May 10, 2017

{STYLE} All Gingham, All The Time




  Photos by Lydia Hudgens

I want to talk about gingham, how we're inching towards summer, and how I continue to surprise myself with my sort of random style obsessions lately (like bees, or culottes, or super-90s-glossy lips), but my search for escapism mostly brings me back to my real recent obsession: the meshigas surrounding our political system. I really want to talk about off-the-shoulder dresses, cause it's fun, but I really-really want to talk about healthcare, cause it's essential.

I don't have a concrete, designated space where it feels entirely appropriate to talk about healthcare or politics in general (though I do love a good twitter rant), but last week I found myself sharing my concerns and frustrations on Instagram Stories, a day after the House of Representatives voted on the insufficiently vetted ACHA bill that, if passed by the Senate, would most likely put over 24-million Americans at risk of losing their healthcare by 2025, (and this is putting things very, very lightly). 

I haven't discussed this at length on my blog, but over the last few years, I have been navigating auto-immune diagnoses that have had a dramatic impact on my everyday life, lifestyle, and work flow. Having to prioritize my health in this capacity forced me to renegotiate my lifestyle, which was truly only made possible because of my access to comprehensive healthcare and health insurance. Without it, there would be no way for me to access the battery of tests, emergency hospital visits, multiple surgeries, scans, and continued care that I've needed in order to stay alive and remain healthy.

Even with an enormous amount of privilege (through my income, my somewhat flexible work life, and access to health insurance), it has still been an exhausting and often heartbreaking space to navigate; this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the ways healthcare providers, and the system that they work in, have ingrained biases against overweight patients that makes navigating medical care all the more complicated - something which made it seemingly never-ending for me to finally get an accurate diagnosis and the proper medical attention.

Healthcare services are being renegotiated in such a way that further perpetuates biases and prejudice in healthcare against women, the poor, people of color, the elderly, children, and people living with disabilities. It compromises the health, safety, and access to care for survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault - and could discourage survivors of abuse from confronting or reporting their experiences for fear that they'll be stripped of their insurance. For gender and sexual minorities, healthcare could be made completely inaccessible. Mental healthcare services could be rendered completely unattainable. (And no, I'm not just hinting at plotlines from The Handmaid's Tale, though each passing day makes Margaret Atwood's fictional dystopia feel eerily more and more like our present).

While the fate of the ACHA is still unknown, I'd like to ask that anyone in America reading this please contact their senators and express that healthcare should not be a privilege extended only to those who can afford care. You can find your senators contact information here. And while it may seem a little out of place for me to be writing about this here, I feel like having this platform (however modest it may be) is a responsibility, and speaking up about these issues and how they may infringe on the lives and access to care of our most vulnerable citizens is something that I do not take lightly. 

I'll now resume dressing like a picnic blanket indefinitely while doing my best to balance moments of escapism with activism. 

May 3, 2017

{STYLE} Overalls.




This spring, I've been having a little bit of a love affair with new silhouettes in my wardrobe. I've long documented my love-hate relationship and struggle with trousers, but lately I've been taking the challenge to the next level by adding in a rotation of strange and certifiably "unflattering" culottes, and more recently: overalls. They've added a level of comfort to my closet full of fit-and-flare workhorses that I didn't think was totally possible in a pair of pants (they've long, long tormented me), but I could really live my whole life in these. 

I took a little bit of inspiration from Macy's Must Have Spring Style Guide, by mixing stripe patterns to complete my overalls look. It turned out to be the perfect outfit for feeling cute and comfy while I ran errands all over LA before heading out to New York. I especially love this spring mixed-stripe blouse from Alfani which is a perfect work-to-weekend option (it would be so cute with a pair of black cigarette pants, and just as great with distressed denim). 




This post is sponsored by Macy's. 

 All content and opinions are my own.



