Every time I travel I play the how-much-stuff-can-I-bring-in-my-carryon bag game. Since I’ve been traveling throughout Southeast Asia, I haven’t been checking any luggage. I try to only bring essentials and multi-purpose products to save space for goodies I pick up on my travels. This little bag doesn’t include my skincare or hair items, but I usually only bring a travel size face wash and moisturizer (from this Murad kit), Simple Skin Care cleansing wipes (a lifesaver on the go), a detangling hair brush and travel size shampoo/body wash. I find that more often than not, I end up with my hair in a messy bun or half-pulled back in a hair clip. Depending on where I’m traveling, I may switch out (or add) powder or foundation to match the climate of my destination. For example, when I went to Taiwan, it was extremely humid so I brought Estee Lauder Double Wear because I knew it would hold up. But, the items below are staples that I bring along no matter the destination.
I’ve found that this is the perfect combination of versatile face products to give me a fresh-faced, but not overdone look on the go. The Complexion Rescue makes for a hydrating, healthy looking base, and it’s perfect for balancing your skin on dry flights. I spot conceal and highlight my undereyes with the concealer, and use the bronzer and shimmer palette for both my face and eyes. Depending on the size of the bottle, I’d also recommend tossing a setting spray in your bag just to keep it long-lasting. Lately, I’ve been loving the Smashbox Primer Water and Milani Make It Last Setting Spray.
You’ve probably noticed that a lot of these products are from the drugstore. Not only are these all really great products in terms of performance, they’re also affordable, which is a pro when you’re traveling and don’t want to risk losing your baggage or breaking something expensive. The makeup bag I’m using is from Vera Bradley, part of the Travel Cosmetic Set, which I highly recommend–it’s a 4-piece set that works great together for longer trips and separated for short getaways.
What’s in your travel bag? Anything I need to add to my own? Let me know in the comments below!
Disclaimer: this blog contains Amazon affiliate links.
Okay, it’s not really round 10. But I’ve talked about dry shampoo on wisconsinwhimsy what feels like a million times, and I always seem to come back to one particular product—Batiste. If you’ve somehow been living under a rock, or maybe you’re just not lazy like me and wash your hair every day, Batiste is a drugstore dry shampoo that retails anywhere from $6–10. It has a cult following (but not a real cult…) and works amazingly on my hair. I can usually extend a hairstyle out for 3 days (sometimes 4 if I’m feeling reckless) with Batiste, which is impressive considering my oily scalp and limp hair. Since I moved to Okinawa, I’ve only had very limited access to Batiste, so I’ve been on the hunt for a product that’s just as good or better.
I frequently get questions about my hair and how I keep it shiny and long, and the answer is really simple: I’m lazy, so I don’t usually heat style it, and I don’t wash it every day. Daily shampooing is really damaging to your hair. A lot of people think their hair is too oily to not wash every day, but that’s likely not the case. Every time you wash your hair, your shampoo is basically sending your scalp a text that says, “Make more oil!” It can take time to train your scalp to intermittent washing, but it’s worth it.
If you missed my A Year’s Worth of Beauty Trash blog, I tried out Not Your Mother’s, Got2B, Dove, Bumble & Bumble, and TIGI Bed Head. Of that group, the Dove was easily my favorite, but it still can’t hold a candle to my beloved Batiste. Today, we’re talking about the next round of dry shampoos I’m testing, and we’ll see how they compare.
blowpro Essentials Faux Dry / $11 / Let me start by saying I purchased all of these products at a military exchange, so the price I paid may not be the same as at your local drugstore, but unfortunately I couldn’t find the aerosol version online anywhere. This talc-free dry shampoo has a distinct musky smell (almost masculine, almost old ladyish), so if you’re sensitive to scents I would skip this entirely. Smell aside, it actually works pretty well. It’s not super powdery, but powdery enough to absorb the oils on your scalp without leaving white residue behind. I don’t think this is a heavy-duty dry shampoo that you could use for several days, but it works perfectly for next-day hair. It doesn’t create any product buildup and is easy to wash out. I don’t think it’s life-changing, or honestly even hair-changing, but it’s a decent dry shampoo. The non-aerosol version (which is slightly different and unscented) can be purchased for $24 on Amazon. -CRUELTY FREE-
Herbal Essences bio-renew Volume Dry Shampoo / $6, Target / Let me just start (and basically end) this by saying this dry shampoo sucks. It smells great—fruity and slightly minty, which is a nice pick-me-up for dirty hair. Beyond that, there really isn’t anything positive to say about it. It’s not powdery at all; it makes your roots slightly damp, which then turns into a weird crunchy/sticky mess. I give this a 0/5. Try at your own risk and waste of six dollars.
