My Most-Used Accessories: Part I

Depending on quality, the performance of the right accessory will be so good that it helps address a need or perform a task much better. The items that I list here and use frequently not only meet my expectations, but go beyond them. There are many, many items you can buy, but these are the accessories that have filled a void for me and I have come to heavily rely on them.


Razor

Price: $95

Purchase: here

Alright.

Gold-plated.

Razor.

Extra much? Yea. Worth it? Yes.

Let’s put this out here right away- the pain from wax/laser is too much for me to handle. A lot of my family/friends can endure the ‘minor’ pain as they call it, and although I don’t even consider myself ‘weak’ when it comes to handling pain…I’m starting to think I’m just more sensitive when it comes to this. I’ve used stress balls to their max squish capability in those laser appointments, and let me tell you, even then I was dying inside. It’s great if you dish out all that money for laser and see an improvement in your hair. However, for someone who can’t take the pain and saw crazy hair growth everywhere from taking MSM at one point, it’s just not something I want to do anymore- for now anyways. The “for now” has been going on for quite a few years hah. Of course, you can choose not to put up with any of this at all, in which case go you, it’s a personal choice. I myself just like having a lot of hair on my head, and not-so-much on my legs or arms. Whatever works for you! However, if you’re of the same mentality as me on this one, I cannot wait to share with you my newfound solution.

So, no waxing or laser- in comes shaving. First associations that usually come to mind at this? Plastic + Ingrowns. I’ve been using cheap, disposable razors all my life, accepting it as a normality. When it comes to the men’s department however, it’s flipped- different and better associations come to mind: Shaving = Luxury + Experience. Whenever we want to get a gift for my dad in the shaving department, for example, we always get him those beautiful German razors, and this to me was a normality too: nice razors and blades are for men and their beards only, not for women. I never even considered women could be using those same, high quality tools to shave.

I actually first came across the brand Oui Shave on EcoDiva Beauty, where it’s previous models were sold out. I’ve never tried their razors before this and so I can’t comment on those, but once I read the description for their upcoming, newer model on their website, I knew I would indubitably commit to their ‘upgraded’ launch. But what is this razor that they’re marketing for women in the first place? Answer:

“A safety razor is a shaving tool, usually made of stainless steel or brass, that features a removable blade. It is called a safety razor because its design includes a bar that keeps the blade directly away from the skin. The razor uses only one blade, which is exposed on both sides of the razor. Double the shaving power and longer lasting blades.”

One blade is definitely a departure from the cheap multi-blade razors I was using this whole time. In addition, we have a product that reduces plastic waste since it’s made from metal. It’s really nice timing actually that I discovered the brand just when they were a month or so away from releasing their new and improved razor, said to work with women’s curves with more ease. Sure enough, when preorders opened up, I jumped right into it to get the gold razor. I didn’t even bother waiting for the rose gold, which got released a a couple of months after, because I wanted one A.S.A.P. As they said, “why sneeze at gold?”- I did not sneeze indeed. For pre-orders, I purchased a kit: a set of 10 razor blades, a neroli oil (which I selected out of two options), and the razor itself.

Upon arrival, I actually assembled it backwards- razor noob much. However, it’s super easy to assemble, as it simply consists of 3 parts: a handle, and two head pieces. A short summary of the assembly process is the following: unscrew the handle, put a blade in between the two heads, make sure “Made in Germany” on the lower head is facing downwards before you assemble, reattach the handle, and tighten. They now have a video of this process on their website, which I think will do a better job of illustrating with visuals, so check it out here.

