charming and full of activity. While we were stopped in traffic, both Stef and I couldn’t help but comment in disbelief at how cute it all was. I’d like to go back before the Summer is over and take a few more photos of the area before it gets blanketed by snow- and check out the farmer’s market I saw advertised on a banner.

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It took a little searching, and more than one missed turn, but Stef and I eventually found a spot she’d located on her phone and thought we should try for dinner on Sunday night: Captain Daniel Packer Inne, which as you can probably guess- is an old inn turned restaurant/pub. Besides the really cool interior, the place also had some of the best food I’ve ever tasted- including but not limited to the salted caramel gelato I dove into when I was done chowing down on dinner. So, so good.

The entire afternoon/evening was such a nice time- such a wonderful way to end the weekend (and technically begin the week.)

GLOSSYBOX: July 2014 Review.

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I had anticipated my July GlossyBox arriving while I was in San Diego, what with it being close to the end of the month and all- and I was right- which is a shame, considering I could have gladly used some of the samples I received while on the West Coast- especially the body cream and GlamGlow mask.

I digress. The fine folks over at GlossyBox couldn’t have possibly predicted I’d be out of state when they shipped July’s goods, so I was content with trying them out when I got home. It’s better late than never, after all.

WHAT I RECEIVED:

Malin+Goetz Mojito Lip Balm

GlamGlow YOUTHMUD Tinglexfoliate Treatment

Mitchell and Peach Body Cream

Philip B. pH Restorative Detangling Toning Mist

Skin Inc. Skin Supplement Bar Custom-Blended Brightening Serum

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Product # 1: Malin+Goetz Mojito Lip Balm ($12)

I had actually received a full-sized tube of this lip balm in an Ipsy bag back in January, where I was left on the fence as to whether or not I’d purchase it in the future. Since then, my feelings haven’t changed much. It’s a good, moisturizing, long-lasting balm with a non-sticky consistency- but the tube is small- a little too small for $12. Oddly enough, the sample I received in July’s GlossyBox wasn’t full-sized, but still had a more convenient applicator tip than the one that arrived in January. If there’s logic there- I’m failing to see it.

Would I Purchase?: Maybe (again!) If I keep receiving this product, I’ll never have to purchase it- but I’m still indecisive as to whether or not I would actually spend the cash if and when the time comes. I don’t mind splurging now and then, but $12 for .35 ounces is just a little excessive, in my opinion. It’s a good balm- it is- but it doesn’t have a “wow” factor for me. I get the same results by using Carmex, which is a fraction of the price for the same exact amount of product per tube.

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Product # 2: GlamGlow YOUTHMUD Tinglexfoliate Treatment ($69)

In the GlamGlow collection, I’ve owned the SUPERMUD Clearing Treatment, a mask that has given me phenomenal results every time I’ve used it- which is once every couple of weeks to keep my pores clear. I’ve seen the YOUTHMUD Tinglexfoliate Treatment before, and had been tempted to try it- but was reluctant to drop the $69 in case it didn’t work as well as SUPERMUD, or worse- caused some kind of reaction. July’s GlossyBox had me covered, though- offering me a nice sample size of the product. My skin, still adjusting to airplane cabin pressure, West Coast-then-East Coast climates, and the fake blood from my Daryl Dixon cosplay- was in desperate need of deeper cleansing and extra exfoliation- so I broke out the Tinglexfoliate to work it’s magic.

The name doesn’t lie. Shortly after applying this mask all over my face, it definitely tingled as it dried. What I didn’t expect were the pieces of green tea leaves that were mixed into the formula and stuck in little clumps all over my skin. I did a double take on more than one occasion when I noticed one on my cheek or along my forehead. When the clay finally dried and it came time to rinse the mask off, I rubbed the then-dampened exfoliants into my skin with circular motions- and I could definitely feel them. They were pretty abrasive.

Once my face was gently pat dry, my skin looked and felt smoother, cleaner, and clearer. I followed up with a lightweight moisturizer to prevent my face from drying out- and I’m quite pleased with the results!

