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My Updated Skincare Routine

I realized that it’s been over a year since I shared the details about my skincare routine. Quite a few things have changed since then. The biggest changes are to my skin. I started seeing more pimple breakouts and a bit more shine popup at the end of the day. Because of that, I introduced some new products and steps into my morning and nighttime routines.

My Updated Skincare Routine | arelaxedgal.com

(This post includes affiliate links. Read more about my use of affiliate links and what it means.)
 

Nighttime routine

I’m starting with my nighttime routine because it’s the one with the most steps It’s also probably the most important because it involves me removing my makeup from the day.

Step 1. Remove makeup

I used to combine this step with step two which I found to be a mistake. By going straight to cleaning my face without first properly removing my makeup I was leaving a lot of makeup in my pores. I believe that over time the leftover makeup built up and started to clog my pores causing some of the breakouts I was experiencing.

Now as part of my routine I’m removing my makeup using face towelettes. The ones I’m currently using are a store brand and are a few dollars cheaper than most of the name brands.

Step 2. Cleanse

After removing my makeup with towelette, I clean my face using a store brand cleansing cream or the St. Ives Blemish Control Apricot Scrub. I only use the scrub about once a week now to exfoliate. I used to use it every day but decided it wasn’t necessary for me to exfoliate every day.

Step 3. Tone

A year ago I was using Mary Kay Clear Proof Blemish Control Toner for this step. Once that bottle was empty I didn’t replace with any other type of toner.

That recently changed. As I talked about in my post about the DIY facial toners I started using a homemade toner to help get rid of any makeup or dirt that could be leftover after using the towelette and cleaner.

When I first added a toner back into my routine I used a homemade toner made up of green tea, apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil. After using that up I decided to try out Garnier’s SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Waterproof. It’s formulated to gently remove makeup, even waterproof makeup and refresh your skin. By using this I’m able to remove any last traces that are left in my pores.

Step 4. Treat

Before I combined this with the cleansing step but decided to make it a separate step in my updated routine.

I sometimes skip over this step if I don’t have any pimples warranting the use of an acne blemish gel. I rotate between Mary Kay Clear Proof Acne Treatment Gel and a generic store brand acne gel.

Step 5. Moisturize

In my old routine, I used the Mary Kay Clear Proof Oil-free Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin. Once I used that up I decided to find a cheaper moisturizer that was formulated to be used at night.

This led me to a store brand of night cream that’s supposed to smooth, soften and firm my skin. I’m not sure if it’s doing all of that, but I haven’t noticed any negative effects which is good enough for now.

My updated skincare routine | arelaxedgal.com

Morning routine

My morning routine is now less about cleaning my face and more about creating a base for my makeup. Because I’ve been in bed asleep for most of the time since I last washed my face, there isn’t much to remove from my face.

Step 1. Cleanse/tone

To wash my face in the morning, I either use St. Ives Apricot Blemish Control Facial scrub, a store brand cleansing cream or Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Waterproof.

When I use Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Waterproof I combine my washing and toning. You’d think this would make my morning routine quicker and easier. It did, but what I’ve found is that while my face shouldn’t be that dirty in the morning more often than not I tend to use about three to four cotton balls before I stop seeing any dirt on them.

When I use one of the other cleansers I either don't tone or I use my homemade toner.


Step 2. Treat

As with my nighttime routine, I rotate between using Mary Kay Clear Proof Acne Treatment Gel or a generic store brand acne gel if any pimples may have popped up overnight.

Step 3. Moisturize

Ambi Even and Clear Daily Moisturizer with SPF 30 used to be my go-to moisturizer. In order to spend less money on my beauty products I started using another Garnier product - Garnier Moisture Rescue Actively Hydrating Daily Lotion w/SPF 15. While I like the lightness of this lotion and it doesn’t make skin feel greasy or oily, I do wish the SPF was greater.

After this step, I start applying my makeup.

What are the steps in your skincare routine? What products do you use? Share in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.



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Travel Perks You May Not Know Your Credit Card Has

You’re excited and getting ready for your next vacation. You’ve made your list of what you need to take, packed your bags, picked up some last minute items from the store, stopped the mail. All typical things we do before heading out on a trip. But did you check and see what travel perks your credit card has?

I know I never did until I was about to take a trip overseas where I knew I may need to use my credit card. I realized that I didn’t know whether or not I would be charged foreign transaction fees, how to contact customer service, or what would be my options should I lose my card.


