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Refinery29

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    For most of my life, I hated my name. Since childhood, it sounded wrong and too big for my mouth. I remember, in elementary school, my hands getting clammy as I anticipated my name being called for attendance. In my life, my name has been mispronounced more often than it’s been pronounced properly, and yet, for the longest time, I didn’t bother correcting anyone.

    I come from a family of immigrants, and my name is a reflection of that history. I opted for nicknames — Mila, Millie, Lu, Lulu, or my middle name, Andrea — thinking they would be easier to say and spell for others. But all this did was end up making me feel more ashamed.

    Like many professionals with unique or non-traditional Anglo-Saxon names, my name has presented some career challenges. It is constantly misspelled, butchered, and mispronounced. I answer the question ‘Where are you from?’ pretty much once a week Sometimes, I’m referred to by my last name instead of my first — something I’m not sure would ever happen to someone with a more traditional name.

    Still, though my name can present challenges, it has become part of my personal brand and I now use it unapologetically. It has taken me a long time to develop an honest love for my name, but it’s been worth the effort.

    So when a “Dear Abby” response resurfaced on social media earlier this week, I was — like many others — shook. In the column, an Indian father wants to balance his wife's desire to give their future children a traditional Indian name with his own desire for assimilation. “Not only can foreign names be difficult to pronounce and spell, but they can also cause a child to be teased unmercifully,” ‘Abby cautioned. “Why saddle a kid with a name he or she will have to explain or correct with friends, teachers, and fellow employees from childhood into adulthood?”

    The suggestion that an ethnic, cultural, racialized, or otherwise 'unusual' name should be avoided to coddle English speakers made me, and many others, angry. And though I am aware that job discrimination is a real problem that causes many people to whitewash their résumés and adopt pseudonyms, the idea that people of color and immigrants 'must' assimilate for others' comfort is infuriating.

    I reached out to 11 professionals with ‘unpronounceable’ names for their insight on how their names have affected their careers. Hopefully, these stories will encourage others to reflect on how they respond when introduced to names that are 'uncommon'.

    "My first name is virtually unpronounceable by most people I meet for the first time. I’ve considered finding a way to 'Americanize' my name, but something didn’t feel quite right about that and my Indian-American identity, so I’ve compromised by going by 'Chani' to make eliminate some syllables and make things easier.

    "My name has posed some challenges in my professional life. From feeling less confident to introduce myself to new clients or partners, to wondering if I’ve ever gotten passed up for a job just because a recruiter didn’t want to put the effort into learning how to pronounce my name. It’s a daily challenge.

    "Being in the PR field means I’m interacting with outside stakeholders almost every day. It adds a level of anxiety to my job when I need to hop on the phone or communicate via email. I find myself wondering, 'Is picking up the phone really worth going through the confusion of introducing myself? Are my emails being ignored because my name is unrecognizable?'

    "I’ve even struggled with how to answer my phone! 'This is Chandni' or 'Hi, you’ve reached Chandni' is confusing to people, but simply saying 'Hello?' feels unprofessional. Despite the struggles, I do feel proud of my name! It has a beautiful meaning – moonlight – and I was named after one of the most popular Bollywood movies of the late ‘80s, so that always speaks to my pop-culture obsessed heart."

    — Chandni Brunamonti, Indian-American, Public Relations

    "In my previous job, there was always a conversation to be had about my name when meeting someone new. 'What does it mean?' 'Where does it come from?' 'Are you Greek?' All questions Jessica and Sharon never had to answer. Also all very Google-able. The answers to those questions are the first things I searched on the internet when my family got its first computer. I've had to explain my name ever since I was a child. It's crazy how people want you to elaborate on something you had no control over.

    "When most hiring managers/recruiters begin the conversation by apologizing for 'butchering' my name, I can't help but think about the possibility of those who didn't even want to try having that awkward interaction.

    "I am empowered by and very proud of my name. I grew up being called 'See ya tomorrow,' but I see my name as a link to a world I grew up disconnected from. Ever since my father immigrated to the U.S. from Nicaragua and started attending an evangelical Christian church, he has disowned any Nicaraguan culture in favor of American culture. I grew up with no knowledge of my family roots, something I'm trying to explore now as an adult. My name is one of the only things my father let me have that links me to Central American culture."

    Xiomara Blanco, Nicaraguan-American, Media

    "My name is pronounced 'U-A' and 'Je-ang.' People definitely have trouble pronouncing my first name. The most common one I get is 'You.' So I use 'Hazel' as my Starbucks name.

    "I didn't pick an English name for work, as some of my friends have done, because that's just not my name. I don't think my name has affected my career in any big way, but it's always awkward meeting new clients or coworkers you don't work with that often. It's just not as easy to connect with someone quickly if your name is not Rachael or something easier to pronounce or remember.

    "I'm not sure I'm exactly proud of my name, but I do like it a lot. My grandpa picked it for me and it means an ancient kind of pearl. I love living here in New York and will continue to, but my name is part of my reminders of where I came from."

    — Yue Jiang, Chinese, Finance

    "Though I have always thought my name to be pretty easy to pronounce, school mates, teachers, employers and clients have always had trouble with it. It's uncomfortable because I don't want to come off as rude or feed into the angry Black woman trope by constantly correcting people but I also don't want anyone to go months or years thinking they're saying it the right way.

    "The most uncomfortable experience I had was when I was a marketing intern at a healthcare startup and my white boss would mis-pronounce my name almost every day. I was the only Black person working there, so I definitely didn't want to rock the boat. Gentle correction wasn't working and then one day she called me Tara, which was her Pomeranian's name. It was really awkward so I didn't say anything. A few days after, she told me I had big Pomeranian eyes just like Tara. Did I mention the dog was all Black? I left that internship a few months later and lack of diversity definitely played a part in that decision.

    "As a Black woman who studied psychology, I understand that people have biases and it can be hard to push those aside. There are studies showing that you can have the exact same résumé with the same qualifications and experience and the one with the more 'ethnic' name will get thrown out. I'd love to live in a world where people in power could be fair 100% of the time but that's sadly not the case and not likely to change any time soon.

    "Though my name has been hard to people to pronounce, I do really love it. I've been told that it means 'moon' in Arabic and it's apparently a very popular last name in a lot of African countries. Never in my life would I change it."

    Kamara Ferrell, Black, Publicist

    "My last name, Rzadkowolska, has been a handful my entire life. It’s been difficult to pronounce for teachers, professors, and bosses and at times has made me feel singled out. But I'm also very privileged, because even though my last name is incredibly difficult and unique, it doesn't bring me any discrimination that I know of as I'm white, cisgender, and heterosexual.

    "While no one can pronounce it, on the first, second, or tenth go, it also brings curiosity and laughs. When I founded my business, I choose not to use my name as the brand because I knew it would be a nightmare for people. But I also choose not to change my name when I got married, to a simple Milligan.

    "My last name is my identity, my legacy, and my uniqueness. I feel incredibly empowered by it. Would I want to pass down a unique cultural name to my daughter or son? If it holds a special place in my heart with ties to my family and heritage, absolutely."

    — Karolina Rzadkowolska, Polish-American, Entrepreneur

    "In my first year at a public relations agency in Chicago, my colleagues would always laugh about how reporters would call me by the wrong name – everything from just misreading it as to 'Jennika' even once 'Jaboe.' Then one day my colleague said 'Why don’t you just change it to Jessica? It would be easier for everyone and honestly more professional.'

    "I grew up being ashamed to not have a 'normal' name like my siblings and finally got to a point where I felt confident in my name. My colleague made feel my early insecurities in my name come back. My name is a big part of me and while it hasn’t always been easy to correct others or defend why my parents chose it, I think that it is always a conversation starter. There needs to be less judgment about our names and pause to get to know about the individual.

    "I haven’t been passed over for a job, but people have often said 'Oh I didn’t expect you to be a white woman.' The other thing I get is 'Were your parents super religious? Is it the female version of Jericho?'

    "My name is such a part of my identity, my personality and even when I say 'Hi, my name is Jerica' I always know someone will ask me further about it. I can’t ever imagine having another name. To change my name would make me feel like I would be a completely different person and strip the confidence I’ve gained of it over the last few years."

    Jerica Pitts, Caucasian, Public Relations

    "My first and middle names, Gaynete’ (Gay-net-tay) Asede’ (Us-add-aye) Maryam (Mi-ree-um) are of Ethiopian descent, and have always been difficult to pronounce. Even years after working with some colleagues, they still had a difficult time getting it right. Often in meetings, and over conference calls, there was that awkward pause in between someone trying to address me. Usually asking, 'Is there something else I can call you?' No, no there is not.

    "The way I see it is if someone can formulate their mouths to pronounce names like 'Kardashian,' I too deserve that same respect. It often isn’t a matter of them not being able to say it, many simply do not care enough to try, and for people like that, I make them put in the effort. Although I understand that it is quite unusual and challenging for people who first meet me, I do not think there are any excuses for those who’ve known of me for some time.

    "While I do not believe I've been passed up on a job because of it, when I was younger, I often wished I was given another name. Now that I am older and run my own successful business, however, I am proud of my name and wouldn’t ever change it. It has proven to be a blessing in disguise as my URL and social media handles were all readily available. Also, to my knowledge there aren't any other authors with my name either, allowing me to stand out amongst the crowd.

    "Everyone and their circumstances are so unique, therefore I do not believe there are standard naming rules anyone should feel obligated to follow. Rather than us asking if we should refrain from naming our child culturally unusual names, we should instead work to progressively eliminate the pigeon-holing that they create to begin with. There was a president of the United States with the name Barack Obama. That should be enough to begin mending people’s views."

    Gayneté (Edwards) Jones, Black Bermudian, Author & Millennial Mentor

    "I immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 6 from China, and my name has gone through a number of iterations. My Chinese name is Leixin Zhao (赵垒鑫 - Zhao Lei Xin), but I was given a legal middle name upon immigration, Ray. Ray sounded like 'Lei' in Chinese. I went by Ray until middle school, at which point I took more pride in my ethnicity and went by Leixin, but pronounced 'Lex-in.'

    "Throughout my early adult life, getting my name pronounced correctly was always a struggle, but I stuck with it. When I entering the workforce, it was really a struggle because I did feel that my name held me back. It's hard to picture who a 'Leixin' is and not have biases and stereotypes. I grew up in Louisiana and spoke perfect English. Still, I stuck with it.

    "Because of my name, naturally, 'Lex' because of a nickname. It rolled off people's tongues. It wasn't until I saw more of the hiring side, learning more about signaling effects and human biases that I finally bit the bullet and went by 'Lex' full time. Over time, I do hope there will be more acceptance in non-Anglicized names."

    — Leixin Zhao, Chinese-American, Venture Capital for Immigrants

    "My last name is very special to me because I’m an only child and am the last in the 'Castrillon' line. As a child, I wished for a simple last name like 'Smith,' but now, I feel empowered by and proud of my name because it’s so unique and representative of what my parents sacrificed to come to the U.S. from Cuba.

    "At work, my name has always caused me to stand out. Mostly because people would mispronounce it in meetings. At that point, all eyes would turn to me and then I would feel like one of those exotic zoo animals that people stare at and wonder, 'Where is that from?'

