Mary Kay Charcoal Mask Review

Mary Kay debuted their ClearProof Charcoal Mask in mid May of 2017 and by mid June, 1 million masks had already been sold? Why? Here are my thoughts on why:

The mask works! the mask uses charcoal to pull out impurities from your pores and remove excess oil. You can see this working because the mask will go on shiny and dark but dry and turn light gray/white as it absorbs oil! It’s fascinating and gross to watch! This is a deep cleanse that minimizes the appearance of pores. Activated charcoal binds to dirt and toxins to bring everything to the surface! Mary Kay also holds a patent for the use of navy bean, which brightens skin!

It’s $24! If you’re like me and like to try lots of products you know that there are lots of expensive masks out there claiming to do various things. The Mary Kay Charcoal Mask comes in a large tube that can be used approximately 30 times. That’s $.80 per application! Depending on your skin type, those with oily skin can use the mask 3 times a week. Those with dry skin should use the mask once a week. You can continue to exfoliate as usual!

The mask easily washes off! No painful/damaging pulling! Your pores aren’t going to get smaller if you’re pulling, ripping, damaging your skin! Simply use a wash cloth to wash off the mask after 20ish minutes. The mask contains no glue! No pain, but plenty to gain from using this mask!

Multi-masking! Mary Kay also offers the TimeWise Moisture Renewing Gel Mask to hydrate your skin. This means you can mask specific to your skincare needs! Oily on your T-zone? Use the Charcoal Mask! Dry on your cheeks? Use the Moisture Renewing Gel Mask! I can help you map your skin!

My experience: I first tried the mask at an event at my local Whole Foods! I was masking in public! Talk about some crazy looks! But trying the mask is so fun because everyone can enjoy it (even your hubby!) and everyone is glowing by the end (thank you charcoal and navy bean)! I’m not kidding; the results are immediate because you’re removing impurities as you mask!

When I ordered my mask, I could smell the mask as I approached my front door where it was boxed on my doorstep from UPS! But the SMELL is WONDERFUL! It’s such a clean smell of rosemary, peppermint, and honeysuckle! No harsh smell of chemicals!

I have extremely acne prone skin because of both oily skin and hormonal acne. I actually prefer to use the mask as a spot treatment. I see a spot on my skin that looks like a pimple is forming or a spot where I need to calm the agony, I apply the mask and let it do it’s thing for 20 minutes. I wash off with warm water and immediately or by the next day the pimple has shrunk or is gone!

Want to try it? Let me know!


Mary Kay Vitamin C Squares Review

Did you know that Mary Kay Cosemtics has 1,300 patents? Mary Kay is where you can find industry firsts and cutting edge research for the best skin care!

This July, Mary Kay introduces the TimeWise Vitamin C Activating Squares! It feels like skincare technology from the future!

Vitamin C is essential to produce new collagen, the connective tissue that provides elasticity to your skin and helps wounds heal! Don’t want wrinkles? Apply vitamin C to your skin to prevent anti-aging! Your body cannot create Vitamin C, it must be added to your skin! This makes Vitamin C essential!

Do you know what Listerine Strips look like? They are those breath strips that dissolve in water. Well, the Mary Kay Vitamin C Squares use similar technology!

Vitamin C breaks down when exposed to light, air, and water. This is why each square is individually packaged. You activate the power of vitamin C when you open the package and apply a few drops of water to dissolve the square.

C square + drops of water + your favorite serum = evened & more radiant skin tone and diminished fine lines/wrinkles


My experience: The first time I used this product I did it wrong! ūüėā Make sure you dissolve the square in the palm of your hand with some water first! If you don’t let it completely dissolve, it will feel sticky on your face.

I then add the TimeWise Night Serum (vitamins A, C, and E; “Neosporin” for your face!). I applied this after my normal night routine of cleanser and toner. Then you can moisturize. Mary Kay also offers the TimeWise Replenishing Serum+C, TimeWise Tone-Correcting Serum, TimeWise Pore Minimizer, and¬†TimeWise Repair Volu-Firm Lifting Serum.

You receive 12 squares per package for $24 and you should use the squares three times a week! I’ve heard claims of brighter skin and a lessened appearance of wrinkles, especially the thin skin around the eyes.


I just started using this product and will report back with my results!

Fairbanks, Alaska Travel Guide

IMG_0137My husband and I left for Fairbanks, Alaska one week after we got married in May of 2016. We spent a little of two months living and working in Alaska as assistant camp counselors. We went back in July 2017. Here’s some of our favorite things and what I suggest you check out in Fairbanks and the surrounding area:

Fairbanks, Alaska is in the interior of Alaska and is the second largest city in the state. It’s a college town with rich history and beautiful scenery all around it. At times it reminded me of the eclectic city of Asheville, NC– a bit hippy-ish and outdoorsy. The downtown area is very small and the city itself is easy to navigate.

