What's Working Lately

Skin is the largest organ, so why not treat it with extra love? I have a very strong resolution this year to take care of my skin better than ever before, even if that means putting serum on while part of me is already asleep. It's going well-- my brain now associates putting my head on the pillow with CE Ferulic. I haven't skipped a beat all year (ok, all 2 and a half months) and it really shows! There's still the occasional cystic spot, but I've yet to find a remedy to prevent those completely. I believe in sharing the love, so I want to let you in on little tips and products that have been working for me.

The skin on your face and neck is particularly delicate and prone to breakouts, large pores and fine lines. In order to prevent extra tugging and moisture loss, adequately moisturizing seems like the obvious step to take. What's not so obvious are the steps leading up to adding moisturizer, which should be the final part of your routine to seal everything in.

*Tip: If the temperature is freezing or below, don't wear an oil-free moisturizer. It will freeze on the surface of your skin and cause broken capillaries, which are bright red blood vessels that won't go away. Even with the best of treatments.

I start by double-cleansing my skin. I'll always be loyal to the Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser in all of its velvety rosewater glory, but my new favorite is the Ren Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk. Not only does it smell like Earl Grey tea, it feels like butter in the best way possible and removes every last bit of makeup and excess sebum from your face without stripping it. Bonus: it doesn't sting your eyes at all. Even when you have to get up in there to wash away that kohl eyeliner. It's a multi-action formula that claims to eliminate environmental aggressors, increase skin resistance and minimize the signs of chronic irritation and sensitivity. Fennel seed extract is known to neutralize pollutants that cause the skin to age prematurely due to oxidative damage. With omega 3 and 7, the soothing components of this cleanser sooth and boost skin's lipid content which restores the natural barrier-- this is why it doesn't leave your skin dry and stripped. Lastly, calendula oil heals active spots and calms the skin. REN is part of the clean beauty team and is free from synthetic fragrance, pore-blocking petrochemicals, sulfates, gluten, silicones, animal ingredients and parabens.

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CE Ferulic - who doesn't love this? It's not only good for its instant glow, but truly delivers results over time. Only 4-5 drops are needed in the morning and before bed, patted into the skin-- never rubbed. This allows the product to be soaked in more efficiently. This patented formula is an antioxidant combination of 15% pure vitamin C which is the L-ascorbic acid, 1% vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) and 0.5% ferulic acid to protect against free radicals. While brightening the skin's complexion, CE Ferulic improves signs of aging and photodamage.

I've been loving retinol for years now. So far during my skincare journey, my favorite has been The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion -- formerly known as Advanced Retinoid 2%. This costs a whopping $9.80. Don't always let premium prices influence your thoughts on quality. Deciem found a way to extract key ingredients from high-performing formulas and incorporate them into products that cost far less with fewer additives, which is why they're able to market themselves at this price-point. It's also a plus that they're cruelty-free. After reviewing the formula composition on Deciem's website, I found that the pure retinol is in a protective capsule system, which enables the delivery and effect of Granactive Retinoid. 2% concentration of this is solubilized Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate (HPR). This is a non-prescription version of all direct retinoic acid that assists against signs of aging and smoothing of the skin's surface. The smoothly effect has been my personal favorite effect of this.

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Lastly, I've been head over heels in love with Leo oil by Dena Smith for a while now. Dena, known as @leowithcancer in the Instagram world, hand brews this formula at her ultra-aesthetic home in Denver filled with mini baubles, or "for size" as she says, and iconic accessories. I really believe it's magic, there's just no other explanation for how good this oil is. Pimple? Diminished by morning. Tired skin? Glowing and even. Anxious? Hopes and dreams fulfilled. 

"Leo Oil is a blend of blue tansy, rosehip seed oil and meadowfoam seed oil. It is a powerful, hand-blended recipe, made from raw ingredients, known in the holistic community to act as a moisturizer that also treats and heals irritated skin. On the skin, applying a green color acts as a natural antidote to redness. People who use it report feeling more comfortable in their own skin. They love how it feels and smells. They love how they feel about their skin after they use it." 
I'm going to need this in candle and fragrance form. Best oil ever, never removing it from my routine.

It's Gabrielle

Spring 2017. Open Glossier Slack. I welcome in the new wave of reps and see someone by the name of Gabrielle talking about the good stuff. Seriously, this girl is recommending some awesome products. I engage in the thread and later find myself wanting the new NARS bronzer in Seaside. We add each other on Instagram and I notice she has a distinct aesthetic, I'm into it. A few days later, I posted one of my favorite Matisse paintings only to see a comment that she loves Matisse too. Good taste in bronzer, loves Matisse, last name is Rizzo so she's a fellow Italian... in my head we were already friends. Is that weird? Oh well. What started as a few messages on Slack turned into us sliding in and out of each other's DMs, to exchanging numbers, to FaceTiming, to eventually having a weekend together in New York. Keep reading to find out why Gabrielle thinks a successful night starts with The Office and ends with pasta. Find the lie... you can't.

