Shine Bright with Healthier Nail Polish

Nail polishes just smell unhealthy, don’t they? Trust your nose on this one! Traditionally, nail polishes have had some nasty stuff lurking in their gorgeous sheens. From ingredients banned in children’s toys to links of them causing cancer. If they won’t put it in children’s toys, do we really want it on our bodies?

Luckily, the tides of change have begun to reach the shores of beauty products, including nail polishes. Brands like Essie, OPI, & Sally Hansen have already begun to make their formulas what’s called “3 Free” which just a cute way of saying they are free of the three major chemicals we want to avoid. However, they are still rife with other toxins, allergens, & other ingredients we don’t want in our toys let alone our bodies. Fear not, plenty of 5 & 7-free options are on the market & the horizon!

First, let’s deal with what is actually in our nail polishes…

The Yuck in Your Nail Polish

{The label inside these brackets lets you know which formulas these toxins are missing from}

{3, 5, 7- Free} Formaldehyde- an allergen, toxic, asthma trigger, and a carcinogen

{3, 5, 7- Free} Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP)- also a plasticizer that is so harmful it is not allowed to be used in children’s toys.

{3, 5, 7- Free} Toluene- Its smell is quite literally associated with paint thinner. It’s found in model airplane glue, contact cement, & paint thinner. It is known to be extremely harmful to neurological health. Scarily enough, it’s used as a recreational inhalant.

{5 & 7- Free} Formaldehyde resin- derived from formaldehyde and not as toxic, but is still a known allergen,  & used in glue products

{5 & 7- Free} Camphor- plasticizer which is a toxin it can be found in many perfumes & is toxic to insects and used as a repellent. It can cause your nails to lose their nourishment and turn them yellow.

{7 Free} Ethyl Tosylamide- another plasticizer & is considered a toxin

{7 Free} Xylene- Irritates the eyes & lung, but even worse it has been identified as an organ & neurological toxin.

What Brands Should I Try?

I am sharing two brands to try in the 5 & 7-Free categories. I have personal experience with all four brands & quite frankly, I love them all!


Zoya This brand has been around for quite some time now & is easily found at many salons. It is long lasting, bright & shiny, & comes in so many colors. My only complaint is that I can’t seem to find a broad range of colors in-store to buy. I usually only find fall/winter colors throughout all times of the year.

  • Can be found: Ulta, Target, & Amazon
  • Shade: Joey
main image

Image Credit: Zoya

OPI Infinite Shine While the classic formula is only 3-Free the Infinite Shine is actually 5-Free! Out of this whole list, the OPI Infinite Shine polishes are my favorite. They last longer than your average manicure, boasting up to 11 days of high-shine & I can always find plenty of new colors in-store.

  • Can be found: Ulta, Target, Sally Beauty, Macy’s & Amazon
  • Shade: Engage-Ment to Be
Shop Engage-meant to Be

Image Credit: OPI


Pacifica 7-Free nail polish right in your backyard? Yes, please! Pacifica is probably the most accessible to those of you who have a Target nearby. I found this nail polish to last just about a week, which for me is a long time!

  • Can be found: Ulta, Target, Whole Foods, & Amazon
  • Shade: London Tomboy

Image Credit: Pacifica

Ella + Mila Are you looking for a gel quality manicure & one is 7-free? Ella + Mila should be your go-to. I tried this one this week & they are still shining days later. Out of 10 nails, only one is chipping & that might have been from my own error. The only downside I see for this polish is that it is not as readily available. However, it is available at Target! Hopefully, the more popular 7-Free nail polishes get, more stores will start to carry it!

  • Can be found: Target, Ulta, & Amazon
  • Shade: Berry Much in Love
Berry Much in Love

Image Credit: Ella + Mila

Did you know about 3, 5, & 7-Free brands before reading this? Have you tried any 5 or 7-free brands? If you have, share in the comments which ones are your favorites!


Wisdom from Hello Sunshine x Together Live {Part 1}

Image result for hello sunshine together live

The third annual Together Live event came into Chicago last night & I was happy to attend for the second year in a row. Last year we went because we were excited about an event like this. The aim of the night is storytelling from all different types of women. When do we get a chance to hear stories and be called to action IRL (in real life)? This year Reese Witherspoon brought her company Hello Sunshine to the event and co-sponsored along with Together Live. My friends Kristin, Kasia, and I were blown away by the number of women this year. At first blush, you might think Reese Witherspoon pulled in a lot of people on the periphery, but the cheering and applause as Glennon Doyle peaked around the curtains made it evident that she was the reason we all came together.

