Summer Beauty Essentials

by The Classic Brunette, 4:00:00 AM

It's almost the end of spring which means it's time for my beauty must haves for next season! I've tried out a ton of new products recently and have decided on a few favorites that are perfect for summer. Summer for me means a lighter amount of makeup that works overtime to make you look good. I hate wearing heavy makeup in the first place, but when it's hot I definitely don't want to feel like I'm melting. Some of these products are perfect for that exact reason, but all of them are quality beauty/makeup items that will make you ready for the summer! Without further ado, here are my picks...

Sephora Collection Rouge Shine Lipstick in Love Spell c/o : This fun pink color is the ultimate summer shade. Like most people I tend to gravitate for brighter colors during the summer months, and I love to have a lip color that is easy to match with any outfit. Love Spell by Sephora is exactly what I needed! The pink isn't overwhelmingly bright and needs a few coats to get a large amount of pigment which makes it easy for me to add just a hint of color to any makeup look. It will definitely be my go-to color for this season!

IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream c/o : Okay, so I know I said I don't like to wear heavier makeup in the summer, but a girl has to wear foundation sometimes! This isn't foundation though, it's actually a CC cream. Think of CC cream as being in between a BB cream and actual foundation. It's light, but also gives a lot of coverage. I LOVE this CC+ cream from IT Cosmetics because it has SPF 50! As I talked about in my self-tanning post earlier this week I burn extremely easily, so anything that can combat that is a life saver. This cream applies very nicely, has a great formula, and smells amazing. If I were to guess I would say it has a sort of vervaine/lemon scent. I wear the shade light, however I definitely could wear the fair shade as well. (Any one else always in between shades?)

Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Dry Shampoo : I am literally always in need of dry shampoo during the summer. I don't know what it is about the sun and my hair, but they definitely don't get along. I'm always a greasy mess even though I washed my hair the day before. This dry shampoo is one of the best I've tried and doesn't leave any pesky gray spray behind, always an issue for this brunette! It's also perfect for me since it gives my hair a little added texture.

Sephora Collection Mini Deluxe Charcoal Antibacterial Brush Set c/o : Has there ever been a product that you never knew you needed it until you already had it? That's me with this brush set. I have been in the dark for so long, because I didn't even know that travel/mini brush sets existed. I'm doing lots of trips home this summer and definitely don't want to be dragging all my makeup brushes around with me every time. Normally I have to narrow down which brushes I can use for multiple things and always feel like I never take what I actually need. With this I have all my brushes together and it comes in a super compact carrying case that I don't need to worry about it taking up a ton of space!

Maybelline The Falsies Push Up Drama : I am a mascara collector. I love testing out new mascaras, but I especially love when I can find great ones on a drugstore budget. This Maybelline mascara is INCREDIBLE. A while ago on the blog I believe I mentioned that I normally do three coats of different mascara on my lashes to achieve the look I want. Not anymore! I do a few swipes of this and I am good to go. The pigment is fantastic and it increases length, volume, etc. Like the name says, it's like you're wearing falsies. The only thing I don't particularly like is that sometimes my lashes clump easily with it, however that's a small price to pay!

Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream c/o : I received this in my gift basket from The Couture Gift Collection and have fallen in love with it ever since. It will never leave my side...ever. Seriously though it's an amazing moisturizer that does wonders for my skin. I use it after I get out of the shower (when my face is at its driest) and before I go to sleep. My skin has never felt so happy. It's got a relaxing cucumber scent and I've been known to say "ahhhhh" after applying it because it makes me feel that good. I don't toss this phrase around often, but I swear by this stuff.

Sephora Mixology Palette c/o : Nude eyeshadow palettes are my favorite type of eyeshadow palettes. A nude eyeshadow palette that gives you the perfect combinations of each pigment, that's even better. I love how this palette is set up because it means you don't have to do any of the work if you don't want to. Yes, I love being creative and seeing which shades go together, but there are times when I'm headed out the door and need to look good fast. These shadows are already perfectly paired together and all of the shades are so dreamy!

Have you tried any of these products? What is on your summer beauty essentials list?

What is a shadow ban? Is it real? How to understand what the new instagram algorithm is all about and how to benefit from the changes. Increase engagement through instagram stories, direct messaging, and owning your content.

