5 Road Trip Myths Debunked

Road Trip Myths Debunked
In the months following my cross country road trip,  it was hard to process my  experience. However as I’ve spent more time thinking, I realized I debunked five myths about road trips. Before I set out, many warned me about a lot of things that turned out to be utterly false. I’m sure they were well meaning, but their advice was totally wrong. (Sorry, mom!)

Myth 1: If you travel alone as a female, you will be abducted, raped and disappear forever.

About 30% of people espoused this myth. They seemed almost certain that I’d be raped and murdered. The terror people had was overwhelming. However, I decided I wasn’t going to listen to this myth. I didn’t buy a gun. I didn’t even purchase mace. I had my wits and street smarts. After all, my hometown experienced a terrorist attack just three months before I left for my trip. The potential risk of a road trip seemed safe compared to that experience.

Don’t let fear control you.

Myth 2: You’re going to kill your car.

I heard this one from people apparently unfamiliar with Toyotas and basic car maintenance. If you have a reliable vehicle that’s well maintained, chances are you’ll be fine. The worst that happened to me was I got a flat tire in Biloxi, Mississippi.

But come on, flat tires can happen anywhere.

Myth 3: People will know you’re not from around there and judge you.

I admit that this was my own myth. I thought my Massachusetts plates and accent would make me stand out like a sore thumb.  I deliberately packed my most boring, nondescript clothing for middle America where I thought it’d be more likely to be judged.

The truth is, I don’t think anyone cared but me.

Myth 4: Your trip will cost a fortune and you’ll come back totally broke.

If you do it right, traveling doesn’t have to cost a fortune.  I read a lot of books on how to save money and the best one I came across was Matt Kepnes’ How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter. I created a $50 per day budget for fun, food and accommodations. (Gas was a separate budget!) I bought groceries instead of eating out, stayedwith friends along the way and in hostels. Ultimately, my best advice is to get a credit card that rewards you for using it. Through the card I signed up with, I earned about $400 from my trip alone.

Including gas, I spent about $2,900 ($72 per day) over about 40 days. Pretty cheap if you ask me!

Myth 5: You won’t want to drive the whole way.

If you don’t like driving long distances, by all means, do not go on a cross country road trip by yourself. However, if you love driving or have help, chances are you won’t tire of it. There wasn’t a day where I said to myself, “I can’t drive anymore.” That was until the last day when, yes, I was a bit over it.

I’m really proud that I drove all 10,000 miles by myself.

What Turned Out to Be True

Though I debunked these five myths, I found some road trips were real. It was lonely. It was incredibly hard, both emotionally and physically. I was scared at times, but not of people. Mostly of torrential downpours, hydroplaning and driving up and down the Rockies. But these are all posts for another day.

That being said, the lessons I learned were immeasurable.

9 Steps for Unearthing Products with Harmful Plastic Microbeads (Updated)

How to Find Out if Your Exfoliator has Plastic Microbeads {Those Graces}
My heart sunk last week after reading the article Don’t Lather, Don’t Rinse, Don’t Repeat, which describes a study of the Great Lakes that revealed something quite disturbing. The microbeads, or microplastics, found in beauty products are ending up in the world’s lakes, rivers and oceans. What damage are they doing exactly? On Earth reports,

While microbeads may be less visible than plastic bags, they are no less environmentally problematic. For one thing, they “look just like fish eggs, and thus like food” to a variety of aquatic organisms . . .  All marine micro-plastics are troublesome, given their tendency to absorb and concentrate persistent organic pollutants that can potentially accumulate in the fatty tissues of anything that eats them. Moreover, when plankton, lugworms, mussels, or fish fill up on toxic junk food, they may well lose their appetite for healthier fare. Dutch scientists who fed mussels tiny nano-particles of polystyrene found that the shellfish subsequently ate less and grew less.

Since they are small enough to pass through pipes without issue,  they are also small enough to get through wastewater treatment systems. And Americans buy cosmetics containing more than 573,000 pounds of microbeads each year. This has become such an important issue that New York is now seeking to ban products containing microbeads.

