My Top 10 Skin Product Favorites

A few weeks ago, I visited my dermatologist for a check-in appointment. I wanted to get her thoughts about changing up my skincare routine. To my surprise, she recommended a few over-the-counter products in addition to a prescribed medication.

I took her recommendations into account and blended them with a few of my skin staples. Now I feel like I've achieved the ultimate treasure trove of skin products that work for me! Here's the rundown:

I apply this moisturizer at night and in the morning. Its formula doesn't clog my pores and it is great for dry skin. Eau Thermale Avène Trixéra Plus Selectiose Emollient Balm, 6.76 fl. oz. Buy on Amazon for $29

I apply this moisturizer at night and in the morning. Its formula doesn't clog my pores and it is great for dry skin.

Eau Thermale Avène Trixéra Plus Selectiose Emollient Balm, 6.76 fl. oz.

Buy on Amazon for $29

I apply this serum instead of my moisturizer in the morning 2-3 times per week. It leaves my skin feeling clean and moisturized. InstaNatural Skin Clearing Serum Buy on Amazon for $23

I apply this serum instead of my moisturizer in the morning 2-3 times per week. It leaves my skin feeling clean and moisturized.

InstaNatural Skin Clearing Serum

Buy on Amazon for $23

My dermatologist recommended this cleanser to me. It leaves my skin feeling squeaky clean! La Roche-Posay Effaclar Deep Cleansing Foaming Cream Cleanser for Oily Skin Buy on Amazon for $23

My dermatologist recommended this cleanser to me. It leaves my skin feeling squeaky clean!

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Deep Cleansing Foaming Cream Cleanser for Oily Skin

Buy on Amazon for $23

After seeing a couple of youtubers reviewing facial steamers, I decided to get crackin' with my own research. I love this little gem! I like that you don't have to hover your face over a cone that supposedly directs more steam into your pores. Best facial steamer on the market! Spaire Nano Ionic Facial Steamer Buy on Amazon for $70

After seeing a couple of youtubers reviewing facial steamers, I decided to get crackin' with my own research. I love this little gem! I like that you don't have to hover your face over a cone that supposedly directs more steam into your pores. Best facial steamer on the market!

Spaire Nano Ionic Facial Steamer

Buy on Amazon for $70

Body brushing is a daily part of my skincare routine. Before a shower or bath, I brush all the dead skin cells off my body with this coarse brush. It takes some getting used to, but the results are smoother, wrinkle-free skin! Aquasentials Natural Body Smoothing Brush Buy on Amazon for $6

Body brushing is a daily part of my skincare routine. Before a shower or bath, I brush all the dead skin cells off my body with this coarse brush. It takes some getting used to, but the results are smoother, wrinkle-free skin!

Aquasentials Natural Body Smoothing Brush

Buy on Amazon for $6

These are my favorite makeup remover towelettes at the moment! Warning, they are heavily scented. Burt's Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes, Cucumber and Sage, 30 Count Buy on Amazon for $8

These are my favorite makeup remover towelettes at the moment! Warning, they are heavily scented.

Burt's Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes, Cucumber and Sage, 30 Count

Buy on Amazon for $8

I have a stubborn old acne scar on my cheek and I've been treating it with Bio-Oil and seeing results!  Bio-Oil Buy on Amazon for $12

I have a stubborn old acne scar on my cheek and I've been treating it with Bio-Oil and seeing results! 

Bio-Oil

Buy on Amazon for $12

I try to use this clay mask once per week. It's one of the most popular products I've ever come across on Amazon, and it feels so cool and nice on my skin. Tip: mix the clay with your finger or a wooden spoon - never a metal spoon since it will alter the ingredients. Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Mask Buy on Amazon for $10

I try to use this clay mask once per week. It's one of the most popular products I've ever come across on Amazon, and it feels so cool and nice on my skin. Tip: mix the clay with your finger or a wooden spoon - never a metal spoon since it will alter the ingredients.

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Mask

Buy on Amazon for $10

Like a lot of people, I have dry under-eyes. This cream is the best I've used, and the great thing is that you can find it at any drugstore! I apply this before bed every night. Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye Buy on Amazon for $18

Like a lot of people, I have dry under-eyes. This cream is the best I've used, and the great thing is that you can find it at any drugstore! I apply this before bed every night.