Instagram has not been a very nice friend lately. If you use the app on a regular basis I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about. The changes that have been rolling out for Instagram have had a major impact on how photos are being shared on the app and how much interaction we get on our photos. And let's be's not going so well for us users, especially if you're a blogger. I know I've personally had my fair share of frustration with the app lately since engagement has been down and it's stopped showing me photos from people I actually want to see. (If anyone from Instagram happens to read this, bring the chronological ordered feed back!!) However I know that sitting around and fuming about the situation isn't going to solve any problems.

Now a little background info for those that aren't aware of the full situation. Instagram is now 100% owned by Facebook and is practically turning into it. The algorithm that was recently set up is VERY similar to what happened to FB a few years ago and it's expected to get even more similar in the near future. What does this mean exactly? It means everything is out of order on your feed so you won't see new updates from your favorite friends or bloggers as often (Or at all!) and Instagram now suggests things they THINK you'll like. Which means if you recently followed your uncool cousin that posts 1000x pictures of the same meal because they followed you and it would be rude not to follow a family member back, you'll most likely see their photos over a close friend you followed years ago and only posts once in a blue moon. Not right in my opinion, but what can you do? Well, let me tell you.

1. Do What Works For YOU

Instagram used to be somewhat cookie-cutter when it came to bettering your profile. Post at popular times, engage with your audience, post great photos, and your followers will slowly go up. Although this has kind of stayed the same, it isn't as easy anymore (not to say it was easy to begin with, but now it's much much harder). What works for someone else might not make sense for you. I know bloggers who have had huge success with automated like systems, however that's not something I'm willing to test out just based on what type of engagement I want to receive back. Others will post early in the morning and get a ton of likes while when you do so you might get crickets. You have to be willing to test out new ways to increase engagement and follows until you find out what works for YOU. This goes for content as well. You see someone post a pretty flat lay with some flowers, a pair of sandals, and a magazine (all that you happen to own) and their likes skyrocket, so you decide to post a nearly identical photo. Don't do that. Yeah you might rake in the likes, but that's just being a plain ol' copycat! Find your own unique way to succeed and I promise you'll get more benefits than by copying everyone else. 

2. Content Should Come First

Just think about why you follow the people you do. Is it because they are constantly liking your photos? Maybe it's because they followed you and you like to follow everyone back? Or possibly you just really enjoy their bio because it's catchy and fun. Although these reasons could possibly be part of the reason for earning your follow, you know that the real reason is because you love their content. You don't want to be scrolling through a feed of mediocre content that doesn't make you want to engage right? Well neither do your followers! This doesn't mean that all your Insta photos have to be pristine and perfect, but maybe plan a few out and have them edited in a similar way (Check out how I edit my photos!) Make sure your content game is strong and then follow through with everything else. 

3. Back Up Your Content With Engagement

Although content is extremely important, it isn't everything. Yes, you'll get a good number of followers and engagement when you have amazing content, but that doesn't mean they'll stick around for long! Keep your audience engaged by engaging them right back. Like and comment on their photos, but MAKE IT AUTHENTIC. Nowadays there are so many automated like and comment services out there that make these things almost unimportant to the regular Instagrammer. Although the big services like MassPlanner and Instagress were shut down, it doesn't mean the automation has stopped. When you decide to comment on someone's photo or video, do it with authenticity. Start a conversation with the person and they are 10x as likely to respond to you and check out your profile. This goes for your own photos as well. Responding to every comment with an actual, meaningful response will really surprise your audience because it just doesn't happen that often. Now, I know that's an area I too have to work on (because let's be honest responding to comments gets difficult when you're busy) but keeping your audience engaged and coming back for more is SO important in this new Instagram world. And something that a lot of people seem to forget is that the people that are commenting are, well, people! Try to respond to every comment (Like I said, I'll be trying better from now on!) because it's a real person on the other side that you're responding to!

