Our Faves of the moment

This week we made a selection of our favorites of the moment. From outfits to Netflix series, here are the things we are loving this season!

Fave outfits

Laura: Summer took a while to pay us a visit here in Chicago, but now that it is finally hot out, I have to say my favorite outfit for the weekends are crop tops paired with high-waisted bottoms, whether they are shorts, skirts or pants.  When it comes to shoes, I love wedges because it gives you a slimmer look while still being super comfortable. I specifically like the rope trimmed one, because they give off a beachy retro vibe. I own a pair of Michael Kors from last year’s collection, but these are fairly similar.

May: The off the shoulder tops are definitely my fave of the moment, and I guess I won’t be the only one this summer. I especially like the tops with the separated sleeves and bust – like this one – because they are more comfortable if you need to raise your arms.

In my closet, my favorite is the one pictured below. It’s from Zara, I bought it last year and I’m still crazy in love with it. The fabric is really light, which makes it so comfortable. It can be worn everyday, or dressed up for formal occasions.

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I also love the off the shoulder bikini style, but that deserves its own separate post.

 

Fave Hair Style

May: Braids braids braids! My coworkers can definitely confirm my passion for braids. I love this hairstyle, it’s comfortable and looks sophisticated. Once you get how to do it you can make a billion of different styles, like twin braids or crown braids.

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Right now, what I love to do is to make two little Dutch braids on each side of my head and make a pony tail. Braids of all kinds are by far my best everyday partner. If you’d like to know how to make a Dutch braid, I’ve made a tutorial for you.

Laura: Currently, my style is easy and effortless when it comes to hair. Finally I can let my hair air-dry unless I have to style it for a classier look. My hair is naturally wavy, so after I apply my care products, I kind of let if flow freely with a hair clip so it does not get in my face. If it gets too frizzy, I put it up in a top knot bun or do a half up-do braid.

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Fave Beauty product

Laura: Funny enough, without consulting with each other, May and I both wanted to tell you guys about a primer we discovered recently. The one I am using is Photo Finish Foundation – Pore minimizing by Smashbox. I have had a particularly busy and hectic couple of months and have not slept much. In spite of that, I have never received so many compliments about my skin, which is actually far from amazing at the moment. I have this little gem to thank. It smooths down your imperfections, and evens out your skin tones while feeling super soft and comfortable on the skin, even in this hot and humid weather.

May: Instant smooth primer from Clarins is my fave of all time. It’s a transparent make up primer that has a very soft texture, it reminds me of foam. When you apply it on your skin, it will fill in your pores and smooth out the imperfections. Then, when you apply your foundation your skin looks perfect.

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Fave Music

Laura: Because I am longing for a vacation and beach days, I am currently obsessed with the Latin hit Despacito. I know it is cliché, but I can’t help picturing myself at the beach, or dancing at a summer party.  I love the original version best, with Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee… Sorry Justin Bieber!

May: Right now, I love listening to Ed Sheerean, and I can’t resist dancing and singing to the Shape of You. I also love listening the several amazing covers of this song; I selected three for you: one by Samantha Harvey, one by Gootmusic and the third by Twins Melody.

 

Fave Netflix series

Laura: I haven’t watched a lot of Netflix in the past few months, but now that my shows are coming back, I am watching again. Recently, I got back into Orange is the New Black, which I watch with delight and anxiety, because of the struggles that the characters go through. I like that each character gets their own story, and that it is not all back or white: everyone is deeply flawed, but also touching in their own ways.

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Apart from that, I have been trying to get back into House of Cards, but with the current political climate, I just could not bring myself to watch it yet, which is a shame because I loved the first four seasons.                                                                                                      Lastly, I love the Chelsea Show. I have been a Chelsea Handler fan for a long time, but sometimes got tired of her former show on E! Chelsea Lately. I think that being on Netflix and executive producer of her own show gave Chelsea more flexibility to talk about a wide range of topics from the most trivial to the most important, while keeping her irreverent sense of humor.

May: Together with my boyfriend, we love watching many different series on Netflix. I like Sense 8, Designated Survivor and – of course – Breaking Bad, but at the moment we have a new crush and that’s Iron Fist. I like the Marvel movies but it’s the first time that I watch a series. Since the very first episode, I loved it.

