Maternity Fashion Favorites

Maternity clothing has been more fun than expected. I’ve looked at my former wardrobe with sad eyes a few times, but I’ve been able to find great replacements for those pieces and even experiment with a few new styles while pregnant. There are several options out there and, like anything these days, sifting through the options can be overwhelming and expensive. It’s also a little more challenging for me because I am petite (which is just a nice word for short). Here are my favorite places to shop for cute, affordable, and, most importantly, comfortable maternity clothing!

LOFT: Prior to becoming pregnant, most of my closet was filled with items from Loft. I LOVE their maternity selection, too. New styles are added constantly, and you can pretty much always find a deal. The pieces are timeless and fit well. The shorts and white shirt pictured above are from the maternity line. Shop Here!

Stitch Fix: I order this clothing subscription box from time to time, and I recently discovered their maternity service. I was super excited to have a few surprise pieces arrive at my door. It’s always so much fun…like receiving a birthday gift every month! My favorite items from the boxes have been the shorts and pants. It’s definitely worth a try for a few months while pregnant. The jeans pictured above are from a Stitch Fix. Shop Here!

ASOS: This is a great option for super trendy maternity clothes. I hop on their website when I want a wardrobe shakeup. They also have petite (amen!) and tall sizing options for several of their items. I have a few new fun pieces on the way that I can’t wait to try! Shop Here! 

Poshmark: If you don’t know about Poshmark, you should grab your phone now and download the app. If you don’t mind gently used maternity clothes, then this is an awesome resource. It has also been a useful way for me to clean out several clothing items that I know I will not use after having the baby. I will also post several of my maternity pieces once I do not need them anymore. If you signup with the code “GFNED” you will get a $5 credit. Shop Here!

I also have a few great pieces from Old Navy, Motherhood, and a few items that aren’t maternity at all (although those are quickly coming to an end). I encourage you to shop around and checkout a few of the places mentioned above.

Where are your favorite places to shop for maternity clothing? I would love to hear what works for you!

Saying Goodbye to Throw Pillows

Time and time again as I would sit on our couch, my sinuses would completely shutdown…leaving me struggling for oxygen. This was a brand new problem for me and left me scratching my head for answers. We finally put two and two together. The down decorative pillows on the couch had turned into allergy provoking pests, an unexpected development of pregnancy.  Naturally, I proceeded to go on a cleaning rampage throughout the entire house, stripping pillow cases off every pillow we owned until all the feathered ones rested in a pile out in the garage. I walked back in to access the damage. By damage, I mean accessing just how many pillows I had left without feathers. I knew I didn’t want to spend money on new decorative pillows with our baby on the way.

In true Marie Kondo* fashion, I decided to evaluate my need for the countless pillows. We had pillows all over the couch, the bed (which typically means on the floor), and backup pillows stuffed in closets. Who told me I needed to fill every flat surface in our home with pillows? Did I see it in a magazine? Are the pillows functional/necessary?

As I looked around our newly de-feathered home, everything felt more spacious and open. So, I decided not to replace them. My nightly question of where to pile the throw pillows while we slept had been solved. Making the bed the next day was easy and less dreadful than before. The couch now felt inviting rather than off limits. I could actually sit on it without having to move pillows to the floor. It was a nice, unexpected change.

Now, let me explain before I lose you. I am in no way saying that it’s wrong or unacceptable to have throw pillows. They do add color, style, and functionality (sometimes) to our homes. You best believe I kept the ones I love the most!

Unnecessary complications and expectations.

My throw pillow incident brought this idea back to the forefront of my life. Yes, they were just throw pillows, but by eliminating a large portion of them I was able to simplify a few aspects of our life. On a broader scale, I realized that there were several areas in my life still filled with unnecessary complications and striving to meet unnecessary expectations. It often comes in the form of social media, well-meaning advice, or even self-imposed habits.

So, here are my questions for you. What areas of your life are filled with unnecessary complications and expectations? How can you simplify those areas and give your mind and heart more room to breathe? What are the “throw pillows” in your life?

As I simplify my life more and more, I am finding more time for my faith to grow, less distractions invading my time, and the ability to focus on what is truly important. I invite you to do the same and pick just one area to simplify. I promise it will make a huge difference!

*Side Note: If you’re not sure who Marie Kondo is then you should click here and read about her book. We went through her method of decluttering over a year ago, and it changed our life. 