Would I Purchase?: Yes! I think when I’ve finished the last of my tub of SUPERMUD, I’ll be making the switch to YOUTHMUD to use as a weekly/bi-weekly treatment. It cleans out my pores the same way that SUPERMUD does, but has more exfoliation- which I find I need every now and then. Both treatments are the same price, too- so I wouldn’t be spending more for the YOUTHMUD, which is always a plus.

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Product # 3: Mitchell and Peach Body Cream ($61)

I’ve never been to Kent, but from the way a lot of beauty product companies based in or around there describe it,  I envision beautiful rolling hills, lush greenery, picturesque sunsets, and large, beautiful homes surrounded by quaint little communities (basically any of the scenes from the 2005 version of “Pride & Prejudice,” really.) I’ve wondered if the majority of Kent is self-aware of their status as a beacon of luxury, and if so- what they think of it.

Mitchell and Peach are one of those companies, and their body cream- packed with vitamins, pure honey, organic cocoa, floral essential oils, and shea butter- is touted as being “from the Mitchells’ fifth-generation estate in Kent, England.”

The body cream smells strong at first- with the floral oils taking over- but it eventually fades as the cream is rubbed in, after which more of the honey can be detected. Texture wise, the cream is nice. It’s not too heavy and yet not too watery- and it quickly sinks into the skin without leaving behind residue or any kind of greasiness. The results are long lasting, too. It’s a great everyday body moisturizer.

Would I Purchase?: Yes! I love body moisturizers that don’t take forever to rub into my skin but don’t deprive me of hydration, either. This body cream is lightweight, but it packs a punch- leaving my skin soft, smooth, and (eventually) lightly fragranced for hours. $61 might be considered a high price point, but this really is a good product, and one I’d purchase to treat myself- or give as a gift to someone else.

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Product # 4: Philip B. pH Restorative Detangling Toning Mist ($24)

As someone with naturally thick, curly hair- I can recall many memories from my childhood of tearing up while my mother frantically saturated me with Johnson’s detangling spray and tried to un-knot my poor, frizzy ends before sending me off to school. Thankfully, my hair has become more manageable with time and practice- and products for curly hair have come a very long way. This milky textured, color-safe leave-in detangling spray from Philip B. is a perfect example of that. Described as having the ability to “adjust the pH of tap water to seal the cuticle of your hair, for a remarkably smooth, shiny finish,” (science!) this spray is also infused with apple cider vinegar- which is right up there with coconut oil in being a natural, multi-purpose product with numerous benefits.

The problem with apple cider vinegar, however- is that it doesn’t exactly smell good- and unfortunately for this hair mist- it’s ALL you can smell when you’re spritzing it into your locks. Yes, it goes away- more quickly when you begin to style your hair as usual with your everyday products, but the first whiff of the stuff is off putting, to say the least.

In terms of results: I didn’t see any. My hair didn’t look any more or less frizz-free and shiny than usual. It didn’t de-tangle anymore than when I use my leave in oils and products. I can’t say for certain if this is a product that would work better on straighter hair- but for me- it didn’t do much of anything.

Would I Purchase?: No. Putting aside the eye-watering smell of vinegar omitting from this product- it did not give me noticeable results, and after using it a few times to see if I could detect a gradual difference- I eventually went back to using my regular products and skipped over this one entirely.

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Product # 5: Skin Inc. Skin Supplement Bar Custom-Blended Brightening Serum ($45)

I will openly admit that when I first laid eyes on this serum, my initial thought was “I’m going to feel like a chemist when I use this.”

Skin Inc. is a pretty interesting concept, because rather than just mass producing serums or creams that target any one specific product for any one specific skin type- and therefore leaving out other people that don’t fit into that bracket- they also fine-tune their products to an individual based on the person’s needs and concerns by using their SKINCheck identification system and creating a personalized product that is then mailed directly to that person’s address. Their serums are pure, highly-concentrated, and lightweight on the face.

In July’s GlossyBox, I received the custom “Blended Brightening Serum,” and applied as directed- after cleansing my skin and before my moisturizer. The serum spread evenly and sank into my skin very quickly- so using a lot wasn’t necessary. I noticed even after putting my makeup on that the texture of my skin looked smoother, and upon closer inspection- that I seemed to have developed more of a natural, healthy glow.