Big Sexy Hair Dry Shampoo / $11 ON SALE, Ulta / I really, really, wanted this to blow me away. I love Sexy Hair products, and am currently amassing a collection of them, which I honestly will probably never use…hence why we’re here talking about dry shampoo. It’s fine. Anyway, this is another product I found to be just okay. It has your standard salon smell mixed with some sort of fake watermelon??? The smell of this was actually offensive to me…I had to physically leave the bathroom, and it still followed me around. It’s also worth noting that this one is salon-priced. It retails for $17 and you only get 3.4 oz of product. It’s not powdery, but it’s not wet like the Herbal Essences one either. It seems to be more alcohol-ish? It doesn’t appear to do anything immediately to your hair at all. The can says to leave it on for two minutes and brush out the excess. I haven’t been able to locate any visible ‘excess’ while using this product, so I usually apply it and massage my roots after a couple of minutes. It makes your hair look voluminous, but it can really only handle next-day hair. -CRUELTY FREE-
Batiste Blush Dry Shampoo / $8, Ulta / The moment we’ve all been waiting for. Unfortunately, none of the other brands held up to Batiste standards. It’s still my favorite. ♡ This is definitely the most powdery of the bunch, but I think that’s why it works so well. A lot of bad reviews mention the amount of product it leaves in your hair—you only need a few, short sprays of this, and if you have colored hair there are colored options ($9, Ulta). My favorite scents are Wild and Tropical, but only Blush was available at my exchange. My only complaint is that I seem to go through Batiste quickly, but that’s really not an issue when I’m living stateside and have easy access to Ulta or Target. If you’re a lazy hair person like me and you don’t want to spend a lot of money, or you just love a good deal, try this out! -CRUELTY FREE-
If you’re looking for a more in-depth review on several brands, visit this Reviews.com guide for the best dry shampoos. It’s based on 54 contenders, tested over 6 weeks. I hadn’t even heard of their top pick, Klorane, until reading the guide, so I’m going to pick it up when I visit the States in October. 👏🏼 As always, if you have any recommendations for me to try, leave them in the comments below! Bonus points if it’s a non-aerosol so I can have it shipped to me. (Or, if you know of some mysterious Japanese dry shampoo, please let me know!)
Wives, fiancées, and single romantics: have you ever flipped through a copy of The Knot in an airport bookstore thinking to yourself, “Wow, I wish I had $10 to buy this gigantic magazine so that I could pretend to be interested in it and avoid awkward small talk with the stranger in seat 5A for the next 5 hours?” No? Just me? Maybe you were thinking something more along the lines of, “This is my dream wedding.”
I’m starting to get to the age where more and more friends of mine are tying the knot. And I am so unbelievable happy for them to embark on that journey of love. I was at a party a while ago, and some of the fellow party-goers thought it was really sweet I was already married, and someone asked me, “What kind of wedding did you have?” It threw me off at first, because I couldn’t exactly figure out what she was asking. Did she want to know if I had a big wedding, eloped, was Jewish, did the whole cowboy boots and sunflowers thing or the elegant cathedral, or maybe all of the above? I wasn’t sure. So I told her that I had a smallish wedding and described my venue and events. She thought it was cute. We moved on.
But the question stuck with me. I’ve been asked about my wedding many times without being asked about my husband or our relationship—just the wedding. I know some of you are eye-rolling and thinking that I’m reading way too far into the question, which is kind of the truth, but stick with me, because I’m thinking less about the question and more about the wedding culture that has pushed us to have bigger and spendier weddings than ever before. According to The Knot, the average American wedding costs $35,329. THAT IS AN ENTIRE YEAR’S SALARY FOR MANY PEOPLE. On one day. A day that most brides only remember vaguely through the wedding photographs they receive a month or two later.