Do you know the travel perks your credit card offers? Well, it’s easier than you’d think to find out. These perks vary by credit card, especially if it’s a regular credit card or a travel credit card.

Finance tip: Travel perks your credit card has | arelaxedgal.com 


Before we start talking about the perks the cards provide, let’s define what a regular credit card and a travel credit card are.

Regular credit cards are your everyday, run of the mill cash back card. You get cashback for all purchases no matter the type that can be redeemed for various types of rewards.

Travel credit cards are cards that give you bonus points or miles for your purchases and put more emphasis on travel purchases such as airfare, hotel bookings, car rentals, dining and entertainment. The miles can then be redeemed for free or discounted travel.

Regular credit card perks

Travel dates

I think pretty much every credit card offers this, but I’ve found many people don’t know about it. You can let your credit card company know when and where you’re traveling so your card isn’t frozen when a purchase is made away from home.

I'm now using this feature for all of my overseas travel and some of my domestic travel. Whenever I visit a state or city I've never been to before I let my credit card company know I'll be traveling there.

No foreign transaction fees

One of the last things you want is to make a purchase when you’re overseas and then find out it cost you 3% more than you anticipated because of a foreign transaction fee. That could be the start of blowing your travel budget.

Check to see if your card waives foreign transaction fees. You may find that all fees are waived or there may be restrictions depending on the country the purchase is made.

Customer service

If you have questions or have an issue, such as a stolen or lost card, you can talk to someone for help with the situation.

Fraud liability guarantee

If this feature if offered it typically makes you not liable for unauthorized purchases made if your card is stolen.

Purchase Protection

After spending all that time looking for the perfect souvenir to remember your trip by or gifts for friends or family, the last thing you want is for it to be damaged or stolen. It may be advantageous to purchase the souvenirs and gifts with your credit card if it offers protection should your purchase be stolen or damaged. Check with your credit card company to confirm what’s covered, what’s not and for how much.

Free card replacement

In the event your credit card is lost or damaged during your vacation you can request another to be quickly shipped to you. Check with your credit card company to see what the location limitations are as some cards will only do this in your country of residence.

Reward points for purchases

Many credits cards out there give you reward points for purchases. But some will also give bonus points for travel related purchases during the summer. Check with your credit card company to see if this feature is available and how you can take advantage of it.


Finance tip: Travel perks you may not know your credit card has | arelaxedgal.com

Travel credit card perks

Lost or delayed baggage protection

We’ve all heard the stories or may have experienced it ourselves. We check our baggage and then get to a destination ready to start our vacation only to find the airline can’t find it. Some travel cards will provide reimbursement if your luggage is lost or delayed for a long amount of time and you need to purchase items until your baggage arrives.

Travel and/or emergency assistance

Should you run into a situation where you need to change your travel plans because of an emergency situation your credit card may be able to help with that. Some cards will even help with medical or legal referrals should that type of situation arise.

Travel accident insurance

We all hope our vacations are accident-free, but unfortunately, accidents happen. Check and see if your travel card will provide financial assistance to help cover expenses should an accident occur and what qualifies as an accident. This varies card by card.

Car rental insurance

Some travel credit cards will cover the theft or damage of a rental car if you use them for that purchase. Typically this only applies if you didn’t purchase the insurance from the car rental place. By using the credit card coverage you can save a few dollars.

Priority boarding

This is a perk that I love. With so many people not checking bags and doing carry-on the overhead bin space can fill up fast. If you have priority boarding you can board the plan before the masses and secure your overhead bin space for your carry-on.

Free checked bags

For longer trips, you may want to check a bag, but don’t want to pay the checked bag fee. Some travel cards will let you check at least one bag for free. With my card, I’m able to save at least $25 per flight.

Miles/reward points

Many of these cards will give you reward points or miles for every purchase, but travel related purchases tend to earn you the most points. The great thing about this is you can later redeem these miles/points for future trips.

Final words

Pretty eye-opening right? While these are pretty common perks for regular and travel credit cards, not every card offers all of these perks. Check with your credit card company to see what is and isn’t available to you. If you’re looking for a new card do your research and determine what’s most important for you when you travel.

And remember while it’s great to have a credit card, but they’re best for those who always pay the monthly balance in full and don’t ever incur interest.


