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Refinery29

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    From free lipsticks on National Lipstick Day to a super sale at Macy's, we can always count on MAC Cosmetics to consistently bless us with discounts throughout the year. And it seems the brand saved the best for last with its 2018 Black Friday and Cyber Monday offerings. Even better, you don't have to leave your turkey-induced stupor to cash in on the deals.

    From November 21 to November 29, MAC will be slashing prices by 25% and even throwing in full-sized gifts with purchase. That's over a week of snagging discounts from the popular makeup brand. The sales will change as the days go on, but to make your shopping experience easier (and to make sure you get your hands on your favorite items before they sell out), we've rounded up the best deals from MAC's Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale, ahead.

    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.

    Starting November 21 until the end of the Cyber Monday, a large majority of products in MAC stores and online will be 25% off, like this mascara that curls even the straightest of lashes. Unfortunately, there are certain products that didn't make the sale cut, like the Shiny Pretty Things collection, but that's what holiday wish lists are for.



    MAC Cosmetics Up For Everything Lash Mascara, $24, available at mac cosmetics

    And to keep all that new makeup in its rightful place (on your face), you'll be happy to know that this pro-approved gem will also be 25% off. It's especially soothing during the harsh winter months.



    MAC Cosmetics Prep + Prime Fix+, $26, available at mac cosmetics

    If you're looking to complete your festive look for the holidays, go for the cult classic Ruby Woo lipstick. It comes in at just under $15 with the discount, and looks good on everyone.



    MAC Cosmetics Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo, $15.72, available at mac cosmetics

    When you shop on the website (not in stores) on Cyber Monday, not only will the products be 25% off, but you will also get a free full -size eye shadow with your purchase. Because what's a holiday look without a smoky eye?



    MAC Cosmetics Eye Shadow, $17, available at mac cosmetics

    And the party doesn't stop there, so save some room in your shopping budget. On the 28th, the brand will be giving away a free Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolour (a $21 value) with any $65 purchase in stores and online. The deal will go on until the end of the following day, November 29.



    MAC Cosmetics Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolour, $21, available at mac cosmetics

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    Class is in session, kids. The newly elected members of the 116th Congress arrived in Washington, D.C. this week for the start of their congressional orientation, and some of the congresswomen-elect are already making a splash.

    Progressive darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose upset in the NY-14 primary led her to become the youngest congresswoman in history, made headlines Tuesday when she joined environmental activists protesting outside of Rep. Nancy Pelosi's office. One of the demands was for House members to create a Green New Deal addressing climate change. Ocasio-Cortez told reporters: "This is not about personality, this is not about rebuke, this is not about confrontation — it’s about making sure that we are getting the job done."

    The move is just another reminder that the new House class is of a different political breed. Thanks in great part to the gains made by Democrats, the incoming Congress is set to be the most female, most diverse ever, both racially and ideologically. (For example, more than 100 women won their races across the country.) The class is full of members making history: youngest congresswoman, first Indigenous women and first Muslim women elected to Congress, first Latinas representing Texas, first openly bisexual woman representing California, first Black women to represent Massachusetts and Connecticut, first Ecuadorean-American in the House, and the list goes on and on.

    Nothing exemplified this more than a viral photo of elected Reps. Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Ocasio-Cortez at VoteRunLead's Women & Power: National Town Hall. The photo, posted by Ocasio-Cortez with the caption "Squad," served as a reminder that the incoming House class will look more like America than ever before. And that's a good thing.

    "We love that this photo is being recognized as #SquadGoals because that is exactly what women bring to government. They band together to get things done," Erin Vilardi, CEO and founder of the nonprofit organization, said in a statement to Refinery29. "That’s why VoteRunLead is building squads like this in every state across America, because we know that when women come together, our democracy works better for everyone. And those are #SquadGoals we all should have."

    Of course, not everyone has been excited about the new congresswomen. On Tuesday, Fox News host Laura Ingraham dedicated a 10-minute segment to criticize the four Democrats. Ingraham, whose racist dog whistles are infamous, called them "the four horsewomen of the apocalypse" and accused them of having "the most radical views in Congress" — such as calling for Medicare for All and tuition-free colleges.

    Regardless of the criticism, the incoming class is having the time of their lives during orientation. In many ways, the two-week long affair (with a Thanksgiving break in the middle) is almost like being a freshman in college. New members meet their colleagues, get temporary IDs that will be replaced with House pins once they are sworn in this coming January, and take the opportunity to look for housing in the city. The biennial tradition includes nonpartisan seminars, in which the members learn the basics of becoming a congressperson, and receptions, i.e. code for a ton of parties.

    The orientation also makes it real for people that they're going to be sitting in Congress, one would argue even more so than Election Night. And the women who got elected are savoring every moment. Congresswoman-elect Abby Finkenauer of Iowa wrote on Twitter: "Just walked onto the floor of the US House of Representatives for the first time as a member-elect. I sat there in gratitude and respect for my home, my state, my district and the work that lies ahead. I walked out looking up to that quote. Fitting. So much hope. Ready to serve."

    Lauren Underwood, the first Black person and first woman to represent IL-14, shared a similar picture on Twitter. She wrote: "Excited to get to work alongside new colleagues like Kendra Horn (Oklahoma's 5th District). So honored to walk onto the floor of the House as your congresswoman-elect — teared up during the Pledge of Allegiance."

    The new crop of representatives will have a ton of work come January. With Democrats in control of the House and Republicans in control of the Senate and White House, there are questions of what policies will be able to get through the 116th Congress. Nevertheless, many of the representatives-elect have made it clear they're ready to fulfill their promise to serve the people, regardless of the internal squabble that has characterized Congress for a long time.

    On Wednesday, the freshmen members gathered together outside of the U.S. Capitol to take their class photo. The number of diverse members was striking, reminding us it's a new day at Capitol Hill.

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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.

    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.

    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

    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

    The packaging might be minimalist (and, relatedly, very chic), but this gel does the most. Thanks to a unique formula specifically created to fight adult acne, the combination of retinol, turmeric, and niacinamide works to unclog pores, regulate oil production, and reduce inflammation — without triggering dryness or sensitivity.



    Verso Blemish Fix, $90, available at Barneys New York

    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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    It's a blustery October night, and I'm meeting with Anna Grindrod-Feeny for a tarot reading. We sit together in the dim evening light, huddled over a table in a quiet corner of my empty office. Anna sets three different tarot decks onto the table and tells me to choose the deck that resonates with me most. After looking through the cards’ intricate designs, I eventually select a beautiful blue stack of cards called the Prisma Visions deck. With that, Anna begins to shuffle.

    Anna and I first met at Precious Metal, a small bar in Bushwick, Brooklyn, where she reads tarot on most Friday nights. It was there that Anna gave me my first-ever tarot reading. I still remember being struck by its eery accuracy; at the time I had a lot of existential questions floating around in my mind, and Anna’s interpretation of the cards helped me to distill them into a focused clarity. This time, however, I am looking for insight on something more specific: my career.

    Anna does career readings all the time, she tells me, whether it’s someone unsure about taking a new job, feeling stuck in a current one, trying to decide between two offers, or wondering when to ask for a promotion.

    “In my opinion, this is what tarot is best at,” Anna says, expertly sifting the cards between her hands. “It’s more of a tool than anything, it’s about tapping into your own subconscious and what you’re already thinking or need to hear. It provides a framework for you to sort through it.”

    Tonight, I'm less concerned about a specific job question, but I'm curious about my bigger career picture. Like many millennials, I don't identify as only one thing — I am a journalist, a writer, an illustrator, an artist — and sometimes, knowing how to nurture each of these distinct facets can be a challenge. As someone with an atypical career path (I was a freelancer and entrepreneur for the majority of my career and recently transitioned into a full-time role) and with multiple interests, I decide to ask the cards: How should I balance the pursuit of a multi-faceted, non-linear career path?

    Tarot is more of a tool than anything, it’s about tapping into your own subconscious and what you’re already thinking or need to hear.

    As I ask the question, Anna begins to spread the shuffled cards out across the table into what she calls a ten-card clarifying spread. I ask her about how targeted readings differ from more open-ended readings. “Questions help you interpret the cards,” Anna says. “And the spread influences what story you’re telling. This one delves into the real-world considerations of things and gets into the ‘what do you need to do about this’ aspect of a question.”

    Each of the ten cards Anna lays down stands for a different aspect of my life pertaining to my question: The situation I am in, my subconscious priority, my conscious priority, what I think will help me, what I think will hinder me, what will actually help and hinder me, and what my next steps are. As Anna goes through each of the cards and explains their significance, I find myself paying close attention to how each of the cards makes me feel. “You should take your first impressions seriously,” Anna cautions.

    Among the insight that arises from the spread of ten cards, I am able to glean several pearls of wisdom. According to the cards, my conscious priority is currently dictated by the six of wands, which suggests that I am on the right path. It also suggests that I need to take time to reflect not only on what I would like to do and where I would like to go in the future, but also on all of the things I've accomplished already.

    I am struck by the cards that represent what will actually help and hinder me: The five of pentacles in reverse and the lovers. The first card — representing what will help me — reminds me that I have more tools at my disposal than what I might think. It encourages me to remember what I have instead of what I lack, and how to use these things to get closer to my goals.

    The lovers — which speak to what will hinder me — is a major arcana card (representing a major energetic shift), suggesting that I need to learn to find balance within myself and with those around me. “You don’t want to be too focused on finding the perfect thing right now,” Anna explains. “Be okay with being in the gestation phase. Expecting perfection will hinder you.”

    The last piece of advice comes from the final card in the spread: The four of pentacles. This card represents a natural pause. “It’s the idea that you’ve reached a certain level of security, a certain place that you’ve wanted to reach,” Anna says. However, she cautions that this card means that I should not be afraid to take risks for fear of losing what I’ve built or the money I’ve saved.

    ”You have to be willing to let go of some of the security you’ve built for yourself and set new goals,” she continues, surveying the spread. “You must move on with the understanding that when you take risks you wind up opening yourself up to more abundance than you could have ever imagined.”

    My first career tarot reading strikes several chords within me, but I'm especially moved by the idea that I should focus on the things that bring me joy. My spread is littered with chalices and, therefore, rooted in the emotionality of my work. Because of this, Anna warns me not to get so swept up in my feelings that I disregard the practical side of things. The cards also remind me that it’s never good to hold so tightly to things that I no longer push myself out of my comfort zone. “Don’t be afraid to risk something to start something new or continue growing,” Anna adds.

    Ultimately, coming away from this reading, I am reminded that we often hold the answers to our biggest questions within ourselves. Anna makes it clear to me that whatever realizations I extracted from this reading are the right ones. No matter what a spread suggests, a tarot reading is, in many ways, a mirror to your own subconscious. For this reason, it's best to go into tarot readings with an open mind and a clear understanding of yourself.

    “When people come to me and ask ‘should I quit my job or should I stay?’ they usually already kind of know what they want to do,” Anna says with a smirk. “This is what tarot is best for: Channelling yourself back to you.”

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    The wait is finally over - America's favorite unofficial holiday has finally landed. The Friday after Thanksgiving never fails to see thousands of people in their Turkey induced comas lining outside of store fronts at 5 a.m., fingers furiously typing in credit card numbers, and bank accounts slowly depleting as retailers announce their mega mark-ups for the national sale day. Seasoned sale shoppers can expect this year to be no different.

    If there's one thing we've learned over the years, it's that Black Friday sales never really wait until Black Friday. Itching to get a good discount before you consume mass amounts of stuffing? Nordstrom, Amazon, and Target are here to help you out with that.

    Good things come to those who wait, however. Even if you don't have to wait as long as November 23. Ahead, we're putting together an ever evolving list of the best Black Friday sales (and the best Cyber Monday sales) to study, bookmark, and shop.

