brand spotlight: monastery made

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Monastery Made has knocked it out of the ballpark with it's perfectly simple packaging and botanical goodness. I love the Neroli Black Botanical Brighten Serum and the Lapiz Firming Matte Body Oil so much that I feel this brand is worth the mention. Palm (@joinpalm) introduced me to Monastery Made's products in one of it's collabs awhile ago (of course).

So first, let's talk about the Neroli Black Botanical Brighten Serum. I love a good all-natural face oil. I feel like oils have so many benefits--even for unpredictable, acne-prone oily skin types like me.  The best part about this one is that it is a dry oil, so it absorbs quickly into my skin without any greasy residue. This serum contains squalane oil as a base (if you have oily skin, squalane is the way to go--it's a great regulator of excessive sebum production), and English walnut, neroli, black pepper, bitter orange, and patchouli oils to brighten up your complexion. I'm really impressed with the short ingredient list. The only thing for me that took some getting used to was the smell. I believe it's the English Walnut oil that has a strong, bitter, kinda masculine (?) scent that I'm not a huge fan of. However, give it some time and the scent will grow on you. Overall, I find myself reaching for this serum nightly. It's lightweight and I just can't get enough of how silky my skin feel in the morning.  It's definitely on the pricey side at $68 but it's worth it in my opinion. Plus it's a pretty generously-sized bottle! 

The Lapiz Firming Matte Body Oil.. I had a very tragic accident with this one. I dropped the bottle and it completely shattered all over my bathroom floor. Up until then, this body oil was my go-to post-shower moisturizer. Similar to the Neroli Black serum, it's a dry oil that does a great job of moisturizing my skin while absorbing quickly. Also, I really like the scent. It's a bit odd but to me, it kinda smells like citrus and cocoa paired together. There's something earthy and decadent, yet tangy to it. This body oil uses squalane and fractionated coconut oils to hydrate, and pink peppercorn and red ruby grapefruit oils to brighten and tone your skin. Honestly, I probably neglect my body the most, but this oil seriously turned my skin around. It looks brighter and smoother and I have less KP on my left arm. I will be repurchasing this soon. Perhaps this will be the opportunity to try some more products from the brand as well...

Keep up the great work, Athena!

Until next time, Megan

 

weekend warriors: things I've been loving lately

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Glossier Generation G Lipstick in "Leo"

Glossier You perfume solid

Marc Jacobs Dew Drops Coconut Gel Highlighter

Monastery Made Neroli Black Botanical Brighten Serum

Rituel de Fille Ash & Ember Eye Soot

High Endurance Cosmetics BB Cream

Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask in "Maple"

Wabi Sabi Botanicals Balancing Act Serum (Formula Intensif No. 5)

Byredo Eau de Parfum in "Gypsy Water"

Ellis Brooklyn Sci-Fi Perfume

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Hope everyone has a great Friday! Also, I received the HEC BB Cream as a Palm BFF collab and HEC has given me a 20& off code to share with you all. Just use the code: Theopalgray when you checkout.

Until next time, Megan

 

starting fresh: the goodbeing january box review

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It's a new year and Goodbeing has outdone itself with their latest box. 

I was super excited after Goodbeing (@joingoodbeing) revealed on Instagram that Gaffer & Child and Andalou Naturals were included in this box. I have been dying to try Gaffer & Child after I discovered the brand on Instagram. Honestly, I may just be partial to the packaging but I have so many great things to say about their facial cleanser as well.

So this month, I received the Gaffer & Child Facial Cleanser, Mychelle Lip Hints Conditioning Lip Balm in the berry shade, Previse Exfoliating Mousse, Andalou Naturals Blemish Vanishing Gel, StinkBug Naturals Lavender Deodorant.

The Gaffer & Child Facial Cleanser is my beauty discovery of the month. I'm so impressed with this product because it is super gentle and hydrating. I've expressed my hatred of that draggy, squeaky clean feel that many cleansers tend to leave behind. This cleanser has a castille soap texture (castille soap is it's base ingredient) that foams up slightly and leaves my skin feeling very nourished and clean. I love the light lavender scent it has as well. It reminds me of the Dr. Bronner's lavender castille soap.

I've been suffering from a wave of hormonal acne at my neck due to work-related stress and this Andalou Naturals blemish clarifying gel could not have arrived at a better time. It has a minty fresh feel when applied to the skin. I find it quite refreshing. Plus, it's been great for calming down that annoying cystic acne. 

