DETAILED FOUNDATION ROUTINE

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What's a Make-up YouTube channel without a detailed foundation routine?! 

Like my eyebrow tutorial, I felt it was necessary to specifically address my foundation application in one tutorial, rather than continuously speeding through the process during my "eyeshadow focused" looks. My skin type is oily (in the t-zone area) combination (normal around the perimeter of my face) with acne scarring here and there, but these steps can apply to all skin types with the exception of the primers used.

In this tutorial I give you the scoop on color correcting, contouring, setting your face and so much more so your base can be flawless and stay intact all day! 

Like always, don't forget to subscribe, comment video suggestions and give me a massive thumbs up!

| PRODUCTS LISTED |


SKINDANAVIA MAKEUP PRIMER SPRAY // https://goo.gl/yoIUjk
BECCA EVERMATTE PORELESS PRIMER // https://goo.gl/5QarzD
L.A. GIRL PRO CONCEAL ORANGE CORRECTOR // https://goo.gl/4qBrpj
L'OREAL TRUE MATCH FOUNDATION DEEP GOLDEN // https://goo.gl/Y890fG
L.A. GIRL PRO CONCEAL HD CONCEALER FAWN // https://goo.gl/fH7Dd8
BOBBY BROWN FOUNDATION STICK CHESTNUT // https://goo.gl/26qfQn
BEN NYE LUXURY POWDER TOPAZ // https://goo.gl/GUk9lh
BH COSMETICS CONTOUR PALETTE // https://goo.gl/8KaaN4
MAC MINERALIZE SKIN FINISH DARK DEEP // https://goo.gl/sPxYAQ
MAC RAIZIN BLUSH // https://goo.gl/3HYYAu
ABH GLOWKIT SUNDIPPED // https://goo.gl/kwpEHj
SKINDANAVIA MAKEUP FINISHING SPRAY // https://goo.gl/5bCk80
 

BRUSHES:


ZOEVA CONCEALER BUFFER // https://goo.gl/3V9oed
MORPHE M224 // https://goo.gl/qlKxp7
ZOEVA SILK FINISH // https://goo.gl/QO9Dgw 
ZOEVA FACE SHAPE // https://goo.gl/WXYnwm
NARS ITA KABUKI // https://goo.gl/75Kz57
E.L.F EYESHADOW BLENDING // https://goo.gl/NLJTMD
ZOEVA POWDER // https://goo.gl/hsEJ9u
ZOEVA LUXE SHEER CHEEK // https://goo.gl/ZvxCaf 
MUFE 134 WAVY // https://goo.gl/IkCO9q
MORPHE M558 // https://goo.gl/Lwqudr
 

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EASY AT HOME TEETH WHITENING FOR SENSITIVE TEETH + GIVEAWAY

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When smile brilliant contacted me about collaborating with them on their teeth whitening kit, I had a couple of questions lingering. Was this safe to use? Could it provide instant gratification and save me from the scary dentist trips? But after consistently using my whitening kit for about 6 weeks, I can confidently say this product really WORKS! 

My teeth were relatively white to begin with but because the sides were a few shades darker, whitening my teeth furthermore was often brought up at the dentist. I knew I wanted them to look better but I wasn't willing to compromise my tea addiction nor endure the pain of the process (due to my sensitive teeth)so this was perfect for me.

 

HOW TO GET STARTED

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  1. Once you've ordered your system, a complete package (Whitening & desensitizing syringes, catalyst and base paste and pre-aid postage) will arrive with simple instructions on how to create your impressions and send them back for free, will be included.
  2. With the dental impressions made from the catalyst and base paste, the labs will create a custom-fitted tray of the exact model of your teeth. This process takes around 3-5 days and the completed tray is sent back to your desired address.
  3. The whitening process can finally start! Apply a very thin ribbon of whitening gel on the outer area (so you whiten the front) after ONLY flossing and allow it to work its magic for 45 minutes-4 hours. After this step, it is very important to brush your teeth and repeat the same process for 15-20 minutes with the desensitizing gel.

MY EXPERIENCE

THE PHOTO ABOVE IS PRIOR TO WHITENING MY TEETH

When I initially tried the whitening process, my pain level was around a 4/10 due to my extremely sensitive teeth and gums. Additionally, the desensitizing gel made me form tons of saliva as a natural body response. I gradually progressed my process from 25 minutes to eventually 1 hour as my pain tolerance (honestly I'm like cotton candy, I have none) increased. As seen in the photo above, my teeth are noticeably whiter than before using the kit. 

QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS

I have zero shame in asking questions many are often embarrassed to vocalize- so I thought I would share the concerns that were eventually eased by the very patient and kind Smile Brilliant team. 

  1. When should I whiten my teeth? The best time to do so is right before bedtime, this allows the whitening gel to do its magic while you're fast asleep with zero contact to food or drinks.
  2. Can I swallow my saliva during my whitening process? It's completely safe to swallow your saliva while doing this. Although it is a natural response, your body will eventually get accustomed to the process and you will create less saliva.
  3. Can I whiten my teeth if I have a crown? While the gel will not work on your crown, it is completely safe to use. Be sure to to carefully use the desensitizing gel after to make sure the bond is intact.
  4. Can I drink water after whitening my teeth? Absolutely. Please allow 20 minutes after the desensitizing gel to create a barrier. 

GIVEAWAY TIME

SURPRISE! I have a special giveaway just for you! In order to win your own customized tray creation kit,  be sure to read the rules below. Good luck babes! 

In order to be successfully entered, you MUST:

  1. Subscribe to this blog by entering your email address on the sidebar.
  2. Follow my Instagram
  3. Follow Smile Brilliant's Instagram
  4. Comment on my most recent photo by tagging two of your besties!
  5. Be sure to sign up for the giveaway after following the instructions above.

**There must at least 10 entries to qualify.**

DISCLAIMER: To save 5% OFF your whitening kit, feel free to use STILETTOSANDSTANDARDS5 but please note that while the kit was gifted to me for my honest review I will receive commission when the coupon code is used.

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EASY EYEBROW TUTORIAL

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When I posted my eyebrow routine a year ago, I had no idea that I would be doing another post about it (as a tutorial of course). 

So here I am, back to the basics of demonstrating what I talked about on my "Brows on Fleek" post. I am still swearing by the ABH brow products so nothing has changed with the exception of my concealer. Essentially, my tutorials are meant to teach you the foundation of things, so don't get so caught up on the items I use if you are already comfortable with your current gems. 

Remember that eyebrows frame your face and can make or break your make up. So it's really important that you take your time and continue to practice. Your brows will never be identical because they are sisters, not twins! 

Grab your tools and let's get started!

| PRODUCTS LISTED |

BROWS:

ABH #7 Brush- PURCHASE HERE

ABH Dipbrow Pomade Ebony - PURCHASE HERE

LA Girl Proconceal Fawn - PURCHASE HERE 

Zoeva #142 Brush - PURCHASE HERE 

ABH Clear Brow Gel - PURCHASE HERE 

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HOW NOT TO GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS

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Blogging is an incredible creative outlet that can potentially turn into a career. However, it can easily become stressful if the main focus, which is enjoyment, is lost. Comparison has always been the thief of my joy because it often lead me to ignore what I should be grateful for. So after another serious hiatus, I'm back at having peace within and understanding what my purpose is. If you're a blogger or simply a creative who is on the verge of calling it quits, hold on. I've felt the same way and here are some tips that helped me get through it. 

THERE'S ENOUGH ROOM FOR EVERYONE

Do NOT listen to small minded people that tell you not to go after what you dream of because they are too afraid to do it themselves. No, the market isn't saturated and NO, there aren't limited spaces for whatever it is you want in life. Have people succeeded at what you dream of? Great because if they can do it, so can you. 


QUALITY OVER QUANTITY

I knew I needed a break when I felt the need to blog just to produce content. It wasn't authentic because I was loosing sight of who I was and what I wanted my brand to represent. Do NOT post just for the sake of posting. DO put a 1000% of yourself into everything you create and ask yourself if you would enjoy what you've created. 

DO NOT COMPARE

If you've been following Stilettos & Standards for a while then you know how I feel about comparison. I've always stressed about not comparing your journey with anyone else's. So let me remind you once more, STAY IN YOUR LANE & DO YOU. The worst thing you can do is lose sight of what's on your plate because you're too busy looking at someone else's.

BE YOURSELF

Be unapologetically and fearlessly, comfortable in your own skin. Blogging has truly taken me out of my comfort zone where I am constantly judged through the lens of people who can't step out of their own. I've often felt awkward or conscious about it but I've come to the realization that it isn't my job to make someone comfortable with my confidence. Regardless of what your passion is, do not let anyone dim the light that sets your soul on fire!

TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF

Mental health is extremely important. More than often, if you aren't feeling like yourself it becomes transparent with the results of your creation. YOU come first, that is the most important thing to remember. While consistency is important and I don't encourage an excessive amount of breaks, if you need a day or a few weeks to shut the world out and work on finding yourself, I support you darling. 

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ANTI-VALENTINE'S DAY MAKEUP TUTORIAL | COLLAB WITH AICHA KAMATE

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To my single ladies or those of you who are not so traditional with the soft girly looks, this is for you!

I collaborated with my awesome friend and YouTuber, Aicha Kamate to bring to you two different Valentine's Day makeup tutorials. Although we both used glitter, my take was on the bold side while hers was softer and traditional. 

What are you ladies doing for Valentine's Day? Are you going on a softer look like Aicha? Or bold like Aïchatou?

AICHA KAMATE'S VALENTINE'S DAY VIDEO

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ABH MODERN RENAISSANCE PALETTE | REVIEW & SWATCHES

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RIGHT TO LEFT: Tempera, Golden Ochre, Vermeer, Buon Fresco, Antique Bronze, Love Letter, Cyprus Umber, Raw Sienna, Burnt Orange, Primavera, Red Ochre, Venetian Red, Warm Taupe & Realgar.

RIGHT TO LEFT: Tempera, Golden Ochre, Vermeer, Buon Fresco, Antique Bronze, Love Letter, Cyprus Umber, Raw Sienna, Burnt Orange, Primavera, Red Ochre, Venetian Red, Warm Taupe & Realgar.

After trying it for myself, it's no surprise that the ABH Modern Renaissance Palette has so much hype around it. This velvety packaged number, filled with 14 beautiful warm tones is exactly what a makeup fanatic dreams of. 

There is an incredible variety of colors to play around with, from 11 mattes to 3 shimmers, which can help with the transition of a day to night look with its dual-sided soft bristle brush. The Modern Renaissance is really like no other palette I have used. Every shadow is extremely buttery, pigmented and lasts ALL DAY with the proper application (prime your eyes before using them). 

While there is a bit of a fall out, it is the only con I have and for an impulse purchase,  I have zero regrets. My recommendation for this minor issue is to apply it before your foundation or prepare your under eye area with baking powder as I've done in my tutorials

If you're on the fence about purchasing this, the reviews all over the internet are true and ABH has done it again! For $42 (which equates to $3 per shadow) your truly, honestly getting your monies worth, darling!

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COPPER GLITTER EYES | MAKEUP TUTORIAL

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If I could wear glitter all day and everyday, I would! But since I can't, expect to see more looks similar to this. The copper number from Violet Voss is perfect for your party night or the grocery store, depending on your level of fabulosity. Because it was my first time playing around with glitter, I honestly struggled a bit more with my lash application. The trick is to apply a thin layer of eyeliner on the lash line in addition to tight lining in order to make sure it blends seamlessly. 

I hope you enjoy watching the tutorial and learn a trick or two. 

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BEST OF 2016

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2016 wasn't the worst year, but it really tried to play me, though!

My brother was involved in a hit and run that broke his knee caps, my wig fell off while "drowning" (I had a life vest on by the way, so I wasn't going to drown) in a Mexican Cenote around a good amount of tourists, my relationships were tested among unexpected individuals and my love life consisted of blind dates with people who asked for two for one deals at coffee shops. There were many trying times and embarrassing moments like the above but I can't ignore the fact that this year was filled with an immense amount of growth and self confidence.

I went on many memorable trips (Canada, Washington D.C., Mexico, etc) and became a tourist in my own city by taking the time to appreciate my surroundings. I conquered my biggest fear of drowning by taking swimming courses and was featured on Condé Nast live for a makeup demo. 

Looking back on my Best of 2015 post, I can't help but be filled with warmth on how much Stilettos & Standards has grown in terms quality and family (YOU, my amazing subscribers.) It's creatively satisfying to know that I can have a particular post in mind, create it exactly how I pictured it and receive incredible feedback. The blog was filled with Street Style, Metal Cap Toes, blogger meet ups and bringing awareness organizations like breast cancer

Thank you for sticking around with me last year and trusting my advice on fashion, food, travel and just living life. The bar has been set high this year and I can't wait to achieve our new goals! 