My wedding was a lot of things, but it wasn’t the greatest day of my life. Yes, I vowed to be a faithful, loving, and humble wife, and accepted my husband’s promise to be those things for me too. But we’d already promised those things to each other long before we dressed up and did it in front of a pastor. Yes, we had beautiful photographs taken (insert plug for Jay and Tay Photography here), celebrated with family and friends, and loved the experience. Those memories are special. I think my wedding was beautiful and I am deeply indebted to all of the wonderful people who tirelessly worked to help me pull it off. But I heard several remarks throughout my wedding planning process about if I wanted to do this, or if I was planning on doing that. How much was my dress, had I seen all of the beautiful weddings on Pinterest? I needed to get my flowers from this place, and my guests would be bored if I played my own music rather than hire a DJ (Because the Cha Cha Slide is so entertaining…eye roll).
The most important thing Alex and I did on our wedding day was get married. And we could have done that in jeans and t-shirts at the county courthouse for $100.
So why did we plan a wedding? Like most people, we wanted to take part in that tradition. We wanted a Christian ceremony. We wanted to celebrate our love with friends and family, and I watch too much Say Yes to the Dress to not have wanted a wedding gown.
My message here is not that you should skimp out on your wedding day if a blow out wedding is what you really want. My point is that you should take a step back from the stress and pressure of planning such a huge party to remember that you’re not planning this party for the future pictures, for the opportunity to be featured in a magazine, for bragging rights, or even for the guests in attendance. You’re planning it for you and your husband (or wife!). You’re planning it because you want to get married. And you can get married anywhere, in any clothes, on any budget, and it’s not going to change how you feel about each other.
You can have the most beautiful, whimsical, breathtaking wedding ceremony in the world and it will not set the precedence for a happy marriage. Because the only things that can make a marriage happy are the two people in it. So drink in all of the fun of wedding planning and the memories that come with it, but keep in mind what’s really important, and hint, it isn’t your wedding, it’s your marriage. — ♡
An old blog post of mine that gets hits pretty consistently is one I wrote about product empties. So, this is going to be just like that but on steroids. When we first moved to Okinawa, I wasn’t familiar with the strict rules on recycling and waste disposal, so I kept saving my empty cans of dry shampoo because I didn’t know what to do with them. (P.S., it turns out they’re recyclable) Eventually, I had filled up the bottom shelf of my toiletry closet with empty products and thought, “I’ll blog about it!” (Actually, I think I defensively made up that I was blogging about it to deflect my husband’s questions about why I was accumulating a small landfill of cosmetics in our side closet, but…)
This was actually really fun for me to go through and reflect on some of the products I actually made it through. Oftentimes I get so excited about trying new products that I forget about the ones I already have!
Rimmel Stay Matte Powder / I’ve probably gone through 7-10 of these powders over the years, and while I no longer use it (I’m currently in love with Cover FX Illuminating Setting Powder), it served me well and kept me matte-r than most powders. I probably won’t repurchase since I’ve found better alternatives, but it’s an affordable and readily available option for oily skin.
it Cosmetics Celebration Illumination Foundation / I used to love this powder foundation (see this post about covering acne), but somewhere along the way my skin decided it no longer wanted to be friends, and thus, I had to break up with it. It’s a great powder for touch ups due to the coverage though, so I still keep a spare in my car.
Benefit Hoola and Dallas / I’ve raved about these powders to y’all in probably 1/3 of all cosmetic blogs I’ve written, but just in case you’ve missed all of those somehow: I love these babies. Hoola is the perfect bronzer for contouring (even for pale princesses!) and Dallas is such a gorgeous bronzey-plum blush. They’re worth the price, imo.
Nars Creamy Radiant Concealer / I HATED THIS. Okay, hate is a strong word. But I really wasn’t impressed for how much hype it gets. First of all, it’s hella expensive. I don’t mind paying a pretty penny for quality high-end products, but $30 for such a teeny wand of concealer is a little over the top for me. The coverage was just meh and it looked cakey under my eyes. I don’t get the hype but I will say the color match was on point!