Chances are you probably own products containing the plastic microbeads. If you’re concerned about the environment, you’ll want to invest some time figuring out if the products you use hurt our valuable water sources. In this post, I’ll teach you how to do that as well as provide natural alternatives to these harmful products. 

9 Steps for Unearthing Beauty Products with Plastic Microbeads

To figure out if your products contain plastic microbeads, you’ll have to perform an amateur science experiment. OK, I’m not sure it’s actually scientific, but it worked for me.

Step 1: Gather suspected products. This means cleansers, masks and exfoliators. If you’re unsure if something contains microbeads, squeeze a small amount of product between your fingers and rub them together. If it feels gritty or sandy, it most likely has microbeads.

Step 2: Grab the number cups or containers that corresponds to how many products you’re testing. Make sure you choose a container  you can easily fit your hand into. Line each product in front of its corresponding cup.

Step 3: Fill the container with lukewarm water similar to the temperature you use to wash your face.

Step 4: Squeeze about half a teaspoon of product into the water. I recommend using more than you would on your face so you can get a larger sample.

Step 5: Swirl the product in the water to break the product up.

Step 6: Let the container sit overnight. Make sure to leave the corresponding product in front of the container so you remember what’s in there.

Step 7: The next morning, slowly empty your container halfway.

Step 8: Put your hand inside of the container and feel for any product that settled at the bottom.

Step 9: If you feel that same gritty texture you felt in Step 1, you have plastic microbeads on your hands. Literally. It didn’t dissolve over 8 hours and probably never will.

I did this test for all my products with microbeads. Sadly, there was plastic in every single one. I’m still questioning what to do next. I’m definitely not going to use them, but I feel just as bad by sending them to the  landfill. What an eco-friendly dilemma! My plan is to throw them under my sink, pretend they don’t exist and then toss them out next time I move. I figure in the end, they’re probably less harmful in the landfill than they are in our lakes and streams.

Natural Alternatives

Do not fret! There are tons of natural exfoliators out there that you can make yourself. From baking soda to lemons to salt, I promise you there are options. I pinned about 17 natural exfoliators and recipes to my Beauty Board on Pinterest to help you get started!

What to Do With Them

Microbeads have been in the news lately, and like me, a lot of people are wondering what to do with their microbead-filled products. You can read more about what to do with yours here.

More Information

Thank you to readers who contributed more information in the comments section.

I know some brands are aware of the problem and are planning on phasing them out. I found this link: http://www.beatthemicrobead.org/en/industry.

I have been telling my clients for years to stay away from microbeads. Very harmful to the skin.People tend to rub so had without realizing it that they cause micro tears in the skin. Unseen to their eyes. These micro tears thin the skin making it age faster. It can also cause hyperpigmentation since the body is trying to repair those tears quickly.
Susie of Esthetic Goddess

That One Time I Was Blonde

That One Time I Was Blonde {thosegraces.com}

One January night in Philadelphia six years ago, I was busy bleaching the life out of my hair with the help of one of my best friends. We worked until late in the night, bleaching it once and then again. My scalp burnt in anger, but I got the desired effect. I was blonde at long last!

You’d be surprised at the downsides that accompany blonde hair. For example, people asked me, “Do blondes have more fun?” To which I would always reply, “If you consider being hit on by more creepy drunk guys fun, then yes, blondes have more fun.” Nearly every time I went out to the bar, I got some weird comment like, “Hey, Goldilocks!” Not to mention bouncers would stare at my ID where I was still a brunette, and look at me, apparently in disbelief that hair dye existed. It was the only time I was ever asked my astrological sign as if I had a fake ID.

Another downside of blonde hair is that your hair falls out. Well, not a lot of it and it mostly grew back. But I remember playing with my hair when all of a sudden, I realized that I had about twenty strands of hair in my hand. Yes, it’s true, if you bleach your hair at home with no prior bleaching experience, your beautiful blonde hair will mostly likely fall out. But don’t worry, you most likely have more hair where that came from. And if you don’t, then hopefully the clump came from the underneath part that doesn’t matter anyway.

