All About Our Wedding

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It's taken over two months, but my wedding blogpost is finally here! I've been gathering questions since before the wedding on Instagram and Twitter, so here are the answers to them all.

Were you a bridezilla?

I don't think I was at all! I feel like I was very easy-going about the whole thing. When I was waiting to walk down the aisle with my dad, the staff member that was holding my train told me I was the "most chill" bride he had ever seen and that he could normally feel them shaking as he held their dress. In regards to how everyone looked, I thought as long as everyone had the same dresses & tuxedos, they could pretty much do whatever else they wanted to make themselves feel comfortable. I let my bridesmaids pick how they wanted to do their hair and makeup, wear whatever shoes they wanted, etc. It was more important to me that everyone felt their best instead of looking like cookie cutter bridesmaids. I think the one thing I was more of a stickler about was that I didn't want any cell phones during the ceremony - I had nightmares about people stepping into the aisle to get a photo and ruining one of the photographer's shots. I wanted to look out and see my family and friends' faces instead of a sea of cell phones. I had our officiant make an announcement before the ceremony started to please put cell phones on silent and keep them tucked away.

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Why did you get married on a Friday?

The most simple reason is money - at most venues, it's so much cheaper to get married on a Friday or Sunday than it is to get married on a Saturday. We also liked the idea of ourselves and our guests having the whole weekend to recover and get back into the swing of things. Brett and I are also not super into being the center of attention, so we liked the idea of people coming and celebrating with us after their workday, rather than having a whole entire Saturday revolving around us if that makes sense.

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Where did you get your inspiration from?

Mostly Pinterest - the second I got engaged I pretty much started scouring the wedding boards on there. I started with a general "wedding moodboard," where I figured out what the colors would be and a general idea of how I wanted decorations and flowers to look. Once the wedding got closer I broke it up into more specific boards - one just for wedding dresses, one for bridesmaids dresses, one for cakes, one for flowers, etc. I also started following a few wedding accounts on Instagram, but Pinterest was by far my main source of inspiration. I took some inspiration from weddings we had been to, too - we went to one big, traditional wedding and one that was a more intimate affair, so it was nice to have that contrast to pick and choose ideas from.

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How did you choose your venue?

I actually thought I had my heart set on a different venue when we first started wedding planning. I originally wanted it where my parents had had their wedding reception, but it was a little too small. I also wanted somewhere I'd be able to have the ceremony and the reception, but I didn't like the ceremony room at that venue at all. We then went to look at the Log Cabin in Holyoke, MA - I thought I didn't want to have it there because I had been to a few different events there before and felt like it would make it less special. But right before we drove over to go see it, my dad mentioned it would be nice to have it there because of the location - it's near the top of the mountain in my hometown, and depending on where you stand you can see my parents' house and Brett's parents' house from up there (we grew up down the street from each other), so that really helped change my mind. Seeing how beautiful the ceremony space was as well as the view, and the fact that they took care of so much on site and had a separate room to have the ceremony inside if it rained, made it the perfect choice for us. It was also a huge plus that we got a built-in wedding planner (who was amazing), as well as separate day-of coordinators for the ceremony and reception.

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How did you choose your vendors?

They were actually super easy to pick, and since so much was covered by the venue, I only really needed to look for a photographer and a DJ. I knew immediately I would want Sandra Costello as the photographer - she had photographed a family friend's wedding and the photos were amazing. I loved that all of her photos on her website seemed like they were candids rather than super posed. I gave her a call and instantly knew she would be a perfect fit for us - normally I get the worst anxiety talking to strangers on the phone, but she made me so at ease, which she carried to the actual wedding day. She was great because she made everyone feel so comfortable in front of the camera, so every photo is perfect and natural.

I didn't even look for or meet with more than one DJ - again I went with one who had done a family friend's wedding and who my parents said was great (Chris Bigelow from Cloud 9 Productions). When we met with him a few weeks before the wedding to go over specifics, I knew it would be perfect - he instantly understood the kind of music I wanted, and I was confident he'd keep everyone dancing all night. And he did! I was especially impressed with how well he could read the room and know what song to play next - at one point my Bridesman went up and asked him to play Bad Romance, and he said, "Oh I'm saving it to be the last song, I thought it would be perfect for this group."

