Beach outfit ideas

Welcome, hot temperatures, beaches and palm trees ! Summer is my favorite time of the year – not very original, I know – so I’m very happy!

I’m also very excited because I am in Greece right now, on the island of Rhodes, and I am having so much fun. I’ll make a video of our trip but for now you can follow our adventure on my instagram.

Greece is full of incredible beaches and breathtaking landscapes, so I selected for you  four beach outfits that I hope will inspire you! 

 

Between the City and the Sea

HELLO-3This amazing red one-piece bathing suit is from New Look, if you wear it with shorts, it can be turned into a top that you can wear outside of the beach. The shorts are from H&M, they are a basic, high-waisted model. The scandals are from Minelli and I’m in love with the colors and the gold feathers. For the accessories, I selected these clubmaster RayBan sunglasses and a tote bag from H&M.

 

Bohemian Beauty

HELLOI find this look perfect for a more secluded, wild kind of beach. The Bikini is from Calzedonia, (Top and bottom) I like the different tones of green. It matches perfectly with this Folys beach bag. I put a touch of yellow with the H&M flower headband and H&M sandals. I chose a white off the shoulder dress from New Look and for the finishing touch, I added this light brown pair of RayBans.

 

Chic in Black

HELLO-2I wanted to create a chic style and for me nothing is chicer than black. The off the shoulder one piece bathing suit is from New look. I am in love with it, and paired it with these Ivyrevel mesh shorts. I chose a straw hat from H&M  with a dark touch to match the rest the outfit. The transparent beach bag is from ZARA, the sandals from Bershka. To finish, I added a Micheal Kors watch to elevate the whole outfit and a pair of sunglasses from Marc Jacob.

 

 

Chill in Blue

HELLO-4This look is the one that reflects my own style the most. In a previous video, I told you about this Ivyrevel off the shoulder bikini (Top and Bottom).  I  love it for the colors, the flower pattern and the shape of the top. It looks great with this pair of New Look shorts and these Micheal Kors sunglasses. These are the sunglasses I discovered at the MK outlet in Cannes. Since the outfit is very colorful already, I chose these silver Havaianas and a transparent tote from New Look to complete the look with a neutral touch.

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How to make Twins Dutch braid.

This week I’d like share with you this hair tutorial. I usually wear this kind of hairstyle at work and many of my colleagues ask me how to do it… So here are all my secrets!

 I hope you enjoy it!

Tips for traveling alone

Last month, at almost thirty years old, I took a trip by myself for the first time. I was a bit nervous, because I had never done things like eat at a restaurant by myself or be alone in an unknown environment.

It wasn’t so much that I was worried about my safety. I fly alone frequently and I have traveled quite a bit. It was more that I was uncomfortable appearing alone in public places, or being alone with my thoughts for days! When I told some of my friends about it, I received very mixed reactions. Some of them said that they could never do it, while others seemed surprised and even made me feel silly for feeling weird about it at all. Only my friend Christine told me that while she dreaded it at first, she ended up loving it. She was right. Traveling alone was exhilarating. Here are some tips that definitely made my life easier.

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Fossil Passport Holder (similar)
  • Plan ahead

This seems like a no-brainer, but when you are alone, you want to avoid getting lost or ending up in potentially dangerous situations. I recommend mapping your itinerary and doing some research on places to visit and where to go. I asked my friends who knew DC for recommendations and used Google Maps to chart everything before heading out of the hotel. I also made sure I researched the restaurants I went to, to ensure I could sit at a bar, since I didn’t want to be alone at a table. I hate waiting so this was definitely one of the perks of the trip: when you are alone, you can do things you want at your own pace.

  • Bring books (or magazines, or your tablet)

I used to love reading and would spend most of my vacations as a kid going through books. Unfortunately as a gown-up, I often don’t have time to read and I waste too much time on social media to be able to pick-up a book at night. This was a welcome opportunity to catch up on some books I had been meaning to read and I loved being alone in my bubble enjoying a story.

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This is also great if you feel anxious at the idea of being alone and awkward in public, and so much more refined than being sucked into your phone! If you don’t like to read, you can always get a magazine, play games or watch movies on your tablet.

  • Get ready to talk to strangers

I am a fairly sociable person, and decided that the best way to not feel awkward, when being alone in places like bars, was to strike up a conversation. (In this case, you should probably drop the book). Usually, people tend to talk to you more if you look like you are alone anyways. As long as you seem open to it, you can end up meeting really interesting people along the way. Some of them are also be traveling by themselves. As grown-ups we don’t really get many chances to randomly meet new people, so why not enjoy it?