Upon assembly, I immediately noticed that my razor seemed loose- it just would not screw in tightly. However, it wasn’t too bad and I decided to continue. It’s very weird carrying such a weight in your hands when you’ve been used to lightweight plastic all you’re life, and takes accustoming to. The important thing to remember is to hold the razor a a 30 degree angle and to use the weight of the razor to help you do the work of shaving, without applying any additional pressure yourself. My first shave was definitely weird because in addition to not being used to the weight, I found I would still apply pressure just out of sheer habit. Ending with a cut or two, I came out of the first shave feeling unsure. Keep in mind that no matter what, you will be getting cuts here and there whenever you shave (I still do sometimes), but with proper use and the proper razor, this can be minimized. It quite honestly took a few shaves to finally get the hang of using the new razor and being comfortable with it. But no matter how many times I’ve shaved, whether comfortable or not, I’ve never. Gotten. Ingrowns. YUP. I said it. It’s that good. Why is this the case though? Let’s look directly to Oui Shave to get a better understanding of why this product is designed to not give us these nasties:

“We get ingrown hairs from shaving as a result of the combination of sharp and dull blades in multi-blade razors. They are designed to cut the hair below skin level, which causes ingrown hairs, while the remaining dull blades rake over our skin, resulting in razor burn. With a single, well-designed blade, the hair is cut at skin level. You still experience a close shave, but your hair regrowth isn’t trapped below the skin, risking the potential for discomfort and inflammation.”

Pretty simple right? Essentially, this single blade razor has been the single solution us ladies have needed all this time. Overall, this thing is built to look impressive and function very well- upon unboxing, I felt insanely happy knowing I owned such a beautiful, well-crafted, hefty golden tool of hair removal. A few months later and I still get excited using it. Isn’t that how it should be anyways? Shaving shouldn’t be this experience we’re dreading because we know we have to deal with ingrowns afterwords. It should be a form of self-care that we look forward to! Now when I think ‘shaving’, I think “luxe + experience.”

I feel like I don’t even have to say more after that, that was the climax of this post- no ingrowns! But I will because there’s a few more details to cover ;). Once you get the hang of of the razor, you appreciate it so much more and realize how easy it is to maneuver around your body. Curves are definitely not an obstacle for this hefty guy! I recommend to shave at the end of the shower, when your skin is already softened by the steam and hot water. I have used the neroli oil that came in the kit frequently- but only once for my actual shave. It caused buildup on my razor and the hair would stick to my skin, resulting in a messy situation. I didn’t like the experience, so I choose to stick to my lovely soaps from Osmia Organics to lather and prep my skin prior shaving. This oil, however, will frequently go on as the last step of my shower on my still-wet skin. It’s the product that has launched my obsession with Neroli, wow does it smell good. Thus, I really appreciate the included oil as a normal body oil, and used as part of my post-shaving experience, not during.

I know it’s pricey guys- however if the possibility of no more ingrowns is not in fact priceless to you, think about this: each razor blade can give you about 5-6 uses. In this kit you are also getting an oil and 10 razor blades, meaning you can get up to 60 total uses from this purchase. With proper care (avoiding humidity, low oxygen, high salinity, poor air circulation environments), this razor will last you years. Taking this into account, it will offset the cost when you compare to purchasing disposable razors multiple times per year for a few years. I do want to re-emphasize that you should take good care of the razor, since you are spending a lot on it after all. Make sure you dry out your razor and blade after the shower, and do not  leave it in the shower in the humid environment. Store in a cool, dry place when you’re not using it. I know this isn’t what a lazy person (like myself) wants to hear, but treat your razor well and it will treat you well ;).

Back to the loose head I  mentioned earlier – I contacted the company recently because it was getting progressively looser, SO loose lately that it would just come right off and I’d cut myself more often. I was so sad because I was sure I finally found the golden solution (pun intended), and it could possibly be at an end. I was responded promptly with the following message: “The spinning head is definitely not normal. This is a manufacturing error that has effected a small batch of razors.” My razor is currently on route to being replaced, as instructed, and I will update you guys on my replacement. So, while I cannot say how the original razor is supposed to be yet, I can say that from the taste I got, it’s an amazing product that’s an integral part of my showers and hair-removal solution. I am really looking forward to this issue being ameliorated with the proper replacement, and I will update you guys here about it.


