New Additions 2018

What better way to close a calendar year than by reflecting on what discoveries upgraded my day to day life? My inaugural New Additions post was a big hit, with many of you writing me to tell me you tried and were converted by some of my finds. I ate up your comments and recommendations and have tried and loved many of yours, too! So, it’s only fitting to keep the tradition going.

Just a reminder that nothing here is sponsored!

These are the items that I have discovered, loved, and officially adopted in 2018…



Preemptive Measures

Aesop Primrose Facial Cleansing Masque ($40): In the Summer, I was given this as a gift by a friend who had raved about it for fending off breakouts. As you know if you’ve read my P50 review, pimples are not a huge concern for me anymore, but I still get a pesky one or two at the time of the month, with the occasional chin deep-rooter a few times a year.

Truthfully, I had little to no expectation when first using this mask. I’ve used clay masks in the past and have generally felt lukewarm about them. They’ve always felt more drying than anything and I never really got the big deal. That said, I noticed the difference with this mask immediately. The first time I used it was when I saw the beginnings of a zit surfacing on my cheek. It wasn’t full-blown yet but was most certainly on its way. I used this, enjoyed the it’s-gotta-be-doing-something tingle and the way it absorbed oil in and around my pores (it also tightens like CRAZY), and found my skin extra smooth afterwards, and at first that was about it. But the next morning I realized that cheek zit was already in retreat, skipping its official arrival completely. This NEVER happens for me and I was impressed. Since then I’ve used this pretty religiously about every other week, but with more frequency when I see pimples on their way. It has worked reliably well save once when it was a major deep-rooter, but even then, it didn’t feel as juicy (ugh, sorry) as usual.

So if you couldn’t tell, I love this stuff. Truthfully, I’ve used some of Aesop’s other skincare with results that left me indifferent, but this is the one product of theirs I’ll definitely repurchase when I’m out (which at this rate will be a long time because it lasts forever).

Goldilocks Serum

Korres Wild Rose 15% Vitamin C Spotless Serum ($75): Full disclosure, I was sent this serum along with other Korres products by the PR company that reps them, so I can’t claim to have stumbled upon it on my own. That said, I am sent products ALL THE TIME (some are great, some are average), have no obligation to recommend any of them, and I honestly would never add one to my sacred New Additions list unless I really did swear by it. It says something that not only have I re-purchased this serum twice since using up the freebie, I’ve also gotten it for both my sister and mom as gifts. That’s how good it is.

What I dig about this is it really is the “just right” of serums. I’ve read enough about Vitamin C serums to know it’s what I should be wearing by day, but I’d failed to be really impressed by any. I also didn’t love how every one I’ve tried dried tacky and left my skin feeling a bit tight. In the past I usually mixed some sort of face oil (my current go-to is HERE) with whatever serum I was using because I hated that dry, tight feeling so much. But this particular serum manages to do the job of both a powerful Vitamin C serum and a luxe face oil. Even though dark spots weren’t really a huge concern of mine I’ve noticed those have distinctly improved, and thankfully not at the sacrifice of my skin feeling spoiled and hydrated.

It goes on a bit oily but absorbs beautifully, giving your skin a nice glow. As the cherry on top, it’s also got the “clean beauty” seal at Sephora, meaning it’s free of sulfates, parabens, formaldehydes, and further difficult-to-pronounce chemicals I’ve been feeling less and less comfortable about smearing on my face. This has been hands-down my favorite skincare discovery of the year.



Nude Nail Holy Grail

Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro Nail Color in Baby Love ($18): You’ve probably noticed over the years that I’m not really a nail color afficionado. My usual look is a sheer nude—I’ve got this on 99% of the time—and I always do my own nails. I don’t really get manicures on the regular because, unless it’s a special circumstance like needing a silk mani to fix a broken nail on my ring finger pre-wedding, if it’s just a basic prep and paint, I usually feel I can do a better job myself. (I am a perfectionist and HATE when polish touches my cuticles.) I always opt for nude since I feel it elongates my fingers and is just more flattering; my preference for flattering vs trendy apparently extends beyond fashion.