Quick & Easy Natural Makeup Look

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I am all about effortless, quick, easy, and light makeup routines. There was a time in my life when I wore heavy foundation, which always felt more like I was wearing a mask. If my eyes ever ran water or shed tears, it looked like the Red Sea had parted down my cheeks. I’ve also had seasons of contouring and attempting the great smokey eye, which looked more like a black eye. I’m not knocking it. I just don’t have the skills and the vast majority of women do not either. My sister, though, is a makeup prodigy, and she does amazing things with makeup on a daily basis. If you need some tips and trips on taking it to the next level, I will give you her contact information! If you are just trying to make it through a day of work looking put together and without melting down, then I am your girl!

This is an actual picture from this morning. Hello, Friday and long weekend! I go through various makeup routines from time to time, but this has been my go-to look for the past two weeks or so. I’m using a lot of Beautycounter products right now since I am a consultant. I’m really trying to decide which products will become staples in my own routine, but I am loving everything so far. Here is what I used!

Note: Just click on the product names for direct links to the products.

Foundation and Concealer: Touchup Skin Concealer Pen in Light, Tint Skin Foundation in Linen

Setting Powder: Mattifying Powder 

Eyes: Eyeshadow Duo in Shell/Malt, bareMinerals Pink Eye Color in Finesse, Color Outline Eye Pencil in Violet, Tarte Lights/Camera/Lashes Mascara

Blush: Color Sweep Blush Duo in Flamingo/Apricot

Lips: Lip Sheer in Rose, Lip Gloss in Opal

Setting Spray: Balancing Facial Mist (this stuff is seriously the bomb!)

That’s it! 11 products for a quick and easy, natural makeup look.

I hope you enjoy your long weekend with family and friends. As a military spouse, I will be holding my husband extra close and remembering his friends who are no longer with us. Thank you to all of our Veterans and their families for your service.

Prenatal Yoga

Prenatal Yoga has been such a blessing during my pregnancy. We are fortunate enough to have an instructor in Athens who works with moms to be and holds a class once a week for expectant mothers. I was very early in my pregnancy when I walked into the door for the first time, but I was determined to give my body the best care possible from the beginning. As the baby grows and my body changes, I am more thankful than ever for yoga and the difference it makes for my overall health and wellness. I don’t get to attend the class every week, but I have found many great online resources for prenatal yoga. I would just make sure you attend a class to understand proper technique before taking on a practice of your own from home!

Here are five ways I have personally benefitted from yoga while pregnant: 

  1. I get to connect with other expectant mothers at various stages in pregnancy. 
  2. I feel strong and empowered even as my body shifts and changes. 
  3. I get to have time to myself without any distractions (like the phone! Can I get an amen?). 
  4. It’s equipping me with techniques to use during labor. 
  5. And, most importantly, it helps me feel great both physically and emotionally. 

If you are a mom to be, I highly recommend checking your local area for prenatal yoga classes or even exploring online resources. It has been one of the best decisions I’ve made during this pregnancy, and I think everyone (as long as your doctor gives you approval) can benefit from an hour focusing on you and baby!

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My favorite little yoga partner…Chewy Man!

Trending Healthy

I walked out of the Indie Beauty Fair feeling more overwhelmed than encouraged. The process of fighting the crowd, going from booth to booth, and hearing about countless products left me exhausted. I wasn’t sure how I could possibly know which product claims were true and, ultimately, which products would work best for me. I’m analytical to a fault at times, and my trip around the Indie Beauty Fair brought out my need for things to be black or white. I flew back to Georgia the following day with many questions still on my mind.

Green, organic, clean, natural, non-toxic. They are buzz words of our generation. We are valiantly attempting to reverse the effects of mass production and consumption while working to provide our children with more simple and cleaner lives. Mindsets and companies are beginning to make changes. It’s encouraging to see changes taking place and the many voices advocating for clean living. Yet, navigating this landscape proves challenging.

I sat reading a few research articles and blog comments on cleaner living the other night. I was shocked to find an absurd amount of hateful talk and fingers pointing here and there about who is right and who is wrong. I closed my computer, looked over at my husband and said, “This is more complicated than I realized. There is confusion surrounding certain ingredients and companies with no definitive answers in sight.” I sat thinking about different arguments swirling around individual ingredients in products labeled as natural or clean, and on a deeper level, I couldn’t help but think about my own life and perceived contradictions.

Like the fact that I occasionally eat the really unhealthy cereals (okay, maybe more than occasionally) or that I take medication for my autoimmune disorder. There is also the fact that my family is involved in conventional farming. Does that disqualify me from having a voice in this area? Does that make my experience less valuable? I felt concerned about products on my blog, figuring it’s a matter of time before the Green Police start disagreeing with my decisions.

