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7 Things I Actually Tried This October Before Telling You How Great They Are

When your president tweets, money-saving apps, lipstick, a new energy-saving philosophy, and more help me to find joy in the simple things.

BuzzFeed

Oh hey, girl! I'm Essence, the senior beauty editor for BuzzFeed's women's lifestyle platform, As/Is. People are always in my DM's asking me about my favorite products, so I put together this little list of my favorite things from this month.

Essence Gant

1. So Digit is an app that ~secretly~ saves money I'd otherwise be spending on chicken nuggets and doughnuts.

Raise your hand if you suck at money. Me: 🙋🏿‍♀️. I was put onto Digit two years ago, and it's probably my favorite app (after Instagram of course bc vanity over everything!). You link your checking account to the app and it basically studies your account behaviors: direct deposits, rent payments, auto insurance, etc. Based on that data, it calculates what you can afford to save and takes small amounts of money here and there and deposits them into your Digit savings account. The amounts are so small that you don't even realize they're gone, and before you know it, you've saved hundreds in a few months. You can tell the app to save more or less, too.When you want to release the saved funds back into your account, you simply click "Withdraw" in the app, enter the amount you want to release back into your bank account, and it's there the next day. The app doesn't pay interest or anything like a bank savings account (although it does give you a small savings bonus every so often), so I like to release the money back into my bank every few hundred dollars so that it can start to collect interest. It's good if you want to save for something specific, like a trip, or if you just want to stash away some extra cash. I actually paid for my 30th b-day to Cuba with Digit. I've saved $676 in the last six months, so now I'm going to release that back into into my checking and transfer it to my savings. Then I'll start all over from scratch! The app is free to use for the first 30 days, and then there's a monthly fee of $2.99, but that's nothing compared to what you save.Download it for free on iOS or Droid devices.
Essence Gant

Raise your hand if you suck at money. Me: 🙋🏿‍♀️. I was put onto Digit two years ago, and it's probably my favorite app (after Instagram of course bc vanity over everything!). You link your checking account to the app and it basically studies your account behaviors: direct deposits, rent payments, auto insurance, etc. Based on that data, it calculates what you can afford to save and takes small amounts of money here and there and deposits them into your Digit savings account. The amounts are so small that you don't even realize they're gone, and before you know it, you've saved hundreds in a few months. You can tell the app to save more or less, too.

When you want to release the saved funds back into your account, you simply click "Withdraw" in the app, enter the amount you want to release back into your bank account, and it's there the next day. The app doesn't pay interest or anything like a bank savings account (although it does give you a small savings bonus every so often), so I like to release the money back into my bank every few hundred dollars so that it can start to collect interest. It's good if you want to save for something specific, like a trip, or if you just want to stash away some extra cash. I actually paid for my 30th b-day to Cuba with Digit. I've saved $676 in the last six months, so now I'm going to release that back into into my checking and transfer it to my savings. Then I'll start all over from scratch! The app is free to use for the first 30 days, and then there's a monthly fee of $2.99, but that's nothing compared to what you save.

Download it for free on iOS or Droid devices.

2. I keep this Formula Z Cosmetics lipstick in my makeup bag at all times, and that's a big deal because I have commitment issues.

This summer at Cosmoprof in Vegas, I met Zach Dish (@zachdish), teen CEO of Formula Z Cosmetics and living reminder that I was actually a bum at his age. I was first impressed by his branding, which is gender inclusive and reflective of literally anyone who loves a beat, and when I recently wore one of the Formula Z lipsticks for the first time on another work trip, I was like O-M-GEEEEEEEE, where has this been all my life!I tried the shade Bowie, and first of all, the pigment is everything! I only needed one swipe and my lips were instantly a rich and vibrant purple, or "neon grape" as the brand would describe it. I also noticed that it applied evenly and smoothly, which is important to me because I absolutely despise a patchy application. And to seal the deal, the matte formula is long-wearing and doesn't make your lips feel like sandpaper, thanks to the vitamin E. I ate two tacos and drank a cocktail and my lips were still poppin'! I have the other shades too and can't wait to try them. This lipstick is officially a mainstay in my makeup bag ... and it's really hard to secure a permanent spot in there.Get it from Formula Z Cosmetics for $18.
Blake Newby / Essence Gant