How did you budget for the big day?

Honestly, we kind of just winged it. We had a general idea of how much we were going to spend and how much our parents would be helping with, and luckily most things were covered under what we were paying the venue. So if you're bad at budgeting like me, I'd highly recommend looking for a venue that has many things included - things like a wedding planner, the cake, the food, and the bar were all covered under the package we chose through the venue. We also did a lot of things ourselves - I designed the save the dates, invitations, place cards, and programs, so we only had to pay to get them printed at a local printing shop. We made sure we always had a list going of everything we were paying for to keep track - there are a lot of little things that add up!

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How did you pick your dress?

I actually ended up getting the very first dress I tried on. After looking on Pinterest for wedding dress ideas, I found I was pinning a lot that were from Maggie Sottero. So I looked up places where her dresses were sold, and there ended up being a bridal shop down the street from where I was living at the time that carried them. So I went into that first appointment with a few photos and the designer name in mind, and the consultant just knew what I wanted right away. I ended up trying on about five total just to be sure, but the first one was the one. I also got the first and only veil I tried on with the dress, too.

How was the tailoring process?

Pretty easy! I had it altered through the shop where I got the dress (Mariella Creations in Rocky Hill, CT). I had three fittings - the first where she did all the pinning, the second where some things were sewn and others were still pinned, and the third where everything was done and any final tweaks were made if necessary. Then they pressed my dress for me and I picked it up a few days before the wedding. I had my first fitting in the middle of January, and then it was ready for me to pick up at the beginning of June.

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Who was in your bridal party and how did you pick their dresses?

I had my sister as my Maid of Honor, my oldest best friend as Bridesman, and my cousin that I used to spend every summer with, as well as my two best friends from my ballet days were Bridesmaids. Finding the bridesmaid dresses wasn't hard, either. I brought my sister with me to look at David's Bridal, and she probably tried more dresses on than I did when looking for my wedding dress. I already knew I wanted them to be blush pink, and I liked the shade David's Bridal had in their catalogue of colors. I found one dress that I loved and was ready to decide on that for everyone, but then my sister tried on one more with a rhinestone belt that she fell in love with. I decided since they'd all be the same color, she could have a slightly different dress as maid of honor! My Bridesman wore the same gray tuxedo and pink tie that the Groomsmen wore, but he had a pink vest instead of the gray the rest of them had.

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Did you do a First Look & take photos before the ceremony?

Yes, we did! Taking our photos before the ceremony was important to us, because we wanted to be able to relax and start mingling with our guests during the cocktail hour. It was also nice to get to see Brett before the ceremony and spend some time alone together (with the photographer). I didn't really feel that stressed while getting ready, but I immediately felt so much calmer once I could see and talk to Brett.

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What personal touches did you include?

I wanted to try to include a lot of personal touches to make the day unique to us. For the ceremony, we asked my parents' best friend to officiate because she knew us well, and we knew she'd do a great job and be able to add in anecdotes that a Justice of the Peace wouldn't. I also had family members participate in the ceremony - my aunt did a reading, and my uncle and great aunt performed a song. We chose a song from West Side Story because it was Brett's grandmother's favorite movie, and my great aunt who sang also sang a song from a Broadway show (Phantom of the Opera) at my parents' wedding. We had super talented friends of my parents sing and play guitar during the cocktail hour, too. I also asked my grandfather to say the blessing before dinner, because he always gives a really nice, heartfelt blessing before our family Thanksgiving dinners.

We also included a memory table with photos of family members and loved ones who had passed away. I've seen a few wedding websites saying not to do these because they're "too depressing," but it was important to us both to honor loved ones that couldn't be there. We collected photos from both of our parents, and Brett put them all together in a really nice collage.

I put a lot of thought into the music that would play during the ceremony and parts of the reception too, instead of picking cliche wedding songs. My bridesmaids walked down the aisle to "Reflecting Light" by Sam Philips, aka the song Luke and Lorelai first dance to in Gilmore Girls. I walked down the aisle to the version of "Moon River" that Audrey Hepburn sings in Breakfast at Tiffany's. We all recessed to "Crazy Love" by Van Morrison. Our first dance was to "The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson. My dad and I danced to "Into the Mystic" by Van Morrison, because he had told me it was one of his favorite songs a few years ago, so it then became my favorite song and I would think of him every time I heard it.