    So enough chit-chat, we know you just came here to barrel through a list of discounts. Without further ado, our annual A to Z guide to Black Friday's best fashion sales.

    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.

    11 Honoré
    Dates: 11/23 - 12/3
    Sale: VIP early access to exclusive designer styles available for up to 70% off retail price
    Promo Code: Sign up for VIP access on 11honore.com to receive exclusive link to shop

    Dates: 11/26 - 12/3
    Sale: General public access to exclusive designer styles available for up to 70% off retail price
    Promo Code: None



    Brandon Maxwell Ribbed Double Lapel Jacket, $1097.5, available at 11 Honore

    Brandon Maxwell Wide Leg Pants, $497.5, available at 11 HonorePhoto Courtesy of 11 Honoré.

    3x1
    Dates: 11/23 - 11/25
    Sale: Take an additional 20% off sale items; 50% off spring, summer, and pre-fall styles
    Promo Code: BFSALE



    3x1 W4 Adeline Split Flare Leia, $137.5, available at 3x1Photo Courtesy of 3x1.

    Alala
    Dates: 11/21
    Sale: 30% off site-wide; 40% off $500+, 50% off $1000+
    Promo Code: BLACKOUT18



    Alala Stance Hoodie, $145, available at AlalaPhoto Courtesy of Alala.

    Alternative Apparel
    Dates: 11/22 - 11/25
    Sale: 30% off site-wide
    Promo Code: THANKS30



    Alternative Apparel Champ Eco-Teddy Sweatshirt, $58, available at Alternative ApparelPhoto Courtesy of Alternative Apparel.

    Anine Bing
    Dates: 11/17 - 11/22; 11/23 - 11/26
    Sale: Up to 70% off; Up to 70% off sale + classic styles added
    Promo Code: None



    Anine Bing Rosemary Silk Slip, $499, available at Anine BingPhoto Courtesy of Anine Bing.

    AUrate
    Dates: 11/22 - 11/25
    Sale: 25% off site-wide
    Promo Code: BLACK25



    Aurate Huggie With Bezel, $480, available at AuratePhoto Courtesy of Aurate.

    BackBeatRags
    Dates: 11/23 - 11/26
    Sale: Spend $100 get 25% off; spend $150 get 30% off; spend $200 and over get 35% off
    Promo Code: None



    Back Beat Rags Sky Organic Cotton Rib Mock Neck, $55, available at Back Beat RagsPhoto Courtesy of Back Beat Rags.

    Bagatiba
    Dates:
    11/22 - 11/26 (9p.m. EST)
    Sale:
    40% off site-wide; best selling Gold Hollow Hoops will be $50
    Promo Code:
    BFCM40



    Bagatiba Gold Hollow Hoops, $180, available at BagatibaPhoto Courtesy of Bagatiba.

    Baldwin
    Dates:
    11/21 - 11/25
    Sale:
    35% off; additional 20% off outerwear
    Promo Code:
    None

    Dates: 11/23
    Sale: Additional 20% off jeans
    Promo Code: None



    Baldwin The Leonore Coat, $598, available at BaldwinPhoto Courtesy of Baldwin.

    Ban.do
    Dates:
    11/22 - 11/27
    Sale:
    30% off sire-wide (excluding Iconery)
    Promo Code:
    THIRTYOFF



    ban.do Boob Bath Mat, $60, available at ban.doPhoto Courtesy of Ban.do.

    Basic Swim
    Dates:
    11/22 - 11/26 (9p.m. EST)
    Sale:
    40% off site-wide
    Promo Code:
    BFCM40



    Basic Swim La Premiere Top, $38, available at Basic Swim

    Basic Swim La Premiere Bottom, $38, available at Basic SwimPhoto Courtesy of Basic Swim.

    Blundstone
    Dates:
    11/21 - 11/26
    Sale:
    15% off all purchases
    Promo Code:
    GIVETHX



    Blundstone Super 550 Boots, $199.95, available at BlundstonePhoto Courtesy of Blundstone.

    Charles & Keith
    Dates:
    11/23 - 11/27
    Sale:
    Up to 50% off sale items; 20% off regular priced items
    Promo Code:
    None



    Charles & Keith Square Toe Block Heel Boots, $79, available at Charles & KeithPhoto Courtesy of Charles & Keith.

    Chinese Laundry
    Dates:
    11/21 - 11/23
    Sale:
    30% off site-wide excluding best seller items
    Promo Code:
    HOLIDAY



    Chinese Laundry Sonya Bootie, $84.99, available at Chinese LaundryPhoto Courtesy of Chinese Laundry.

    Cole Haan
    Dates:
    11/18 - 11/24
    Sale:
    50% off 400+ boots, Grand Styles, bags & outerwear; Plus 30% off everything else
    Promo Code:
    None

    Photo Courtesy of Cole Haan.

    Commando
    Dates:
    11/18 -11/27
    Sale:
    $50 off when you spend $200
    Promo Code:
    None



    Commando 100% Silk Long Sleeve Sleep Shirt, $178, available at CommandoPhoto Courtesy of Commando.

    Ellos
    Dates:
    11/21 - 11/24
    Sale: 25% off site-wide; free shipping/returns on orders over $49
    Promo Code: None



    Ellos Short Hooded Puffer, $74.9, available at EllosPhoto Courtesy of Ellos.

    Frances Valentine
    Dates:
    11/19 - 11/26
    Sale:
    30% off orders of $200 or more; Excludes Kate bags and preorder items
    Promo Code:
    FVGIFTS30



    Frances Valentine Small Rainbow Fringe Bucket Bag, $245, available at Frances ValentinePhoto Courtesy of Frances Valentine.

    Freya
    Dates:
    11/21 - 11/26
    Sale:
    30% off site-wide
    Promo Code:
    None



    Freya Mini Poppy Round Leather Bag, $650, available at FreyaPhoto Courtesy of Freya.

    Genuine People
    Dates:
    11/19 - 11/26
    Sale:
    30% off site-wide
    Promo Code:
    TAKE30



    Genuine People Belted Wool Wrap Coat, $395, available at Genuine PeoplePhoto Courtesy of Genuine People.

    Gola
    Dates:
    11/23 - 11/27
    Sale:
    30% off site-wide
    Promo Code:
    None



    Gola Coaster Satin Neon, $65, available at GolaPhoto Courtesy of Gola.

    Gorjana
    Dates:
    11/22 - 11/24
    Sale:
    Spend $100 get $20 off; spend $150 get $50 off; spend $250 get $100 off
    Promo Code:
    None



    Gorjana Compass Coin Necklace, $15, available at GorjanaPhoto Courtesy of Gorjana.

    Hat Attack
    Dates:
    11/21 - 11/28
    Sale:
    20% off site-wide; Excluding Made in the USA styles
    Promo Code:
    None



    Hat Attack Wicker Small Basket, $104, available at Hat AttackPhoto Courtesy of Hat Attack.

    Herschel Supply
    Dates:
    11/23
    Sale:
    $10 off orders of $70+; $30 off orders of $120+; $50 off orders of $160+
    Promo Code:
    None



    Herschel Supply Co. Sherpa Vest, $129.99, available at Herschel Supply CoPhoto Courtesy of Herschel.

    Jeu Illimite
    Dates:
    11/22 - 11/26 (9p.m. EST)
    Sale:
    40% off site-wide
    Promo Code:
    BFCM40



    Jeu Illimité Vino High-Waisted Trouser, $210, available at Jeu IllimitéPhoto Courtesy of Jeu Illimité.

    Keds
    Dates:
    11/20 - 11/27
    Sale:
    30% off full priced orders; 20% off sale; free gift with purchase
    Promo Code:
    None



    Keds IWD Triple Shimmer, $24.95, available at KedsPhoto Courtesy of Keds.

    Koral
    Dates:
    11/23 - 11/25
    Sale:
    Up to 60% off SALE
    Promo Code:
    None



    Koral Pump Pullover, $87, available at KoralPhoto Courtesy of Koral.

    Kurt Lyle
    Dates:
    11/23 - 11/26
    Sale:
    25% off site-wide; a signed print from George and Raphael Greaves of Printed Goods for all orders over $300
    Promo Code:
    ART25



    Rachel Antonoff Margaret Tea Dress, $328, available at Kurt LylePhoto Courtesy of Kurt Lyle.

    Land of Distraction
    Dates:
    11/23
    Sale:
    40% off site-wide
    Promo Code:
    None



    Land of Distraction Tommy Jacket, $695, available at Land of DistractionPhoto Courtesy of Land of Distraction.

    Le Point
    Dates:
    11/22 - 11/27
    Sale:
    25% off all full price items
    Promo Code:
    SHOPSMALL



    Ganni Julliard Mohair Sweater, $440, available at Le PointPhoto Courtesy of Le Point.

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    You already know it's borderline criminal to sleep on a good Target sale. On any ordinary Wednesday, you can walk in, grab a six-pack of paper towels for 50% off, plus a tube of toothpaste, and a pack of gum at checkout, and call yourself a bargain shopper. But when it comes to the biggest discount day of the entire calendar year (aka Black Friday) our favorite retail store truly ups the ante.

    Here's proof: Target just announced its 2018 Black Friday beauty offers — and it's a BOGO steal on every single holiday beauty gift set you can reach on the shelves. Yes, all the shiny, new holiday gift sets, the ones that launched just a few weeks ago, will be buy one, get one 50% off on Black Friday. You can mix and match sets of equal or lesser value, or buy two of the same kit (give one to your mom, keep one for yourself).

    From a rose butter-infused Love Beauty & Planet in-shower essentials kit to Essie's most festive glitter nail polishes, find the best Black Friday Target deals, ahead.

    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.

    If you buy another set for a friend, you can get a full-sized bottle of Kristin Ess' Soft Shine Wave Spray plus a chic gold barrette for just $7.



    Kristin Ess Soft Shine Beach Wave Spray + Metallic Bar Clip, $14, available at Target

    In the dry season, you can't go wrong with the gift of body lotion, hand cream, and lip balm — especially when they come packaged all together in a pretty pink box.



    eos Limited Edition Coconut Milk Berry Blossom Gift Set, $7.99, available at Target

    Give four sheet masks to your BFF who's been super stressed, and she'll have no idea that they cost you a buck each.



    Yes To Yes To Merry And Masking Skincare Set - 5ct, $9.99, available at Target

    If your go-to glitter nail polish is old — and getting goopy — stock up some shiny new bottles while they're cheap.



    Essie essie Nail Polish Kit White - 0.8oz, $12.99, available at Target

    Love Beauty & Planet has managed to bottle up the most luxurious soft rose fragrance and infuse it into this entire in-shower essentials collection (shampoo, conditioner, body wash). You'll go through these so fast, you might want to go ahead and just buy two sets now.



    Love Beauty and Planet Hair Care Set - Murumuru Butter and Rose, $14.99, available at Target

    Need to gift makeup to your cousin who loves a silver smoky eye and your mom who owns the "no-makeup" look? You can't go wrong with this rainbow of eyeshadows, blush palettes, and shimmery highlighters that can be mixed and matched to suit any style.



    Pixi Pixi Cosmetic Set Medium - 2.87oz, $32, available at Target

    We've said it once, and we'll say it again: A fresh, clean makeup brush set is the best beauty gift you can give.



    Eco Tools EcoTools Winter Wonder Travel Kit - 5pc, $14.99, available at Target

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    Winter is coming, which means it's time to dust off your parka, pull out your coziest socks, and prepare for cuffing season. Or for those already in committed 'ships, proposal season. According to Weddingwire.com, 40% of engagements take place between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day — but we all know this time of year can be expensive AF as it is, and adding an engagement ring to the mix can throw a pretty big wrench in your end-of-year budget.