My mom is full of wisdom and she makes an effort to live a more healthy lifestyle, so I decided to bring up my thoughts to her. “It feels like there are no clear answers when it comes to living a cleaner and more healthy life. How do I help make a difference when the answers are not clear?” I asked her. She reminded me of the many women struggling with self-confidence and skin issues, and she also reminded me of my own struggles leading to this journey.

Like the time in middle school when I was crying in her arms as we stood in front of the bathroom mirror. My acne was horrible. Kids were mean. There was also the time we traveled to see a prominent esthetician. The results were horrible and made everything about my skin worse.

I also remembered people constantly telling me that I, “need to wash my face,” as if I wasn’t doing that and it would heal all my skin problems.

Most recently, I remembered my first autoimmune disorder related sun rash and walking out of the doctor’s office with the autoimmune disorder diagnosis knowing my life was forever changed. I promised myself that I would make changes in order to give myself the best life possible.

All of these moments and many more are part of my story. It’s so important that we not let confusion or opinions hijack our sense of purpose and passions on any journey. It’s important to hold your story in the forefront so you’re not easily distracted by the many voices lining the road.

I believe, for the most part, we are all living life the best we can with the information available to us–whether that is related to food, children, or beauty products. One of my favorite ideas is the idea of “trending toward” something. That is how I like to think of my life and clean living journey these days. I don’t have all of the answers when it comes to ingredients and products, and I don’t know that anyone ever will. I know that some things are a big “No” while others are still in question. I know that opinions vary on different companies. Most importantly, I know what works for me and what to avoid to prevent autoimmune flares.

I am trending toward making better decisions for my family and personal health one day at a time. My goal here is to help you trend toward a better life. A life where you are confident in your beauty, decisions, and health. Yes, the choices can be overwhelming at times, but this is a journey rather than a final destination. You simply have to start somewhere.

These days I am giving myself some grace and extending that to others. It has helped ease the burden I feel to make the absolute best, right, cleanest, most perfect decision possible.

-Jess

Lip Perfection

I haven’t always been a fan of lipstick. Typically, I would put it on first thing in the morning and then forget to reapply during the day. All of that changed as I transitioned to cleaner products. I now actually enjoy wearing lipstick. Here are some of my favorites!

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  1. Lip Sheer by Beautycounter
    • Don’t let the name fool you. There is no shortage of color here! I have a major love for this lipstick right now. I like it so much that I’ve purchased it in three colors (Twig, Plum, & Rose). It’s silky soft, fun to wear, and the color selection is awesome! I can’t wait to collect them all. It’s one of the first lipsticks I actually reapply throughout the day!
  2. Lip C.P.R. by Suntegrity
    • Lip color plus sunscreen? Sign me up! This lipstick helps reduce the appearance of lip lines and wrinkles while protecting you from the sun!
  3. Lip Glaze by 100% Pure
    • This was my first clean lipstick product and it’s still a favorite. I used the same tube for an entire year! I’m not even sure that you’re supposed to do that. It’s nourishing and easy to apply!

What are some of your favorite clean lipsticks? If you haven’t tried any, these are a great place to start!

My Beautycounter “Why”

Never in a million years did I see myself as a consultant for any product. I’ve dreamt off and on about opening a small, retail business whether in natural cosmetics, fashion, or a lovely store full of all things paper and journals. I grew up at my grandparent’s small business, and it’s definitely in my blood to want to connect people to products and provide an amazing customer service experience. Yet, I’ve hesitated to dive right in and run my own business largely because of financial and time commitments.

As I started researching safer beauty product lines, I discovered Beautycounter during their popup shop with Target and through browsing the Skin Deep website. I kept meaning to make a purchase, but I never did and time just slipped away. I later learned that I could not only purchase the products directly from the Beautycounter website, but I could also join the movement and become a consultant. I started the consultant signup process only to discover that I would have to choose a mentor, which promptly led me to close out of the page. To this day, I’m not sure why I was so opposed to the idea of having a mentor. I’m stubbornly independent at times so there’s your likely answer!

After I started Pretty Well, a friend contacted me about becoming a Beautycounter consultant. She felt that I was a perfect fit for the mission and the products. She no longer lives in Georgia, but I knew her and felt comfortable with her being my mentor. I took a few days to think about the opportunity and to weigh out the pros and cons. I determined that this was actually a great, relatively risk-free way for me to enter the cosmetic industry and be able to connect people directly to awesome products all in one place. And, in some sense, learn a few things about running a business.