Have you ever used any of your credit card’s travel perks?

Finance tip: Travel perks your credit card has | arelaxedgal.com
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Hair Care Lovers Can Save on Amazon Prime Day Too

Have you heard about Amazon Prime?

Ok. Confession time.

Every time I would hear someone talk about how great Amazon Prime is I admit I would sometimes roll my eyes. Well, I stopped rolling my eyes last month.

Despite being an organized person and planning out what I needed to take on my Mediterranean cruise vacation, there were a few items I didn’t have a little less than a week out from leaving. Yikes!

Hair care lovers can save on Amazon Prime Day too! | arelaxedgal.com

(This post includes affiliate links. Read more about my use of affiliate links.)

There was no way I was going to be able to order those items and they arrive before I left. I was slightly panicked and wasn’t sure what to do. Amazon Prime to the rescue. I had signed up for a free 30 day trial of Amazon Prime when I’d bought a few things earlier in the month. By using my trial membership the items I ordered arrived in a couple of days.

Now I’m a believer. And just in time too. Because today is Amazon Prime day! So what is Amazon Prime day? It’s Amazon’s annual event of discounts and deals exclusively for Prime members.

There are all kinds of deals that you can take advantage of and you have even more time to do so this year. Amazon is extending Prime Day from 24 to 30 hours. Starting July 10 at 6 pm PT / 9 pm ET and going through July 11.

While Amazon Prime Day doesn’t fit in my budget this year (Mediterranean cruises aren’t cheap), there are some good hair care deals available. Here's how you can take advantage of them.


Sign up for an Amazon Prime membership. You can use my affiliate link here to sign up.

Go to the Amazon homepage and select the Beauty Fan deals.

Start browsing and find the deals that you're interested in.

New deals become available every five minutes, so if there are some that will be available later you can add them to your watch list. This way you'll know when the deal is available and can take advantage of it.

Hair Care Lovers Amazon Prime Day Watch List | arelaxedgal.com 

Throughout the day, there will be several deals on flat irons, hair dryers, curlings, shampoos, conditioners and more hair care products.

I'll be tweeting about some of the deals throughout the day so sure to check me out on Twitter at the Twitter handle @arelaxedgal.

If hair care isn't your thing you can check out these other great deals that are part of Amazon Prime Day

Check out all the Prime Day deals here.

What are you buying on Amazon Prime Day? Share in the comments below.





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Changes are Coming to A Relaxed Gal

It is amazing how stepping away for a few days can give you a new perspective on things. I recently took a seven-day Mediterranean cruise. During the trip, I had no connection to the Internet. So I couldn’t work on A Relaxed Gal or spend any time on social media.

Because I was completely disconnected I had time to relax and fully enjoy my trip. This made me realize this was the first trip that had happened. In the past when I’d go on vacation I’d have Internet access and would feel like I needed to work on A Relaxed Gal.

I also came to the realization that overall my life had gotten very busy. Between prepping for my vacation, my full-time job getting busier, homeowner responsibilities and spending more time working on A Relaxed Gal I’ve been spending less time living and sleeping.

Changes I'm Making to My Blog and Why | arelaxedgal.com 


After my vacation, I had a day off before heading back to my full-time job. During that time I was able to sit down and formulate a plan for creating more balance in my life.

The interesting thing is I’ve seen other bloggers and business owners saying they’d come to the same realization. Many of them have changed the way they are approaching their blog or business. This is the approach I’ll be taking as well.


Currently, I’ve been posting twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursday. Starting this month, I will now only post once a week on Tuesdays. So I’m not posting on the same topic each week, I’ve designated a different topic to each week of the month.
  • Week 1: Blogging
  • Week 2: Hair
  • Week 3: Finance
  • Week 4: Beauty

Another change I’m making is I’ll no longer be posting traffic reports to provide monthly updates on my business and blog goals. This is a direct result of my new schedule. I don’t want my one post on blogging to always be a traffic report.

I will now be sharing my traffic reports only to those who subscribe to my Blogging Tribe. Here’s where you can sign up if you’d like to get my traffic reports.

I’m hoping with these changes I’ll be able to
  • Have more free time and stress less about creating content
  • Create more interesting content for you
  • Spend more time on content promotion
  • Have more time to engage with those in my community (followers and subscribers)

Now that I’ve shared with you the changes I'm implementing this month, I’m going to share my last traffic report on the blog.