READ THE BEST OF 2016 BLOGPOSTS BELOW!

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NEW YEAR, SAME MANTRA

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An insanely infamous quote most people swear by as the new year approaches is "New Year, New Me." It without a doubt drives me insane to see it all over social media but, I've had to learn to sip my tea and allow people to grow in their own way. 

My approach for a New Year resolution isn't to become a completely new person for two weeks (something most of us are guilty of) but to strive at becoming better than I once was. I wouldn't describe 2016 as a very memorable year but I would say I've been blessed with more light than dark moments. Among all the things I've learned and shared with you, here are several mantras (from previous posts) that I will be taking with me into 2017.

1. GRATITUDE- I've always been very hard on myself and sometimes play ignorant to what my full plate looks like. Having a grateful heart in moments where things do not seem to go my way has really taken me far.  I can't worry about what someone else has on their plate when mine may be filled in a different aspect. Everyone has a unique timeline so I've learned to be thankful and focus on mine.

2. REALISM- Most of my frustration comes from not being able to achieve a goal within an unreasonable deadline I've created for myself. I firmly believe that nothing is impossible but I consider my timeframe and other noises that might give me a limitation. I've improved by breaking goals into chunks and giving myself a realistic timeframe to achieve them- which always relay such a rewarding feeling. 

3. KINDNESS- When you're kind and have a pure heart, people will walk all over you. I've had to remain impeccable with my words and behavior when my kindness was continuously tested. Not every action deserves my reaction or getting out of character to prove a point. I like my softness and my belief that the world is still such a beautiful place through all obstacles. I mean, I can go from high tea to vodka real quick, but I prefer the high tea part 99% of the time!

4. MOTIVATE- I am an advocate for motivating people to pursue their dreams and do what ultimately make them happy. It's so important to understand that we all have a passion or a hidden talent and when we learn to master these gifts it becomes a fraction of a great manifestation in the world. Could you imagine if someone pushed you beyond your limits just when you were about to give up? Good, now go do the same for someone else and watch how grand you'll feel when they take that leap of faith.

5. LIVE- None of the above can happen unless I live to the fullest extent of my potential and in the moment. I am that person who's always waited for summer to happen in the winter and complained about the heat. Once I learned the beauty of living and not surviving, I was able to efficiently practice all of the above.

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DISNEY PRINCESS | NYE INSPIRED LOOK

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Many who have seen this New Year's Eve inspired look have compared it to the very well known Frozen Princess, Elsa. But if you're a 90s kid like I am, it should also remind you of Aladdin's gorgeous princess, Jasmine. 

When I decided to shoot this year for the holidays, I knew I wanted my photos to implement the beauty of Disney Princesses (without Disney Princes) into real life. As a little girl watching these animated films, I dreamt of their magical world and the need for a prince to have a happily ever after. It wasn't until a few years ago that I've had to force myself into understanding solitude did not mean failure and that children should not be taught to need a prince for freedom.

Of course as a human being, I would love companionship and someone to have a happily ever after with. However, I am just as brave, strong, magical and fierce the way I am. To all my single princesses, you do not need to be rescued or completed by someone because you are meant to be complemented.

Disney made my childhood a great memory and while the cartoons should teach us other values, many of us translate them for companionship. If theres anything you should take from this besides the look, it is to be the princess that you are and not to settle for less than what you deserve or bring to the table. 

May your 2017 be magical.

SHOP THIS CUSTOM MADE JUMPSUIT WITH KHOLYNSCOUTURE

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(RED) AIDS AWARENESS | A CHRISTMAS SPECIAL

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I've been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to pose in this beautiful princess-like gown and to achieve many dreams of mine which has led me to where I am today.

I'm also well aware that there are many children in the world who will have a harder time achieving their dreams because they are living with AIDS. My goal is to bring awareness about the disease and inspiration to these children and many others because there is always a silver lining in every cloud. RED is an organization that helps bridge the gap between those who are treated and those who lack the proper care, which is worth about 30 cents a day something many with the deadly disease are never able to provide in their lifetime.

Approximately 36.7 million people in the world are living with AIDS and only 17 million out of that population is receiving treatment to live with this disease. More than often, mothers pass the virus to their children without knowing nor the proper care to prevent so. While our Christmas lists may be filled with beauty products, electronics or heels, someone in the highly infected AIDS demographic can only wish for another day to live. 