    "Being a female and Latinx, it’s difficult to say whether I’ve been passed over for a job just because of my name but given that one study indicates that the easier your name is to pronounce, the more trustworthy people will assume you are, it’s definitely possible.

    "I vehemently disagree that parents should avoid unusual names for their children. What we should be doing is embracing multicultural values and names are a way of passing on our culture from one generation to the next. I’ll admit, the thought has crossed my mind to change my name because it would be easier to promote myself as a keynote speaker or book author, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. It would be like permanently changing my eye color — it’s just such an integral part of who I am."

    Caroline Castrillon, Cuban-American, Business and Life coach

    "A code of conduct among Sikhs essentially dismisses caste and gender, which is why we have a large number of gender-neutral names. Like mine. A quick Google search shows my first name is largely a male-oriented one. Add to this an Italian-sounding last name, and I often get confused for being a ‘half-breed’ or ‘mixed race’, which startles folks in both my professional and personal worlds.

    "I remember once being encouraged to apply for a job at Louis Vuitton in France after meeting with one of their marketing executives. While I was rejected, what struck me was how their hand signed letter addressed me as Monsieur! And while I’ll never know for certain if I was passed over with my name, I certainly won’t patronize a brand whose HR team can’t take two seconds to get it right.

    "Sadly, it demonstrated just how ignorant so many executives are when it comes to pronounceable foreign names. It signals a lazy, close-minded person who shows little to no respect for me as a person first, women second. My first name is not just nouns: It describes cultural identity, my roots, my connection to something larger than some one person’s limited perception.

    "While I would never think to change up my name, and I can appreciate having some fun with it. At work, I have earned nicknames like ‘Navi-baby’, ‘Feliz Navidad,’ and ‘Navalicious.’ If this exercise helps people learn and remember the actual pronunciation (and the meaning: new light), I’m all for it."

    — Navdeep Mundi, Indian-Canadian, Professor, Business Communications

    "I've had issues with my name my whole life. Growing up kids would pick on me and call me 'Charmin,' like the toilet paper. Since childhood, I've carried this anxiety and trauma about my name so I get anxiety when I know someone is about to read it out loud, especially if its to a group of people or in a professional setting.

    "My name comes from the Kurdish language and means 'Shy.' I hated it growing up because of the bullying, but in the last few years I've grown to love it. It's beautifully versatile, rare, and I would never change it. My dad is Kurdish and he chose the name which makes it very special. I now have it tattooed in Kurdish on my wrist in my dad's handwriting."

    Sharmin Aziz, Peruvian-Kurdish-American, Marketing & Podcasting

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    When rose gold first started appearing as the next big engagement ring fad a couple of years ago, we had our doubts about its longevity. Rose gold was first brought to life with Cartier's Trinity Ring in the 1920s; it saw nearly a decade of popularity before vanishing into oblivion. So it's safe to say we were skeptical about investing in the mixed metal. After all, an engagement ring isn't exactly supposed to be "on-trend." It's not a pair of skinny jeans you can toss to the curb when you've (finally) decided to opt for a wider leg. Your ring, more than maybe anything else, is meant to last.

    But after watching it come out on top wedding season after wedding season — a fact proven by one too many celebratory ring posts on Instagram — we're admitting we may have been wrong. Rose gold has officially earned the switch from trendy to full-fledged classic. To celebrate, we've rounded up 18 rose gold engagement rings that you're bound to love forever. Even better — they all fall under $1,500. Because why use your whole budget on the ring when you've got an expensive party to plan?

    At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

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    Everyone knows you should book a flight on a Tuesday, break up with someone on a Friday, and go to the DMV literally any day but Saturday. And we've got one more thing to add to your calendar: Always buy your makeup on a Thursday.

    This special day is when Sephora launches its new picks for The Weekly Wow - one of the greatest mini beauty sales on the web. The offerings are top-tier items, too — as in, the stuff we always buy at full price anyway. So don't miss out on these favorites for skin, hair, and makeup. And, as usual for these kinds of things, the more you spend, the more you save.

    Ahead, check out the five items we're scrambling to buy before they sell out this week. And they will sell out.

    Hit the pan on your Champagne Pop? Trade it in for a holographic shimmer that works just as well on your lids as it does on your cheekbones.



    Formula X for Sephora Holographic Highlighting Powder, $12, available at Sephora

    If you're over contouring and want to invest a bit more time in your blush, try this six-shade palette that includes matte and shimmer formulas.



    Sephora Collection Contour Blush Palette, $14, available at Sephora

    Winter is coming, which means so is dry skin. Stop the flakes from a mile away with this three-step system that leaves nothing to chance.



    Clinique 3-Step Skin Care System For Skin Type 2, $23.5, available at Sephora

    Or, if the changing weather has thrown your skin out of whack, pick up this cleanser, toner, and moisturizer to get you back to a clean slate.



    Clinique 3-Step Skin Care System For Skin Types 3, 4, $23.5, available at Sephora

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    Dr. Brandt pores no more® pore refiner primer, $22.5, available at Sephora

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    So often it feels like we give attention to brands that have yet to embrace a wider demographic of consumers, that the ones who do seemingly fly under the radar. Well, it's time to give Universal Standard the praise it rightfully deserves. The minimalist and modern label that helped J.Crew finally expand its size range introduced its latest launch, Foundation, on on Thursday, and it's being offered in sizes 00 to 4o — a variety unprecedented in the fashion industry.

    "We’re not a plus-size brand, we’re not even a size inclusive brand," Alexandra Waldman, co-founder and CCO of Universal Standard, tells Refinery29. "We’re just a brand of clothing for women, which is what the future holds for the fashion apparel industry and I think the sooner that’s embraced, the better for everyone." This is evident not just through the latest product launch, but through its corresponding campaign imagery.

    Photographer Ronan Mckenzie brought the brand's vision of inclusivity and diversity to life by featuring 35 people who have been "foundational" to Universal Standard, including La’Shaunae Steward, Jari Jones, Georgia Pratt, Molly Constable, Aweng Chuol, Jess Miller, as well as brand partners and friends Christian Siriano and Julia Kisla.

    "We just love Steward's spirit, what she stands for, and the courage that it takes for her to do that," Waldman explains. "It sounds a bit patronizing to say it takes courage, but it does. It takes a certain strength of character to put yourself out there and say, I am beautiful and have every right to be here, and I’m going to participate in every way that I possibly can."

    The hope is that this mindset will translate to your layering pieces — trusted standbys that make you feel good in the best possible fabric, ever. Right now, the collection includes a bandeau, a camisole, a T-shirt, and a turtleneck, as well as a long-sleeved tee, available in a crew and V-neck. "We will continue to build on these pieces," Waldman says, "to make it easy to put your clothes on." That way, you won't have to think about what you’re wearing for the rest of the day. And, as Waldman says, that’s the ultimate freedom.

    Universal Standard’s Foundation collection is available for purchase at its 11-month "retail experience" at 65 Greene Street in New York and online. Prices range from $35 to $200 for all seven pieces, which can be purchased individually or in a four-piece or seven-piece "kit."

    Click ahead to shop.

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    It's officially witch season. With both Charmed and Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina coming back from the dead, magical women have never been hotter. It's time to dig out your pointed hat and the Teen Witch Handbook you got in high school after you discovered The Craft. The best Halloween movies are full of great sorceresses, and supernatural TV has no shortage of women cooking up spells.

    So this spooky season, make sure you're assembling a real nightmare team of witches to help you through the cold nights. These are all the witches who you'd want on your side in an epic struggle against the dark side. Or, in some cases, who might convince you to j oin the dark side. Either way, they've got grade-A wizardy and stellar outfits in spades.

    Sabrina Spellman, The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina(2018-present)

    This dark take on Sabrina from the Archie comics presents her as a headstrong, feminist witch determined to use her powers for equality and justice.

    Tara, Buffy the Vampire Slayer(1997-2003)
    Tara is the Wiccan who truly helps Willow level up, and Tara maintains her powers without going over to the dark side.

    Winifred Sanderson, Hocus Pocus (1993)
    Because she can fit in some karaoke, even on a busy night of sucking the life out of children.

    Bonnie, The Vampire Diaries (2009-2017)
    Bonnie saves everyone. Whether they're worth saving is debatable, but she has the power, and she has the witty comebacks (and perfected death stare).

    Davina, The Originals (2013-present)
    Don't mess with Davina. She'll torture you in a very specific way, making sure she gets in some quality psychological pain as well.

    Sally Owens, Practical Magic (1998)
    Because it takes a lot of guts and power to constantly come to the rescue of her equally magical sister.

    Aggie Cromwell, Halloweentown (1998)

    It's all about the sweeping witch dresses. And leaving a live chicken in the fridge for her daughter. Aggie Cromwell will not be intimidated by Tupperware.

    Sarah, The Craft (1996)
    You have to be super brave to stand up to a high school clique. And even braver when that particular clique is schooled in dark magic.

    Marie Laveau, American Horror Story: Coven (2013)
    Laveau is actually a voodoo priestess, but she's still is 10 times cooler than any of the other spell-casters on Coven.

    The White Witch, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
    She's not particularly nice, but she has serious flair.

    Hermione, Harry Potter(2001-2011)
    Honestly, her witching skills were cemented by the time she was 11. Own that swish and flick, Hermione.

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    Evading an Amazon addiction is tough, especially when it's consistently teasing out events like Prime Day and flash sales. You can grab an industrial-sized pack of toilet paper and those niche cat treats only sold in Japan all in one go. Add the allure of a Prime membership where your purchases arrive in two days or less, and you'll find that shopping on Amazon quickly becomes a part of your daily routine.

    But there are still a few items Amazon Prime isn't necessarily our first stop for — specifically, more trend-driven and high-end fashion. A bundle of socks? Already in our carts. A floral floor-length day dress? That's definitely something new. But Amazon is slowly proving to be an up-and-coming mecca of contemporary and affordable designer picks.

    With fall on our minds, we can't help but get a jumpstart on buying some darker-hued pieces. So we set out to round up a few picks we're throwing into our Amazon carts alongside a plush bulldog pillow and a three-pack of Sriracha. Your dependent relationship on Amazon just became that much stronger.

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    Think back to your dream job when you were in elementary school. Maybe you wanted to be a nurse after your friend's mom came into your third grade classroom for Career Day with a shiny stethoscope talking about how she makes sick babies feel better. Or perhaps you got really good at Operation, like unbeatable, and figured you'd eventually become a surgeon. Either way, mom and dad likely encouraged your medical ambitions (because, hello, job stability).

    For Kristi Trinidad, the childhood dream looked similar — cool scrubs and surgical goggles — but instead of saving sick people or feeling that Grey's Anatomy adrenaline, she was in it for pus and pimples.

    Since she graduated and became a trained medical assistant seven years ago, Trinidad has been working beside the queen of popping, cosmetic dermatologist Sandra Lee, MD (aka The Dr. Pimple Popper). "My school actually placed me in this office by chance," Trinidad tells us. "I remember the placement coordinator looked at me and said, 'I have the perfect place for you.' And she was right, I’ve been working with Dr. Lee for seven years now."

    When it comes to the rise of popaholic fandom, Trinidad says she's always known that watching a stream of pus erupt out of a teeny tiny pore was a fascination enjoyed by many — albeit behind closed doors — and something that had the potential to be tapped as a surgical specialty. "My mom has always been really into pimple popping," Trinidad says. "Whenever I got a pimple as a teenager — whitehead, blackhead, whatever — she would insist on squishing and squeezing it. So I've loved watching other people get into the show and videos, and show their real passion for pimple popping."

