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    Just for a second, let's fast-forward past the last two weeks of December — forget all the presents you still need to wrap (oh, and buy) — and cut to New Year's Eve. Maybe your ideal evening looks like something out of the movies; you're in a black velvet jumpsuit, reaching across the mahogany bar for another glass of champagne. Or maybe you're looking forward to ringing in 2019 with some much needed R&R, kicking back in front of the couch with a box of Chinese take-out.

    Whatever you're envisioning — crystal champagne flute or chopsticks — you'll want your nails to look as polished as possible for the big countdown. Ahead, we've rounded up the chicest New Year's Eve nail art inspiration, all of which are easy to DIY from the couch, or just before you call your Uber. From glossy berry tips to delicate metallic accents, scroll through to find the festive mani to match your 2019 vibe.

    Crisp white and gold glitter polish make an unexpectedly chic pairing — add a jade-green suede moto jacket and you've got your party look on lock.

    Go for elevated simplicity with an emerald velour blazer — sleeves rolled up to the wrist — and a single shiny gold bangle, polished off with almond-shaped nails painted pearlescent pink.

    The simple glossy berry manicure for the girl who'd prefer a heavy pour of Cabernet over a glass of bubbly any day.

    If you're in the mood for sparkle, try a nude base polish with tiny glitter polka dots sprinkled over the top.

    Gold foil flakes are like confetti for your fingernails.

    A bare nail with 3-D gold decals pressed along the cuticle and tip marries blingy and minimalist in the same manicure.

    If your New Year's Eve looks more like going in on some chicken lo mein while wrapped up in your favorite oversized sweatshirt and fuzzy socks, DIY a glossy red manicure while you're watching the ball drop.

    Pull out your summer go-to coral polish, pair it with a sheer pink glitter, and you have an unexpected holiday manicure that will impress everyone at the party.

    We've made the case for winter whites, and silver shimmer half-moon details add a festive flair.

    For the maximalist, we're obsessed with these mirrored-chrome accent nails, which look elevated paired with baby pink.

    If you're looking for the prettiest pale-bronze polish, look no further than this one from Sundays.

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    Welcome to Hype Machine, our hit-list of the top reviewed products across the web — according to a crowd of die-hard shoppers. Call this your 4-star & up only club, with entry granted by our devoted-to-the-goods shop editors

    There are cruel winter days when one coat just isn’t enough and reinforcements are necessary to avoid going completely numb. The additional layer that comes to our rescue on such dire days: the trusty insulated jacket. While our most external outerwear can run the stylish gamut in fits and aesthetic, our base layers require technical function. After all, it’s the fashion utility that allows us to actually wear our gorgeous winter coats all freezing-season long.

    As with many things, turning to the internet for a deep-dive into consumer comments is a best bet for finding vetted options. So, for this round of Hype Machine, we did just that. Ahead, find our curated list of the top-reviewed insulated puffers from shoppers who don't shiver in their overcoats. Click through to see which base layers will fit flawlessly underneath your favorite winter outerwear — while actually keeping you warm and snug on the chilliest days.

    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.

    The Lightweight Puffer
    For seamless layering, this lightweight jacket fits close to the body to avoid any extra bulk.

    The Hype: 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon

    What They’re Saying: “Warm, but not too bulky. Very light. I like it. If you are on the fence about sizing, order up especially if you have hips.” - Robyn M., Amazon Review

    Amazon Basics Lightweight Water-Resistant Packable Puffer, $44, available at Amazon

    The Pastel Puffer
    Give your winter vibe a sweet twist with this dreamy pastel puffer that's made from 15 renewed plastic bottles.

    The Hype: 4.71 out of 5 stars on Everlane

    What They're Saying: "True to size and fits beautifully. Versatile with both work outfits and around the house. The jacket is soft in texture, Light and very warm. Fits great under my waterproof jacket for those cold rainy days. Whenever I go out I get a ton of compliments." - Yopovi87, Everlane Review

    Everlane The ReNew Lightweight Puffer, $88, available at Everlane

    The Fitted Puffer
    Featuring paneling on the back of the waist, this puffer creates a fitted look for a flattering silhouette layered under your favorite coat.

    The Hype: 4.8 out of 5 stars on Uniqlo

    What They’re Saying: "I own Ultra Light vests, a parka, and now this jacket, and I love them all. They are so light and pack so well when traveling, yet they do an amazing job keeping me warm. Cannot beat the price point and quality. Will likely get more in other colors. I always order a size up.” - Baber, Uniqlo Review

    Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Jacket, $69.9, available at Uniqlo

    The Convertible Puffer
    Introducing the two-in-one puffer featuring removable sleeves that transform it into a vest. This is a game-changing feature, because it will still keep you warm, but won't be too constricting with an extra layer of puff if your main winter coat has slimmer sleeves.

    The Hype: 5 out of 5 stars on Target

    What They’re Saying: “I love it! It's really pretty, prettier than the picture. I got a small but it feels like a medium, so it is very spacious. The material is very shiny and it would be easy to spot clean.” - A customer, Target Review

    A New Day Adaptive Puffer Jacket, $44.99, available at Target

    The Versatile Puffer
    This is one of those jackets that does it all. It not only keeps you extra toasty (even if it’s -25 degrees outside), but dry as well in wet conditions, thanks to the Perfect Quantum nylon shell.

    The Hype: 4.4 out of 5 stars on L.L.Bean

    What They’re Saying: “I love this jacket! No hood, flattering fit, gorgeous color, and so lightweight I can wear it indoors yet be warm outside.” - Wyogal, L.L.Bean Review

    L.L. Bean Ultralight 850 Down Jacket, $219, available at L.L. Bean

    The Convertible Puffer
    Perfect for all your winter needs, this versatile puffer also coverts into a pillow through a hidden pouch in the collar—ideal if you’re a wandering traveler.

    The Hype: 5 out of 5 stars on Zappos

    What They’re Saying: “Pure genius is what this jacket is. Packing for a ski trip can be quite daunting because you have to bring so much and I'm usually limited to bringing just my ski jacket. This time I was able to bring this jacket because it turns into a pillow; so, I could carry it on the plane with me, use it as a pillow and at the ski resort, wear around town; very warm as well. Worth every penny.” - Customer, Zappos Review

    TUMI Clairmont Packable Travel Puffer Jacket, $195, available at Zappos

    The Printed Puffer
    A hint of floral print popping out of a bold outerwear piece will add an eye-catching (and practical) twist to your winter look.

    The Hype: 4.6 out of 5 stars on Loft

    What They’re Saying: “I bought this jacket a few weeks ago and get compliments almost everywhere I go. Warm, yet lightweight and easy fit. Don't hesitate on this one!” - Shoegirl71, Loft Review

    LOFT Floral Puffer Jacket, $128, available at LOFT

    The Long Puffer
    For those bone-chilling days when you need more coverage, try this longer puffer as a compliment to your favorite knee-length coat.

    The Hype: 4 out of 5 stars on Nordstrom

    What They’re Saying: “This is a great coat! I live in a Canadian border state and wanted a warm, but not overwhelmingly heavy, long puffer jacket. This jacket is light, but still keeps me warm. It will not overwhelm my suitcase when packing for trips and comes with a packing bag, which is convenient. I also love the color too! It’s a nice shade of olive and is a good alternative to the standard black puffer that is getting a bit boring. The fit is true, but size up if you live in a cold climate and regularly wear multiple layers. I have received a lot of compliments at work and family gatherings.” - ChasingSunrise, Nordstrom Review

    MICHAEL Michael Kors Packable Down Puffer Jacket, $149.9, available at Nordstrom

    The No-Fail Puffer
    While unassuming with the fitted look, this silhouette is actually as crazy-warm as reviewers say, thanks to a duck-down insulation that’s light but effective.

    The Hype: 5 out of 5 stars on Zappos

    What They’re Saying: “I bought this coat for a trip to Seattle in January. I needed something lightweight and warm. I love the color, style, and quality but almost sent it back because I thought surely it wouldn’t be warm enough. I decided to wear it on a cold, damp day and I am so glad I did. It is incredibly warm!! I will be keeping it and would recommend it to anyone looking for a lightweight, warm, wind resistant coat.” - Customer, Zappos Review

    Lole Emeline Jacket, $125, available at Zappos

    The Colorful Puffer
    While you could absolutely layer this puffer under a coat, it stands flawlessly on its own as well with the playful color-blocked detail.

    The Hype: 5 out of 5 stars on Bloomingdale’s

    What They’re Saying: “This jacket is to die for, lightweight, keeps you warm.I get compliments every time I wear it.” - Mecka, Bloomingdale’s Review

    AQUA Packable Rainbow-Stripe Puffer Coat, $69.98, available at Bloomingdale's

    The Stand-Collar Puffer
    If you’re looking for something without much of a collar to hide the extra layer under your coat, this is the puffer for you.

    The Hype: 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon

    What They’re Saying: “This is a great little jacket-especially for the price. It is lightweight yet warm and perfect for a southern winter. The jacket's exterior pockets zip shut which I like and there is an interior pocket perfect for a cell phone.” - A Loyal Amazonian, Amazon Review

    Cherry Chick Stand Collar Ultralight Down Jacket, $52.99, available at Amazon

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    The holiday season always inspires generosity, but it's important to remember that splurging on your nearest and dearest also comes with the harsh reality of credit limits and having to spend New Year's Eve with Chinese food takeout and a live telecast of Times Square on your couch — all because you went over budget.

    Don't get us wrong: The stay-in scenario might sound like heaven for some of us, but it's not quite the same when you know it's obligatory. But what if we told you there was a way to stay on budget and still get the perfect beauty gifts for everyone on your list, so that if you decide to spring for NYE takeout, it's because you want to (and not because you're in credit-card debt)?

    This holiday season, Sephora has countless products and kits at a wide range of prices, no matter how many coins you're looking to cash in. From affordable stocking stuffers for second cousins to extravagant kits for the extra-special people on your list, there's something for everyone — seriously. Ahead, seasonal Sephora beauty buys for every spending limit, so that you can live your best life during the holidays and into the New Year.

    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.

    $10 & Under

    Ponytail headaches are the absolute worst (Camila Cabello and Ariana Grande can both attest to that), so show the ones you care about how much you really care by having them make the much-needed swap from metal-clasp elastics to spiral-shaped hair ties. These bad boys don't pull on your roots or leave any marks — painless hair days all wrapped up in an adorable ornament.

    invisibobble SLIM Ornament, $8, available at Sephora

    If you want to trim the whole tree with beauty gifts, Sephora has plenty of options — including this Sol Je Janeiro bath bomb. With its warm tropical scent, it'll make your recipient's bath time feel like a mini escape to Rio.

    Sol de Janeiro Bum Bum Bath Bomba Ornament, $10, available at Sephora

    Give the gift of relaxation — with a kitschy, glamorous twist — with this gel eye mask, which soothes and depuffs eyes. It'll make a chill night at home look like a masquerade affair.

    Sephora Collection Glitter & Chill Cooling Mask, $8, available at Sephora

    Who said skin-care kits had to be expensive? This $10 set comes with a gentle cleanser and lightweight moisturizer, so dry winter skin will be the least of their worries.

    First Aid Beauty Clean Canyon, $10, available at Sephora

    $25 & Under

    You don't have to be a senior stylist to give the gift of a good hair day, thanks to this lineup of travel-size faves from the cool-girl go-to hair brand. With Dry Texture Foam, Volume Spray, Wave Spray, and six hair clips all included, you've got them covered, whatever style (or messy, tousled lack thereof) they're looking to achieve.

