Throughout the year, bloggers (myself included) often share gift guides. I tend to like these guides because they give me ideas; introduce me to new brands & products; and frankly, I’m a voyeur — I love to see what other people are buying. However, gift guides often give me pause for a couple of reasons. First, does the blogger only want me to buy an item because she is going to make a commission off of the sale? And second, in the age of Pinterest & Etsy, just because a blogger “loves” an item doesn’t mean that she has ever actually used it or even seen it in-person.

That said, this is my series called, Things We Love (and USE). The emphasis being that these are things that we both love and actually use on a regular basis. Here are a few things that are currently making our lives a little bit easier, comfier, and more beautiful.

Note: This edition consists of all beauty products. After three years of just not spending much time on myself and my appearance, at all, I’ve finally started to take care of me again. I’ve been experimenting with some new products, because — let’s face it — the definitions of “beauty” and “prep time” change a lot once you’re a mom. 😉

Things We Love and Use // livelovesimple.com

1. Big Sexy Hair — Root Pump Spray — I am obsessed with this stuff, I can’t even explain it. I should, however, note that I bought it accidentally and I don’t actually use it for its intended purpose. I must have been in a rush when I grabbed it from the shelf. I was actually looking for a regular hair spray. I’d heard good things about this brand so I guess I just grabbed the first thing that looked like hairspray to me. When I used it for the first time I realized that it comes out as a spray but then it turns into a mousse. I also realized, upon looking at the label, that it’s not hairspray at all. I really had no clue what “root pump” was anyway so I just went ahead and used it the way I had intended to, to style and scrunch my hair after the shower.

Well, low and behold, the miracle of all hair miracles took place. After it had dried completely, my hair basically transformed into the most beautiful wavy coif imaginable. I don’t even know how to explain it. It almost turns my hair into ringlets as if I used a curling wand or something. It’s still soft, but it’s beautiful and voluminous. I’ve been using it for a couple of months now and the results are magic every time, even on the grossest, humid days it makes my hair beautiful and frizz-free. Hallelujah. This can of… hair stuff(?) is my new best friend. That said, I can’t really attest to its value as “root pump” because I just use it as mousse. Here are a couple of Instagram selfies to illustrate: one // two // three.

2. eos Lip Balm — I am such a lip gloss/lip balm addict. I never leave the house without something for my lips in my pocket. I’ve tried lots of options over my lifetime and I’ve had a few favorites. At the top of my list currently are the eos balms which you’ve probably heard of or seen. They work really well. They give my lips just a little bit of shine and color. They smell and taste amazing. And best of all — my number one requirement for lip balm — when you apply it lasts for hours and hours. I also find that the eos formula nourishes my lips so that even if I don’t put anything on them the day after, they stay hydrated which is pretty incredible as my lips used to get chapped if I didn’t put balm on them every day.

3. MAC Concealer — Unfortunately I was one of the lucky ones that inherited dark under eye circles from the gene pool. Blah. I spent years searching for a concealer that actually, effectively covered them. I tried recommendations from lots of friends and beauty experts. However, for me, nothing has ever worked except for this particular little pot from MAC. It’s a damned miracle. I’ve been using it for, gosh, maybe close to ten years now? And I’m committed to it for life. It works like a charm and the little pot lasts me for about a year because it’s so incredibly effective. I do find the formula to be a tad bit drying, so I put a bit of moisturizer under my eyes before I apply it and that works perfectly. I also love the fact that it is SPF 35 so it’s also working to protect the delicate skin under the eyes from the sun. I can’t recommend this stuff enough.

4. Neutrogena Makeup Remover Wipes — I’ve finally started wearing makeup again! It’s really been awhile. Especially during Marina’s first year, there just wasn’t time for me to worry about things like eyeliner and concealer. Now, however, I try to “put my face on” at least a few days a week or more. I feel so much better after I do it, as evidenced by the ten-thousand selfies that I post to Snapchat each day. 😉 With that said, however, evenings are always mayhem for me and by the time I finally get the babies down, I just don’t have time or energy for a nightly skincare ritual. Still, my makeup needs to come off at the end of the day otherwise I wake up with raccoon eyes and breakouts. So I went out in search of makeup remover wipes, the easiest way to get makeup off, ever. Even my exhausted ass can manage it at the end of each day. These Neutrogena ones are amazing. They really take the makeup off without a struggle.

A couple of side notes: These wipes do tend to leave my skin feeling a little dry after use, so I apply a thin layer of the NIVEA moisturizer mentioned below and everything works out perfectly. As another point of reference, I also tested out the Alba Botanica Clean Towelettes, which are advertised as a 3-in-1 makeup remover + cleanser + toner. I loved the packaging, the fact that they’re natural, and they smell incredible. However, they just didn’t do a great job at removing my mascara or eyeliner at all. So I will not be repurchasing them unfortunately.

5. NIVEA Soft Moisturizing Cream — I think I’ve written about it here before, but my skin tends to be extremely dry, year-round. Whenever I have time after a shower, I cover my body in coconut oil and it soaks it up like a sponge. I always need extra moisture on my face because every time I get out of the shower my face feels tight and dry. Regular lotions don’t do a thing for me, I’ve tried countless brands and most of them leave me wanting more. Some are even irritating. However, about four months ago I tried out a jar of this stuff that my mom had been using and I fell in love with it. It’s amazing. It’s not irritating at all. It leaves my face feeling completely moisturized and the moisture stays locked in until the next time that I shower. It’s powerful but not heavy and it doesn’t cause me to break out either. I’ve already gone through two jars of it and I’ll keep going back for more.


That’s all for this edition of Things We Love and USE. Click here to check out my past lists in this series.

What are a few of the things that you are using and loving right now? I’d love to hear!

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