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totally top five 2k14: bath & beauty

5. Tree Hut Sugar Scrubs

These scrubs smell great, feel great, and make my skin crazy soft. They’re the only scrub I’ve tried that I’ve ever had make a dent in my rough, scaly elbows and yet manage not to irritate or abrade my skin at all. The Italian Mocha smells so good that it kind of makes me furious and it gets even better when it’s sort of mixed/followed/preceded by Philosophy’s Peppermint body wash. I can’t speak to the ~firming properties of the mocha, but it can’t hurt, can it? The Coconut Lime smells like the best sunblock ever and is a very close second to that amazing mocha.

4. Nailtiques Avocado Foot Crème

Had I done a Totally Top 5: 2K13 edition of Bath & Body, this stuff would’ve been at the top of it. We use this so often we just call it “avocado-ing” our feet.

I love this stuff. It’s creamy, it has a great, not subtle, but gentle smell, and it makes my cracked, gross, miserable feet unbelievably soft and happy. I slather it on before bed once or twice a week (slightly more in winter) and put some cotton socks on until I just can’t tolerate them any longer, which is usually about thirty minutes. (People who sleep in socks are an entirely separate species from me. I cannot.) Regular lotion has never helped with my feet. I hate wearing socks and shoes and I spend as much time barefoot as is humanly possible. Winters in North Dakota have changed my habits some — it’s not generally a great idea to walk around without shoes when it’s twenty or thirty below zero, especially outdoors — but they’ve also obliterated any natural moisture my skin has ever had, so this stuff has changed my life. So much less cracked foot pain!1

3. Revlon’s Colorburst Matte Balms

I love lipsticks more than any other cosmetic and they are the only kind of make-up I wear consistently. I like mattes best, the drier and more matte the better2 and I really love these Revlons. They aren’t as dry as I normally like, but they finish very matte and are easy to apply and wearable. I love the range of colors and I love that they’re cheap-ish. They’re long-lasting enough — I usually only have to reapply after I eat — and the color payoff is solid without being thick or sticky. Shameless, Sultry, Striking, and Standout are all excellent. Shameless is my go-to for when I am looking for something dramatic but surprisingly wearable. I love these so much that I’ve even given one of the non-matte version a shot and fallen for Honey, which is totally my Your Lips But Better color. Well done, Revlon. 

2. Bath & Body Works Three-Wick Candles

Okay, so I already wrote about these last year and they’re only barely skirting the Bath & beauty category3 but this year… well, the candles have become A Situation.

That’s the Situation. We have an excessive number of these things — for all seasons! — and we love them an amount that is probably not great for our mental health. My girlfriend blames the problem totally on me, but every time we’re in a place with a Bath & Body Works she’s like, “Hey… Do you want to go sniff some candles?” and I’m not going to lie, it’s like the most romantic thing she says to me.

I’ve got a lot of favorites — we’ve got fourteen candles out right now for winter/Christmas alone — so here’s a mini Totally Top Five for those!

5. ‘Tis the Season – Celebrate the perfect holiday with a festive medley of bright red apples, cinnamon, cloves and deep green pine notes – This is spicy and Christmassy and pretty much like what you’d grab in a Glade candle if you were in the grocery store except better.

4. Marshmallow Fireside – Cozy up by a crackling fire with the warm scent of marshmallows, smoldering woods and vanilla – One of my favorites last year was Fireside, but this year I’ve found it to be a little too smoky for my liking even though it still smells otherwise awesome and Marshmallow Fireside has that nice warm wood fire smell without the smokiness and some added sweetness that never gets overbearing.

3. Sparkling Icicles – A sparkling blend of bergamot, a citrus bouquet and a touch of holiday moss, inspired by ice glittering under the sun – I love this candle. It was one of my absolute favorites last year and I still love it so much. To be fair, I love it partially because it smells like part of California Adventure’s Soarin’ Over California, but also just because it smells clean and wintery with just a hint of citrus.

2. Merry Mistletoe – A flirty and festive blend of cranberries, pears, frosted citrus and a hint of holiday greenery – I’m not sure about flirty, but I most definitely think that Merry Mistletoe is not only festive, but festive-ass. This is like, Christmas without all the cinnamon. Green and bright and lovely.

1. Spiced Apple Toddy – A warming blend of apple brandy and spiced plum, infused with mulled cider and tart cranberry – This smells so good. This one smells so good that when I first got it last year, I pretty much immediately ordered another one during the next 2 for $22 because I am nothing if not a crazed person, constantly terrified that the companies I buy from are going to discontinue the things that I love. It’s really fruity and a little sweet and wonderfully spicy and awesomely Christmassy.

1. Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner

Crys and I first tried out the Mario Badescu stuff because I saw Jaclyn Hill mention the brand in one of her favorites videos and we’ve been really happy with almost everything we’ve tried (Aloe Moisturizer, Acne Cleanser, and Drying Lotion) but I really, really, like 110% LOVE the Glycolic Acid Toner.