    Ouai Three OUAI Kit, $25, available at Sephora

    Beautyblenders should be replaced every three months, which means we're about, oh, 11 months behind. This cute stocking stuffer is the perfect excuse to restock — and we'll be grabbing one for our best friend while we're at it. The best part? The color is a surprise, and there's a mini cleanser to keep the new sponge in check.

    Beautyblender Sweet Surprise Mystery Blind Bag, $20, available at Sephora

    This fragrance, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, has such a devoted following, you can't really go wrong gifting this duo set to the perfume-obsessed on your list. They'll instantly be taken back to the simpler times of Juicy tracksuits and burned CDs.

    Marc Jacobs Daisy & Daisy Eau So Fresh Mini Set, $20, available at Sephora

    For the Fenty diehards in your life (we've all got one... or five), there's this set of two mini matte lipsticks in universally flattering shades of burgundy and dusty rose. The cute ornament may not get much use after the holidays, but the lip colors will look incredible year-round.

    Fenty Two Lil Mattemoiselles - Chill Owt Edition, $19, available at Sephora

    $50 & Under

    The weather might be wintry, but you can add a little bit of paradise to someone's life — or at least their makeup bag — with this set of five full-size brushes inspired by flamingos and pineapples.

    Tarte Let's Flamingle Brush Set, $44, available at Sephora

    There's no denying that this gift will confuse the recipient with its beverage-like packaging and baby face cap. But once they give these innovative rubber masks a try, they'll be happy they did — just like we were.

    Dr. Jart+ Shake & Shot To Go Set, $36, available at Sephora

    Yes, you can get good hot tools for under $50. Technically, this is a "mini," but it'll make a perfect gift for the travelers in your life who want more out of their styling options than just a hotel hair dryer.

    Amika Polished Perfection Mini Straightening Brush, $35, available at Sephora

    For the curly girls on your list, DevaCurl has everything they need to start off 2019 with even healthier strands in one handy kit. Their only worry will be thinking of new ways to style it... but we've got them covered on that front, too.

    DevaCurl Super Curly Care Kit, $48, available at Sephora

    $100 & Under

    If you know someone who loves their skin care as much as they love their frequent-flyer miles, then this ready-for-travel cleanser kit — which includes a limited-edition sonic cleansing brush, mini facial soap, and a travel-proof case — was made with them in mind.

    Clinique Cleansing by Clinique, $89.5, available at Sephora

    Get your most brow-obsessed friend the gift that people couldn't wait to get their hands on this month — so much so that it sold out in less than 24 hours. This buzzy kit has everything they need to live out their #browgoals.

    Benefit Cosmetics Bomb Ass Brows! By Desi Perkins Set, $59, available at Sephora

    The Urban Decay vaults have cemented their spot in the holiday beauty world over the last couple of years, and 2018 is no different. The brand has signed, sealed, and seriously delivered for the holiday season with this vault, which includes their latest Naked Cherry Eyeshadow Palette, three Vice Lipsticks, and two eye pencils.

    Urban Decay Naked Cherry Vault, $100, available at Sephora

    The days of receiving game boards as holiday gifts might be behind us, but Drunk Elephant is giving you that throwback feeling with a skin-care twist. This set comes with mini versions and one full-size of brand favorites, and also features a built-in skin-care game night with playing cards, instructions, and a magnifying glass.

    Drunk Elephant Agent Ellie Day Kit, $88, available at Sephora

    Over $100

    If that end-of-year bonus has you feeling like splurging on your loved ones, then go for something they'll really use — like a hair dryer. Dyson and Ouai teamed up to create a set that features the innovative Supersonic hair dryer alongside the styling products they'll need to create endless looks.

    Dyson Blown-A-OUAI Noir Set, $399, available at Sephora

    If you know someone who's committed to keeping their smile white — we're talking on a text-messaging basis with their dental hygienist — then this is the gift for them. This set brings together the power of an in-office whitening treatment with the comfort of at-home products. All they have to do is sweep on the gel, place the LED mouthpiece over their teeth, and tada! Brighter teeth in eight minutes.

    Glo Brilliant Teeth Whitening Device, $199, available at Sephora

    "Get more sleep" is a priority on many a resolutions list, so help the go-getters you know get their best-ever rest with a silk pillow and sleep mask. Unlike traditional pillowcases that cause damage to skin and hair, these make the phrase "beauty sleep" a reality by reducing split ends and protecting skin, and feeling really, really luxe in the process.

    Slip Beauty Sleep Collection, $119, available at Sephora

    If this palette is worthy of the red carpets, then it's worthy of the makeup lovers closest to you: These shadows have made it into the awards-show looks of countless celebrities, including Cardi B, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Chloë Grace Moretz.

    Pat McGrath Mothership V Eyeshadow Palette - Bronze Seduction, $125, available at Sephora

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    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    Of all the hot tools you'd expect to find in an L.A. hairstylist's kit — a modern blowdryer, an advanced flat iron, curling irons in every shape and size — hot rollers might be the most unexpected. It's often mislabeled as a one-look wonder, but you'll be shocked to know that modern versions of the throwback tool are having a huge moment among the Hollywood set.

    Need proof? Look no further than Ashley Graham's hairstylist David Lopez, who uses the tool to create an array of easy-to-copy looks on his A-list clients — and our model, ahead. In fact, once you get the basics down, you can craft everything from a classic blowout to a messy, cool-girl ponytail, with barely any effort at all.

    Click ahead for Lopez's hot-roller how-to: three easy looks in three days — without washing. Ready? Let's roll (pun intended).

    For Basics

    For this shoot, we enlisted T3's new hot rollers — and for good reason. The set has two heat settings (low for fine or damaged hair and softer styles; high for everything else) and is packed with both small and large rollers, with additional ones available for purchase. (Some styles benefit from added rollers, which you'll see ahead.)

    Other bells and whistles of note: Each roller has an internal ceramic heater for even temperature; the velvet exterior imparts shine and smoothness, while lightly holding hair in place; the plastic edges are grippy, break-resistant if dropped, and stay cool to the touch; and the clips won't dent the hair.

    Got 'em plugged in and warmed up? Great, let's get started.

    T3 VOLUMIZING HOT ROLLERS LUXE, $119, available at T3

    Day 1: The Bouncy (Non) Blowout

    The tool's claim to fame — a big, bouncy blowout sans blowdryer — is surprisingly easy to master. And it's the foundation of all the looks we'll do ahead, which makes it the perfect style for day-one hair.

    Note: Those with curly or very wavy hair, like our model Khadijha, will need to straighten out their texture with a blowdryer or flat iron to achieve this specific look. While the rollers are fantastic at imparting shine and smoothing the hair, the heat isn't strong enough to straighten very curly strands. However, a quick-and-dirty dry job is fine: "Don't worry about getting it smooth and sleek," Lopez adds. "Straight and puffy is fine!"

    Working with fine or stick-straight hair? "Start with a body-building or volumizing mousse, like Kenra Professional's Volume Mousse or Kevin Murphy's Body Builder Mousse," Lopez says. Rake through dry locks and comb to be sure it's evenly distributed.

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    First things first: Let's talk about the right way to roll. While it may seem natural, do not start at the ends of the hair and roll up — ever. That can create wonky ends and will focus the curl on the bottom half of the hair, which is not the modern, voluminous look we're going for here.

    Instead, give yourself a deep side-part and grab a large chunk of hair above the ear. Lift up the section to eye level (this gives you more volume, Lopez explains), then place the roller under it, a few inches from the scalp. Roll the hair below it slowly and evenly around the roller.

    Once you have all the hair secure and the ends are still loose — like in the image here — you can start rolling toward the scalp, carefully allowing the ends to smoothly rest around the outside of the roller. (This keeps them from receiving too much heat; the straighter the ends, the cooler the look.)

    Clip the roller in place, double-checking that your ends are smoothly placed. (Yes, this is an important enough step to repeat.)

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    Grab a few rollers and employ the same technique on all the hair at the crown. (A refresher: Lift the hair straight up, place the roller, wrap the hair, smooth the ends, roll toward the scalp, then clip.) "It's important to roll the hair at the crown back, so it falls and blends into the rest of your style," Lopez explains.

    When it comes to the hair in the front, pull it forward over your forehead (for maximum volume), and repeat, rolling toward the head in the same style.

    Next, roll the hair on the other side of the head, mirroring the first roll you did. You should end up with a roller on each side and a mohawk of rollers on top.

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    Finally, secure the hair in back with your remaining rollers. Comb out the hair, grab a section, and repeat the process, paying close attention to the ends of the hair. (Don't forget to make sure they're smoothly placed before clipping! Do we sound like a broken record yet?)

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    Keep on rocking and rollin'...

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    Et voilà — you've done a set in under 10 minutes! Now let the rollers fully cool, which takes about 20 minutes.

    Options to fill the time: Do your makeup, make breakfast, meditate, Snapchat your roller set with the dog filter, walk your actual dog and relish in the jealous stares — you get it.

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    Release the bottom roller and check the temperature. Letting your strands fully cool is paramount to getting volume — so don't rush it.

    Cool as a cucumber? Great, now you may gently release all the rollers.

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    Grab a wide-tooth comb and work it slowly through the hair to break up the curls. "A large comb will give a more lived-in feel to the blowout look," Lopez says. Loosely part the hair down the middle with your fingers — the less precisely, the better.

    Product time! After taking down your set, you can mist on a texturizing spray, like Dry Texture from Kenra Platinum or Après Beach from Oribe, to give it a rougher, cool finish, Lopez says. Or, if you have dry hair, "you can use one pump of a nourishing hair oil, like Young Again from Kevin Murphy or Revive Oil from Kenra Platinum, for smoothness through the ends.

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    And that's it! A loose, bouncy blowout that will last — and one that took far less time than a traditional blowdry. Now go out and conquer your day. But don't lather up just yet...

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    Day 2: The Throwback Set

    Starting on day-two hair? Perfect! Simply brush out your faux-blowout from yesterday using a boar-bristle brush, which will distribute oil and any residual product, adding further shine. Starting with clean, smoothed-out hair will work, too.

    For the humble hot roller's next trick, Lopez will be teaching us how to create an Old Hollywood, '40s-inspired wave — which looks just as rad styled with vintage denim as it does with a formal gown.

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    To begin, Lopez misted Kevin Murphy's Shimmer Shine through Khadijha's locks for megawatt, glossy results. He then created a clean, sharp part over the arch of her eyebrow. This will be your parting for the final look, so make sure you love the placement.

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    Draw an imaginary line from the top of one ear to the other (like a headband). We'll focus on everything in front of this line first.

    Starting with the hair opposite the parting, set one-third of the front section into a roller using the same technique as in the first look.

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    Repeat, making sure that the rollers are going in the same direction that you see here (away from your part). Don't forget to lift the hair up and to the side before rolling: "You want to build as much volume and shape in the mid-lengths of the hair [as you can], to support the waves when the hair gets brushed out," Lopez explains.

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    Repeat on the side with the part. Note: All the hair in this front section should be rolled away from the part, as you can see here.

    Prep the back section by combing it out.

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    Now, section the hair on the back of the head into manageable sizes (about three inches each). Lift, and repeat the same technique, making sure all the rollers are going back toward the nape of the neck.

