Author Archives: The JCR Girls

About The JCR Girls

The JCR Girls: Style, Class, and a Bit of Sass! A Life/Style blog based in NYC + MPLS.

No Spend October: Month Without Spending Challenge

Surely you’ve heard of No-Shave November (support this great cause if you can!). But today, we’re talking about something a bit different. No-Spend November. Scratch that. October.

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While No Spend November has a much better ring to it (not to mention tons more Google results, it must be a “thing”), I’m adapting my No Spend November a month early, selecting October because, well… November has two key shopping holidays that I just can’t avoid (holiday gift shopping for others included!). This year, Black Friday falls on November 24 and Cyber Monday on November 27 and I will be partaking. Chances are, if you read this blog, you will also be partaking… more on that later!

Why Commit to a Month of No Spending?

For me, August + September were full of “just because” purchases. At times I felt “I’ve worked so hard, I deserve it.” In some cases it was justified by “it was a really good deal, hard to pass up.”

-I bought a designer purse (used) and another one (also used). Considered a third…

-I couldn’t pass up the Lilly Pulitzer After Party Sale (but in my defense, I only bought one thing).

-Then Nordstrom had Triple Points…

$750 dollars later… I finally started asking myself, “Why?” and “What’s next?”

While I do have disposable income available, it feels silly to “dispose” of it in this way. So while there’s not a huge push to save more / spend less, per se, I want to be more intentional about how I’m spending my money. “Just because” just doesn’t cut it anymore. These funds could be channeled to provide more meaningful experiences vs. things. More trips, more entertainment, more memories made. Hopefully, it will shape my long-term outlook on such things.

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The Minimalist vs. Maximalist Dilemma

It’s not just the spending I want to curb, it’s the STUFF. If you know me, I’m quite the bargain hunter. Purchasing a high volume of goods at a low price point is a unique skill of mine. I love a good bargain, especially when the item can be “flipped” for profit (not that I put in the effort anymore, but it’s the prospect of it that counts, for me at least).

When I see something I want at a consignment shop, vintage store, thrift store, or discount online retailer, it’s hard to pass it up. But, the accumulation of stuff is real. How can 2 people living in a 4 bedroom house feel cramped? Stuff. Let me tell you, it’s because of stuff.

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The Rules
I’ll be the first to admit it will not be easy. 31 days of no clothing, shoes, accessories, home goods, beauty products, etc. (just essentials like food and toothpaste and whatnot).

Searching Pinterest, there are some hardcore people trimming their spending on food, social activities, you name it. And I salute you. My rules skew much more simple:

  1. No spending money on clothing. Not online. Not in-store. Not full price. Not half price. Not $1.00. Includes athleisure, pajamas… yep, every article of clothing.
  2. No spending money on accessories. No jewelry. No handbags. No phone cases. No sunglasses, wallets, or perfume.
  3. No spending money on beauty products. No makeup. No Instagrammable apothocary finds. No chapstick just because you can’t find your other 6 sticks. No facial wipe travel packs even if they’re only $4.
  4. No spending money on footwear. No running shoes. No loafers. No riding boots. No chunky knit socks. No leopard print ballet flats no matter how seasonally appropriate.
  5. No home decor. This one is kind of tough. I’ve been on a decor kick. Plus with the change of seasons… No throw pillows. No blankets. No art. No plants. No flowers. No candles. No more fake succulents, alright?

I used to be really good at “No,” especially in college and just after, when I literally needed to prioritize my car payment and keep a careful eye on gas and groceries. But since growing up I’ve gotten caught up in  “treat yourself, you deserve it” mode. In an effort to break this, I’m starting with these 5 rules. I’m hoping one month is more than doable. I still plan on eating out, engaging in some travel, and not depriving myself of a manicure or facial. But, those are experiences and not things that take up space in my house.

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What’s your take? Am I being strict enough? What are your tips to curbing spending on unnecessary items?

 

Beauty Reviews: Lash-Enhancing Serum, Malin + Goetz Cleanser, Kevyn Aucoin Contour Book, Ouidad Multi-Use Curl Treatment…

Welcome! We’re excited to bring you another round of beauty reviews, this time going further in-depth on eyelash serums, testing out the new Kevyn Aucoin contour, sculpt, and highlight book, sharing our favorite curl-enhancing hair products from Ouidad, and our first impressions on Malin + Goetz Face Cleanser + Moisturizer.

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1. Eyelash Serums

If you’re looking for an alternative to spending $$$ on lash serums, I think you’ll be surprised by the variety of offerings now on the market. A quick Google search yields dozens of different brands and price points, but what’s the difference? Can I trust the effectiveness of XYZ brand?

So, I did some further digging. From what I’ve gathered, all products promote the following ingredients: vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids to promote hair growth, hydration and nourishment.