    According to research conducted by online jewelry company Engage Studio, 51% of Americans believe you should spend less than $3,000 on an engagement ring, and 30% believe you should spend less than $1,000. So what's the magic number? Is the "three months' salary" rule still a thing? Is buying a ring worth going into debt for?

    We asked, and you answered. Ahead, 10 millennial women share the costs of their rings, and how much they think is the right amount to spend.

    Name: Katie
    Location: Nashville, TN
    Salary: $68,000
    Partner's Salary: $56,000
    Cost Of Engagement Ring: $1,300

    What do you think is an appropriate amount to spend, and why?

    "Less than $2,000. We ended up having a small wedding a few months ago, but even small weddings cost money. Now we're in the process of buying a house. I told my fiancé that I would much rather have him put money towards our house down payment than spend it on a piece of jewelry, so I chose a moissanite ring, and I was able to get the cut and size I wanted without spending too much.

    "Don't get caught up in the hype around engagement rings — people will give you all kinds of advice: that you have to spend X amount on it because it's a symbol of your love. But at the end of the day, it's the marriage itself that's important, not the ring or the wedding."

    Name: Chelsea
    Location: Tampa, FL
    Salary: $45,000
    Partner's Salary: $60,000
    Cost Of Engagement Ring: $70

    What do you think is an appropriate amount to spend, and why?

    "Honestly, I want to believe that it's whatever both people agree on ahead of time, but I've seen people desire a ring that is so far beyond their means that they take out lines of credit and loans to afford it. That's just absurd! Start your lives together on the right financial foot and only get something that makes sense for where you are financially.

    "For my now-husband and I, we're aggressively paying off student loan debt, so I proposed to him with a handcrafted wooden ring I got on Etsy for under $100. My wedding ring was $350 and made out of silver and moonstone. Don't fall for the 'diamonds are forever' nonsense. Eventually, you'll want something else or want to upgrade. Life is too short to being paying off engagement ring debt."

    Name: Jessica
    Location: Chicago, IL
    Salary: $76,000
    Partner's Salary: $109,000
    Cost Of Engagement Ring: $12,500

    What do you think is an appropriate amount to spend, and why?

    "It really does depend on the style of ring you want, what's important to you both, and what you are prepared to budget for, but I would say around $10,000 for a ring that you are having made custom. I didn't know cost until after my husband proposed, but he is amazing about saving and wanted the ring to match a picture I had shown him years ago."

    Name: Aly
    Location: St. Louis, MO
    Salary: $55,000
    Partner's Salary: $65,000
    Cost Of Engagement Ring: $4,300

    What do you think is an appropriate amount to spend, and why?

    "It should be proportional to your cash flow (not necessarily your income). We chose this amount to spend because we could pay the majority of it in cash on the spot. I have high debt from school, and we are trying to pay down debt while building savings, so it didn't make sense to spend a ton of money on a ring. And with a lot of jewelers offering 110% value towards an 'upgraded' center stone in the future, it you ever want to get a more valuable ring, you can."

    Name: Amy
    Location: Los Angeles, CA
    Salary: $123,600
    Partner's Salary: $165,000
    Cost Of Engagement Ring: $700

    What do you think is an appropriate amount to spend, and why?

    "At the time, my fiancé (now husband) and I were both grad students. I made $80,000 working full-time during grad school and my husband worked part-time and made about $30,000. I didn't have any loans, but my husband was going to be about $200,000 deep after graduating, and the ring just wasn't a priority, especially for me.

    "He got a moissanite ring online and used a coupon to save an extra $100, which I'm all for. No one can tell the difference unless I tell them it's not a diamond. I've shared with some people though that it's a moissanite, and I've gotten some rude/strange reactions, even years later. Some outright said that I should ask for a better ring, or asked if deep down I really want a real diamond. We've been married for four years now, and I still have my ring, though I had it reset (which cost $200) on a different band that I'm very happy with. I could easily upgrade to a much pricier ring, but I choose not to — I've saved $100,000 over the last three years, and my husband is paying down his loans quickly."

    Name: Chloe
    Location: Colorado
    Salary: $79,200
    Partner's Salary: $80,000
    Cost Of Engagement Ring: $2,300

    What do you think is an appropriate amount to spend, and why?

    "I think between $1,000 and $5,000 is an appropriate amount. Anything under that, and the ring is probably not very high quality material and will need constant cleaning and repairing, which will make it just as expensive in the long run. Anything over that and you're just asking for it to get stolen. I am personally uncomfortable with having really valuable things on my person, so even the cost of my ring makes me feel weird."

    Name: Margaret
    Location: Los Angeles, CA
    Salary: $110,000
    Partner's Salary: $350,000
    Cost Of Engagement Ring: $30,000 (I had no say on the budget — my husband purchased my ring based on some very loose design parameters I had set, but he went a carat over what I thought was reasonable (not complaining!) and spent more than I expected he would. Thinking about it now, 10% of his salary (he was making around $300,000 then) was definitely appropriate. But at the time, I couldn’t fathom him spending more than $20,000 on a ring.)

    What do you think is an appropriate amount to spend, and why?

    "The old 'three months' salary' rule of thumb is outdated and a bit unrealistic, in my opinion. I think anywhere between 8-15% of one’s annual salary is appropriate."

    Name: Cat
    Location: North Carolina
    Salary: $52,000
    Partner's Salary: $55,000
    Cost Of Engagement Ring: $500 for a ring from an estate jeweler

    What do you think is an appropriate amount to spend, and why?

    "Enough to get something that both partners are satisfied with, but not an amount that would require going into debt or putting off other financial priorities. I believe strongly in deciding together what you as a couple a) can afford and b) actually want to spend. My partner and I could have afforded a more expensive ring (we budgeted $1,200), but we decided we'd rather put that money elsewhere when we found great options at an estate jeweler at a fraction of the cost of a more traditional ring."

    Name: Becky
    Location: Nashville, TN
    Salary: $35,000
    Partner's Salary: $37,000
    Cost Of Engagment Ring: $500

    "To each their own, but our max for my ring was $500 (and we split the cost, at my request, because I wanted to get something nicer). For that amount I was able to get a beautiful ring from Etsy that's high quality enough to hopefully last a lifetime. I love my ring, but at the end of the day, it's just a piece of jewelry and we really need to use our money elsewhere."

    Name: Heather
    Location: Los Angeles, CA
    Salary: $75,000
    Partner's Salary: $30,000
    Cost Of Engagement Ring: $450

    What do you think is an appropriate amount to spend, and why?

    "I think the whole idea of a big fancy engagement ring is wildly unnecessary. How much you love someone should not be tied to a piece of jewelry. All I wanted was a simple band to represent our commitment to one another. My husband bought me a rose gold band that is engraved with his fingerprint on the inside. I absolutely love it. Going into debt to start off your marriage makes no sense to me. My favorite part of my ring is watching people's reaction to it. They ask to see my finger and then spin the ring around my finger to try to find the stone. Then when they realize it's just a band, they awkwardly have to try to find something nice to say. HA! It's my favorite :)."

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    For all the conversations surrounding the lack of women in the music industry, singer and producer Jaleh, aka Jals, is out to do something about the state of the business and leaving her mark. Though Jaleh moonlights as a model and musician, the 18-year-old college freshman is far more interested in what happens behind the scenes — she’s currently pursuing a degree in music production, with the goal of approaching her music from a more well-rounded and well-informed perspective.

    It makes sense for someone like Jaleh. A quick scroll through her IG feed shows a young woman with a distinct aesthetic that marries old-school hip-hop with “dad” style. (In fact, her handle @fatherlyjals is a clapback to her middle school haters who had once teased her for dressing like a “father.”) With her unique personal style down pat, Jaleh now aims to solidify her musical style off camera. And she’s well on her way — Jaleh’s first EP is expected to drop in spring 2019.

    Though the Brooklyn native is rooted in New York City for her studies, Jaleh is inspired by California's laid-back vibe (more on that later) and has a hunger for global experiences. Outfitted in the new '80s-inspired PUMA Cali sneakers, the style star walks us through three looks at three significant locations that represent her journey from the past to the present to the future. We chat about her West Coast dreams, how she’s embraced who she is, and why “gendered” clothing is such an eye-roll, ahead.

    So you're pursuing music production. Tell us what led you on that path.
    "Ever since I've loved music, I've wanted to understand how it's made. I felt that by studying music production, and the music industry and the business, I'd be able to be a more hands-on artist. I know I don't just wanna be a voice or someone who just raps. I wanna be able to express myself as much as I can, whether I'm styling myself or creative directing my own videos or writing my own music."

    At what age did you begin expressing yourself through clothing?
    "The end of my sophomore year. I was going through a lot of identity crises until then. In middle school, people said I dressed like a guy or whatever, so I stopped wearing certain things so I could fit in. I was trying to please everyone and look like everybody else. And then I realized pleasing other people really wasn't it for me, so I went back to wearing things I wanted to and not caring. You can't give a piece of clothing a gender; it's literally just clothes. By the end of my sophomore year, I just was pushed to be myself 100%."

    How do you decide on your outfits?
    "I create off of a mood when I wake up. Sometimes I'll be feeling really baggy, colorful clothes, sometimes I'll be described as goth. But really my sense of style is things that I like, things that can visually describe me if someone sees me walking on the street. That's what I think fashion is; when you're looking at someone, you can see their story from the outside. It's what people let you see about themselves."

    We shot this first look at a handball court. Why does this place hold significance for you?
    "When I was in elementary and middle school, me and my cousin and her friends would play handball. It brings back those memories in the hood that I grew up in. At that age, I was also singing. I was doing a lot of stuff from dancing to acting classes on 42nd street. I was auditioning for commercials, I was competing in hip-hop, singing in school productions of Broadway musicals; I was always performing."

    You’re a Brooklynite through and through, but you embrace the California mentality.
    "I’ve never been to California, but from what I hear, it’s more laid-back and chill than New York. I'd say that I'm like that; I'm a 'go with the flow' type of person. If things change up for me, I try not to let them bother me so much. That laid-back vibe definitely fits into my sense of style."

    For your second look, you brought us to a rooftop, which represents your present. Why is this spot meaningful to you?
    "Honestly, one thing I found that helped me a lot with writing in the summer was getting out of my room, going on top of my roof, seeing the skyline and the train that's right there, and just writing. It’s a place where I can play my music loud and no one’s up there to hear me. It’s an open stage, no roof above my head, and it gave me a lot of clarity and a lot of room. It really helped me create. One of my songs is called 'This is My Story' or 'The Never Ending Story,' which is about Bushwick. That song was written on my roof."

    Tell us about your look here.
    "Since the PUMA Cali shoes are white and black, I thought it’d be cool to mix the socks up. So I mix-matched fishnet socks and then chose this one-piece fishnet top to play off them. The blue gives it a pop. The look feels super high fashion but then the sneakers make it for the everyday. And the hat made the outfit complete. It gave it a late '80s vibe."

    Finally, tell us about the significance of this tour van, which represents your future dreams.
    "My vision is to travel around the globe and express myself. You know how people would travel in vans and tour? This is the vibe I'm going after. I've never been to Cali, but I will go there one day and probably love it. I'm coming for the world; I have this journey on my back, and this is what I'm bringing. This is my energy. This is who I am, this is how I present myself, and this is what I'm wearing. I pulled one of my favorite shirts that I thrifted, and the glasses, and the earrings, with my fro out. This is inspired by '90s hip-hop."