By May, I was fed up with being blonde. The maintenance didn’t suit me. No one told me blonde hair meant sitting in the salon for four hours every two months. I don’t regret that time, however, because I saw my kindergarten teacher smoking cigarettes outside while her hair dye set in. So at least there’s that.

All this should probably mean that I would never want to go blonde again. But that would be a lie. I definitely would go blonde again. In fact, I would go white blonde like Lady Amalthea from The Last Unicorn. And you know something is a great idea when you want the same hair color as an animated woman who turns into a unicorn.

Kryolan Opens Boston Store and I Geek Out

Kryolan City Boston
When I first started geeking out about makeup about six years ago, one of the first brands I stumbled upon was Kryolan. The German brand made its name in theater and became critically acclaimed for its professional grade products. Up until recently it was only available in-store or by special order, which is why I never saw their products in person. So you can imagine my excitement when fellow Boston blogger Elissa of Style Wire told me that they opened a Boston store.

Kryolan City Boston
Though they have stores all around Europe, Kryolan City Boston is the brand’s third U.S. store. They also have locations in San Francisco and Chicago with plans to open up a New York City store next month. My experience at the store was unlike any other makeup store. U.S. brands like MAC and Sephora pale in comparison. The store is bright yet friendly and the products are a-maz-ing!

Kryolan City Boston
These products pack a punch with quality pigmentation and unique colors. They carry a green lip gloss and lipsticks that glow under a UV light. They even carry blue lipstick, which I’ve been hunting for since December. They have eyeshadows in just about every color. Needless to say, this isn’t a routine shopping experience.

Kryolan City Boston
The staff was also very helpful, and unlike other stores, I never felt talked down to. They had great advice and helped me find exactly what I was looking for! It was very welcoming and I never felt intimidated despite never having seen Kryolan in person.

Kryolan City Boston
Another great thing about Kryolan is that prices range from $2 to $42. I bought two lipsticks that retail for $2.40 each. Their lip glosses run around $17 while their HD foundation costs about $42. Since Kryolan manufactures their own products, they’re able to keep prices relatively low. If you don’t want to spend a fortune to have some fun playing with color, Kryolan is a great place to get started.

Kryolan City Boston
I definitely plan on stopping by Kryolan City Boston soon! You can visit them at 31 St. James Avenue in Boston.

View More Photos from Kryolan City Boston

The France Conundrum: Reflections on Young Love

The France Conundrum {thosegraces.com}

France or your partner. It’s a recurring theme of young love on television. We all remember The Hill’s Lauren Conrad’s ill-fated choice of choosing Jason, her then boyfriend, over an internship in Paris. However, I was surprised to learn that the France Conundrum dates back to 1998 and the first season of Dawson’s Creek. America’s sweetheart Joey Potter is forced between spending a year in France or climbing into Dawson Leery’s window night after night. Like Lauren, she chooses Dawson over France.

France seems to be imprinted on our cultural consciousness as a turning point in our young adult lives. And by “our,” I mostly mean the cultural conscious of twenty-something females who rallied for LC over Heidi and preferred Joey to Jen. Somehow we related to these women, and yes, their choice to pick love over France. We grit our teeth while simultaneously yelling at the screen, “Choose Paris, Lauren!” Perhaps we connect with these women because they are reflection of our own experiences with love and life during the vulnerable period that is our early twenties. Or maybe we relate because we’d like to think we’d choose France over love.

When I was 22-years-old, I chose my then boyfriend, now husband, over spending the summer in Wyoming working at Yellowstone National Park. Reading that even now makes my heart hurt because, oh, the adventure! I chose to stay in South Carolina for love. While I’m glad I did, I do wonder about that lost Wyoming summer. I imagine long hikes, vast wilderness and the sky high Rocky mountains. It’s hard to say I regret the choice since I’ve driven across the country three times.  My life hasn’t lacked adventure or choice.

While Joey is obviously a fictional character, it’s worth pointing out that LC finally made it to Paris and has probably been there countless times since. Though the choice between France and love might be a youthful misstep, perhaps the lesson here is that we all end up in France or some far off land on our own timeline.

Unedited image originally from The Brooklyn Museum, used under Creative Commons.