Thursday, February 16, 2017

My Monthly Favorites (February 2017)

Hello, beautiful! One thing you might not know about me (though it's honestly not that surprising, given my niche) is that I LOVE being inspired by other beauty bloggers - especially on YouTube.

One of my favorite kinds of videos to watch is, you guessed it, monthly favorites. I love peeking into other people's lives and finding out what products they've been obsessed with in their everyday lives! That doesn't just go for beauty, but also for music, books, apps, tech and all the other little things we love using, but usually don't even think about.

Monthly favorites videos seem to be quite popular on YouTube, but I haven't seen the same explosion of bloggers writing posts on their monthly favorites. So, I thought I would try to bring this trend I love from the world of YouTube into my own little world as a college blogger!

Today, I'm going to be sharing ten of my favorite beauty products, books, apps and even life hacks that I've been loving this month. Granted, I realize the month of February isn't quite over yet, but I've just been SO obsessed with all of these things that I don't really see myself changing between now and February 28th!

Just a little disclaimer before I begin: I was NOT sponsored to write about any of these products! Anything I mention in this post is something that I've purchased myself and been genuinely loving lately, and I won't receive any money for any of these products if you decide to buy them.

Now that that's out of the way, here are ten of the products I've been loving in the month of February!


Bath and Body Works Creamy Body Wash in Beautiful Day

I definitely mentioned this product when I talked about my weekly beauty routine, but since I've been using it religiously since January, that should come as little surprise to any of you! This body wash is a holy grail product. Its scent and texture are superior to anything else I've ever tried from CVS or Target. However, my hands-down favorite thing about this product is how nourishing it is for the skin. In the wintertime, soapy or scrubby body washes can easily dry out my sensitive skin, so I love the creamy, hydrating texture of this body wash. Granted, I'm not big into buying $15 body washes on a regular basis, since they just run out so quickly, but since I got this product on sale at Bath and Body Works' MASSIVE semi-annual sale, it was more than worth the $4 or so dollars I paid for it then! From my searches online, they don't seem to carry this product in this specific scent anymore, but you can still get it for $14.50 at Bath and Body Works in a bunch of their other signature scents!  

SheaMoisture Peace Rose Oil Complex Sensitive Skin Mud Mask

Whew, this product has a long name - but don't let that intimidate you! For girls like me who struggle with redness, stinging or breakouts after using heavy mud masks, this product is the perfect invention. While you don't get the fiery skin reaction that you might experience with some mud-based products, you still get that cool, refreshing tingle that tells you this product is working! Plus, the scent of the mask - which smells overwhelmingly of fresh-cut roses - is better than any other mud mask I've tried. I loved that I could feel it working magic on my skin, and as soon as I took it off, my suspicions were confirmed: my skin was left soft and shine-free, but never flaky or dry. Personally, I consider this brand to be about halfway between a drugstore and a luxury product, but it's totally affordable and they carry it at Target, so you really can't beat it for convenience! Get it for $14.99 at Target. 

OGX Lavender Luminescent Platinum Shampoo and Conditioner

If you're following me on Instagram (@haleymarieblog), you probably saw that I recently colored my hair blonde! Well, more specifically, I got ash-blonde bayalage highlights - and since I love them so much, I wanted to make sure they wouldn't fade or become brassy over time. After all, coloring your hair is expensive, so I wanted to stretch out as much time between salon appointments as humanly possible! So, I decided to invest in a good color-treating shampoo and picked up this product from Target. First of all, all of OGX's products are amazing sheerly because of their natural ingredients! They're environmentally sustainable and don't include irritating chemicals or preservatives. Specific to the Lavender Luminescent Platinum Shampoo, though, this shampoo honestly does what it promises to do! It removes yellow tones from your hair while protecting your vulnerable colored strands from sun damage. The only turn-off about this product for me was the scent, which is a little bit strong for me - but given all the other pluses, like how well the product works, I could easily overlook that little thing! Get them for $7.99 each at Ulta. 


Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski

Let's talk about sex, baby! Like many college-age women, I never got a real sex education in school. Basically, sex ed for me consisted of sitting down in 5th grade and watching "The Video" (aka an hour-long movie about puberty that required our parents' permission to view). Basically, The Video taught us nothing about sex, other than that when you get your first period, you're now magically ready to have a baby. Now that I'm many years older and sexually active, I found myself wanting to understand sex on a deeper level - and that's where this book came in clutch. As far as I'm concerned, this book is required reading for anyone who's had sex, wants to have sex someday or even just thinks about sex (so, basically everyone). I loved that Emily Nagoski, the author and a college sex educator herself, spent more time talking about the psychology behind sex than the physicality. For many women, sex and arousal are more mental processes than physical ones - there's even something called non-concordance, which happens when your genitals respond to stimuli even though you're not turned on (or vice-versa)... the problem is, if we haven't read this book, we might not know that, and we might not realize that we're completely normal, after all! Get it for $12.86 on Amazon (or your local library!). 