NYX HD Studio Photogenic Concealer / I’ve raved about this concealer in the past as well, but lately it hasn’t been working for me either. I’m wondering if my skin is changing? This concealer has a whipped consistency and a tendency to make my undereye area look crepe-y, and the shade selection is pretty poor.
Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Dark Circle Eraser / If you’ve been watching YouTube makeup tutorials since back when they weren’t trendy, you know the crazy level of hype this concealer got. It’s good, but for some reason I’m not jumping to repurchase.
Alba Botanica AcneDote Deep Pore Wash / This cleanser lasted me almost 8 months, so that alone is impressive, but I don’t think it did much for my acne. It’s pretty drying. Won’t repurchase.
Fake Bake Flawless Darker Self Tan Liquid / I’ve made my love for this product abundantly clear on wisconsinwhimsy. It’s a dark, natural tan that smells delish and doesn’t transfer (just do not get wet for 24 hours or else the color guide will make you look super splotchy). Read more about how I tan at home here, but I’m testing a new tanner (only because my beloved Fake Bake can’t be shipped overseas ) so expect an update soon.
Clinique Acne Solutions Clarifying Lotion + Cleansing Foam / I bought the entire set, but for some reason didn’t finish the third step, which is a treatment lotion. I didn’t get amazing results using these products, and they were pretty drying. Meh. Next.
Wet n Wild Photofocus Setting Spray / This setting spray sucks. The packaging is super cheap (it’s WnW, I know) and the mist is not fine or even, so it’s basically equivalent to spraying yourself in the face with a Super Soaker. And it won’t even lock your makeup in place. Pass.
NYX Matte Finish Setting Spray / I love this stuff! It’s not super mattifying, but it does keep my makeup in place all day. It’s pretty refreshing, too. And cheap! #bonuspoints
Daiso Japan Puff Sponge Detergent / Step aside, overpriced brush and sponge cleansers, this cost me ¥100 and it works amazingly. I didn’t realize how much old foundation was lurking behind in my beauty blender until I started using this. If you’re not in Japan (or California, which I believe has a Daiso, though I’m not sure this product is sold there) you can find it on Amazon.
Biosilk Silk Therapy Lite / If you’ve ever used the regular Biosilk Silk Therapy, you know that it feels like applying syrup to your hair. You have to use a teeny, tiny amount or risk looking like you just wrestled in a pool of baby oil. The Lite version was definitely lighter and made my hair feel smooth, but it’s still a heavyweight product that doesn’t really offer long-term results.
Maybelline The Falsies Push Up Angel / The mascara wand makes this product a deal breaker for me. Only one part of it actually has bristles on it, and I poked myself in the eye with the plastic applicator pretty much every time I used it. It didn’t push my lashes up or make them look like falsies, so skip this one unless mascara-induced blindness is on your bucket list.
Maybelline The Magnum Barbie / This mascara has built-in fibers to make lashes look longer and thicker. It’s also only available in certain Asian countries, so if you’re in the States you’ll have to admire the cute Barbie packaging from afar. It made my lashes look super fab, but unfortunately the fibers would flake off into my eyes throughout the day and really irritate them.
Maybelline The Falsies / I just really love Maybelline mascaras, apparently. This is a classic drugstore staple for long and full lashes, and I always keep a spare tube in my gym bag for on-the-go glam.
Too Faced Better Than Sex / I swore I would never repurchase this mascara, and then I did. I got it 40% off during a flash sale on Too Faced’s website, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have bought it. I did like it better this time around, but my same complaints of flakiness, smudges and crusty lashes still prevailed. I won’t repurchase (and I swear I really mean it this time!)
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz / I used Soft Brown for years, but I’ve realized Caramel is actually a better color match for me. I love, love, LOVE this brow pencil and will always come back to it.
NYX Micro Brow Pencil / I think this is a pretty good dupe for the ABH Brow Wiz, and as you can see, I’ve repurchased it a zillion times. I actually think there are more empty tubes lurking in my car somewhere. My only complaint is that I go through them quickly, but other than that it’s a faithful option for people who need precise brow help.
Milani EasyBrow Automatic Pencil / Skip this. The pencil is way too soft so it gives a really harsh payoff that looks a little “Crayola-to-the-face-ish.”