    Are sneakers a big part of your everyday look?
    "Definitely. I love sneakers so much. They can make or break an outfit, from worn-out-looking shoes to high-end shoes. I feel like either way you put it, sneakers help tell a story of what's going on and what you're wearing. I also love sneakers 'cause they're comfortable. I never wore heels, unless it was for prom. I'm always throwing on sneakers like the PUMA Cali last minute before I run out of my crib. If I ever get onto a red carpet, I'll be that girl wearing a dress with sneakers. I put my sneakers on knowing that when I'm in them, day by day, I can take another step toward my dream. I can really tie everything together in my journey with sneakers."

    Lastly, what kind of influence would you like your music to have?
    "I'm trying to change the mindset that’s stuck in my generation. One thing that I've seen for too long [is that negativity is] such a prominent thing in today’s music, and I wanna switch it up and bring back positivity and love. Five to 10 years from now, I see myself using my voice to speak up and make a difference, 'cause it's honestly crazy out here. Love is really the answer, and I wanna show how you don't have to be dependent on negativity."

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    Three months ago, my coworker turned me on to a safety razor after listening to me bitch about ingrown hairs for far too long. After I gave up waxing about a year ago (both for financial and holy-shit-that's-painful reasons), I began suffering from ingrown hairs along my bikini line. So I got hooked up with a single-blade safety razor, and figured everything would come up roses.

    Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. The first time I ever used it to shave my vagina (yes, I know the technical term for the outer genitalia is 'vulva,' but that doesn't have the same ring to it), I nearly sliced off half my labia — and screamed bloody murder the moment it happened. I then realized that while I'd been taught by my mother and health class how to properly remove the hair from my pits, legs, and eyebrows, no one had ever covered exactly how to wield a razor around my vagina. And if any region needs a manual, it's that one.

    So I called up Jodi Shays, owner and founder of Queen Bee Salons in California, and asked her a series of increasingly personal questions about how to shave my favorite body part bald without risking stitches. She was up-front about the fact that she isn't a huge fan of razors near the vulva, but, she acknowledged, "I completely understand why it has to happen, whether you need to be shaved all the time for work or you simply can't afford a wax." Fair enough.

    Ahead, find the guide your mother never gave you for how to shave your vulva. (Be warned — the following images are anatomically correct, so this may be NSFW.) It's a tricky business, but don't worry. We're here to help.

    The key to down-there shaving is proper preparation. "You want to trim your pubic hair down a bit," Shays says. "Just make sure you're pulling the skin taut while you trim." She suggests using a sterilized pair of baby scissors to snip your pubes down to about a quarter-inch long. "It's less messy if you sit on the toilet while you do this," she added.

    Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

    Next, hop in the shower and soap yourself up. Shays suggests cleaning with a fragrance-free antibacterial wash on the bikini line and the vulva so that if a nick happens, you can avoid a nasty infection. Just make sure to only wash the outside — there is absolutely no need to get up inside your vagina. In fact, you can actually disrupt the natural cleaning process if you do.

    Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

    Now for the main portion of the event. "Look for shaving products that don't have a lot of ingredients in them," Shays says. "I look for a cream or gel that has aloe vera in it, since it's antibacterial." You can apply a shave oil, but make sure it isn't a mineral oil, which is pore-clogging and unnecessarily heavy. We like Ursa Major Stellar Shave Cream.

    You'll also want a clean, sharp razor — making sure it's stored in a cool, dry place to avoid bacteria growth.

    Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

    "You want to make sure you're shaving in the direction of your hair growth," Shays says. (We know — you never get as close of a shave as when you go against the grain. But this is your vulva we’re talking about. This isn’t the time to play fast and loose.) Keep in mind that this is a two-handed process — make sure to pull the skin taut with one hand while shaving with the other. "If you can put your leg up on something stable, that's a great way to get those hard-to-reach places," Shays says. Just make sure you're not at risk of slipping — that's how accidents happen. Work in small sections, and go slowly. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

    Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

    But what about the labia? "Not every vagina looks the same," Shays says. "Some hair may be tucked away if your labia minora is longer than your labia majora." In this case, only proceed if you have a steady hand, and make sure to pull the skin tightly for better control. If you have an adventurous partner, Shays says this is a fantastic time to employ them to help with those hard-to-reach places. "They'll be able to see spots you won't be able to," she says.

    And while we're getting all up in your anatomy, a word on your asshole: Shays says to stay away from it with the razor. "The skin is so puckered that it's easy to nick and cut down there," she says. "And that's an area of your body where it's so easy for bacteria to get in that it's not worth the headache." Leave it to the professionals, kids.

    Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

    So there you have it — you've shaved your vulva. Congrats! Make sure to moisturize the skin with something protective. Shays is a huge fan of barrier creams like Aquaphor, but she also suggests diaper rash creams. "They're safe and hydrating," she says. You can also pop some pure aloe vera on the area to calm it down. Or put a sheet mask on that baby. But the most important thing is to treat your vagina and all its surrounding parts with care — whether you're shaving or sexing. Be good to your vag, and it will be good to you.

    Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

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    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that sexting can be great for your relationship. Whether you’ve been in a relationship for a while or you’re just starting something new, sending flirty, dirty messages is a great way to spice things up and keep them fresh — especially if you and your partner are long-distance.

    If you’re not sure how to start (or continue) a sexting session, though, it can be difficult to overcome the initial awkwardness. That’s why we turned to sex therapists Dr. Liz Powell, Vanessa Marin, and Mal Harrison for tips on how to bite the bullet and get started.

    “People might think, ‘I don’t know what to say’ or ‘I’m not creative,’ but you don’t have to dive in with all these kinky, dirty things,” Marin tells Refinery29. It's true that sexting can make people uneasy, but it doesn’t have to be daunting: It can be playful and silly. “Find a specific language you feel comfortable with,” Marin says. "If you’re not comfortable with being too explicit from the get-go, that’s okay — just start slow. I think the best way to get started is just by looking at examples.” In that spirit, Marin shares her favorite sexts to get you going. Click through to view them; then, send your favorite to a very lucky recipient indeed.

    "What's your fantasy?"

    Why it works: This seemingly simple question is actually an invitation to let your partner's imagination run wild.

    "Your ___ feels incredible."

    Why it works: A specific compliment is always better than a generic one — and your partner will love knowing that they're good with their hands (or tongue or lips or elbows or...).

    "Come keep me warm."

    Why it works: This subtle invitation makes it clear you're ready to heat things up.

    "If you could hear the sounds I'm making..."

    Why it works: Teasing at all the fun you're having will make things that much hotter for your partner, too.

    "When was the last time you thought about me?"

    Why it works: If it's been a while since you and your partner have met up, an open-ended question like this one can help to jog their memory.

    "I can't wait for your to come...home ;)"

    Why it works: It's hard to resist a text that's playful, tells your partner that you miss them, and incorporates a pun.

    "Where do you want to touch me first?"

    Why it works: Asking your partner a simple — yet sexy — question can be a great way to get started.

    "Send me a pic ASAP."

    Why it works: The immediacy of this message lets your partner know you need to see them right that second. Just remember: This is only recommended if your sexting partner has already consented to sending sexy pictures of themselves. (Aggressively putting someone on the spot is not sexy.)

    "Let's finish what we started."

    Why it works: Whether you're referring to an interrupted tryst or asking for round two, this message will remind your partner just how good your last meetup was.

    "Only you can make me feel this good."

    Why it works: It never hurts to remind your partner that they're special — and very talented.

    "I want you all to myself tonight."

    Why it works: Your partner will love knowing they're about to be worshipped.

    "I'm getting wet just thinking about you."

    Why it works: Who wouldn't love to know that the mere thought of them gets someone all hot and bothered?

    "Coming over in 5. Be ready ;)"

    Why it works: There's nothing quite like the element of surprise.

    "Waiting to see you is unbearable."

    Why it works: Your partner will love to know that even just the anticipation to meet up is killing you.

    "Let's try something new tonight."

    Why it works: This lets your partner know you're feeling adventurous.

    "I want to fall asleep with you inside me."

    Why it works: This shows how much you're craving your partner — and that you're ready to up the intimacy.

    "Tell me the last erotic thought you had."

    Why it works: Such an open-ended request allows your partner to take the lead.

    "Will you be my alarm cock tomorrow?"

    Why it works: Again, who doesn't love a dirty pun?

    "Woke up so hungry for you."

    Why it works: This text sends a loud and clear message to your partner: They have been on your mind all day.

    "So insatiable today. SOS!"

    Why it works: This is a much more interesting way to let your partner know that you're horny. And sending a distress signal will tell them just how horny you are.

    "Need to feel your breath against my skin."

    Why it works: Describing a specific sensation will transport your sext recipient to a hot moment you shared together — and make them want to recreate it for you ASAP.

    "I'm sopping wet ;)"

    Why it works: Save this one for a rainy day. A little innuendo (or, in this case, a lot) can be extremely effective.

    "I just had the hottest dream/fantasy about you. Want to hear it?"

    Why it works: "Who hasn't had that sext come in at the worst time? Asking for consent makes sure your partner will be as into it as you are," Dr. Powell says. "Plus, you've already started a tease by telling them there's something super hot coming!"

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    "I am looking SO HOT right now! Want a pic?"

    Why it works: "When you're looking down and loving what you see, why not let [your sexting partner] in on the enjoyment?" Dr. Powell says. "Plus, this builds the anticipation of just how amazing the pic will be when they get it."

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    “I’m too busy tonight. You can’t have me until tomorrow.”

    Why it works: Is there anything hotter than a good tease?

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    "You like that, don't you?"

    Why it works: If your partner is the one who's a little tongue-tied, this is a great way to send some encouragement (with minimal pressure).

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    "I miss feeling you inside of me."

    Why it works: If you're tongue-tied and looking for a way to get your sexting session started, this is a pretty good ice-breaker.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    "I'm about to explode."

    Why it works: A big part of sexting? Reacting to your partner and letting them know just how much they turn you on.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters.

    "Tell me what you think about when you touch yourself."

    Why it works: As far as getting started goes, this is a great way to set the mood.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters.

    "I want you to tease me until I can't take it any longer.'

    Why it works: It's like they say — you can't get what you want unless you ask for it.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters.

    "Let me watch you touch yourself."

    Why it works: As Marin tells us, this kind of text allows you to relinquish just enough control — and the results could be mind-blowing.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters.

    "I love when you talk like that."

    Why it works: The cardinal rule of sexting applies here — be responsive when our partner sexts back.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters.

    "I'm touching myself right now thinking about you."

    Why it works: If you need a conversation starter, this one builds the fire of anticipation and can jumpstart a foreplay session.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters.

    "Get on your knees."

    Why it works: A little assertion can go a long way in getting your partner hot and bothered.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    "That turns me on so much."

    Why it works: Feel free to use a more specific variation of this text — it never hurts to let your partner know exactly how you feel.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    "I'm going to make you come so hard."

    Why it works: It's a promise that you'll actually want to be held accountable for — and hopefully, your partner will reciprocate.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    "I'm going to make you beg for it."

    Why it works: Seduce your partner with the promise of what's to come.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    “Remember the time we did _______?”

    Why it works: If you’re nervous about how to get a sexting session started, this text will clue your partner into your intentions without being too specific.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters.

    “Your body looks incredible.”

    Why it works: A big part of sex is making your partner feel good, so if you’re not physically there, it pays to kick things off by paying him or her a compliment.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    "I just got out of the shower."

    Why it works: It's a mental image that your partner won't be able to get out of his or her head.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    “I'm getting so antsy just thinking about seeing you later.”

    Why it works: If you’re looking for a sexting ice-breaker, this is it. It’s simple, yet effective in building anticipation, making it a great starter.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    “I’ve got a surprise waiting for you.”

    Why it works: It almost certainly provokes a response to get the session going — who doesn’t want to find out what the “surprise” is?

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    “It’s too bad you’re not here right now.”

    Why it works: It’s the perfect segue into describing (in as much detail as you like) what would be happening if your partner were there right now.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    “I want you / I need you.”