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What was the most surprising thing that happened at your wedding?

I was surprised by how many people ended up dancing! At many points throughout the night, pretty much every single one of our guests was out on the dance floor. A joke from the rehearsal dinner (we wanted the bridesmaids & groomsmen to do some kind of dance as they entered the reception, and one groomsman jokingly said he wanted to "horse gallop") ended up carrying over to the day - everyone was doing "the gallop" in a big circle at one point and tagging other people to join in. Also, my closest family friends went up and requested the Hava Nagila and 1) I'm surprised the DJ actually played it and 2) I'm surprised that so many people joined in.

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What was your favorite part of the day?

I think it's impossible to pick one thing, but Brett cried during his vows and made pretty much everyone cry, and I think that has to be my favorite moment. I also loved my dad's, my sister's, and Brett's brother's toasts, and just being able to see all my favorite people at once in one place made it the best day ever. It also still warms my heart how well my bridal party got along, too - they hadn't all met each other before my bachelorette party and yet it was like we had all been best friends forever when we were all together.

All photos by Sandra Costello Photography
Dress: Maggie Sottero from Mariella Creations

Hair: The Lift Salon
Venue: The Log Cabin
DJ: Chris Bigelow, Cloud 9 Productions
Flowers: DuRocher Florist

A Guide to Foundation for Normal-Dry Skin

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Each year when fall and winter roll around, I find myself reaching for more and more products to put on my face. I'm all about that "no makeup" makeup look (or just no makeup, period) in the summer, but something about the darker evenings makes me want to create slightly more dramatic, or at least "done" looks. This usually means actually wearing foundation, which, as someone with dry skin, can get a little tricky. I've found lots of skin prep and choosing your formula carefully can make a huge difference between a flawless base and a cakey mess.

Skin Prep

Whenever I know I'll be using a heavier coverage or more matte foundation, I'll always make sure to include a chemical exfoliation step in my morning skincare routine. It just ensures that all flakes and dry bits are cleared away, and it gives the skin a beautiful glow. My favorite for mornings is the Pixi Peel & Polish* - it's super quick (about two minutes), effective, and yet still gentle. Some exfoliating peels leave my skin feeling a little raw and sensitive, so I would never want to put makeup on top. But after the Peel & Polish, my skin still feels normal, just so much smoother and more radiant. It's the perfect step to include for special occasions, or just any day you want your makeup to look a little more flawless.

As someone with dry skin, I need to apply a moisturizer underneath my foundation no matter what. Super hydrating BB cream? Doesn't matter. Certain moisturizers double really nicely as primers, too, smoothing and evening out the skin. My favorites, of course, are from Glossier. The Priming Moisturizer is my first love - it's lightweight and fluid, and it really helps tone down my redness. It also leaves a beautiful dewy glow to the skin that radiates out from underneath the makeup. The Rich version is equally lovely and great if your skin is especially dry. In the winter this is my go-to. Despite being such a luxurious cream, it doesn't leave the skin feeling greasy, and it actually has more of a velvety finish than the original version.

If I know I'm going to be using a matte formula, I'll also incorporate a facial oil into my morning routine and give it some time to sink in. I think this is why I haven't had any problems with the Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Foundation looking dry on me, when I've heard complaints of that from other people. I prefer to let it sink into the skin so as not to cause problems and settling with the foundation. It amps up the glow and allows the foundation to glide right over dry patches. I know it's nothing groundbreaking, but it's my favorite little trick if I want my skin to look extra healthy.

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Products & Application

I find that the kinds of products that look best on my dry skin are lighter coverage and glowy. I prefer to build up light layers rather than piling on a thick layer. If any dry patches are lingering after skin prep, the foundation will call less attention to them this way. Lighter weight and more hydrating foundations tend to smooth over dry patches much more readily than more matte formulas, too. My favorite is the Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder Foundation - it gives good coverage, doesn't accentuate dryness, and is glowy without being greasy.