Pusheen Coloring Book

I might be a little biased since this was one of my Valentine's Day gifts from Ryan. However, coloring is one of my favorite ways to relax and unwind at the end of a long day, and this book has quickly become my new go-to. While I'm not a diehard fan of Pusheen - by that I mean I wasn't really aware of his Internet popularity - I do think he's super cute and, as Ryan can attest, I freak out whenever I see an adorable t-shirt with his chubby kitty face on it. Combine those two loves together, and I can see why this coloring book made him think of me! But besides it being an adorable present, I particularly love this coloring book for several other reasons: firstly, it's not super detailed like some of the other popular coloring books around. I'm the kind of person who gets impatient when she colors, but I also don't like to leave a page unfinished, so I'll stick it through until the bitter end even when there are painstaking details! Secondly, I would much rather color kitties, planets, french fries and all of Pusheen's other kawaii accessories than spend hours filling in abstract, repetitive patterns. Since I'm not a huge fan of coloring in mandalas or tribal print, this coloring book wound up being the perfect fit! Get it for $9.38 on Amazon.


Wicked Good Cupcakes Dark Chocolate - White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcake-in-a-Jar

If you're from Boston, chances are you already know that Wicked Good cupcakes are basically a national treasure. But, if you're not from around here, allow me to enlighten you! Wicked Good cupcakes are a local brand of cupcakes sold in jars that can be shipped anywhere in the United States. They became a BFD around here after they appeared on Shark Tank, but I think they should have made it big a long time ago because they're just so damn delicious! The Dark Chocolate - White Chocolate Raspberry cupcake is a special edition flavor my dad got me for Valentine's Day this year, and it's probably one of the best baked goods I've ever tasted. The cupcake consisted of layers of spongy dark chocolate cake, layered with a creamy dark chocolate ganache and topped off with pink raspberry frosting and shaved white chocolate curls. If that doesn't sound dreamily delicious to you, let me assure you, you're wrong. Order a 2-pack of Wicked Good cupcakes for $19.95. 


Walk the Moon, Talking is Hard

This album came out a long time ago, but I'm a huge WTM fan, so don't try to talk me out of listing this on my favorites anyways. I recently rediscovered this album sometime around finals week, but it's held strong as a favorite ever since. I love cranking up this album when I'm hitting the books in the library or pushing through cardio at the gym. Admittedly, I also have a special attachment to this album because Shut Up and Dance is me and Ryan's song. However, Avalanche, Work this Body and Aquaman are probably my other three favorites on this album! If you're late to the party and haven't already gotten your hands on Talking is Hard, you can still get it for $9.99 on iTunes. 



I hate to ruin the surprise before my upcoming travel post, but Ryan and I are planning a trip to Europe this summer! I literally could not be more excited, since I haven't gotten to go to Europe since I was in middle school. Anyways, since I'll be making a post about our travel plans in a couple of days, I won't give away too much just yet; however, I will say that since Paris is one of our destinations, I've been really enthusiastic about starting to learn French again. I had used DuoLingo to try to learn French before, but fell out of the habit of practicing and never picked it back up. So, when we started planning this trip, it became one of my goals to restart practicing and speaking it again! DuoLingo is an amazing language-learning app to begin with, but the reason why I'm featuring it is that they recently added a new feature that I love, which is the ability to practice by having a real-time conversation with a chatbot in your language of choice. I love that they added this feature because in my opinion, you learn languages best through ordinary conversations. Especially since I'm just learning it for travel, it's been really helpful to improve my conversational French using this app! Get it for free in the App Store.


One of my favorite bloggers, Samantha from As Life Grows, turned me on to Trello back in January, and I've been using it to plan my blog calendar ever since! Before Trello, I never organized or planned my blog posts ahead of time. Now, I have a board called "Haley Marie Blog 2017" where I can add and schedule new ideas for blog posts all the way through December. If that's confusing to you, let me explain a little bit more how Trello works: you start by creating "boards" for whatever categories you want and filling in columns with individual "cards" under each category. (For example, you could create a board for meal planning with columns for each day of the week. Your "cards" would then be the individual meals you eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.) You can even give each card a description - which, for me, is where I fill in the meaty details of what my blog posts are going to be about - and a due date, with a satisfying check box that turns green when you check off that you've completed your task. For a more thorough introduction to Trello, check out Samantha's easy tutorial here.  Meanwhile, to start using Trello for free, visit their website here and/or download their app in the App Store.


Reading at the Gym

Sometime between this month and last, I developed a new habit that's helped me get into better shape  and has quickly become my new favorite way to work out. I don't know why I never thought of it before, but I recently started reading while I'm doing cardio at the gym. I hate cardio, but around the time I started doing this, I read an article that said that when you're really dreading something, a good way to motivate yourself is to pair an unpleasant task with something you always look forward to. So, I started bringing a book to the gym and reading while I'm on the elliptical! Though I was skeptical at first, it actually worked - I find myself paying less and less attention to counting the minutes and more attention to reading the words on the page. Plus, I actually convince myself to spend more time on the elliptical because I look forward to finding out what's next in my book! The key is designating a book specifically for going to the gym, and telling yourself you can ONLY read it while you're working out. The positive incentive of continuing a page-turner will convince you to make time for the gym, even on days when you ordinarily wouldn't feel like it.

And there you have it - those are the products (and books and apps and habits) I've been loving for February 2017. What have been your favorite things this month? Let me know in the comments what products, apps, hacks and more I should try next! 

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