My search for THE perfect sheer nude unfortunately resumed about 2 years ago when Sephora tragically discontinued it’s Formula X Sheer Strength line (“Marvelous” was my go-to). Let me tell you: I have tried EVERY sheer nude on the market since then, from high end to drugstore brands. This Deborah Lippmann nude is IT. It’s on the pricey side but is honestly worth every penny. One coat gives you a subtle gloss, two gives a milky, translucent finish, while three gives near-opaque coverage. You can do however many coats you have time for and your nails will look “done”. The brush is fabulously wide for easy application and full coverage, and IT NEVER STREAKS. (I still don’t understand how this is possible but I’m not complaining.) As strange as it sounds, the best way I can put it is to say that the brush itself and the texture/application of this polish is forgiving. Even if I have to ruin my freshly painted nail to extract a piece of lint or something, the polish almost seems to know and smooths over the area. A corrective swipe of polish later, any sign of lint removal surgery is gone. It dries reasonably quickly, faster than most I’ve tried. Best of all, it seems incapable of chipping and lasts a long time; I’m hard on my nails and I get a solid 4-5 days with this before needing a touch-up. In the past I’d be lucky to get 3 days.

Like I said, I don’t usually experiment with colors, but if and when I do, I will absolutely stick with this brand based on my experience with this shade. (There are tons of other colors HERE.)

Yes, I just raved about a nail polish. What can I say? This is what New Additions is all about!



Black Beauties

Lululemon Wunder Under High Rise Tight - Full-On “Luxtreme” Fabric in Black ($98): Yes, I am one of those people who wears black leggings as pants, and if I were to do a post about my Top 10 closet must-haves, these would be on that list. I have owned MANY a pair of black leggings in my day but there’ve been issues with every one of them: They’ve almost always pilled over time, but they haven’t stopped there, often fading, becoming lint/hair/fur magnets, insisting on giving you “camel toe”, or just generally aging terribly.

My search for the perfect black leggings ended when I did an opera early this year with a particularly fashionable singer friend and I noticed her sleek, discrete, perfect leggings. (Given you can live out of the same suitcase for up to 5 or 6 weeks on opera contracts, it’s crucial to pack smart, making versatile pieces like black leggings invaluable.) She lit up, knowing well my black legging woe, and told me about these. I’d actually owned these exact leggings in the past in Lululemon’s standard “Luon” fabric (breaking news: they pilled horribly) but this friend told me a crucial detail: to get them with in the “Luxtreme” fabric, which has a subtly dressier look and feel.

These are very flattering and fabulously high-waisted so they pair well with even cropped sweaters. They hug in the right ways, with good compression but without feeling too binding or claustrophobic. But unlike, say, my favorite workout leggings which also hug, these are a bit thicker and more substantial feeling, making them more presentable for day wear. I wash them in my regular wash and hang to dry (as I do with all my leggings) and they haven’t faded, stretched out, changed shape, or pilled in the slightest (!!!).

I would buy these again in a heartbeat but at this point I’ve had them for nearly a year and they look as good as the day I bought them, so it might be awhile.

Closet on Rotation

Rent The Runway (Unlimited; $159 per month): There’s little to no chance you haven’t already heard of Rent The Runway, or possibly even used RTR for a black tie event or wedding. But I’m talking about their monthly unlimited subscription which I finally hopped on board with in the Fall.

I’m not going to lie; I fought giving in to Rent the Runway HARD for well over a year. Caila’s a longtime Unlimited user and had only ever given glowing reviews, but I still had a mental block with paying to NOT own something. It seemed like a recipe for disaster, spending my hard-earned money to have something for a little while, only to have to send it back and feel heartbroken about it. In my mind it sounded pretty terrible, but I know now how wrong I was.

First, a crucial detail is that there is no deadline on how long you can keep an item. As long as you keep your membership, you can keep the item. I’ve actually found, though, that I get my fill pretty quickly of whatever piece I have in my possession and am eager to try something new. In that sense, since I am the kind of person who falls hard and fast for something new, it’s ideal for my shopping personality type. The next most crucial detail that I didn’t know about going in is that, if you can’t bear to part with a piece, you have the option to keep it permanently at a deep discount from its retail price. The purchase prices of items I’ve rented have been anywhere from 10-70% off retail, with the majority falling in the 30-50% off range. Not too shabby for something you know is tried and true for you.