Would I Purchase?: Yes! Even though I really enjoyed the results I got with the “Blended Brightening Serum,” and would purchase it in the future- I’d actually like to try custom-creating my own serum through Skin Inc.’s lab, too. Brightness isn’t necessarily a concern for me at this point in my life- so it’d be interesting to develop a pre-moisturizer serum to target problematic areas: i.e. the occasional breakout, dry patches, etc. I do think the serum I received in July’s GlossyBox is lovely for every day use, of course.

Overall, I was pleased with July’s GlossyBox. While the detangling spray fell flat and the lip balm didn’t exactly blow my mind- the other three deluxe samples were a lot of fun to try and are definitely products I would purchase in the future.

July 2014: In a Nutshell.

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I just got this in my e-mail. Completely forgot I had posed for this in California!

Hello (again!) from Massachusetts. Despite some unusual weather- including a tornado that touched down not too far away a couple of days ago- I’ve made it home safe and sound from California and have spent the past few days recuperating from jet lag, returning to the office to get back to work, and fighting off a mild case of “convention cough” that showed up following my long weekend at San Diego Comic-Con.

Indeed, SDCC was- without question- the highlight of July. Months worth of anticipation, scheduling, and costume preparation since early Spring led up to the big event and paid off with an unforgettable experience that I’ll cherish forever. I covered pretty much everything in my last few entries from SoCal- but there really aren’t enough words to properly describe just how incredible and chaotic (but still fun!) the weekend was. Now I can see why people practically fight to the death to get tickets/badges- and although I’m still a little too exhausted to participate in any pre-registration bloodshed anytime soon- I really hope I get to return again next year.

The view from my hotel room in San Diego. 7/26/14.

The view from my hotel room in San Diego. 7/26/14.

Apart from San Diego Comic-Con, July was a lovely month- mostly spent at the beach and cookouts in the company of friends when I wasn’t packing or putting the final touches on costumes. There’s just a few more weeks of Summer left (NOOOOOOOOOO!) which means I’ve got to get in as much time as I can at the ocean before it gets too cold to even think about heading to the coast again. I’m also in the process of planning a – gasp! – possible move to Western Massachusetts in the Fall, which will undoubtedly take up a lot of time, too- but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

As much fun as July was and as many strides as I’ve taken in recent weeks towards big changes in the future- the month was, unfortunately- not without tragedy. A good friend of mine from high school passed away recently at the entirely too young age of 27, which came as a complete shock to myself and many others in my graduating class, and was a sobering reminder of how short and precious life can be. Tomorrow morning I’ll be heading back to my old town to pay my respects with other mutual friends. It’s not the most ideal way to begin August by any means, but I’m trying to find comfort in the fact that there will be so many wonderful stories shared from our younger years and about what an incredibly kind, fun, easy-going, and genuinely decent guy our dearly departed was. It’s nice to reminisce and talk about the good times- because it helps get you through the bad ones.

xox

Notes from SDCC: Day 4.

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I am LOVING these 'Game of Thrones' pedicabs!

I am LOVING these ‘Game of Thrones’ pedicabs!

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It's blurry, mainly because I was fangirling SO HARD.

It’s blurry, mainly because I was fangirling SO HARD.

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I’m taking a break from packing up my suitcase for my return flight to recap the fourth and final day of San Diego Comic-Con. That’s right- the long weekend of costumes, panels, surprise guests, and very long lines- has come to a close!

I spent the first half of yesterday in the exhibitors hall, purchasing gifts for some of my family and friends back home and snapping photos of the amazing cosplays and props on display- before bringing my loot back to my hotel room and returning to the convention in my Daryl Dixon costume again (it just didn’t feel right to end the weekend not dressed up!)

So what can I say about the overall experience of SDCC? Well for starters, I had an incredible time. As crazy and as hectic as it was at certain moments- I’m so happy and so grateful I had the opportunity to come to this beautiful city I love so dearly and see and experience as much as I did. I met wonderful, talented, fun, and creative people from all over- some of whom I’ve since traded contact information with and hope to see again and possibly collaborate with at future conventions.