Changes I'm Making to a A Relaxed Gal | arelaxedgal.com 

How I’m Doing with My 2017 Goals


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

I achieved this goal on time. And over the last few months, I’ve been seeing my organic traffic increase by sometimes large amounts. While my organic traffic from May to June saw less than a 1% decrease, my organic traffic increased about 34% quarter-over-quarter.

2. Retain readers on my site

June saw a slight increase in new visitors over May. The great thing is those new visitors were interested in my content because my Bounce Rate decreased 0.54%, Pages per Session increased 0.61% and Average Session Duration increased by 2.09%.



3. Grow my social followers and increase engagement

Overall I gained the same total number of followers in June that I did in May - 170. However, I’ve been trying a few new things on Pinterest and Facebook that so far have increased my engagement on those channels. I won’t share what those things are yet, as I want to continue testing them out.

After last month where my Pinterest stats decreased, some dramatically, I was so happy to see my stats rebound and steadily increase all month. Two stats that increased were my Average Monthly Viewers and Average Monthly Engaged. I hope to see those both continue to increase.


From the previous month, engagements on my Facebook page increased 146% and my reach increased 495%! This was amazing improvement! I’m hoping to make this a trend and not an anomaly.

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

My total number of subscribers is now 97. Which is an increase of nine subscribers from last month. While I did some cleaning up and sent out emails last month I really ended up slacking in June.

I didn’t send out many emails or do much to promote my subscriber list. I’m hoping that by not posting twice a week I’ll be able to focus that time I would have spent on the second blog post on emails.


5. Do a least one paid post a quarter

I’ve had a few brands reach out to me about sponsored posts. I shared a contract with them but never heard back. So once again I had a quarter with no paid posts. Hopefully, the second half of the year will be more successful.

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

I only added one image this month bringing my image library to a total of 20 images. I’m now for images away from my goal of 24 images which I expect to exceed.

What changes are you making to your blog for the rest of the year?




Changes I'm making to my blog | arelaxedgal.com 
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Amazing Tools to Automate and Manage Your Social Media

I don’t like to spend a lot of time on social media. In fact, I tend to be one of the last people to sign up for the newest social media site if I ever do. I resisted Instagram until a year or so ago and I want nothing to do with Snapchat.

Part of my aversion to social media is laziness. I don’t want to spend time learning something that has little practical use. The other part, the largest part, is I don’t have the time to stay actively engaged on social media. I have a full-time job, hobbies and other activities I like to do. All of which doesn't leave me with a lot of time for social media.

Even social media for A Relaxed Gal. I currently have three active social accounts for A Relaxed Gal - Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. These social media channels are vital for reaching and communicating with my blog audience, but manually maintaining them can be time-consuming.

Amazing tools to manage and automate your social media | arelaxedgal.com

(This post includes affiliate links. Read about the use of affiliate links on this site.)

To help with that I use three social media management tools. With these three tools I’m able to automate or pre-schedule all of my social posts so I don’t have to spend hours every day manually pinning, tweeting or posting.

There are so many social media management tools available and I’ve tried several in an effort to find the ones that work best for me. The three tools I’m using currently are
  • BoardBooster for looping my existing Pinterest pins
  • SociaPilot for automating some of my Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest content
  • RecurPost for recycling tweets and posts with my blog content

When I was trying to decide which social media management tools to use for my social media channels I realized I needed to take into consideration how I was going to use the tool and whether it would help me save time. These considerations may also be helpful for you if you’re researching and evaluating social media management tools.
  • Which social channels do you want to manage
  • How often do you want to post on each channel
  • What’s your budget? How much do you want to spend for a tool?
  • What do you want the tool to do for each channel (e.g. post, loop posts)

After determining what I wanted, needed and could afford in a social media management tool I then went out to see what my options were. What I found were multiple tools that all have many great features. No two tools were alike which made the selection of a tool really hard.

BoardBooster

This is a tool that is specifically for managing Pinterest. With a monthly BoardBooster plan, you can pin content from your blog and Pinterest to your personal boards and group boards.

BoardBooster has a pretty unique feature of looping existing pins on your boards. This is great because it can help older pins get a new life and possibly more repins because it’s being put back in front of your followers.

Some additional features BoardBooster has that aren’t included in the monthly plans are board clean up, pin quality improvement and group board management.