    A post shared by Kristi (@kristi.trinidad) on

    Trinidad tells us that through her career, she has assisted on countless oozy, smelly, "oatmeal pus" extractions. (For the record, "oatmeal" is the how Dr. Lee often describes the consistency of the material that is removed from growths.) The most memorable though, didn't involve any of that — but featured a parasite that was mistaken for a skin tag. Is your skin crawling yet?

    "One time this husband and wife came into the office," explains Trinidad. "The man was the patient, but once his appointment was over, his wife asked Dr. Lee to check this little fleshy bump on her side, which she assumed was a skin tag. But it was not a skin tag, it was actually a live tick! Dr. Lee removed it with tweezers and we recorded the whole thing, then put it on her YouTube channel — because it was so epic."

    If you're brave enough to click play, the full video is below. The story serves as a reminder that one person's most memorable career pleasure is another's skin crawling pain.

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    Welcome toMoney Diaries , where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

    We're going on book tour for our new book, Money Diaries: Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Your Finances... and Everyone Else's. Next stop: Chicago on Wednesday, October 24. More details here!

    Calling all entrepreneurs: We want to hear from you! If you’re a freelancer or self-employed, we’d love to feature your Money Diary. Submit here.

    Today: a scientist working in microbiology who makes $91,600 per year and spends some of her money this week on face masks.

    Occupation: Scientist
    Industry: Microbiology
    Age: 30
    Location: Zürich, Switzerland
    Salary: $91,600
    Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $6,496

    Monthly Expenses
    Rent: $2,436 (My boyfriend and I each pay half of this.)
    Student Loan Payment: $150
    Health Insurance: $300.30
    Cell Phone: $34
    Retirement: $294 (My employer contributes double this amount, so roughly $900 per month goes to my retirement.)
    Public Transportation: $74
    Internet: $50 (Split with my boyfriend. We each contribute $2,400 to a joint account for shared expenses like this one.)
    Maid: $170 (split with my boyfriend)
    Savings: Whatever is leftover at the end of the month

    Annual Expenses
    Gym: $220

    Day One

    6 a.m. — I hit snooze, rub noses with the cat on my pillow for 9 minutes, and then tiptoe out of bed so as not to wake my boyfriend. Feed the cat, start the moka pot, do my skincare routine, and water the plants. Today is the day I turn 30. I sip coffee and scroll through Instagram to see what my friends from back home have been up to. My boyfriend gets up and I start blending fruit into a smoothie for breakfast. I try on a few outfits, find the right one, do my makeup, pack my lunch and laptop, and by 8, I'm out the door walking downhill toward the tram stop. I live approximately three miles from the lab, but it takes roughly 50 minutes to get to work. I use this time to go over my agenda and emails. There's a tiny grocery store at one of my stops, so I pop in to grab a pot of yogurt and some grapes to eat this afternoon. $7.40

    8:45 a.m. — I drop my things at my desk and head straight to the lab. I started mentoring a master's student last week, and I have a few things to prepare for her. She's new but enthusiastic, so I'm pleased to work with her. The agenda for this week is to build her confidence in her abilities so she can trust her results later down the line.

    11:40 a.m. — Scheduled lunchtime with my lab group. That stereotype about the Swiss and punctuality is right. But I need to finish something in the lab, so I skip lunch today. Later, I have chicken wings with Grippo's seasoning and potatoes, lovingly made by my boyfriend a few nights ago when I was feeling a bit homesick. A grad school friend of mine once insisted she didn't miss her family so much as the flavors of home. I can relate.

    12:20 p.m. — Lunch is finished, and it's back to work. I just received the proofs of an article I authored from the publisher, so I review them. There are some missing objects from the images and instances of wrong text formatting. I send back my revisions to the editor, hoping that these won't take so long.

    1:30 p.m. — The new master's student and a bachelor's student I've been mentoring for about a year arrive. The bachelor's student is self-sufficient, so she gets to work analyzing data from her experiments. The master's student and I head to the lab. I teach her some techniques she'll be using over the next six months. She executes them well, albeit tentatively.

    6:20 p.m. — Leave work to meet my boyfriend at the main train station. I'm craving a cold Coke, so I pick one up on my way. He ends up taking me to a Southern-style BBQ place. *Swoon* And it's actually delicious! We both are floored and filled to the brim with food. He foots the bill, and then we walk home. $1.60

    Daily Total: $9

    Day Two

    6 a.m. — Same morning routine, except after coffee I head to the gym. I do the elliptical and stair machine for 30 minutes combined, and then go back to my apartment to do some Blogilates abs videos. Breakfast, shower, get ready, and then I'm out the door by 9:30 a.m. I pick up a coffee at a transfer station. $3.90

    10:15 a.m. — At my lab bench, I analyze the results from my experiments yesterday. Then I meet with the master's student to go over more practical details.

    12:40 p.m. — I miss lunch with my colleagues again, so I gather things from the salad bar in the cafeteria. $15.40

    1 p.m. — Master's student and I have an appointment at a nearby campus to be given a tutorial on a new instrument. We catch the tram to get there just in time, receive the training, and part ways. I'm finished with lab work for the day, so I head home to do some data analysis.

    8 p.m. — Some friends, my boyfriend, and I go to see Brian Jonestown Massacre downtown. My boyfriend and I bought the tickets weeks ago, so our friends cover our beers. The opening group (LeVent) is a kickass band fronted by a six-string bass-slapping, German Gwyneth Paltrow-lookalike, so I buy their album. We groove for the rest of the night. $30

    Daily Total: $49.30

    Day Three

    7:30 a.m. — Sleep in, and then it's the same old. On my way to the lab I pick up a cake for my belated birthday. I got shit from my colleagues yesterday for not doing so, so I do it today. A carrot one from a nearby bakery, along with a coffee to go. $24.90

    3 p.m. — I've been juggling training the master's student and my own experiments, and don't get a chance to eat until now. The cafeteria is closed, so I go to a nearby convenience store to get some salami, cheese, bread, and nuts. I scarf everything down while answering emails, and then go back to the bench. $17.90

    6:30 p.m. — Leaving work, I'm beat. I feel productive after multitasking, but frazzled and concerned that I missed something. My boyfriend said he would pick up groceries on his way home from work, so I ride the tram fantasizing about PJs and cuddles. When I get home, I get my yoga on to quell my nerves. Then I move on to my second therapeutic practice: cooking. I prep a smoked herring salad served in lettuce cups and then round out dinner with a couple pieces of dark chocolate. I take a shower, respond to emails, and go to bed.

    Daily Total: $42.80

    Day Four

    6 a.m. — Gotta get going because I have a few ends to tie up before my lab meeting at 9. I boogie out the door with a thermos of strong black tea and pick up a salad and grapes to accompany the pasta lunch I packed for today. $10.90

    7:45 a.m. — I check my results. The experiment failed miserably (don't worry, my controls behaved as expected!), but I'm relieved. This just freed up my entire day, and I won't have to come in this weekend!

    9 a.m. — Lab meeting. It's a long one, so we go directly to lunch after the meeting.

    12:20 p.m. — My schedule is substantially cleared for the day, so I can work on back burner tasks: image analysis from some microscopy experiments and editing a colleague's professor application.

    4 p.m. — I leave work, go check on a friend's cat while she's out of town, pick up some almond milk, and head home. My boyfriend played hooky today to walk up a mountain, and he shows me the mushrooms and other plants he collected. We go through our field manual to see if the shrooms are edible. Too hard to say. We dry them to put them in our Swiss botanical specimen collection. He also picked up some farmer's cheese from up there, so we try that out, too. $13.20

    9 p.m. — We go to a nearby pizzeria for dinner. It's a cozy neighborhood spot and full of Italians. Afterwards, we walk toward home and then begin to hear the faint sound of an accordion. We follow it and find a mini Balkan street concert. We stick around, are offered some complimentary wine, and hang for a while until it gets too cold. $73

    Daily Total: $97.10

    Day Five

    7:30 a.m. — Get to sleep in! I try to make a pumpkin spice latte but fail, likely due to the almond milk. (Does it normally coagulate when heated? Help me out!) I finish up some edits on my colleague's application and start some analyses that can run while I'm out and about.

    10 a.m. — We go to do some major grocery shopping, and on our way, we come across stuff that someone left on the sidewalk that they clearly no longer want. We score two copper mugs! At the farmer's market, we grab some beans, apples, late season zucchini, and grapes. Then we go to the supermarket to pick up pasta, meat, milk, and nonseasonal produce. $117

    12:30 p.m. — Check on the processes I started earlier while my boyfriend starts lunch — pasta with pesto. I harvested our basil last weekend and made a big batch of pesto. We're nervous it won't keep so long, so we want to finish it before it rots.

    3 p.m. — I got some stuff to make kimchi this morning, but I don't have enough chili flakes. I go to the Korean market to get a boatload, along with some sesame oil, miso, and green tea to keep in case of emergency. $51

    3:45 p.m. — Apparently a Sephora pop-up shop popped up in a department store here. We don't have Sephora here, and I miss it, so I go in to check out what's good. It's a hive of women scoping out cosmetics. Woah, the Fenty counter is wrecked. I quickly grab a few Tony Moly face masks and small hydration mask. (Winter is coming!) $49

    5 p.m. — I whip up the kimchi and leave it to ferment on my counter. I start prepping dinner — mung bean smoked sausage soup. While that's going, I roast a butternut squash and some chestnuts to have during the week. We eat the soup after it simmers for a few hours. It's perfect for these first chilly days of autumn.

    Daily Total: $217

    Day Six

    8:30 a.m. — Rise and shine. Sundays are pretty chill here in Zürich — nothing is open, save for a few shops at the main train station. We have cookies with coffee and prep the balcony plants for the upcoming cold season.

    10:30 a.m. — I'm reminded that I'm meeting with a visiting professor tomorrow morning. I take a look at his research so I can have relevant topics of discussion to bring up with him. I also prep a few pieces of my data to show him, just in case the conversation goes in that direction. Perhaps the best piece of advice from my current mentor is that every interaction is a job interview — you never know who can help you land the next gig. I'll be on the hunt for a professorship in a year or two from now, so I'm gonna try to do this “free” self-promotion while I can.

    12:30 p.m. — My boyfriend prepares a mini-Oktoberfest lunch as I prep for a separate work-in-progress meeting I have with a collaborator tomorrow afternoon. We eat some weisswurst and pretzels we got yesterday and split a beer as we watch a Japanology video on YouTube.

    3:30 p.m. — I go to the gym and find a spin class on YouTube to follow. I'm wrecked afterwards, and walk home at a snail's pace. I drink some Gatorade and then head out to visit my friend's cat.

    7 p.m. — My boyfriend stewed the late-season zucchini all afternoon, so we eat it for dinner along with the squash I roasted last night and a leek salad. We chat and more concretely plan our upcoming long weekend in Brussels.

    9:30 p.m. — I send out some work emails since I won't be in my office or the lab barely at all tomorrow.

    Daily Total: $0

    Day Seven

    6 a.m. — I do my morning routine, go to the gym, and shower. Then I pack my lunch and review my talking points for later.