K-Palette 1-Day Tattoo Eyeliner / This eyeliner really does last all day, but the tip isn’t precise enough for a clean cat eye and eyeshadow transfers onto it really easily. It’s also only available in Southeast Asia, but if you are interested in trying it, you might be able to find it on Amazon???
Milani Eye Tech Extreme Liquid Eyeliner / This is the closest I’ve found to a drugstore dupe for Stila Stay All Day liquid liner. It’s precise and very black. I’d definitely buy it again, and I’m actually wondering why I haven’t done so already 🤔
BareMinerals Lasting Line Eyeliner / I like this for the most part, but it does smudge and I also don’t really wear black pencil liner…so I probably won’t repurchase.
L’Oreal Lumi Cushion / So, I have mixed feelings on this. I actually liked it because it made my skin look really fresh and healthy, but there’s also not much product and the cushion sponge it comes with sucks. I applied it with my beauty blender instead because of how terrible the cushion was. It also only has light coverage and definitely doesn’t hold up to the intense (aka 100%) humidity and heat in Okinawa, so it’s not on my list of items to repurchase. It does have a nice shade range though!
Estee Lauder Double Wear / Y’all I drank the Kool Aid and was obsessed with this foundation for a long time. I even wore it on my wedding day. I’ve seen the light though…and I will not be repurchasing. It’s heavy, doesn’t control my oil, and is not pale-skin friendly.
Maybelline SuperStay Better Skin / I loooooove the Better Skin concealer, but this foundation doesn’t live up to the same hype. The foundation is hard to color match and oxidizes, so if your skin isn’t naturally orange, I don’t recommend it. It also made me a hot, oily mess. Kind of like a McDonald’s fryer.
Revlon ColorStay / I swore by this foundation in college so I did one of those things where you look back on the past and reminisce on things you thought were great but really weren’t. I thought to myself, “Remember when your face looked super cakey and broken out all the time? Let’s relive that.” And I bought this foundation. And then remembered why I stopped using it.
L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte / I think this foundation is a good, affordable drugstore foundation. It’s not something I reach for often, but I do usually have a tube of it somewhere in my makeup closet. It has medium coverage is surprisingly paraben-free.
So…we need to talk about something. It’s about how lazy I am with my hair. I have never, and I seriously mean never, taken an interest in hairstyling. If I wouldn’t look like a naked mole rat, I’d probably shave it all off my head. (Props to all the people who rock the hairless look, I envy you) As you can imagine, I have a super strict hair routine. It goes something like: brush every 3 days, shampoo, occasionally condition, messy bun, dry shampoo, repeat. 😬 I used Batiste religiously when I lived in the States, but unfortunately it’s not available here (apparently Japanese people aren’t lazy bums like me) and aerosols can’t be shipped overseas. Recently the PX has gotten more dry shampoo options, but over the past year it was super limited.
Bumble and Bumble Hair Powder / This stuff was life changing when my hair was red/brown. It actually might be the best dry shampoo I’ve ever used, but unfortunately it’s $30 and I can’t justify that kind of investment into a product that will only last a couple of weeks.
got 2b Rockin It Dry Shampoo / If you like chunks of whatever dry shampoo is made of floating in your hair like extra-large flakes of dandruff, buy this. If not, avoid it like the plague.
Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak / This dry shampoo is just okay. It smells non-offensive and works decently, but I’d say it’s only good for the day after washing and not anymore after that. It only helps with minor shine, so definitely skip it if you want to extend your style further than that.
Dove Dry Shampoo / As you can see, I repurchased this a lot, lol. It smells good and actually works decently, although I still wouldn’t really give it more than four stars. It just happened to be the best product available to me. One day I’ll return to my precious Batiste.
That’s all, folks! This isn’t a complete list of products, since I know I slipped up and threw stuff away every now and then, but I hope you enjoyed being nosy and reading all about my trash. What products are you trashing?
If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you’re familiar with my acne-prone, sensitive, oily skin. I feel like I’ve tried an endless flood of skincare regimens from the drugstore, from high-end brands, from gimmicky infomercials (cough, Proactiv). I’ve tried exercising more often, drinking more water, getting more sleep, hormonal birth control, a cocktail of antibiotics and a handful of prescription topicals. (Haven’t tried that viral charcoal face mask, though, and don’t count on that ever happening) If you’ve dealt with stubborn acne before, you can understand that the struggle is real. I’ve spent a crazy amount of time and money trying to feel less insecure about my skin, an unsuccessful endeavor until recently.