    Note: You can use small or large rollers on the back of the head, but try to keep your sections the same size. The smaller rollers you use, the curlier the hair will be.

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    All rolled up? Chill for 20 minutes or so to allow your curls to fully cool. (And feel free to take a cute picture like this.)

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    Test a roller. Is it cool? Great, gently release 'em all.

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    Using a nylon-and-boar-mixture brush — here are some great affordable option s — gently brush through the curls from root to end, without disturbing your part. Stop once the waves start blending together.

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    Once your curls are brushed into wavy, glossy perfection, mist with light-hold hairspray. To get every last flyaway, Lopez misted some hairspray onto the brush and took one last pass over the top.

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    And you're done! You can add additional shine with another mist of Shimmer Shine if needed — but don't even think about shampooing tomorrow, because your bouncy (non) blowout still has legs...

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    Day 3: The Too-Cool Pony

    The curly pony gets a modern, cool-girl update thanks to a few volumizing bends. The best part? This style takes under five minutes to execute. Ready to get out the door fast as lightning? Plug in those rollers!

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    Brush out your 'do with a boar-bristle brush and gather not one, but two elastics. Why double up? "The two elastics will be stacked on top of each other to create more height and volume," Lopez explains.

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    Gently smooth back the hair with a brush, allowing the top section to remain as voluminous as possible. Loosely secure with one elastic at the crown.

    Pull apart the pony gently, driving the elastic tighter toward the head; this will make some of the hair on the scalp look roughed up and imperfect — which is a good thing. Stack the second elastic on top of the first.

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    Feelin' secure and lookin' cute? Grab your rollers!

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    Grab a chunk of hair and wrap just the mid-length of the section around a roller, then roll it up to the elastic. Leave at least one-third of the ends out of the roller. Lopez explains: "You're building volume and lift at the base of the ponytail and leaving the ends out for a more 'cool girl' texture and finish."

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    Keep going section by section, alternating the size of the roller, until all of the hair is rolled and clipped. Remember: Leave a few inches of your ends loose, or you'll end up with a bouncy '50s pony instead. (Still cute, but not what we're going for here...)

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    All done? Let them fully cool, then remove your rollers.

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    Shake out the bends, and lightly tease underneath a few sections for additional body.

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    Separate your pony, and blast the roots with dry shampoo or texture spray to get the grit necessary to help hold the look all day. Then, define ends with a bit of shine-giving wax. Finish with a light mist of hairspray all over. Don't hold back on product — you can wash it out later tonight.

    Lopez recommends Oribe's Dry Texture Spray, Bumble and Bumble's Sumotech Wax, and Kenra's Platinum HiDef Hairspray 16, respectively.

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

    There you have it — three looks in three days with just one tool!

    Which is your favorite? Tell us in the comments below.

    Photographed by Benjo Arwas.

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

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

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

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

    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.

    Skin Concern: Aging

    This drugstore pick from dermatologist Valerie Goldburt, M.D., proves that great serums don’t have to cost an arm and a leg (but may still be more $$ than other drugstore skin-care products).“My favorite is the Olay Regenerist serum with peptides. It's a low price point compared to the department-store equivalent and actually has benefits for the appearance of fine lines,” Dr. Goldburt says. The amino-peptide complex and vitamin B3 in this formula are wrinkle-smoothers, while the rest of the formula works to deeply hydrate your skin, so you get renewed surface cells with increased elasticity and plumpness, she says.

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

    Many beauty editors refer to this gentle retinol serum (which won our 2018 Beauty Innovator Awards) as, quite simply, "magic." Formulated by Shani Darden, Hollywood's most in-demand esthetician — whose hands touch the skin of Jessica Alba, Emily Ratajkowski, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and many others — it truly does everything you'd hope a rich-person, in-office resurfacing peel would do for you skin, but with zero irritation. Trusted dermatologists love it, and all of our editors (who vary in skin type, concern, and age), use this baby on the daily.

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

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

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

    Skin Concern: Dryness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Skin Concern: Uneven Pigmentation and/or Dullness

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

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

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

    SkinCeuticals Resveratrol B E, $153, available at SkinCeuticals

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

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

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

    SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, $166, available at SkinCeuticals

    Jessica Weiser, M.D., of the New York Dermatology Group, recommends Colbert MD’s Stimulate Serum to brighten skin. “This serum contains glycolic acid and antioxidants, in addition to the anti-inflammatory healing herb, gotu kola,” Dr. Weiser says. “It helps to promote collagen production while simultaneously brightening the skin and reversing signs of free radical damage.” Those with sensitive skin will appreciate the anti-inflammatory protection of gotu kola, but if you’ve got an aversion to silicones, just note that this one does contain dimethicone.

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

    Turn the lights back on for sallow skin with this newer launch, which is packed with bakuchiol, a plant-based ingredient that shows real promise as a more natural, less irritating alternative to retinoids. Toss in a mix of AHAs and Edelweiss stem cell to strengthen and rejuvenate a tired, dull-looking complexion, and you've got a brightening, gently resurfacing powerhouse that won't drive sensitive skin crazy.

    Ole Henriksen Glow Cycle Retin-ALT Power Serum, $58, available at Sephora

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

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

    Skin Concern: Acne

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

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

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

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

    iS Clinical Active Serum, $135, available at DermStore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    It takes a certain amount of styling finesse to master the "going-out" look during winter. And oftentimes it's just easier to cancel plans and stay wrapped up in a Snugge — instead of that skimpy dress with the strappy shoes. But in an effort to avoid being branded the flaky friend during this event-packed (and freezing) season, we crafted an outfit guide for fast-and-easy consultation in inclement weather.

    Ahead are 19 festive items to incorporate into your going-out-during-winter ensembles starting tonight. You won’t find the hypothermia-inducing go-tos you wore in the summer — or the lightweight knits that got you through fall. But what these winter essentials lack in lightness they more than make up for in stylish warmth. Whether you’re planning for an upcoming NYE celebration or prepping for casual drinks with your crew, the options ahead have you comfortably covered (sans Snugge).

    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.

    This is not your average long-sleeve dress. The glitter specs bring it to the next level.

    H&M Glittery Jersey Dress, $34.99, available at H&M

    This isn’t your run-of-the-mill sweater. Its eye-catching details – like the tie neck and on-trend hue – make it fun and appropriate for a chilly night out.

    Tibi Tie Collar Pullover, $425, available at Shopbop

    Now here’s a simple way to keep from freezing: Turn a faux-fur coat into a blouse alternative with the addition of a belt.

    Pixie Market Long Pink Faux Fur Coat, $189, available at Pixie Market

    The beauty of a jumpsuit is you can throw it on, add a pair of boots, and you’re all set with a festive and forward outfit.

    ASOS DESIGN Curve Jumpsuit With Blouson Sleeve, $72, available at ASOS

    You’ll stay extra-toasty pairing this robe dress with a layering top, wool trousers, and boots.

    Attico Velvet Robe Dress, $650, available at Farfetch

    Skip the strappy sequin dress and go for a just-as-effective turtleneck instead.

    & Other Stories Sequin Turtleneck, $89, available at & Other Stories

    Now these are what we call party pants.

    Chloé Metallic Flared Pants, $1595, available at Net-A-Porter

    You'll turn every head in this silver stunner.

    Who What Wear Long Sleeve Metallic Wrap Blouse, $29.99, available at Target

    Have a more formal soiree on your calendar? Add instant polish with a vibrant blazer.

    Violeta By Mango Flowy Suit Blazer, $129.99, available at Mango

    You can’t get more festive than a sequin bomber jacket. Dress it up with a skirt or down with jeans.

    Stine Goya Giselle Sequins Jacket, $395, available at Stine Goya

    Wear this with your favorite party top underneath or as another layering essential.

    Just Female Alley Roll-Neck Mesh Top, $83, available at Need Supply

    Try this dress as is with tall boots, or un-button it slightly and pair it with jeans for an alt look.

    Staud Shoko Two-Toned Ribbed-Knit Dress, $175, available at Net-A-Porter

    Keep cool (not that kind) in this forward faux-leather top.

    Nanushka Corsa Top, $390, available at Shopbop

    If you’re going for a printed dress, test out a statement style with long sleeves and a longer hem for extra coverage.

    Rejina Pyo Sibylle Dress, $725, available at Rejina Pyo

    A metallic moto is a smart layering piece for any hipster party on your agenda.

    VEDA Baby Jane Jacket, $998, available at VEDA

    Because staying cozy and cute is never a bad thing.

    Everlane Cashmere Turtleneck Dress, $165, available at Everlane

    Again, you probably don’t think of a turtleneck as saucy for a night out, but a mesh leopard iteration may change your mind.

    Ganni Tilden Leopard-Print Mesh Top, $96, available at

    Toss this over any of your favorite pants for a very right-now vibe.

    Kowtow Building Block Sweater Dress, $189, available at Kowtow

    The perfect alternative to the LBD for a NYE soiree.

    Reformation Speck Jumpsuit, $278, available at Reformation

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    Marvel's Black Panther is the highest grossing superhero movie of all time. Worldwide, the acclaimed blockbuster made more than $1.2 billion, and the Wakanda-effect didn't stop there. Starring a nearly all-Black cast, Black Panther was a watershed moment, and one that the film's costume designer Ruth E. Carter hoped would leave a lasting impression. “I want people to have a new vision of the continent of Africa,” she told Refinery29 in February. “I want people to understand it's not just this dark place where everyone dresses the same with bones in their nose, living in a grass hut. People need to see this is a modern continent. It has a voice and an aesthetic. We just put it on blast.” But we don't think Carter anticipated mainstream fast-fashion brands would interpret the moment quite this way.

    On Tuesday, Forever21 tweeted "Wakanda Forever, get the sweater here" alongside a photo of a purple, orange, red and yellow mens' top, called a "Wakanda Forever Fair Isle Sweater," which was modeled on a white, blond, blue-eyed male model.

    It didn't take long before Twitter began to mock the misstep. (The sweater, by the way, was decidedly not official, Marvel-sanctioned Black Panther merchandise.) Comedian (and host of an upcoming new weekly late night Showtime series) Desus Nice tweeted, "this sweater just called 311 because Shuri's making too much noise in her lab," while user @lisa2bags wrote "they got white people in the official Black Panther merch, and a Black guy in the bootleg. I mean... YIKES." The tweet has since been deleted, but the product still exists on the retailer's website. Forever21 has yet to comment further on the matter.

    As it happens, this misfire comes after Prada was criticized last week for a New York City store window display featuring a charm resembling a Blackface character with huge eyes and big red lips. The Italian fashion house promised to erect an advisory council to "guide efforts on diversity, inclusion, and culture." Similarly, H&M and Zara have also come under fire recently for being racially and culturally insensitive. The latter, the New York Times is reporting, are “beefing up their approval process” for products before they land in customers hands — or on social media where they can be called out.

    It sounds like Forever21 would also benefit from taking similar measures (among just general all around better business practices).

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    You'll find two types of celebrities on the red carpet: one who wears a floor-grazing, rainbow-striped wig and another who just got their first trim in over a year (and it's no more than an inch). While both are admirable in their own ways, there are few stars who can masterfully try both extra and ordinary looks, but one name in particular comes to mind: Katie Holmes.