    Why it works: It’s straightforward and direct without being explicit, leaving room for you to elaborate on exactly why you want/need your partner.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    “Get over here right now.”

    Why it works: It conveys all of your “need-you-now” passion in just five words.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    “That feels so good.”

    Why it works: It lets your partner know what works for you.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    “I can’t get enough of you.”

    Why it works: This text tells your partner just how much you want him or her, without getting too specific (great if you’re shy).

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    “What else will you do to me?”

    Why it works: It’s playful, it’s teasing, and it encourages your partner to keep going.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    “I can’t get last night out of my mind.”

    Why it works: Invoking steamy memories is a foolproof way to get the fire going again.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    “Tell me more.”

    Why it works: If you’ve gotten a sext that leaves you a little tongue-tied, this is a great way to keep the conversation flowing.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    “Your clothes are coming off the second you get through the door.”

    Why it works: It's clear and direct, but not explicit — in case you're not ready to go there yet. Although, feel free to go into detail about what happens next.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    “I’m going to let you do anything you want to me.”

    Why it works: The implications alone will get you both revved up.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    "I have a new toy we can play with."

    Why it works: This message tells your partner that you're in a playful mood and happy to take your time tonight. Interested in adding toys to your sex life but not sure where to start? Check out our guide to couples' sex toys here.

    “I want you to boss me around tonight.”

    Why it works: If you don’t know how to get started, this one is a great way to set the tone.

    Illustrated by: Abbie Winters

    Want more bedroom banter? Watch couples discuss their sex lives on "How Two Love."

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    As consumers are forced to re-examine an already contentious relationship with Victoria's Secret and its annual fashion show, the brand will now have to begin its own reconfiguration. On Wednesday, the Financial Times announced its chief executive, Jan Singer, has stepped down from her role at L Brands Inc, Victoria's Secret's parent company. Singer leaves the company just a week after a controversial interview between Ed Razek, chief marketing officer at L Brands and Vogue magazine.

    Razek largely overshadowed the show's taping (and the news of Adriana Lima's final walk) by admitting the brand was not looking to be especially diverse or inclusive. "We attempted to do a television special for plus-sizes [in 2000]," Razek told Vogue last week. "No one had any interest in it, still don’t." Further, he said, "I don’t think we can be all things to all customers. It is a specialty business; it isn’t a department store." Elsewhere in the controversial interview, Razek claimed the brand doesn't have any interest in casting transgender models in the show, either. "Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is."

    Days later, Razek walked back his comments on Twitter and in a statement said: "My remark regarding the inclusion of transgender models in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show came across as insensitive. I apologize. To be clear, we absolutely would cast a transgender model in our show. We've had transgender models come to castings...And like many others, they didn't make it. It was never about gender. I admire and respect their journey to embrace who they really are."

    The brand has yet to make an official announcement of Singer's departure but perhaps will speak to the change in leadership on Monday, when L Brand releases its quarterly earnings.

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    In case you somehow don't already know: It's never okay to reach out your hand and touch a Black woman's hair without permission — I mean, how was that ever even a thing?

    Touching is clearly not okay, but there are a number of other things that we, as non-Black people, should also consider when talking about Black women's hair. Things like gawking at, commenting on, or cracking jokes about their latest style switch-up are equally inappropriate, and can make Black women feel singled out.

    These kinds of dynamics can take place anywhere, between friends, with strangers in public spaces, or on public transportation. But things can get particularly complicated in the workplace.

    Today, Black women continue to face discrimination in the workplace. Whether it's racial bias and stereotyping, micro-aggressions from coworkers and superiors, or disproportionate instances of sexual harassment, Black women often experience a very different version of the workplace compared to their white — or even non-Black people of color — counterparts.

    These dynamics are particularly pronounced when it comes to hair. Today, the natural hair movement means that more Black women than ever are embracing their natural hair textures, which often means routinely switching up their aesthetics and using protective styles, like wigs, twists, and braids. Unfortunately, this also means dealing with an influx of unwanted commentary from other people in the office.

    To shed some light on some of the many challenges, Refinery29 asked ten Black women to share what it's been like for them to have natural hair in the workplace.

    These women remind us that non-Black people have a responsibility to reflect on the ways we behave and interact with our Black colleagues, and how we might often unconsciously contribute to their discomfort in our workspaces.

    Welcome to MyIdentity. The road to owning your identity is rarely easy. In this yearlong program, we will celebrate that journey and explore how the choices we make on the outside reflect what we're feeling on the inside — and the important role fashion and beauty play in helping people find and express who they are.

    "I cut my hair in January so I started off at work with my low cut, and then I started wearing wigs. I have this one wig with bangs, and I came into the office one day and all of my coworkers were like, ‘Oh my god, you look like Nicki Minaj!’ Someone asked me ‘How does this work? You didn’t have hair yesterday, and now you have hair today.’

    "They were so fixated on it and some of them tried to touch it. It’s really interesting, because sometimes I get anxiety and wonder if I should even wear a wig or just wear my low cut because I don’t want to confuse them. Once a coworker didn’t acknowledge me and said she didn’t know it was me.

    "I cut my hair because I needed to be free, and I wanted to be comfortable with myself without my hair as a shield. Coming into the workplace that meaning has been stripped away; it’s not a source of liberation anymore, it’s a source of anxiety. Now I feel like I have to keep up with this appearance, or that I should have just kept my hair and kept it simple.

    "Our team is diverse, and it's mainly women, and we’re mostly all women of color, so I feel like they should understand. But it’s interesting that the disconnect comes once hair comes into play. If I could say anything to them, I would honestly just say: Please don’t touch my hair. It may not mean anything to you, but there are a lot of stories behind my hair. And I wish you would respect that."

    — Oguguam Ugwuanyi, 22, Graphic Designer in Digital Marketing, Chicago, IL

    "While working in a newsroom, there was a day I decided to wear a big curly afro to work and I loved it. That exact same day another Black coworker, who normally wore straight extensions, happened to have a curly hair style, too.

    "The phone rang, and a male coworker who answered the phone said it was someone on the line asking for me. When I answered, I found out the call was actually for my female coworker with the curly extensions — not me.

    Once all three of us were near the phone, he stared at the both of us with the phone in his hand looking to give the phone to one of us. It was as if, all of a sudden, he couldn't tell us apart even though we have very different features (and names). He finally said, 'Well, the phone is for (coworker's name). You two handle it because you all switch your hair up too much.'

    My hair — with all of its coils, springs and curls — is truly an extension of who I am. Some people say 'hair is just hair,' but I think differently. My hair reflects my personality in many ways. Some days I wear a mohawk when I'm feeling creative, and other times when I want to be bold, I wear a huge twist-out with tons of volume. Changing our hairstyles is just one of the coolest magical powers Black women have. And yet we've been looked down upon for years, and our hair is always looked at as 'wrong.'

    "I wish non-Black team members at work would respect our culture and craft of hairstyles. Most importantly, I wish they would ask meaningful questions without assuming. I want them to learn about our hair and our culture without assuming or attempting to touch our hair without permission. You learn when you sincerely ask a question."

    — Victoria Davis, 26 Founder of ClassyCurlies, Indianapolis, IN

    "I’ve experienced countless micro-aggressions starring my hair. Once, a white coworker touched my braids the same day I debuted them at work. It happened so quickly that I couldn’t react. I was stunned.

    "Since she wasn’t American, I figured she may not have understood the sensitivity of touching a Black woman’s hair. She tried to touch it again a few weeks later when I took down the braids and had my hair in two puffs. This time, I swerved. Later on, I pulled her aside and explained that she shouldn’t touch a Black woman’s hair and that it’s a major invasion of personal space. I didn’t have the time or energy to go deeper into the problematic history of racist petting zoos.

    "Another pivotal moment was during a series of job interviews. On the first round, I wore my natural hair in a bun. Before the second interview, I switched to a braided hairstyle. When I went in, I noticed that I was sitting in the waiting area far longer than my scheduled interview. The person I interviewed with the first time finally retrieved me from the waiting area almost an hour later, saying 'Apologies! I didn’t recognize you with your new hair.'

    "Hair is a big part of my self expression. I adore my natural texture: A sometimes kinky, fluffy mass of black cotton candy, or tight, coily springs erupting from my scalp. Besides wearing it out, I love experimenting with different braided styles that I design and install myself. It’s extremely empowering and allows me to express a creative side of myself, right off the top of my head — literally.

    "It feels redundant to say that non-Black people shouldn’t touch our hair, or ask too many invasive questions about it, or be shocked when it changes. It others us when we are seen as something out of the ordinary. Well yes, we are amazing and fantastic, but we are still human."

    — Alisha Acquaye, 28, Freelance Writer, Brooklyn, NY

    "When I was working as a public relations specialist for a national nonprofit, I felt the need to identify one look and stick with it so I wouldn't confuse people. Typically, I wore a sleek sew-in, but after a few months I began to occasionally change my look with wigs, half-wigs, and braids.

    "I didn't mind when coworkers noticed and offered general comments like, 'I love your hair like that!' or 'Wow, I like your curls.' I'd put in effort to change my look so I expected they'd take notice.

    "What I didn't appreciate were comments like, 'Wait, wasn't your hair shorter last week? Did it just suddenly grow over the weekend?' I always felt the need to have a response prepared because I anticipated ignorant comments. I even once had an older male colleague say, 'You guys are always changing your hair,' to which I replied, 'Yeah, one of the cool things about being a woman is the way we get to experiment with new looks!'

    "Even though I responded with playful remarks, I was steaming inside. It wasn't fair that I had to prepare a defense every time I decided to change my hairstyle — no other group of people has to endure that. My hair is important to me because is an extension of my femininity. Different styles express various dimensions of my personality, and when one of those styles is criticized or misunderstood, it is ultimately a part of my womanhood that is challenged.

    "I wish my coworkers understood that general compliments about my look are welcome, but touching my hair or remarks about its 'otherness' make me feel like an exhibit. Now that I work for myself, I no longer have to have those conversations when I change my hairstyle, and I can rock half-wigs, long tresses, or braids freely as I so choose."

    — Danielle Bayard Jackson, 31, Co-founder, STRIDE Media Group, Tampa, FL

    "Before starting my own business, I worked at a global investment bank. I would switch my hairstyles every two to three weeks, opting for weaves, braids, or blowouts. My coworkers were so intrigued at my changes that my white male boss would come out of his office to make a big announcement about my hair changes.

    "He would loudly comment to my entire team of 15 people: 'Guys, Jamaya has a new hairdo!' or ask 'How is that attached?' He'd ask things like: 'With so many changes, won't your hair fall out?' or 'Wait, where's your hair?' I was so embarrassed! Luckily, I resigned from that job and, on my last day, I did my big chop! I let it all go.

    "I've always felt that changing my hair allowed me to express myself in such a rigid environment. My hair is important to me because it's a direct extension of my personality and brand. It signifies my strength, creativity, and freedom.

    "I wish others knew not to touch my hair. Unsolicited touches to my hair make me feel uncomfortable. I want others to be respectful and not make a mockery of my hair styles. Many of my styles actually protect my hair, promoting growth and strength."

    — Jamaya Moore, 36, Makeup Artist, Baltimore, MD

    "I love to get creative with my hair and switch things up often. Even if I didn't, my kinky-coily hair doesn't sit well in a style for too long before it tries to break free from hair pins and hair ties. As such, I probably wear my hair in two to four styles each work week.

    "I noticed early in my career that this very normal activity for me was becoming a spectacle at my job. People would ooh and ah every day, and I felt that it was distracting my coworkers from my contributions to the work place.

