How to Become More in Touch with Yourself

The world in which we live today makes it easy for us to connect and interact with one another. With social media, text, and email, it is easier than ever to communicate and build relationships. While this emphasis on connecting with others is fantastic, we tend to forget to connect with ourselves. We need to establish a relationship with ourselves as much as we do with the people around us. Being comfortable and content in our own skins can have a positive effect on our lives, so here is a short guide to help you on your journey to becoming more in touch with yourself.

Choose to be happy
Happiness is a choice and responsibility that lies in our own hands. Many of us have been brought up to believe that our happiness depends on someone else, but that is not the case at all. Instead of being down when things do not go your way, be proactive and take charge of the situation. Fill your life with hobbies, people, and activities that give you joy. Get rid of the negative influences. See the silver lining in everything, and find a positive way of looking at life. You may not be able to control or understand the bad things that happen, and it is fine to feel sad from time to time, but choosing happiness can make bad situations less debilitating and your life infinitely better. Take it from someone whose life took a huge turn for the better once she chose happiness: happiness is a choice that only you can make for yourself.

Visualize what you want
There are things that we want in life such as better skin, a promotion, or a holiday. Be honest with yourself, and write down the things that you want, no matter how absurd it may sound. It could be a goal, an item, or a change that you want to make to your life. This honesty with yourself will give you the focus you need to strive towards attaining that goal, item, or change. Knowing what you want can also help you create a plan of action. However, try not to overwhelm yourself by cramming too many things on your list at once. Prioritize, then tackle one item at a time. If you find it difficult to determine what exactly it is that you want in life, consider a chat with a counselor or a free tarot reading.

Go easy on yourself
It is inevitable that we will all make mistakes. We are only human, after all. The important thing is to learn from those mistakes. Being hard on yourself for slipping up is just a waste of energy that will not improve your situation or solve anything. It will only make you feel bad about yourself and put you off of trying again in the future. Remember: there is always more than one way to go about doing something, and you are entitled to changing your mind regarding your course of action. If you try something that does not work out, accept it and move on to the next alternative. When all is said and done, at least you know that you gave it your all. Also, never compare yourself to others. We are all different in many ways and should all celebrate our own uniqueness. The thing that you dislike most about yourself could very well be the thing that someone else likes most about you, so instead of focusing on the negatives, look for what you do like and enhance them.

This guide will hopefully help you to create a healthy relationship with yourself. With Valentine's Day coming up, instead of worrying about how you can please someone else or make someone else happy, you should choose happiness and make you your top priority.

How do you show yourself love?
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Sweet Start to 2016 Giveaway (Closed)

It's time for a giveaway! What better way to get a sweet start to 2016 than to win about $300 worth of gifts!

The prize pack contains:

1. $150 Visa gift card
2. $10 Starbucks gift card
3. Urban Decay Naked Smokey palette
4. Origins Charcoal Face Mask
5. Three wire-wrapped bracelets
6. A custom koozie
7. A cutom monogram keychain
8. "Good Things Come to Those who Hustle" mug

Winning this incredible prize pack is easy: just enter using the Rafflecopter below!

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Which one of these gifts are you most excited about?
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Secrets for a More Youthful Appearance

The unfortunate truth in modern society is that you will rarely find a woman who looks forward to aging. From a sociological standpoint, this belief is deeply rooted in the patriarchal world that we live in. When we look good, we feel good, so from a psychological standpoint, we want to stay looking young for as long as possible.

If you are in your 20s like me, you probably put anti-aging on the backburner because being 20 to 29 is still young; you probably don't have to worry about anti-aging for at least 20 to 30 more years. The sad fact of the matter, though, is that from our mid-20s, we begin to age. At around 25 years of age, fine lines start to appear, your skin starts losing elasticity, and you may even start to notice the odd gray hair. I'm pushing 25, and these symptoms are already showing up for me even though I started taking countermeasures against aging when I turned 20.