I got to participate in awesome panels and see exclusive snippets and sneak peeks of upcoming projects in movies, television, and video games. I’m so psyched for the movie “Air,” and for Marvel’s “Agent Carter,” just to name a few. I’m still reeling from the fact that I was sitting mere feet away from Robert Kirkman himself. It all feels so surreal!

I also got some really awesome merchandise- some of it limited edition- that I can’t wait to display and wear proudly once I’m back on the East Coast. But I’ll get to that in a bit…

Would I come back for a second round of San Diego Comic-Con next year? Absolutely- and I hope I get the chance to do so when the time for pre-registration comes around. I definitely learned some tips and tricks for 2015 if I am fortunate enough to score weekend badges again, and I think they’d be beneficial to anyone looking to attempt SDCC:

1. Carefully plan what panels you want to see, and then prioritize them from there based on what you absolutely must be in attendance for and what can be skipped and watched in a designated “replay room” later on. There’s a good chance you may have to sacrifice seeing one or two panels over the course of the weekend since many of them run so close together and the rooms may not be located close to one another for convenient access. You also have to take into consideration that many panels have lines- long ones- so you’ve got to be prepared to do some waiting and miss out on some things from time to time to see the stuff you REALLY want to be present for..

2. Be sure to eat. Since lines at SDCC aren’t just limited to panels and merchandise booths (ask any of us who wanted to get Starbucks throughout the days in the convention center,) I highly recommend eating before you arrive- not only to save yourself from yet more waiting around, but to avoid being so hungry/thirsty that you end up losing your place in line to run and get something to snack on. I made the mistake of not eating much before I showed up for the first couple of days of the convention- and by the time the afternoon rolled around- I was feeling woozy. Bring a snack with you to hold you over until you leave to get a real meal. Security is pretty lenient when it comes to food and beverages.

3. Unless you plan on camping outside Hall H at all hours of the night to get into one of the bigger, more popular panels (“The Walking Dead,” “Game of Thrones,” and Marvel, for example-) check out the designated replay rooms I mentioned earlier. Some of the nearby hotels offer screenings of re-plays following the biggest panels for those who couldn’t make it into Hall H. It’s less crowded and there are no sleeping bags required.

4. Explore your surroundings! I had mentioned when I first arrived here that SO many places in downtown San Diego get into the Comic-Con spirit and have special events, parties, and promotions. If you want a break from walking the convention center- do some digging and head to the Gaslamp District! You’ll never know what or who you’ll see. Plus, you may even score some cool stuff!

5. It’s crowded. Just remember to breathe. There are times, especially in the exhibitors hall- where it is wall to wall people and moving more than a few inches at a time feels like a daunting, maybe even impossible task- as people stop to snap pics, pose, stare at merchandise, or try to find the end of a line. If you get claustrophobic- just try to breathe and relax. You won’t be trapped in that same spot for the rest of eternity. I promise.

And with all that being said- let me show you the stuff I got! Not pictured are the gifts for my friends and family- since those are already carefully packed away. This stuff is alllllllllll mine.

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First up, from the Archie booth- I snagged a copy of “Afterlife with Archie” and “The Best of Betty and Veronica.” Afterlife, which briefly features my girl Cheryl Blossom, is a little dark and twisted- which is right up my alley- and the B&V book is a shot of nostalgia that I’ll probably be reading on the plane in a few hours.

Funko POP! Figurines hold a special place in my heart and around my place, mostly because of how friggin’ adorable they are- so when I saw this Alcide figurine from “True Blood,” complete with abs- I had to buy it. I mean, really- look at it:

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Way too adorable.

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From Skybound Entertainment, I snagged this adult-sized version of the wolf paw print t-shirt worn by Carl Grimes in “The Walking Dead.” I figure all I need is the oversized sheriff’s hat and I’m good to go.

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From Her Universe, the makers of my Captain America cardigan I love so very much- I picked up this Black Widow jacket to wear in the Fall. It fits perfectly and is so, so comfortable and cozy. Plus- I feel like a bad ass in it.