Shower Cap

Price: $43

Purchase: here

I’m not one to wash my hair every day- not even because there’s articles out there that say whether you should or shouldn’t, but because I’m just too lazy for that. I mean, we can all relate here, right? Ever since I cut my hair short, I have to blow dry my hair, and that adds more time to my to-do list than I care for. It’s funny, I can spend all the time I need for skincare or makeup, but with hair, my patience is limited. I’ve actually been trying to change this and adapt the same care I give for my skin to my hair as well, especially since bleaching it has left it so damaged. The differences in my scalp and hair have been SO good. But still, washing and styling is a hassle…what can you do.

I take body showers on days I don’t wash my hair, choosing to simply clip my hair back or wrap in a towel to prevent it from getting wet. Now I like my showers hot and long (don’t we all)- after all it is one of the greatest forms of therapy. Unfortunately, after being exposed to the humidity, my scalp will be very unhappy, and afterwords it will feel itchy and very uncomfortable. Even if I wrap my hair in a towel, I will still feel the same afterwords. It’s another detail I thought I would always have to put up with, so I accepted it as another normality and chose to hasten the time spent inside the shower or just try my best to ignore it.

Ive been eyeing this shower cap for a few months that touts to be water-proof and protect your hair. Whether it was fake or the real deal, I couldn’t bring myself to spend the money on it in case it didn’t do anything special. My lovely best friend knew I was thinking of buying it and actually gifted it to me for my birthday, in the beautiful emerald green color I wanted.

First off, it’s SO lovely, it’s really well done in terms of aesthetics- just look at the detail in the front. It’s definitely extra but it’s this chic, lovely hat that makes you feel like you’re going to take a shower in Paris. I really, really love the aesthetic, especially that of my emerald green cap. They have many other fun designs for you to chose from, from simple to colorful. Aside from how it looks physically, its functionality exceeds expectations as well. Straight away, it’s very easy to put on and covers all of my hair, even my hairline (granted I do have short hair right now, but it’s spacious enough where I assume it will work with ease for everyone). I do have to note though, be mindful where you put your ears because mine were locked in a weird position and I didn’t notice until after the took off the cap and had to recover- so put them fully inside or outside of the cap hah user error! It consists of a single layer of stretchable fabric- not your usual cheap plastic that makes you feel sweaty and nasty afterwords; less plastic waste is yet another bonus from this product.As you can see from the images, there is a thick elastic lining inside the front- not only does this rubber grip maintain its strength so that the hat will always be kept where it should be, but it doesn’t leave a mark on your forehead. It’s this excellent attention to details and quality that make this shower cap worth the money- the look, the quality of all the materials used from the cap itself to the lining, the breathability of the cap, etc. I can also confirm is INDEED 100% waterproof. It’s funny I knew that detail already from reading about it but was thinking to myself- where will I hang this so it can dry once I’m done? Well you don’t have to worry about that because it’s COMPLETELY dry post-shower. Do you know how much I love that…I still have trouble hanging my facial washcloth and this is one less detail I have to worry about.

If you ever want to wash your shower cap, you simply set it to cold-wash on your washing machine and air-dry. How easy is that? This will come in handy post hair-mask sessions or facials. OH yea…did I mention you can totally use it for that? In addition to wearing on the beach or at spas? So not only does it help preserve your hairstyle/blowout at home, but it can go with you anywhere you need. In summary, Functionality + Multi-Use + Reusability = a sheer genius product.

Aside from these details, my biggest approval comes in what it did for my issue: I was so happy to find that my scalp didn’t feel in the slightest itchy or uncomfortable after my first time testing it out, and every time thereafter. I’m truly a big fan of this accessory and highly recommend the product- it’s chic, of great quality, performs wonderfully, and is durable. It’s something you definitely never knew or would normally think you needed, but for me it’s become a necessity utilized multiple times a week. Especially if you’re suffering from a sensitive/itchy scalp, this will be a great investment for you as well.  This is not just a shower cap…it’s a self-care CROWN.