We visited in the summertime, which meant almost 24 hours of sun. I found this very disorienting when I first arrived, but for Joshua, this was his fifth summer in Alaska and you do get used to it eventually.

  1. Santa Claus House in North Pole, AK! You see this place on the news when they do a weather report from Santa’s house around Christmastime. It’s outside of Fairbanks on Richardson Hwy. You should totally stop by and get an ornament. They also have a coffee shop with fudge, reindeer on property, and lots of places for a “Kodak moment.” Christmas card picture time, anyone?¬†
  2. Then as you continue south on Richardson Hwy, stop at the Knotty Shop. And yes, you can laugh at that ridiculous name. The outside looks cool with the unique knotted wood and the ice cream is a great pick-me-up. It has a cute shop with lots of Made in Alaska souvenirs.
  3. The University of Alaska Museum of the North at UAF is beautiful!¬†It’s $12 for adults but Joshua and I spent all afternoon here. They have Alaskan art of all sorts highlighting the state and Alaskan natural history. We really liked the display about the Alaskan geography and paleontology– it was almost like you were at a real dig. There’s a small caf√©, stunning views from large windows, and a great little gift shop.
  4. Chena Hot Springs in Chena, AK- aka my favorite place in all the world! This a resort built around a natural hot springs pool. It’s about 60 miles from Fairbanks, but Alaskans are used to driving far distances, so that’s just something to get used to when visiting. The pools are open year round and it’s wonderful. There’s the outside natural pool, hot tubs, and an inside pool (which was under construction when we were there, but a lazy river was in it’s place). We went in the summer¬†and on a beautiful day, so we didn’t get the full experience and I’m looking forward to going back¬†in the winter. Check out the many other things to do here too, like the Ice Castle that looks like something out of the movie Frozen.
  5. Fred Myer–¬†If you’re from the lower 48 and love Target, then you must¬†visit Fred Myer, if you’ve never been on the¬†west coast. This like a¬†Super Target, with everything you need! This is also the best place for inexpensive souvenirs and postcards.
  6. The Cookie¬†Jar Restaurant is the place to get giant cinnamon rolls and¬†a menu¬†where everyone will find something¬†they like! Fairbanks is¬†NOT a dining¬†mecca of the world and often we struggled to¬†find good restaurants to eat where the prices weren’t outrageous¬†and we both recommend this one.
  7. Pioneer Park, formerly Alaskaland in Fairbanks is FREE,so why not visit!? It takes you back to when Fairbanks was a frontier town. It’s a little hokey but very family friendly.
  8. Fairbanks Visitor’s Center, known as Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center, is a must-see! It’s¬†FREE and really helped me get my bearings in the city and surrounding area. The museum is lovely and there’s lot of brochures about visitor attractions. The staff is really friendly and can answer your questions. The gift shop is overpriced though. Make sure you explore the grounds, which has a live stream video so you can wave to friends watching online (Haha!), the antler arch, a little cabin, and beautiful flowers in the summer time (remember that 24 hour sunlight?).IMG_0135.JPG

Other ideas: Escape Room AK; Pagoda Chinese Restaurant in North Pole, AK; Chowder House; Fireweed Boutique; If Only – A Fine Store in downtown

Planning a visit? I’d love to hear your plans and can make more suggestions based on your interests! Joshua and I both loved Fairbanks. We met lovely people, made lots of friends, and are looking forward to going back!


My Favorite Podcasts

Y’all– since Serial dropped in the fall of 2015 I’ve been a podcast fanatic.

And the truth is, it goes back further than that… Before Serial, I listened to Car Talk on NPR on my car radio while I drove around for an entire hour drinking Starbucks coffee. Car Talk took me back to my Arthur watching days and I still find it hilarious.

There’s just something about the storytelling with the mixed media of voice overs, music, historic recordings, and voice actors that’s addicting.

I like crime podcasts mostly, which many of my friends find particularly creepy. But there’s some fascinating about people disappearing, criminal investigations, and judicial proceeding that gets me interested.