This summer at Cosmoprof in Vegas, I met Zach Dish (@zachdish), teen CEO of Formula Z Cosmetics and living reminder that I was actually a bum at his age. I was first impressed by his branding, which is gender inclusive and reflective of literally anyone who loves a beat, and when I recently wore one of the Formula Z lipsticks for the first time on another work trip, I was like O-M-GEEEEEEEE, where has this been all my life!

I tried the shade Bowie, and first of all, the pigment is everything! I only needed one swipe and my lips were instantly a rich and vibrant purple, or "neon grape" as the brand would describe it. I also noticed that it applied evenly and smoothly, which is important to me because I absolutely despise a patchy application. And to seal the deal, the matte formula is long-wearing and doesn't make your lips feel like sandpaper, thanks to the vitamin E. I ate two tacos and drank a cocktail and my lips were still poppin'! I have the other shades too and can't wait to try them. This lipstick is officially a mainstay in my makeup bag ... and it's really hard to secure a permanent spot in there.

Get it from Formula Z Cosmetics for $18.

3. This Urban Outfitters Eleanor Plunging Denim Jumpsuit lets me live the '70s sitcom actress life I was born to lead.

Sooooo, your girl loves a jumpsuit. They instantly make you look like you have life together, even if you're unraveling at the seams ... which I'm not but if I were you wouldn't be able to tell if I had on a jumpsuit. I bought this denim jumpsuit from Urban Outfitters around February and it's carried me through spring, summer and now fall. It has a '70s vibe to it, which I love if you can't already tell by the Afro, and it's made extremely well. The fit up top is adjustable with crossing straps, and the bottom is a high-waist wide-leg pant with small pockets that are more for style than function. The stitching is a classic camel color, and it looks so good with the dark blue denim. Every time I wear it I get compliments.It's cool outside now, so I wear it with a long-sleeve fitted knit or button down underneath. But when the sun is out, so is my cleavage and I wear it with nothing! See here. It's one of those pieces that can be worn multiple ways throughout the seasons, and it looks sexy, classic and cool all at once. They also have it in the color Rust, which is like an orange-ish/red-ish, and I'm seriously thinking about adding it to cart. Get it from Urban Outfitters for $79. Available in 2 colors.
Essence Gant

Sooooo, your girl loves a jumpsuit. They instantly make you look like you have life together, even if you're unraveling at the seams ... which I'm not but if I were you wouldn't be able to tell if I had on a jumpsuit. I bought this denim jumpsuit from Urban Outfitters around February and it's carried me through spring, summer and now fall. It has a '70s vibe to it, which I love if you can't already tell by the Afro, and it's made extremely well. The fit up top is adjustable with crossing straps, and the bottom is a high-waist wide-leg pant with small pockets that are more for style than function. The stitching is a classic camel color, and it looks so good with the dark blue denim. Every time I wear it I get compliments.

It's cool outside now, so I wear it with a long-sleeve fitted knit or button down underneath. But when the sun is out, so is my cleavage and I wear it with nothing! See here. It's one of those pieces that can be worn multiple ways throughout the seasons, and it looks sexy, classic and cool all at once. They also have it in the color Rust, which is like an orange-ish/red-ish, and I'm seriously thinking about adding it to cart.

Get it from Urban Outfitters for $79. Available in 2 colors.

4. Enid B's Oatmeal Honey & Goat's Milk Face and Body Soap keeps my skin super soft for my non-existent boyfriend who never touches it.