    Okay, she's never actually worn technicolor hair before (at least, not that we know of), but Holmes is the Hollywood risk-taker we never really appreciated until now. More often than not, you'll find us raving about her new bob (who doesn't have one these days?). But on occasion you'll catch the 40-year-old actress sporting a glossy, finger wave at the Grammys, an unexpected pixie cut in the middle of the airport, or baby bangs on the streets of New York. In other words, she'll try anything once.

    History tells us Holmes is fearless when it comes to trying new styles, cuts, and lengths. But her willingness to play with her hair is only half the reason she actually takes the plunge — the other half is her longtime hairstylist, DJ Quintero. So, in honor of the star's birthday, we talked with Quintero about why Holmes' low-key look is so covetable, how he came to become BFFs with America's sweetheart, and exactly why she copied Kris Jenner's iconic pixie last year. His answers, ahead.

    Fashion First, Celebrities Second
    "I always felt like I was an artist, and my dream was to be in New York City to create art. Hair ended up still being my art, just translated through a different medium. But my hairdressing career didn't start on the celebrity side of the industry. Editorial work and fashion drove me. I just wanted to make a beautiful image as opposed to working with a specific celebrity.

    "I was Serge Normant's assistant for over five years, and with him I was able to do tons of shows during Fashion Week. It was exactly what I dreamt of doing. I was a young, ambitious hairdresser who just wanted to learn everything, and the chaos backstage was great for that. Eventually, as Fashion Week started to slowly transition to more brand sponsorships, I began working with more celebrities."

    From TV Icons To Rockstars
    "The first celebrity haircut I did was Sarah Michelle Gellar. I was really nervous, but I tried to hide it. She was so cool, and we got along so well — she's still a client today. I don't even know if she knows she was my first celeb client. I also do Mick Jagger's hair, and you can imagine how stressful it is to mess with someone's signature shag. I held my breath the entire time I did his hair the first time. I felt like he would hear my breathing and it would be annoying, so I just didn't take a breath the whole appointment. He ended up liking what I did with his hair and kept asking for me, which made me think, I must be doing something right.

    "These days, I don't get starstruck that often because I worked with Serge for so long. He's old-school in that it was always about the work and paying dues, not what magazines I was shooting with or what celebrity I was styling. That's why I never really ask celebrity clients for photos for Instagram, unless they ask. For me, it's about the quality [of the work], not the quantity [of the photos]."

    The A-List Client — & Friend
    "I've been working with Katie a long time. I was still an assistant when Serge first started working with her, and it's been about eight years since. We've known each other for so long and have really built such a trusting relationship that we can take those silly photos, try new things, and take risks. She really is my friend. She's also a true artist and encourages other people's artwork, too.

    "Katie can be glamorous and edgy; she's so versatile. She is so low-maintenance and doesn't want to put too much effort into a cut, which is probably why it always looks so much cooler. I never try to make her hair look rigid or hard, because that's not her style. She's not the person who will blowout her hair every single day.

    "I don't have one specific favorite look we've done, but I'll say I like that she can make an old Hollywood style work, which is what we did at the 2017 Grammys when Katie presented. I suggested we do glossy, finger waves, and we ended up doing glossy, finger waves. She really lets me doing anything to her hair."

    The Unintentional Kris Jenner Cut
    "The pixie cut happened when she was preparing for a movie role last year. She came to me and said, 'I have to look like a dowdy mom.' So, I suggested she get a wig, and she said, 'No, I want to cut my hair.' It took us two days to get it done because I kept cutting and cutting; she thought it was too fashionable every time. I was like, 'Katie, I know you want to look a certain way, but I can't give you a shitty haircut.' The Kris Jenner reactions happened while Katie's hair was growing back out. I mean, Kris has great hair so..."

    Products He Won't Live Without
    "I don't know if they still make this product, but one of my favorite drugstore products was the OGX Coconut Water. It was this light oil spray. Everywhere I go I can't find it, but if I do, I buy it in bulk and use it to add shine to everything. I also really like Serge's Meta Lush Volumizer and Phyto's Volumizing Spray for adding lift.

    "I love all of Harry Josh's Pro Tools. I use them all except maybe the flat iron. For that, I use GHD. I only use a Marcel curling iron because that's how I was taught. Most people like to use an iron with a clamp or the wand, but I think that's only good for someone styling their own hair, not a professional styling someone else's. The Marcel iron is made for pros."

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    Welcome to Unfiltered, where we give our honest, no-B.S. reviews of the most buzzed-about beauty products, brands, and services on the market right now.

    "Thanks, it's Zara" is the fashion world's polite way of taking a compliment. And this month, that sentiment will extend to a lot more than $100 winter coats and stylish boots. The retailer just announced a line of makeup products — including 12 on-trend matte lipsticks and liners with serious fashion street cred.

    If the mix of rich reds, deep berries, and creamy nudes wasn't cool enough, the velvety-matte formula comes wrapped in Instagram-ready tubes that were inspired by 35mm film. Of course, like any Zara release, they're also affordable – ranging from $10 up to $26 for a set. Before we got too excited, we asked eight R29 staffers to swipe on almost all of Zara's Ultimatte lipsticks and give their honest opinions. Read their thoughts, 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.

    Jessica Cruel, Deputy Beauty Director

    I Tried: UM12

    The Verdict: "I love the color of this plum lipstick — the almost-black shade of purple reflects my winter mood perfectly. I will say that the creamy color settled into every chapped area of my lower lip, making the finish a little spotty. Next time, I'll definitely take the time to do a lip scrub before swiping on this formula."

    ZARA BEAUTY ULTIMATTE UM12, $12.9, available at Zara

    Eliza Huber, Fashion Market Writer

    I Tried: UM17

    The Verdict: "Honestly, I'm not a huge lipstick person — I've never been one to use anything more than lip balm or nude gloss. But for someone who's super inexperienced, Zara's new lipstick was really easy to put on. It stayed on well throughout the day and by the time I was heading home from work, it still had a nice stain look to it. While I might not opt for coral again in the middle of winter, this will definitely be a good option once spring rolls around again."

    ZARA BEAUTY ULTIMATTE UM17, $12.9, available at Zara

    Thatiana Diaz, Beauty Writer

    I Tried: UM03

    The Verdict: "It's so hard to find the right nude color, and this shade was godlike. I'm pretty sure I even heard an angel choir go ' ahhhhh' when I rubbed it on. I will say that the formula is extra creamy, so it's important that you apply it carefully or you've got yourself a real mess. Overall, I'm a fan."

    ZARA BEAUTY ULTIMATTE UM03, $12.9, available at Zara

    Landon Peoples, Fashion Features Writer

    I Tried: UM11

    The Verdict: "I'm not an everyday lipstick wearer — and I didn't leave this on for too long — but I've dabbled in some matte lips in the past. It was good because it went on smooth, smells amazing, and was pretty easy to apply without a mirror. And it did stay. But despite its sharp hue, it was thin — meaning I had to really lay it on — and it came off pretty easily. I'd definitely buy, but I want to know more about it (in terms of ingredients and the sustainability of its packaging)."

    ZARA BEAUTY ULTIMATTE UM11, $12.9, available at Zara

    Aimee Simeon, Beauty Writer

    I Tried: UM16

    The Verdict: "I loved the punchy red color, which is vibrant enough to wear year-round. The bullet has a sharp rounded tip which allowed me to perfectly outline my lips. It went on like silk and settled into a moveable matte finish I wasn’t mad at. The formula isn’t thick or tacky, and it won’t adhere to your lips like a MAC bullet or a Maybelline liquid lipstick would. So, if you’re seeking longevity — this ain’t it. But if you’re waiting on that long-as-hell Zara line and just want to pick up a fun color to match your outfit, then I say go for it."

    ZARA BEAUTY ULTIMATTE UM16, $12.9, available at Zara

    Michelle Li, Associate Stylist

    I Tried: UM04

    The Verdict: "Whenever I ask my mom for chapstick, she ALWAYS hands me her lipstick. She is a strong believer that lipstick also hydrates your lips, which hasn’t been the case for me until I tried this one. It’s super creamy, but not shiny, and I loved the color and cupcake-like smell."

    ZARA BEAUTY ULTIMATTE UM04, $12.9, available at Zara

    Channing Hargrove, Fashion News Writer

    I Tried: UM12

    The Verdict: "I appreciate that the pointed bullet makes it easy to line my lips before filling them in with color. This dark shade was the perfect amount of 'daytime drama' and the formula felt comfortably light on my lips. I didn't have to apply a lot to get good color payoff — and I'm also a huge fan of the smell and the film roll tube it comes in."

    ZARA BEAUTY ULTIMATTE UM12, $12.9, available at Zara

    Rachel Lubitz, Senior Beauty Writer

    I Tried: UM06

    The Verdict: "Honestly, when was the last time you were truly impressed with a fashion retailer's makeup line? For me, it has been... never. So I was obviously skeptical of these Zara lipsticks, but they ended up proving me wrong. The formula is rich and luscious. The color I chose was divine — a shade I'd describe as strawberry, with hints of both red and pink. I was ready for this to get all over my coffee cup, but a few hours later I looked over and saw just a slight lip print on the rim. I'm astounded the stuff costs less than $15. My only complaint is that I wish the lipsticks had cheekier names."

    ZARA BEAUTY ULTIMATTE UM06, $12.9, available at Zara

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    Are you ready to get comfortable, Virgo? Jupiter will inhabit your fourth house of home and family for almost all of 2019. But the planet of luck and expansion won't be alone in making this an advantageous year for your home life — your planet of pleasure, Saturn, is entering your fifth house of entertainment and love, ensuring that 2019 heralds harmony in your living space. How's that for domestic mojo?

    Venus, your personal planet of finances, is moving at full speed throughout 2019, without a retrograde in sight. Her direct motion aside, Venus' activity may make it harder for you to keep your attention on one subject when thinking about your spending and saving. At the end of the year, on December 27th, Jupiter will join Saturn in your fifth house of love and pleasure.

    Mercury, the planetary ruler of your sign and your career zone, goes retrograde three times this year. Mark your calendar for the following periods: March 5 to 28, July 7 to 31, and October 31 to November 20. Retrogrades are a time to slow down, review, and revise your work. In other words, you might not feel like you're making any real progress during these periods. That said, they will be a fantastic opportunities to reach out to old friends and coworkers. You can also return to any missed opportunities and create checklists to improve your productivity.

    The solar eclipse that will occur on January 5 or 6 (depending on where you live) in Capricorn may bring a drastic change to your love life. Choose your words carefully on January 13, June 16, and September 2. Lucky Jupiter squares against dreamy Neptune in emotional Pisces. You could fall under the false impression that every thought you have about your partner is true, but you’d be wrong. Avoid hurting anyone’s feelings by letting your significant other and friends speak for themselves and even make their own mistakes.

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    Your Leo Horoscope For 2019 Is Here

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    In 2019, your primary focus will be on verbal and written interactions, Scorp. Your ruling planet, Pluto, has been in close collaboration with Saturn, the cosmic taskmaster, from their positions in your third house of communication. These two planets are working together to help you fine-tune your approach to generating and seeking out opportunities. If you’re a quieter person, applying your strategic nature to your words may feel easier than before.

    Jupiter, the planet of luck, will inhabit your second house of value and possessions until December 2. If your goal is to create a comfortable financial future for yourself, throw your weight and your words behind it — any moves you make during this year will be beneficial.