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And lastly, from Marvel- I couldn’t leave without getting some Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes love. This hoodie is MASSIVE on me- but I don’t even care. It looks cool and it’s really, really soft and warm. As much as I dislike the cold weather- I’m rather looking forward to wearing this out and about when the temperatures begin to drop.

And that’s everything! Getting it all into my suitcase has been surprisingly easy- although closing my suitcase and zipping it shut might be a whole other story- one best reserved for tomorrow morning after I’ve had a good night’s sleep under my belt.

So long, San Diego! See you all back on the East Coast!

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Notes from SDCC: Days 2 and 3.

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I can’t believe that another two days at San Diego Comic-Con have passed already! Be it the frenzy on the exhibit floor or the mad rush to get to panels- but it feels like it’s gone by so fast. I’m exhausted- definitely having a blast, no question- but exhausted just the same! As I’m writing this from my hotel room, I’ve got my feet up and am attempting to decompress from the whirlwind of the past couple of days before I try to get some sleep and prepare for the final day of SDCC.

Friday, the second day of the convention, saw me break out my Daryl Dixon cosplay- complete with (an unloaded) crossbow, tattered jeans, his signature angel wing vest, and a good amount of fake blood to give me that nice, dirty, post-apocalyptic bad ass look. I just FELT cooler when I had it all on, and some fellow TWD fans at the convention center really seemed to appreciate the effort, too- which was super exciting and made it all worth it.

Although I would have loved to have made it into the actual “Walking Dead” panel that morning, there was no way I was willing to camp outside Hall H at 3 a.m., and therefore I had to catch the replay at a nearby hotel following it’s recording. I did see the season five trailer, however- and once again- October can’t get here fast enough.

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Despite Hall H being filled to capacity pretty much 99.9% of the time, I did manage to catch some less cut-throat panels in Ballroom 20 that I had been really excited for on Friday. The first, a panel by Entertainment Weekly called “Brave New Warriors,” featured actors Jon Bernthal, Tom Mison, Theo Rossi, Freddie Highmore, and Brenton Thwaites. It was ridiculously funny (Tom Mison especially!) and was followed up by Marvel’s Television panel- which offered some information about the highly-anticipated second season of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and a glimpse into their upcoming new series- which I CANNOT WAIT to see- “Agent Carter.”

I had seen the star of “Agent Carter,” Hayley Atwell, at the Marvel booth earlier that afternoon- and she’s so, so stunning.

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After the convention on Friday, I washed the fake blood off of myself and changed into something a little more appropriate to go see a comedy show/live episode of Comedy Central’s “@midnight” with Chris Hardwick at the Balboa Theatre. Although I’ve walked by the theater no less than a hundred thousand times during my stays in the city- I’d never actually been inside of it ’til I saw the show. It’s a beautiful building.

And @midnight? Hilarious, as usual. I had tears running down my face from laughing so hard- and the live tweet-a-thon that was projected on a screen in front of the crowd prior to the show was a nice touch. #butts

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Yesterday, the third day of San Diego Comic-Con, was also the day I wore the last of my three cosplay costumes. Probably the most intricate, difficult bodysuit to put together, what with all the leaves and hot glue gun burns it took to get it just right- I’m quite pleased with my Poison Ivy costume. Not pictured, since I couldn’t take photos/text/function with them on, were the leaf-covered gloves I carried with me around the convention center for photos:

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Just to give you all an idea of the amount of leaves this took!

I have to say, as someone who has never cosplayed before-  I really, truly enjoyed it- and I don’t think I did half-bad for a first-timer! I felt confident enough in each costume- and the responses I got from other attendees and staff was overwhelmingly positive! I’ll definitely be wearing these costumes again for future conventions- and have already started thinking of ways to improve them and am coming up with new ideas, as well.