Gabrielle wears Noto Botanics multistick in Ono Ono

"I work as an Operations Manager of an independently-owned real estate company - I wish it sounded flashier like, independent curator or brand manager... coming soon. I landed here haphazardly after my second job out of college. I studied Political Science and Communications in undergrad with aspirations to be a lawyer but after soul-searching early morning in a hotel room in Ponta Delgada on São Miguel Island, Portugal, and a bit of Googling, I landed on a graduate program in marketing. Before I found a passion in marketing, I started my blog, It's Gabrielle, as a creative outlet. It's a safe space that represents just me. It's evolved from strictly skincare to more lifestyle/style-focused, and I'm really enjoying where it's going.

Day-to-day for me is erratic. I either have enough time to think about all of the time I have, or not enough for a lunch break. That's pretty much everyone though, right? I'm working full-time and in school full-time technically - I promise I'm sane. Either way, I think this militant schedule will prepare me to conquer my own business goals one day. Big plans are on the horizon.

I'm from Boston. We battle inclement weather 70% of the year, and when I go out, I either need 2 weeks advance or make a regrettable, half-committed, hasty decision to do something. There's no happy-medium for a social extremist like myself. An introvert moonlighting as an extrovert, if you will. When I do go out, it's usually restricted to Friday through Sunday, and I like to my time getting ready. I crave a routine. I usually put on The Office or whatever I last played at the gym. I'm into Miguel and Sza at the moment. Then I decide on a color mood, maybe shower. If I shower, I sit in my towel for no less than 45 minutes - it's a slow build. I'm never going to be a minimalist. I think my favorite part of my routine will always be moisturizers or serums. Taking care of my skin has really helped me feel comfortable in it. My go-to's right now are Origins GinZing Gel Moisturizing (for AM) and Sunday Riley's U.F.O. Oil (for PM).

Skincare is something I'm really passionate about. I made a New Year's resolution to myself 3 years ago to take better care of my skin. I think I've accomplished that and even have gone a little overboard. Now I'm here, a skincare blogger, and I wouldn't change anything. Skincare to me is the 10-30 minutes each morning/night I focus on myself - aka self-care. Beauty, skincare's counterpart, is more expressive for me. It's my moment to create. I love playing with color and trying all kinds of new looks.

There's a small community of us skincare enthusiasts here online - I say small, but it's actually vast and international. I'm serious... I've connected with people as far as Australia, Copenhagen and London, all because I put stuff on my face. Isn't that insane? I love that part of what I do. I enjoy everyone's voice, learning about products in real-time with a face-to-a-name vibe rather than a stale online review from 2009. And that's where I hope the beauty realm heads. More real voices.

  • A complete Marc Jacobs Highliner Collection or a new Dior Lip Glow (just ran out of mine)
  • Biologique Recherche Lotion P50, you know that Holy Grail product
  • Cèline trousers
  • Chanel Spring/Summer '18 Pink/Yellow Clear Flap Bag (gasps)
  • Dream destination - Paris in the Fall
  • Dream job - Creative Director of any beauty brand



Currently Reading and Listening To: VMAN 39: A Day In The Life of Timothée Chalamet, The White Album by Joan Didion, War & Leisure - Miguel

Favorite designer: Phoebe Philo, Rosie Assoulin, Saks Potts, Ganni  (Nicki here- Gaby and I frequently talk about our love for Scandinavian designers.  It's a thing.)

Favorite artist: This is a hard one... digital, Sarah Bahbah; contemporary, Yayoi Kusama; modern, Agnes Martin or Matisse

Crushing on: Neon waterlines and co-ord sets

Favorite snack and meal: Carbs, pasta... that's my brand.

Drink of choice: Mezcal with lime

Why you like staying in more than going out or vice versa: Both have their moments. If I've had an extremely long week and spent all my social equity (let's go with that), I like to recharge and be alone - I find that I can be most creative when I'm alone. If I'm cooped up for too long though, I need to be out and seeing things to be re-inspired. It's all very yin/yang.

Why you love being a woman:  Womanhood is powerful, it's made me strong. I know there isn't anything I can't handle. And I know when women support each other, incredible things can happen."

Photos by Gabrielle Rizzo, friendship photos by Nicki Frances

It's Okay To Be Complex

Do you ever find yourself wondering, "am I complex?  Is this normal?" Turns out, it's very normal to be asking those kind of questions, and no matter what the answer is, Complex Beauty is for you.

The Rose Glow glycolic mask is my favorite product from their range. Surprise, surprise. Something rose is my favorite. I think we're all used to that by now. As Complex says, roses are red, violets are blue, put this on your face and you'll have glowy skin too. It's a five minute facial, so we're already off to a good start. Rosewater and Glycolic Acid play in tandem to reveal a new layer of skin that's smooth and bright. Rosewater not only refreshes, but evens out skin, reduces scarring and balances the pH level. Glycolic Acid chemically exfoliates while fighting blemishes. Dream duo. It does contain an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) which might tingle a bit, but that's fine. Also, be sure to wear sunscreen (always) but especially after applying an acid! This mask is also a reminder to not let anyone or anything dull your glow. 