I could probably list a top 20 but I’ll stick to my top 5 for today (besides Serial, the one that started it all):

  1. Up and Vanished- This podcast has been in the news lately because after 12 years there’s been a break in the case of missing teacher Tara Grinstead from a small town in Georgia. I’ve been listening since early on and the host seems like a really easy guy to talk to and get a long with. He really gets people talking and does a good job of researching the case.
  2. Missing Maura Murray- This podcast breaks my heart because for 40+ episodes these guys have been trying to get questions answered about how a young woman could just vanish off of the side of the road after her car breaks down in freezing, rural New Hampshire. The podcast starts off rough (babies crying in the background and traffic noise) but really picks up the pace/gets in the groove¬†quite quickly. I’m left with more questions than I started with but it’s not for lack of trying to get answers.
  3. The Vanished- Each episode is the story of a missing person. I like that the host takes her role very seriously and works to honor each of the missing people individually. If you’re seeing a pattern here it’s because I’ve always been fascinated about how people can just go missing.
  4. Radiolab Presents: More Perfect- This podcast is about the Supreme Court and each episode is meticulously researched. The cases are presented in a way that’s easy to understand and various sides of the arguments are considered. The episode that has stayed with me the longest is the one about the baby adopted and her Native American father fighting for custody (“Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl”).
  5. Stranglers- Find out all you ever wanted to know about the Boston Strangler(s)! This podcast is a little different than the ones listed above in that it uses a fair amount of voice actors. The research is phenomenal and the layout of the entire series is well planned.

Honorary mention (because there are so many good ones out there):

– The Mystery Show- not crime and very light! The host solves mysteries that can’t be solved online.

-Suspect Convictions- from my hometown! Very creepy case about the murder of a 9 year old and the three trials (!!) of the suspect

-Serial- I’m a fan of both seasons 1 and 2 and try not to compare them. ūüôā

-My Favorite Murder- I was hesitant to listen at first the hosts just say what everyone is already thinking. And I feel the need to send in my Hometown Murder. Karen and Georgia, can we be friends?

-Generation Why- Excellent questions about some really tough situation.

-Thinking Sideways- It makes me crazy that these guys interrupt each other so much, but they select really interesting mysteries to discuss.

I’m open to any and all suggestions!!

Andell Inn and Kiawah Island, SC

In May of 2016, Joshua and I spent our honeymoon on Kiawah Island, SC! It was lovely and we had beautiful weather the entire time, despite a rainy forecast.

We stayed at the Andell Inn, which is a boutique hotel by Marriot. The hotel is gorgeous and great for¬†couple or small families. It’s in the Freshfields Village area, right after the traffic circle that allows you to head to Seabrook Island or Kiawah Island.

Kiawah Island is notoriously known for being extremely private and exclusive. The island is best known, in my opinion, for the Sanctuary Hotel and Kiawah Island Golf Course that’s part of the Kiawah Island Golf Resort. You must have a reservation to enter through the gates unless you’re biking. That’s a little bit too rich for our blood so we were just fine staying down the street.

The Andell Inn has a variety of rooms and we stayed in a studio style, which had a kitchen and living room. The hotel is eclectically decorated, which I liked but was not Joshua’s style. Having a kitchen allowed us to get groceries in Freshfields Village instead of eating out for every meal.

When we first entered our room it was FREEZING cold so we adjusted the thermostat. It never warmed up but the thermostat read 212¬įF! We call the front desk and they came to look at it and called maintenance for us.

Joshua and I enjoyed the pool and just hanging out around the hotel but the front desk lady kept following us everywhere giving us updates on the maintenance or if they were going to switch us to another room. More than once I thought, “leave us alone!”

The first day we went to Harris Teeter to get some groceries for the stay and take home some dinner.

That night it NEVER warmed up and I was crying in bed because I was so COLD! Awkward.

The hotel has a really nice breakfast spread with a mimosa bar!! The hotel has a bar in the lobby with a porch area that overlooks the pool. There are these huge swings on the porches and those are really relaxing if you can nab one. The pool was good for families or adults.

Maintenance finally fixed our thermostat/AC unit, but it only took two and a half days and many conversations later. The did give us a deep discount, which we appreciated.

The second day, Joshua and I explored the island and went to the beach. You have to pay to enter the public beach area, Kiawah Beachwalker Park,¬†because it’s a protected park. The parking lot limits how many guests can enter here. It was $10 for us since we were there¬†in June, but during¬†the summer it’s $15 on the weekend.¬†We really liked the beach because it was left mostly alone and very quiet. There are lifeguards and changing areas.

There’s a small store on Kiawah Island with the gas station. I don’t really recommend it because Freshfields is just down the street, but if you were in a jam there is that store.

You cannot enter Seabrook Island without a reservation, we learned that the hard way. But we did visit the Bohicket Marina in both the day and evening. During the morning it was a little sleepy but peaceful and it’s fun to look at all the boats. In the evening, it was really hoppin’. There was a live band and people were dancing, kids were playing in the grass, and everyone was lingering to watch the sunset. We ate dinner at Red’s Ice House and their fried fish is AMAZING! Joshua and I both agreed it’s the best we’ve ever had and we want to go back. I had the lobster mac and cheese and that was good too. The sunset was beautiful and it was just a really fun place to be.