  • Prepare a playlist

Since you do not have anybody to talk to, I recommend making a playlist, which will set the mood of your trip. I personally was into my Big Little Lies phase (seriously, if you haven’t watched the series, you should!) so I played this. It kept me company as I walked, and I know this is silly, but I almost felt like I was starring in my own movie! So pick something you like that makes you feel good and get going!

  • Treat yourself!

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Although I mentioned it briefly in some parts of this blog, I think this last point is worth having its own paragraph: since you are alone, you can do whatever you want! So pick the type of food you love, take long walks if you love to walk, or take a taxi if you hate walking. Have your favorite drink, watch a sunset, sit out in the sun or go for a run. Just do things for you. You don’t have to compromise with a friend, significant other, work schedule, or a family request. You made it alone all the way here, so enjoy yourself!

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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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Things to do in Washington D.C.

I was just thinking that this blog is starting to look like a travel blog between May’s trip to Berlin and this trip to D.C. but these trips were purely coincidental!

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As it turns out, I had to take a last minute trip to Washington D.C.  It was my first time in the city and I had to travel alone, which was scary at first, but made it even better because I was free to do what I wanted for a couple days. I was fortunate enough to have friends who were familiar with D.C. to advise me on where to go and what to do, so I want to share some of my adventures.

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The night tour of all the Memorials

The part of Washington D.C. that everyone is familiar with is the National Mall. This is the area with the Washington Monument, the White House and all the Memorials.  I was advised to tour the monuments at night because they are lit up and it makes for a unique experience. It took me about an hour and thirty minutes, but I am a pretty fast walker. I started my tour at dusk at the Lincoln Memorial and walked around the Tidal Basin . The memorials emerging from darkness gave out this eerie, almost surreal impression. Even as a foreign national, I felt a great amount of emotion and significance emanate from these monuments. Standing there, you definitely feel the importance of the people who have shaped the most powerful country in the world.

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Georgetown and walking by the Potomac River

With its river walk and pretty homes, Georgetown is probably one of the prettiest neighborhoods in D.C., although it may be a bit preppy for some tastes. I had lunch at Tony and Joe’s Seafood Place by the Potomac River on Sunday and loved the relaxing atmosphere. It was a warm sunny day and a lot of people were boating, walking around, or simply sitting at the restaurants’ terraces. I ordered crab cakes since it is a local specialty and enjoyed basking in the sun. I highly recommend a walk in this area!

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The Museums

Since my trip was very last minute and quite short, I did not have the time and flexibility to efficiently plan my visit. I read that the second most visited piece of art, after the Mona Lisa, was the Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian. I have already seen the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, so I felt compelled to go see the Hope Diamond. One thing worth noting is that most museums in Washington D.C. are free. This is great for obvious financial reasons, but also because it makes people flow through the museums faster since there are no lines at the cashier. The Hope Diamond is located at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. I am not a fan of watching stuffed animals or volcano formations, so I headed straight to the gems and precious stones area. They have some truly magnificent pieces, but I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed by the Hope Diamond. It is so big and bulky, and does not even seem real!

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If you enjoy art, I recommend visiting the National Gallery. The lady at the information kiosk was one of the kindest and most helpful people I have ever encountered in a museum! She basically created a personalized itinerary based on my taste and what I told her I hoped to see. The collections are really good and I really liked the modern East Building with its great architecture.

I thought I had managed my time well enough to be able to see the Newseum, the museum of the press. Unfortunately, I showed up an hour before closing time and was turned away! Just a cautionary tale: buy the tickets in advance or plan ample time for a visit.

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The neighborhoods

The center of Washington D.C. feels a bit surreal with the National Mall, the museums and official buildings. As soon as you get outside of the center, you feel this homey, almost European neighborhood feeling. I loved the row homes in the Dupont Circle area for example. The city is so green, especially in the spring when the cherry trees are in bloom. Adams Morgan is great if you like animated neighborhoods and going out to bars. I got breakfast at Tryst , which is super famous, and it did not disappoint. I highly recommend just walking around and stopping by any cute place that strikes your fancy, as there are many of them.

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Enjoying a glass at the POV, the W Hotel’s rooftop

After a hectic day on Monday, I decided to reward myself and celebrate my last night in D.C.  with a glass of wine on the city’s most famous rooftop, the POV Bar at the W Hotel. There is a panoramic view of the Washington Monument and the White House.  It is not the type of spot where I’d spend an entire night out, but it is most definitely worth stopping by for a glass or two. Take pictures!