The Mychelle Lip Hints is a great lip product if you chronically have chapped lips like me. It's peppermint scented and has a shiny finish. The berry tint it leaves behind gives off that popsicle-stained vibe, which I really like.

The last product I want to talk about is the StinkBug Naturals Lavender deodorant. I've used this product a couple times now since the weather has been sunny and warm this week. It's a decent natural deodorant. However, the texture is a bit sticky. For that reason, the packaging can get a bit messy. Other than that, I find that the deodorant does what it's supposed to do. 

I have yet to try the Previse Exfoliating Mousse. The concept of the product seems very intriguing though. The fact that it uses fossilized algae is unlike anything I've encountered in skin care, so I will certainly give an update on that once I get the chance to try it. 

As always, special thanks to Goodbeing for gifting me their latest box. If you are trying to make the transition into clean beauty and lifestyle, this subscription box is a great start. Plus, it's very affordable at $24.95/month. 

And because we all love free products, you can use my referral code to get a bonus item in your first box. 

***Disclaimer: As a Goodbeing ambassador, I do receive a commission through this referral code. This would help me continue to purchase products to review on the blog, so your support means everything to me!

Until next time, Megan

moments: my wedding day look

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About two weeks ago, I got married to my best friend in the whole wide world. (To my twin sister if she reads this--don't worry you're my best friend too!) To think that just four years ago, we were freshmen in college. I just can't believe how far we've come.

And so, I think we're due for some of the highlights of my wedding day look.

My skin is notorious for being finicky and unpredictable. As my wedding day approached, I also happened to be overcoming a very persistent acne breakout. (Probably due to the work stress and PMS). It couldn't have come at a better time... For that reason, I relied heavily on Kalos' Salvatrix Serum in combination with the Sunday Riley UFO Clarifying Oil. Even after my breakout started to calm down, I had quite a bit of scarring under my chin. 

For my makeup look, I went with my signature bronzey eye look, glowy skin, and my perfect shade of nude lipstick. I wanted to keep things natural because that's what I'm comfortable with! I didn't photograph this above, but I used my Kosas Color and Light Pressed Powder Palette in "Papaya 1972" and my Elate cosmetics rose quartz highlighter. 

Keep reading for the extensive list of skincare, makeup, and hair styling galore.

Until next time, Megan

Photographed above

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Skincare:

Kalos Skin Salvatrix Serum

Makeup:

Fenty Beauty Pro Filtr Soft Matte Longwear Foundation, Marc Jacobs Beauty Eyeconic Eyeshadow Palette in "Glambition", Noto Botanics Multi Benne Stain in "Ono Ono", Bite Beauty Luminous Lipstick in my customized shade "11/7" (special thanks to The Beauty Vanity and Bite Lip Lab - SF), Sunday Studios Nail Polish in shade "No. 25"

Fragrance:

Le Labo Hand Pomade & Le Labo "Another 13" Eau de Parfum layered over Byredo Gypsy Water Eau de Parfum

Hair:

Verb Ghost Prep, Kristin Ess Beach Wave Spray

The Style Bit:

The Poppy Dress from The Reformation, crown from Free People

 

The break-out beauty brand: red earth

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What happens when you mix fun, innovative packaging with skincare? You get Red Earth.

Red Earth was kind enough to send me these products to try. I received the Have Fun lipstick matches, Brighten concentrate oil, Secret Potion illuminating skin fluid, Hydrate boosting toner, and the Have Fun hydrating facial masks. The care package came with some really adorable stickers as well. 

After testing these products for the last few weeks, I've fallen in love with the Secret Potion illuminating skin fluid. Hello dewy skin! However, I found that it made my foundation break down when I mixed it together---so if you're an oily-skinned gal like me, I would recommend applying this before foundation and dotting some onto the high points of your face after for a nice subtle glow.

My second love was the lipstick matches. They are beyond cool and just an overall fun product to add to my lipstick collection. The red shade is also pretty flattering on my light-medium skin tone. I wish that they had more color choices!