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Yesterday was another morning through afternoon of posing and panels. There was one in particular I really wanted to see, as did a lot of other people- and to ensure I got a space- I took a lesson from Hall H and showed up a few hours early. It worked in my favor, though- not only because I got in and found myself a good seat- but because before my panel began, I got to see James Spader’s Q&A regarding the show “The Blacklist,” which I’ve heard good things about but have never seen. Everyone in the crowd was also given one of these fedoras, in the style worn by James Spader’s character, Reddington.

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So, what was the panel I had so patiently waited to see? Why, Robert Kirkman’s Skybound Entertainment panel, of course! Robert Kirkman is a wonderful, yet evil mastermind- who has both improved/destroyed my life with his “Walking Dead” franchise, so it was such a treat to be able to be in the same room with him and David Alpert and listen to them discuss updates in other aspects of TWD world (i.e.- Telltale’s “Walking Dead” video game,) rather than just being limited to discussing the show.

Norman Reedus, forever my mancrush and still such a lovely human being- was also in attendance to discuss his upcoming movie with Skybound, entitled “Air.” We were shown a trailer- and it looks really, really intense. I’m excited to see it.

The panel was one of my favorites, and not just because of the content discussed or because Norman Reedus is very attractive- but because it was funny, moderated fantastically, and the questions some excited fans asked were a lot of fun to hear.

I had wanted to stick around the convention center for the “American Horror Story: Coven” panel shortly thereafter- but the line was insanely long and I needed to get my uncomfortable boots off. I begrudgingly made my way back to my hotel, which actually provided an unexpected surprise: I saw Orlando Bloom just hanging out.

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Wild!

Today is the last day of San Diego Comic-Con, and my full report and summary will be updated after that. Most of the panels are more family and children-oriented today, which means I’ll be roaming the convention center one final time (and not in costume) to snap photos of any exhibits or cosplays I didn’t get the chance to photograph over the past few days.

I can’t believe it’s almost over!

Notes from SDCC: Preview Night and Day 1.

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I have arrived! I’m here! And it feels like I hit the ground running the moment my plane landed this past Tuesday afternoon. Yes, I’ve reached the bustling center of all things fandom-related and I am right smack in the middle of San Diego Comic-Con! With three days left of the convention, I thought I’d use some of my downtime to unwind and recap my very first day (and night!) of SDCC before I dive head-first into what is shaping up to be a really busy second day.

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As stated previously in this post, I arrived in San Diego late Tuesday afternoon. My hotel, the same one I typically stay at whenever I’m in town, is right off the Gaslamp District- which in turn is literally minutes away from the convention center. As I approached my hotel via cab from the airport, it was clear to see that Comic-Con wasn’t just limited to the convention center- but had extended well into downtown San Diego, as well. So many of the buildings were decorated- some elaborately- to advertise shows, games, and movies that were being predominantly featured at the con. Come to find out, many local bars and restaurants in the Gaslamp District were and are having their own special promotions, contests, and previews for convention attendees and locals alike.

My hotel is also located right across the street from Petco Park, which just held a Nerdist-sponsored laser tag tournament and will be transformed into “The Walking Dead: Escape” today through Saturday. Literally EVERYWHERE is celebrating SDCC!

Wednesday, having most of the morning and afternoon freed up until the doors opened for attendees with consolidated admission (like mine,) to pick up their badges- I managed to have a lovely lunch and car ride around town with my good friend Duncan, who I haven’t seen since the last time I was in town in September 2013. I love him!

When it did eventually come time to pick up my badge, I was also provided with a detailed, elaborate guide to all events, panels, guests, artists, locations, times, etc. to the convention- a souvenir book- and a durable and oversized backpack to carry my stuff in. Since it clashes with my costumes, I’ve opted to use it to store my belongings I picked up at the convention for the flight home, instead.

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Batsuit nipples!

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With my consolidated weekend pass, I also had access to Wednesday night’s preview night- where I spent the majority of the evening within the exhibit hall- checking out different vendors and artists- and getting a head start on what I can only assume will be a bit of a weekend shopping spree (my collective haul will be shared in a later post!) While there were some panels going on, I think it was best for me to get my bearings in the exhibit room- which was packed in a matter of minutes- to sort of get used to the crowds and figure out where everything was. I also saw the first of many amazing cosplays!