4. DM'ing Is The New Comment

You might be thinking...really? DM's are so so so important now that everything is being automated. People seem to have stopped checking comments half the time since there's never anything of substance. However, when I get a DM, I'm always on the lookout and ready to respond. It shows that the person took the time to reach out to me and share their thoughts. This is also easy to do since Instagram stories allows you to DM from a specific photo or video. It's basically handing you an opportunity to connect with someone! I've found that I can easily build up a conversation with someone when they message me on Instagram and it is a great reminder that people appreciate what you post. It's a crazy cool thing when people message you and want to talk about your content! This isn't to say forget about comments altogether (see above!) but understand that you might make more of an impact on people if you share your thoughts directly with them. And hey, you might just make some awesome connections in the meantime!

5. Stop Freaking Out Over Shadowban

If you haven't heard this term yet, then you might be out of the loop. Essentially it is the thought that your posts aren't making it to your audience or showing up in your hashtags. Spoiler alert, no one knows if it's real, and it probably isn't. I admit, I fell into the trap of thinking I was shadow banned for a hot second but then I just came to the conclusion that the new algorithm sucks. Everyone's engagement and following is down. It's not just you. It would be nice if we had a simple explanation and way to solve it, but the truth is we just have to work harder to get back to what we used to have. 

6. Make Use Of Instagram Stories

Instagram stories is a HUGE way to make an impact on your audience as well as others! I typically get more engagement on my posts when I post to Instagram stories as well. With the new algorithm making it more and more difficult to be seen, Instagram stories almost guarantees you stay on your follower's radar. If you post often enough you'll remain on the main page of Instagram and your followers can see that you posted a story recently. Through my stories I like to share random snippets of my day and if I have a new blog post or post on my page I'll let my audience know about it. Though I'm not sure how to track how much this feature helps, I do know that I am having more eyes on my content and can therefore make sure my audience can keep up with my latest news!

7. Don't Put All Your Eggs In One Basket

Hate to break it to y'all, but Instagram could disappear at any moment. The next big thing could come around and drive Instagram into the ground. All the followers that you spent time building up could be gone in a flash. Yes, it's important to work on building up your audience and reach via Instagram, but remember that YOUR BLOG is the only thing that you truly own. (If you're a blogger that is, if your main focus is other social media let me just slyly suggest that you create a blog for larger content...) Don't let your blog fall by the wayside just because you're experiencing some sort of success on Instagram or any other social platform for that matter. Convert those Insta followers into readers and you are golden.

I would love to know your thoughts on this new algorithm and Instagram in general! What has helped you succeed in these trying times? Have you found a trick that boosts or deters engagement? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!

Also, if you feel like giving me a follow you can do so HERE 😊

10 Ways To Enjoy Your Alone Time

by The Classic Brunette, 3:00:00 AM
Similar Top (only $25!) | Jeans | Monogram Necklace

Being alone is one of those things that I'm pretty dang good at. I know, it's a weird thing to say, but it's true! I've found that people generally love or hate being alone, and it does normally have to deal with being an introvert or an extrovert. I'm not saying that's always the way it goes since I know plenty of extraverts who enjoy their alone time, but it's pretty much the norm. I personally love getting time to know myself and spend some time away from everything else in the world. 

In one of my classes this semester I learned that it's necessary for the brain to have some 'off time' where it doesn't have to think critically and interact with others. This gives your mind and body time to recharge and you get to learn more about yourself #TrueFacts. This basically means that everyone is in need of alone time. This was actually what inspired me to write this post! Like I said though, not everyone is great at spending time alone and often times you can feel bored or lonely if you don't know what to do with yourself. Here are my best tips for breaking those boring moments! 

1. Cook or Bake

Okay, I recognize that this one may involve some critical thinking, but this tip is all about having fun and getting creative. I'll sound like a huge nerd for saying this, but when I'm alone (and heck, sometimes when I'm with my closest friends) I'll cook or bake and pretend I'm on my own tv show. It's ridiculous and probably a little insane looking, but it's always a good time. Try out a new recipe from Pinterest or whip out a tried and true favorite that always makes you happy. Just don't try too hard of a recipe because cooking can also make you super frustrated at times!
2. Organize

I love organizing, and sometimes this is my best tool when I really want to procrastinate on anything LOL. Seriously I can organize, reorganize, and re-reorganize my bedroom, pantry shelves, bathroom counter, you name it, and I won't get bored. Sure it can sometimes become a daunting task (like for instance if I had gone out the night before with a full face of makeup and left every last piece of makeup I own on the counter for myself to organize in the morning...) but it's always a great way for me to focus on something other than my own thoughts. Plus, if you're one of those people who can't deal with themselves alone for a second, this tip should keep you pretty busy all day!