    This year, pay attention to the sun as he will undergo three eclipses this year. The sun is responsible for managing your career zone, and each of his eclipses will help you determine what needs to change (and what needs to go) in your work life. We often get into habits that can hinder our growth, but these solar events will help you evolve into a more successful professional. And don't sleep on the lunar eclipse on January 20 in Capricorn, either. This eclipse will highlight a project that hasn’t been going anywhere and encourage you to leave it behind. Don’t fret, and be thankful that your time is being freed up for more forward-thinking ideas!

    Uranus, your personal planet of home and family life, is moving from your sixth house of health to your seventh house of relationships. If you’re in a relationship that hasn’t been working for you, you’ll be presented with options that serve you better, with or without your S.O. If you’re happy with your partner, you will find new ways to give each other space and develop individually. Uranus is a planet of intense change, but he shouldn’t be looked at with fear. Instead, think of him as a force that prompts profound understanding. This movement begins on March 7 and will last for the next seven years.

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    Your Leo Horoscope For 2019 Is Here

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    In 2019, Jupiter bestows his luck upon your third house of communication. He'll sharpen your wit and offer you more opportunities to take weekend getaways. Make this the year that you finally explore your neighboring cities and nature. Plan camping trips, hikes, and quick jaunts to cure any bouts of wanderlust! On March 7, Uranus, the planet of innovation and change, moves from your seventh house of relationships into your eighth house of regeneration and sex. The next seven years will involve experimentation of all kinds when it comes to matters of death, taxes, and rebirth.

    Pay close attention to your work life when 2019's lunar eclipses come around, Libra. Your career planet is, after all, the moon, and its eclipses will likely reveal new information about how you can best succeed.

    Pluto, your personal planet of money and finances, is working steadily in your fourth house of home and family, encouraging you to create financial goals that will generate stability throughout your life. Thanks to the dwarf planet’s energy, you will continue to reinvent and perfect the ways that you spend and save wisely. If you’re unhappy with your current career, you’ll get to do some soul-searching in early spring. Mercury, your personal planet of good fortune, will tour through dreamy Pisces from February 10 to April 16. The messenger planet will help you figure out your priorities — are you living to work or working to live?

    Have the past seven years been a tad tumultuous for your relationships, Libra? You’ll be excited to hear that Uranus, the great agent of change, is moving from your seventh house of relationships into your eighth house of sex. That means that your love life will gain stability, while your sex life will heat up. You’re feeling more open to experimentation and could reignite a spark with your partner. Open up those lines of communication and discuss what you'd each like to try together, then let things take their steamy course. Your love planet, Mars, is moving direct all year long, helping you find direction, whether you are attached or single.

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    Your Leo Horoscope For 2019 Is Here

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    Ready to glow? Jupiter, the planet of happy coincidences and fortune, is spending 2019 in your fifth house of pleasure! Uranus, the planet of change, makes a major move on March 7, sliding into Taurus and your 10th house of career for the next seven years. This period will see you reaching your goals, but they won't be without their ups and downs. Take each lesson in stride and stay the course, dear Leo.

    We’ve got three solar eclipses and two lunar eclipses coming up this year, which will all encourage change in different areas of your life. Eclipses tend to hit you harder than most signs, since your ruling planet, the sun, doesn't like to have his light hidden! Brace yourself for the lunar eclipse in your sign on January 20 or 21 (the timing will depend on where you are), which will signal that it’s time for you to evolve beyond an old version of yourself and determine how you want to present yourself to the world now. July 16’s lunar eclipse in Capricorn will help you tackle obstacles at work that no longer need to be your problem.

    Have you been waiting to level up at work? This March, Uranus, the planet of innovation, will move into your 10th house of career. It might be a bumpy ride, but by 2026, when Uranus moves out of this house, you’ll feel so secure in your skills and job that your current frustrations will feel like a far-off dream. If you’re looking for a new job or going down a different career path, a favorable opportunity could fall into your lap just after May 15. A new moon in Taurus will open you up to accolades and honors. Three of this year's five eclipses occur in Capricorn, reminding you to work smarter, not harder. January 5, July 16, and December 25 will be great days for setting boundaries at work.

    If you’re single and looking to partner up this year, you won’t find anyone from behind your cell phone. Ditch that blue-light-shining eye trap and get out into the world! You could find a great match through your social circle. While you’re at it, leave your list of must-haves behind, too. Someone well beyond the bounds of your "type" may catch your eye. Mark January 22 in your calendar when Venus and Jupiter conjoin in Sagittarius. Let love surprise you! Partnered Leos will find their mates showering them with attention. Celebrate this banner year of joy and pleasure with demonstrations of your love.

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    As part of a new campaign, personal finance company SoFi is taking the taboo out of money talk by encouraging people to share their stories with a powerful new video. In it, six pairs of strangers open up about their personal financial situations — from the refreshingly candid to the deeply personal.

    The common denominator in most of these stories: student loans. Last month, student loan debt in the U.S. reached a terrifying record: $1.465 trillion, a figure that has doubled since the 2008 recession.

    Sophia, a 31-year-old SoFi member featured in the video, shared a particularly troubling story about a time when her mounting debt was so overwhelming that she considered "ending it all" and letting her mother collect the insurance money as a way out of the financial crisis.

    Sophia talks about how 2013 was, in her words, a "dark period." She had close to $150,000 in debt and one of her private student loans went into default. She went to her credit union to see what could be done, but at that point her credit was too low and there was no way she could take out a personal loan. It was hard to envision a way out.

    "I was rethinking: Why did I go to college? Why did I spend so much? What's the point? I was trying to reconcile, how am I supposed to get out of this situation if I have a blemish on my credit because of life?" says Sophia during a phone interview with Refinery29.

    Her stepfather was able to take out a personal loan in his name, with the agreement that Sophia would pay off the default. But it really wasn't until she reconnected with a financial lawyer friend from church that she was fully able to see and believe in a way out.

    "She sat down with me, went through all of my finances, and built a budget, like a simple Excel spreadsheet, and had some hard conversations with me. It took her taking time out of her very busy schedule and being nonjudgemental to really talk to me and create a space that allowed me to continue to be vulnerable. That was the game changer. From that point, I became obsessed with savings and paying off everything."

    And now, with the help of SoFi, Sophia is on track to pay off all of her debt and is in her first year of a 10-year refinance.

    The video, directed by Tatia Pilieva, best known for her viral "First Kiss" video, was developed around the idea that we all have money struggles and anxieties. The conversations had on camera were completely organic, and participants weren't prepped ahead of time.

    "What made this video so special was that these moments we captured were real and unfiltered. We knew that for this video to make an impact it had to be authentic," says Joanne Bradford, Chief Marketing Officer at SoFi.

    I don't want anyone to feel how I felt. It's so isolating, and you think you're the only one with the issue even though all the statistics tell you otherwise.

    For Sophia, sharing parts of her story with Imran was easy, where others were nerve-wracking. She'd never really told anyone how much she owed — that number was always her own personal secret. But she found that the more she talked about it, the easier it got.

    "I don't want anyone to feel how I felt. It's so isolating and you think you're the only one with the issue even though all the statistics tell you otherwise," Sophia says.

    At the end of the video, Imran, newly out of debt himself, challenges her to act out how she will greet the day on her first debt-free morning. He goes first, and then Sophia follows his lead: "Good morning, good morning, good morning!" she shouts, with a bounce in her step.

    SoFi is encouraging everyone to share their stories with the hashtag #moneytalks and the tag @SoFi.

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    For all we’ve read and watched and heard about tiny homes, no one has discussed the business of getting ready inside one. By “getting ready,” I mean not just the basic concerns of personal hygiene, but the whole production of makeup application, hair styling, and ensemble selection — arguably the most enjoyable part of any social engagement. And also something that is decidedly not easy to do in 170 square feet of space.

    I came to this realization while straddling a toilet during my day-long stay in a tiny home (built by Plastics Make It Possible) in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. The only mirror in the space was small — at least compared to the several oversized ones hanging throughout my Brooklyn apartment — and shaped like a pentagon. It hung directly behind said toilet, meaning that in order to successfully apply makeup, I had to stand with my legs on either side of it. It wasn’t uncomfortable, necessarily, and provided a relatively convenient place to place my makeup bag, but it was not exactly glamorous. Sometimes, when I’m getting ready for a big night out in my permanent home, I like to pretend I’m an old-timey movie star. I put on a silky robe, I mix a stiff cocktail, I select a jazz playlist from Spotify. I am not exactly sure how attempting to achieve the perfect cat-eye with a toilet wedged between my bare legs would fit into this fantasy, but I imagine not well.

    What’s more — not to sound off-puttingly high-maintenance here — there was no electrical outlet inside the bathroom of my tiny home, which meant if I wanted to blow-dry my hair, I’d have to do it in the middle of the living area. Which would mean I’d inevitably always be finding strands of stray hair draped across my couch cushions. And who knows how the hell I’d go about achieving my signature beachy waves? Perhaps I could prop a mirror up somewhere by the kitchen sink, where the outlets were abundant? And while I had with me just a small overnight bag during my stay, a glimpse into the closet revealed a space that could absorb, at best, about an eighth of my total wardrobe. Not including coats and shoes.

    It has crossed my mind that, perhaps, tiny homes were just not made for people like me.

    Tiny homes — unlike crappy studio apartments, dingy trailers or other small, traditionally undesirable residences — are part of a “movement,” you see, thus the basis of their appeal. You’re not just getting a place to live, you’re getting a lifestyle. Something to subscribe to. Plus, they’re just cute.

    While early pioneers of the tiny home movement emerged in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the concept didn’t go mainstream until a few years ago, thanks in part to shows like FYI’s Tiny House Nation and HGTV’s Tiny House Hunters, both of which debuted in 2014. There’s also Tiny House Builders (HGTV), Tiny House World (FYI), Tiny Luxury (HGTV), and Tiny House Nation (FYI). Tiny homes also star in countless YouTube videos and serve as the subject for blogs and social media accounts. Before you ask: Yes, there are even tiny home influencers.

    I can attest that they are just as sweet IRL as they appear when beamed at you through your computer or TV screen. The tiny home that I stayed in was filled with size-appropriate plants and awash in natural light. The bed was lofted, accessible via a compact, winding staircase. There was a tiny ledge topped with fake cactuses visible only from the bed. It was a millennial interior design dream. From the outside, however, it looked like, well, a very small house. With its dark red paint and shingled roof, it looked plucked right out of the suburban landscape of my youth. Fine, so it also had wheels and was parked in a campground in the middle of the Arizona desert, but the point still stands.

    The cutest thing about tiny homes is their environmental impact, or lack thereof. Currently, homes and other buildings make up about 40 percent of America’s total energy use. Smaller spaces mean less energy consumed, and most tiny homes are also built with solar panels, LED lighting, and other energy-conserving flourishes. For example, the tiny home I stayed in was crafted from super-advanced plastic building materials that improve its overall energy efficiency. For approximately $180, you could heat and cool it for an entire year.

    This brings us to the second cutest thing about tiny homes, which is that you — yes, even a budget-shirking, student loan-having, avocado toast-splurging millennial — have a good chance of being able to afford one. The average cost to build a tiny home is $23,000, and there are several examples of people who have done it for much less. Couple that with the $15 a month or so you might spend on heating and cooling, and the financial benefits are mind-blowing. Granted, you still have to somehow acquire land to put it on — and said land is more likely to be available and affordable in Arizona than it is in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, or any of the other major metropolitan areas where many young people (and the companies that employ them) tend to cluster. But for the 70 percent of millennials who don’t think they’ll ever be able to afford to buy a house, tiny homes could provide a glimmer of hope. Assuming we can adapt to living in them.