If you tuned in to our last round of Beauty Reviews, you’ll know we’ve been trying out SkyOrganics Castor Oil.

Pros: 100% natural and organic. Promotes overall hair growth, including nourishment and hydration (meaning you can use it for a variety of purposes, to grow stronger and longer eyelashes, brows and hair). The best part? It’s currently only $15.95!

Cons: The product itself is sticky and can get runny, so be careful to apply only a tiny amount to avoid a sticky mess.
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Among eyelash-enhacing products on Sephora.com, GrandeCosmetics GrandeLASH rises to the top with the highest volume of positive reviews. We have a lot of positive things to say about the product as well. (Although, be sure to read the reviews before making a purchase, because if you have sensitive skin and are prone to “staining” you may well want to consider a more natural product).

Pros: Easy / slick application, attractive packaging + easy to pack, has landed several “best of beauty” awards (so critics say it’s really something!).

Cons: I’m afraid it won’t last very long! We’ll see…

What about neuLASH? Is it really the best? Worth $95 per 0.1oz?

Ok, I haven’t actually tried this product (it’s been in and out of my Nordstrom shopping cart multiple times over the past few years though), but I just haven’t been able to bring myself to shell out this kind of cash on a cosmetic product. Would love to hear your POV on it in the comments though!

neuLASH promotes the following key ingredients: Sodium hyaluronate (for hydration, softness, elasticity, and shine) + Panthenol (for moisture, flexibility, durability) + pumpkin seed extract (nourishment + “leaving them luxurious”).

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Moral of the story…

You probably can’t go wrong with any of the above options (unless you have sensitive skin or have had issues with staining in the past). The ingredients lists and price points are quite different, but from the reviews, the results are similar and most consumers are pleased with the products.

2. Kevyn Aucoin “The Contour Book The Art of Sculpting + Defining Volume II”

An all in one contour, sculpt and highlighting palette for face and eyes.

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First impressions: This product is luxe and really pretty. There’s just something about the high end look + feel that makes using it an even more elevated experience. This product combines both cream and powder products inside, and comes with an in-depth guide how-to guide that includes detailed steps and easy-to-follow illustrations.

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I know I need a lot of practice in this department (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again!). Kevyn recommends practicing at home in daylight to make it easier to check your progress. The tutorial videos found on this product page can be a huge help, too.

“Dark colors shade and make areas recede, Light colors highlight and make things come forward” – Kevyn Aucoin.

The Contour Book Volume 2 is exclusively available at Sephora. for $65.00 ($226.00 value).

3. Ouidad Curl-Enhancing Hair Products

Ouidad-Curly-Hair-Product-Reviews
Ok, it took me forever to figure out how to pronounce this one (“Oui” like the French “yes” + “dahd” like “odd” with a “D”).

I’ve been saying “yes” to embracing my curls/waves the past few years, and Ouidad products have been key in keeping my hair looking neat + tidy as opposed to frizzy and unmanageable.

Whether you have classic curls, tight curls, loose curls, or kinky curls, Ouidad has shampoo, conditioner, and styling products suited to your curl type.

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The latest product from the Ouidad line I’ve tried is the Mongongo Oil Multi-Use Curl Treatment. It helps heal split ends (lifesaver!), while adding softness and shine. It can be used in the shower, or on dry hair. So far, I’ve only used it on dry hair as a leave-in (hello, shine!), but I plan to try these other uses as well:

As a conditioner: Pair a quarter-sized amount of Mongongo Oil with a drop of water in your hand. Work into wet hair and leave on for 3-5 minutes. Rinse.

As a heat protectant: Apply before heat styling to protect and help speed up drying time.

As a finisher: Warm a few drops between palms and apply throughout hair (focusing on ends) for frizz control and shine.

Talk about a multi-tasker!  Shop Ouidad at ULTA, Sephora or Nordstrom.

4. Malin + Goetz Grapefruit Face Cleanser + Vitamin E Face Moisturizer

Bestselling Cleanser + Moisturizer for balanced skin 

So fresh and so clean clean! I love the apothecary, back-to-basics vibe of this product line. Also, the functionality: Deeply cleanse sensitive skin with just a dime-sized amount of product. Works to remove makeup, too (no need for multiple steps + products, which I love).

The lightweight moisturizing lotion is also great for all skin types, including sensitive skin. The founders note it also works in place of aftershave (so this multi-use product is certainly worth sharing!).

This is my first foray into the Malin + Goetz product line, but I’m certainly not disappointed. In addition to high-quality, effective products, the fact that the products are made in the USA (through local, small, family-run businesses) makes me even more loyal to this brand.

Shop the Post:

Thanks for tuning in to another round of “random beauty reviews.” Let us know in the comments below what else you’re interested in hearing about!