While there is nothing wrong with the signs of aging, they can make us feel self-conscious, and many women resort to cosmetic surgery to correct these signs. However, if the thought of going under the knife terrifies you like it does me, here are some alternative countermeasures:

Hone your makeup application skills
If you aren't smart about how you wear your makeup, you can make yourself look older. That's why it's important that, when it comes to makeup application, you know the best tricks for looking more youthful.

Before applying makeup, always pop on some moisturizer first to hydrate and plump the skin. To mask dark circles and bags, pat on a small amount of yellow-toned concealer. To fill in any fine lines and blur imperfections, pop on some primer before applying foundation. When it comes to the foundation itself, don't overdo it, or you'll make yourself look older than you are. If possible, use an illuminating foundation as this will help give your skin a fresh, dewy look. Last but not least, open up your eyes by curling your lashes, using light shadow, and highlighting the corners and lower lash line.

Put a good skin care routine in place
Although makeup helps mask the signs of aging, it is also notorious for causing them, especially if you don't take it off each night. That's why it's crucial that you get into a routine as soon as possible. Your nightly routine should start with cleansing and toning and should be followed by moisturizing. Aim only to use natural products as the chemicals found in some beauty brands can also cause premature aging.

The most important part of your skin care routine is moisturizing as this is your main line of defense against wrinkles. Ideally, this should be with a face cream that specifically targets aging. The best anti-aging creams tend to contain collagen and elastin or retinol. For a good face cream, Clarins carries a wrinkle remover you will love. It might be on the pricier end, but the results make it worth it.

Beautify your teeth
Our teeth are exposed to a lot. Especially if you don't take proper care of them, your mouth can carry more (bad) bacteria than your toilet! Over time, too, your teeth often become stained. Yellow teeth make you look older than you are, so it's important to take the time to whiten them. You can do this at home with a DIY whitening kit, or you can visit a cosmetic dentist.

For professional results, it's best to see a cosmetic dentist. The great thing about getting your teeth whitened is that, even when done by a specialist, the treatment isn't that expensive, so if you want to look more youthful without breaking the bank like cosmetic surgery would do, teeth whitening is definitely worth looking into.

What are some of your anti-aging secrets?

What are your thoughts on the social stigma that women aren't allowed to age?
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15 Contact Lens Mistakes You're Probably Making

I should start by saying that I am not an ophthalmologist or an expert in this field whatsoever, but I have been wearing contact lenses for more than a decade, and these are some of the tips I've gotten from ophthalmologists, optometrists, opticians, etc. over the years. I've even learned from some of these mistakes myself, so I thought I'd compile a list here for anyone who wants to learn the don't's of wearing contacts lenses.

1. Sleeping with contacts in
When you're awake, your eyes get oxygen from the air. When you're asleep, they get lubrication from tears. These are necessary for a healthy cornea. When you sleep with your contacts in, they prevent your eyes from getting the necessary lubrication because your contacts act like a barrier. Do this too often, and there's a significantly higher risk of corneal infection!

2. Showering with contacts in
Your contacts shouldn't be exposed to tap water (or any water that isn't your contacts solution) because bacteria could bind to them and increase your chances of infection.

3. Putting in contacts after putting on makeup
If you're like me and are pretty much blind without your contacts in, this isn't an issue, but you should avoid putting on your makeup before your contacts because as you're putting in your contacts, they could catch fallout from your makeup and, again, cause infections.

4. Removing contacts after removing makeup
On the flipside, you should remove your contacts before you remove your makeup. This is also to prevent makeup fallout getting on your contacts and to avoid irritation, especially when you're removing your eye makeup.

5. Using waterproof makeup
Due to the incredible staying power of waterproof makeup, it is difficult to remove from your contacts if you were to accidentally get some waterproof mascara on them. This has actually happened to me in the past, so trust me when I say that it's a real pain to have to maneuver a wet Q-tip around your eye in an attempt to get the smudge off. With non-waterproof mascara, a few blinks get the smudges off just fine.