Wooden Bristle Brushes

Price: $13-$20

Purchase: here

If you don’t already know, wooden bristles are the way to go. I didn’t even realize this until last year, again thanks to the world of green beauty. Taking hair more seriously for the first time this year, I’ve been very careful to be totally attentive to its needs. I’ve actually gone dark again- no more bleaching or blonde for me. Coming from someone whose friends forget her natural hair color, it’s a big deal to commit to a goal of not coloring my hair for 2 years. We will see if I make it, or if I choose to extend it out. For now I’m ecstatic about finally settling down, as I realized how much I miss my healthy hair and color. I want to nurture ALL my hair strands back to radiant health, every single strand! Aside from using certain products and incorporating scalp massages, I’ve changed up the brushes I use on my hair as well.

A really wonderful article (click here) gives details on the benefits of converting your old brushes. In summary, the wooden bristles give you a scalp massage which in turn improves circulation, they help distribute oil from your scalp down, they are heat resistant, and do not produce static. I have really been enjoying the mini scalp massage I get every time I brush, usually twice a day. I use my paddle brush in conjunction with the Reverie CAKE Scalp Serum to help distribute and massage the product onto my scalp. I’m having trouble doing scalp massages without completely saturating my scalp with oil, and since this serum is an expensive option (as are many good quality oils), I’m loving this method of allowing the brush to do the work for me while simultaneously allowing me to use less product.

I currently have two: one for brushing my hair in the morning and at night, and one for use in the shower/on wet hair. Both were purchased from Amazon. The large square paddle brush I own (click here) is by Bass, and it is of excellent quality. This is my first experience with wooden brushes, thus I have not tried other brands and cannot comment on them- all I can say is that this performs very well, enough for me to be thus far satisfied. I love the large wooden paddle brush as it has a large surface area which grabs more hair and gives a better massage (this is the brush I use in conjunction with the Reverie Scalp Serum). The comb (click here) is used whenever I’m combing my hair during/post-shower. This is a product that I do want to find an alternative for, however, as it is very small and I feel like it could be better overall. It does, however, allow for ease of traveling due to its size.

Have you tried wooden bristle brushes/combs? I can’t imagine using anything else on my hair now.


Make-up Applicators

I’m not a collector when it comes to brushes- I don’t need 500 different kinds to get one job done (though for eyeshadow you do need a few), and buying more of them just means more items I have to be diligent about clean. Depending on what I pay for the brush, I have my expectations. On the lower end of the price spectrum, I’ve purchased quite a few of the Morphe brand brushes before. It’s a little too easy to get carried away with their brand, just because they have SO many brushes, I’ve definitely bought way more than I’ve needed before. I never intended to try more expensive options since that brand already gave me good brushes at a good price. However, I’m glad I did because some of those options are now my favorites.

Gressa ($13-$32, click here):

Gressa’s brushes are easily a favorite: the quality, the build, and the performance are impeccable. Although at first I didn’t want to pay $32 for one brush, I would gladly do it again if it came from Gressa. They are 100% vegan, with the bristles made from hypoallergenic synthetic materials and the handle from wood. I myself have seen nothing but good reviews from their Gressa Skin Air Focus foundation brush, and I’m here to add another one. First, the bristles are very soft. Second, I’ve been using this brush for about two years now, and it’s in just as good shape as when I first got it. Again I will emphasize, Gressa brushes are of impeccable quality – I’ve never had the slightest issue with the handle getting lose or bristles falling off. The only change is that the writing of “Gressa Skin” on the brush handle has faded. If you are pondering which brush to use with your liquid foundation, this is the choice as it doesn’t pick up too much product and helps buff the product into your skin for a flawless finish. Lately I’ve been using my fingers for application (I’ll always switch it up depending on my mood, using either fingers, a brush, or a sponge), but when I do reach for a brush, it will only be this one. Currently, I am using it on an almost daily basis to apply my bronzer from Gressa (remember my my Mix It Up post (here)? This is the brush I talked about).

The Angle Liner Brush is another favorite. As you can see from the picture, it’s nice and thin, allowing for a precise line every single time. I use it in conjunction with my Cake Liner from RMS Beauty, and they make a wonderful duo. I rely on this brush almost every day, and once again it remains in perfect quality even after much abuse under my hands.