My favorite part of the hall, however, had to be the re-creation of the tunnel leading to a replica of the Terminus shrine (and of course, it featured some very convincing walkers!) to promote the upcoming fifth season of “The Walking Dead.” It was so well done and so detailed!

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Now, with this being my first ever San Diego Comic-Con experience, I thought I’d make it a weekend of firsts and try my hand at cosplaying- a hobby I often enjoyed watching others participate in but had been too indecisive, and frankly- shy- to try myself.

With yesterday being the first official day of the convention- I decided to start slow, breaking in my Cheryl Blossom costume. Surprisingly enough- I got some love (especially from the folks at the Archie Comics booth!) and even had a few people stop me to take a photo with/of me- proving once again that the “Archie” series is still classic and that Cheryl is an awesome, recognizable, underrated character.

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This was made entirely out of Lego blocks!

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Pam & Cheryl/Carol/Charlene!

Pam & Cheryl/Carol/Charlene!

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Again, being new to the SDCC scene- I took it slow yesterday, mapping out locations and even managing to catch a couple of panels from Riot Games and Blizzard Entertainment before I stepped out to have a couple of beers with a friend.

Today I’ll be going into Daryl Dixon mode- and I can’t wait to snap a few photos once the costume is on and ready. I worked so hard on everything I brought with me to wear and display, and it feels so awesome to finally be able to do it! Also, now that I (sort of) have my bearings- I’m planning on making an attempt to catch a few panels I know for sure I don’t want to miss. There’s already a lot of people camped outside the coveted Hall H to establish their positions within the room- but we’ll see how it goes!

Stay tuned for more updates!

Prepare for Takeoff…

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Well, it’s finally here. The costumes are packed. The props are prepped. My suitcase is by the door, and all I have to do is throw in my toothbrush in the morning before I dash out to the airport- and from there I will be en route to my week-long vacation- and San Diego Comic-Con! I’m excited, and giddy, and nervous all at once. Despite the fact that I fly fairly frequently- I still get a little jittery prior to takeoff. Luckily, I’m flying with Virgin America (for the very first time!) and I hear they’re a lot of fun. It also helps that I’m fully prepared for my flight and have my carry-on ready to go.

There was a time, in the not too distant past, where I would be the woman in line at the airport at 6:30 a.m. waiting for my turn to step through the security checkpoint in my six inch heels, a full face of makeup, and carrying a bag that was so weighed down with stuff I didn’t even need to bring on board that by the time we took off- my shoulder was throbbing from holding it up for so long.

I always wanted to step off the plane looking like I’d just come off a runway at Fashion Week- but I consistently never took into consideration how the high altitudes, cabin pressure, what I ate/drank on the plane, or simply falling asleep and unconsciously touching my fully dolled-up face while I snoozed would affect my skin, my hair, and my overall feeling of comfort and wellness. My flight would touchdown in whatever location I was headed to- and I would start towards the baggage claim- typically looking disheveled, sleepy, and feeling very hungry and/or dehydrated.

Thankfully, over time I’ve tweaked and developed a pre-flight and “carry-on” system that works well for me. My bag is lighter, I’m more comfortable during the flight, and when I get off the plane- I don’t feel like a frazzled, exhausted, cranky mess.

For starters, I dress a little more casual. Don’t get me wrong- wear what you like and what you feel good in, and if you can rock stiletto heels at the airport and you feel fierce as hell doing it- I say all the more power to you. But for me? I opt for sneakers or flats, looser fitting denim or yoga pants, and cotton t-shirts that are just a couple of sizes too big on me so they aren’t clinging to me for hours. This is especially helpful if I nod off during the flight. I can sleep in peace.

Since I typically fly in the morning, I eat a big breakfast before I leave my place. This prevents me from grabbing something unhealthy (and usually overpriced,) while I wait at my gate. If I have a coffee, I make sure it’s well before I reach the airport so I can get my caffeine kick without amplifying the cabin pressure induced skin dryness as the plane ascends.