Fall Fashion: Dress Yourself and Your Home in Stylish Finds From…

Target Project 62

I saw a new Target catalog sitting on my Mother-in-Law’s coffee table and couldn’t resist flipping through. In fact, I “read” it twice in a row, given my reaction to just about every page was, “Oh wow! That’s from Target?”

Project 62 is a collection described as: Modern pieces made for everyday living.

The products that made me go “Oh Wow!” linked below:

My favorites might be this tufted chair (comes in 4 colors, including navy blue!) and this wood chair. I just really like chairs, ok? These lamps are calling my name, too: Delavan Tripod Floor Lamp – Black and Clear Acrylic, this Geneva Glass Triple Globe Table Lamp, and this metal globe floor lamp.

From the pieces I’ve seen in-person (aka in store) the faux plants look pretty faux (so I’ll probably skip ‘em) and the knit pillows, while pretty, seemed to have a lot of loose/extra fabric, and I prefer a stuffed, taut throw pillow. One of the online reviewers agreed with me noting, “there’s next to no stuffing in the pillows and the quilted part is very loose and almost saggy.” So…skip the pillows.

Design-wise, what do you think of this new Project 62 collection? A little West Elm meets Anthro, no?

Spanx Arm Tights

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Somehow I’m on the SPANX email list (ok, I remember how I got there, founder Sara Blakely spoke at the Forbes Under 30 summit and offered us all a unique promo code if we signed up right then + there). So, I signed up. And while I don’t recall any of the emails coming to my primary inbox for a while, this week the subject line announcing their new invention, Tights…for Your Arms! graced my inbox and grabbed my attention.

Immediately judging the concept as “either the best or the worst thing ever” I had to see which of my suspicions was correct. Well, the product reviews aren’t rolling in yet, but I’m intrigued enough to give it a try. I wear regular tights multiple times per week in the winter, so arm tights may just be my new thing — a tool that allows sleeveless clothing items to be worn even in the dead of winter.

Spanx arm tights come in 10 colors, but I’m probably going to be boring and try the “Very Black” and “Cream Cable” options for starters. I’ll let you know what I think!

In other Spanx news (said literally no one ever), these Faux Leather Leggings have been well-received by Nordstrom shoppers along with the Bra-llelujah! Full Coverage Underwire Bra, which I can attest is worth the $$$.

ShopBop Sale [3 days only. Ends 9/29/2017]

ICYMI, the ShopBop sale is officially on! I find the site to be a bit of a black hole for me (not as easy to navigate as Nordstrom, so I end up poking around in a bunch of places until I find something that catches my eye).

So, I have no recommended ShopBop Sale picks for you because I don’t want to get caught up in that black hole. But, if you’ve had your eye on something(s) from Tory Burch,  Kate Spade New York, Madewell, Gorjana, DVF, Vince… now’s the time to check out the selection and save big – specifically, 20% off orders up to $500 / 25% off orders over $500.

Don’t forget: They’ve got free 3-day shipping and free returns.

Beauty Reviews: Brushes, Body Hero Duo, Colorscience & more!

Ever wondered about highlighting / contour palettes? If magnetic eyelashes are worth the cost? If there’s any effective low-cost Neulash alternative? Well… you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got a fresh batch of beauty reviews.

  1. IBY Highlight + Contour Palette
    Artis-Brush-Review-Flatlay

    Confession time: I’ve been intrigued by the art of contouring for a long time, but too intimidated to try it myself. 🎨 That is, until I came across the all-matte contour palette by IBY (@ibybeauty). I took the leap, and tried it on my nose this weekend. Voila! Very satisfied with my slimmer nose.

    The palette comes with a “How To” card that walks you though how to define your cheekbones, slim your forehead, and define + slim your nose. As a total newbie to contouring and someone without a lot of free time (or patience!) to watch tons of YouTube beauty tutorials, this cheat sheet has been super helpful. If you want to try the IBY palette yourself, use code MARTHA at checkout for 20% off your entire order 👉 ibybeauty.com thru 10.9.17. 

    2. Artis Oval 3 Brush + Artis Oval 6 Brush IBY-Cosmetics-Palette-Review
    To complete the look for Review No. 1, I used the Artis Brush Mirror Oval 3 (perfect for smaller areas). For my foundation, I used the larger Artis Elite Mirror Oval 6 (also great for contouring the cheekbone area). If you’re looking to take your makeup application techniques to the next level, you’ll appreciate the specific uses for each patented brush:

    Oval 3: Great for applying eyeshadow, under eye concealer and brow bone highlight. You can also use it to apply foundation/concealer to the inside corner area of the eye and on the side of nose near the nostrils.

    Oval 6: Provides blended, natural-looking results for applying full-face foundation, as well as blush, cheekbone contour, or highlight.