RED is an organization very close to my heart for the support it gives to my motherland. With the help of its partners, it has raised over $365 million to provide the anti-viral treatment needed to live with AIDS. I can't stress enough how important it is to know your status (1 in every 8 people doesn't know they have HIV) and raise awareness through funds or volunteer work.

Make a child's Christmas a little better by being informed, volunteering or donating.

SHOP THIS CUSTOM MADE GOWN WITH KHOLYNSCOUTURE

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CHRISTMAS AS A MUSLIM

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My fondest memory is growing up in Benin and celebrating the holidays around lively people. Whether it was Eid, Christmas or New Year's Eve, there was a sense of unity through the breezy yet humid air. As a Muslim living in a predominantly Christian country, my parents allowed us to see the world as a whole rather than in pieces through religious views. They were Muslims raising children in a Christian country- creating their own traditions while respecting others.

Christmas as a Muslim signifies family time for us and fortunately for me the decorating part is a creative drug. My mom would pull out boxes of decorations, let us be children and only give us a hand if we were truly struggling. The next day, we would be all about the presents that Santa left for us. (I didn't believe in Santa because as a light sleeper I could hear my mother dropping the gifts. But as long as they were given, I was good.) 

I do not believe that muslims appreciating Christmas makes us any less religious nor any more ignorant. It's about understanding why it is celebrated in the first place and respectfully creating your own tradition. I am beyond grateful to have such heart warming memories created by my parents which will be passed on to the family I create. The holidays are all about gratitude, family and spirituality of some sort.

Merry Christmas from the Stilettos & Standards home to yours.

SHOP THIS CUSTOM MADE GOWN WITH KHOLYNSCOUTURE

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CRANBERRY HOLIDAY MAKEUP TUTORIAL

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The holiday season without a doubt reminds me of the dark color hues that beautifies the dead trees and pretty snowflakes. This matte cranberry makeup look is perfect for standing under the mistletoe or a fancy dinner night with no touching up to do on the lips. It's really all about having fun while looking fashionable so why not do it in style? I hope you guys enjoy this video and please don't forget to subscribe! 

DEETS:

BROWS: ABH products! Read my brow post here & LA Girl Proconceal in Fawn.

EYES: MUG- Cocoa Bear, Mocha, Beaches & Cream, Glamorous, Bitten. Sephora Liner-French Riviera & Black Lace. 

LASHES: L'Oreal Telescopic Mascara & House of Lashes- Temptress.

FACE: Skindaniva- Primer & Makeup Finishing Spray, Becca- Ever-Matte Powerless Priming Perfector, L'Oreal True Match Foundation- Deep Golden, Mac Pro Longwear Concealer- NC45, Bennye Powder- Olive Sand 

CHEEKS: Mac Blush- Raisin & Becca x Jaclyn Hill Face Palette -Champagne Pop & Prosecco Pop. 

LIPS: Mac Liner-Chestnut & Colour Pop Liquid Lipstick- LAX.

WATCH TUTORIAL HERE

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HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE | CHRISTMAS STOCKING STUFFERS

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'Tis the season to be broke, Falalala lalalala... 

As much as I am an organizational freak I NEVER fail at doing my holiday shopping at the last minute because it's just absolutely dreadful to me. I am already sighing at the thought of figuring out gift that would be perfect for my loved ones, without of course, getting distracted and purchasing something for myself. Yes, it's truly the thought that counts but I have a competitive personality and even want perfection at gift giving. 

If you're finally "adulting" (a term we millennials use when attempting and experiencing adulthood) you're probably struggling with purchasing Christmas gifts for the favorite humans in your life just like I am. I can't help you with being broke (I'm broke too, boo) but I can relieve the stress and share some gift ideas that I've stumbled upon! Whether you'd like to splurge or save for those who've been nice to you, here is a holiday guide, under $100, (literally $99.99 HA!) for the deserving people in your life. 