    12 p.m. — The chat with the professor is productive, even fun. He provides some interesting insight and new leads, and even more promising is his enthusiasm for my findings.

    1:15 p.m. — Rush to my research meeting and arrive a few minutes late. I get helpful ideas from my collaborators and will implement them during my microscopy experiments this week.

    3:30 p.m. — Head to the campus where my lab is. I have a few things to set up for my experiments tomorrow.

    4:30 p.m. — Eat the bean soup I packed for lunch. I haven't been so hungry today — must be all the adrenaline. Then I go set up my samples for tomorrow.

    6 p.m. — I leave the lab and head home. I feel like a boss after killing everything today! I savor this infrequent feeling and channel it toward the next big steps for my research. This is the best time to think about risky ideas, store them in my head, and revisit them for validity when I'm perhaps feeling less confident. When I get home, my boyfriend is out for a run, so I prepare a salad for us for dinner. We recount our days, play with the cat, and pack lunch for tomorrow.

    Daily Total: $0

    Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.

    The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.

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    We didn't expect this, but we can't get enough of PopSockets.

    Who knew that such a simple phone accessory could become something we couldn't live without? We can't imagine our post-workout stretch without propping up our phone with our PopSocket to watch YouTube videos. Those precarious group selfies have become infinitely easier to take without the risk of our phones taking a tragic (and expensive) tumble. The bigger our phones have gotten, the more we appreciate having a little extra grip on the device that's basically become an extra appendage at this point.

    We've rounded up our favorite PopSocket designs – from Stranger Things to avocados – that are so cute you'll want them for your phone immediately. All of the PopSockets listed are between $10-15, so you could even get a couple and swap them out depending on how you feel like accessorizing your phone that day. Click through to see which PopSockets we've been eyeing, and if none of these designs catches your eye, don't forget, PopSocket gives you the option of creating your own custom design.

    Marble adds a touch of sophistication to any phone and could easily be matched with a marble case.



    PopSockets Ghost Marble, $10, available at PopSockets

    We may have been sorted into different houses, but all Harry Potter fans can agree that a Deathly Hallows PopSocket is pretty cool.



    PopSockets Deathly Hallows, $15, available at PopSockets

    It's official. Adding avocado, even to your phone, makes everything better.



    PopSockets Avocados Pink, $10, available at PopSockets

    Your phone just got a little more luxurious...



    PopSockets Rosewood, $15, available at PopSockets

    This floral print is both classic and cute.



    PopSockets Vintage Perfume, $10, available at PopSockets

    Now the infiniteness of the internet and the galaxy can be in the palm of your hand.



    PopSockets Twist Spiral Galaxy, $10, available at PopSockets

    Barb from Stranger Things deserved better, but at least she has her own PopSocket.



    PopSockets Stranger Things Collaboration, $15, available at PopSockets

    There's something exotic about flamingos, even if they are just on your phone.



    PopSockets Flamingo Love, $10, available at PopSockets

    For those of us who appreciate a mesmerizing, graphic design over a print or a picture.



    PopSockets Gamer, $10, available at PopSockets

    Obsessed with space? Imagine pairing this moon PopSocket with a galaxy phone case.



    PopSockets Graphic print of the moon, $10, available at PopSockets

    It'll be easier than ever to hold your piña colada with this pineapple PopSocket.



    PopSockets Pineapple Pattern, $10, available at PopSockets

    What's more whimsical than a giraffe? A giraffe blowing bubbles of course.



    PopSockets Bubblegum Giraffe, $10, available at PopSockets

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    No weekend plans? No problem. There's going to be a meteor shower — and it'll be visible all weekend, so even if you do have last-minute plans, there'll be plenty of opportunities to catch it.

    According to EarthSky, the Orionid meteor shower should be visible both Friday and Saturday nights, but the best views will be on Sunday morning after the moon has set and before the sun rises.

    "The Orionid meteors are debris left behind by Comet Halley, arguably the most famous of all comets," according to EarthSky. "This comet leaves debris in its wake that strikes Earth’s atmosphere most fully around Oct. 20-22, while Earth intersects the comet’s orbit, as it does every year at this time."

    There is, however, a catch: The moon might get in the way of you actually seeing the meteor shower. Because the moon will set just shortly before twilight begins, you may have only a short window of time to really see the Orionid shower. Bill Cooke told Space.com that 15-20 meteors should be visible per hour during peak times.

    The good news is that according to Space.com, Orionid meteors are visible from anywhere on Earth, and can be seen anywhere across the sky, though if you're in a city, light pollution might make it more difficult to view the shower.

    Still, AccuWeather's forecast predict mostly clear skies across most of the country this weekend, so if you're outside of any major city, you have a good chance of seeing more meteors.

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    Think back to middle school when, year after year, person after person would tell us that we’d grow out of our acne. We get it: The adults in our lives wanted to be encouraging. They threw out a glimmer of hope — an “it gets better” kind of thing that has us bamboozled all these years later. Because after countless cycles of hormonal acne, we’re here to say that it does not, in fact, always get better: A 2011 study showed that nearly half of women aged 20-29 has clinical acne.

    One of the most notorious types? The cystic variety, which can be brought on by monthly hormonal cycles — and can be way more intense to deal with than your average pimple.

    “Cysts are like balloons under the skin that are filled with oil, but have no place to go. As your oil glands make more oil, cysts become enlarged, the wall cracks, and inflammation develops,” explains Joshua Zeichner, MD, a New York-based dermatologist and Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital. Unlike more surface-based pimples, he explains, cystic zits can’t be picked: “They have no connection to the surface of the skin so any attempt to pick them will cause more harm than good.”

    Extractions are also out when it comes to cystic zits. S. Manjula Jegasothy, MD, a Miami-based dermatologist with a celebrity-heavy clientele, notes that these suckers can start deep in the skin, one or two millimeters beneath its surface. “They’re extremely difficult, if not impossible, to extract or ‘pop,’ even by a skin-care specialist or dermatologist,” she says. In short, these zits are deep-rooted and tough to fight, which is why our pros suggest booking an appointment with a derm as a first line of defense.

    And though Accutane has proven controversial for some, Marina Peredo, MD, a New York-based dermatologist and associate clinical professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, also likes the medication to treat cystic acne. “For most patients, it's a cure and will prevent deep scar formation if started early in a course of a disease,” she says, noting that a proactive approach is key. “It is very important to start Accutane as soon as possible with severe cystic acne because prolonging the start of the treatment can cause deep scars, which are very hard to treat even with the most aggressive laser treatments later.”

    Bottom line? If you want to get serious about cystic acne treatment, there’s no getting around time-consuming derm visits and prescribed meds. But here’s the upshot: We can take action from our own bathrooms to help minimize cystic acne from forming and help control those mighty bumps in between doctor’s visits.

    Ahead, get pro advice on how best to tackle deep-rooted acne at home.

    Benzoyl peroxide can help shrink cysts, Dr. Peredo notes. A whopping 4.5% benzoyl peroxide is used in this face wash, a concentration that might normally be too harsh for sensitive skin. However, the ingredient is micro-encapsulated, which controls its release (reducing the risk of irritation) while allowing for better penetration.



    Glytone Acne BPO Clearing Cleanser (6.7 oz.), $38, available at DermStore

    Dr. Jegasothy likes probiotic cleansers for acneic patients, as they help keep the skin’s good bacteria balanced. This foaming formula uses the bifida ferment lysate strain — along with lactic acid, turmeric root, and antioxidant-rich blueberries — to refresh and rebalance skin without stripping.



    Tula Purifying Cleanser, $28, available at Tula

    Dr. Peredo notes that salicylic or glycolic acid peels can help keep breakouts in check. This gel-based peel not only contains skin-clearing glycolic acid and charcoal, it gently gathers gunk and dead skin cells into clumps as you exfoliate and leaves skin super soft.



    Boscia Charcoal Exfoliating Peel Gel, $34, available at Ulta Beauty

    We've been privy to the wonders of Medik8's blemish products for a while, but it bears repeating: This shit works. The brand's Blemish SOS (which was previously known as Beta Gel) uses the power of salicylic acid and niacinamide to clear pores, and both azelaic acid and dioic acid to fight blemish-causing bacteria and help control oil production within the skin.



    Medik 8 Blemish SOS, $19, available at Medik8

    Hundreds of Amazon reviewers say this is the one product that actually cleared their acne after years of trying everything. With its main active ingredient being 2% salicylic acid, this treatment unclogs pores and clears away dead skin cells to allow the skin to deeply absorb acne-fighting serums.



    Obagi Pore Therapy Salicylic Acid 2% Acne Treatment, $37.04, available at Amazon

    This cream has a mixture of 5.5% benzoyl peroxide and LHA, a derivative of salicylic acid, to fight acne and exfoliate.



    La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Dual Action Acne Treatment, $36.99, available at Target

    This lightweight gel makes a bold claim right out of the gate: With five powerful acids and soothing, dryness-defying plant extracts, it promises to reduce breakouts — even the cystic type, thanks to that potent acid complex that cuts through clogged pores — in just one week, without leaving skin flaky or dry.



    Murad Outsmart Acne Clarifying Treatment, $44, available at Sephora

    The star ingredient of this spot treatment is monolaurin, a coconut-derived antibacterial that not only helps address cystic zits, but also addresses acne that results from sweat. What’s more, it’s built to keep skin cooler, which helps prevent excessive sweating, which can create even more zits.



    VMV Hypoallergenics ID Monolaurin Gel, $32, available at VMV Hypoallergenics

    This cult-favorite is an effective acne spot treatment that's also cost-effective. Because it has sulfur, it works to reduce oiliness and unblock pores. There's no need to rub or blend this stuff into your entire face — just use a cotton swab to dot it on any spots, hit the hay, and you'll see reduced pimple size by morning.



    Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, $17, available at Bloomingdale's

    Keeping skin hydrated means preventing its own overproduction of pore-clogging oils. This moisturizer contains ingredients high in linoleic acid to help balance sebum and pH levels. It also boasts antibacterials and antifungals, and yes, ingredients to hydrate, too.



    True Botanicals Pure Radiance Oil - Clear, $110, available at True Botanicals

    Yes, we know it can feel kind of counterintuitive to put a face oil atop oily and acne-ridden skin. But this formula, a dry oil made with 1.5% salicylic acid, tea tree, and chamomile, helps address congested skin while treating fine lines, dullness, and hyperpigmentation.



    Sunday Riley U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil, $80, available at Sephora

    We use this vegan mask as an overnight spot treatment to help minimize oncoming acne. Dr. Peredo notes that algae can have a tightening effect, which can help reduce the size of the blemish. But don’t take that to mean the mask makes skin feel tight when used on the entire face; you'll feel soft and hydrated after rinsing.



    OSEA Red Algae Mask, $48, available at OSEA

    This cleansing duo is the perfect antidote to over-washing that leaves skin stripped of natural oils: It includes a detoxifying cleansing oil and sea mud-and-charcoal cleansing bar that allows you to double cleanse and target blemishes without zapping moisture from the skin. (Plus, Marilyn Monroe used it, so there's that.)