I love finding new skin brands, especially the indie ones because their ingredients are often simpler and cleaner than mass brands'. I met the founder of Enid B. Artisanal Skincare at CultureCon, hosted by The Creative Collective NYC, earlier this month, and she gave me some samples because of course a boss beauty entrepreneur would have samples on her at an event full of media professionals! Before I sing this product's praises, let me first say that I get a TON of beauty products every week and it's hard to stick out because I've seen it all. In other words, you can trust my hype!I was first drawn to Enid B's packaging. It was simple but intentional and personal, like something I'd find in a fancy but still warm southern boutique. When I opened the soap, I was greeted by a big block of smell-goodness. Now I actually don't like a lot of fragrances, but this was clean and natural, which is what I prefer when it comes to anything scented. So I first tried it on my face to see how it felt, and if I would have any kind of reaction to it. Looking back I now realize that testing a patch on my hand would've made more sense, but it all worked out because the soap was so gentle and didn't irritate my face one bit! My face felt clean but not stripped and dry, which I really appreciated. When I ran out of body soap, I started using it in the shower instead and that's when I really fell in love! Taking a shower is one of the most treasured parts of my day and I really value my time washing away all the microscopic gunk that's made its way onto my body. The soap smells so good as it lathers, and it feels amazing on my skin. Very few soaps can nail that balance of moisturizing and cleansing, but the Enid B's Oatmeal Honey & Goat's Milk Face and Body Soap does just that. Every time I shower with it, I feel a little more at peace, which is perfect before going to bed or before you take on the world in the morning. The brand also claims that it's good for people with eczema and acne scarring. The ingredients are all natural, so it may be worth a shot if you have super sensitive skin.Get it from Enid B's Etsy shop for $11.
Essence Gant

I love finding new skin brands, especially the indie ones because their ingredients are often simpler and cleaner than mass brands'. I met the founder of Enid B. Artisanal Skincare at CultureCon, hosted by The Creative Collective NYC, earlier this month, and she gave me some samples because of course a boss beauty entrepreneur would have samples on her at an event full of media professionals! Before I sing this product's praises, let me first say that I get a TON of beauty products every week and it's hard to stick out because I've seen it all. In other words, you can trust my hype!

I was first drawn to Enid B's packaging. It was simple but intentional and personal, like something I'd find in a fancy but still warm southern boutique. When I opened the soap, I was greeted by a big block of smell-goodness. Now I actually don't like a lot of fragrances, but this was clean and natural, which is what I prefer when it comes to anything scented. So I first tried it on my face to see how it felt, and if I would have any kind of reaction to it. Looking back I now realize that testing a patch on my hand would've made more sense, but it all worked out because the soap was so gentle and didn't irritate my face one bit! My face felt clean but not stripped and dry, which I really appreciated. When I ran out of body soap, I started using it in the shower instead and that's when I really fell in love! Taking a shower is one of the most treasured parts of my day and I really value my time washing away all the microscopic gunk that's made its way onto my body. The soap smells so good as it lathers, and it feels amazing on my skin. Very few soaps can nail that balance of moisturizing and cleansing, but the Enid B's Oatmeal Honey & Goat's Milk Face and Body Soap does just that. Every time I shower with it, I feel a little more at peace, which is perfect before going to bed or before you take on the world in the morning. The brand also claims that it's good for people with eczema and acne scarring. The ingredients are all natural, so it may be worth a shot if you have super sensitive skin.

Get it from Enid B's Etsy shop for $11.