6. Cleaning contacts with water
This goes along the same lines as showering with your contacts in. You want to avoid any and all contact, as much as possible, between your contacts and water, so using water to clean (or store, like I once naively did) your contacts is defeating the purpose.

7. Cleaning contacts case with water
Again, water and your contacts should stay far, far away from each other. If you really need to clean your case with water (which I still do because it feels dirty to me otherwise), let it dry completely before putting your contacts in it.

8. Closing contacts case before letting it dry
Another bad side effect of having water (even droplets) in contact with your case is the possibility of bacteria growth. If you don't let your case completely dry before you close it, the dark, damp area on the inside of your case is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, and we don't want those all up in our contacts later.

9. Using the same contacts case for a long time
Even if you do religiously keep your case away from water, keep in mind that there is still water particles in the air. Also, over time, the protective anti-bacterial layer on the inside of your case wears off. Ideally, you'd want to switch out your case every three months at least.

10. Wearing the same contacts for too long
It is very important to stick to the "expiration date" of your contacts, and I don't mean its shelf life. If you wear monthly contacts, throw them out after a month. If you wear daily contacts, throw them out at the end of the day. If you wear your contacts for longer than you're supposed to, they will deteriorate (dry out, harden up, etc.) and cause damage to your eyes.

11. Reusing your contacts solution
I was so super guilty of this in the past because I was cheap and didn't know how much harm it can do to my contacts and my eyes. The purpose of your solution is to remove the dirt and grime (and maybe bacteria) from your contacts at the end of the day, so when you soak your contacts in the solution, even if you rubbed it prior, all of the dirt and grime and bacteria settles into the solution in your case. Reusing that solution is basically soaking your contacts in the stuff you want to wash off in the first place.

12. Using generic brand contacts solution
This is a new one that I recently learned. I don't have anything against generic and store brands because they're basically the same thing in other brands. What I didn't know was that although generic brand solution and big brand solution have the same solution, big brands have quality checks that their products have to pass as per federal regulations, and they usually tell you what's in their bottles, but with generic brands, you don't really know what, if any, their quality checks are. For all we know, it could be solution that failed the quality checks for the other brands.

13. Constantly changing contacts solution brand
On the other hand, it isn't a good idea to change up your solution brand too often. Although all solutions are fundamentally the same, different brands have slightly different chemical levels in their solutions, and your eyes naturally adapt to these levels. If you constantly change brands, your eyes keep having to work at adapting to your solution, which can cause irritation.

14. Keeping your contacts in the bathroom
I also learned about this very recently, and once I did, I felt like it should've been common sense to me. Your bathroom is filled with bacteria (obviously because of what goes on in there), so leaving your contacts stuff in the bathroom is giving bacteria the chance to settle on your case and your solution bottle, etc. Also, I don't know about you, but my bathroom sink is always wet, and I mean wet, when I'm done brushing my teeth and washing my face, so if I kept my contacts stuff on the sink, it will all get super wet.

15. Storing contacts in saline solution
There are so many different types of solution on the market, and before this, I always just assumed that multipurpose solution is just all those different types mixed together, so that's all I really need. Apparently, I was wrong. Although multipurpose solution is pretty much saline solution and disinfecting solution mixed into one, it's not as effective as using them separately. Saline solution should be used to clean the lenses prior to storing. Gently rubbing it in saline solution removes the layer of dirt and grime and bacteria that's accumulated on it over the course of the day. Then, storing the lenses in disinfecting solution further disinfects it overnight before you put them back in in the morning. Basically, I think of multipurpose solutions like multipurpose mascara. They claim to volumize and lengthen, which they kind of do, but nothing beats layering volumizing mascara and lengthening mascara.

I hope this has been helpful for you, whether you're new to wearing contacts or you've worn them for a while.