I shopped at all the boutiques in Freshfield Village. There’s a Lilly Pulitzer store, Roberta Roller Rabbit (beautiful prints but pricey), a book store, a souvenir shop, a toy store, an outdoor store, and a cute little¬†old timey pharmacy (Vincent’s) with a beautiful Essie nail polish display.

We ate at Le Tela¬†Pizzeria on our third night and it was just alright. We weren’t thrilled. We did have ice cream at the little ice cream parlor though¬†and we just loved the Freshfields community feel. I know they have events during the week for families. It appears some of the places¬†open and close in Freshfields Village quite frequently, as less than a year later there are different options from May 2016.

Kiawah Island is an easy drive to or from Charleston and that was nice too, as we were able to stop on the way to Kiawah. We ate at Sesame, which is a burger place that we are obsessed with! Sign up for the emails to get a free appetizer each month!

All and all, I would recommend the Andell Inn and Kiawah for a sweet little get away!

Easy Flowers for your Wedding

img_5383Okay… confession time: We used NO florist for our May 2016 wedding and the flowers were amazing!

First, my friend Douglas and I handmade all of the corsages and boutonnieres for the wedding with fake flowers from Hobby Lobby. We made four corsages total,¬†for my mum,¬†my great aunt,¬†Joshua’s mom, and Joshua’s grandma.¬†We made nine boutonnieres total with¬†fake orchids (my dad, my step dad, his dad, his grandfather, our four groomsmen, and ring bearer). I’m not crafty, so we had to buy everything like a glue gun. We brought home everything we liked and then just¬†returned all unopen/unused flowers and I would say it was about $50 (~$4 each) and two hours of laughing nonstop trying to make these things. That’s far cheaper than getting these at the florist.

img_0144They looked so good my father in law tried to save his by putting it in a cup of water and storing it in the fridge following the wedding. haha. ūüôā

And we did not have to worry about keeping the real flowers looking fresh.

img_0147For my bouquet and my four bridesmaids’ bouquets, we made them as well the morning of the wedding. We went for breakfast around 8am and then headed to Publix around 9:30am for a late afternoon wedding. At Publix, we grabbed all the flowers we liked (but we could have done this more cost efficiently if need be) from the floral section.

Now, my mum, sister, and I scoped this Publix out weeks before the wedding and knew they had a very large flower section that was refreshed every morning. I would not recommend this without some local research.img_5438

Then my bridesmaids and I went home and had a “bouquet making party.” We listened to music on the big front porch of our beach house (where the reception was held) and sorted the flowers by color. It was my vision that we each have bright, multi-colored bouquets but each would be different for each bridesmaid. My bridesmaids each picked their dresses with the only stipulation being that the dress was purple.

Then we each picked the flowers we liked and made our bouquets to our liking. My sister-in-law goes to Clemson and wanted a large orange flower; I wanted a giant bouquet. They turned out lovely and so beautiful!

We used floral tape to keep the bouquets together and tied purple ribbon around to make a handle. I wanted long ribbons on the bouquets that would flow in the wind.


(My bracelet was “something borrowed” and the pin on my bouquet was “something old.”)

All the extra flowers were used as decoration for the reception and we used the bouquets to decorate around the guest book and favors.

It was SO EASY and FUN! If you’re looking to save money and don’t have your heart set on particular flowers, then I would highly recommend this!

My Wedding Dress Story

In the fall of 2016 Columbia, SC had the worst flood they had ever seen. I blogged about it here. Later that fall I got engaged to Joshua, on November 25th to be exact.

I knew I was going to marry Joshua early on and while we was asking my parents for their blessing, I was shopping for my wedding dress. No really, on the same morning I was picking out my dress in secret!

A friend of mine was taking a wedding planning class at U of SC and was working at a large Flood Relief bridal sale. A local bridal shop had discounted hundreds of their past seasons dresses to $199!

They put all of these dresses outside under large white tents. It was a beautiful day. I wasn’t even engaged so I felt a little guilty and silly looking for a dress.

I looked around and one ivory dress caught my eye that had a high lace neck and A-line skirt.

An employee suggested I try it on and because these was part of a special sale, while the store was still open, I had to try it on in a back room…of a warehouse. Not the bridal boutique imagery I had in mind.

I tried the dress on by myself and fell in LOVE. It fit nearly perfectly (just a little too long). I adored the buttons up the back.