Why I became a Beautycounter consultant: 

  • I have the most sensitive skin. I’ve yet to find a Beautycounter product that hasn’t been wonderful for me. It truly speaks to the awesome quality of the products. I LOVE THEM ALL!
  • I enjoy connecting people with solutions. Whether that’s beauty products or everyday advice, I am a solution driven person. Beautycounter gives me tons of solutions right at my fingertips.
  • The startup cost was low. There are several packages to choose from when getting started. You can choose your initial investment when getting started as a consultant.
  • I am a cosmetic nerd. Seriously, I love this stuff! Sending out samples, hosting socials, and giving people information is so much fun!
  • We deserve better! This is the most important part! I often feel like the cosmetic industry could care less about the impact ingredients are having on our bodies and health. Beautycounter has made safer products, continues to do research, and advocate for industry changes. That is a mission I love taking part in and sharing with others.
  • It’s nice to make a little extra money. Who doesn’t love making extra money doing something they love?

I truly believe everyone should give Beautycounter a try. There is a 60 day money back guarantee on the products. There are ways to try samples; I am always happy to connect you with some. And, if you love the products, then becoming a consultant could likely be your next step!

So, I am totally one of those consultant nerds now. I am loving it, though! And, perhaps, one day I will create a business of my own. For now, this is great training!

Shop Beautycounter by clicking here!

Interested in becoming a consultant or learning more about our products? Shoot me an email at prettywellblog@gmail.com or visit this link.

Follow my Beautycounter journey through Instagram and Facebook!

-Jess

When Natural Beauty Fails

I was sifting through old pictures on my phone a few days ago. I found a few pictures from my early days of switching to natural beauty products, and they gave me a good laugh. They reminded me of the phase I went through in elementary school of using hairspray to spray down every single flyaway in my hair. I seriously looked like a greaser. In all fairness, there was no reasoning with me so my mom just let me go at it every morning. My youngest sister also went through this phase a few years back…hair slicked right down to her head. I guess it just runs in the family! It’s a wonder all of my hair didn’t fall out during that period.

As I experimented with natural products, there were definitely items that did not work for me. I thought I looked good but the fact that I did not continue to use those products and the photographic evidence prove otherwise. And, it wasn’t just makeup. I remember my skin feeling like a seashell from the natural body wash I was using. My hair also returned to early greaser days as I switched to natural hair products. Then, there were my attempts at making homemade laundry detergent, which my husband eventually (and so kindly) asked me to step away from. The entire process ended up being wildly disappointing. I looked older and worse than ever and our clothes felt dirty. Great.

Sometimes natural products do not work. 

Like everything in life, we often have to work to find a great fit. What may work for one person may be a total misfit for another. I had to learn to step away from reviews and start trusting my gut on certain products and, for a while, I did go back to my less than natural favorites. I went back to my trusted products that I had used for years because at least I looked okay while using them. I came back around, though, and was determined to discover new favorites that were also safer and without completely breaking the bank. I also had to accept a few things about myself. Like the fact that I am not a maker of products. There are plenty of laundry detergents out there that are safe and do not require me to spend time grating soap. You may be very skilled at that, but it just wasn’t for me.

Sometimes you find a wonderful natural product that you just can’t live without!

I decided to really use samples to my advantage, and that is one of the best pieces of advice I can give to anyone making a transition with their beauty products. I quickly learned that there are a few brands that I love and that work for me. I try to stick with those companies rather than spending all of my time trying new brands and products. Along the way, I’ve discovered some really awful products. Some really disappointing brands. I’ve also discovered that what may be awful for me may be your absolute favorite and that is perfectly okay.

What works for me? 

  • Beautycounter: Seriously my favorite brand at this time. I use so many of their products. Shampoo, conditioner, lotion, facial oil, foundation, lipstick, etc. I LOVE that I can get all of these products in one place. My husband even uses it and loves it. I also love that I get to work as a consultant and connect friends and family directly with items I believe in! Let me know if you’re interested in any samples by emailing prettywellblog@gmail.com. 
  • One Love Organics:  I haven’t used anything by One Love that I haven’t loved. Everything is made in small batches and you can really tell that they put a lot of thought into the quality. LOVE!
  • Indie Lee: I love their glass bottles and I love their products even more. Only one product from them has not worked for me. Everything else has been a dream!
  • Vapour Organic Beauty: I would call Vapour the Cadillac of natural beauty. It’s luxurious plus they offer samples so you can try it before diving right in!

Of course, there are very popular companies that have not worked for me & are not on my list. There are also a ton of companies I have not tried at this point. My best advice: find what works for you slowly but surely. And, for goodness’ sake, do not turn into a greaser! If it’s not working, move on!

-Jess