    "Once a senior colleague made a joke during a brainstorm session that if I could come up with as many ideas as I do hairstyles, we'd never go out of business. I don't think it was malicious, but it can sometimes be embarrassing as a woman in the workplace to stand out for physical appearance. Another time, I had coworkers complain to me when I straightened my hair because it was 'boring' and not big and fun like my curls.

    "I consider my hair and its versatility to be a part of my beauty. It's one of the avenues which I use to express myself, and while I don't mind people appreciating the effort I put into styling my hair, I can tell when the attention doesn't come from a sincere place. Sometimes my hair will be in braids, sometimes a huge twist-out, and sometimes it will be straight.

    "I wish non-Black colleagues would take the approach of not saying anything unless they have something nice and genuine to say and get used to the switch-up game sooner, saving the oohs and aahs for when I really came to show out with my hair."

    Alicia, 27, Healthcare Program Manager, Brooklyn, NY

    "Before starting my consulting business, I worked in the nonprofit sector. There was always one particular employee that constantly would approach me with micro-aggressive commentary about my hairstyle or not being able to recognize me if I changed my hairstyle slightly.

    "One time after she attempted to pet me, she went on to tell me how much she loves to touch the hair of mixed-race people because they have 'the best hair.' It was offensive on so many levels and even though I was outnumbered in my office, I stood my ground and told her all grades of hair are beautiful.

    "Later, I also sent her a cartoon showing an animated sketch on how Black people feel when their non-Black clients or coworkers try to touch their hair. As Black women, 0ur hair is our main accessory, it tells a story and gives us our armor to go out into the world. For me, my hair gives me confidence, strength, and pride.

    I am a Black woman but grew up in predominately Caucasian institutions, so I've come to use my hair as a way to educate people. We aren't animals to pet, but we have to be open to questions so that we can provide new insight to our unknowing or oblivious coworkers."

    — Brittney Bogues, 31, Entrepreneur & Co-Founder of Bogues Consulting Group, Charlotte, NC

    "Having been the only Black woman in all-white offices, I’ve had plenty of awkward experiences with my hair, to the point that I often didn’t want to change my hair to avoid welcoming a petting zoo. I remember considering the comments I would get from my coworkers as I sat in the salon chair, and cringing as I walked into the office on the days I debuted my new hairstyle.

    "To me, my hair has always been a form of self-expression. Sometimes, I want it long, sometimes I want it short, sometimes I want it black, sometimes I want braids, sometimes I want to wear my natural hair, sometimes I want a new color. But I’ve never felt so constricted until I entered the workplace.

    "Now that I work for myself as a career strategist, I’m free from those encounters. But, I still wish that other people understood that changing my hair is simply like changing my earrings. It’s not a defining moment. It’s not your opportunity to ask a hundred questions about the hair culture of Black women. It doesn’t give you permission to touch my hair, and it does make me feel awkward and uncomfortable.

    "As a career strategist, I often get lots of nervous comments from my Black female clients when it comes to how they should wear their hair for job interviews, and although I understand their concerns, it’s always interesting to me because it never comes up for my white female clients. I wish more people recognized that Black women’s decision to wear our hair in whatever way doesn’t diminish our expertise, value, or work ethic."

    — Adunola Adeshola, 25, Millennial Career Strategist, Houston, TX

    "Throughout my whole career, I have been known to switch up my hairstyles frequently. I've gone from black pixie cuts to platinum buzz cuts to 22-inch cascading blonde waves to a massive natural 'fro to everything in between. And, while this is not uncommon for Black women, it's become a major talking point in professional circles with white people I've worked with over the years. In fact, at one company, they had annual superlatives and named me 'Most Likely to Change My Hair.' Needless to say, it was fairly embarrassing.

    "I've had people ask to touch my hair (as recently as 2017) and ask 'is that you?' I've also had other coworkers walk right by me after working with me for years because I did something as simple as blow my hair out.

    "My hair has always been a creative outlet for me; the ability to transform and experiment with so many colors and styles is part of what makes Black women's hair beautiful. It's also very spiritual. I have hair like my mother who passed away from cancer in 1999; her hair was so thick, beautiful, and she also wore it in many styles like a crown. My hair is highly personal, and I care for it the way I do anything else that's precious to me.

    "I wish non-Black people understood that my Blackness and my hair is not an excuse to disregard my humanity. When people gawk, touch, and have group discussions about my hair in my presence, they are reducing me to a display or sideshow of sorts. It's important to remember that you should admire someone's crown and the history behind it respectfully — or even with reverence — without reducing them to your personal entertainment."

    — Kamari Guthrie, 32, Public Relations Executive, Washington D.C.

    "'Sophisticated.' That’s how the COO of the corporation I worked for described my hair. Over the weekend, I’d taken down my kinky twist, and had my hair trimmed and straightened. I knew the change would spark yet another unsolicited response — but this one irritated me, and I didn’t hide my resentment.

    "Two weeks earlier, after first installing the kinky twist, my supervisor made a big deal of my hair change. She’d ask other coworkers, 'Don’t you just love Ayana’s hair?' prompting more conversations I didn’t ask to be a part of. She invited the COO to my office door, explaining how long it had taken for me to braid my hair, and how 'cool' it was. He responded, 'Huh, interesting.'

    "Here’s the thing: I didn’t ask his opinion. I didn’t care what he thought, and I was pissed that my supervisor had, once again, made my hair the topic of corporate office conversation. She may have meant it to be an exercise in inclusion – I was the only Black woman in our corporate office – but it felt like an exercise in 'othering.'

    "When a white woman changes her hairstyle, her coworkers compliment her, or don’t, and they move on. Not so for Black women. A compliment is fine, it’s appreciated. But it always seemed to go several steps further.

    "I decided to go natural ten years ago. I’d been working at a school where the staff and students were predominately Black, and I felt proud to see all of the natural styles – even prouder when I cut all my own hair off, sporting a tiny Afro for a year or so. Corporate America is not as welcoming.

    "My hair is beautiful, it’s strong, it’s versatile. It’s me. I don’t want, nor do I need, non-Black commentary on what’s appropriate, 'sophisticated,' or 'cool.' A simple, 'I like your hair today' is great. But silence works, too. I've since left the corporate world and now I wear an Afro-puff almost every day."

    — Ayana King, 39, Owner of Maximum Communications, Wyandotte, Michigan

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    Many of us have poured over the pros and cons of various makeup brush fibers, which holy-grail eyelash curler is worth the investment, and exactly what size blending sponge is best for tapping concealer into the inner corners of our nose. But who among us has paid much — if any— attention to the mirror we pair with these well-selected tools?

    Talk about an oversight. Turns out the makeup mirrors of 2018 don't just help us see exactly how much highlighter we're piling on or every little chin hair (thanks to built-in magnifiers), they're also equipped to mimic natural light, play YouTube tutorials and Spotify playlists, and can even reveal which skin-care products are really working.

    Whether you want to pony up for an app-driven smart mirror that acts more like your tablet or are simply looking for a well-designed vanity mirror that will allow you to see every pore, find our best picks, ahead.

    Though the weight and feel of the plastic base and arm could be a little more substantial for the $80 price point, we love the nifty secret function of this vanity mirror. In addition to boasting three natural-light settings (including sunlight, daylight, and evening lighting), linking to a phone via an app for additional controls, and packing a built-in ring light for selfies, this baby also transforms into a deskside lamp with the flick of a wrist, making it the perfect option for tiny living spaces.



    Juno & Co The JUNO Smart Makeup Mirror, $79, available at Juno & Co.

    HiMirror Mini is less a mirror and more an infotainment system for your vanity. Sure, you can catch your reflection and zoom to 2 and 3x magnification with the thing, but it can also be used to play YouTube tutorials, blast your going-out playlists on Spotify, check the weather, and catch up on the news. And those aren't even our favorite features.

    You can also use it to snap pics of your face and the skin-care products you use. It reads and records skin conditions to provide data on how tone, clarity, and texture have improved over time — so you can see which products are driving results, and which you should toss.



    HiMirror HiMirror Mini, $119, available at Amazon

    This simple mirror doesn't have the bells and whistles you'll find in smart mirrors. But it does earn top marks from Amazon reviewers, thanks to a dual-side face (one is a 10x magnifier), minimal footprint, and weighted base (which keeps it from getting knocked off your bathroom shelf).



    Sagler Sagler Vanity Mirror , $19.99, available at Amazon

    Yes, this Alexa-enabled mirror costs as much as our monthly food budget. But for those looking for a vanity mirror beautiful enough to leave out, this stainless steel option is pretty compelling.

    Aesthetics aside, the brand poured a bunch of R+D into the lighting, which uses surgical-grad LEDs to mimic overcast days, candlelight, office lighting and more via controls in a downloadable app. Instead of powering up the mirror with a button (and smudging its surface), a motion sensor detects your presence and illuminates light strips on the main panel perimeter. The fold-out side panels also work wonders for seeing what's really going on in the back of your head and a removable 10x magnifier helps finally answer the question: What is that bump on my bikini line?



    simplehuman Sensor Mirror Pro Wide View, $400, available at simplehuman

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    When we recently received a clear jar filled with what appeared to be the chic-est rose gold cupcake sprinkles ever, we immediately thought, ‘Yes! Lunch!’ Then we realized what thousands of people already knew: We were looking at waksé, a new type of at-home waxing system that managed to amass an 8,000-person pre-order list ahead of its recent launch.

    The last time people got this excited about at-home waxing was… never. So we took our would-be sugar high (to be fair, it was labeled “chocolate” right on top of the jar) and its companion (a matte black silicone cup, or “melting pot” as the brand calls it) into our bathrooms to see what the fuss was about.

    Here’s how waksé works: You pour a serving of the pretty metallic beans (which come in two additional colors and scents: lavender-scented silver and a pineapple-scented gold) into the microwave-safe "melting pot" and nuke them in 30-second intervals. Made of ingredients like cosmetic-grade resin, matricaria flower oil, and aloe leaf juice, the pellets melt into a spreadable, taffy-like consistency. No separate waxing strips are required here, which is major. And there's no messy or unhygienic re-heating of the same wax, which is the case for many at-home kits.

    After spot testing to make sure the goop wasn’t too hot, we used the included spatula to smooth the substance over our legs and bikini line in the direction of the hair growth. The spatula is on the smaller side, which made scooping the wax from the cup cumbersome; next time, we’ll come equipped with a fat wooden tongue depressor to get the job done.

    Seconds after spreading the stuff onto our skin, the liquid hardened and was ready to be yanked. Though we’ll never get used to the sensation of ripping hair off the sensitive bikini area, we were relieved to find that the process didn’t tear or cut into our skin or cause a rash, irritation, or excessive red bumps to develop the next day. Our skin was smooth, hair free, and only a little pink afterward — which is the case most times we wax. And, even better, our bathroom trash wasn't filled to the brim with gross hair- and wax-covered strips. The convenience and cleanliness was a major plus, for sure.

    The brand has put a lot of care into making the chore of waxing an experience so aesthetically pleasing, it begs to be shared on Instagram. The metallic shades are gorgeous and the hard wax innovation makes for a tear-away shot that isn’t messy. But so far, we don’t see a lot of takers using the brand’s hashtag to show their work. Will live body waxing be the next beauty thing to go viral on Instagram? Perhaps. But either way, the innovation and skin-friendly results speak for themselves.

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    Clockwise, above from left. Photo: Courtesy of Columbia; Arista; Geffen; Sire/London Rhino.

    If the past few years have taught us anything, it's that life was way better two decades ago. The unofficial pastime of 2014 has been reminiscing about 1994 — a funny little year that didn’t seem all that great at the time but now looks to have been a golden age for TV, film, and, most of all, music. There was Lisa Loeb’s "Stay," TLC's "Waterfalls," and more Ace of Base than you could shake a stick at.

