By: Lander Beck Photos by: Lilian Reitz
I am Assistant U.S. Attorney, a mental health and fashion blogger, and fur mama to an adorable shelter mutt. When I’m not at work or busy creating content for “Heels and Valleys,” I enjoy volunteering, spending time with friends, gardening, and DIYing. In case it isn’t obvious yet, I’m a bit of a busybody.
I was sexually assaulted as a teenager and subsequently diagnosed with a severe anxiety disorder, so it took me a long time (and a lot of help) to figure out what beauty meant, as well as how to practice self-care. I’m still learning, actually, and that’s okay. A big part of self-care is simply being kinder, both to yourself and others. No one is perfect; we’re all just out here doing the best we can. That applies to beauty, too, and it looks different for different people. If my life experiences have taught me anything, it’s that no amount of beauty products or outer validation will make you feel beautiful when living an unfulfilled life or feeling empty or broken inside. Beauty has to begin from within.
To me, at its core, self-care is whatever it takes for you to ground yourself. That may be setting boundaries so I don’t spread myself too thin. It could be taking a nap because I haven’t been getting enough sleep. Maybe it’s crafting all day because it makes my heart happy. Or perhaps it’s something as mundane as organizing the Tupperware because I just can’t deal with the chaos anymore. And, of course, having my feet massaged during a pedicure never hurts.
A Paper Planner
I have ADHD, which affects my memory, and as I’m constantly juggling multiple balls in the air, my planner is what keeps me from dropping them (and keeps me sane). Like most people, I keep my meetings and appointments on my phone’s calendar, but it’s more of a backup to my paper planner. I love the flexibility a paper planner offers. Mine is part calendar, part journal, part notebook, part record keeper, and part creative release. There are tons of planners out there, but the one I use is from a company called Plum Paper because they have the most customization options and are a fraction of the cost of other customizable planners.
Available at PlumPaper.com. Starting at $29
Redkin Pillow Proof Blow Dry Express Primer Spray
When I first got this as a sample, I was skeptical to see if it would live up to its claim of protecting my hair and reducing my drying time. I mean, the former? Okay. But the latter? I had my doubts…until I tested it. Yes, with a timer, like the true nerd I am. And yes, it does cut down on the time it takes to blow-dry my hair. Don’t ask me how.
Available at Ulta. $26
Tarte Shape Tape / NYX Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Concealer Combo
There’s a reason Tarte’s Shape Tape Concealer has such a cult following – it stays on and covers well. Often, at the end of a long day, I get home looking ridiculous because it’s the only thing left on my face. And for days when I know I won’t be taking pictures or I don’t care how awake and alert I look, it’s fine on its own. But whether it’s because of genetics or chronic sleep deprivation (probably both) I have the darkest, most persistent bags under my eyes. So, if I’m shooting for my blog, or I have meetings or court appearances, I need a little something extra. That’s where the NYX concealer comes in. I use it in “Alabaster” under my foundation and concealer, and it’s bye-bye bags!
Available at Ulta. $27/$5.95
Therapy literally saved my life. I think the world would be a better place if everyone were required to go to therapy, at least for a little while. Starting at a young age, we all experience so much stuff, and all of it affects us – often in ways we’re not aware of – and it all just keeps building and building as we get older. Then we go out into the world and interact with others, many of them carrying around their own stuff, and then when our stuff and their stuff collide, and people get hurt, we wonder why. It’s also such a freeing and empowering thing to know that someone’s actions are actually about them, not you, or that your reaction to something is because of B, not A. There’s a certain comfort in understanding yourself on that level.
Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer
I’ve never been a big lipstick person (despite my mom’s constant, “Are you sure you don’t want some lipstick?”) because it never seems to stay on my lips, yet somehow also always gets all over my teeth. But I do love Burt’s Bees chapstick, so this is the best of both worlds. It’s buttery soft on your lips and adds just the perfect hint of color. Rhubarb is my current favorite.
Available at H-E-B. $4.79
Hydration Tracking Water Bottle
Everyone knows they need to drink more water. If you can do it on your own, I applaud you. I’m usually going a million miles an hour, so if I don’t have something in my face to remind me, I’ll forget. I particularly love this bottle because it’s like hydration for dummies – it includes the times and when to refill! Plus, it has a locking lid that won’t spill in my purse and a handy loop that makes it easy to strap it to my bag, loop around my wrist, hang from my handlebars, etc.
Available on Amazon. $19.99
CoverGirl Super Sizer LashBlast Waterproof Mascara
Living on the water, a good waterproof mascara is a must. I’ve tried so many over the years, and none compare to this one. Ski canals? No problem. Schlitterbahn? No problem. Accidentally get a wave of salt water to the face? No problem. Does your internal body temperature run about 7 degrees higher than the rest of the population and you happen to be one of the sweatiest human beings on the planet, trying to survive South Texas summers? Oh, sorry, just me? Well, still no problem. Fair warning, though: it can be a bit clumpy, so I use a separate mascara wand to comb out my lashes after application.
Available at H-E-B. $9.49
L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara
I learned about this mascara from another blogger friend of mine and I’m obsessed. I’ve tried so many mascaras – drugstore and high-end alike – and none do what this one does. I don’t know enough about the mechanics to know what it does, exactly, but it sure does make my lashes pop! And it doesn’t leave me with raccoon eyes by the end of the day.
Available at H-E-B. $9.97
Tanology Self Tan Mousse
I’m a happier and nicer person when I’m tan. Period. But my days of fake baking are long behind me, so these days I rely almost exclusively on sunless tanners for my color. Unfortunately, as anyone who has used a sunless tanner probably knows, that color wasn’t limited to my skin. I’ve ruined quite a few white garments in my pursuit to be a bronzed sun goddess, but I always thought that was just the price to be paid. Then I saw this tanner on display at Target while shopping for something totally different (as one does) and I just had to try it. It works just as well as regular tanners, but no white garments are harmed in the process.
Available at ULTA. $16.99
Making your bed every morning
I’m mildly obsessed with productivity, so when I read in an article 10+ years ago that all of the top CEOs make their beds first thing every morning, I started doing it, too. But it actually makes sense – it’s like a psychological cue the time to rest is over and the day has begun. And just like that, you’ve already accomplished your first task of the day! Plus, I just feel better starting off my day with the clean slate of a made bed versus the clutter and chaos of an unmade one.