I saw Claire Marshall mention it in one of her videos and bought it at the next possible trip to [REDACTED]4. I’ve been using it since the end of October and my skin has NEVER looked better. It’s smoother, it’s brighter, and I haven’t broken out. I’ve had maybe three or four small zits and two of them were in a few days where I missed my toner. The others disappeared within a day and never really developed into anything more than a bump.

I use it in the morning, usually after just splashing my face with warm water5, and then make sure to moisturize thoroughly, which I’d do anyway. A lot of internet tipsters say you don’t need much, just a few drops rubbed in with your fingers, but that method is messy and annoying and I like this stuff enough that I won’t mind buying it again, even if it seems a little soon. I use amazingly soft and fluffy cotton pads from Target from Target, wipe all over with the textured/design side and then wipe again with the smooth side. I swear this stuff might actually be magical and if you haven’t had problems with glycolic acid, I cannot recommend it enough.

Honorable Mentions

Previously: 2K12 | 2K13 | JAMZ | MOVIES

1: My usual remedy for all my dry skin is just to make it worse by scalding it with the hottest water I can tolerate in the shower. It’s the only thing that keeps me going in winter here. Twisted.

2: I wear MAC’s Ruby Woo more often than any other lipstick and I find the wear not only tolerable, but pleasant. Despite Ruby Woo’s popularity, people on the internet and irl seem to find MAC’s retro mattes almost universally unwearable.

3: To be fair, had I a bathtub in which to bathe, I’d be burning these suckers non-stop during the process.

4: There is a store I sort of love that sells both drugstore and high-end brand cosmetics and skincare and bath and body, but they rejected my affiliate application without explanation or even telling me, so you know. Tiny vengeance via redacting.

5: I don’t wash my face in the morning because Salma Hayek told me not to and when Salma Hayek tells you to do or not do something, I think we should listen to her.

totally top five 2k14: jamz

There was great stuff in 2K12! And some more great stuff in 2K13! And now the end of 2K14 is upon us and it’s time to talk about all the great stuff I loved this year!

Like always, we’re starting with the ~jamz~ I loved this year and, like always, we’re talking truthiness before coolness. I am not cool. I am the antithesis of cool. This probably means that the things I love are automatically also uncool by association, sooooo, sucks to be them probably. Here we go!

5. Iggy Azalea featuring Charlie XCX, “Fancy” – YOUTUBE | | AMAZON
This was a song I listened to basically non-stop for like two months this year and it’d be higher on the list if Iggy Azalea wasn’t constantly saying stupid, ignorant, hateful things. I also really like “Bounce”, “Work”, and “Black Widow” and spent a lot of time jamming to those as well. I love Charlie XCX and her voice and, truthfully, I think her contributions here are really the highlight. At the very least, I bought the album with a gift card, so I feel semi-okay about at least not having spent my own cash on it. Sometimes you have to try to do your best to divorce the artist from their work and give them as little money as possible. A Jam, nonetheless.
4. Nick Jonas, “Chains” – YOUTUBE | | AMAZON
I’m 90% sure this was the song I listened to most this year, but since I’m trying to give this list a “Songs I Loved” instead of “Number of Plays” order, it’s coming up a little lower on the list. I like the slow, ~sensual~ thing going on here and I legit laughed out loud when I found out it was Nick Jonas. Don’t get me wrong, Nick Jonas is my favorite Jonas brother, but I mean. Really. I think I really like this because it feels like a sweet-as-hell 90s R&B jam, to be honest, and that’s all I ever really want.
3. Shakira, “Empire” – YOUTUBE | | AMAZON
I love Shakira. She was one of the great loves of my adolescence — when she was Spanish-language only! — and though that love remains, I stopped following her music pretty much after Laundry Service but heard this on the radio and fell hard. Her voice is phenomenal here and it’s plaintive and beautiful and I’m just enthralled by the entire thing. So good, such a jam.
2. Sia, “Chandelier” – YOUTUBE | | AMAZON
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been running around screaming this for what seems like forever at this point and I’m shockingly, amazingly really not sick of it. It’s got sucha great rhythm and so much great, soaring vocal and her voice is awesome. The song is huge and exciting and bright. I like that Sia’s moved toward a more pop-anthem thing from her gentler, indie-er thing. Not that I don’t love “Breathe Me” and “Moon” and, you know, all that. I’m just into this right now. And this is awesome.
1. Paramore, “Ain’t It Fun” – YOUTUBE | | AMAZON
I have never been interested in Paramore before this year. Well, aside from singing along with “Misery Business” whilst playing Guitar Hero. But “Ain’t It Fun” became an instant fave from the first time I heard it on the radio. Or Songza, probably. I also love love love “Still Into You” which is kind of devastatingly romantic, honestly. But “Ain’t It Fun” is fun and dance-y and great. A+ jam, Paramore.

Honorable Mentions

Previously: 2K12 | 2K13