    The nostalgia tsunami has washed many of '94's bigger hits back into the public consciousness, but there are plenty of lesser-known tunes deserving of rediscovery. What follows are some of our stand-out favorites. Listen now, before 1995 nostalgia hits, and a whole new set of songs become fashionable again.

    "Zombie," Cranberries

    Ah, the Cranberries — an iconic 90s group if there ever was one. While many may recognize their punk-inspired sound and scream-in-your-car lyrics, few may know the dark, and tragic, story behind the 1994 track. The single, released after a successful debut album, was a response to the IRA attack in which two young children fell victim to the bombings. The song went on to become the band's most successful single.

    — Morgan Baila

    Photo Courtesy: Island.

    "When Can I See You Again?," Babyface

    In '94, guitars weren't just for raging. R&B balladeer Babyface unplugged and strummed out a stunner of a lover’s lament with this No. 4 pop hit. If it didn’t make his lady come back, homegirl wasn’t worth sweating.

    Photo: Courtesy of Epic.

    "Prayer for the Dying," Seal

    In addition to being the highest-charting Seal II single not tainted by an association with Batman Forever, "Prayer for the Dying" is that rare pop song that talks about embracing life and accepting death in a way that's profound and moving, yet not overly sentimental. It almost makes up for "Kiss From a Rose."

    Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

    "Anytime You Need a Friend," Mariah Carey

    Mimi's list of achievements includes 18 chart-topping singles, so it figures people forget about this overwrought ballad, which petered out at No. 12. It's got nothing on "I'll Be There," which says the same thing much more sweetly and succinctly, but if you need an expression of loyalty that will leave your BFF feeling super elated and a little nauseous, this one's for you.

    Photo: Courtesy of Columbia.

    "If You Go," Jon Secada

    Before Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, and J-Lo staged a Latin-pop invasion in the late '90s, there was Jon Secada. This is the last and arguably least memorable of his four Top 20 hits, and to paraphrase the lyrics, now that he's gone, there is something missing from our lives: adult-contemporary dance tunes lightly spiced with Cuban flavor.

    Photo: Courtesy of Capitol/EMI.

    "So Much In Love," All-4-One

    Released in late '93, some 30 years after the Tymes topped the charts with the original, this doo-wop ballad reached its peak position in '94 and primed the pump for All-4-One's career-defining smash, "I Swear." As with many '90s R&B slow jams, the best part is the cornball spoken-word rap, wherein smoovie-in-training Delious Kennedy delivers his lines like a hostage reading a ransom note.

    Photo: Courtesy of Atlantic Records.

    "Return to Innocence," Enigma

    What the world needs now is a return to the innocence of 1994, a time when German New Age constituted viable pop music. And, not just regular old German New Age — but cheese-ball inspirational German New Age featuring Amis chanting. Maybe "innocence" isn’t quite the right word.

    Photo: Courtesy of EMI.

    "Another Night," Real McCoy

    Again with the Germans. As far as crossover hits from the land of schnitzel go, "Another Night" makes way more sense than "Return to Innocence," and when Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell created those Night at the Roxbury characters, they could have easily picked this Eurodance fave over Haddaway’s "What Is Love."

    Photo: Courtesy of Arista.

    “Funkdafied," Da Brat

    Built on the same Isley Brothers sample heard on the Notorious B.I.G.'s "Big Poppa," this tasty slice of she-G-funk ought to be remembered for its lyrics. Da Brat could've stopped after rhyming "grammar" with "mama jama," but she goes on to name-check Ralph Kramden, the protagonist of the '50s sitcom The Honeymooners, just to break us fools off "real proper-like."

    Photo: Courtesy of Sony.

    “Here Comes the Hotstepper,” Ini Kamoze

    If you’ve somehow forgotten about this Jamaican “lyrical gangsta” and his big dancehall crossover, this might jar your memory: “Nah, nah-nah-nah-nah, nah-nah-nah-nah, nah-nah-nah, nah-nah-nah, nah-nah nah-nah.” It’s even more fun to sing than it is to type.

    Photo: Courtesy of Columbia.

    "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)," Us3

    Here was a hip-hop cassingle you didn't have to hide from mom and dad. Based around a snazzy Herbie Hancock sample, "Cantaloop" marked the pinnacle of the jazz-rap movement, and for a few glorious weeks, as oldsters and young bucks pretended to tolerate each other's music, the words "diddy-diddy bop" bridged the generational divide.

    Photo: Courtesy of Blue Note Records.

    "100% Pure Love," Crystal Waters

    That Disclosure record is pretty fantastic, but outside of some modern-day twitchiness, the U.K. duo's house sound isn’t that much different (or better) than what artists like Crystal Waters were doing back in the day. Chalk one up for American dance divas and insecure 30-somethings who can’t bear to think millennials invented anything original.

    Photo: Courtesy of Polygram.

    "Understanding," Xscape

    Tameka Cottle, the future wife of rapper T.I., and Kandi Burress, future Atlanta Housewife, were among the five members of this second-tier R&B group. Although Xscape never rose as high as TLC or En Vogue, the quintet scored six top 10 pop hits, including this one, which peaked at No. 8 in February 1994. Take that, SWV.

    Photo: Courtesy of Sony.

    "Tootsee Roll," 69 Boyz

    The gym-class whistles in the background are a good indication of the sheer athleticism needed to do the dance associated with this Southern rap stomper. In four fairly annoying minutes, the song easily burns 400 calories — the equivalent of 17 mini Tootsie Roll candies. Not that you should eat that many. You'll have a stomachache as bad as your headache.

    Photo: Courtesy of Lil Joe Records.

    "Groove Thang," Zhané

    If anyone remembers this funky-fresh neo-soul duo, it's for "Hey Mr. D.J.," the first single from its helpfully titled debut, It's Pronounced Jay-Nay. The follow-up was yet another sophisticated groover, and in the end, Zhané’s suaveness may have been their downfall. The youth just weren't ready to kick it like this.

    Photo: Courtesy of Motown.

    "Objects In the Rearview Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are," Meat Loaf

    The third single on Meat’s big and juicy Bat Out of Hell II comeback album is the Old Country Buffet of power ballads. Love, loss, death, abuse, heartbreak: It's all there, and it's all stuffed with cheese, baked dry of subtlety, and served up flaming hot for your gorging pleasure.

    Photo: Courtesy of Cleveland International/Epic/Legacy.

    "Anything," SWV

    The opening track on the Above the Rim soundtrack, this Wu-Tang-assisted re-do of an earlier SWV jam doesn't much benefit from Staten Island's finest. At least ODB, Method Man, and U-God distract from the slightly problematic lyrics. "I'm down for you, and whatever you want me to do," the ladies sing, blurring the line between sexy submissive and submissive submissive. "It's all up to you."

    Photo: Courtesy of RCA.

    "Secret," Madonna

    This slept-on Madonna tune charted much higher than "Human Nature," also from the Bedtime Stories album, but the video lacks the whips and chains that make the latter stand out. "Secret" is pretty great, though — a sexy reminder of Madge's woefully short shiny-shirt-and-nose-piercing phase.

    Photo: Courtesy of Sire/London Rhino.

    "I’ll Take You There," General Public

    In the mid-'90s, there was no shortage of films about pretty, angsty 20-somethings trying to, like, figure it all out. Threesome added little to the canon, but at least the soundtrack let General Public skank all over the radio for a few weeks with this smiley-happy reggae cover of the Staples Singers classic.

    Photo: Courtesy of Sony.

    "I Miss You," Aaron Hall

    Know how you can tell Hall, a founding member of the New Jack Swing trio Guy, misses his girl and wishes she would come back to him? Because he says precisely that, relying on his showy vocals to compensate for the complete lack of originality and personality in the lyrics. The gamble paid off, and America rewarded him with a No. 14 hit. There's a lesson in there somewhere.

    Photo: Courtesy of MCA Records.

    “Never Lie,” Immature

    The members of Immature were just 13 years old in 1994, and that might explain why “friend” appears where you’d normally find “girl” — as in, “A friend like you will only come once in a lifetime.” If the lyrics are a little ambiguous, the vocal performances and video leave little doubt what these mini-crooners were singing about. You don’t rip open your shirt and kick it all Jodeci-like when apologizing to your buddy for wrecking his bike.

    Photo: Courtesy of Geffen.

    "Back In the Day," Ahmad

    Even if you grew up in South Central in the '80s, life wasn't all bad. On this laid-back West Coast classic, Ahmad raps wistfully about rocking fat laces and Nike suits and ogling the girls with "Poison" airbrushed on their butts. He's gone from "rags to riches" and made it out of the 'hood, but it's like Biggie says: Mo' money, mo' problems.

    Photo: Courtesy of Giant.

    "Bop Gun (One Nation)," Ice Cube

    All the best '90s rap songs had videos featuring out-of-control house parties, and with the help of guest George Clinton, Ice Cube sets a new standard with this G-funk anthem. While the title is a euphemism for Cube’s junk, it’s also a reference to a metaphorical weapon that brings funk to the funkless, and the rapper wields it like an AK.

    Photo: Courtesy of Priority Records.

    "Something's Always Wrong," Toad the Wet Sprocket

    As far as moody alt-rock earworms are concerned, this No. 41 hit is nearly as potent as anything Gin Blossoms were putting out around the same time. Alas, the higher-charting "All I Want" is most people's go-to Wet Sprocket tune, assuming that people actually have those.

    Photo: Courtesy of Sbme Special Mkts.

    "In the House of Stone and Light," Martin Page

    Any Lloyd Dobler-types wooing with boomboxes in '94 might have found a friend in Martin Page, who probably gave Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" a few spins before writing this tune. Unfortunately, "In the House of Stone and Light" is about finding your soul and achieving enlightenment — not much help if all you're after is some smooching.

    Photo: Courtesy of Island/Mercury.

    "Sweet Potato Pie," Domino

    Honor the legacy of Domino this Thanksgiving by saying the following to a member of your family: "Break me off a piece of that sweet potato pie." It works at grandma's dining room table as well as it does at the club, and that's what makes it one of the choicest lines of the G-funk era.

    Photo: Courtesy of Polygram.

    "Lucas with the Lid Off," Lucas

    Along the lines of Us3's "Cantaloop," this jazz-rap fusion—"the reggae and the ragtime," as Lucas tells us — summed up '94 nicely: "Whatever bubbles, bubbles up." The Dutch songwriter and producer has since put the lid back on and produced hits for the likes of CeeLo Green, Gym Class Heroes, and the Pussycat Dolls.

    Photo: Courtesy of Atlantic Records.

    "Gangsta Lean," DRS

    For the six weeks this tune spent atop the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, Americans of all ages and races poured out 40s for their departed homies. Then everyone realized what a waste of liquor this was, and the incident was never spoken of again.

    Photo: Courtesy of Black Market Records.

    "Stroke You Up," Changing Faces

    Talk about a polite come-on. "Do you mind if I stroke you up?" ask these R&B divas, as if anyone would say no to such a thing. Perhaps not surprisingly, this ode to heavy petting was penned by R. Kelly, a prolific songwriter who seemingly lives in a constant state of arousal. Kelly also wrote the follow-up single, "Foolin’ Around," an even more obscure boot-knockin' nugget worth another listen.

    Photo: Courtesy of Wea Corp.

    "I’m Ready," Tevin Campbell

    After scoring big with "Round and Round," his hit from Prince's Graffiti Bridge soundtrack, and playing Ashley Banks' celeb crush "Little T" in a memorable Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode, this teen heartthrob proved he was all grown up with a series of sensual R&B songs, including this one, written and co-produced by Babyface. If the lyrics aren't exactly poetic, they have a certain every-brah charm: "Baby, it was uncool to love me then leave me standing here now without a goodbye."

    Photo: Courtesy of Qwest/Wea.

