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!

TRY ON HAUL #01

Hi guys!

Today I’d like to show you my very first haul video. I am very excited to share my last shopping spree with you all!

Hope you’ll like it and excuse me in advance for my language skills. I am sure you will be able to witness my progress along this blog adventure.

Here are all the links for the items I shared with you:

  • The white top is available here
  • The off the shoulder top is here (I couldn’t find the same color as mine on the website, but I linked the same model)
  • You can find the blue dress here
  • The scallopped short is available here
  • The tulip short from Ivyrevel is here
  • The bikini is available here

 

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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Things I discovered in Berlin

Hallo Leute!

I just came back from a three-day stay in Berlin with my mother and it was so much fun. We went to very popular and touristic places such as the Brandenburg gate, the Bundestag (German Parliament) and of course the famous Checkpoint Charlie.

Berlin has surprised me in many ways and that’s what I want to share with you in this article.

The wall is everywhere in the city

Of course you can’t go to Berlin without seeing the wall. I was so moved to be in front of such a huge part of history. For the record, the wall circled West Berlin from 1961 to 1989, it was 154km (96 miles) long with 302 observations towers.

In my imagination, the wall was only visible in some specific places in Berlin. I didn’t expect to see parts of the wall displayed everywhere in the city. I even saw some parts of it in shops or on display in some streets. Basically, the wall was chopped in pieces and these pieces were placed in different parts of Berlin as small memorials.

Today, only a few small stretches of the wall remain at the original Berlin sites. There is the famous East Side Gallery, which is the longest standing wall section (1.3 km/ 0.6miles). One hundred and eighteen artists from 21 different countries painted on the wall, making it the biggest street art exhibition.

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I was most interested by the last intact part of the wall, near Bernauer Straße. You can clearly see the “no man’s land” between the two walls, where nobody was allowed to be. Human presence there was considered a legal offense: any intruder was to be shot down by one or other of the factions.

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The history of Berlin is so interesting, you can click here to find out more about the wall.

The polemic during the work of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Near the famous Brandenburg gate is this very powerful memorial honoring the 6 million Holocaust victims. It is made of 2711 concrete concrete slabs on 19 000 square meters and no two slabs are exactly the same. The place made a strong impression on me, even though it is very simple and modern looking, it is very solemn. There is also a museum about the Holocaust under the memorial.

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When the memorial was being built, a scandal broke out. The supplier of the anti-graffiti coating applied to the slabs is no other than Degussa, the same company that produced Zyklon B, a gas used in Nazi extermination camps. In the end, the company’s important involvement for the conservation and tribute of the tragedy since the end of the war contributed to end the polemic.

Don’t worry about public transportation

While preparing my trip, I asked my German friend for information about Berlin. When the transportation came up she told me “Oh! you don’t have to worry about it in Berlin” and she changed the topic. It’s only when I arrived that I understood. All the lines, buses, trams, metro are so well organized and frequent (we never waited more than five minutes) and very cheap on top of it (7€ for an unlimited day-pass).

Speaking about the price, I was surprised that there were no turnstiles and you can board the subway without any control. I really appreciated that German people rely on trust.

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In fact, I discovered that everyday, all the tubes and buses together travel about the same distance as eight times around the Earth. The subway in Berlin was inaugurated in 1902, and although some stations look really old, everything is very clean.

One of the highest towers of Europe

At a height of 368 meters, the Berliner Fernsehturm (Television Tower) is the tallest building in Germany and one of the tallest constructions in Europe. I was so surprised to find out that the Fernsehturn tower is higher than the Eiffel Tower.

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It was built between 1965 and 1969 by the government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The Tower was a symbol of the party, it was built to display the superiority of communism over capitalism, it was intended to show that the East was working to create a better future. Also, the shape of the tower was supposed to mirror the shape of the soviet satellite Sputnik.

Forty percent of the city is underground

The city is almost double the size than it appears thanks to a huge underground railway station and many of the World War II bunkers, escape tunnels, sewers and brewery cellars. Tourists can visit the underground world of Berlin. The association Berliner Unterwelten organizes different tours of the various bunkers.

I was so excited to go on one of their tours, but unfortunately they take place from Friday to Monday… and we were in Berlin from Tuesday to Thursday.

Ruins as a memory of the war

Berlin underwent 363 Allied air raids during World War II, so the city was in ruins. If nowadays Berlin is a beautiful city, some buildings and monuments are still in ruins. However, in most cases, Berliners made a conscious decision to keep them that way so that they never forget what they overcame.

The most emblematic and most relevant of all is the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, built in the 1890’s and badly damaged by bombing raids in 1943.

Although a large majority of the building was renovated, some parts of it remain damaged by the bombing, like the statue in ruins at the entrance for example.

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Gala Ready!

Every year my workplace organizes one gala evening called the “Soirée,” which is our biggest fundraiser of the year. This event gives me the opportunity  to find the perfect gown, because let’s face it, I do not often have the chance to go all out and dress like a princess! Since it just took place this past Saturday, I would like to describe what I wore and give you tips on how to get ready for a formal event.

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A few years ago, I discovered this amazing website that was a game changer for me. It is called Rent the Runway.  You can rent a designer gown for 4 or 8 days at a fraction of the purchase price. They ship your dress in two sizes to make sure it fits you, and if it does not, the customer service is incredible. Once, they overnighted a dress to my home after mine got stolen on my porch after being delivered. If something happens to the model you order, they will send you something similar instead. That means you always have options. So far, I used them four times and I never had to wear a dress that didn’t fit or that I did not like. Some of my friends don’t like spending money on a dress you don’t get to keep, but I don’t mind because I would never wear this type of gown twice anyways. I also can’t afford to drop a thousand dollars on a dress for one evening per year.

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Last year, Rent the Runway opened a store in Chicago. I wanted to go and try dresses in person for this year’s Soirée, but I got sick with the flu. Since I had to stay in bed for five days, I decided to order online again. I went for a golden dress which is not typical for me, as I usually wear black or red.

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The issue with wearing this type of color in April in Chicago, is that there is little sunlight and I could not tan. To remedy that, I use MicroMist® Airbrush Sunless Tan by Neutrogena every day for the 5 days preceding the Gala, so that my skin looks naturally sun kissed.

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My nails were next. I waited to receive my dress to determine which color I was going to select. I opted for neutral. Two days before the Soirée, I went to my favorite nail place to get a no-chip manicure, a pedicure, and I threw in a brow wax as well. You want to make sure that you do the wax at least a couple days before an event, in case your skin gets irritated. I have very sensitive skin that immediately gets red and a little puffy after waxing. You have to give your skin time to recover.

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On the day of the Gala, I took the entire afternoon to get ready starting with my hair and make-up. The dress reminded me a bit of Belle’s in Beauty and the Beast, so I decided to channel her and went for a half updo with curls. For make-up, I used my Kat Von D Shade + Light contour palette  for contouring, which is perfect for amateurs like me, and selected neutral colors with a hint of gold for my eyes. I used the Urban Decay Naked Eyeshadow Palette.

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The downside of this dress was the ample cleavage, so I used Hollywood Fashion Tape to keep everything in place. The last thing I wanted was to have a Janet Jackson moment at a work event! In the end, my hard work was rewarded. I received tons of compliments and had so much fun dancing through the night!

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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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