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HIGHLIGHT ON FLEEK | MY TOP 6 HIGHLIGHTERS

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CLICK TO IMAGES BELOW TO PURCHASE THE HIGHLIGHTERS

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LEFT TO RIGHT: Mac- Gold Deposit, Becca- Topaz, Benefit- Sunbeam, Glow Kit- Sunburst, Bubbly, Golden Bronze & Dripping in Gold, Becca x Jaclyn- Rosé, Amaretto, Pamplemousse, Champagne Pop & Prosecco Pop, Nars- Albatross 

LEFT TO RIGHT: Mac- Gold Deposit, Becca- Topaz, Benefit- Sunbeam, Glow Kit- Sunburst, Bubbly, Golden Bronze & Dripping in Gold, Becca x Jaclyn- Rosé, Amaretto, Pamplemousse, Champagne Pop & Prosecco Pop, Nars- Albatross 

I've developed an immense obsession with highlighters (better than drugs, right?) so naturally I wanted to share the glow with you. These shimmery products are meant to make you look like you're glowing from within. However, if you're like me, you like your glow to be to be a little disrespectful, in order to reflect off the negativity that may come your way. **flips hair** 

There's no doubt about the high demand for these highlighters that make your cheekbones pop and give you a radiant look as if you're glistening from eternal sunbeams. Since my job is to splurge on makeup and share the scoop with you, (clearly it isn't but this is what we are going to say to justify my addiction) I have compiled my top 6 highlighters to make sure you're remembered as your game forever strong.

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MINNIE MOUSE | GOLDEN EYES & RED LIPS TUTORIAL

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If someone had told me a couple of months ago that I should consider Youtube, I would've probably rolled my eyes as I have often done at the thought of it. Yet here I am, after many trials and tribulations, introducing my first video! 

Because I never considered YouTube as an outlet to expand my creativity due to intimidation, I curated a billion excuses as to why I couldn't do it. In my opinion, it would take up too much time, patience and energy I didn't have. When in reality, I was afraid of putting myself in a world where cyber bullying is so common. 

Thanks to my fearless and incredible support system plus the high I got from filming live at Condé Nast, the sky is yet again the limit. Welcome to my new journey where we will be interacting more on an intimate level!

DEETS:

BROWS: ABH products! Read my brow post here.

EYES: NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in Pure Gold Morphe 35O Palette (Read my review here).

LASHES: Tarte Cosmetic Lights, Camera, Splashes Mascara & House of Lashes Iconic.

CHEEKS: Mac Raisin Blush and ABH Glow Kit in Dripping in Gold & Sunburst.

LIPS: Mac Burgundy Liner & Colour Pop Liquid Lipstick in Avenue.

WATCH TUTORIAL HERE

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CURRENT FAVORITE BEAUTY PICKS:

VANDAL

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Vandal is a restaurant inspired by the global artsy street fare and sits near the cobblestone streets of Bowery. The menu is filled with delicious tapas style portions that are mouth watering with the perfect splash of ambiance. If you're familiar with Tao and love the vibes, this would be right up your alley as it was founded by the same bombass Tao Group. 

The restaurant welcomes you with a beautiful terrarium-like garden entry that leads to a corridor similar to the Jeff Koons exhibit, where you can check in. There are many approachable bar tenders and friendly waiters filled with great recommendations of unique drinks and food. While often a jammed packed restaurant (even with reservations), my cousin and I were lucky enough to be seated right on time after trying out the Double Dutch (highly recommended) and Trigger Finger at the bar. 

Each room is painted by a different street artist and reminded me of my love for art and the freedom it brings within. We tried out the Pretzel Steak Tartare (my favorite), Chicken Shawarma Salad, Grilled Brussel Sprouts and Balinese Branzino. The food is lovely but you're really in Vandal for the ambiance and elite atmosphere. 

It's absolutely a place worth checking out a few times for the experience and ambiance but be prepare to spend some coins because a tab for two can easily be $200. 

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DEAR AÏCHATOU | A LETTER TO THE FUTURE ME

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I hope this letter finds itself in your virtual archives, ready to be read in a world so advanced the keys it's currently being typed on seem absurd and inefficient. 

And while this world may now be so far ahead, I hope some parts of you remain the same. Like the softness that allowed you to exude laughter everyday and the way you've always saw people for what they could be. I also hope some things have finally changed about you- like how you're so overly sensitive towards things that shouldn't even matter and how you've allowed these "could've been" people take advantage of you. 

Are you still obsessed with the things you're passionate about? Like how you'd run home after school as a child, under the beaming Benin sun to articulate your huge imagination into art. I hope you've stopped being so hard on yourself, self doubt was always one of your biggest challenges. I hope when you look back at this letter, written on your way to work in an uncomfortably crowded train and you smile at the memory.

Remember when you were flunking your freshman year of college because you were going legally blind? HA! Now look at you with all these degrees and honors, still going at it to make a difference in the world. What about all the crappy jobs that got the bills paid but made you sob? Now look at you all proud at the lessons life has taught you. 