The top things I’ve found myself renting are coats and gowns. I shoot here and there for Instagram and this blog (not as much as I should 🙈), and it’s not like I can constantly be buying new coats, from practical, financial, and space-constraints perspectives. Thus, the ability to rent a coat, wear it for a few months, and send it on its merry way is huge. To sing at my grandfather’s funeral, I needed a modest, non-dramatic, but still dressy black piece. It wasn’t something I already owned, but wasn’t something I wanted to spend hours shopping for either. I simply rented a few options, brought the winner to Ottawa with me, attended the funeral and sang in it, and sent it back when I returned home. But probably the biggest game-changer is the fact that there are so many gowns to choose from. As an opera singer, for gigs where I’m not put in a costume, I’m usually in gowns. There are only so many times I can wear the same gown, and only so many gowns I can buy given their cost and the size of our apartment. So, it’s a luxury to be able to pick out a few, try them on in my bedroom, and send the “no”s back. I bring the “yes” in my suitcase, wear it once or twice to sing, and then send it back when I’m done that gig. This feature alone, given the career I’m in, is downright life changing.

As an aside, I love the movement. Renting clothes is both more sustainable and more ethical—less waste (according to their site the average woman throws away 82 POUNDS of clothing a year!!!) and less supporting the unethical world of “fast fashion”. Instead of dozens of women buying a new dress one month, they could “share” the same dress, and a higher end (and often higher quality) one at that. There’s something super cool about this.

Of course, I realize both my career and side gig benefit from a constantly rotating closet—meaning not only do I have the use for this, I can also expense it—and the average gal might not be in the same position. In that sense, I don’t think $160/month is worth it for everyone. If you have the kind of career where you need to look on point and attend events on the regular, it could definitely be worth your while. Or if you’re the kind of person who regularly spends money on pieces you’re obsessed with for a little while, but who then has a tendency to lose interest and move on, this is worth at least trying, especially at the trial month price ($99 for the first month). But if none of these really describe you or your needs, renting à la carte for special occasions would probably suffice.

Two of the coats I’ve rented and shot in the past few months; they are  HERE  and  HERE . I plan on wearing the purple dress in the middle photo ( HERE ) to sing in a symphony concert on New Year’s Day.

Two of the coats I’ve rented and shot in the past few months; they are HERE and HERE. I plan on wearing the purple dress in the middle photo (HERE) to sing in a symphony concert on New Year’s Day.


Green Game Strong

Eco-Pals Collapsible Straw ($13): You’ve been living under a rock if you’re still using plastic straws with abandon. Given how awful we all know single-use plastics are for the environment, it’s pretty crazy both how omnipresent plastic straws still are (albeit some places are getting better about paper straws) and how tough it is to quit using a straw for certain beverages.

Enter this clever collapsible straw. I’ve tried carrying both stainless and bamboo straws around with me but their shape just isn’t ideal for on-the-go; they’d often end up floating solo in whatever handbag I was carrying. This collapsible model is the one I’ve found myself able to commit to using and I truly do use it on the regular. I keep it on my keychain so I always have it handy, out and about or at restaurants or coffee shops, and I simply wash it when I’m back home. (I keep the set of stainless steel ones with my silverware for at-home use.) It’s a teeny tiny effort and I know it makes only a teeny tiny impact, but change always starts small, and I feel great about it every time I unfold this baby.

Well Lit

Lumee Duo Black Marble iPhone Case ($60): Okay, I’m not going to pretend this purchase isn’t an absolute embarrassment at times, but it legitimately has saved the day—rather, the photo—more than a couple of times. It saves poorly-lit photos in a way that flash simply can’t and more than a couple of my Instagram photos have this case to thank for being deemed Instagram-worthy in the first place. In the past I’ve used a ring light but given it’s a whole separate piece, I’d often forget to move it to my handbag du jour, meaning I’d never have it handy when I actually needed it.

As for this iPhone case, on the downside, it’s heavier and chunkier than your average case (though I still think the size is impressive given the performance). Andy is often mortified when I deem a situation Lumee-worthy (turning it on in whatever dark space we’re in inevitably turns judgmental heads). But I actually like the size and heft, and it has protected my phone flawlessly. Also, it’s been on my phone for a good year and is still going strong with daily wear/tear and use. Above all, the photos speak for themselves. And sometimes you just care more about THE PHOTO than what strangers think of you. :)



That’s it for my 2018 favorite finds!
Any discoveries of yours I should know about? I am always on the lookout, so let me know in the comments below...


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