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye

Buy on Amazon for $18

A couple of times per week, I cleanse my face with this rose water toner. It gets ever speck of dirt and makeup residue out of my pores. Love this product!  InstaNatural Moroccan Rose Water Toner Buy on Amazon for $14

A couple of times per week, I cleanse my face with this rose water toner. It gets ever speck of dirt and makeup residue out of my pores. Love this product! 

InstaNatural Moroccan Rose Water Toner

Buy on Amazon for $14

Did I miss a good product? Leave me your recommendations below in the comments!

When Your Mom Becomes A Person

Growing up, my mom cooked a homemade dinner every evening, without fail. When I got home from school, I would throw open the bottom drawer of the cabinet next to the stove and pull out my apron, which matched hers. Alongside her, I learned how to measure a cup of flour, set the oven temperature, and sprinkle pinches of salt and pepper as an obligatory final touch to dress any plate of food.

My mom picked out our dinner table with my dad before I was even born. It’s a dark oak wood that has aged gracefully over the years, and it’s her family shrine in a way. With the table between us, we sang Happy Birthday, carved pumpkins on top of recycled newspapers, played cards games late into the night hours past my bedtime, and of course, we feasted.

My mom taught me how to garden when I was young. She instructed me to never over-water the soil, which unintentionally taught me one of my first life lessons: not to try to rush things before they’re ready.

She allowed me to keep the hermit crab my neighbor gave me and named after me. And when it died, she hugged me and we buried it together in my backyard by the swing-set.

My mom didn’t care when I said I didn’t want to be a meteorologist any more. She agreed that deciding to major in both business and Spanish was a good idea. She said I might even be able to study abroad one day. Right she was, and I did.

“I just know that God has got great plans for your life, Julie,” she would say. 

Sometimes I ask myself if I really show my mom how much I appreciate her. 

At some point in my 20s, I began to see my mom as a person. A real human being with her own histories, insecurities, and brilliance. She has had her own heartbreaks, joys, and achievements. But throughout my life, she has put a lot of that in second place, because what came first was being a parent.

Funny, for a long time I never really viewed my mom as well… a person. To me, her name is not actually Diane, as the rest of the world calls her. I realize now that so much of my mom’s identity still remains a mystery to me. I have spent a lot of my life talking about me and not talking about her — not even bothering to take her temperature on certain people or circumstances. Did she ever break a bone as a kid? Why did she and her first boyfriend break up?

What I know for certain is that my mom took care of me and loved me selflessly, even when I didn’t deserve it.

As an adult now, I pay for my own groceries and taxes, and I realize that it’s time to really start showing my appreciation for my mom through action. It’s time I give back intentionally and return the support I have recieved.

My mom is actually pretty cool.

In high school, she sang in a folk band that toured around the Northeast and even opened a concert for Wild Cherry – that band that sang “Play That Funky Music White Boy.” She has told funny jokes, written plenty of poems and short stories, and danced the night away at her small town rec center. She’s smart and has also made her fair share of dumb mistakes.

Reader, your mom is a real person. Just like… you guessed it… YOU.

Cut her some slack. Go easy on her when she learns about emojis and adds you as a friend on Facebook. Because one day, you might be a parent too.

Ask your mom about herself today. Let her know that you want to know more about her as an individual with a real first name. Let her Facetime with you at the end of a long day. Pray with her. Spend an afternoon together shopping or eating your way through a city. Teach her how to take a real selfie, and not with the stick that your dad gifted her last Christmas. Send her flowers and a card on Mother’s Day.

Most importantly, tell your mom that you love her.

Julie

Try the Trend: High-Waisted Bottoms

When I was in high school in the early 00's, low-rise jeans were all the rage. So was Usher's song "Yeah!" ft. Lil Jon and Ludacris. Back in those days, high school hallway style was questionable. I recall matching Juicy Couture jumpsuits, Live Strong bracelets, and the occasional flare jean walking past. Basically every girl I knew had her belly button pierced, and I began seeing tattoos scribbled on girls' lower backs for the first time. Skin was in!