Through all the obstacles you've faced, I hope you continue to turn them into opportunities. I hope you've chased your dreams, like you did with those fireflies and frogs in the deserted summer nights of Guinea. You loved sitting under the mango trees and letting the breeze hit your face while you imagined your future at such a tender age. Do you still dream of seeing the world like you did as a little girl keeping up with click of your mother's heels in the massive airports? For what it's worth, you've spent most of your time as a new U.S. citizen, saving up and eating meal prepped lunches so you could see it all and mark it on your world map.  

You've had this thing instilled in you, where if you wanted something bad enough, you went after it by any means necessary. You've trained yourself to be independent, courageous and determined- I hope that never changes. Whatever you are going through right now, don't be so hard on yourself because I am proud of you. If you haven't already, please stop living in cognitive dissonance and go for what what sets your soul on fire. Never, ever settle and don't feel bad when those you have tell you that you should. 

I believe in you,

Love Aïchatou. 

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GOLDEN 26 | 6 THINGS FOR 26

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First of all, HOW?!

How am I twenty-six already? It's making me a little anxious to see life flashing by and I haven't completed things I'd still like to check off. Then there's this little voice in my head constantly reminding me that life can't be 100% planned and as I get older I am given the opportunity of longevity and wisdom. 

Twenty-five has been filled with fear and anxiety but the laughter and accomplishments are truly what I remember the most. As I close the chapter of a QUARTER OF A CENTURY, where I wholeheartedly learned the meaning of hustling for your dreams, here are some things I'll be taking with me on my Golden Two Six:

1. KINDNESS- I realized that when you're kind and have a pure heart, people will walk all over you. I've had to remain impeccable with my words and behavior when my kindness was continuously tested. Not every action deserves my reaction or me getting out of character to prove a point. I like my softness and my belief that the world is still such a beautiful place through all obstacles. I mean, I can go from high tea to vodka real quick, but I just prefer the high tea part 99% of the time! 

2. YEAR OF YES- If there's anything I am proud of learning during my Quarter of a Century year, it is how incredible my life has been since I've done things out of my comfort zones. When I opened my heart to experiences I've continuously shut down, the world seemed to welcome me with open arms. 

3. NO- I am sure this probably sounds like an oxymoron considering I just said it's been a year of yes for me but hear me out, okay? I came to an understanding of suggestion when to say Yes and when to say No. "No" to things that do not serve a purpose to me. No to things that made me uncomfortable AND unhappy. No to things that didn't work for me but pleased everyone else. 

4. OBSESSION- "Be obsessed with your passion, master it, learn it, fight for it." I tell myself this EVERY TIME and OVER TIME to OVERCOME anything that gives me self doubt and defeat. Because if I am not obsessed with my passion, who will be for me? 

5. CHANGE- I love change, I embrace growth and continuously remind myself that nothing changes if nothing changes. If I want something I've never had, I would have to do something I've never done.

6. GRATITUDE- I know you've seen this already if you read STAYING MOTIVATED. It's so important for me to remember that although I don't have everything I want, I have enough. Practicing the art of a grateful heart has taken me unimaginably far.

7. LIVE- None of the above can happen unless I live to the fullest extent of my potential and in the moment. I am that person who's always waited for summer to happen in the winter and complain about the heat. Once I learned to beauty of living and not surviving, I was able to efficiently practice all of the above.

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WHAT TO DO WHEN TRAVELING TO WASHINGTON D.C. FOR A DAY

📍Union Station, Washington D.C. -The metro system in D.C. is quite different from NYC. The metro passes are hard like debit cards & necessary for both entry & exit of the subway for extra security. A day pass , which includes train and bus rides is $14.50 and an extra $2.00 for the new card.

📍Union Station, Washington D.C.

-The metro system in D.C. is quite different from NYC. The metro passes are hard like debit cards & necessary for both entry & exit of the subway for extra security. A day pass , which includes train and bus rides is $14.50 and an extra $2.00 for the new card.

📍Washington Square, Washington D.C. -We were able to see the Washington Monument, from standing in the Square which is surrounded by so much beautiful history!

📍Washington Square, Washington D.C.

-We were able to see the Washington Monument, from standing in the Square which is surrounded by so much beautiful history!