Once you have your foundation formula chosen, it's important to think about application, too. A damp sponge is my favorite way to apply foundation, as the water in the sponge helps give it a boost of hydration and glow, and it flattens any dry patches instead of agitating them and causing them to stand up. If you really want to use a brush, applying the foundation with downward strokes will help to lay dry patches (and any hair on your face) flat.

The last thing to consider is how you're going to set your makeup. I usually reach for setting sprays instead of powders, as they help meld everything together beautifully and add more of a glow. Some powders can dry out the skin, causing cakiness. I really love the Pixi Makeup Fixing Mist - it really helps to keep the makeup in place all day and almost adds a filter-like effect to the skin. For powders, my go-to is the Glossier Wowder. It's super finely-milled and doesn't cake up at all. It's definitely a dry-skin-friendly product. It mattifies without zapping all your glow, and it also helps to blur out pores and imperfections.

What are your tips for wearing foundation with dry skin?


How I Come Up With Post Ideas

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I mentioned in my Spending Ban Update that once I stopped buying so many new products, I instantly ran out of ideas for blogposts. Over time I've finally gotten my groove back and have for the most part been able to still churn out 4 posts per week. I just have to look harder for inspiration now - I figured the places I look for post ideas would make a good post in and of itself!

Take a look through your collection | Just like buying new products helped spark post ideas, looking through my collection of products works, too. When I sort through and take stock of all I have, it's easy to see patterns pop up. Sometimes I find a product in my vanity that's still hyped up that I haven't reviewed yet. This is how I came up with my post The Fall Lip Edit - I found all six of the lipsticks I mentioned floating around in my purse, so I knew they were ones I was using quite a bit. 

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Use real-life events | Rather than sticking to reviews of new products, I like to try to relate my posts to what's going on in my life. My Makeup for Sick Days post from yesterday was inspired by my catching a cold a couple weeks ago. If you're traveling, pop up a post of what skincare/makeup you're bringing. If you go to parties every weekend, talk us through your staple products that last all night long. When you relate it to your own life, it's so much easier to come up with content.

Look at analytics | Every once in awhile I love poring over my analytics - I look at what posts have been the most popular, if/where they're getting seen, and what people are searching. The site search section is my favorite - I can see what people come to my blog looking for, so if it's something I don't have, then I can easily fill the gap. This is how I decided to write about my Charlotte Tilbury Lip Collection - a lot of people had been searching "charlotte tilbury lipstick," and I didn't have a post with my whole collection for easy reference.

Look at your Instagram photos | I've been working hard on making my Instagram more interesting, and it's been helping to generate post ideas, too. Sometimes I'll look back on a selection of makeup or skincare products I've posted and realize it's something I can elaborate on. For example, this photo I posted of the skincare products I was using inspired my Green(ish) Skincare Routine for Clear Skin post. I realized I hadn't really talked much about most of the products in the photo, so it was the perfect time to talk about them all together.

Check out the Bloglovin' Explore pages | I don't use Bloglovin' to read blogs much anymore, but I do go on from time to time to see if there's anything I've missed lately, and I also like to check up on the Explore pages. It shows what posts are popular at the moment, and it helps spark some inspiration - maybe there's something I can put my own spin on. Sometimes just seeing the title is enough for me to think up my own post.

How do you come up with post ideas?


Makeup for Sick Days

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A couple weeks ago I came down with a cold out of nowhere, and I still had lots of things to do that I couldn't cancel. Fast forward to this week, when more and more people at work are coming down with colds, so it's only a matter of time before I catch something again. I've pretty much run out of time off for the rest of the year, so if I get sick, I'm probably going to have to make myself look presentable and come in anyway (wiping everything down in my path). When I get sick my skin instantly shrivels and dries up - it makes makeup application a little difficult. In order to wear makeup while I'm sick I have to prep my skin really well - usually by layering an oil and moisturizer. I've got a post on my favorite oils for daytime, and I usually seal those in with the Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich.