A lot has changed since then denim-wise. Skinny jeans have become insanely popular and capris are basically extinct.  

Today, the high-waisted bottoms trend is more popular than ever, and I'm fully embracing it. Whether it be jeans, swim suits, skirts, or shorts, a high waist gives the illusion of more defined hips and a cinched-in center. When high-waisted bottoms are good, they're really good. But when they're bad, well, they're pretty damn unflattering. 

When trying on a pair of high-waisted jeans, make sure to look for these signs of a bad fit:

1. gaping waistbands

2. the unintentional drop-crotch

3. saggy butt syndrome

Everyone wants to accentuate a different part of their body, which can make finding the perfect high-rise bottom a straight up challenge. Some women have #blessed backsides, while others have legs for days. Whatever you've got, there's a jean out there that will work for you. Brands like Levi's7 For All Mankind, and American Apparel are featuring a lot of high-waisted looks this season.

See what I mean with these styles.

My Favorite Stylish Workout Gear

Thanks for checking in today guys-- If you follow me on Instagram or Snapchat (Modlancer), you may have seen that I've recently started working out. Joining a gym was intimidating at first, but I've seemed to nail down a combination weekly routine which consists of yoga and spin classes, as well as cardio-only workouts (so hard, ha!). 

Sometimes I feel like half the battle of working out is won by purchasing stylish gear to keep you motivated. Hitting the gym in something pretty and comfortable makes me feel great! I've been searching for the perfect fitness essentials for a while and have narrowed the list down to a few of my top picks, which I'd like to share with you!
 

1. Half Lotus Crop Leggings

These are the most comfortable yoga pants I've ever worn! They fit very nicely around the waist with a seamless feel. I have a tendency to go for colorful leggings since I'm convinced they make me look like I'm moving faster... SHHhh! Two thumbs-up.

2. Shadow Stripe Energize Tank

First and foremost, every girl needs a go-to basic tank! This one from Athleta has a built-in double crossed strappy bra. I'm a sucker for sexy backs, so naturally this one drew my attention. It comes in four colors and has breathable fabric.

3. Nike Flyknit Lunar 3 Sneakers

I haven't actually bought these sneaks yet, but when I do, I'll be one proud gym rat. The shoe exterior is a soft knit in vibrant magenta and violet shades. Love this look!

4. HydrateSpark Smart Water Bottle

I saw this water bottle on Kickstarter a few months ago and absolutely love the concept! HydrateMe is a connected water bottle that tracks your water intake and makes sure you're hydrated all day long. I'm always aiming to drink more water, and this product is the perfect solution! For the time being, you can pre-order yours, and expect a delivery sometime later this month.

5. Gaiam Print Yoga Mat

Mine has a tree on it. Yours might have an intricate petal design. This mat by Gaiam is extra-thick and 100% slip-proof. It's perfect for home or studio use and comes in 11 amazing designs.

6. Werk Sports Bra

Finding the right sports bra can be tricky, but this Roxy one is perfect for weight training or any low to medium intensity workout. It comes in two boho chic patterns!

Are you a fellow fitness lover, or thinking about becoming one? What's in your gym bag? Tell me below!

XO, Julie

My Top 5 Brunches In DC's U Street Corridor

DC is a city that brunches. Period. I was previously unfamiliar with just how seriously Washingtonians take their brunch and honestly had never used the term regularly growing up in my suburban Pittsburgh hometown. It was always breakfast and lunch, never a marriage of the two.

I've since grown accustomed to brunching in my three years living in the nation's capital and actually love the concept now. Plus, where I live, I can walk to more than a handful of great restaurants offering amazing selections to satisfy anyone's taste buds' desire.

1. Ted's Bulletin

Ted's has one of the most sought after brunches in DC, hands down. You can't make a reservation until the day-of and even then, chances are slim that you'll be sitting down to eat when you want to. Why such fuss? Well, Ted's makes homemade pop tarts that you can smell from the sidewalk for one. And two, the portions are ginormous! They don't skimp on anything at Ted's. Brunch favorites include the Big Mark Breakfast, the Walk of Shame Breakfast Burrito, and the Mark on an Off Day. You may overdose on sugar by the end of the meal, but that's to be expected, so prepare yourself. 