3. Read

Reading has always been a pretty big hobby of mine since I was pretty young. (Unless you ask my parents who would say I didn't catch the reading bug until middle school, but they aren't here are they?) I always love to have a book on my nightstand and I've recently been trying to actively read for a half hour every night before bed. For times when I have the house to myself for the day, I also like to pull out my book of choice and just forget about the real world for a few hours. Does anyone else ever truly get lost in a good book? I feel like it's one of the best feelings! My favorite book overall is The Great Gatsby, but I also recommend the Shopaholic Series (currently reading) and Amy Poehler's Yes Please for some lighter reads!

4. Dance

Okay another dorky fact about myself, I throw solo dance parties ALL THE TIME. Literally the second everyone is gone from the house I break out the jams and bust a move. Yes, it looks just as bad as you're picturing. It helps to get me moving and is really just a blast! Right now I'm crazy obsessed with Harry Styles' new album although most songs aren't particularly 'dance-worthy' you should still give it a listen (even if you don't like One Direction it's a completely different sound!) and I also love the song I'm The One by DJ Khaled featuring Justin Bieber! (100% 'dance worthy' and I may have pulled something the other week dancing to this...)

5. Workout

Want to pass the time AND be productive? Get some exercise in! I know it depends on the person, but I exercise so much better when I'm by myself. Partners can be great to motivate you to actually work out, but I'm just not as comfortable exercising when there's another person next to me. My competitive side normally comes out and I get frustrated when I can't compete. So I use my alone time to go for a run, lift some weights if I have them, or as I talked about above get a little cardio in with some dancing.

 6. Give Your Pet(s) Some Love

Sometimes when you're alone you want some form of company, so hang out with your furry best friend! I am one of those weird people who has conversations with my pets like they understand every word I say, and it definitely makes those lonely feelings melt away. (Do I sound like a crazy cat lady yet?) Cuddle up with your cat, dog, rabbit, llama, whatever and let them know that they're not alone either!

7. Go Through Your Stuff

Similar to organizing, but this time you have to decide if you actually want to keep all the stuff that you find in your house. I personally love going through my closet and beauty items because it makes me realize how many things I never wear/use. Go through what you think needs a look through (hint: pretty much everything) and sort items into three piles: keep, sell, and donate. It's more fun than it sounds and once again it will definitely keep you busy!

 8. Spend Time Outdoors

Clearing my head and getting out of the house are two of the key things that keep me sane when I have too much alone time. I have a nice big park a few blocks from my house so when I feel like I've been cooped up for too long I like to walk around and get some fresh air. Even though I'm not the biggest outdoors girl, sometimes you just need some sun and air to make everything a little better.

9. Educate Yourself

Have some extra alone time on your hands? Why not learn something new about a topic you're passionate about? If you're a blogger like me you could always delve into the terrifying world of SEO or learn more about the best ways to grow each of your social channels. (Psst have you checked out my Instagram Tips post?) Or what about that one lesson a teacher once lectured about that had you sitting at the edge of your seat? There are websites and books on pretty much every topic out there, so why not discover something new! One of my personal goals this summer is to spend my alone time finishing my Greek language Rosetta Stone course since I'm super passionate about the language. (I honestly don't have a good reason why, I'm just a Greek history nerd!)

10. Go To Target (or Your Favorite Store)

A trip to Target is always worthwhile to me. (I promise this isn't sponsored, haha!) I'm not sure what magical powers this store has, but I could spend hours in there and not get bored. If you're desperate for something to do in your alone time, take a trip to your local Target or your favorite store and just browse. No one is forcing you to purchase anything (although let's be honest you probably will make a pit stop in the dollar section and scoop up a few things) and you can just let yourself look at everything. Again, this is my last tip because it's kind of a last resort thing. If you are 100% not an alone time person and absolutely dread every other tip I've talked about hopefully immersing yourself in a public area can do the trick for you!

What are your favorite ways to spend some alone time?