I took it off and put it on hold to think about it. Was I really going to by a wedding dress before I was even engaged? What would my mum think? Was this my dress? The price was hard to walk away from!

Then my friend from the wedding class arrived and told me to put the dress back on. She didn’t like it, but her teacher was there and could tell I absolutely loved it.

They brought me a Grecian style dress to try on, which was horrible and I said I didn’t want to try on any more dresses. I had found my dress! It was the first dress I tried on and I only tried on one other dress.

With tax it rang up as $209! (Cost of alterations is a different story) And the funds went to Columbia flood relief.

Do I regret not having the whole bridal boutique experience with my friends and family? A little bit.

But I always felt like it would not be a good idea to shop with my mum for my wedding dress. She hates to shop and I like to look at everything before I even try anything on. It possibly would have been a negative experience for both of us.

I do look forward to having that experience with someone else though, but I’ll be sitting on the couch giving feedback.

I still love my dress and it was so fun to wear on my wedding day. I think it absolutely stayed true to my style.

Allison York Photography 

My Best Friend Doesn’t Know She’s Beautiful

  Let me tell you about my best friend: She’s absolutely hilarious. She has bright strawberry blonde hair and blue eyes. She’s the only person I know who understands my love public health and loves it too. She’s wicked smart. She the type of person you want to be on your team– fun and hardworking; she gets along with most everyone. She’s good with kids and with adults. She loves animals. She’s a safe driver. She’s a bad singer but that doesn’t stop her from belting out her favorite tunes. She likes sports and musicals. She’s pretty much up for trying anything. But she eats her food plain. She’s always willing to talk when I need her. She’s travelled the world but is still close with her childhood friends. We met on the first day of uni and we’ve been friends ever since. She takes my sass and deals out some her own too. She’s the best listener. We were once reprimanded in a college class for talking too much. She’s held me when I’ve cried and I know things about her that no one else knows. When we’re together, we’re better. We laugh louder, we smile bigger, we talk more, we give more.

And she doesn’t know she’s beautiful. This absolutely breaks my heart. I should have told her every day since we met. But even then, I don’t know if she would believe me.

We were hanging out on Monday, drinking hot chocolate, chatting non-stop, and doing a puzzle. Then matter-of-factly she asked, “do you think I don’t get dates because I’m not pretty?” I was stunned. I didn’t know what to say.

Why do girls feel like something is wrong with them if they don’t get asked out on a date? We live in a society where everything is first based on looks. This is especially true in college. We believe if we could just look better, we could be fulfilled. My best friend is beautiful. She shouldn’t change a thing. And yet, she thinks something is wrong with her and that she has to change for others to like her.

God made us in His image (Gen 1:27). We are the only creature in which this is true. He knows the hairs on our head and knitted each of us in our mother’s womb. This is exciting and why God seeks a relationship with us. He’s our Father. We were made by Him are loved by Him. And it’s so painful to know this is true and still feel like you don’t measure up.

But we were not made to measure up to man’s standards. We are called to love ourselves. I believe when we love ourselves, we can love others better, as we are also called to do.

God made the beautiful Carolina sunsets my best friend and I experience nightly. He made the roaring ocean and the soft sand. He made silly, playful dogs. He made the beautiful trees on our university campus, along with the beauty of all our other favorite places. And He made me and you and my best friend. He saw fit that in this world we exist with a purpose. We’re made beautiful in our own ways, yet still in His image.

When we accept this to be true and accept Christ as our Savior, we are made new. Our sins are washed away. Our identity is now found in Christ. We are no longer of this world in the way we once were, seeking approval from man.

And when you look in the mirror, it’s hard to remember all this and feel like it’s enough. You still don’t have a date; your thighs still feel too big; your dress size still feels too high; and your hair still seems to not being doing what you want. I want to encourage you to seek God in this moment. Ask for God to transform how you think about yourself. These negative thoughts are a waste of energy. Pray that you will become the woman God wants you to be; ask Him to redirect your thoughts. Ask for forgiveness for all this self-hate. Thank God for your health. Thank Him for the strength he gives you to do His works, through strong legs, helpful hands, a warm smile… And if you see fit, pray for your future husband and those you will encounter that you can encourage since going through this struggle. Ask God to prepare you for these people.

And never forget, you have me– your friend who loves you, who cherishes you and this friendship, and finds you beautiful in so many ways. I love you, best friend.


Happy Tuesday!

Started this morning early with AlyP at Starbucks before walking to our Public Health senior seminar! I can’t believe it’s our last semester. 

Today was finally cold enough to wear my Barbour jacket, although I wore it all the time in Glasgow in the summer!