Smooth Operatorrrrrrr... ok, I'll stop singing like Sade now. This antioxidant mask has the texture of whipped butter and leaves my pores feeling tight and clean. It's an anti-bad skin mask, so sign me up. My favorite acid, Lactic, chemically exfoliates just like Glycolic which is also in here, but leaves a moisturized sheen on the skin while improving elasticity and texture. Coenzyme Q10 also improves elastin production along with collagen and also protects from sun damage-- one of my biggest fears. Vitamin C piggybacks off that by protecting against UV damage and brightens the skin while fixing pigmentation issues which evens out the skin tone. Organic Blueberry lightens dark spots as well while adding extra brightness. No dullness here. Organic Cranberry fights free radicals (the fight we're all in) that cause premature aging. You can't see them, but they're out there. Best to just be safe and use this mask. I got into Squalane a few years ago and enjoyed the hydration it gave me without being too much, so I was happy to see this was a component as well. It protects, improves moisture balance and intercepts free radicals before the enter your system. For good measure, there is also Wildcrafted Green Tea, which is an anti-inflammatory that tones,  brightens, evens, combats blemishes, and protects against sun damage. Smooth skin wouldn't be possible without exfoliation, so we end the ingredients list with hibiscus petals, which gently exfoliate while helping repair the skin. Complex says we should except great things from this sleuth.

The Godmother is an appropriate name for this mask, since it acts like a fairy godmother. Rescuing your skin with its pumpkin enzyme goodness. I love that it provides antibacterial protection, because in return, that means less blemishes. Pumpkin is also in the fight against free radicals, dissolves dead skin, moisturizes, reduces scars and minimizes pores. Glycolic Acid and Vitamin also make an appearance because why not, as well as another AHA-- this time, derived from fruit. These are best known for speeding up cell renewal while exfoliating. Lastly, there's meadowfoam seed oil, which I've grown to love in the last few months as a person with oily skin. While it moisturizes, it forms a barrier on the skin to prevent moisture loss which is why it's great to combat excess sebum production. Locked-in moisture=no oil.

Consider my pout protected. This dreamy vanilla lip mask is a blend of castor seed and coconut oils, stem cells, peptides and amino acids to keep your lips hydrated while producing collagen for plumpness and smoothness. With continued use, it protects from damage over time which is why I love using it as an overnight mask or a light layer of it as a balm during the day.

Face mist is one of my all-time favorite skincare products. I always have one on me. It's like my grownup security blanket in addition to my balms. The Afterglow Complexion Mist has a spa scent, and you all know how much I love anything that reminds me of a spa. It's great under or over makeup, or with no makeup at all. This time, glycolic acid is in liquid form, along with pineapple and papaya enzymes who are also participants in the fight against free radicals, MSM to hydrate and smooth, Colloidal Silver which is a natural antibiotic that heals and boosts cell recovery in addition to Tamanu Oil which is a topical healing agent that has antimicrobial and regenerative properties. What makes it smell so soothing is the lavender water and geranium essential oil. These regenerate skin tissue, heal acne and stimulate cell turnover for an even complexion. Finishing with a mist is the cherry on top. Or starting with one. Or using one all day like I do.

I hope you enjoyed this bit of info and try something out from Complex Beauty! Shoutout to Veronica for being the sweetest. My skin gives you a hug.

x Nicki

Color Mood: Orange




Images via Tumblr, Pinterest, Elle Decor

Timothée Chalamet: The Internet's Boyfriend

You might know him as Elio Perlman, the boy who comes of age in the soul-shattering and visually stunning masterpiece filmed in Northern Italy that is Call Me by Your Name, or as that jerk from Lady Bird. (How dare you treat Saoirse Ronan like that.) I personally prefer to know him as Timmy Tim. Click here to see what I mean. Either way, there's no denying that he's an exceptionally talented actor. He covers all the bases and has a charm that makes you laugh and smile at absolutely anything. If he wins this awards season, he'll be the youngest person to receive an Oscar in decades. Naturally, there's a ton of buzz around him and his work, so of course friends are going to talk about it amongst each other. What started out as a joke between me and my friend Gaby, fellow Tim lover, turned into an imaginary campaign of Timothée modeling for Glossier. Check her out here and here, btw. I sent her a picture I made in photoshop describing Timmy wearing boy brow, balm dotcom and Glossier You. From there, it took on a life of its own and I had no control of my brain or hands as they were making this "art." (lol)

As a disclaimer, this is 100% fictional and is not sponsored by Glossier. I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoyed creating it! All I ask is that if you repost anywhere to give me credit. Please and thank you :) Also, if you'd like, you can send in your requests for new posts for me to make on others. As always, feel free to shop with me at glossier.com/reps/nicki for 20% your first purchase on all products.

x Nicki