I like to keep my makeup light and dewy all the time, but especially on sick days. I'll use anything to make it look like I actually have a bit of a normal healthy sheen to my skin. I've recently fallen back in love with the bareMinerals Complexion Rescue - it's basically my favorite tinted moisturizer product of all time. It gives decent coverage, blends into the skin easily, and feels weightless. It leaves a super dewy look to the skin, but it also sets down so it doesn't feel tacky or transfer. My favorite concealer when I'm sick is the Glossier Stretch Concealer. It also has quite a dewy finish that doesn't catch on dry patches at all. I love using it with a damp BeautyBlender to cover larger areas.

For the rest of my face, I stick to cream products. I feel like I always need a little color on my cheeks because I'm so pale, so it's even more of a necessity on a sick day. I start off with a healthy dose of the Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer - still my favorite bronzer of all time - on my cheekbones, temples, jawline, and a little bit across my nose to give a more dimensional, slightly tanned look. And then I like to add a pop of blush for a healthy-looking flush. I love the Glossier Cloud Paints* of course - Puff and Haze are my go-tos, and the Milk Makeup Blush Oil in Ripe is perfect as well. I forgot how much I loved this blush - it's sheer and buildable and leaves a lovely sheen on the skin.

For highlight, I go glossy over metallic. Glossier Haloscope in either Moonstone or Quartz are obvious choices here - they're the best for a bit of dew. I also love the Nudestix Nudies All-Over Face Color in Illumi-Naughty because it's not only glossy but has a really pretty pink shift. The Ilia Illuminator in Polka Dots & Moonbeams is a favorite too - it looks just like the rmsbeauty Living Luminizer, but without the problematic marketing. Lastly (I'm sure you had to know the "glossy highlight" section of this post would be the longest) is the YSL Touche Eclat Glow Shot Liquid Highlighter in 1 Daylight. I've been using this nonstop lately - it's quite natural and can be built up, and it's the prettiest pale gold. 

My eyes tend to get super watery when I'm sick, so I usually lay off the eye makeup and go bold with brows instead - I just layer on tons of the Glossier Boy Brow in Brown for a bushy/feathery look. For lips, I choose moisturizing products over full-coverage lipsticks. Usually I'll just reach for a Glossier Balm Dotcom, but if I want something with a little shimmer and color, I go for the Fresh Sugar Cream Lip Treatments* - Baby is my favorite shade at the moment.

Do you try to wear makeup when you're sick and have to go out and about? What are your picks?

If fluffy brows and dewy highlight are your go-tos too, Glossier is currently offering Boy Brow and Haloscope in a Duo that saves you $8 - and you can save even more through my rep link!

*Products mentioned have been sent to me for consideration, but all opinions are my own. Please see my disclaimer for more information. This post contains affiliate links.


Three Ways to Spice Up a Minimal Makeup Look

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On a day to day basis, I prefer a super minimal makeup look. It's just what's most practical for me at work, and it means I can stay in bed longer (because I have it down to a science where it only takes me 5 minutes). It's come to be my "signature look" in a way (more on that in a post soon), but sometimes when I want a little extra something-something, while still keeping it looking natural overall, I'll do at least one of three things.

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Dramatic Lashes

My normal mascara on a day-to-day basis gives me just a little bit of length and flutter. But if I want to amp up my look, I'll beef up and make my lashes look a little more dramatic. My favorite lately has been starting with the Givenchy Base Mascara Perfecto* (can we talk about that packaging though?!) and following with a layer of their Noir Couture Mascara.* I talked about the mascara in my Three Mascaras post, and it's a great one for everyday. One layer fans out the lashes and gives a little bit of volume, but layering it over the new primer takes it to the next level. I can see the primer adding so much length and volume to my lashes right away. It goes on smoothly and doesn't cause the mascara on top to flake - a problem I've had with any mascara primers in the past. Usually these are just too many steps for me, but I've been using this duo quite a lot.

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Bright Blush

This is my go-to. Since I'm so pale, I find adding a brighter blush on my cheeks helps me look healthier and more awake. For the longest time I avoided blush, thinking they made my redness even more pronounced. But now I've gotten my redness under control, and I've figured out the most flattering placement for my face (farther back than my apples, more along my cheekbones). For me, cooler-toned pinks and berries look most flattering, but if your skin is more warm toned, a pop of coral or peach would look lovely. My go-to's have been the Glossier Cloud Paints* in Puff and Haze and the Estee Lauder Genuine Glow Blushing Creme* in Sweet Cheeks. They all create a natural but noticeable flush that adds something nice to an otherwise minimal look.