    Erno Laszlo Detoxifying Cleansing Set, $30, available at Nordstrom

    Anyone lucky enough to have visited Kate Somerville’s L.A. clinic knows that she’s a wizard when it comes to clearing skin. (Required reading in the waiting room: an entire picture book of patients with and without acne, before and after treatment.) This cleanser (inspired by the original best-selling treatment) is one way to get Kate’s skin-clearing skills at home. It uses 3% sulfur, along with honey and rice bran extracts, to gently unclog pores.



    Kate Somerville EradiKate Daily Foaming Cleanser, $38, available at Neiman Marcus

    We swear by Renee Rouleau's Anti-Cyst Acne Treatment, but the celebrity esthetician has given us cystic-zit sufferers even more of a fighting chance at clear skin with this new anti-inflammatory mask, made especially to target cystic zits before they blow up. Prone to monthly hormonal breakouts? Use this gel mask a few days before your cycle to treat acne before it forms.



    Renée Rouleau Rapid Response Detox Masque, $63.5, available at Renée Rouleau

    For a more potent spot treatment for painful cystic acne, try this topical serum that targets the acne formation beneath the skin's surface, forcing the cyst to a head. Seriously, it's like magic.



    Renée Rouleau Anti Cyst Treatment, $47.5, available at Renée Rouleau

    This mask zaps hormonal pimples and heals cystic acne, but makes doing so feel downright chic. While it has exfoliating AHAs that work to clear acne, the most plentiful ingredient is honey, which means it'll keep your skin moisturized and soft — and clarified.



    Tata Harper Clarifying Mask, $68, available at Sephora

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    Mallory Hagan, the Democratic nominee for Congress in Alabama's 3rd District, stood on the historic Macon County Courthouse steps in Tuskegee on Thursday and announced that she had made a troubling finding: Over 55,000 voters were either disqualified or labeled "inactive" since February 2017 in her district. Statewide, the number could be in the hundreds of thousands.

    Backed by a legal team, Hagan explained that her campaign discovered this information from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request made to the Alabama Secretary of State, John Merrill, who has before stated that he thinks voting should be a privilege. We reached out to Merrill 's office and will update this story when we hear back.

    "Today, I tell our voters that we must be on high alert," said Hagan, a Democrat and former Miss America. "According to our most recent findings, more than one in 10 voters here in East Alabama have been removed from the active voter rolls. These voters are either entirely disqualified or have been marked 'inactive.' … We have reason to believe this number is much higher." She provided detailed statistics for each county in a document; according to it, 16,752 voters have been disqualified and 41,676 marked inactive.

    To the voters of East Alabama, I say this: We have your back.

    In response, Hagan announced that she's formed a Voter Protection Committee consisting of lawyers working pro-bono throughout the district to monitor and address voter suppression issues, as well as a voter hotline to call where "no question is too stupid." The hotline number is 334-521-5258, and it's available from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Election Day. People can also check their voting information on the Secretary of State's website, myinfo.alabamavotes.gov. The last day to register to vote in Alabama is October 22.

    "To the voters of East Alabama, I say this: We have your back," said Hagan. "If you fear your voice will be lost in the system, if you don’t trust that a government that has failed you could ever be fixed, know that change will not happen until we step up, even when the going gets hard. We cannot allow complications to derail the very elections which are the foundation of democracy. Check your registration status today, find your polling place, and get your ID ready."

    Hagan is running against Mike Rogers, an NRA-endorsed Republican, in a historically red district that has elected Rogers over various Democratic opponents eight times. The vast majority of counties in the 3rd District voted for Trump in 2016. WSFA News reported that Rogers declined to comment on Hagan's statements about voter purging.

    Secretary of State Merrill, a Republican, told AL.com that inactive voters have to update their registration information before voting on Election Day. He said they were placed on inactive status after they were mailed a registration card that was returned as undeliverable, and then failed to respond to a second postcard requesting an address update.

    "They've just been placed on the inactive list, which means before they can vote they have to fill out the updated form," Merrill said.

    Merrill has said he opposes automatic voter registration through agencies like the DMV, which is largely favored by Democrats, because it "cheapen[s] the work" of civil rights heroes, in a 2016 interview with progressive voting rights initiative Answering the Call, as reported by Slate. (For the record, Rep. John Lewis, whom Merrill cited, enthusiastically supports the initiative.)

    "To me, that's no different than giving them a trophy because they’ve played on the ball team," Merrill said. "If you’re too sorry or lazy to get up off of your rear and to go register to vote, or to register electronically, and then to go vote, then you don't deserve that privilege. As long as I’m Secretary of State of Alabama, you're going to have to show some initiative to become a registered voter in this state."

    Efforts to make it harder to vote are nothing new in Alabama. Since key parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were struck down in 2013, the state has enacted various policies that construct obstacles to voting, according to a New York Times report. Similar scenarios are playing out all over the country — from Georgia, where gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is leading the charge against voter suppression, to North Dakota — in the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections, with voters of color disproportionately affected.

    Sarah Baker, president and executive director of We The Action, a nonpartisan organization connecting volunteer attorneys with nonprofits, said that marking voters inactive creates unnecessary obstacles for them.

    "This has a double impact of both putting voters on inactive status, which can make it more difficult to vote, and also causing people not to trust the election system and worry their vote doesn't count," Baker told Refinery29. "That can scare people into not even trying. It discourages civic engagement, which is a shame."

    Baker praised the lawyers working throughout Alabama to help citizens have their voices be heard, and encouraged other attorneys to join the effort. "In this time of voter purges, foreign meddling, voter suppression, and disenfranchisement, lawyers can help ensure that the vote is equally accessible to all," she said. "Lawyers should use their energy and skills to help voters right now."

    "Our legal team won't rest until everyone who wishes to is allowed to vote," attorney Fred Gray Jr., co-chair of Hagan's Voter Protection Committee, told the crowd in Tuskegee. "If it takes filing a lawsuit, that's what we'll do."

    Ready to vote? Here's everything you need to know about the 2018 midterm elections.

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    Photo: Jim Smeal/REX Shutterstock.

    These days, it's hard not to keep up with the Kardashians. They're everywhere. In fact, they've been so omnipresent in the public eye for such a long time now that it's hard to remember why they're a famous family in the first place.

    Origin story alert: The Kardashian Klan didn't just one day rise up out of obscurity and take over your newsfeed. Nor did they emerge from Paris Hilton's closet, groomed to be her successors to the plastic L.A. throne. Their domination was a process, one that literally began decades ago, before reality television really started its meteoric rise. And the person who got the ball rolling isn't actually the one we typically associate with Kardashian stardom.

    We're talking about Robert: father of Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, and Rob, ex-husband of Kris, and former lawyer and friend of a certain football star who was the defendant in the "trial of the century": O.J. Simpson. With Ryan Murphy's star-studded retelling of the Simpson case, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, airing tonight on FX, many of us will be learning how the Kardashian name catapulted from obscurity onto prime-time TV. Recognizing the Kardashian patriarch's role is the key to understanding how the family was primed for limelight in the first place.

    So, let's start at the very beginning — a very good place to start — and take a look at the family's not-so-humble beginnings, to better understand how they became America's so-called other first family.

    To understand where the Kardashians came from, we must circle back to the original patriarch: Robert Kardashian (played by David Schwimmer in the FX show).

    Robert was born in Los Angeles, where he eventually attended USC before heading to law school at UC San Diego. Robert married Kris Jenner (née Houghton) in 1978; during the following decade, the couple would have four children — Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, and Robert.

    Robert Kardashian also met and became friends with O.J. Simpson during those years. The Kardashians were friendly with the football star and his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson. Robert and Kris divorced in 1991 — several years before Brown Simpson was murdered and the iconic trial began.

    Photo: Getty/Ron Galella.

    Let's be clear here: America at large did not know Robert Kardashian's name prior to People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson. Let's just pause for a moment and truly take in that fact: The Kardashians were once not a thing. Mind-blowing, right?

    But though Robert was a key figure on Simpson's defense team, his newfound notoriety didn't catapult him or his family to sudden fame. (For anyone intending to tune into FX's The People v. O.J. Simpson to get a greater sense of the Kardashians' rise to fame, you're going to be disappointed. Sorry, guys.) Robert was, however, quite wealthy — a member of the exclusive 1% club, a fact that gave his children a certain leg up in the world.

    Robert died of esophageal cancer, at age 59, in September of 2003. By then, Kris had long since remarried, and the kids were in their late teens and early 20s.

    Photo: Vince Bucci.

    And of course, we know who Kris remarried: Bruce Jenner, former Olympian and Wheaties box star, who we now know as Caitlyn.

    Kris reportedly received ample support from Robert, but Bruce brought his own wealth to the marriage. Kris and Bruce had two children of their own, Kendall (born November 3, 1995) and Kylie (born August 10, 1997).

    Photo: Getty/Maureen Donaldson.

    (They also had these matching bowl haircuts. While this is not a relevant part of the Kardashian rise, it is an fun thing to remember.)

    Photo: Getty/Donaldson Collection.

    Together, they took family photos like this one.

    Photo: Getty/Donaldson Collection.

    And later, during their biker gang days, this one.

    It was only up — and out of obscurity — from there, though.

    Photo: Getty/Donaldson Collection.

    Even as far back as her eighth grade graduation, a young Kim knew she was destined for something grand. In this video, she reveals her dreams of future stardom.

    "Does everyone get a tape of this?" she asks the camera. "I hope you do, so you can see me when I'm famous and remember me as this beautiful little girl!"

    She also refers to herself as "the dopest of the ropest of the class" — we wonder what Kanye thinks about that line today?

    The reality television bids began almost a decade after that fateful graduation video was filmed.

    In 2003, Kim Kardashian was buddied up to socialite and nascent TV star Paris Hilton. (The two were reportedly childhood friends, according to Hilton's version of events).

    Kim appeared alongside Hilton in the The Simple Life, albeit in off-to-the-side moments. It's tough to believe, but Kim was actually Paris' assistant at one point, while also hawking her skills as a closet organizer. (Contrary to popular belief, though, Paris never snapped at Kim to re-do her closet on-air. But their feud was pretty legendary.)

    Don't worry Kim — your 15 minutes (and many years) of fame will arrive soon!

    Photo: Getty/Gregg DeGuire.

    They eventually squashed the feud and Paris not only appeared in the Yeezy season 6 campaign, but she's also a regular at Kris' Christmas Eve parties.

    Skipping ahead a little bit, Kourtney, Khloé, and Kim — who had helped their mom with retail ventures in the past — launched their own store, DASH, in 2006.

    (Kourtney, by the way, is the only one to have gone to college in the intervening years between youth and actual adulthood. She graduated from the University of Arizona, with a degree in theater and a minor in Spanish.)

    While the store didn't necessarily make the trio wealthier, it did continue to help raise their profiles.

    Photo: Getty/Chris Polk.

    Behind the scenes, Kris was hard at work getting her family on television. In 2007, she pitched a reality show about her brood to Ryan Seacrest — and he accepted. Keeping Up With the Kardashians first aired on October 14, 2007.

    Photo: E!/Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

    Kim made another kind of debut that same year: her sex tape with Ray J. No one could stop talking about that thing — it was a huge deal, and suddenly the name Kim Kardashian was popping up all over the place.

    Also, this happened. In August of 2008: Kim joined the cast of Dancing With the Stars.

    Photo: Getty/Craig Sjodin.

    Just so we're all on the same page, though, it was not Kim's rumba skills that made her a reality star. (She was eliminated about a month in.)