    In the 24-ish hours I spent inside my tiny home, in addition to my little adventure in getting ready, I did many of the same things I might do in my everyday, non-tiny home life. These included working, looking at memes on my phone, eating Cheetos, drinking white wine, and catching up on Bachelor in Paradise. I took myself out for Mexican food, swam in a nearby pool, and got a massage. In going about these activities, I deduced that there are two keys to successfully inhabiting such a space. The first is customization. Most of my aforementioned getting-ready grievances could be easily remedied if I had a hand in designing the place. In a space so small, it’s imperative that every inch of it is working for you, which is why most companies that fabricate the homes work with you to personalize them.

    The second is an adjustment of attitude and expectations. Were I to move into a tiny home, I would have to forgo a sizable portion of my wardrobe and other possessions. Customization and storage hacks can ensure 170 square feet doesn’t feel like 170 square feet, but it’s still 170 square feet. When we choose to adopt — or, as is sometimes the case, are forced into — small spaces, our instinct is to try to cram in everything we own so we don’t feel like we’re sacrificing anything, when in reality, we’re just making it feel claustrophobic.

    When people speak of the tiny home lifestyle, I think this is what they mean. A common misconception, though, is that this necessitates adopting some kind of spartan, pioneer woman existence that eliminates the frivolous pleasures of eyeshadow and curling irons. That’s a little drastic, not to mention sexist. There’s still room for a little luxury inside a tiny home; you just have to be prepared to Marie Kondo the shit out of the rest of your existence.

    On the morning of my departure from the tiny home, I found myself overcome with an unexpected sadness. Unlike a hotel or your average Airbnb, tiny homes start to feel like home quickly. Part of it is the fact that all you have to do is but down your bag and fling open your suitcase, and it appears you’ve taken over the place. But part of it is that inherent cuteness again. Something about these little habitats just embraces you like a hug.

    It was then, though, that I realized something I had somehow missed the day before: the shower. It was just a head. In the middle of the bathroom. Were I to adopt this tiny home lifestyle, my sacred getting-ready space would not only be potentially tainted by the existence of a toilet, it would also be… my shower. Suddenly, and for the first time in my adult life, my overpriced apartment and bloated electric bill seemed incredibly easy to justify.

    Travel and accommodations for the author were provided by Plastics Make It Possible for the purpose of writing this story.

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    An assistant principal at a West Virginia high school allegedly harassed a 15-year-old transgender student over his bathroom use, taunting him to "come out here and use the urinal" in order to prove whether he was really a boy.

    According to a letter by the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia, Liberty High School sophomore Michael Critchfield says the official misgendered him throughout the humiliating exchange before concluding: "I’m not going to lie. You freak me out."

    The civil rights organization outlined the incident, which allegedly took place in late November, in the letter sent Monday to Dr. Mark A. Manchin, superintendent of Harrison County Schools. On Tuesday, Manchin announced that assistant principal Lee Livengood would be suspended with pay through Friday, when the holiday break begins.

    "While we are heartened to hear the administration admit to wrongdoing, a four day paid suspension of an employee is not sufficient," ACLU-WV said in a statement. "The Harrison County School District needs to make significant changes to its culture."

    A 2017 study found that West Virginia is the state with highest percentage of teenagers who identify as transgender.

    The alleged incident took place on Friday, November 27. Michael was part of an after-school marching band trip and decided to go to the restroom before departing. According to ACLU-WV, Michael always checks whether there's anyone in the boys' restroom before using it as a preventive measure. In this afternoon, the bathroom was empty so Michael went to use a stall. That's when Livengood allegedly came crashing in. He questioned why Michael was in this restroom and challenged him to use the urinal to prove he was a boy. The teenager explained that while he was assigned female at birth, he identified as male.

    That led to Livengood allegedly shouting: "If you can’t use this urinal, then you shouldn’t be in here. What if a student said you were checking them out in here?" The confrontation lasted a few minutes and the assistant principal was loud enough for Michael's classmates to hear him down the hall. A chaperone was alerted and witnessed the teen drummer emerge from the bathroom in tears. Even after being confronted by the chaperone, Livengood continued to misgender Michael and that's when he said the sophomore "freaked [him] out." The student says the incident was traumatizing.

    According to the ACLU-WV, this is not the first incident in the school. Even though Michael's family told school administrators his affirmed gender is male when he started as a freshman, he continues to be deadnamed on occasion.

    The difficulties transgender students face, especially when it comes to something as simple as using the bathroom, is not new. In early 2017, the Trump administration rescinded an Obama-era directive that allowed students to use the restrooms corresponding with their gender identity. And according to a 2016 study, nearly 60% of transgender people avoid using public restrooms out of fear of being harassed. Research has also found that 70% of trans students avoid using their school’s bathrooms out of fear, too.

    "At the end of the day, all I want is to feel welcome and safe in my school," Michael said in a statement released by ACLU-WV. "Mr. Livengood’s behavior in the bathroom that day was terrifying and no student deserves that kind of treatment. I’m telling my story so that high school doesn’t have to be a scary place for kids like me."

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    If Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro taught the world anything, it's that meeting your partner's parents doesn't always go as planned. But as the holiday season is in full swing, it's prime time for couples to bring their lovers home for the first time.

    Meeting your significant other's family for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience. You're anxious, want to make a good first impression, and hope they're happy to see you with their child. Even if your introductions have a few hiccups, hopefully they won't be as awkward as those of the poor folks of Reddit.

    If you're dreading meeting your SO's parents, calm down with a good laugh from the unfortunate encounters below. Sure, there might be some uncomfortable small talk at your partner's family holiday dinner, but at least you probably won't find yourself getting pantsed or breaking a bed — we swear it was innocent. Read on for all of the hilarious tales.

    "Brought my first college boyfriend home for Thanksgiving — we were greeted by my parents in full Star Trek uniforms, dad was wearing Spock ears, both giving the "live long and prosper" salute. They ordered pizza and the delivery guy asks my dad why he didn't just have the pizza beamed over."

    —Reddit user pattiaa

    "My boyfriend, 'Jeff',' at the time dropped by on Christmas Day to give me a present. He had brought his five-year-old little sister, 'Kimmie' with him. My entire extended family was all gathered around, sizing him up, etc. when his little sister started tugging on his arm and saying over and over, 'Jeeeeefffff!! Can we go now?' To which he acted annoyed and said, 'in a little bit, Kimmie.' But she persisted and he kept saying, 'in just a minute, hon...' Finally, I guess she couldn't help herself because in exasperation she threw back at him: 'Jeff!! Remember in your car — before we came up here, YOU TOLD ME TO BEG!!!' And you could have heard a pin drop. His face was bright red as he said a feeble awkward goodbye and shuffled off. Everyone in the room didn't know what to say or where to look."

    — Reddit user flibberdigibbit

    "We were both home from college during winter break, and his parents were out of town. So we'd been drinking at his place, sleeping over, etc. After a few days of this he invites me over, and I brought the leftover steak that I'd had for dinner that night on a plate. I knocked on the door, thinking he was the only one home, when his dad, who i'd never met, answers the door. I was so caught off guard that I just stupidly blurt out 'I have meat.' He was like 'alright, come on in then!' Not my finest first impression.

    —Reddit user salent0

    "I met my boyfriends mum just after she'd broken her arm and was high as a kite on painkillers. She told my boyfriend if he didn't marry me, she would (bear in mind we'd been dating six months aged 18 and 19). Then she asked me to marry her. I said yes. We joke about being engaged all the time now."

    — Account has been deleted.

    "When my father finally met my mother's parents, the first thing Grandpa did was pants my father in public. Grandpa is not a mature man."

    —Reddit user Mister_Dink

    "My ex-fiance met my parents at Christmas. Things were going pretty well until we exchanged gifts. He had gotten me a vibrating back massager. My mom started cracking up laughing, which set me off too. My stepfather just sat there stone-faced. It took my ex about 30 seconds to figure out why we were laughing at his present."

    —Reddit user drainbead78

    "My father was born in Belgium. He came to the U.S., got married, and brought his new wife (eventually my mother) back to meet his family. She did not speak Flemish and they did not speak English, so my dad had to do all the translating. He told my mother that it was a Flemish custom that new members of the family always had to stand up when they spoke. My mother spent the entire visit standing up every time she had something to say. Eventually, my dad's family asked him why his new wife stood up whenever she talked. 'I don't know,' he told them. 'I think it's an American thing.' My mother didn't learn the truth for almost 20 years."

    —Account has been deleted

    "When my wife and I first started dating, I traveled up to the Pacific Northwest with her to meet her dad. We were set up in separate rooms because there were little cousins in the house and generally just out of respect as well. I was given what amounted to an old rickety twin kid's bed that was probably from the 60s or 70s in her dad's office. Despite being an adult, I fit in it quite nicely. The first morning I woke up there, my future wife walked in the room early to say good morning. She came and sat down on the edge of the bed. The weight of two adults plus the age of the bed helped it along to go crashing to the floor. You can imagine how many accusatory stares we got the rest of the weekend after that."

    —Reddit user bfilmmaker

    "My girlfriend's (now wife) dad wanted he to go out and have a guys night to talk. We went to the bar and had some good conversation with a LOT of booze. I have no memory past when the tequila started flowing. I woke up in the guest bedroom with my GF shaking me awake... 'What happened last night?!' 'Oh shit...I have no clue.." GF: 'My dad just threatened ME over breakfast not to fuck this up!'

    —Reddit user tinster9

    "Her dad spoke to me in Greek the entire ride home. I don't speak a word of Greek…"

    —Reddit user PurpleMTL

    "Sitting at dinner with the girlfriend and her parents (just met them 10 minutes earlier) having casual conversion when I sneeze-farted. I tried to play it cool, but we all knew what happened. The worst part was about 30 second after it happened after everyone had moved on, when the smell crept in."

    —Reddit user your_inner_monologue

    "Met the father at bf's hockey game. He was sweet and bought me a hot chocolate and himself a coffee. About 5 minutes later he gets booted from the arena for arguing with a ref and throwing his coffee at the refs face."

    —Reddit user zepoopsmith

    "Talking about traveling at dinner after meeting her parents for the first time. They mention Europe and ask if I'd been. I start to tell them I have been and it was especially fun because I had stayed in brothels and met a bunch of really interesting people. Their eyes told me immediately I had made a mistake. TL;DR Tell parents I stay in brothels. Not hostels."

    —Reddit user treetoplover

    "When I introduced my girlfriend (now wife) to my parents, my father immediately asked 'Do you know how to use tools?' She replied 'Yes, I live on my own and have to fix stuff all the time.' He replied 'Welcome to the family.'"

    —Reddit user duho7761

    "The first time I met my now wife's parents I DID make it uncomfortable. They were very welcoming. 'Hey, do you like lobster? How about a lobster bake and we introduce you to the family.' I mean, how do you say no to that? I was like yeah, lobster is my favorite what an amazing coincidence! I had uhhh never had lobster. I cracked open a bright red sea bug full of green stuff and almost died. I know, I know, people fucking adore lobster, but, as it turned out, I happen to find it repulsive. It was a very long dinner and they thought it was hilarious. I felt like a trash-person though."