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Sheer Flushed Lips

Along the same lines as the bright blush, a pop of a sheer bright color on the lips is a nice way to add a little something. It instantly makes the look more put-together, and like the blush, makes me feel like I look more awake and healthy. Again, my favorite kinds of shades for my skintone are cooler-toned pinks, purples, and berry-reds. The Glossier Generation G lip colors are perfect - my go-to for this kind of look is Jam, a lovely berry purple - as are the Nudestix Gel Color Lip + Cheek Balms* (review). They both give a sheer but buildable wash of color to the lips. If you want a matte stain effect, go for Glossier, but for more of a sheen, go with the Nudestix. Another great tinted balm is the Wander Beauty Beach Balm* - it comes in a lovely sheer berry red shade called Sangria that adds the perfect flush to the lips. Blending a bit of a more pigmented lipstick into a balm to sheer it out is also an option too - I love doing this with the MAC Lipstick in Craving for a lovely plummy pink, as well as the Rodin Olio Lusso Luxe Lipstick in Billie on the Bike.

Do you add a pop of anything when wearing more minimal makeup looks? What are your tips and favorite products? 

*Products mentioned have been sent to me for consideration, but all opinions are my own. Please see my disclaimer for more information.


How I'm Actually Sticking to a Spending Ban This Time

I've tried putting myself on spending bans multiple times, and I always fail. This time, I'm getting serious, buckling down, and saving money. Going through my makeup and skincare collections this past weekend made me realize I really don't need anything else for quite awhile. I had gotten into the habit of buying things for the sake of just having them, always justifying the purchases with "but I can write about it." I have plenty of makeup and skincare to get me through many many months of posts.

Actually Have No Money to Spend

I'll admit, the reason I'm finally getting serious about curbing my spending habits is because I'm literally going to be draining my savings account very soon - we're in the process of buying a house! And planning a wedding! And all of those things really add up. Now that I'm in full-on saving mode and feel like I literally cannot afford one single thing, I really haven't even had the urge to make a Sephora order - who knew?

Delete Saved Card Info

This will definitely help me if/when those urges to place spontaneous orders come back. If you need to go find your card to put the information in to place the order, that gives you crucial time to rethink and re-evaluate if you actually need the products in your cart. Plus if I'm vegged out on the couch looking around on Sephora's website, nine times out of ten I'm going to be too lazy to get up and get my card out of my wallet. Impulse buys - vanquished.

Clear Your Online Carts

Going along with the point above, another thing to do to curb impulse purchases is to clear out your online carts. I used to just keep things I wanted in my Sephora cart, and it just made it easier to order at a moment's notice, even if I didn't need the products. Instead of keeping your carts full, try writing down a wishlist instead - this is what I've been trying to do lately. Then I can check back over time and see if I still want what I had written down. My wishlists are full of crossed-out items I decided weren't really necessary.

Unsubscribe from Brand Newsletters/Unfollow Beauty News Accounts

This is a big one for me - if I see an email pop up about a sale or special gift with purchase, it would be so easy for me to justify making an order just to take advantage of the sale. But as my dad tells my mom when she gets 30% off Kohl's coupons in the mail, "you're still spending 70% more than you were originally planning." I've also unfollowed account like Trendmood - seeing the latest releases and knowing exactly when they're being released was just too much of a temptation for me - I was becoming obsessed with being one of the first to get a new product to review on the blog. Now I'm blissfully unaware of most new releases, and I don't just buy for the sake of having the newest thing.

Allow a Little Wiggle Room

Ok, so this would make it technically not a spending "ban," but I've learned going cold turkey just doesn't work. I'm still working out a budget, but for now I'm allowing myself one new product per month. Being able to pick up something new here and there will help me not go on a huge buying spree the second I decide my "ban" is over.

Have you ever done a spending ban? What are your tips?