    While KUWTK continued to get renewed, three seasons in, Kris wondered if things had gotten a little stale — that is, until Kourtney got pregnant.

    Kris revealed that it was this shift in story line that she thinks helped cement interest in the family — and maybe even saved the show.
    "They just keep making more babies, and there's always another story," she explained.

    The family also teased Kourtney's pregnancy before the new season aired — but made it clear that interested parties would have to tune into the program to find out who the father was. (Kris, you marketing genius, you.) Later, the births of Kourtney's kiddos — followed by Kim's pregnancies and the births of North and Saint West — would continue to galvanize fan interest and eyeballs.

    Photo: Getty/Alo Ceballos.

    Also, this happened. Cue: fame explosion.

    Photo: Getty/Anthony Harvey.

    "I started to look at our careers like pieces on a chessboard,” Kris revealed in her memoir, back in 2011. “Every day, I woke up and walked into my office and asked myself, ‘What move do you need to make today?’ It was very calculated. My business decisions and strategies were very intentional, definite and planned to the nth degree."

    Well... Her moves worked. Last year, Cosmopolitan magazine named the Kardashians America's "first family." The ladies have launched their own successful personal websites (complete with paywalls that people actually pay for). Their social media followings tally in the millions. Keeping Up With the Kardashians is now in its 11th season — and it doesn't seem like they're slowing down in the slightest.

    Photo: Getty/Frazer Harrison.

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    If you needed proof that #Blackgirlmagic is booming, just look at Letitia Wright. Aside from starring as Princess Shuri in Marvel's Black Panther (the modern, badass Black princess we desperately needed on the big screen), the 24-year-old actress's career has skyrocketed since her break-out role. She’s been named one of Hollywood’s rising stars by Teen Vogue and, reportedly, just landed a starring gig in the upcoming Guava Island picture alongside Rihanna and Donald Glover. And now, she can add beauty ambassador to her flourishing list of credentials.

    BareMinerals recently tapped Wright to be the face of its new Power of Good campaign, a program focused on clean beauty products, and it's the first major beauty deal for the star. But despite her glamorous new role, Wright's relationship with makeup hasn't always been that glittering. "I didn't always like makeup," she tells Refinery29. " I never liked the idea of sitting through a tutorial or in a chair for full-on makeup each day."

    In a social media-driven world where kids are susceptible to the pressure of wearing makeup and changing their appearance, Wright's childhood experience was different. Growing up, the Guyanese-born actress didn't feel the need to wear makeup before she was ready, especially not in her household. "Wearing makeup wasn't an expectation for me growing up," she says. "The most my family did was try to get me out of being a tomboy. I never liked dresses. And now I'm wearing them, everyone [in my family] is like, 'Oh, you like dresses!' But with makeup there was no pressure."

    Her family put more emphasis on natural beauty. "Most of the time the women in my family had a natural glow and embraced the Guyanese sun," she says. "That approach empowered me to feel good in my own skin and taught me to not depend on makeup as an adult."

    Photo: Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images.

    Even though there was no pressure from her family to enhance her appearance, Wright admits that, like most teens, she felt influenced by her peers. "It was easy to feel like I wasn't good enough, or like I had to live up to what everyone else was doing if I wasn't wearing makeup and rushing to look a certain way at a young age. But I am happy I didn't do what everyone else did," she tells us.

    As she's gotten older, her beauty routine has blossomed with her career. "Makeup didn't really start growing on me until about two years ago," she says. She credits watching her sister get ready with BareMinerals as her reason for falling in love with the brand. "Her skin always looked really rich and glowed up, and I ended up stealing her makeup to achieve a similar look."

    Wright's "glowed up" beauty routine doesn't start with makeup, though. Her first priority is keeping her skin clear, and she relies on a fairly clean regimen to maintain a blemish-free complexion. She uses Kiehl's products to cleanse and exfoliate, then follows up with moringa oil and cocoa butter to stay moisturized. "After my skin care, I use BareMinerals Original Loose Powder Foundation SPF 15. I'm shade Neutral Deep 29. I add some mascara, and I'm out of the door. I like to keep things really natural and simple."

    While the actress keeps her makeup low-key, she is open to trying more daring looks like the ones you see her famous friend Lupita N'yongo wearing. "Lupita is definitely the makeup plug. If I had to swap makeup bags with anyone, it would definitely be her," she says. Wright relies on her big sister figures in Hollywood, like N'yong'o and Naomie Harris, for valuable advice as she navigates her newfound fame. "I got to sit down and speak with Naomie Harris way before Black Panther even hit," Wright says. "She told me to carry myself in the way I would want people to see me, and that is how I will be received and respected." Wright manifests this confidence on and off screen, making her a real-life heroine.

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    Fall is every fashion fan's bread and butter. The air is refreshingly crisp, while the warm sun keeps you blissfully comfortable in your favorite easy outfit: raw hem jeans, a breezy white t-shirt, with a chunky cardigan draped over your shoulders. And as for shoes? Nothing is off limits.

    Whether you're not willing to pack up your favorite summer staple, like strappy mule sandals, or feeling fancy, looking to dress up your oversized denim with a pair of fun, sparkly high heels — peeping toes are still seasonally appropriate — and even more so if you have a fresh pedi to show off. The trick is finding a nail polish that's as elevated and chic as whatever you're wearing.

    Ahead, we asked some of Instagram's top nail pros to dish on the pedicure shades that are trending for fall. Check out the picks, give yourself a DIY paint job, and pick your Friday night outfit around your toes.

    At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

    Molton Caramel

    Nail pros Julie Kandalec and Michelle Saunders recommend this pearlescent, burnt orange bronze shade by Essie called, Say It Ain’t Soho. "The look of molten caramel on toes is unexpected yet totally warm and welcoming," explains Kandalec.



    Essie say it ain't soho, $9, available at Essie

    Berry Duochrome

    "This cosmic berry purple-ish duochrome color was an instant eye-catcher for me," says Kandalec. We know why: It's sparkly and chic at the same time.



    Nails Inc. Life Hack Collection - The Unfollower Nail Polish, $11, available at Nails Inc.

    Pastel Pink

    Don't stow away your pale pinks yet, because Saunders tells us that a vibrant pastel pedicure looks super chic with a strappy high heel — especially in the fall.



    Essie essie Nail Color It Takes A West Village , $8.99, available at Target

    Inky Black

    "There’s nothing classier than a shiny black patent leather pedi," says Saunders. "Lights Out by Ella + Mila is a great black polish, the high shine finish makes it look super elegant on the toes."



    Ella + Mila Light's Out, $10.5, available at ella +mila

    Soft Hazelnut

    Nail pro Nadine Abramcyk tells us that Tenoverten's polish in the shade Canal — an opaque pale hazelnut — is the perfect pick for a clean and subtle pedi. Plus, it looks amazing on every skin tone.



    Tenoverten Nail Polish in Canal, $18, available at Tenoverten

    Pinot Noir

    Deep red wine is the shade to wear on a early fall date night, when you can still sneak in an open toe heel. Abramcyk swears by this Chanel polish in Vamp because it has a super soft metallic finish that glistens when it hits the light.



    Chanel LE VERNIS Longwear Nail Colour, $28, available at Chanel

    Forest Green

    Rich emerald green polish is a timeless autumn shade, because it acts as a perfect complement to the red and golden leaves crinkled on the sidewalk. Sauders favorite offering is Smith & Cult's luxe gold-plated bottle in the shade Darjeeling Darling.



    Smith & Cult Smith & Cult Nail Polish, Darjeeling Darling, $18, available at Amazon

    Blood Red

    When all else feels blah and boring, pull out your classic ruby red nail polish. Abramcyk tells us the Christian Louboutin signature pointy polish is the creme de la creme of crimsons. "It's a classic red that knows no season, and looks amazing on all skin tones," she explains.



    Christian Louboutin Rouge Louboutin, $50, available at Sephora

    Creamy Cocoa

    "I'm forever a fan of dark brown polish for fall," says nail pro and Olive & June founder Sarah Gibson Tuttle. "This shade is warm, cozy, and makes me think of hot cocoa."



    Deborah Lippmann Knock On Wood, $20, available at Deborah Lippmann

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    For such a widely respected wardrobe staple, after time, the black blazer can start to feel, well, pretty lackluster. Of course, it's a classic item you're told you have to have — and if you work in a traditional work environment, might even need — but if you're still wearing the same old piece that you bought at your local mall in 2008, you may be due for an upgrade.

    It only takes a few standout variations to restore your faith in this trusted closet essential. Lately, we're seeing everything from tuxedo-inspired cuts to double-breasted fronts, boxier silhouettes, inverted lapels, and even fresh fabrications like silk or velvet. If you're feeling extra bold, you can go for embellishment, or something completely untraditional, like a tie-front. All we're saying is, if the first word you think of when you look at your black blazer is underwhelming, you're not alone. That's why we've found the next best thing.

    Click on for 20 black blazers that will restore your faith in black blazers, we swear.

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    Sure, a new pair of shoes or an "It" bag is nice, but many of us are more wiling to shell out a chunk of our paychecks for quality skin care, all in the name of #iwokeuplikethis status. That said, there are a few things in the way of finding a complexion potion that’ll actually lead you on a path to improving your biggest skin-care issues — namely, lots of confusing marketing jargon, and campaigns that promise flawless complexions but don’t always deliver.

    The pattern seems to go like this: The more effective a product claims to be, the more dollar signs are involved. Serums are some of the most spendy, since time and time again they prove to be the most important part of your routine, as they often pack the most active ingredient and go on first, allowing them to soak in and do the most good.

    Naturally, it takes a lot of research to figure out which serums are worth the splurge. To cut through the B.S., we consulted top dermatologists for direct recommendations. These serums get the clinical green light, and while their campaigns and packaging might be less sexy than your pretty vials or countless bottles of fancy face oil, we have to ask: What’s fancier than a flawless face? That's kind of the whole point, anyway.

    Ahead, the serums that top dermatologists call the most effective — and recommend to their own patients — all organized by skin-care concern.

    Skin Concern: Anti-aging

    This drugstore pick from dermatologist Valerie Goldburt, M.D., proves that great serums don’t have to cost an arm and a leg (but may still be more $$ than other drugstore skin-care products).“My favorite is the Olay Regenerist serum with peptides. It's a low price point compared to the department-store equivalent and actually has benefits for the appearance of fine lines,” Dr. Goldburt says.

    The amino peptide complex and vitamin B3 in this formula are wrinkle-smoothers, while the rest of the formula works to deeply hydrate your skin, so you get renewed surface cells with increased elasticity and plumpness, she says.



    Olay Regenerist Regenerating Serum, $22.99, available at Ulta Beauty

    Many beauty editors refer to this gentle retinol serum as, quite simply, "magic." Formulated by Shani Darden, Hollywood's most in-demand esthetician — whose hands touch the skin of Jessica Alba, Emily Ratajkowski, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and many others — it truly does everything you'd hope a rich-person, in-office resurfacing peel would do for you skin, but with zero irritation. Trusted dermatologists love it, and all of our editors (who vary in skin type, concern, and age), use this baby on the daily.