If I wasn't so obsessed with the Sunday Riley UFO clarifying oil or the Monastery Made Neroli Black oil, this concentrate oil would definitely have a spot in my top shelf. It smells super fruity and fresh, which I love, and is lightweight enough to use in the daytime. I didn't really see any brightening effects but it is very hydrating, so I like to incorporate this into my routine on days where my skin feels very dehydrated.

Out of all the products I received, I was least impressed by the toner. It has a similar fruity scent to the facial oil which is really pleasant, but I just didn't see any noticeable effects on my skin. 

I have a soft spot for indie green beauty brands and Red Earth definitely dresses their products to impress. They are now available at Urban Outfitters and Nordstrom if you would like to check them out!

Special thanks to Red Earth for sending over these samples to review on the blog.

Until next time, Megan.

objects of desire: favorites of 2017

The unpublished favorites. Finally published.  Let's recap on some beauty products that have made it into my top shelf in 2017.

I know, I've been terrible at blogging in the last few months of 2017. Now, as we have kissed 2017 goodbye, I feel it's appropriate to share these tried-and-true beauty favorites that are still staples in my top shelf.

and so, keep reading for the products that I fell in love with in last year...

Sunday Riley U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil

You know a product is good when I'm willing to drop $80 at Sephora for the full-sized bottle. This dry face oil has been a game-changer for my acne-prone skin. It really keeps my hormonal acne under control and over time, I've noticed clearer, more refined pores. And the oil aspect makes it ultra-moisturizing, which seems so contradicting for an acne treatment. I can never be without this.

RMS Beauty Lip 2 Cheek in "Vogue Rose"

The RMS Lip 2 Cheek has been featured on my blog before, and has made many appearances on my Instagram for good reason. It's so pigmented and brings out the natural flush in my cheeks. I love how much definition the peachy coral shade gives my warm skintone. Did I mention it has a cream-to-powder formula? Super long-lasting & blendable. Perfect through all the ages. 

Linne Botanicals Refresh Mineral Mist

Not another face mist! Mists are my favorite skincare product because they are usually the most affordable item if you're dying to try a luxury brand like Linne Botanicals---and they have so, so many benefits. This one is great for hydrating my skin before makeup. The blue yarrow also does a great job of clarifying my skin. It's one of my favorite toners and skin refreshers to date. 

Byredo "Mojave Ghost" Eau de Parfum

Byredo's Mojave Ghost  is one of those scents that you just can't get enough of. It definitely leans more towards the feminine side of the scent spectrum with its spicy, floral notes. I love Byredo for the fact that their scents are never intoxicating. They come on strong, but fade gracefully in the background. 

Jo Malone London "Mimosa & Cardamom" Cologne

Perhaps I was initially drawn towards this brand for its iconic perfume bottles. I love the classic, minimal packaging and the fact that its scents are colognes. There is this unisex, yet ultra femme vibe that Jo Malone fragrances give off. The Mimosa & Cardamom cologne is my signature scent in the summer and spring seasons. It's clean & spicy and very unique. 

 

Until next time, Megan.

 

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Introductions: the Goodbeing December box review

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An exciting thing happened last month. Lauren, from Goodbeing, asked me to become an ambassador for this all-natural beauty and lifestyle subscription box. I've had a love affair with subscription boxes for awhile now because they are just so fun! That element of surprise of receiving a box full of beauty and wellness products every month lifts my mood after the stressful work week.

The great thing about this subscription box is that it curates a wide variety of products within the realm of beauty and wellness. This month, I received a shampoo, face scrub and moisturizer (full size), highlighter (full size), massage oil, and a beauty supplement chocolate bar. Similar to Birchbox, each month you get to select two of the full-sized products that will go into your box. 

Now onto the review.

Although I haven't tried out all the products yet, I have already incorporated the Jivi moisturizer and Elate highlighter into my daily routine. The Jivi lavender moisturizer is a great daytime moisturizer. It smells a bit like seaweed (algae extract is one of the ingredients) and has a green tint to it that fades with a bit of blending. Rest assured, it won't turn your face green. The texture is really thick as well, but the product melts into your skin quickly and leaves a smooth matte surface--a great prep for base makeup. My favorite thing about this moisturizer: it has sun protection! The Jivi face scrub is another splendid product. This exfoliant is fine, so it really refines the skin without any painful scrubbing. 

The Elate highlighter is my favorite product from the box. It leaves a nice rose quartz metallic sheen without any greasiness or chunky glitter. The highlight is also very natural on my warm skin tone. 

