The first thing you should know is this photo isn’t edited a lick. And it was shot on my iPhone 6…can I get a billboard or what, Apple? I’m back from my Colorado adventure and riding my nature high right into September. Despite what everyone on Instagram says, summer is not over yet. Let’s revisit its demise at a later date, k? I’m just going to pretend that the sun isn’t setting in the 7 o’clock hour and getting noticeably shorter by the day. I will take the cooler nights now, though, thank ya very much.
So what does one do for a week and a half road tripping in Colorado?
Not check luggage! I avoid this at all costs but knew that packing for 40, 60 and 90 degrees would require some creativity. I haven’t bought luggage since I graduated college (gulp, 12 years ago) so made a big girl purchase and got the Away Carry-On suitcase. It fits more than you would think by looking at it and there’s all sorts of smart features like a built-in laundry bag, phone charger and zippered organizers.
Hike. We did three big hikes – one per anchor city (Aspen, Granby, Denver). It became a joke that I can’t tie my shoes because they come undone at least twice per mile. And, my poor circulation became very evident when hiking Maroon Bells. I’m not raising the roof there – just trying to get my blood flowing so I could feel my fingers.
Read a book. I flew through Behind Closed Doors on the flight to Denver. It is a creepy psychological thriller about a “perfect couple” and sent me into quite an emotional tizzy. I totally recommend reading it but be forewarned as there is a part about a dog that made me cry.
Explore. We walked all over Aspen and Denver – the high altitude makes even 65 degrees seem sweltering! So when it was almost in 90 in Denver, I was toast.
Find a beauty boutique (duh). My boyfriend loves records and I love beauty. Plenty of each to discover in Denver. Our Airbnb was in the Highlands neighborhood not too far from indie beauty shop Vert Beauty. They also offered spa treatments which I wish I’d made the time to indulge in.
Caffeinate. We slept in most mornings but I still need coffee to kick start my days. Especially on driving days. I loved Allegro Coffee in Denver. We went there almost every morning and I even had my first pumpkin chai latte of the season. I don’t love a PSL – too syrupy – but this hit the freaking spot.
What did everyone else do over Labor Day? Are you still in summer mode?
You know how fancy lipsticks always have a special click in the packaging? Listen to the sound of a Chanel lipstick opening and closing. Or the Rouge d’ Armani. Click click. There’s also a certain weight to the tube itself that feels really good to hold. Maybe that’s why I’ve always been a lipstick splurger. That’s the first thing I thought of when I tried – and instantly obsessed over – Axiology Beauty’s lipstick. An organic vegan lipstick that rivals the world’s most luxurious brands. It lives in this sleek gold tube and to open, you press down on the bottom and up pops the lipstick. Click click. It’s an experience. As it should be sometimes with beauty.
I’ve found in the Axiology line the perfect pinky nude with just the right balance of peach – a color I always go to no matter how many similar I have. It’s called Philosophy. Axiology is the result of a passion project by Brooklynite Ericka Rodriguez who traveled to Bali to study ingredients and packaging when she started to experiment with making lipstick. That cool triangle box it comes in is actually made from paper collected from all around the island of Bali that would otherwise be trash or litter and boiled down to a pulp, laid out to dry and folded and decorated by hand. Pretty cool right?
The color is vibrant but never heavy or waxy. Everything in that shiny gold tube is pure and nourishing, like avocado butter and organic coconut oil. Staying power is good but I’ll admit to a touch up for the sake of the hearing the click click.
On a scribbled page in my journal is a list of places I want to explore. And it’s not all far or exotic; in fact, there is tons of Chicago on there. You know I’m all about that love your city and it will love you back life. Case in point: checking this new mural out over Memorial Day weekend. However, quickly rising up to the top of that list is Sweden. I’m realizing that practically all of the music I’m feeling (or more accurately, music that is giving me serious feels) lately stems from Swede-born artists. Lykee Li on repeat for the past six months, basically. And I do have Scandinavian roots…Finland, so heyyyyy ancestral neighbors. I’m also certain that there is a pretty legit eco beauty scene burgeoning that I know very little about. I’m working on getting up to speed.
I got a sneak peek at Sweden’s Myhavtorn — pronounced ‘my have torn’ – a small family-owned beauty company that is making their U.S. debut this month. Myhavtorn reads ‘my seabuckthorn’ in Swedish, the sea buckthorn berry – and star ingredient of its products – is harvested on the brand’s family farm, handpicked and cold-pressed on site to extract the oil from the seeds. Sea buckthorn, in all its orange-hued glory, is incredibly high in vitamins A, C, E and omegas 3-6-7-and 9. It hovers just short of miracle healer status – its super powers lie in its regenerative abilities. I’m impressed by Myhavtorn’s Organic Facial Oil (the hero product) made with sea buckthorn, argan and avocado oils. Simple yet powerful. A few drops at night and I wake up with hydrated and brighter skin. The word I would use is stabilizing.
For its U.S. debut the brand is also launching a Body Oil and Facial Essence (a.k.a. toner meets cleanser). The Body Oil is particularly special. I realize I have a serious penchant for luxurious body oils and this falls in that realm, for sure. After the sea buckthorn (which makes this citrus in color!) there’s lemongrass, rosemary, juniper, ylang ylang oils blended with grapeseed, sesame, safflower and avocado oils. Are you kidding me with that ingredient list?! I liken the smell to that of sunshine – it’s uplifting. To get more mileage out of body oils, apply on damp skin. It soaks in quickly and you use less product. Or, mix in a small pump to your existing body lotion to extend the life of the bottle.
There’s something endearing about a small family-owned brand that pours love into growing the ingredients it puts directly into its products. I appreciate the no frills packaging (for now) and true focus on making what’s inside the best for your skin. I’m feeling you, Swedes. See ya soon in the homeland?