YouTube Manicures and Other Budget Beauty Savings

I don’t know about anyone else, but I am the ultimate girly girl. I used to get manicures every week, pedicures every 2 weeks, eyebrow threading every 3 weeks. I would buy countless amounts of beauty products, eager to try to latest skin cream or hair conditioner. For a girl that’s planning on going to Thailand in 8 months, I’ve had to significantly cut down on all of my favorite beauty regimens. For the first few weeks, it was utter chaos. My nails were a hot mess, and my eyebrows had grown into an unruly bush. My expensive organic conditioner had run out, and my MAC mascara was dry.

What’s a girl to do when she wants to look her best, but is trying to save money for a huge trip? Well, my first step was to search on youtube for manicure tutorials to teach myself how to do it myself. I taught myself how to do regular manicures, french manicures, and I’ve even dabbled into some designs! I thought I’d never be able to do my nails myself, but I actually prefer it now. If my nails chip, I can fix it. If I want to repaint them everyday of the week, I can. And it’s all free! The same process has worked for me shaping my own eyebrows. After I one day completely misshaped my eyebrows myself, I vowed to  ALWAYS get them done professionally (threading has saved my life on many occasions). But an amazing video has taught me the many wonders of shaping your eyebrows yourself. And again, it’s ALL free! By doing my nails, toes and eyebrows myself, I can save at LEAST $150 a month. I wish I’d starting doing it all myself sooner!

As far as beauty products go, I’ve found some awesome alternatives to my pricey skin, hair, and makeup products.

Best Ever!

If you haven’t tried Maybelline’s Falsies Mascara, you’ve truly been missing out. The wand make your lashes clump free and long with TONS of volume. I’ve actually had people ask me if I have fake eyelashes on. Falsies runs about $7.50, MAC runs for about $11 and Dior Show is a whopping $24. I’ll stick with the falsies.

For my conditioner, I have fallen in LOVE with Trader Joes Nourish Spa Conditioner. As you know by now, my hair is outrageously curly, and it takes a REALLY good conditioner to not make my hair look like a fro. It’s cruelty free, enriched with organic botanicals, and it doesn’t contain any harmful laurel/laurel sulfates, which is DEATH for curly hair. At a mere $4 at my local Trader Joe’s, it’s a steal.

Cetaphil Antibacterial Gentle Cleansing Bar may not work for everyone, but I was recently diagnosed with adult onset acne, and this soap has been a godsend. It’s basically cleared up my acne, and it works really well for after workouts when you’re super sweaty. It’s super gentle  and doesn’t leave my skin feeling dry and gross. One bar is $3.99 and lasts FOREVER.

I’ve also switched out a lot of my expensive makeup products for drugstore brands. Almay’s eyeliner lasts all day and goes on super smooth, Maybelline’s Dream Mousse concealer has great texture and coverage, and L’Oreal’s HiP eyeshadows are super affordable and offer amazing pigment.

All of the changes I’ve made to my beauty routines and products have saved me countless dollars that I’ve added to the savings account for my trip. It’s refreshing to know that I don’t have to completely sacrifice beauty for Thailand, just make a few changes.

And remember, for you guys who might be reading, you might not use makeup, but you can definitely give yourself manicures and groom your own eyebrows! Just don’t use the polish! 🙂

2 Comments

Janet Jackson! Janet Jackson! … Or the Story of How I Became a Greek Celebrity

When I studied abroad in London my junior year of college, I had the awesome opportunity to take a 10 day cruise through the Greek islands. Starting in Athens, we traveled to Mykonos, Patmos, Kusadasi, Turkey and Santorini, Greece.

My friend and I decided to go to Athens a few days earlier than the rest of our classmates to check out the sites. After wading our way through the crowds of Athens, we reached the Parthenon. The weather was absolutely amazing, the skies clear and blue. While I was taking some pictures of the sights, two young women came up me to and asked if I could take a picture. I happily obliged and went to take the camera from one of the women. To my surprise, she instead motioned for me to get in the picture with her and her friend, while someone else took the picture of all 3 of us. The two girls then smiled and waved bye while they graciously thanked me. I thought this was a little weird, but I just shrugged it off and thought maybe they just like my awesome hamburger shirt I was wearing that day.

Except for the fact this seemed to happen numerous times throughout my time in Greece and Turkey. In that same day, I was approached by 4 more groups of people, all wanting to take pictures with me. By this point, I was thinking that I had to resemble some sort of Greek celebrity or some European pop star. Just as I was leaving the Parthenon, I heard a girl shout “SISTER! SISTER! SISTER!”. I turned around and saw a very pretty girl with long cornrow braids waving at me, followed by a group of students around my age. They all ran up to me, giving me hugs and snapping pictures. After a few minutes of chaos, I decided to finally document this phenomenon on my own camera, and my friend snapped this picture of all of us.

Degrassi, The Greek Years.