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April 25, 2017

Visiting North Carolina with Burt's Bees



I've been a long time fan of the Burt's Bees brand. Even though not everything in my beauty arsenal is natural, I do try to use as many natural products as possible - and have a trust in Burt's Bees commitment to products that are both nourishing for your skin and ethically produced. Because I also have so many allergies and sensitivities to different topical products, relying on Burt's Bees to always be free of petrolatum and parabens is a big weight off my shoulders as I navigate the beauty aisle, (if you want the nitty gritty on stats - their products are made with an average of 99% natural and the packaging is often recyclable and made with post-consumer recycled content, while over half of the products are 100% natural). When the brand launched their line of lipsticks last year, I jumped on the opportunity to add the 18 colors to my makeup bag, 4 shades of which are new to the lineup this year. They're so smooth, wear beautifully throughout the day, are super hydrating, and surprisingly versatile (I shared here how I also use the lip colors as blush and contour - hello, major life hack!)


So a few weeks ago, when Burt's Bees invited me down to North Carolina to get a closer look at how everything gets made, formulated, packaged, and distributed around the globe - I wanted to know more! I want to note here that because their headquarters is in North Carolina, home of the infamous bathroom bills, it was crucial for me to first get an understanding of the culture within their home offices. Burt's Bees has in the past done initiatives around Pride (how cute is this pride pack of lip balms?), supported GLSEN, an organization that advocates for LGBTQ youth, and I wanted to know their position as a company on the issue. I was relieved to learn that alongside all their other social consciousness initiatives in the brand, that they have a specific gender affirming policy within the company, standing behind diversity and inclusion and against any act or institutionalization of discrimination, public or private. This was something that honestly made me even more proud of working with the company and being a fan of their products for so many years. So with that, I set out to pack my bags and get to know their teams more intimately.  One of my biggest curiosities in the whole fashion and beauty world is knowing the ins-and-outs of How Things Get Made. Getting the chance to speak to a chemist about the ways they formulate products, or understanding the thought process behind packaging design, speaks to the nerdiest of my sensibilities.

Because Burt's Bees products are almost entirely natural and lack the conventional chemicals typically used in most commercial beauty products, their lab is completely open. New products are created, tested, and formulated right in the middle of their office - and most of the ingredients are things you might also find in your kitchen pantry. Because the recipes are so safe, we got a chance to mix our own batches of lip balms using their signature blend of ingredients and mixing our own colors together! I, of course, went for a pretty soft pink. 

 
Their HQ is right in downtown Durham, and we landed in Fearrington Village for the trip, where we tested out newer additions to the product lines (my latest obsession is their Tinted Lip Oils, a sheer pigmented, nourishing oil with a hint of nonsticky glossiness. It's perfect for the 90s influence all around lately and for keeping lips hydrated throughout the day). We also had mini-facials (I need to use this as an opportunity to plug their Complete Nourishing Facial Oil, a blend of rosehip, jojoba, and primrose oils that promote healing), had an aura color reading, and enjoyed the nature around Fearrington Village with leisurely bike rides, hikes, and farm to table meals.

I had so much fun getting to meet the people behind the products, getting more familiar with the new additions to the lineup, and of course - learning all about the honeybees that help produce so many of the things we rely on in our daily lives (including a third of our natural food supply!) 


Wearing: Fame & Partners Dress, WhoWhatWear x Target Denim Jacket, Cult of Gaia Ark Bag, Poppy Lissiman Sunglasses, Kate Spade Heels  

My trip and this post is sponsored by Burt's Bees.
All content and opinions are my own. 

March 6, 2017

{STYLE} Platinum Blonde Self Expression with John Frieda Hair Care


While I felt like the world was falling apart around me, I set a very low-key "resolution" for my year: be blonder. Of course, I set my intentions around broader career goals and commitments to activism, as well, but when it came to something I could do for myself with relative immediacy and without the threat of failure, it was go blonde or go home. So, my gradual progression to lighter locks over the last few years evolved into full-blown platinum blonde ambition. It's no secret, though, that the stress of going blonde is pretty serious on your tresses - and breakage, fallout, and maintaining color is a process in and of itself. Knowing I was heading to New York for NYFW - and that the air would be cold and dry, and that I'd be doing my hair daily for shows and events, I tried to prep and plan out my haircare in a way that insured my new locks would be their least vulnerable.

Enter John Frieda Hair Care. I've been a long time fan of the "Frizz Ease" line - stocking tiny tubes of the serum in my purses to smooth out my ends and flyaways throughout the day (and this is something I've been doing for years!) But this years new line of product innovations came at a perfect time for me and my newly platinum hair. After all, as my mother says, "hair care is self care," and devoting a little time to creating the image and look that I want has been a pretty radical step in taking care of myself in an area where I can assert some control.