    —Reddit user soomuchcoffee

    "While on break from school, I drove to my boyfriend's hometown and he asked if I wanted to meet his parents. I was ridiculously nervous, rehearsed conversation topics in my head, even stopped by a Sephora to redo my makeup. He lets them know when we're coming and that we'll be staying for about an hour. So my boyfriend and I drive over and find his parents watching Storage Wars in the living room. He introduces me, they say hello... and then they turn back to Storage Wars. So we sat around watching Storage Wars for the next hour. No small talk. It was like meeting Ron Swanson, if Ron Swanson was really into Storage Wars."

    —Reddit user visvya

    "Had been dating GF for a month. My family was on the West Coast, and I was in Uni on the East, so I had nowhere to go for Thanksgiving and was invited to their home. I arrive at the house and one of their dogs comes out to greet me. I pet her and she proceeds to pee all over my brand-new shoes. After a few moments of panic, I realize I have no choice but to go inside the house, and meet her parents. I leave my pee-soaked shoes by the door, and go meet her parents. Only, I didn't realize what socks I was wearing. Without thinking, I had put these bad boys on. Her father looks at my feet, grimaces, then shakes my hand. It was a bit uncomfortable."

    —Reddit user liveinisrael

    "This happened to my brother. He was meeting his then-gf's family for the first time at Christmas Eve. One of the aunts or cousins or something brought over a deli tray to snack on before dinner. He later heard somebody announce that it must've spoiled, but at first he thought it tasted bad. Rather than be rude and throw it away, he shoved it in his pocket while nobody was looking. They sat down for dinner and the dog wouldn't stop sniffing and licking at his pants. I don't think anybody ever found out; he just sat at the table, looking embarrassed and agitated by the dog while rotten salami sat in his pocket."

    —Reddit user shnmchl61

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    Boots are a vast galaxy within the shoe universe. Given the amount of options out there, choosing a pair that works for you (and the weather) can be overwhelming: do you go with over-the-knee, Chelsea or platform? And which variation of that chosen style do you ultimately pick?

    But one style stands alone as the most practical of the boot family: the ankle boot. She gives your morning commute an effortless look and is one of the few boots that isn't restricted to the colder months. (Picture wearing a pair with a light shift dress in during early fall or spring). So, whether you're in the market for western (not exclusive to cowgirls), embellished, textured (leather, suede, shearling), combat (not just for soldiers or Justin Bobby), or rain boots (when snow boots are overkill), the ankle boot will surely be your winter footwear companion.

    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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    Some call it the smuggest trend on the internet, while others take it as a welcome push to reorganize their personal space. Wherever you fall, there's no getting away from one trending hashtag: #shelfie.

    While many of us lustfully pin images of pristine vanities and countertops stocked with Byredo perfume bottles and wiped-clean Diptyque candle jars holding clean makeup brushes, our realities are rarely so picture-perfect. If you feel a pang of jealousy when you see a #shelfie post of your dream vanity, then compare it to your endless piles of hair elastics and half used tubes of mascara and lip balm, let us be the first to say: You're not alone.

    We've rounded up the most mesmerizing makeup flat-lays and idealistic mirror shelves on Instagram — then paired them with the exact storage product you should buy to make your reality a little closer to the one you love most. But the best part? This picturesque trend will actually help you to get out the door faster and cut down on daily cleaning and stress. Win-win! Our favorites, 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.

    After you've spread all your beauty products out on every available centimeter of shelf space in your bathroom (and maybe onto the back of your toilet too), it's time to think creatively. More specifically, it's time to think about how your walls can provide extra storage space. And since not everyone's going to be all that keen to drill holes into their wall for the sake of some makeup, we love the idea of stick-on shelves.


    Able to stick onto any flat surface (yes, even tile and plaster walls), these cosmetic holders with damage-free, self-adhesive strips on the back are lifesavers for tiny bathrooms. Available in various sizes, they're strong enough to hold up to two pounds of weight.

    InterDesign Peel-and-Stick Cosmetic Organizer, $13.27, available at Amazon

    A collection of luxe skin care is clearly not meant to be hidden on the backside of your bathroom mirror. Put all your products in small cubbies for easy access.


    If you have the space in your bathroom or bedroom, consider adding this 12-cubby shelving unit. Lotions, serums, creams, and more can fit in the squares. Plus, if you have extra room, you can mix in some decorative knick-knacks or a fun bookend to make it a full work of art.

    Room Essentials 12-Cube Organizer Shelf 11" , $41.99, available at Target

    A plastic organizer might seem boring on its own, but when you fill it with your everyday products, it's all of a sudden a great backdrop for a flat-lay. Carnation placement is on you.


    The best part about plastic storage? It's not going to cost an arm and a leg. This one from Amazon will only set you back $12, so you can spend more on what's going inside.

    InterDesign Cosmetic Organizer Tray , $12.28, available at Amazon

    Extend the life of your Diptyque candle long after the sweet-smelling wax has run dry by cleaning out the glass and using it to hold your makeup brushes. If you're spending more than $50 on a candle, you might as well get your money's worth, right?


    Fill your home with the smell of roses for 60 hours, and when the wick disappears, pour in some hot water (to reheat the dried wax residue), pour into the trash ( no t down the drain), and wipe clean with a paper towel.

    Diptyque Roses Scented Candle, $35, available at Nordstrom

    When your makeup's pretty and pink, clear hard acrylic drawers lets you show off what's inside.


    The cool thing about this set from The Container Store is that you can personalize it by choosing which sections and pieces you really need, so you don't end up with that mini cubby you never use. If you want a bunch of drawers, you can get four and stack them; if you're in it for the lipstick dividers, get two of those.

    The Container Store Large Luxe Acrylic Makeup Organizer Clear, $29.99, available at The Container Store

    The CosmoCube is the makeup vessel many makeup artists and beauty lovers swear by. With deeper drawers, there's room for all of your full-sized eyeshadow palettes, with space to spare (for new additions, of course).


    Beauty guru and wedding planner Laura Gurrola tells us she loves the CosmoCube because it's clear and, like those from The Container Store, customizable. "The one I have is six drawers, and some of them have different dividers and you can customize them," Gurrola explains. "So if there are four rows in there, and you want two because you’re putting in compacts instead of lip gloss, you can adjust it. It’s big enough to where it fits a lot of stuff, but it’s small enough where it fits on your vanity or a desk or dresser."

    Cosmocube CosmoCube Posh, $185, available at Cosmocube

    If you're trying to revamp your bathroom cabinet, try adjusting the shelves and popping in a few smaller standing shelves to mix up product heights and add dimension. Translation: No wasted space.


    Another pick from The Container Store, this acrylic shelf is small enough to squeeze in between two shelves.

    The Container Store 2-Tier Acrylic Tower, $49.99, available at The Container Store

    For makeup you want to have in one portable place for a quick grab n' go, a cute clear makeup bag makes sense for finding things quickly.


    This clear half-moon travel pouch filled with makeup could make even a dark-gray airport security bin look chic.

    Madewell Small Crystalline Half-Moon Pouch, $19.5, available at Madewell

    If your eyelash curler and eye cream are always laying strewn across your dresser, try giving them a home by adding a metallic platter underneath.


    This silver mirrored vanity plate makes your daily skin care routine into a showstopper.

    Charlton Home Octangular Design Mirror Vanity Tray, $25.18, available at Wayfair

    If gold's more your jam, you can match your jewelry to your perfume tray.


    This plate is luxe, shiny, and is still a fraction of the cost of your Byredo.

    Wrought Studio Classic Design Mirror Vanity Tray, $26.99, available at Wayfair

    Another pick for the makeup lover who's has more pots and palettes than they can count, the Alex drawers from Ikea are a godsend, decking out any vanity and providing the legs of a desk (just lay a board on top).


    The drawer units are a little pricey, but they're worth their weight in gold if your stacks of makeup are getting out of control. Makeup artist Leigh Ann tells us she uses the Alex drawers to store the products in her kit because they're portable and the drawers aren't too deep. "They come in different shapes, but I like my shorties on wheels because the drawers are all shallow and I can't be trusted to avoid over-piling products into deep drawers," she explains. "They're also huge, easy to move around, relatively affordable, and convenient."

    Ikea Alex Drawer Unit, $159.99, available at Amazon

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

    Today: a business development coordinator working in law who makes $50,072 per year and spends some of her money this week on white chocolate Reese's peanut butter cups.

    Occupation: Business Development Coordinator
    Industry: Law
    Age: 28
    Location: Brussels, Belgium
    Salary: $50,072
    Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $2,180, plus $192 per month in meal vouchers (basically a debit card for groceries)

    Monthly Expenses
    Rent: $480 for my half (I share a one-bedroom apartment with my boyfriend, L.)
    Cleaner: $17 for my half
    Insurance: $11.89 for my half (This is for my apartment, civil liability, and health insurance.)
    Utilities: $31.15 (gas, electricity, water)
    Wifi: Paid for by L.'s work
    Netflix: We use L.'s parents' account.
    Car Payment: L. has a fully-funded company car (including gas), which is a win for me, as I effectively get a car and a chauffeur.
    Gym: $32.61
    Cell Phone: Paid for by work
    Public Transport: Paid for by work
    Dutch Class: Paid for by work
    French Class: $226.57
    Joint Account: $84.96 (L. and I both contribute to this monthly and then use it to fund our joint social life — dates, coffees, nights out with friends, etc.)
    Savings: $226.57

    Day One

    7:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off, but the bed is too cozy to get up straight away. L. pulls me over to snuggle, bringing us both dangerously close to falling asleep again. I drag myself upright a few minutes later with the promise of a warm mince pie with light cream for breakfast, plus my daily massive coffee and handful of vitamins. Mince pies are hard to find here in Belgium, so I ordered a giant box online last week and spent waaaay too much on shipping — but it isn't December without my favorite festive breakfast. No regrets.

    9:15 a.m. — Arrive in the office ahead of my boss and get to work on the morning's to-do list. We have a few big projects this week, so there's plenty to do. Luckily, the most time-sensitive bits are already behind us, so I can afford to go at my own pace.

    11:05 a.m. — Coffee break time! I snag a raisin bar thingy from the kitchen and eat it at my desk.

    12:30 p.m. — Early lunch at my desk of some tomato soup I brought from home. Then I have a session with my Dutch teacher in am empty conference room, and we spend 90 minutes talking about our holidays. Light conversation topics are a definite perk of being very new to a language! We have caramel Nespressos and mini Neuhaus chocolates. Yum.

    4 p.m. — "Treat" myself to a sparkling water from the fridge and a much-too-sweet cereal bar from my handbag to help me power through a boring online training. Ugh. On the upside, some online shopping orders have been delivered to me — batteries, a cute ring-holder for my soon-to-be-wed friend, and a Brave Soul jumper for myself from Black Friday.

    5:45 p.m. — I manage to get excused from my last meeting of the day, so teeeeeechnically I could leave now and still be on time for my UBound class — I brought my gym bag this morning and everything! — but it's cold outside, and I'm really not feeling it. I think it would be rude to leave before the meeting is over even though I'm not attending, so I wait to catch up on the key points with my boss before heading home.