Glennon has had her share of success through her website Momastery. book Love Warrior, social media presence and social & racial justice activism.  I like Glennon because she’s comfortable. funny, and really honest. She’s just an excellent speaker, she’s eloquently messy. She’s shown us all her not-so-pretty side through addiction, sobriety, marriage, and parenting in her book Love Warrior. She’s since championed the needs of those who are marginalized, put herself in the line of fire, and has risen up through grace to face her followers and critics again and again.

When we got upstairs we were greeted by a full theater below us. Almost every seat was filled. After we found our seats (which we were shocked to see were BOX seats) singer, songwriter Milck welcomed us with a soft, but powerful rendition of “Ooo Child”. We had never heard of Milck, but were quickly converted to fans.

Our MC for the night, literary agent Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, ushered in the rest of our storytellers for the evening:

If you have never been to one of these events, the atmosphere they aim to create a cozy intimacy among tens of thousands. The stage was set up as a living room filled with trendy furniture, plush rugs, throws, and the storytellers.

The theme of the night quickly became apparent, “Your Voice Matters.” Though this was not the official theme of the night, the storytelling were nods to this idea. I thought I would share some of my favorite points from each of the women.

Priya Parker

Priya’s book The Art of Gathering focuses on what she calls transformative gathering. Priya’s interest in why and how we gather comes from her stunning background. She highlighted this by drawing attention to her name PRIYA PARKER. A true mix of two cultures. She was born an only child in Zimbabwe to an English Indian mother and an American father. After her parents moved her to the United States their marriage fell apart and Priya soon found herself living between two very different worlds. In order to get us in the mindset of what her life was like Priya took us through an exercise. We stood if the statements applied to us. Statements like, “I consider myself a loner.” “I am a troublemaker.”

Priya touched on how each of us plays a role in making change happen. My favorite part was when Priya talked about loners. I consider myself to be a bit of a loner when it comes to socializing. Priya’s perspective on loners was fascinating, “loners know what they want to create” which is why they stand on the periphery. We don’t always need to be in the middle of the action because we are on the side determining how we want to act and collecting information.

Priya encourages us to seek a need for a gathering rather than focusing on form. We can get so caught up on what things need to look like rather than focusing on the need to connect. We don’t have to wait for things to be perfect, the invites to be sent out, or our houses to be clean. If there is a need to meaningfully connect, we must act on that. There is meaning and importance in connection even if it is just to create a temporary alternate reality.

Ultimately, Priya asks us to listen deeply enough to be changed by what you hear.

Image result for listen deeply enough to be changed by what you hear

There is just too much good stuff to write about in one post. I’ll be sharing more later this week about the rest of the event.

How I Scored The Start Today Journal from Rachel Hollis & The Hollis Co.

I was somehow able to score one of the beautiful new journals from The Hollis Co. Their website is not up yet, but you can find them on social media here:

The Hollis Co:
The Start Today Journal:
Rachel Hollis:
Dave Hollis:

I sat down and recorded a little chat about the journal, how I got one, and how we Hollis fans broke the internet!

National Lipstick Day 2018

National Lipstick Day is officially on July 29, 2018, but a few cosmetic companies are offering free lipstick! (Some with purchase, but some completely no strings attached!)

Here are the deets!

Deals on Now

Anastasia Beverly Hills is offering a buy one get one (BOGO) deal on their lipsticks. PLUS free shipping on orders over $25! Double bonus! (Retail value varies)

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IT Cosmetics– Has two deals you can take advantage of for this Lipstick Day 2018 (Retail value varies)

  • Get two free lipsticks with any $60 purchase (with code LIPDAY2018)
  • Or get 15% off any lipstick (with code LIPDAY2018)

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Deals Exclusively On July 29th

MAC – If you want to even TRY to get a free lipstick from Mac (no purchase necessary) you’re going to have to work for it. By work for it, I mean that will probably involve you getting to your local MAC store at the crack of dawn on July 29th. However, if you can snag this deal, it is the best one out there… free lipstick (select shades only), no strings attached! (Free). (Retail value $18.50)

  • If you want to avoid the chaos, you can get your free lipstick online with any $25 purchase.

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Stila– BOGO on the Stay All Day Liquid Lipsticks, no codes necessary (Retail value $22)

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Bobby Brown– You will get a free Crushed Lipstick with any full-size purchase on July 29th. (Retail value $29)

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Sephora– Buy any full-sized Anastasia Beverly Hills product at Sephora this week & get a free ABH lipstick. YES, this deal is for ALL WEEK! 🙏 (Retail value $18 & up)

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Kat Von D– Grab a free Studded Lipstick in Double Dare with ANY, yes ANY, purchase on July 29th. Absolutely no minimum purchase or code. Score! (Retail value $19)

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Milani– Shopping through Milani’s site on July 29th will get you a free lipstick in Shade Matte Naked. The catch? You have to purchase one of their new eyeshadow palettes in Soft & Sultry or Pure Passion. There is a waitlist you can join for the palettes. Whether that means they will sell out quickly? Your guess is as good as mine! (Retails $6)

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What do you think is the best deal here? Tell me in the comments below. I’ll be chatting about that on IG TV!