On top of this, John Frieda Hair Care experts have just launched their new Hair Talks Make Your Statement campaign to speak to the power of hair as a tool for self expression. The campaign was also kicked off with the most fun surprise concert in TriBeCa at the start of NYFW with Tinashe - who is the face of Hair Talks Make Your StatementThere's nothing that better conveys my own relationship with my hair -- it has always been a place where I've experimented, evolved, played with style, and channeled energy into creating parts of my identity. I've been coloring and restyling my hair since I was 13, been through an entire rainbow of colors (though it should be no surprise that my first color choice, all the way back in middle school, was pink), and my thankfully strong & resilient hair continues to be part of how I speak.



I planned out a series of styles that I could leverage out of a single wash - retouching, styling, and revitalizing throughout the week of running around to exciting events. Confession time: I was inspired by an old Into The Gloss piece where Kim Kardashian shared that she washes her hair every 5-days to get the most out of styling, and applied a similar approach in planning out my NYFW calendar. 


I started with priming my hair with the John Frieda Frizz Ease 10-Day Tamer Pre-Shower Treatment (it's an amazing, intensive treatment that you apply to dry hair before washing that extends the lifecycle of that wash) and following up with their Sheer Blonde Brilliantly Brighter Ultra Illuminating ShampooConditioner, (fellow blondes looking for a color correcting team: this stuff is great at keeping brassiness at bay and it's budget friendly). After washing and towel drying, I sprayed in some John Frieda Frizz Ease Daily Nourishment Leave-In Conditioner to my damp hair before I got ready to blow dry. For my day 1 style, I decided to stick with a smooth and sleek blow out that I could easily build from. Starting with a great blow-dry (without having to add additional heat just yet), was the perfect foundation - and styling with a deep side part helped create a bit of extra volume and movement without having to over style. Best of all, because this style is pretty easy to maintain, I managed to get two days out of it with a few sectioned-off sprays of John Frieda Luxurious Volume Refresh Dry Shampoo.







For my second hairstyle, I knew I wanted to have some of my signature loose waves. Even though I've recently been playing with a lot of different styles, messy, undone waves are one of the looks where I feel most myself. They're playful, sexy but not too serious, and I love having additional texture in my hair. It might seem a little counter intuitive, but I applied a bit of mousse to my dry hair before adding waves in with an iron. The John Frieda Luxurious Volume Perfectly Full Mousse not only helps set and cold the curl, but also adds extra heat protection. To finish, I rubbed John Frieda Frizz Ease Nourishing Oil Elixir throughout my ends (I'm addicted to this product!) and smoothed out my fly-aways using John Frieda Frizz Ease Secret Weapon Touch Up Crème (this is magic, especially if you have short & stubborn baby hairs like I do.)




For my next style, I worked on a simple transition with my waved ends on a half-up bun. I've been rocking the "tiny topknot" or "baby bun" for a while - and sorry not sorry, it's one of my favorite styles for in-between days! I secured the bun with pins and added in more volume to the sectioned off hair with a spritz of John Frieda Luxurious Volume Refresh Dry Shampoo. Once I set the bun, I secured the style with John Frieda Sheer Blonde Crystal Clear Hairspray. Fellow blondes might know (or not, in which case, lesson time) that a lot of styling products are what can contribute to brassiness, build up, and fading color. What's so magical about this hairspray is that it leaves no residue or stickiness behind - while leaving a flexible hold that is perfect for styles that demand a little more movement and bounce. 



Photos by Lydia Hudgens,
Hair Direction by Adam MacClay

I love to mix up my wardrobe, obviously, but my favorite accessory lately has really been my hair - it speaks, it evolves, it definitely talks. It's part of my armor - a way for me to constantly switch up my look and redefine my persona. It's been a ton of fun to play with my new platinum looks and leverage as much as I can out of my arsenal of John Frieda Hair Care styling products - all while managing the stress on my hair. 



This post was sponsored by John Frieda Hair Care.
All content and opinions are my own.