Moving to Okinawa was not kind to my skin – I don’t know if it was the stress of an international move, adjusting to the climate or both, but my skin really did not like moving here! The photo on the left was taken in late November and the photo on the right was taken in March of this year. Crazy, right??? I feel like I may be jinxing myself just by posting this. If you can believe it, I actually reduced my skincare regimen to just THREE steps 😱 I know. You’re probably thinking I’m about to go multi-level marketing on you (I’m not) or that it’s unrealistic given the transformation of my skin, but it’s the real deal. I do occasionally add steps as needed, like masks or a night cream, depending on my skin’s condition, but I try to keep it simple on a daily basis.
Wash // Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash // $22 @ Origins
I use this with my Clarisonic at night and usually skip this step in the morning and go straight to toner.
My skin has never felt dry or tight while using this cleanser. I’m low-key obsessed.
This is an undiluted essential oil blend of geranium bourbon, pink grapefruit, cedarwood deodara, peppermint, rosemary, Roman chamomile. You must dilute it to use it safely!
I emptied the entire tube of aloe gel into a separate container and added 10-15 drops of the essential oil blend. I apply it every morning and evening with a cotton ball and voila! My skin has never been clearer or more balanced. I started to see results within a few days of using the Zit Fighter Synergy and I’m so grateful that I took a chance on it after reading reviews. It has a bit of a strong smell and will make your eyes water if you apply it too close to the eye area, but I don’t mind the odor. And I can handle the occasional accidental eye stinging if my skin looks this fab all the time! I feel much more comfortable wearing BB cream or even going foundation-free than I ever have before. The aloe/oil combo doesn’t make me oily, either. I actually feel like it balances my skin and makes it less oily! I’ve also noticed that my skin redness has been significantly reduced as well. After 12 years of dealing with acne, I’m incredibly thankful for a break.
I should also add that I got a shower head filter, which I also believe helped with the rapid reduction of my acne. I got the Zit Fighter Synergy and the filter on the same mail day, and it was the start of a beautiful friendship 😅 I purchased the CaptainEco 8-Step Advanced Shower Filter from Amazon for $30 and highly recommend it if your household water is treated with chlorine. It’s helped my skin and my hair.
I still have occasional minor blemishes, but the majority of the marks remaining on my face are scars. I recently picked up Boots Vitamin C Smoothing Serum (sadly only available in Thailand, so I’ll try not to get too attached to it!) in hopes it might help fade them. If you have recommendations for scar-fading skin care products, please let me know in the comments!
As we spring into Spring, I’ve decided to spend more time making our home feel like an inviting, comfortable, and restful space. Over the next month or so, I plan to eliminate unnecessary clothes and shoes from our closets, purge our pantry of old food, and rearrange some furniture. I also want to stop burning candles and wax melts, which cover up household smells (read: I have a dog) with a strong fragrance. Diffusers are relaxing to watch, and the scents don’t give me headaches or leave the air feeling stuffy.
My husband got me an adorable wooden diffuser as a gift, and it’s been dormant for the last few months. I’ve been burning candles and wax melts, but diffusing gives that “clean air” feeling rather than a strong artificial fragrance. I wouldn’t say I’m sold on the essential oil lifestyle, but I do use and enjoy them.
I buy pretty much exclusively from Plant Therapy for several reasons: they have great customer service, fast shipping, quality oils, reasonable prices, transparent testing, and certified aromatherapists. I don’t support Young Living or DoTerra on the basis of their misleading business practices (therapeutic grade means nothing and neither does seed to seal 😱) and lack of credible consultants. Anyone can invest money and become a consultant for those companies, meaning they aren’t required by DoTerra or Young Living to be certified aromatherapists or experts on the safe use of essential oils. As a result, consultants have given out incredibly dangerous and unsafe advice, something I experienced firsthand from a DoTerra consultant. I strongly encourage you to research any company you buy essential oils from in depth, because it’s a relatively unregulated market and it’s hard to make sure you’re buying unadulterated and reasonably priced oils no matter where you buy. I personally love Plant Therapy, but Mountain Rose Herbs and Edens Garden are also companies I trust.