Three Things Thursday: Three Things to Add To Your Podcast Feed This Week

I am a huge fan of podcasts & this week for Three Things Thursday I am sharing with you three podcasts I think you should add to your podcast feed.

The Bible Binge

Don’t let the name throw you. This is a hilariously entertaining podcast by the creators of The Popcast (which likely needs no introduction), Knox McCoy and Jamie Golden (my queeeeeen, along with Aidy Bryant). They don’t take themselves, or the Bible for that matter, too seriously, just seriously enough. They do have a “resident Bible scholar” who offers a gentle rebuke and it is always funny to hear Knox and Jamie get defensive or concede. I believe this podcast is great for everyone to listen to just to get to know the basis of not only Christianity but Judaism too!

Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness

Jonathan is the bright, bubbly guy on the Queer on for the Straight Guy reboot on Netflix. I will admit, Jonathan is a BIG personality and he can sound superficial and he loves using slang, but he really is smart, caring, and well-informed. The whole premise of his show is that he brings on guests who are experts in topics he cares about. A personal favorite title of one of his episodes is “How Can We Be Less Rude to Bees?” I think I love this podcast because it’s not only informative, but it’s funny and entertaining.

The Soul School Podcast

Admittedly, I have a very personal connection to this podcast because it is mine and my friend Kasia’s podcast! It is definitely in its infancy, so please give us time to get this thing launched into what we want it to be. We have two episodes out right now, and I am currently trying to edit our third. The audio is not cooperating with me in the slightest, but it is worth the sweat. Now, what is The Soul School Podcast? We are striving to have conversations that matter and that aren’t happening in schools, at the workplace, and amongst friends. We also like to have a good time and share things we find that have brought something to our lives. Please check it out and let us know what you think of it!

Do you like podcasts? What are some of your favorites? Let me know in the comments below!

Tone It Up Bikini Series 2018

Tomorrow starts the Tone It Up Bikini Series and I am pumped to be joining in this year. Right now I have a sore throat which is discouraging, but I am planning on working out every morning to get into the routine.

TIU Bikini Series.jpg

So what is the Tone It Up Bikini Series?

Tone It Up is a community created by Katrina Scott and Karena Dawn. They’re personal trainers who became friends and started the company. Every year they hold several “series” or fitness/nutrition challenges. The challenges take place on the Tone It Up app and website, but the biggest turn out is on social media. The idea is to eat clean, participate in the daily workouts for 20 minutes, and complete the toning moves.

Explore the hashtag #tiubikiniseries or find @toneitup on Instagram! You can join the fun here.

My Week 1 Focus

I know myself and I know if I try to do everything (i.e. meal plan, meal prep, workout, etc.) I will burn out and burn out fast. After a very quick self-reflection, I will simply be aiming to workout each day for 20 minutes and do the toning moves. Simple. As. That. There is no point in my trying to change everything in a matter of hours because that’s really what it boils down to. B is picking us up Meatheads burgers and fries as I type this and I am expected to have everything planned and prepped by tonight? PLUS I have to lesson plan and work on my online classwork. I want to change for the better, not to aim for something unattainable!

Tone It Up Inspiration

Make sure you follow these ladies on Instagram. They are Bikini Series vets and have attained some true greatness.

@nehabeauty She hit the nail on the head with her theme for this series, “Simple and sustainable!” She can also be found blogging at

@unstoppableunbreakable Dada is a true inspiration. The Tone It Up Bikini Series changed her life in 2017 and she continues to amaze us all with her persistence and beautiful heart!

@bunundone Morgan is a Chicago girl, like myself, and the 2017 Bikini Series Winner. She has great recipes and inspiration for giving it your all!

Are you doing the TIU Bikini Series? Let me know below!

Three Things Thursday: 3 Things to Add to Your Makeup Bag This Week

As my very first post and my very first Three Things Thursday, I chose to talk about 3 things to add to your makeup bag this week. Before I jump into those three things, I wanted to share with you how the series will work. It might not always be about makeup, it can be about three home products, three ideas to think about, three shows/podcasts to check out, etc. It can be whatever I am inspired by!