I keep my makeup simple: BB creams or tinted moisturizers- products that will give me a little coverage, maybe even a subtle glow, and ample hydration without making me feel oily or look shiny. A little mascara. A little lip balm- and I’m feeling fresh-faced enough to fly.

Of course, I do bring a few touch-up items in my carry-on, which is what this whole post was initially about- what’s in my carry-on?

The Necessities:

My wallet, of course. I double check no less than ten times to make sure I have my license, my debit card, my cash, and yes- my Starbucks card.

My phone. I don’t usually keep my phone on, or even in airplane mode during a flight- but when I have a layover- it’s nice to have on me so I can send desperate texts of airport boredom to friends.

My camera. I’m not a shutterbug on the plane by any means, but I rarely leave home without it and I always like to have it close by in case there’s something worth documenting.

In-Flight Entertainment:

I’ve had my little green iPod for six years, I believe. It’s been with me wherever I’ve go, be it on a plane, on a train, in my car, or when I go for a walk. I like to load it up with new albums and podcasts prior to traveling to ensure I have hours worth of material to listen to.

Books & magazines [ not pictured. ] Although I don’t like spending money at airports, if my airline doesn’t offer a movie or some form of distraction- I’ll usually pick up a couple of magazines or an interesting looking book at the gift shop prior to boarding to pass the time if and when my iPod battery eventually dies out on me.

Nourishment:

So even though there’s a water bottle in the photo, TSA guidelines prohibit people from bringing drinks or other large amounts of liquids from outside the airport through security, but once you’ve passed the checkpoint- you can stock up prior to taking off. I used to sip a Venti coffee during flights, but I noticed my skin felt extremely dry by the time I landed. Now, I grab 1-2 large water bottles and drink those during my flight, instead, to keep myself hydrated and refreshed.

When it comes to snacking, airline peanuts are all well and good- but I prefer something that will hold me over so I don’t go craving-crazy once I land. Granola bars or dried fruit always seem to find their way into my carry-on bag.

I can’t fly without having chewing gum- not only because I like having minty fresh breath at all times, but because the chewing sensation keeps my ears from popping in high altitudes.

Fashionable:

It doesn’t matter if you’re flying to/over/through the tropics- airplanes are cold. As someone who is completely opposed to frigid temperatures, I always bring a cardigan or a light jacket with me when I fly. I’m currently loving my Captain America cardigan, courtesy of the fine folks over at HER UNIVERSE. This one is making the journey to San Diego with me- especially for Comic-Con!

I never leave home without my sunglasses, and my sunglasses never seem to come in handy more than they do when I’m trying to catch a nap during travel. These cat-eye shades are perfect for when I want to rest my eyes and don’t want the sun to disturb me while I’m up in the air.

Beauty Touch-Ups:

When it’s approaching time to land, I usually bust out a light brown/taupe eyeliner and highlighter pencil to quickly give my eyes a little pop of color and/or a much needed “pick me up” (especially if there’s been turbulence- in which case my mascara will almost certainly end up running down my cheeks and I’ll need to fix my face- and fast.)

I also bring a moisturizing lip balm with me to keep the cabin pressure from drying out and cracking my pout. For tomorrow’s flight, I’ll be accompanied by this pink Pixi balm- which I reviewed in my most recent Ipsy Bag post!

Dryness is a reoccurring theme when I talk about flying- and it doesn’t just affect my face or my lips. My hands and elbows can also get a little patchy after a lot of time up in the sky- so I always pack a small, TSA-approved tube of lotion or tin of balm to occasionally apply to problem areas so my skin is moisturized and glowing when I land.

All of these products are lightweight, will fit comfortably in my bag, and won’t weigh me down when I’m making my way through security, to my gate, onto the plane, and then to the baggage claim after I land. I’ll be able to rest easy and enjoy my flight knowing I have the essentials and some helpful products with me (and that everything else is stored safely in my luggage!)

And that’s what will be in my carry-on tomorrow morning! I’m planning on updating from California as Comic-Con gets underway, and will most certainly be sharing my completed costumes on here. I’ll also be frequently updating my Instagram (HERE) and Twitter account (HERE) during my trip!

See you all on the West Coast!

xx