    "Living In Danger," Ace of Base

    Believe it or not, there was a fourth hit from AOB's North American debut, The Sign, and like "All That She Wants," "Don’t Turn Around," and the album's title track, this one's a sparkly Scandinavian techno-ska number with a vaguely sinister keyboard line. Bonus: The video plays like a trailer for some Jodi Foster thriller that never got made.

    Photo: Courtesy of Arista.

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    Neon puffer jackets. Leopard-print pants. Transparent trench coats. If fall's latest crop of trends is telling us anything, it's that there's no better time to be a risk-taker when it comes to your cold-weather wardrobe. And if you think that "trendy" has to mean "$$$" — think again. Below are 10 statement-making items from Topshop that we've been crushing on — all available at Nordstrom for under $150 each, baby. So whether you're feeling houndstooth prints or faux-fur hoodies, swipe through the deck below to create your own collection of killer styles that are sure to turn some heads.

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    As someone who is heavily devoted to skin care, it's safe to say that I've been sucked in by all things K-beauty. Double cleansing, innovative ingredients like birch juice and rice ferment, the phenomenon of glass skin: The beauty buys I once deemed irreplaceable were slowly but surely being replaced by Korean superstar products in my bathroom cabinet.

    So this fall, when Farsáli founder Sal Ali told me he had something in the works that would give me glassy, dewy skin, I was all ears. Coming from the brand responsible for the blurring serum that works wonders and our Beauty Innovator Awards nominee Jelly Beam Illuminator, I knew this had to be good. From his jacket pocket, Ali pulled out a lab vial full of pearly liquid that had me fighting the urge to take out my KiraKira app.

    This sparkly substance was the Liquid Glass Radiance Make-Skin Serum (a makeup/skin-care hybrid — get it?), inspired by the glass-skin results that usually take an 11-step commitment to achieve. After watching his wife go through this lengthy process, Ali essentially wanted to eliminate the need for the other ten steps with just one product. And so he created this limited-edition serum, which has two key ingredients — hyaluronic acid and gently exfoliating fruit extracts of apple, orange, and watermelon — that work to both plump and hydrate the skin.

    Wearing the Liquid Glass serum — and nothing else.

    Ali swiped the formula on my hand, and I was impressed by the shine. But I was still skeptical: How would it feel and look on my actual face? I have sensitive skin, so I'm very reluctant when it comes to potent serums, but this one proved its worth after just one use. I took the product home and applied it as the last step in my morning skin-care routine. I released three droplets on my face, focusing on the cheeks and forehead, and rubbed it in upwards. I felt the moisture right away, like a cooling jelly, which was a breath of fresh air in the a.m. Afterwards, I decided to go with zero coverage — zip, nada, just mascara and eyebrow pencil. Because what's glass skin if you're covering it all up? (That said, the product can also be applied over makeup as a finishing step.)

    Overall, the results were everything Ali promised. My skin looked refreshed, and the glow was real — or, as my boyfriend put it, "You look sweaty, but in a good way." The light hit me in all the right places, and I couldn't believe that my skin had the so-called "dewy dumpling" look without any highlighter. The best part? The dewiness is long-lasting, and holds up through the driest environments (as in, the moisture-sucking air in my office, and the cold temps outside). Now all I need is the perfect coat, and I'll be able to get through the winter with ease. Except when I'm commuting on snow days — no serum or coat could ever make that less painful.

    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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    A perfect storm of five-star ratings, glowing reviews, and Instagram buzz can turn an otherwise unknown product into the biggest beauty launch of the year. But there's nothing that says, "You must have this product," like a 5,000-person wait list before one unit is even sold. That's the type of frenzy that Glow Recipe founders Sarah Lee and Christine Chang accomplished when they released their Watermelon Sleeping Mask back in 2017, and as a result, it sold out in just five hours. Clearly the duo has the formula for success down pat because that wasn't their only product win. Glow Recipe later dropped the follow-up Watermelon Pink Juice Moisturizer, which sold out twice.

    Fast forward to present day, and the K-beauty brand is ready to make yet another splash. This time, Glow Recipe is turning away from the summer fruit and leaning into a millennial food craze that plays right into their Instagram-loving fans' hands: avocado everything.

    The Avocado Melt Sleeping Mask works just like its watermelon sister; You apply it as the final step of your evening routine, leave it on as you catch some z's, and rinse it off in the morning. Simple as that. Or, you can use it like a regular mask, leaving it on for just 10 minutes. Avocado Melt has the same transfer-proof formula that won't stain your pillows — yes, we tried it and it's true — plus, it's just as bouncy and hydrating as the cult-favorite watermelon mask. So, how exactly is it different, besides the new mint green color?

    Well, obviously the ingredient list is new. While the original had watermelon extracts that worked to soften and brighten the skin, this new release has four forms of avocado — avocado flesh, avocado extracts, avocado oil, and avocado butter — to reduce inflammation and lock in moisture. It also has manuka honey to firm skin. Avocado Melt is meant to be the gentler version of the cult-favorite watermelon mask. Instead of alpha hydroxy acids, which can be harsh on sensitive skin types, the avocado remix was made with PHAs, or polyhydroxy acids, that eliminate dead skin cells without irritation (read all about acids here). All the ingredients work while you're sleeping, when your skin is working hard to regenerate and repair itself, so that you wake up with moisturized, plumped, and less red skin in the morning.

    Unfortunately, the Glow Recipe Avocado Melt Sleeping Mask ($46) won't be available until November 26 on sephora.com and doesn't hit stores nationwide until December 28, but the brand is allowing a lucky few to be the first to try with a 24-hour pre-launch sale (with free shipping) on November 19. For now, you can sign up for updates via glowrecipe.com. And trust us, you'll want to be sure that you sign up ASAP, because if the outcome of the watermelon collection proves anything, it's that this mask is likely to fly off the site faster than Michelle Obama's book tour tickets.

    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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    Michael Avenatti, the little-known lawyer who rose to fame for representing adult film star and director Stormy Daniels, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of domestic violence in Los Angeles. He denies the allegations.

    Avenatti, a self-proclaimed advocate of women’s rights, was booked on a felony domestic violence charge. Though details of the alleged incident have yet to be released, authorities told BuzzFeed News it had occurred at a residence on Santa Monica Boulevard near Beverly Hills. The celebrity gossip website TMZ initially identified the alleged victim as Lisa Storie-Avenatti, his estranged wife, but her attorneys issued a denial.

    "Ms. Storie-Avenatti was not subject to any such incident on Tuesday night. Further, she was not at Mr. Avenatti’s apartment on the date that this alleged incident occurred," they said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. "My client states that there has never been domestic violence in her relationship with Michael."

    Avenatti was released on $50,000 bail a few hours after his arrest. Shortly after his release, he denied the claims. "I have never struck a woman. I never will strike a woman. I have been an advocate for women’s rights my entire career, and I’m going to continue to be an advocate," he said at a news conference after being released from jail. "I am not going to be intimidated from stopping what I am doing. I am a father to two beautiful, smart daughters. I would never disrespect them by touching a woman inappropriately or striking a woman. I am looking forward to a full investigation, at which point I am confident that I will be fully exonerated."

    On Twitter, where he has amassed nearly 900,000 followers since catapulting to the public eye, he wrote: "Thank you to everyone who has reached out with supportive messages and offers of assistance. It means the world to me. I have always been an advocate of women's rights and equality & I always will be. I will not be intimidated into stopping my pursuit of justice and what is right."

    Avenatti has toyed with the idea of running for president in 2020 as a Democrat. He even launched his own political action committee (PAC) and has spent time traveling around the country in an effort to boost his political profile.

    The domestic violence allegations are not the first set of murky issues Avenatti has faced. His firm's finances came under scrutiny after it was forced into a temporary form of bankruptcy. In October, Avenatti was forced by a California court to pay $4.85 million to a former colleague. The Daily Beast also reported that the lawyer and his firm has owed millions in unpaid federal taxes as well as state taxes in California and Washington.

    His court appearance is set for December 5.

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    In her new memoir Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about her "trifecta," the three-person glam squad she credits for giving her the confidence to appear in public each day as first lady, and who knew "that a slip-up would lead to a flurry of ridicule and nasty comments." There was Meredith Coop, the fashion stylist, Johnny Wright, the lively hairstylist, and Carl Ray, the makeup artist Obama describes in the book as "soft-spoken and meticulous."

    Speaking over the phone with Refinery29 in between book tour stops with Obama, Ray admits the opportunity came to him as a complete surprise. One day in 2009, about six months after the inauguration, an email from Obama's team simply popped into his inbox, asking him if he'd like to audition to be the first lady's makeup artist. At the time, he was the resident makeup artist at The Four Seasons in Washington, D.C., painting the faces of socialites, brides, politicians, and musicians alike. "At first I thought it was a joke," Ray says. "Like, Oh, come on. From the White House? But then I wrote them back, and then I started to get really nervous."

    The audition took place at the White House (naturally), where Ray was given a few pictures that Obama liked of herself before she walked into the room, sat down, and let Ray get to work. "I remember saying a little prayer," Ray says. "Going upstairs to the residence, it was surreal. But then she came in, and we just started to giggle a little. We got along immediately, and really the rest is history."

    After calling Ray back in a few times for events, Obama's team finally said they'd love for him to join her squad, and since then he's been in charge of her makeup for every single major event and appearance, from state dinners to speeches to trips abroad. "There’s times when she won’t even look in the mirror when I’m done, that’s how much she trusts me," Ray says. "She doesn’t give me any guidance. She tells me what she’s wearing, like jeans or a dress, and then I do my thing."

    For Ray, the highlights of their time together are the quiet moments ahead of big events, where it's just him and Obama talking about their lives. There was also that time Ray did Obama's makeup in Buckingham Palace before she met the Queen, and the time he had to paint her face on the way to the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, on a plane that was so rocky that Obama had to help keep his hands steady as he applied lipliner. Oh, and he's done Barack Obama 's makeup plenty of times, too, gliding on some ChapStick and powder, grooming his brows, and making sure there were no razor nicks in sight before big events.

    For most of her time as first lady, Obama's makeup had to be kept relatively uniform to avoid what she'd call a "slip-up." The only times Ray could really go bold were for trips abroad, when they'd use makeup to honor the different cultures they were in, whether that be a peach lip in Cuba or black eyeliner in India. Now that she's not living in the White House, Ray and Obama have been able to play with what he calls "fresher" makeup looks. And if you've seen her these past few weeks, like on the cover of Essence or on a book tour stop, you can tell she is undoubtedly radiant.

    There’s times when she won’t even look in the mirror when I’m done, that’s how much she trusts me.

    So, of course we had to ask him just what is creating that glow. Ray first credits the fact that Obama is now far more relaxed as a former FLOTUS, but also told us that she loves skin-care products from her facialist Jennifer Brodeur (whose other equally famous client is Oprah). She's specifically a fan of her Peoni line, which you can buy in its entirety right now for $395, on sale from its usual $500.

    Thankfully, Ray's go-to skin care for clients is substantially cheaper; he loves both Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream ($30), and Cetaphil ($8.99) for cleansing. As for makeup, he's not devoted to one brand, but favors Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation, Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer, and Fenty Beauty Mattemoiselle Lipsticks. (He couldn't tell us the exact highlighter he uses on Obama, unfortunately.)

    After nearly 10 years working with one of the most recognizable women on the planet, Ray says he has three takeaways: Never be late, plan for the worst, and ultimately, believe in yourself and your dreams. "Before I got the offer to audition, I really put it out there in my mind [and] the universe that I wanted to do her makeup," Ray says. "I live in D.C., and who’d be the best person? Of course, it's her. And that's the power of following your heart."

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    This Foundation Guarantees Naturally Lit-From-Within Skin


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