Accounts start at $5 a month for 500 total pins per month, though you can get a free trial of 100 pins.

I have the $5/month plan and am mainly using BoardBooster to loop my existing pins and pin to group boards.

With the analytics BoardBooster provides I’m able to track my day by day follower growth and also the performance of each board.


HootSuite

When I first started my blog Hootsuite was the first social media management tool I used. I had heard about it years prior from working in advertising but had never used it for myself. I started with the free plan to see if I liked it and how useful it would be for my blog. I ended up sticking with the free plan.

Hootsuite allows you to manage Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+. With the free plan you can manage up to three social profiles, but with paid plans, you can manage more.

Other features of the free plan include
  • Basic analytics to track follower growth and best performing posts
  • Lead capture campaigns with sweepstakes and social contests
  • 2 RSS integrations to source content either from your blog and/or other bloggers

A benefit of using HootSuite is it has an integration with another social media management tool Tailwind (which I’ll talk about later). The integration allows you to create and manage Pinterest pins from within the Hootsuite dashboard.

SmarterQueue

Probably one of the most important features for me in a social media management tool is being able to loop or recycle top performing content. While I’ve found a few tools with this feature I’ve found it’s hard to find tools that will not just recycle content but do it well.

SmarterQueue is one of the few tools I found that recycles with their evergreen content feature. The evergreen feature is really easy to use which is a plus.

There are several other great features SmarterQueue has which makes social media management easier
  • Categories so you can organize the content you’re posting
  • Curation of content from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter sources you chose
  • Scheduling with a calendar format
  • Analytics
  • Competitor analysis

With SmarterQueue you can post to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. I did a 14-day free trial using the tool for Facebook and Twitter. I would have continued with a paid plan, except it didn’t fit in my current budget. Paid plans start at $20 a month.

Amazing tools to automate and manage your social media | arelaxedgal.com

SocialPilot

This tool was a random find and can’t even remember how I found it. I started with a free trial and liked the features enough that I considered paying for a plan. I ended up paying for a plan when I was offered a 40% discount! I couldn't resist. It was such a good deal.

Besides the discounted price the feathers of the tool also drew me in. SocialPilot is one of the few tools that allows you to manage most of the top social channels from one platform. All in one platform you can manage Pinterest boards, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and tumbler. I use it to manage key Pinterest boards, Facebook and Twitter.

With SocialPilot you can schedule content, manage content with a scheduling calendar, customize your Facebook branding so your brand is highlighted in the post versus the tool and get content suggestions. What SocialPilot doesn’t have is the ability to easily recycle content though you can use the analytics feature to see which posts performed best and reshare them.


RecurPost

In addition to SocialPilot, I use RecurPost for Twitter and Facebook. The key feature of RecurPost is the recurring posting. So not only do you have the option of posting your content once, but you can save your posts and have them posted again and again until you tell the tool to stop.

I'm using the free RecurPost plan which allows me to save 100 pieces of content for recurring posting. I love Recurpost because I now spend a lot less time creating tweets and Facebook posts every week.

Tailwind

You may have heard about Tailwind before. If you have, it’s probably been in the context of managing your Pinterest profile. What many people don’t know is Tailwind can also be used for Instagram. The kicker is right now you can only use Tailwind for one Pinterest account or one Instagram account. You can’t have both linked. The Blogger/Small Business Plan is $9.99 a month.

I completed a free trial of 100 pins and did see a small boost in my Pinterest engagement and followers. While I opted to not continue with Tailwind I did like the easy to use interface and the robust analytics.

Additionally, Tailwind will create a posting schedule based on your traffic and audience engagement and you can schedule repins directly from Pinterest.

Features for Instagram include
  • A drag-and-drop calendar that will automatically schedule posts at optimal times
  • A hashtag finder that automatically recommends the best hashtags for your posts
  • The ability to recycle your best performing posts

As I mentioned previously I ended up selecting SocialPilot, RecurPost and BoardBooster, because I found that only one tool wouldn’t fit my needs. Depending on your needs you may find a mix of multiple tools is best or you may find one that works best for you.

What social media management tools do you recommend?



Amazing tools for automating and managing your social media | arelaxedgal.com
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© 2014-2017 A Relaxed Gal. All Rights Reserved. All of the content on this site is for informational purposes only. I am not a professional in hair care, blogging, beauty, personal finance or life. All opinions are from my own personal experience.

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