    Shani Darden Shani Darden Texture Reform™ Gentle Resurfacing Serum, $95, available at Shani Darden

    This serum is a mainstay on Dr. Engelman’s top-shelf list.“Serums with retinol help with cell repair and renewal," she says. "Retinols are a good ingredient for acne (generally of the cystic kind), but also plumping up fine lines and wrinkles." This serum relies on something called advanced Idebenone technology, which tops the list of powerful antioxidants for the most protection and repair of your skin.



    Elizabeth Arden Prevage Anti-Aging Daily Serum, $162, available at Amazon

    With powerhouse antioxidants like vitamin C, aloe juice, and green tea extracts, this serum fights everything from dark spots to acne scars. Even better, people with acne-prone skin may notice a significant decrease in breakouts.



    Ole Henriksen Truth Serum, $48, available at Sephora

    Skin Concern: Dryness

    Chronically dry skin needs more than just the shellac of a thick moisturizer to actually solve the problem — and not just treat the symptoms. One of the top ingredients to do that is hyaluronic acid.

    “What’s great about [hyaluronic acid] is that it doesn’t feel like a heavy moisturizer, but it does the work of one,” says dermatologist Dendy Engelman, M.D. “It helps your skin retain moisture by binding water molecules, holding 1,000 times its weight.”

    Dr. Engelman recommends this serum from Derm Institute for its hydrating power, as well as for its ability to repair and protect, thanks to a ceramide complex, vitamins, and antioxidants, which plump fine lines and combat free radicals from environmental damage.



    Derm Institute Anti-Oxidant Hydration Serum, $120, available at Derm Institute

    This more affordable alternative is great for both sensitive and dry skin. The serum contains hyaluronic acid, as Dr. Engelman recommends, but it also has colloidal oatmeal, peptides, collagen, and aloe, all of which work together to help calm irritated skin.



    First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Face Moisturizer, $24, available at Sephora

    This drugstore option comes highly recommended by dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., for its moisturizing properties and versatility. "It's jam-packed with hyaluronic acid to hydrate, but in a lighter serum formulation that can be easily layered under your other products," he says.



    Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum, $15.29, available at Target

    Skin Concern: Uneven Pigmentation and/or Dullness

    Cosmetic dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank, M.D., touts resveratrol and vitamin C as your best weapons against pigmentation issues, especially when it concerns uneven texture or dullness in skin.

    “Resveratrol is the strongest natural antioxidant that reduces [uneven] pigmentation and protects the skin from further free radical damage,” Dr. Frank explains. He couples that with a disclaimer: “There’s no magic ingredient to make [uneven pigmentation] disappear quickly, as the body continues to make the enzyme that stimulates the production of melanin.”

    He recommends this night serum from Skinceuticals, since it not only keeps pigmentation in check, but firms the skin and corrects fine lines as well. “[It’s] cosmetically elegant and absorbs very well, giving the skin a nice glow,” he says.



    SkinCeuticals Resveratrol B E, $153, available at SkinCeuticals

    This Skinceuticals serum gets a thumbs-up from a handful of the derms we spoke with, including Dr. Engelman, Dr. Frank, and Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi. Pigmentation can come from lifestyle habits like too much sun exposure, smoking, picking at your blemishes, and even genetic predispositions. But the L-ascorbic acid (a highly effective form of vitamin C) is not only great for brightening, it also “contains powerful antioxidants that fight and reverse damage from free radicals that wreck your skin cells,” Dr. Engelman explains.

    Elizabeth Tanzi, M.D., founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and assistant clinical professor, department of dermatology, at the George Washington University Medical Center, cautions against reaching for a one-serum-fits-all product. “Serums are best used for targeted problems," she notes. It’s best to look for stable packaging, as many serums contain antioxidants that are light-sensitive. (This formula is packed in a dark bottle to help combat this.)

    “Not all vitamin C serums are equal or effective,” Dr. Frank adds. “The addition of the ferulic acid in this product helps to stabilize the efficacy of the vitamin C.”



    SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, $166, available at SkinCeuticals

    Jessica Weiser, M.D., of the New York Dermatology Group, recommends Colbert MD’s Stimulate Serum to brighten and enliven skin. “This serum contains glycolic acid and antioxidants, in addition to the anti-inflammatory healing herb, gotu kola,” Dr. Weiser says. “It helps to promote collagen production while simultaneously brightening the skin and reversing signs of free radical damage.”

    Those with sensitive skin will appreciate the anti-inflammatory protection of gotu kola, but if you’ve got an aversion to silicones, just note that this one does contain dimethicone.



    Colbert MD Stimulate - The Serum, $170, available at Net-A-Porter

    The best thing about this antioxidant-packed serum, according to Dr. Zeichner, is its lightweight texture. "You get all the proven benefits you normally would with vitamin C, but in a less greasy formula than we are used to," he says.



    Drunk Elephant C-Firma™ Day Serum, $80, available at Sephora

    Skin Concern: Acne

    When you think about well-known anti-aging ingredients, you probably reach for the retinols. This serum is good starter option, since it contains a mild 0.2% (to avoid that sometimes red, chemical-burn complexion upon first smear), but dermatologist Barry Resnik, M.D., actually recommends this one for treating acne and rosacea, since it uses caffeine, which helps constrict blood vessels, and 90% green tea polyphenols to neutralize free radicals and give your radiance a leg-up. It’s super lightweight, making it perfect for oily or combination skin types.



    Replenix All-trans Retinol Smoothing Serum 2X, $65, available at DermStore

    Keeping acneic skin calm and breakout-free requires a delicate balance, since you don’t want to further clog already-congested pores, but you also don’t want to dry skin out to the point of a flaky mess. One serum that has both fronts covered comes from iS Clinical.

    The Dr. Tanzi-recommended Active Serum, which works for all skin types, is super lightweight, with gentle exfoliators like sugar cane extract, white willow bark extract, and bilberry extract to gently remove dead skin cells. Arbutin and mushroom extract help reduce hyperpigmentation, too.



    iS Clinical Active Serum, $135, available at DermStore

    If you’re on the long road out of acne town, you’re probably hoping to treat existing breakouts and make pigmentation from past acne scars disappear. A serum with L-ascorbic acid, as well as plenty of soothing and anti-inflammatory ingredients, is what you should look for. Dr. Engelman highlights iS Clinical’s Pro-Heal Serum Advance for this express purpose, since it contains plenty of gentle botanical ingredients like olive leaf extract, plus retinols and vitamin E to combat your acne (and fine lines) with plenty of antioxidants.



    iS Clinical Pro-Heal Serum Advance Plus, $148, available at DermStore

    When it comes to picking a serum that will work, Dr. Engelman advises looking at the ingredient ranking. “A red flag for me is when I look at their ingredient list and the active ingredient is at the end, which means the concentration is very little and therefore may not be at its most effective point," she says.

    So, if you’re looking to zap breakouts, make sure those ingredients (i.e., retinols, AHAs, and vitamin C) are near the top, followed by the rest of the supporting cast.



    Dr. Brandt 2% Retinol Complex Serum, $69, available at Ulta Beauty

    Looking for a more budget-friendly choice that's packed with acne-fighting, anti-inflammatory, skin-soothing ingredients? This luxurious oil uses vitamin C, rose extract, and squalane — the latter of which, Dr. Zeichner explains, "is a natural compound that helps protect the skin barrier and prevents irritation from retinol."



    Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil, $72, available at Sephora

    Meet the remedy to all your congested skin problems. The powerful blend of lactic, glycolic, and salicylic acids de-gunk clogged pores with a lightweight formula that can be worn day or night. Bonus: You'll see results after one use.



    Renée Rouleau BHA Clarifying Serum, $49.5, available at Renée Rouleau

    With 1.5% of bacteria-fighting salicylic acid, this face oil was formulated specifically to keep acne away. Ingredients like milk thistle and cucumber seed oil ensure you never have to deal with dryness or irritation.



    Sunday Riley U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil, $80, available at Sephora

    According to Alexander Rivkin, M.D., a Los Angeles-based cosmetic surgeon, those with blemish-prone skin should look for a serum that exfoliates and hydrates. “Drying out acne-prone skin will only make your skin produce more oil,” Rivkin explains. This formula contains niacinamide, peach extract, and a peptide complex, ideal for gently resurfacing skin without drying it out.



    Peach and Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum, $39, available at Peach and Lily

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    It's easy to become infatuated with celebrity tattoos. Whether you have one or not, there's enough Instagram inspiration from famous artists like Dr. Woo and New York's JonBoy to turn anyone into a fan of body art — especially when it's inked on Hollywood's elite.

    But unfortunately, sometimes stars like to keep the meaning of their most personal tattoos on the low, providing an evasive, almost nonexistent explanation behind the design. For the most part, people leave the inspo up to speculation. But if you're tired of guessing and want to know the truth, stick with us.

    From Rihanna to Lady Gaga to Rihanna to Olivia Wilde, we've rounded up a string of celeb tattoo meanings just waiting to answer your questions — ahead.

    Joe Jonas

    The tattoo: Portrait of a woman

    The meaning: Fans think that this minimal design by tattoo artist Curt Montgomery is a tribute to Jonas' future wife and actress Sophie Turner. Some even say it's a reference to a pivotal bathtub scene for Turner's character on Game of Thrones, Sansa Stark.

    Emma Stone

    The tattoo: Bird feet

    The meaning: Back in 2010, Stone and her family found out her mom was cancer-free. So, the daughter/mother duo went out to get matching tattoos. The meaning goes even deeper, though, starting with Emma's love for the Beatles' song "Blackbird" and ending with a custom-designed drawing by Paul McCartney of two blackbird feet.

    Photo: Franziska Krug/Getty Images.

    Jessica Alba

    The tattoo: " Lotus" in Sanskrit

    The meaning: Alba once told Stephen Colbert that her tiny wrist tattoo symbolized the "manifestation of spiritual beauty," adding that she got the tattoo after she broke up with a famous ex.

    Photo: Ignat/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images.

    Selena Gomez

    The tattoo: Arabic script

    The meaning: Loosely translated from Arabic to English, the words means, "Love yourself first." The ink went on to become the most famous on Gomez — and even got it's own place on her Coach bag.

    Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

    Rihanna

    The tattoo: Egyptian goddess, Isis

    The meaning: One of our all-time favorites, Rihanna's chest tattoo is a tribute to her grandmother. After she passed away in 2012, the singer posted a photo of the ink on Instagram with the caption, "Goddess Isis - Complete Woman - Model for future generations - #GRANGRANDOLLY - always in and on my heart #1love."

    Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage.

    Lily Collins

    The tattoo: Woman on a lily pad

    The meaning: Although Collins' explanation remains vague on the specifics, we know from an Instagram post that this particular addition was in tribute to Collins' trip to Korea in 2016.

    Photo: Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

    Harry Styles

    The tattoo: Half-naked mermaid

    The meaning: With over 60 tattoos — and counting — it's nearly impossible to keep up with the singer's body ink. But one comes with a particularly sweet meaning: his mermaid. Once, after a fan asked Styles about the mermaid and why it has its particular body type (re: "saggy boobs") Styles cheekily replied that no one should strive for perfection and love exactly who they are.

    Photo: Terence Patrick/CBS/Getty Images.

    Hilary Duff

    The tattoo: "Take Fountain"

    The meaning: You may not know it, but this is a famous quip from Bette Davis. During an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, the then-host asked Davis about her advice to young actresses: How can they break into the business? She quickly responded, "Take Fountain," referring to Fountain Avenue, a shortcut that leads into the Los Angeles neighborhood.