While I was on the boat I told one of the tour guides about my experience in Greece and asked if I looked like some pop star or celebrity. He laughed, and then told me that Greek people tend to find black women very fascinating and beautiful, and it’s rare for Greek people to see black women. I was shocked and awed at the same time! How interesting for people to want to take pictures with me just because of the color of my skin! It’s something I’d certainly never experienced before.

But it didn’t stop in Greece. While I was in Turkey, I went shopping at the Kusadasi market (which is HUGE and amazing, BTW). I bought an awesome leather jacket, and proceeded to wear it immediately. Paired with my sunglasses, I walked around the market looking at all the awesome wares, from knock off Dolce and Gabbana and Rolex watches, to beautiful scarves and dresses. Picking up a scarf, I heard a man yell “JANET JACKSON, JANET JACKSON!”. I turned around and saw a man waving to me, followed by about 10 other people running towards me, all yelling “Janet! Janet!”. Laughing, I tried to tell the people I wasn’t Janet Jackson at ALL, but they didn’t care, and kept snapping pictures.

The few days spent in Greece and Turkey not only made me feel like a celebrity, but taught me how important it is to go and travel. Until that point, I hadn’t even realized there were parts of the world where people might not see black people that often. That trip completely opened my eyes to the fact there are many more parts of the world I need to explore. I came back from my trip abroad a completely different person, and I plan on doing the same on my trip to Thailand.

Do any of you have any awesome travel stories you’d like to share? Comment!

8 Comments

Meet Jack. He wants to come to Thailand. But How?

Meet Jack. He’s a 2 1/2 year old rescue chihuahua from West LA. We’ve had him almost 2 years now and he is the love of my life.

He wears hoodies. Bad.Ass.

One of the major reasons I wasn’t going to take this trip is because of Jack. I don’t really have anyone here in LA that would keep him, or they have pets of their own. Jack LOVES people, but he is uncomfortable around other dogs, so anyone that has pets already is out of the question. I’ve researched, and I know it is possible to bring pets to Thailand, but the extra costs of taking him are having my rethink things. We also wouldn’t be able to freely travel, and it would be harder to find a place to stay. But how can I leave him behind?

that FACE!

Jack, as you can see, is super small. He only weighs 6/7 lbs. He’s completely house trained, rarely barks, and he loves being in bags and purses so it’s pretty easy to smuggle him around.  Christine Gilbert has a great article about taking pets with you while you travel that I’ve been reading over and over religiously. I know that it’s not entirely impossible to bring him, and I so want to make it work! What’s a girl to do?!

It's not even this cold in LA, but I couldn't resist!

Has anyone ever traveled with their pet? What are some tips or advice you have?

and P.S., sorry for the lame picture quality, all the pictures I have of Jack are on my blackberry 🙂

8 Comments

I’m traveling with my boyfriend?! *GASP*

Whenever I tell people about my plans to go to Thailand, usually the first question is, “What does Johnny (my boyfriend) think?!”. I tell them he’s coming with me, and they usually act surprised and say something like “Well, good for you…”.

I’m always left confused by this reaction, but then I think that maybe I have been leaving people with mixed signals. I raved about Eat, Pray, Love where a woman travels alone. Stephanie, Jenny and The Lost Girls have been women I’ve looked up to from the start, and they all are traveling alone. I think most people expected that I was going to go by myself considering all the people I look up to have gone by themselves. Johnny and I decided to go on this trip together, from the very beginning. I know some people can’t stand to be around their significant others for an extended period of time, but Johnny and I have been dating going on 5 (!!!!!) years now, and we’ve lived with each other 2 of those years. We get along really well and some of my most important and awesome travel memories involve him. We’ve been road dogs from Miami to London, Napa Valley to San Diego. It only seemed natural to keep our travel traditions going.

One of the purposes of taking this trip with Johnny is to not only learn and explore for ourselves, but to grow as a couple. While LA is a huge ass city with a lot to do, if you are on a tight budget, you might be out of luck. Our rent and food bills alone pretty much eat away at our budget. Even just talking about the trip and making our budgets has brought us closer together. Taking this trip together is going to give us the opportunity to be able to break out of this LA bubble and LIVE.

Johnny and I have always gotten along, but I would be lying if I didn’t say there are some tips I try to abide by when we are traveling together:

1. Always try to stay awake during long road trips (I admit I’m a huge failure at this, but I’m giving it a try this next trip) The conversation is usually exciting and you can learn so much about your significant other!
2. If you get tired of each other, take a break. Walk away. Go to a different room. Take a run, walk, bike ride. All by yourself. You’ll feel better, trust me.
3. Learn to compromise. He wants to surf. You want to take a guided tour. Maybe one half of the day can be spent surfing, the second half doing a tour. Just don’t make the trip all about what YOU want to do, or vice versa.
4. Keep in mind that just because you are traveling together, that you don’t have to do everything together. Take time to explore your surroundings by yourself!

Do you have any rules you live by when you travel with your significant other? Let me know in the comments!

8 Comments