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The story is about Danny Rand, a billionaire who disappeared during a plane crash when he was a child.  After 15 years, he is back in New York to take over the family business. He will discover that corruption and crime are gangrening his family business and his loved ones. While he was missing, Danny acquires the knowledge of martial arts and the ability to use the Iron Fist from the monks of K’un One. He will use his ability to fix up his company.

Fave Activity

Laura: Lately, all I want to do is be outside. Since I have to wait a while before I am on vacation, I like to pretend I’m on vacation by hanging out on some of the best rooftops of the city, or lounging on restaurant patios. I am also planning a few trips to the lake beaches. My goal, before I leave in July, is to try Oak Street Beach, because I have not had a chance to try it yet!

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May: These days the sun is shinning so much and the temperatures are so hot that if I had to choose an activity it would be hanging out at the pool. I love laying on a lounging chair with a fruit cocktail reading blogs and magazines or going into the water and swim a few laps. I use my Apple Watch to calculate the distance I swim and the calories I burn. The pool is a perfect compromise for me to do some exercise without dying because of the temperature. At the same time, it’s the perfect place to rest (especially after working out).

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Our hair care routine

May: When I was a teenager I used to torture my hair! I went through many colors and hairstyles, used many chemicals and totally damaged my hair … I even bleached my  hair blonde… Seriously, don’t ask what was going through my head! Thankfully, reason came back to me and today I take very good care of my hair… It is my way to ask for its forgiveness.

Laura: In this hair matter, I am actually quite different from May. I have always had healthy, naturally thick hair and I have always been paranoid about damaging it, so I never really had a “bad hair phase,” if you discount the red streaks I had in 9th grade. But even then, I got them done professionally and it never really damaged my hair. My hair routine has been set for many years and it is pretty consistent.

  • Good habits

May: Just like for your skin, having great hair is not only about great products, it’s also about great habits.

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The first of them is to not over wash it. In my case I wash my hair two or three times a week and I only shampoo once and use one conditioner. You don’t need to shampoo your hair twice if the first time is effective and your hair is not too dirty. Before applying the shampoo I twist my hair so the shampoo is less diluted and more effective. The more you wash your hair, the faster it will become greasy.  If I really need to I also use dry shampoo, but it is pretty rare.

You should also rotate your shampoo and conditioner. Your hair has different needs depending on the season, your lifestyle, your diet and the state of your health. Changing shampoos means switching cleaning bases and giving your hair the care adapted to its evolving needs.

Laura: As far as washing hair goes, my habits are pretty similar as May’s above. However, I will add that if I have sweated a lot during a workout for example, I have no qualms about washing my hair twice, usually with two different shampoos.

I also try to avoid using heat whenever possible. I usually let my hair air dry, except in the winter. Remember, I live in Chicago! When I do use heat, I am careful and use products to protect my hair. I also try to vary my hairstyles and not leave my hair up all the time to avoid breakage with elastic bands. In a nutshell, my rule is to leave my hair as natural and free when I do not have anywhere to be to compensate for when I have to style it.

  • Natural Products

May: I have my very favorite shampoos. I wanted to try natural products and I fell in love with a shampoo by Lush; a shampoo bar, to be more specific. I love it because it foams and washes well, and it is very economical. I was a bit skeptical when the teller told me one shampoo bar equals three bottles of shampoo, but it actually does. Well, at one condition: you have to place it in a little container (you can buy one at Lush) to protect the shampoo from the water of your shower when you don’t use it. Of course you can reuse the container every time you buy a new shampoo bar.

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My other big favorite one is Repaire-me.Wash by Kevin Murphy, it makes my hair so smooth, and I love the smell.  On top of that it’s paraben free, sulfate free and not tested on animals. For their products they use a lot of essential oils and natural extracts.

As far as conditioners go, my favorite of the moment it 3 minutes miracles from Aussie. It’s one of the most efficient conditioners I have ever used. It repairs and softens your hair in 3 minutes.

Laura: I usually alternate between Aveda shampure™ shampoo and conditioner, and (MALIN + GOETZ) peppermint shampoo and cilantro conditioner. I like the latter combination when my hair feels a bit dryer. Lately, I noticed in pharmacies the Whole Blands brand by Garnier, which is not new at all for me because it has existed in France for years under the name Ultra Doux. I used to love this line by Garnier when I lived in France, so I gave the Whole Blends Olive Oil a try. I like that it is silicone and Paraben free, and the smell always reminds me of home.