Now to the good stuff… the makeup! I have added three price points: under $10, around $10, and over $20. I go into more detail in my video about my own journey with experimenting with makeup and price points, but I am totally a fan of saving money and wanted to give you a range of price points so that if you’re not really up for spending a lot this week you still find something great.

Below $10

Maybelline Fit Me Foundation {Dewy & Smooth Version}


Image Credit: Ulta Beauty

Best bang for your buck when it comes to drugstore cosmetic brands. I hated this formula at first, but after putting it in the makeup drawer for a little bit and trying again within the last two weeks, I love it! The coverage is a nice blend of full coverage and light. It lasts all day and goes on smooth. I think this would make an excellent addition to your makeup bag for the summer because it goes on light, and at under $10 even if you do sweat it off this summer it’s extremely affordable!

(Note: there is a matte version for oily to normal skin that people LOVE as well. I have not tried the matte version yet, but maybe I’ll try it and compare the two!)

Where to get it:

Ulta Beauty: $7.99

Target: $5.25

Around $10

e.l.f Mad for Matte Eyeshadow Palette in Nude Mood


elf Matte Eyeshadow Palette

Image Credit: e.l.f. Cosmetics

There is a reason this palette has a perfect 5-star rating on Target’s website and a near perfect 4.6 stars on the e.l.f. website. These shadows are brightly pigmented and will work on a variety of skin tones. My suggestion is to use an eyeshadow primer (I love Urban Decay’s Primer Potion) to maximize on the color payoff (aka the strength of the pigment in an eyeshadow). The shades range from cool to warm, and the colors that fall in the middle are great for a toned-down smokey eye. With my skin tone, dark smokey eyes look unnatural, so I am excited to try a smokey eye this weekend!

(Note: they also have a summer shades edition with warmer, more coral-toned shades)

Where to get it:

e.l.f– $10

Target– $10

$20 & Above

Benefit Bad Gal Bang Mascara


Bad Gal Bang.jpg

Image Credit: Cult Beauty


My favorite, favorite mascara! I have never seen my lashed look like this. They’re longer than I ever thought possible, and really… I don’t know how Benefit does it! It looks like I’ve had a lash lift or extensions every time I wear it. I have even had people comment on my lashes with this mascara on and ask about it. There’s not too much to say about this, but I do love it. I am surprised by the 3.9-star review it has on Ulta! I think it might be because it makes your lashes so long it can transfer onto the upper eyelid, but just allow it extra time to dry while applying it before opening your eyes all the way. A little goes a long way so try not to apply more than 2 coats.

Where to get it:

Ulta– $24

Benefit Cosmetics– $24

Sephora– $24

That’s all for this week’s Three Things Thursday (TTT)! Did you like it? What would you like to see on TTT next week? Have you tried any of these products? Let me know in the comments below!

Year of Books {YOB}

About a month ago I ditched Facebook. Like most people, I spent way too much time on Facebook, scrolling along until I was numb or until it was time for bed. I was getting nothing done. After multiple sad stories about dogs within a week, I decided I just couldn’t do it anymore. I deactivated.

At first, I (admittedly) logged onto my previous account to check in on some things (read, people), but I realized I might as well reactivate and be fully back on my current Facebook account. I went cold turkey after that decision, I deactivated my older account. But like all commitments, ideas, dreams, passions, etc. etc. I needed not only a “why” but a “what” to fill in what I would do in place of Facebook.

What would I do to fill this time? TV is just not my thing. I don’t really keep up with many TV shows and when I do it tends to be a binge sprint rather than a marathon. Or I will watch a bunch of episodes and the quickly abandon the TV show for a few weeks until I am ready to pick it up again. All that to say, TV is maybe slightly better than social media, I say this only do to the comparison aspect.

On top of it all, I wanted the time I had spent on Facebook to go toward something worthwhile. I also didn’t want to wait for the new year to start this new venture. I like the idea of starting a resolution any time of the year. I have wanted to see myself as a “reader” for quite some time now. I will admit that social media has gotten in the way of that goal for some time now. Along with my dream to get my blog back up and running, I decided I would declare this as my “Year of Books.”

What is a “Year of Books.” It’s simple really. I’ll read books, I’ll blog about them. It’s a simple accountability system, but also a way to engage with readers. I thought about writing out the list of books I have, but part of me doesn’t want to feel the weight of those books (as there are MANY). So I’ll keep it light and write about what books I am reading, what I have read, and what I may want to read soon.

Are you interested in a Year of Books (YOB)? How about doing your own YOB? Let me know if you have done something like this or what you’re interested in reading as 2017 winds down.

Cheers to the Year of Books!