Overall, I really loved the city and wish I had had more time to visit, as I have a long list of things I still want to do! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

 

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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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Our tips for a great skin

May: One day my Korean friend told me: “Did you notice the big difference between Asian and Western women in terms of skincare? Asians are crazy about creams and stuff that can improve their skin quality and Westerners are crazy about products that hide their imperfections.” I don’t think it is true for all Western girls, but it was my case and this conversation made me realize that I should try to take better care of my skin. 

But unlike what my friend said, having a great skin is not only a matter of finding the perfect cream, it is also about great habits. I’d like to share with you five tips to help you improve the quality of your skin. 

Laura:  You are right. Having a great skin is so important and can be tricky! I think we got the wrong impression from mom here because she has a great skin and does very little to it.  This is why I always figured than once I’d pass the puberty stage, I’d emerge like a Phoenix with radiant skin. I learned that in reality, she has naturally good habits that work. Unfortunately for me, I was well into my twenties when I started making meaningful changes.  I don’t know if I have five tips, but I’ll do my best!

May: First of all, throw away your out-of-date cosmetics. You have to know that expired products are real nests for bacteria because the substance that used to protect your cosmetic products against bacteria has become ineffective. Spreading bacteria on your skin will worsen your little imperfections.

My second tip is to wash your brushes and sponges, for the reason mentioned above. I use the daily Brush cleaner from Sephora. I just spray the product on my brush and wipe it afterwards. Once a week, I wash my brushes with the birchbox brush cleaning tool and some soap, as it makes my brushes feel as good as new.

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Also, don’t forget to wash your face. In my case I do it twice a day. The first time would be when I wake up because you will clean up the excess of sebum and the sweat you accumulated overnight. The second time is at night before bed to remove your makeup of course, but also the pollution and all the toxins that built up during the day. Above all, no excuses after a long night of partying, even at 5 am cleaning your face is your priority.

Laura: In terms of washing my face, my routine is slightly different from May’s. While washing your face twice a day works great in your teens and early twenties, as you age, it is probably better to let your skin rest and not over wash it. I have very sensitive skin and because my skin type is combination, I often resorted to washing it thoroughly to avoid blemishes. It turns out that the gentler I am with it, the better it looks. Now I only wash it once a day, usually at night, with a gentle wash such as Avene. In the morning, a splash of cold water is enough. Removing makeup is essential, not only before you go to bed, but also before work-outs. Makeup mixed with sweat can clog your pores. I do not use aggressive make-up removers, because I prefer micellar water such as this one or this one

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May: To have a great skin, you also need to stay hydrated. I’am not talking about using a moisturizing cream even if it is great, I’m talking about drinking water. You know what we say, at least 1.5 liters a day. Drinking water will help eliminate all the toxins and impurities in your body and illuminate your complexion. Also, water has many other benefits for your body like helping you lose weight.

Laura: I agree, staying hydrated is important for your skin and your overall well being. When it comes to skincare, it is important to be mindful of what you drink – check your caffeine intake for example – and what you eat. This was a tough one for me, especially after moving to the US, because my body and my skin were all over the place as I was discovering new foods and a new way of life. Luckily, after six years here, I have figured out what works for me. Eating a lot of green vegetables and going easy on white starch, deli foods, and alcohol does the trick. I eat a lot less meat, dairy and animal fat than I used to, replacing them by vegetarian, monounsaturated fats, like avocado, nuts and  olive oil. Everyone has to find what works best with their body. I can tell almost immediately after I have indulged too much, as I see the consequences on my skin right away. 

May: My last but not least piece of advice will be to wash your pillowcase as much as possible. Every night, you drop some excess of sebum and sweat on your pillow. In my case, I wash my sheets and pillows once a week. I love the smell of clean sheets when I get into my bed.

Laura: Speaking of bed, here is one thing that cannot be overstated: sleep! I know this is a tough one when you live a busy life, but it does allow your skin to rest, giving it that healthy glow. Nothing is worse than sleep deprived, dull skin and I get very bad dark circles so I try my best to be mindful of my bedtime… whenever possible.

I would add that I do not wear a lot of makeup most of the time. I prefer CC cream over foundation and I spend most of my makeup budget on skin care. Recently I have discovered a type of product that really changed my skin routine: elixirs or facial oils. I have tried the Premier Cru Elixir by Caudalie and the Josie Maran Argan Oil, and they have worked wonders!  It makes my skin hydrated and elastic without feeling oily or shiny. This is the first time I really get this perfect balance with my combination skin type. 

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