What’s important to me when I select a shampoo and conditioner are the components, but also how my hair feels after a wash. I hate it when it feels heavy as if it has some greasy residue. I like to use the same brand of shampoo and conditioner because they are usually designed to work in combination with each other.

I also love using Argan oil on my hair. Usually I use the spray by Organix, especially when using hot tools or if my hair has been exposed to sun or salt. In the midst of summer I also love to use Tahiti Monoi from Tiare flower. I love the smell and apply it on my skin and hair for hydration and smoothness. Can’t wait for the beach!

  • More

May: Caring for your hair is not limited to the kind of products you use in the shower. Every day I apply a nut of oil on it (I alternate between different ones such as Orofluido Elixir , Silk Infusin or Nuxe Sun during the summer)

Once every two weeks or once a month I give my hair a home treatment. It helped a lot when my hair was burnt due to over bleaching.  I apply olive oil and leave it on my hair at least an hour. My friend told me she sleeps with it. It makes for better results, of course, but it’s complicated since you have to wrap your head in saran wrap so that you don’t stain your bed. Some people also mix olive oil with honey… why not?

Laura: I have made a crazy discovery: there is a hair care caviar product line! I got samples at Sephora, and fell in love with their CC Cream. It really does the ten things it promises, and my hair feels amazing after it. Full disclosure: I am conservative about the amount I use and only apply to the tips up until half of my hair length. It can weigh your hair down if you use too much of it.

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My Spring Cleanse

Growing up in France in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, I felt a lot of pressure to conform to this ideal of skinny, petite look, which is often the French cliché. As a teen, I was into fad diets and new tips in order to stay in shape. The truth is, I was not a very athletic teenager and I only started exercising regularly well into college. When I moved to Chicago, I was worried about gaining weight because I would regularly gain weight when visiting the US and then lose it after going home. With this permanent move, I needed to find a better balance.

At first, it was difficult. Then, about four years ago, I decided to do a one month of cleanse in the spring. That meant not drinking alcohol for a month and eating “clean” ( meaning no processed foods and no white carbs), and vegetarian. I wasn’t sure about not eating meat for a month, as I was a self-professed carnivore, but I stuck with it. I also started working out regularly between two and four times per week. The results really blew me away. Not only did I lose a significant amount of weight, but I also felt better. To top it off, there were no crazy cravings after the first week. After that, I kept eating better and working out regularly. I also really cut down my meat intake, even though I am not fully vegetarian.

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An example of a clean Brunch: Poached eggs with salmon, avocado and Feta; sautéed mushrooms, spinach with coconut oil and fruit.

 

I am proud to say that I have consistently remained thinner and more toned than at any time in my life. Still, in the summer and during the holidays, I sometimes fall off the health wagon and splurge. For this reason, I have maintained the habit of a clean month in the spring and fall.  They help serve as a reset button to tune me back into good habits rather than a strict weight loss program. These past two years, I tweaked my cleanse a bit to reflect its new purpose.

For example, I do not watch calories as closely anymore and I am more concerned about making sure that I get enough energy, and feel good. This means that I eat more healthy fats (avocado, olive and coconut oil, nuts and nut butters). I also eat more high protein carbs like quinoa and soba noodles. It does not impact how much weight I lose during that time, but I feel more energized and healthier.

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I also focus more on other factors such as sleep. Going to bed early is sometimes a challenge, but I found that trying to stick to a schedule improves my ability to get more out of my sleeping hours. Additionally, I tried to switch up and develop my workout routine to help me fall asleep easier.

 

While I learned to enjoy my cleanse months, occasionally I feel that my social life takes a bit of a toll because I tend to be more selective in the social events I attend. Being the only non drinker at a party is not always fun. Yet it also frees my time to try new things, such as classes at the gym – I had been too shy to try until  now – or more involvement in this blog! I also make sure to include some activities I enjoy that do not involve eating or drinking, for example a visit to the museum or a movie, or going on long walks with my boyfriend.

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Diversey Harbor and the Chicago Skyline, on one of my favorite walks by Lake Michigan

I like to live a fast-paced life.  I also realize that taking care of myself and having a healthy lifestyle is a daily, and yearlong endeavor. I sincerely believe that these two months a year help set a good pace by helping me regain mindfulness and balance.

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