The last product I want to talk about is the massage oil. While I'm not a huge fan of the tobacco scent, this massage oil has really come in handy during this stressful month. Plus testing this product out was a perfect excuse to ask my fiance for a shoulder massage. 

I have yet to try out the Esthechoc beauty supplement chocolate bar and the Plain Products shampoo so look out for the updates via Instagram story in the following week. 

Special thanks to Goodbeing for gifting me their December box. If you are trying to make the transition into clean beauty and lifestyle, this subscription box is a great start. Plus, it's very affordable at $24.95/month. 

And because we all love free products, you can use my referral code to get a bonus item in your first box. 

Until next time, Megan

 

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The procrastinator's guide to holiday gifting

Hint: You can find it at Target...or ship it directly to your friend's house.

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The holiday season crept up quickly while I was working my first busy season. While it's already Christmas eve eve, I want to share my holiday gift guide---because better late than never right? Also, take the hint & treat yourself. 

Here are the things that made my Christmas gift list this season:

Cluse Watch 

Noto Botanics Ono Ono Multi-Benne Stain

Madewell Sunglasses

Voyage et Cie "Opera - Reve de Vanille" Perfume (from The Reformation)

Kosas Light & Color Pressed Powder Blush & Highlighter in "Papaya 1972"

Soul Sunday x The Stell Rose Geranium Natural Fragrance

Fig & Yarrow Orange Blossom & Lavender Complexion Water

 

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a brief reflection on being thankful

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Hi everyone,

It's been a few weeks since my last post so I think we're due for a little catch-up. I'm currently working my first busy season just a month after starting my full-time job, so my days have been pretty hectic and my stress levels are through the roof. On the bright side, my fiance and I finally moved into our first apartment together. And let me tell you, I've been to Ikea more times in the past month than I've ever been in my entire life. Nonetheless, we've had a blast furnishing our apartment into an Ikea showroom.

 

I guess this Thanksgiving, I have a lot to be grateful for.

I'm grateful for my fiance for being the house-husband, handyman, & all-around support system in my life (& even learning how to cook).

I'm grateful for my family for loving me unconditionally and giving great pep talks. 

& Lastly, I'm grateful for this amazing beauty blogger community. Thank you all for being so supportive of my photography and The Opal Gray. Although my blog still has a long way to go, I've never imagined that it would actually get to where it is today.

So thank you all. 

 

Until next time, Megan.

 

Photographed above: Caudalie Vinoperfect Brightening Essence, Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Foundation and Killawatt Highlighter Duo, RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek, Rituel de Fille Ember & Ash Eye Soot, Grown Alchemist Vanilla & Watermelon Lip Balm and Vanilla & Orange Peel Hand Cream, Soul Sunday x The Stell Rose Geranium Natural Fragrance, Sunday Riley UFO Facial Oil, Jo Malone Mimosa & Cardamom Fragrance, Odiele Rose Serum, Anese Gotta Peace Out Hydrating Elixir

call of the wild: the amenity kit by Grown Alchemist

My new guilty pleasures---The Stell's natural beauty products & this gorgeous packaging, courtesy of Grown Alchemist.

They tell you not to judge a book by it's cover & yet I felt so compelled to pick up this Grown Alchemist Amenity Kit from The Stell because of its swoon-worthy minimalistic packaging.

I feel like at this point, Grown Alchemist's packaging is as iconic as Aesop's or Le Labo's. But it's safe to say that the packaging is not the only selling point. I've been using these products non-stop since they arrived & I'm absolutely hooked. Not only do the products smell amazing---think fresh & natural---they are also very effective. The kit is priced at $24 and contains minis of the Hydra-Repair Day Cream, Orange Peel & Vanilla Hand Cream, and Vanilla & Watermelon Lip Balm. 

The Hydra-Repair Day Cream and the Orange Peel & Vanilla Hand Cream have a similar texture. Both are very creamy & emolient, yet sink in very quickly. All that I'm left with is soft and hydrated skin, no greasy mess. The Vanilla and Watermelon Lip Balm, on the other hand, adds some flare to the kit. I am so enamored by the glossy shine it leaves on my lips. I don't even need lip gloss anymore. It basically kills two birds with one stone.

I will definitely be picking up the full-sizes of these products soon. 

Until next time, Megan.