What are some of your contact lens tips?
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Influenster Jingle Voxbox Unboxing

I haven't received a Voxbox from Influenster in quite some time, so needless to say, I was beyond excited to have been chosen for the Jingle Voxbox.

As the name suggests, this is a holiday themed Voxbox, which also suggests that I am very behind with this post, haha.

I wasn't behind posting about it on Instagram, though, so you might have already seen what I received. Here is what all of those products are:

1. NYC City Proof 24HR Waterproof Eyeliner in Dark Brown, $3.47 from Walmart

2. Hallmark Spiderman itty bitty, $6.95 from Hallmark

3. Biscoff Cookies, $2.48 from Walmart

4. Ore-Ida Tater Tots, $2.96 from Walmart

5. Kiss True Volume Lashes, $2.98 from Walmart

6. Kiss Strip Lash Adhesive, $4.99 from CVS

7. Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream, $12.97 from Walmart

8. Pure Ice Nail Polish in Silver Star, Currently Unavailable

It's quite rare nowadays to receive a Voxbox with multiple items from multiple brands, so this was an exciting one to unbox. I made sure to stay away from social media posts regarding the Jingle Voxbox to avoid spoilers, haha.

Have you tried any of these products?
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Wedding Dresses under $100 with DressilyMe

With the dawn of a new year, many of us have resolved to be more on top of our finances. Being a graduate teaching assistant with a measly stipend, smart budgeting is one of my top priorities. Cutting corners wherever possible is one of many ways to do just that. A new year also means a new chapter for people who decide to spend the rest of their lives together. I'm sure my Facebook feed will soon start filling up again with engagement pictures. For those of you who want to mesh both resolutions together, here are some wedding dresses under $100 from DressilyMe.

Elegant Chiffon and Stretch Satin Sheath Wedding Dress | $128.32 $76.99

Tulle Wedding Dress | $199.98 $79.99

V-Neck Wedding Dress | $136.75 $82.05

Satin and Chiffon Sheath Wedding Dress | $146.65 $87.99

Satin Mermaid Wedding Dress | $163.32 $97.99

Spaghetti Strap Mermaid Wedding Dress | $249.98 $99.99

DressilyMe is an online retailer based in Hong Kong, promising professional, personal, and convenient services in a multitude of apparel. They specialize in wedding dresses, but you can also find special occasion wear, lingerie, swim wear, and fashion jewelry on their website, all at affordable prices. They do ship from Hong Kong, though, so you would want to place your orders at least a month in advance if you live outside Asia.

Most wedding dresses on the market, both online and offline, can fetch up to $300 for those on the cheaper end of the spectrum, so up to 75% off wedding dresses, totaling less than $100, is a real steal. On top of that, they currently have a Christmas offer going on for 5% off orders more than $89 automatically applied at checkout, so this is as good a time as any to get your hands on some mermaid wedding dresses like the ones pictured above or some cheap plus size wedding dresses!

This post was sponsored by DressilyMe.
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Valentia True Glow Eye Cream Review

The area around the eyes is very sensitive, so constantly aggravating it by blending eyeshadow or removing mascara makes the eyelid wrinkled, tired, and discolored. This is my biggest concern when it comes to my eye area, so for me, for an eye cream to be considered effective, it has to reduce wrinkles, hydrate, tighten, brighten, and restore radiance. The Valentia True Glow Eye Cream claims to do all of the above.

Astanxanthin, resistem, vitamin C, rosehip oil, and amica are the active ingredients in this eye cream that help moisturize, repair, and smooth the area around the eye.