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📍African American Museum, Washington D.C. -Unfortunately, by the time we arrived to the Museum for the free tickets, they were already done distributing them by 6AM & were completely booked until May 2017 online.

📍African American Museum, Washington D.C.

-Unfortunately, by the time we arrived to the Museum for the free tickets, they were already done distributing them by 6AM & were completely booked until May 2017 online.

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📍Washington Monument, Washington D.C. I am not sure if you could tell how happy I was to see all this history.

📍Washington Monument, Washington D.C.

I am not sure if you could tell how happy I was to see all this history.

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📍World War II Memorial, Washington D.C. -A national memorial dedicated to American veterans & Civilians from Word War II

📍World War II Memorial, Washington D.C.

-A national memorial dedicated to American veterans & Civilians from Word War II

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📍Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. -"In this temple as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the union the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever." THANK YOU President Lincoln for standing up against slavery during a time everyone saw it as the norm.

📍Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

-"In this temple as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the union the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever."

THANK YOU President Lincoln for standing up against slavery during a time everyone saw it as the norm.

📍Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Washington D.C. - This memorial honors MLK's legacy and the struggle for freedom, equality and justice. Thank you Dr. King all that you have done for the freedom & rights of blacks!

📍Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Washington D.C.

- This memorial honors MLK's legacy and the struggle for freedom, equality and justice. Thank you Dr. King all that you have done for the freedom & rights of blacks!

📍Ford Theater, Washington D.C. - The Ford Theater is where the assassination of President Lincoln took place. The location includes the president's timeline during office & the day he was assassinated. 

📍Ford Theater, Washington D.C.

- The Ford Theater is where the assassination of President Lincoln took place. The location includes the president's timeline during office & the day he was assassinated. 

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📍Department of Treasury, Washington D.C.

📍Department of Treasury, Washington D.C.

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📍1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington D.C. - The absolutely BEAUTIFUL white house.

📍1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington D.C.

- The absolutely BEAUTIFUL white house.

📍1400 New York Avenue, Washington D.C. - Many of the streets are named after states, colonies or a title from the United States government. When I saw NY Avenue after leaving a gift shop, I ran for a photo and bumped my head right into this pole! HAH!

📍1400 New York Avenue, Washington D.C.

- Many of the streets are named after states, colonies or a title from the United States government. When I saw NY Avenue after leaving a gift shop, I ran for a photo and bumped my head right into this pole! HAH!

Going to Washington D.C was a very impulsive decision made to visit various monuments and museums. I truly wanted to explore the state for the first time before my favorite American family, the Obamas, officially left the White House and Congress. So I decided to pack lightly, purchase a few tickets, plan accordingly (honestly, I didn't do the planning...my coworker who came with me did) and go sight seeing. As a very organized person, this was by far the best impulsive (and of course still planned) decision I ever made! 


Like anything in life, many of the things we wanted to do didn't go as planned but I knew from being a wanderlust, that was out of my control and rolled with the punches. It's a trip I will undoubtedly, take again now that it was an experience I learned from. Here are five things you should know about traveling to Washington D.C, particularly in a day.


1. DRESS COMFORTABLY- When I usually travel for sightseeing, my rule of thumb is to dress as if I were going to an amusement park. A comfy attire is key for walking around and exploring because the least of your problems should be discomfort.

2. TRAVEL EFFICIENTLY- While flying to D.C. was an option, it wasn't the most efficient way considering all the necessary effort needed to board and travel to the airport. My suggestion is to take Amtrak since it's more reliable than taking the bus. We were stranded in the cold rain for over an hour waiting for a late bus that had minimal leg room. Taking the train on our way back was such a better experience.

3. STAY HYDRATED AND FULL- Having a heavy breakfast even at the crack of dawn was a lifesaver. The commute is about 3-4 hours so packing for snacks to munch on and water to hydrate during mid naps will help with a smoother trip.

4. PACK LIGHTLY- I literally had my wallet, a neck pillow and food that would eventually vanish by the time I got to my destination. As hard as it was to let go of my everyday essentials, packing light was such a great idea!  

5. PLAN ACCORDINGLY- Yes, some of our plans were delayed because of our bus being late but planning in a timely manner to see the exhibits and monuments was so helpful. We were able to group things by general locations so we didn't have to go back and forth. We had a bunch of different maps from one monument to another and discarded them *as we reached our destination. 

I hope these few tips help better your experience with traveling to Washington D.C. for a day!

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