    Artis brushes are made exclusively with CosmeFibre, an engineered fibre made specifically for cosmetic and makeup product application. The Artis Elite Mirror 5 Brush Set can be purchased at Net-a-Porter for $170. Similar sets and individual brushes can be found at Nordstrom and Anthropologie.

    3. Glossier Body Hero Duo: Daily Oil Wash & Daily Perfecting Cream Glossier-Body-Hero-Review
    Be honest, what “hero” song comes to mind when you read this label? I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night…

    In all seriousness, we were pretty excited about this new product duo because: we love 90% of Glossier products already, and our shower gel / body wash / soap situation is pretty boring in comparison. Classic example of something we didn’t know we needed until Glossier graced our inboxes and bombarded our social feeds with news of these new heroes (advertised via attention-grabbing images of famous naked ladies). Surely you’ve seen this campaign?

    Glossier-Body-Hero-New-Duo-Review
    If you caught our Insta Story on the topic, you’ll know that size-wise the oil is smaller than we were expecting. It also smells even better than we were expecting. While we (separately, of course!) have been using the Body Hero Duo for just a few days now, we’re “pretty sure we’ll reorder” given the innovative nature of the product and the smell. Oh, the smell. Our soon-to-be winter skin needs some love, ok?

    The Body Hero Duo is $35. If you had to pick just one product, we’d go oil wash – 8.4 fl oz for $18. We’ll update this post on “how long it lasts” when we have that info.

4. Castor Oil? Yep. Sky Organics Castor Oil for Eyelash (+ Brow) Growth

SkyOrganics-CastorOil-Review

I’ve had eyelash envy ever since I can remember. While my lashes are dark, they are quite short, and not really that noticeable. I’ve contemplated buying NeuLash (close to $100 per tube, yikes!) or Latisse (technically requires a prescription… unless you’re in Mexico, but… there are some dangerous side effects).

Ok, full disclosure: I bought a bottle of off-brand Latisse at a bodega-like pharmacy in Cabo San Lucas. I used it a couple of times, but got really paranoid, because discoloration including purple eyelids was one of the warnings and I thought I saw signs of this happening. Whether it was real or placebo I don’t know, but I’m nervous to try again.

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That said, when Sky Organics (makers of our favorite Bath Bombs!) sent over this Castor Oil kit for eyelash and brow growth, we couldn’t wait to test drive it. For one, the word “organic” has put me so much more at ease. While it’s only been a matter of days (and typically results are seen after several weeks) I’m confident this is the right choice for eyelash growth. I’ll report back on results at a later date.

5. One Two Lash Magnetic False Eyelashes Longer-Lashes-Product-Review

Remember how I alluded to my lack of patience earlier (some of those beauty tutorial videos just need to cut to the chase, am I right?). Well… while I wait to see how my natural lashes grow under this new Castor Oil regimen, I did bite the bullet and buy a set of OneTwo Lash magnetic false eyelashes. I don’t wear them daily (I bet some people do!) but I enjoy having access to them for special occasions / dressing up. They did take me a few applications to get it just right, but in my experience the magnets have staying power and they’re a huge improvement over the sticky glue solutions of traditional “falsies.”

For more information about One Two Lash magnetic lashes, I’d encourage you to read the reviews on the OneTwo Cosmetics website.

6. Colorscience All Calm Clinical Redness Corrector
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Roses are red, our favorite wines are red, our fave nail polish hues are red… but when it comes to facial redness we just can’t stand it. Luckily, Colorscience has debuted a new, redness-neutralizing formula that provides ongoing relief from sensitivity and the appearance of redness.

What’s more? The All CalmClinical Redness Corrector SPF 50 helps prevent up to 90% of skin aging (!!!), has no chemical active ingredients, is antioxidant and Vitamin E enriched, comes in a breathable, hydrating formula AND is dermatologist recommended.

I’m the first to admit, I was skeptical. What could this pump bottle really do to smooth out my complexion and reduce redness? Well, it delivered. I’ve used this product daily since receiving it (3+ weeks) and it’s quickly become a staple in my beauty routine. To be sure it wasn’t “too good to be true,” I consulted Brooke & Lauren, The Skin Sisters. These real-life sisters are both board-certified dermatology Physician Assistants and have expertise in all aspects of dermatology. In other words, they know what’s up.

According to them, “Colorescience is a fantastic brand! We love their brush on sunblock.”  

Hmmm, sounds like we’ll need to try SUNFORGETTABLE® Brush-On Suncreen SPF 50 next.

Stay tuned for more tips from this dynamic duo in an upcoming post!

P.S. Olivia Rink tipped us on a free gift offer from Kiehls going on now thru 9/24. The free 6-piece gift set is offered with any $75+ purchase. There are 3 options to pick from, and the samples include some of our all-time skincare faves. Plus, a free full-size Rare Earth Mask comes with any $115+ purchase. If you’re intrigued, we’d recommend checking out: