5 Great Beauty Bloggers to Follow

I follow many, many blogs via Pinterest, Facebook and Bloglovin. Lifestyle blogs, hair blogs, DIY decor blogs and also beauty blogs. I have to admit that reading beauty blogs are my guilty pleasure. I like reading about product reviews from beauty bloggers and learning new beauty tips that I may want to try.

The great this is there are thousands of beauty blogs out there. Don’t just take my word for it. Google beauty blog or search for beauty blog in Bloglovin and you’ll be scrolling for quite a while.


If you don’t like to scroll through pages of search results, here are five beauty blogs that I think are the best of the best. These bloggers provide helpful makeup tutorials and review products from brands that are easy to find and purchase. They also have great personalities that makes their content fun to read.

5 great beauty blogs you should follow | arelaxedgal.com 

Meg O on the Go 

http://megoonthego.com/

If you check out Meg O on the Go you’ll find that her blog doesn’t have written posts. She also has a lot of videos, though I admit I haven’t watched many of them. I really like how Meg reviews and uses makeup and skincare products that aren’t all high end, so many of the brand she reviews are ones that I would consider buying. Some of my favorite posts are Meg’s drugstore round up posts since that’s one of the places I by some of my makeup.

Beautifully Brown

http://www.beautifullybrown.com/

This a beauty blog that I recently discovered that’s run by Melanie Yvette. It’s also one of the few beauty blogs I’ve found that has helpful tips for brown ladies. As I read more and more from Melanie, I’m learning about new beauty products and even technology that is beauty related.

Beauty News with Angela Cruz

http://www.angela-cruz.com/

I discovered Angela via her videos and for a while I didn’t even realize she had a blog. It seems like she’s always has a new product she’s reviewing which is great because some of her videos have helped me decide whether or not to buy some beauty products.

Beauty bloggers to follow | arelaxedgal.com
 

Beauddiction

http://www.beauddiction.com

Can I just say I love the name of Jen’s beauty blog! On Beauddiction you’ll find lots of information about new beauty products. How is that even possible you may ask. Jen regularly visits her local drugstores, department and speciality stores to find out what new beauty products are available and share them with her readers.

Lisa a la mode

https://www.youtube.com/user/DimePieceOnaDime/videos

While Lisa is a blogger, she’s also a vlogger. On her YouTube channel you’ll find many great videos on her beauty product hauls, skincare routines and makeup routines. I just love how real and honest she is in her videos about the products she’s reviewing.

While I didn’t officially include A Relaxed Gal on the list I am going to do a little personal plug. You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to read some great makeup and skincare reviews and tips.

What beauty blogs do you follow? Share in the comments.


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How I Earn Money with My Cell Phone

I carry my cell phone with me everywhere I go. I take it with me to work, when I go on vacation, go shopping, workout and even when I just walk across my front yard to the mailbox. I wouldn’t go so far as to say my cell phone is like another appendage, but it is constantly with me.

The crazy thing is, my cell phone gets to go a lot of places, some of them really cool places, but it doesn’t have to pick up any of the travel costs.

Several years ago, probably about the tail end of the great app outbreak, a few coworkers and I were joking around about how our phones get to go cool places for free. A couple of them mentioned that they’d started to make some extra cash money by using apps. Of course I was curious and even skeptical, but I took note of the apps and tried them out for myself.

After using the apps my skepticism about earning money went away. This led me to searching for other reward apps that could add a some extra cash to my wallet every now and then. As a result I’ve tried out several reward apps. Some were duds in that it took too much time and effort for very little payout, but there were a few apps that had decent payouts. Here are some of my favorites.

How I earn money using my cel phone | arelaxedgal.com

(This post includes affiliate links. You can read about my use of affiliate links here.)

1. Shopkick

If you like to go shopping at departments stores or visit the mall this could be a good reward app for you. Shopkick let’s you earn Kicks (their version of rewards points) for doing things like visiting stores, purchasing products or watching a video. You then get to redeem those Kicks for gift cards.

How it works

After creating an account (psst...here’s my referral link so you can quickly create an account), there are five main ways you can earn kicks
  • Visit certain stores: The ShopKick app will show a list of nearby stores where you can earn Kicks. The way Shopkick knows you visited the store is by you opening the app at the store’s entrance and having your location and bluetooth settings on.
  • Scan certain products: When visiting certain stores you can get Kicks by scanning products.
  • Make purchases with a linked card: Some stores allow you to earn Kicks when you purchase products using a Visa or MasterCard linked in the app.
  • Submit a receipt: Some stores in the app will give Kicks away when you upload a receipt that has specific purchases on it.
  • Invite friends: This is pretty straight forward. Invite friends to signup and use the app.

How much I’ve made

I’ve been using the app for about three years and have earned 24,709 kicks. Depending on the items the Kicks are redeemed for, that may or may not be considered a lot. So far I’ve redeemed about 22,000 kicks for things like Papa Johns and Walmart gift cards.
I mainly earn my kicks by walking into stores such as Walmart and scanning products. If you go to the mall often you can rack up points pretty easily since the stores that offer the most kicks are ones found in or near malls.


2. Walmart Savings Catcher

To save money on groceries and other household items I do a lot of shopping at Walmart. While I’m pretty sure I save money on my purchases overall I haven’t and don’t want to spend the time pricing out every single item I buy. Walmart realized that many people are that way and developed a feature in their app called Savings Catcher.

How it works

  • Purchase products at Walmart just like you always do. Make sure you save your receipt!
  • Sign into the Walmart app and select Savings Catcher
  • Upload your receipt by scanning the bar or QR code. You also have the option of manually entering the receipt info.
  • Wait for the Walmart app to do it’s magic and see if there were better deals for the products on your receipt at nearby stores.
  • If there were better deals, Walmart will refund you the difference which you can redeem for a Walmart gift card.

How much I’ve made

I’ve been using Savings Catcher for a little over two years and have gotten back about $24. While this doesn’t seem like a lot, some things to keep in mind are
  • I’m buying for one person vs. a family
  • I don’t do all of my grocery shopping at Walmart
  • I buy a lot of store brands which are products Walmart doesn’t give rebates for
  • The difference between store prices is usually only a few cents


3. Ibotta

Out of all the coupon apps out there, I think Ibotta is the best. Ibotta is meant to be the digital replacement for coupon clipping. So it’s no surprise that the majority of their coupons are for grocery items and just about every well-known national and regional grocery chain is listed.

While grocery seems to be Ibotta’s sweet spot you can also find rebates for some purchases made at clothing, drug and beauty stores as well as restaurants and movie theaters.

One of the things I love is that you earn real cash and not points that have to be redeemed. You can get your earnings through a Paypal or Venmo payout or a gift card to select retailers.

How it works

  • Sign up and create an account. If you use my referral link you can get a $10 welcome bonus.
  • Select the category and store within the category you’ll be shopping from. Then scroll through and unlock the offers you want.
  • After buying the product featured in the app upload the receipt.
  • Once Ibotta confirms your purchase meets the reward requirements your account is credited.
  • When you’ve earned $20 you can get a payout as cash or a gift card.

How much I’ve made

I’ve used the app for a few years now and have earned back $56.85 that I’ve had paid out as cash and gift cards. Just like the Walmart Savings Catcher app, it doesn’t seem like a lot, but because I’m only buying for one and don’t buy a lot of brand name products how much I can get back is limited.

There are a few other apps I use that have had nice payouts, but I didn’t include on the list. The reason for that is they are only offered through a special service or your employer.

What apps or sites have you found that pay you back?



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Why I May Not Set Hair Goals Anymore

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a post about my hair. I’ve been somewhat on autopilot with my relaxed hair care so I haven’t felt like I had anything new to share. Also I’ve had many other topics I wanted to share with you that sharing about my personal hair care kept falling to the bottom of the list.

Related post: My 2017 Hair Goals

That is going to change today with this quarterly hair goal check in. At the beginning of the year I set some three hair goals for myself.
  1. Follow my new wash day plan all year
  2. Finalize my roster of hair products by the end of March
  3. Try eight or fewer new products all year

Pretty simple goals right? When I set them I figured the simpler they are, the easier they will be to achieve. I also tried to make them more measurable and actionable than the goals I had the previous year.

What I’m finding though is my hair is a little like a moving target. So sticking to my hair goals isn’t easy or even always possible because of the changing needs of my hair.

Why I may not set goals for my relaxed hair journey anymore | arelaxedgal.com
 

Follow my new wash day plan all year

The new wash day plan being referenced in this goal outlines which hair products and techniques to use the weeks between my relaxer touch ups.

So far I’ve been sticking to the 12 weeks between relaxer touch ups which makes my relaxer stretches easier. It also allows for lots of new growth that my stylist can work with.

Outside of the 12 week stretches I haven’t been sticking my wash day plan. The reason is the changing needs of my hair. Some weeks my hair needs more of one thing and less of another. For example, if I spend lots of time outside my hair dries out quicker and I apply more hair product throughout the week. This results in product build up so when I wash I use a sulfate shampoo.

I’ve also stopped co-washing and using so many sulfate-free shampoos. My scalp had been itching a lot more than normal and I couldn’t figure out why.

One day I was walking the three blocks from my work building to my car and it hit me. Because I’m not able to park in the parking deck attached to my office building I park a few blocks away in a gravel and dirt lot. During this particular walk I saw clouds of dust floating in the parking lot from the cars that were leaving and realized that dust was probably settling on my hair and scalp everyday. And since I use a lot of sulfate-free cleansers my scalp probably wasn’t being properly rid of the dust. One I started using more sulfate shampoos my scalp stopped itching so much.

Finalize my roster of hair products by the end of March

As of the writing of this post I feel like I have found a mixture of products that work well for my hair and give me results that I’m consistently happy with. With these products I’ve been able to keep my hair moisturized, strong, detangled and overall healthy. I don’t foresee dropping or replacing them other products.

Why I may not set goals for my relaxed hair journey anymore | arelaxedgal.com
 

Try eight or fewer new products all year

I haven’t been doing so well with this goal either. So far this year I’ve tried one new shampoo, two new deep conditioners and two new rinse out conditioners. But as I mentioned above, I think I’ve found the right mix of products that make my relaxed hair happy.

Now that I’ve been on a healthy relaxed hair journey for a few years and understand my hair better I don’t think that hair goals are necessary for me anymore. I’m now a lot better at determining pretty quickly what’s working or not working for my hair. I’ve also gotten better at determining what my hair needs more or less of.

Did you set any type of goals for yourself this year? Share in the comments how you’re tracking with your goals whether they’re hair goals, business goals, life goals, etc.


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What I’m Doing to Reduce My Bounce Rate

One of my 2017 site goals is to retain readers. While this a broad goal, I anticipated retained readership would also help me decrease my bounce rate which has been in the high 80s since probably my site launch. We’ll I’m happy to announce that I’m starting to see significant decreases in my bounce rate.

What I’m Doing to Reduce My Bounce Rate | arelaxedgal.com

What is a Bounce Rate?

 A bounce rate is a metric that measures the percentage of people who leave your site or landing page right after only viewing one page. Ultimately the bounce rate metric can help you determine whether site visitors are find your content interesting and relevant to them.

You can find several sites and experts sharing what a good bounce rate is, but the optimal bounce rate can and does vary depending on the purpose for the site. For example
  • If you have a single page site you’ll have a high bounce rate because there’s only one page for visitors to view
  • The type of site can impact the bounce rate. Informative sites like blogs, news and event sites tend to high bounce rates

In addition to the purpose of the site, bounce rates are impacted by the quality of the content, there isn’t a clear call-to-action and whether the audience finds the content useful.

How to Track Your Bounce Rate

I use Google Analytics to track my site metrics including my bounce rate. There I can see that my average bounce rate for the previous year was about 85% which I felt was high. Even though Hubspot says a good bounce rate benchmark for a blog is 70-90%. I would much rather be closer to 70%.

For 2017 I set a bounce rate goal to be between 75-78% which I’ve read is good for a blog type of site. At the end of March my bounce rate was about 77% which is a 9.65% decrease from this time last year. This is a pretty good improvement especially when most of the decrease happened in about two months time and not over the entire year. I hope to continue seeing my bounce rate improve for the rest of the year.

How I've Decreased My Bounce Rate

To get this 9.65% decrease in bounce rate took some work. Work that I could have avoided if I’d thought about and worked on implementing SEO tactics on my site from the very beginning.

Here are the 4 updates I made to my site that helped to reduce my bounce rate.

1. A user friendly site design

Site design seems to be one of the biggest factors for high bounce rates. A poor site design can turn off visitors quicker than anything. Once I changed my site design I started seeing a decrease in my bounce rate as well as my page loads and increased time that visitors were spending with my content.

2. Providing relevant and interesting content

Content is the other big factor for a high bounce rate. Your site pages may load quickly and you have an awesome site design, but if your content is relevant, useful, helpful, interesting (you get the picture) no one will read it or want to read it.

This was an issue I had with much of my older content. It was largely the result of not being focused with the purpose of my site, not planning out my content and rushing through my content creation. Now that I’ve identified and worked through those issues I’m producing better content.

3. Add keywords

I’m now making sure that I add keywords and long-tail keywords to my new articles and have even gone through and added them to old posts.

4. Including links in my content

A great way to keep visitors on your site is to make them aware of other content options on your site that is related to the content they are in the process of consuming. You can easily do this by
  • Adding links within your articles to other related articles on your site
  • Using a related post plugin at the end of your posts

Not only are these changes helping to decrease my bounce rate, but they are helping me reach several of my other site and business goals this year.

If you’d like more information on how you can reduce the bounce rate for your blog, sign up for my FREE 6 day Decrease Your Bounce Rate Mini Email Course. Each day you’ll get a detailed tip for reducing your bounce rate. 

How to reduce your blog's bounce rate | arelaxedgal.com 

How I'm Doing with My 2017 Goals

1. Fully optimize arelaxedgal.com for SEO by the end of Q1

Completed in February a whole month early. You can read more about this in Strategies I’m Using to Grow My Social Media Channels.

Unlike February, March saw a 30%, yes 30%!, uptick in organic traffic. I’m hoping this is an indication that my SEO optimization efforts are working.

2. Retain readers on my site

It seems like I’ve started doing something right as I saw an increase in returning visitors and my pages per session increased month-over-month by 2.20%. My bounce rate decreased by 1.20% keeping it under 80% for the second month in a row.

3. Grow my social followers and increase engagement

Despite “turning off” my Instagram and YouTube channels I was able to increase my total number of followers by 225. Pinterest as usual led the pack with 194 more followers from the previous month.

I saw increased engagement from Twitter with more clicks and retweets. Facebook saw an increase in both page clicks and page engagement. I also saw more average daily clicks on Pinterest.

4. Grow my email subscriber list to at least 1,000 by 12/31

Without promoting any new content upgrades or freebies, I was able to add a few more subscribers to my email list in March. This brings me to a total of 68.

5. Do a least one paid post a quarter

I will not be getting an A for this goal at the end of the year. I went through all of Q1 without securing one paid post.

6. Create an image library of at least 24 images by year end

In March I was able to add five more images to my library which means I’ve added 10 images to my image library this year!

Take a look at your current bounce rate. If it’s not a number you’re happy with put together a plan for how you’re going to decrease it. Share in the comments below your plan to decrease your bounce rate.

If you’d like more information on how you can reduce the bounce rate for your blog, sign up for my FREE 6 day Decrease Your Bounce Rate Mini Email Course. Each day you’ll get a new tip for reducing your bounce rate. 