    7 p.m. — L. texts to let me know he's going out with friends tonight, so I turn on some Christmas music and settle in for a quiet night. I make something that vaguely resembles spaghetti bolognese and freeze most of it, then spend a few hours updating my résumé with a (Belgian) beer in hand. Get some lovely messages from friends back home telling me they got the cards I sent, which almost makes the insane cost of international postage seem reasonable.

    12:05 a.m. — L. comes home tipsy, and we share some giggles before falling into bed. Zzzzz.

    Daily Total: $0

    Day Two

    7:55 a.m. — There's a work breakfast this morning, so in theory I should wait to eat there, but I can't resist the siren call of mince pies. I accompany my pie with a smaller coffee than usual and call it even.

    9 a.m. — Okay, I definitely should have waited — it's Sinterklaas today, so there are lots of special treats at the breakfast. I munch on some chocolate and marshmallows with my colleagues, then head back to my desk to discover everyone has been gifted a giant speculoos (Belgian gingerbread) figurine. Nice!

    1:30 p.m. — I meet my friend for lunch. We go to a Lebanese place that's one of our favorite haunts, and I order a halloumi plate with flatbread, hummus, sweet potato, aubergine, and a courgette and cucumber salad. He's about to change jobs but hasn't told anyone yet, so we brainstorm strategies for how he can maintain his poker face while getting drunk at his office party tonight. $8.50

    5:40 p.m. — Today's work task is proving challenging, so I go for a walk to clear my head. Pass a headless dark chocolate Santa in the kitchen that's at least as long as my arm and congratulate myself on resisting temptation as I continue on my way. Pause. Turn around. Retreat to my desk with chocolate.

    6:10 p.m. — Jump on the tram to go to French class and order some new skinny jeans from Zara while I wait, as my old ones have a hole in the crotch. Everyone's in a good mood so the class is lively, although we get derailed from our set topic of single-sex education almost immediately. We have a new classmate, so I have to do some wrangling to accommodate him in our upcoming Secret Santa (I am the unofficial social secretary of the group), but it all works out in the end. $22.60

    9:05 p.m. — Take a detour on the way home to pick up some fancy cheese and chocolate coins for L. at the posh deli around the corner. I'm still getting the hang of the Sinterklaas traditions, as I didn't grow up with them, but I know getting treats is part of it, so I think it'll be a nice surprise for him. He texts to say he's running late, so I'm confident I'll get home before him, but then I'm disappointed when I see that our fairy lights on the balcony are on — which means he's already home and I won't be able to surprise him after all. In the end though, I'm the one surprised — I open the door to discover L. has set up an "apartment picnic" on the floor complete with cushions, candles, and a nice bottle of wine. We chat until late over parma ham, walnuts, rucola, fresh bread, and oven-baked camembert, and I ask him whether it's a new spin on Sinterklaas — only to discover that he had completely forgotten the holiday and was just feeling romantic. Obviously this makes it a hundred times cuter. $15.09

    Daily Total: $46.19

    Day Three

    7:50 a.m. — I take my time getting ready today, as I'm working from home — our new couch is (hopefully) being delivered today! I embrace the opportunity to work in my slippers and exactly zero makeup, and get off to a late start when I realize I'm having laptop trouble and have to call IT to rescue me.

    1:15 p.m. — Still no sign of the couch. I scramble an egg with some tomato, rucola, and goat cheese for lunch, along with a not-quite-stale pita bread I find in the cupboard.

    2:40 p.m. — It's finally here! The delivery guys waive the €10 fee for carrying it to the first floor — unclear whether they're being nice or just forgot, but I'm not about to ask. I spend a solid half hour sending photos and exclamation marks to all my friends and family — it's tufted yellow velvet and outrageously pretty. I feel like a proud new parent. Have a coffee and some biscuits to celebrate.

    5:20 p.m. — Figure I should probably go outside at least once today, so I decide to pick up a few more presents on my list. A howling storm starts the second I close the door, but even with the rain pelting down it's not all that cold, so I decide to stick to my plan. One of the local boutiques has had a display of Inkari alpacas for months now, which L. and I always stop to coo over when we walk past, but this time they lure me inside. I need one last thing to finish off L.'s present, and though it's a LOT more than I'd planned on spending, I figure it's a present for myself as well — welcome one particularly jazzy alpaca to the family. $33.87

    6:35 p.m. — Hop into the shower to warm up, then switch Spotify to Christmas music and light a few candles. L. has a work event tonight, so it's the perfect time to do some gift wrapping. I order a Domino's pizza with goat cheese, bacon, mushrooms, and red onion. $19.26

    9 p.m. — Pizza arrives, so I pop open a beer and check some emails as I munch. Curl up on the new couch afterwards with The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan ( The Wheel of Time has been on my to-read list for years, and I'm loving it so far) and read for a few hours before heading to bed.

    Daily Total: $53.13

    Day Four

    11 a.m. — Cuddle with L. for a bit (we are big fans of the weekend sleep-in) then meander out of bed for breakfast, i.e. lots of coffee and a handful of chocolate coins. I have a spa treatment booked today, which I'm weirdly nervous about. I've never really been to a spa before, but work gave me a voucher recently as a thank you for a big event we organized. I made sure to shave my legs really well yesterday, as someone else will be touching them, but I'm still certain there are spiky patches I've overlooked. What do you even wear to a spa?

    1:10 p.m. — Arrive at the spa and the first step is to get naked, so I didn't need to worry about my outfit. They put me in a weird massaging bath thing, which is nice for the first 10 minutes but then gets kind of painful. I step out looking like a boiled lobster and am directed straight to the ~exfoliation station~ where I am scrubbed within an inch of my life. Not convinced by this pampering thing, tbh.

    2:05 p.m. — All is forgiven when I get to the massage portion. There is soothing music and a cocoon of hot towels and I feel like I'm floating in some kind of luxury womb. 10/10 would recommend (if someone else is paying).

    3:30 p.m. — Get home and immediately make L. feel my newly baby-soft knees even though he'd rather just have lunch already. Oven-warm bread and fancy cheese for lunch, then we head to Lidl to do groceries. We pick up honey, candles, milk, bread, green beans, duck, cereal, garlic spaghetti, soup, pancetta, advocaat (for a cheesecake I'm planning later this week), and a wicker reindeer for L.'s desk at work. I also get nuts, cereal bars, chocolate, canned frankfurters, and lemonade for the office "shoeboxes for the homeless" project. We split the cost. $33.34

    7:30 p.m. — Drive to Liège to meet some of L.'s high school friends for dinner. I get rigatoni al forno, split some red wine with L. and have a gin and tonic to finish. We use our joint account to pay and eventually tumble into bed at 1 a.m. $26.40

    Daily Total: $59.74

    Day Five

    11:50 a.m. — Have I mentioned how much I love sleeping in? I really, really love sleeping in. L. makes himself some eggs for brunch but I'm still full from yesterday, so I don't eat much. Then we lounge about for a few hours catching up on our respective to-do lists and browsing the internet. I add an extra cabin bag to my flight home because I'm worried about my gifts getting knocked about in the hold. $18.13

    4 p.m. — Catch the tram into town to have a look at the Christmas market. It's identical to last year and raining to boot, but the atmosphere still makes it worth the trip. I duck into a coffee shop to escape a particularly heavy shower and grab two lattes with the joint account. $4.25

    6:45 p.m. — I'm craving churros, so I pick up a cone just before we head home. I ask for no powdered sugar, as I always get it all over myself, then promptly regret it when I realize the taste is nowhere near the same without it. We microwave some leftover pasta for dinner when we get back, then settle in on the new couch. It takes a bit of limb-Tetris to get us both comfy, but we manage it eventually. Skype my parents for a while, then watch some TV with tea in hand (Irish breakfast for me, mint for him), and we're in bed by a reasonable hour. $6.80

    Daily Total: $29.18

    Day Six

    9:05 a.m. — Running a little late this morning, but I still manage to make it into the office on time — an advantage of living super close to work. Delighted to see that one of my desk plants, which has been looking all but dead for months, recovered spectacularly over the weekend and produced a record four flowers!

    1 p.m. — Lunchtime, which means it's time to catch up on some errands. I pop into Leonidas to pick up a box of chocolates for our cleaner and a lollipop for her daughter ($6.34), then drop off my friend's birthday gift at the post office ($9.86 for shipping). Next, a brisk walk to Hema for gift boxes and some more stuff for the shoebox project (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, lip balm, Wet Wipes, and stroopwafels, $26.51). And finally, we go to the corner shop, where I pick up a bread roll and a pack of white chocolate Reese's peanut butter cups to eat with my soup back at my desk ($2.31 using my meal vouchers). $42.71

    5:55 p.m. — Drop my lunchtime purchases off at home and then set off on foot for the big supermarket to get the rest of my list. I buy ingredients for cheesecake and a few multipacks of Belgian beer, which I'll split up and repackage as gifts for family back home (Tripel Karmeliet, Barbar, Mort Subite, and St. Bernardus, if anyone's looking for recommendations!). I use my meal vouchers to pay ($44.34).

    6:35 p.m. — L. is playing squash with friends tonight, so I take dinner out to defrost and start work on my cake. I love cheesecakes — they're delicious, not too pricey ingredient-wise, and any idiot with an oven can make one (that's me!). This one is for a friend's dinner party next weekend but I haven't tried the recipe before, so I'm pleased when it turns out really nicely. I wrap a couple more presents and deal with some "personal laundry." (Please PLEASE tell me I'm not the only grown woman who still ends up with bloodstained PJs from time to time?)

    9:05 p.m. — L. is back, so I pop dinner in the microwave to heat. I found two dinners in the freezer but only one portion of each, so I split them between us. We have half sausage and bean cassoulet, half sweet potato and fennel seed pasta, and it's a surprisingly tasty combo. Then we curl up in bed with the latest episode of The Good Place.

    Daily Total: $42.71

    Day Seven

    10:25 a.m. — I'm feeling peckish much earlier than usual, so I break for a coffee and a cereal bar I brought from home. I've been experimenting with different brands (trying to find the magic combo of cheap/healthy/tasty), and this one from Lidl is surprisingly good — dark chocolate, cranberry, and cashews, yum.

    12:05 p.m. — Head to a meeting of the inter-firm diversity and inclusion committee I'm on. They have a really interesting speaker who's been doing diversity initiatives at a major bank for more than a decade now, which gives us loads to think about. Lunch is provided — I have a salmon pastry, veg spring roll, roast veg tart, and a salad with figs, parma ham, and raspberries. Finish up with a miniature coffee éclair and reflect on the perks of working in the legal sector.

    4:45 p.m. — Afternoon sugar craving hits, so I raid the kitchen for a coffee and a Ballisto bar. Wander back to my desk feeling vaguely guilty that every department except my own seems to be in full-on crisis overwork mode. Definitely not going to complain though.

    6:30 p.m. — French class tonight is exhausting — the set topic is how societal gender roles shape our choice of career, which could be interesting, but there's an awful lot of misinformation floating around the room. I don't have the energy for an argument, so I decide to hold my tongue (and my temper) and rage-text my friend instead. The two-hour class feels endless, and I'm utterly drained when I leave. I try not to think about how much money I just wasted — these lessons don't come cheap.

    9:30 p.m. — L. has a delicious dinner waiting when I get home, which helps my mood a bit. Duck, green beans, and creamy potatoes. Then we watch a few episodes of Arrested Development before bed (a recent discovery for us, so we have a lot of catching up to do!).

    Daily Total: $0

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