Since I’m trying to stray away from candles/wax melting, I bought a handful of new oils to use and diffuse this spring! Previously, I had pretty much only diffused lavender. I’m most excited to diffuse the Worry Free Synergy, which smells so incredibly amazing and inviting. I’ve also got a blog in the works about the Zit Fighter Synergy specifically (hint: it’s amazing!).
Let It Go Synergy // $11.95 // tangerine, ylang ylang, patchouli, sweet orange, blue tansy
Three years ago, I bought my first pair of Birkenstock sandals—the Granada style in “Tobacco Brown.” I was in love with those shoes…until the oiled leather deteriorated and they looked weirdly flesh toned against my fair complexion. Birkenstocks are a classic shoe, one that I think should be in everyone’s closet. They’re comfortable, supportive, and the perfect casual summer (or winter—I’d be lying if I said I’ve never worn mine with wool socks like the dirtbag hippie I am) sandal. Don’t knock them until you try them. And the soft footbed is worth the extra money.
Alas, my ride or die relationship with my Granadas began to fade over the last year. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’re probably aware of my former addiction to fake tanning (the UV ray-less kind). I’ve given it up since living in Okinawa, because my beloved Fake Bake Flawless can’t be delivered due to shipping restrictions. As a result, I’ve been trying to embrace my fair, yellow-undertoned skin—which unfortunately looks really weird against the pale tobacco hued leather of my Birkenstocks, so I stopped wearing them.
I’m not one to toss out a $135 pair of sandals, though, so I did some thinking. Can you dye leather/suede at home? I took to Google and found some blogs about dyeing suede shoes, although none specific to Birkenstocks. A few mentioned a product called Fiebing’s Suede Dye, available on Amazon. Naturally, I impulse bought it. (Eight months ago…it’s taken me this long to gather the courage to follow through with this project!) Photo reviews on Amazon were super helpful, and saved me from buying a really icky shade of brown. I highly recommend going through each shade available and trying to find photo reviews to get a true representation of how the color takes. It’s also really important to remember that whatever dye you choose will look different depending on what the starting shade of your shoes are. Don’t expect cool-toned blue leather to take a warm-brown dye and look like my end result. I settled on “Medium Brown” because it was the closest to the Birkenstock shade “Habana,” my goal color.
Let’s talk about the rest of the supplies you’ll need: a workspace, preferably covered in newspaper or something you don’t mind permanently staining; nitrile disposable gloves (the dye will stain your hands…forever); painter’s tape; an old toothbrush; shoes.
The first step is to cover any surface you aren’t dyeing with painter’s tape to protect it. At first I almost considered only covering the footbed with painter’s tape, but I’m really glad I wrapped the whole shoe. The dye has a watery consistency and dripped everywhere. So keep that in mind when you’re wrapping your shoes—I know some people like to dye the sole along with the shoe, but if that’s not what you’re going for then definitely wrap the whole thing.
Next, you’ll take the dry toothbrush and brush out the suede to loosen any debris. I had a bunch of sand leftover from last summer embedded in my shoe. Classy.
Cover your hands with the gloves, shake the bottle of dye, and grab the wool dauber (included with the dye). Basically, just paint it on in even strokes. I thought I was going to totally jack it up, but the dye doesn’t soak in for a minute or two, so you have plenty of time to work with it. I did small sections and didn’t run into any blending issues, but if you’re working with a larger surface area you might consider seeking out a different application method. The wool dauber worked well for the most part, but I did have to use Q-Tips to get into the negative space on the straps.
I let my newly-brown Birkies dry overnight, and they were wearable in the morning. I did notice a couple of teeny spots where the dye didn’t take as much, but it looks intentional so I left it. If you didn’t know I dyed them, you’d probably think I bought them that way!
I have to say, I really love the result. I definitely won’t be filing this as a Pinterest fail! If you have an old pair of leather or suede shoes that you’re thinking about tossing, consider giving this a try to revive them. The dye is relatively inexpensive // $9, Amazon // and I have enough leftover to dye several more pairs of shoes.
Are you working on any DIY projects at the moment? Let me know in the comments!