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10 Awesome Makeup Products Under $10

When I first started wearing makeup I bought all my products at either the big box store or drugstore. Several of the products I tried ended up being a disappointment and I thought it was because they weren’t expensive. So I started wearing more expensive brands that either had to buy online or from Ulta or Sephora.

10 awesome makeup products under $10 | arelaxedgal.com


I kept buying these expensive brands for many years before I realized how much money I was needlessly spending on makeup. So to save money I made it my mission to find makeup I could wear that was cheap in price, but not in quality. Through trial and error I found some cheap makeup that worked for both my skin and my wallet.

If you’d like to try out any of these products you can find all of them in your local drugstore or on walmart.com by using my affiliate links below.

1. CoverGirl Clean Pressed Powder - $6

When I used to wear liquid foundation I used the CoverGirl Clean Pressed Powder to set my makeup. I would also use it by itself for a light foundation application. This is one of the few non-mineral powders that I would still let touch my face.

2. Milani Baked Powder Blush - $7

It can be hard to find blush that works on darker skintones, so I was happy to stumble across the Milani Baked Powder Blush. This blush comes in about six shades. The shade I’ve used is Red Vino. It added a nice rosy glow to my cheeks, without looking overdone or fake.

3. E.L.F. Shadow Lock Eyelid Primer - $2

I have slightly oily skin including my eyelids. This means my eye shadow will start creasing after a few hours and even start to wear off. To help lessen this, I started wearing the E.L.F. Shadow Lock Eyelid Primer under my eye shadow. The eyelid primer helps keep my shadows in place and helps to intensify some of the shades.


4. Revlon ColorStay 16 Hour Eyeshadow - $6

The eye shadow in this palette goes on smoothly and does last pretty much all day. The Revlon ColorStay 16 Hour Eyeshadow palette that I’ve used is Adventurous due to the deep neutral colors it has.

10 awesome makeup products under $10 | arelaxedgal.com

5. Maybelline 24K Nudes Palette - $10

I am a big believer in eye shadow palettes. I think they are a great buy if you can use the majority of the shades. This particular palette has 12 shades that have a heavy metal feel and are about a step above a straight up natural palette. My favorite shades in the Maybelline 24K Nudes Palette are the navy and purple.



6. Maybelline New York Great Lash Washable Mascara - $5

This was the very first mascara I ever used. The Maybelline New York Great Lash Washable Mascara was also the mascara I remember my mother having in her makeup case when I was growing up. While this mascara isn’t anything extraordinary, it does what it needs to by enhancing your lashes without clumping.

7. CoverGirl Perfect Point Plus Self-Sharpening Eye Pencil - $5

I have so many pros for this eyeliner pencil starting with the fact that it’s self-sharpening. I can’t stand the traditional pencils because I can never get the point sharpened so it’s usable. I don’t have that problem with the CoverGirl Perfect Point Plus Self-Sharpening Eye Pencil. Other pros include the multiple shades, how smoothly it glides on and how easily I can control the thickness of the line.


8. Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal Eyeliner - $4

If you prefer the traditional pencil for your eyeliner the Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Eyeliner is one of the better ones. While I don’t care for the traditional pencil, I did like the intense pigmentation which was perfect for nighttime makeup looks. Another plus was that it’s really waterproof. Simple water wasn’t going to wash it off.

9. Real Techniques Powder Brush - $10

I use a loose mineral powder foundation so having a good foundation brush is crucial for an even and flawless look. The Real Techniques Powder Brush is the brush that fits the bill. It has soft, firm bristles that allow me to apply a light or heavy layer of my foundation.


10. Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure Nail Polish - $7

I’m too frugal to go to the salon and get a manicure or pedicure so I do my nails at home. The polish I use is the Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure. I really like the multiple of shades available and how vibrant and shiny the colors are. With other nail polishes I’ve used I typically have to touch up or redo my nails after about a week. Not with this polish; it doesn’t chip or peel right away.

What’s your favorite cheap makeup?

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