2. Busboys and Poets

Lawd have mercy! There are so many reasons I love this place: vegetarian friendly, locally sourced ingredients, cheap cheap cheap, and quintessentially U Street. But don't take my word for it, take the 1229 4/5 star reviews on Yelp for it. The mood is set when you enter from 14th into a bookstore, or so it seems. Then you glance to your right and realize that the place is huge and full of your neighbors. The hostesses get to know your name after a while and they seat you at your normal spot. My usual order is the vegan egg scramble which is served with a side of home fries for $10. Also on the menu are: sweet potato pancakes, crab neptune benedict, mekhleme, spinach and wheat berry salad, bagel with lox, Oaxaca omelette, organic granola, and the classic Busboys French toast. 

3. Matchbox

Matchbox is hoping to expand to 48 locations by 2020 according to recent DC talk. And its success is leveraged on more than just pizza and a woody atmosphere. It's the food and drinks. Beyond an impressive beer selection, it touts a handful of Bloody Mary variations and just as many varieties of mimosas. Their baked cinnamon rolls arrive to your table in a cast iron pan and are topped with a homemade cream cheese icing that is guaranteed to raise your blood sugar level. At Matchbox, the brunch menu is atypical featuring dishes like banana bread french toast, huevos rancheros, brunch pizza, and crab cake benedict. Matchbox is good all around and conveniently located on 14th Street.

4. Local 16

I've always known Local 16 as that cool rooftop bar on the corner, but I'm so glad I checked it out its brunch one day a few weeks ago. Like a lot of places, there's a bottomless brunch deal for $27 which includes: one entrée or pizza, and bottomless mimosas, bellinis, bloody mary's, Yuengling Light's, Corona Light's, Heineken Light's, Miller Lite's, Tecaté's, or Coffee. My top picks are the French toast and pumpkin pizza!

5. Crème

Creme, or "Crème," depending on how you say it, is a gem located on 14th a few blocks north of U. Great mimosas, great vibe, and great brunch selections. Most people don't venture far enough up 14th to discover this place which is a shame. In the summertime, they open the entire front facade to the street so you get that indoor/outdoor feel. Menu favorites include: chicken and waffles, applewood-smoked bacon quiche, veggie quiche, steak and eggs, the Chesapeake poached egg over crab on an English muffin, wild mushroom bene, and Belgian waffles.  

Meet My Style Muse: Alessandra Ambrosio

I confess that I have a style muse.

You may have seen her grace the runway for fashion house labels like Chanel, Armani, Prada, and even Victoria's Secret. She is the Brazilian-born, model turned actress/designer-- Alessandra Ambrosio.

Alessandra's street style is what I love the most. It's anchored somewhere between boho chic and high tide glamour. She can pull off a Coachella look that has the fashion blogs buzzing for days, while also channeling her inner Parisian glam side on the weekend, in an outfit topped with a high knot bun.

I think it's good to have a short list of people who inspire your personal style. Things like Instagram and Snapchat make it even easier to keep up with your favorite looks.

My friend Tiffany is a fashion cult follower of Taylor Swift. Taylor has got this street style thing locked down, often showcasing crop tops and high-waisted ensembles. Just about every style magazine covers her date night looks, grocery shopping looks, and girls night-in looks.

A little invasive? haha Without question!  But fashion brands wouldn't be nearly as profitable without the help of influencers walking around in their outfits, which are later liked, shared, and commented-on hundreds and thousands of times on social media. Popularity on social can lend itself to unique opportunities for influencers, such as becoming designers themselves-- which means that fans can actually wear the creations of their style muses! 

Alessandra has her own jewelry collection through Bauble Bar, as well as a beach lifestyle clothing brand. I've purchased items from both fashion lines!

My Q. for you.

Whose fashion do you follow?  Tell me below.

#TBT Fashion Week

#TBT to Fashion Week last year. I loved this dress by Ean Williams.