My first impression of the product when I first dispensed it on my hand is that it looks too rich and creamy for my liking. What surprised me was when I dipped my ring finger into it, the product starts looking and feeling gel-like, as shown in the picture above. I really dislike eye creams that are rich and creamy because they don't go on the eyelid easily and tend to tug on the skin, which kind of defeats the purpose. This eye cream isn't like that. It looks and feels gel-like, like I mentioned, and it glides across the eyelid like a dream. The gel-like consistency also makes it feel soothing. Because of the gel-like consistency, though, it does tend to feel and look wet on the eyelid for a while, so I only use it at night before going to bed as opposed to in the morning before leaving the house.

{ Love Notes }

My favorite part about the Valentia True Glow Eye Cream is its consistency. It feels like a cross between a lotion and a gel. It's not as heavy as a lotion but not as light as a gel. Either way, I love the way it feels on the eyelid during application. It's very cooling and soothing, which is great in an eye cream. Because of this consistency also, a little goes a long way. I dispense one pump on my hand, and there's usually some left over that I just massage into my hand. The bottle isn't tiny like most eye creams either, so I see this product lasting me a while.

With that being said, though, is this product effective? Does it reduce wrinkles, hydrate, tighten, brighten, and restore radiance like it promised? Kind of. It's not significant, but my eyelids do look tighter and brighter. The skin isn't as wrinkly and saggy, and it's not as dark and patchy. I've also only been using this product for a little over a week, so I'd say that it's definitely promising, and that's more than I can say for most eye creams.

{ Sad Faces }

Although my favorite part about this eye cream is its gel-like consistency, I was quite disappointed that it doesn't absorb into the skin as well as I'd hoped. It does get absorbed eventually, but it does look and feel wet on the eyelid while it sits.

I would definitely recommend this product if what you look for in an eye cream is similar to what I look for in an eye cream. If you're looking for a product to reduce dark circles or eye bags, this might not be the ideal product, but if you're looking to tighten and brighten your eyelids, the Valentia True Glow Eye Cream fits the bill!

This complimentary product was provided for review consideration.
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Sephora Mini Haul

This is a super mini haul because I actually only bought two things:

1. Boscia Pink Peppermint Blotting Linens, $6
This is a limited edition product that I immediately jumped on. I'm a huge fan of Boscia blotting linens; the Boscia Green Tea Blotting Linens is my holy grail blotting tissue. I've tried this already. It works just as well as the Green Tea one, and the peppermint scent is very strong and refreshing.

2. Kat Von D Tattoo Liner, $19
I know I just bought the ELF Waterproof Eyeliner (as I mentioned in my haul) because I wanted a felt tip eyeliner for cheap, but since I had a gift card, I couldn't resist skipping on this product from the brand created by the woman whose eyeliner game is always on fleek.

The other three items are the three free samples I chose (This was an online trip):

1. Atelier Cologne Mandarine Glaciale Travel Spray
Atelier Cologne is one of my favorite fragrance brands. I've tried quite a few of their scents from Birchbox, and I've loved them all! They're mostly rich, musky scents (my favorite).

2. Ralph Lauren Polo Blue
I'm not even sure if this is a women's fragrance; I just chose this sample because there were only three fragrance sample choices this month. I always get the fragrance samples (unless there's a sample of something I really want to try) because I find them to be the most worthwhile. Skin care and makeup samples aren't worth it because you can really only get a few uses out of them, but fragrance samples last much longer. I also need to test out scents before I splurge on full-sizes anyway.

3. Burberry My Burberry
I've never owned or tried anything from the Burberry brand, so needless to say, I was ecstatic that this was an available sample.

This clutch full of samples was one of the promotional code things that Sephora always has. This one specifically was one that let me choose among three holiday-themed clutches filled with 12 samples, but unfortunately, this was the only style left. I really like the clutch, but the samples were pretty meh. The only sample that really excited me was, of course, the Versace fragrance. I have a whole collection of Versace minis which I am absolutely in love with, so I'm glad this was one of the samples. Also, you can't see it from this picture, but the Urban Decay eye primer one came with four samples of four different eye primers, so I'm really excited about that too.

Have you tried any of these products?
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