    Sam Smith

    The tattoo: Two parallel lines

    The meaning: According to a now-deleted Instagram post from Smith two years ago, the scoop on this tattoo is "inspired by one of the oldest tattoos ever found on a mummified body that was found alone in the ice." The more you know...

    Lady Gaga

    The tattoo: A trumpet

    Did you know that Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett made an album together? Did you also know that he also calls her Lady? To commemorate their work together and friendship, Bennett designed an instrumental tattoo for Gaga. In 2014, she got the trumpet inked permanently on her right arm.

    Photo: Scott Legato/Getty Images.

    The tattoo: "Joanne"

    The meaning: Gaga's 2016 album Joanne was inspired by her late aunt with the same name. In honor of the album's launch, Gaga and her father got "Joanne" tattoos — hers on the forearm and his an angel on the shoulder.

    Kesha

    The tattoo: "Live Free"

    The meaning: After an emotionally tumultuous year filled with legal battles and a better practice of self-love, Kesha celebrated her freedom with this badass knuckle tattoo.

    Dakota Johnson

    The tattoo: Wilted flower

    The meaning: No one ever gets a "fucked up" flower tattooed on their body — well, except Johnson. She captioned the photo with an explanation suggesting that imperfections don't diminish your self-worth.

    Billie Lourd

    The tattoo: A cluster of celestial bodies

    The meaning: As a tribute to her late mother, Carrie Fisher, Lourd inked the outer space image on her ankle in reference to Fisher's own similar tattoo.

    Brooklyn Beckham

    The tattoo: "020511"

    The meaning: Each number represents the birth years of all his siblings. Romeo James was born in 2002, Cruz in 2005, and Harper Seven in 2011. Luckily, one quick Instagram fan pointed out another potential meaning behind the tat: David Beckham's birthday is May 2, a reverse of "02" and "05" on Brooklyn's arm.

    Sophia Bush

    The tattoo: A piece of the Golden Record

    The meaning: In honor of putting yet another year to bed, Bush got matching tattoos with her best friends in reference to Carl Sagan's A Pale Blue Dot. Essentially, Bush found the perfect time to permanently ink a life philosophy all about finding home — in the world and in yourself. Deep, right?

    SZA

    The tattoo: Log with one leaf

    The meaning: Fans speculate this is a tribute to her hometown of Maplewood, New Jersey. The Grammy-nominated singer told Complex that growing up in such a small, "quietly affluent" town — that was also predominantly white — made her feel like the one "token Black girl" every day.

    Justin Bieber

    The tattoo: Tiny cross

    The meaning: Although Bieber is far from the first celebrity to get inked with a religious symbol, we couldn't imagine something more fitting for the spiritual celeb. In fact, the tattoo artist behind the design told Refinery29 that he and Bieber prayed before making it happen because the singer was dealing with "such heaviness."

    Beyoncé

    The tattoo: Three dots

    The meaning: Fans assume the three dots represent her three children: Blue Ivy, Rumi, and Sir.

    Olivia Wilde

    The tattoo:A constellation

    The meaning: Wilde captioned the picture of her new tattoo on Instagram, "For my little O," insinuating that the tattoo — which features delicate crescent moons, lines, and stars courtesy of L.A. tattoo artist Doctor Woo — was in honor of her son with Jason Sudeikis, Otis.

    Instagram

    Lucy Hale

    The tattoo: "I love you"

    The meaning: In July, Hale got a matching tattoo with her sister in her grandmother's handwriting. She co-signed a photo of the new ink with this caption, "Nothing says sisterly bonding more than permanently tattooing your body. After years of wanting our grandmothers writing, we did it! Our Grammy was our favorite person & now she’s even more a part of us. Also, my sister is a badass who raises two kids, teaches combat classes, AND goes on tattoo runs with her baby sister ?? Also, ouch. This one hurt."

    Kylie Jenner (& Travis Scott)

    The tattoo: A butterfly

    The meaning: Not long after giving birth to her first daughter, Jenner got a tiny matching tattoo with boyfriend Scott: a butterfly on their ankles. Some thought the image was a clue to their daughter's name (before it was revealed), while others still guess that it's inspired by Scott's song "Butterfly Effect."

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    After my first job at MTV working as a music programmer, I can't stop trying to matchmake people with music they might like. So, I wrote a book calledRecord Collecting for Girls and started interviewing musicians. The Music Concierge is a column where I share music I'm listening to that you might enjoy, with a little context. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook, or leave me a comment below and tell me what you're listening to this week.

    Cher Lloyd "None of My Business"

    Damn, Cher Lloyd has grown up. With her new single, the UK singer takes some giant running steps away from her persona as the brattiest chick in the game and turns in an excellent song about being petty on Instagram. The change may be down to working with Hitimpulse, a German production team who are bringing some of that Soundcloud pop vibe to Lloyd's style. Or it might just be that Lloyd is a lot more grown up than she was following her X Factor days. Either way, it's nice that she kept a little side eye on the track.

    Madame Gandhi "Bad Habits"

    I have got to check my horoscope and see what planet is passing through a house that is making this song about an emotional purge so appealing to me. Everything Madame Gandhi is singing about here, about giving yourself an emotional makeover and letting go of self-destructive behaviors, is seriously helping to set my intentions for next week. Adding this one to the get motivated playlist for my next attempt at a world takeover.

    Jane Ellen Bryant "Too Smooth"

    There's something about mixing country music with modern guitars and distortion that I cannot resist. Jane Ellen Bryant's track is equal parts '70s rock and countrypolitan, but somehow she adds just enough disco to keep it from going to a predictable place that too much of today's country lives in. Now that's a cool girl vibe.

    Empress Of "I Don't Even Smoke Weed"

    Add Empress Of's newest album to your weekend playlist if you love this track as much as I do. Those high pitched synths lend the track an island feel, but the off-kilter production makes sure that island is less tropical and more Manhattan. This is a study in doing a lot with a little, musically.

    Summer Walker "Girls Need Love"

    Slip into the gorgeous haze of longing that Summer Walker creates with this slow jam. It's not romantic as much as it is lethargic, the feel of someone who is just being honest and not chasing that feeling. Rather, she's just putting it out there into the universe, plainly, to see what comes back. It creates an air of confidence that's missing in so much new R&B from women, and I am going to keep it on repeat to remind myself that you can want love, be lonely, and still be cool.

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    Though it’s perpetually jean season, cooler weather calls for old favorite standby looks — such as the classic denim-and-sweater combo we so love and missed. It’s the perfect fall outfit because it’s confident without trying too hard and easy to wear without looking sloppy. It’s the kind of ensemble that makes me feel cozy inside and out.

    And personally speaking, nothing’s better than a pair of comfortable jeans that I can move in all day. I’m talking about feel-great stretch denim that lifts my booty, hugs my hips, and gives me that little boost of confidence. Luckily, I’ve been tipped that the latest NYDJ denim collection is infused with LYCRA® dualFX® technology. The lineup proves that it's what's inside your jeans that really matters, because they’re not just comfortable, they hold their shape all day long.

    Ahead are five outfits I encourage you to try, featuring different styles of jeans with LYCRA® dualFX® technology from NYDJ. Whether you’re into classic black skinnies or indigo-blue bootcuts, there are a million ways to wear these staples with autumnal knits. And you can top off your picks with your favorite pumpkin-flavored beverage, too, if that’s your thing.

    Leather Weather

    A pair of stretch skinny jeans is one of the most versatile and reliable pieces you can own — and even more so when it’s flexible, soft, and flattering from all angles. For a simple look, wear a lightweight crop sweater on top. Kitten-heel mules add a cute lift, and a small handled bag is perfect for those still-warm-enough days. And when everyone else will be wearing a moto jacket, try a fresh belted silhouette instead.



    NYDJ Ami Skinny Jean, $119, available at NYDJ

    Zara Cropped Ribbed Sweater, $39.9, available at Zara

    Mango Pockets Leather Jacket, $249.99, available at Mango

    Simon Miller Bonsai Mini Bucket Bag, $390, available at Shopbop

    3.1 Phillip Lim Agatha Mule, $395, available at Nordstrom

    BaubleBar Pendant Necklace, $42, available at Nordstrom

    Wild Thing

    A solid pair of jeans that stays stretchy all day is a true blessing when you want to do the one-hand tuck with your sweater. Try it with a slightly oversized knit, tucked in casually at the front for a hint of waist definition. The special two-fiber combo in the jeans provides extra flexibility so the look holds up. Polish off the ensemble with white sneakers and tortoise-shell sunglasses.



    NYDJ Marilyn Straight Jeans, $119, available at NYDJ

    Loeffler Randall Dolly Bucket Bag, $295, available at Loeffler Randall

    Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Sneakers, $65, available at Shopbop

    Le Specs Outta Love, $59, available at Le Specs

    Modern Citizen 14K Gold Threaded Bead Hoop Earrings, $60, available at Modern Citizen

    London Calling

    The thing about black skinny jeans is that there’s a risk they won’t look as fitted or saturated after a couple wears, but this pair won’t sag, even after many washes. For a misty day, anchor your entire look with classic stretchy black skinnies, a creamy sweater on top (voluminous sleeves are more fun, FYI), and pointy animal-print booties. Slick off any wetness with a clear raincoat and a fisherman hat.



    NYDJ Ami Skinny Jean, $139, available at NYDJ

    Ganni The Julliard Mohair Puff Sleeve Pullover, $450, available at Ganni

    Rains Glossed-TPU raincoat, $215, available at Net-A-Porter

    Aldo Wiema, $130, available at Aldo

    Everlane The Form Bag, $235, available at Everlane

    Brixton Kurt Corduroy Fisherman Hat, $42, available at Urban Outfitters

    Technicolor Dreamgirl

    If you need extra leg room from skinny styles, opt for a pair of shaping high-waisted bootcut jeans instead. This technicolor stripe turtleneck sweater looks streamlined even when tucked fully into the jeans. Select a single hue from the sweater (in this case, think pink), and match your accessories accordingly. Polish the outfit with crisp white booties.



    NYDJ Barbara Bootcut Jean, $139, available at NYDJ

    Paper London Dolly Striped Pullover, $305, available at Intermix

    J.W. Anderson Disc Leather Cross-Body Bag, $1455, available at MatchesFashion.com

    Sam Edelman Hilty Booties, $160, available at Shopbop

    Monochromatic Chic

    Though these straight-leg jeans seem highly saturated, the fit is still buttery-smooth, stretchy, and lifting — not stiff how other overdyed jeans often are. The blueness of the jeans can be the foundation color, but round out the rest of the look with monochrome pieces for contrast. Layer a coatigan over a sleeveless turtleneck, and top things off with a beanie for good measure. Got high-top boots? Be sure to wear a flexible jean that will allow you to roll up the hems with ease, so your footwear can shine.



    NYDJ Marilyn Straight Jean, $109, available at NYDJ

    Topshop Monochrome Striped Cardigan, $75, available at Topshop

    J.Crew 365 Stretch Sleeveless Turtleneck Ribbed Sweater, $59.5, available at J.Crew

    Dr. Martens Aimelya Chelsea Boots, $140, available at Shopbop

    Staud Mini Shirley Bag, $195, available at Staud

    Bershka Join Life Beanie, $9.9, available at Bershka

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