RMS Beauty ($34-$40, click here):

Another very impressive brand for brushes. The bristles of their “skin2skin” foundation and blush brushes are made from high-end synthetic fibers of varying lengths (which they call dual technology). If you look closely, the foundation brush has a swirl pattern which serves the function of improving blending. However, I don’t use the foundation brush anymore, as Gressa’s brush has been my preferred choice for a long time. It’s definitely still a good quality brush which suits the cream RMS foundations, however I use liquid and personally love a bigger surface area brush to disperse product onto my skin. I feel like I have to keep dipping this brush into product and then apply to my face, which makes me actually use more foundation. I don’t like dragging my brushes across my face either, which I feel like I have to do more of with a smaller, more compact brush. The blush brush, however, is my number one when it comes to applying cream brush to my cheeks. I’ve used it with RMS products, with Kjaer Weis, and will use it with every and any cream blush that comes my way. It just deposits the perfect amount of product and gives me airbrushed cheeks.

The Kabuki Polisher is another favorite. It’s made with very soft, compact bristles- I want to say as soft as or even softer than the Gressa foundation blush. Take this tip from the founder Rose-Marie Swift:

“Applying Magic Luminizer using the Kabuki Polisher really buffs it into the skin, so it looks natural but with added highlight and drama. This achieves that ‘Instagram strobing’ effect, but with a subtle, radiant sophistication.”

I have to completely agree with her on this one. Whereas I would always use my fingers or a fan blush to apply my highlight, this is now my favorite way to do so.

Teri Miyahira ($28-$34, click here):

I’ve actually purchased the most brushes from her! Her brushes are vegan and cruelty-free. If we want to talk aesthetics, these look so pretty. The white wooden handles, rose gold upper half, soft white bristles of Taklon fibers- it’s perfection to look upon. Performance-wise, I actually enjoy them very much as well. It’s no doubt related to the fact that the founder herself is a makeup-pro herself. Although I have almost all her eyeshadow brushes, I want to talk about my two most-used brushes (after all, this is most-used accessories and I rarely wear eyeshadow!). First off, her contour brush (# 03): I just find that the shape/size of the brush allows for a perfect deposit of contour powder every time and makes it very easy, whether you’re a pro or beginner. Used alongside my Alima Pure Sombra Powder, it makes for a perfect team. Next up is a brush (# 10) you can actually also use for eyeshadow, but which I frequently use to contour my nose. Once again, the size, shape, density of the bristles allow for a perfect and easy application. I’ve been using these brushes for about a year and can’t imagine a replacement as of now.

Unfortunately, there’s an issue: two of my other brushes from her line have gotten loose/fallen apart, as shown below. Though I can firmly press the metal and wood against each other to hold them in place, it still doesn’t feel as sturdy and will end up loosening again. Since two brushes fell apart, it makes me less confident of the quality. I’m sure the brushes would have been replaced had I contacted the team, but it’s on me that I chose not to. Overall, I haven’t experienced this with the rest of the line, and still appreciate the aesthetic and performance of the brushes. But does the quality of the $34 brush I own from the line measure up to that of Gressa’s $32 brush or those from RMS Beauty? Not quite.

snapseed-61

Elcie Cosmetics ($18, click here): 

Do you guys remember when I said I would use a sponge for my Gressa Bronzer application in my Fullies Edit #1? This is the sponge I was referring too. Not only for my bronzer, but I use this for EVERYTHING- to set my foundation, my blush, my highlight. It just really makes your makeup application look flawless and air-brushed when used as the final step. It is by far the best facial sponge I have used- just look at the SIZE. It’s the biggest I’ve seen, and for that reason so convenient. In addition, unlike the Beauty Blender which bleeds dye when you wash it (something that always annoyed me) this does not. I also love the shape so much, as it’s very easy to grip and allows for different applications. The bottom/sides I use for setting my foundation/bronzer/blush, and the tip I will use for under my eyes and around my nose.

It is torn now on the bottom in a few tiny spots after a few months of use, but overall I still love this item. I highly suggest you guys get this sponge if not any other brushes for makeup application, it really allows for a flawless finish. Unfortunately it is sold out now, but I really hope you guys get to try it out soon.