5. These Empire Pointed Toe White Ankle Boots from Public Desire are runway-cute but I-have-student debt-affordable.

I was looking for white boots for what felt like forever to go with this dress. I initially settled on red, but it was a little too July 4th for my liking so I began my search for white pointed-toe ankle boots. You'd think it'd be easy since they had a strong runway moment, but every time I found a cute, affordable option, they were sold out of my snow ski-feet's size. And then one of our interns told me about Public Desire 'cause the youth be knowin', and I was like HAAAAAA-LLE-LU-JAH! I ordered the Empire Pointed Toe Ankle Boots in white. At first I got a 10 because that's what size I normally wear in boots, but the fit ran pretty big so I exchanged for a 9, and THEN an 8 because they were still too big on my feet — which is good news because that means that people who have trouble finding shoes for larger feet may be able to fit some of the Public Desire styles. What I like most about them is they're super cute and they work with a range of outfits: full-on denim, a mini dress, shorts, etc. The second thing I love about them is that they are very friendly on the wallet. The full price is $59.99 and what that does for my soul is honestly indescribable. Full trasparency, tho, I will say that they are not the most comfortable. I'm sitting most of the day with minimal movement, like maybe taking a few photos or standing at an event, so an eight-hour workday in these is a piece of cake. They're totally fine if your day doesn't require you to walk much. But if you have to walk long distances, or if you're out clubbing and there's a lot of bar hopping and/or twerking, you may start to feel the pain. I mainly wear them to work, so I usually throw on a pair of sneakers or loafers for my 20-minute walk to the office, and then I slide into the boots once I'm there. And I'd probably recommend that for anyone getting a pair: put on what I like to call commuter shoes, and then change into these babies when you're close to or at the destination you want to wear them. And wear a pretty thick pair of socks, too. For the price and how cute they are, a little comfort prep is a small cost for a trendy item like white boots. Get them from Public Desire for $59.99. Available in 7 colors.
Essence Gant

I was looking for white boots for what felt like forever to go with this dress. I initially settled on red, but it was a little too July 4th for my liking so I began my search for white pointed-toe ankle boots. You'd think it'd be easy since they had a strong runway moment, but every time I found a cute, affordable option, they were sold out of my snow ski-feet's size. And then one of our interns told me about Public Desire 'cause the youth be knowin', and I was like HAAAAAA-LLE-LU-JAH! I ordered the Empire Pointed Toe Ankle Boots in white. At first I got a 10 because that's what size I normally wear in boots, but the fit ran pretty big so I exchanged for a 9, and THEN an 8 because they were still too big on my feet — which is good news because that means that people who have trouble finding shoes for larger feet may be able to fit some of the Public Desire styles.

What I like most about them is they're super cute and they work with a range of outfits: full-on denim, a mini dress, shorts, etc. The second thing I love about them is that they are very friendly on the wallet. The full price is $59.99 and what that does for my soul is honestly indescribable. Full trasparency, tho, I will say that they are not the most comfortable. I'm sitting most of the day with minimal movement, like maybe taking a few photos or standing at an event, so an eight-hour workday in these is a piece of cake. They're totally fine if your day doesn't require you to walk much. But if you have to walk long distances, or if you're out clubbing and there's a lot of bar hopping and/or twerking, you may start to feel the pain. I mainly wear them to work, so I usually throw on a pair of sneakers or loafers for my 20-minute walk to the office, and then I slide into the boots once I'm there. And I'd probably recommend that for anyone getting a pair: put on what I like to call commuter shoes, and then change into these babies when you're close to or at the destination you want to wear them. And wear a pretty thick pair of socks, too. For the price and how cute they are, a little comfort prep is a small cost for a trendy item like white boots.

Get them from Public Desire for $59.99. Available in 7 colors.

6. The devil that is hyperpigmentation works hard, but like Kris Jenner, Urban Skin Rx Super C Brightening Serum works harder.

Breakouts are like the curse that keeps on giving. When they finally go away, they leave behind a dark or red spot to mark the territory they once occupied on your face. Up until this year, I used to just wait out the time it took for any hyperpigmentation to fade on its own. But now I use Urban Skin Rx Super C Brightening Serum because I will NOT be a victim. I kept hearing all these amazing things about Urban Skin Rx products, so I was super hype when the serum was in a swag bag I received. Since that fateful day we came into each other's lives, I've secured three other bottles. It's one of those things I don't believe in living without.So after I cleanse and tone my face (and exfoliate, depending on the day), I apply the serum with the medicine dropper and let about five drops drip onto my face: my forehead, both cheeks, chin, and nose. Then I gently pat it all into my whole face and let it absorb about 15 minutes before I apply my moisturizer and SPF. I'm usually doing my hair or getting dressed between this time. I apply it in the morning (before my moisturizer and SPF) and at night, and I've seen my skin tone even out within weeks. If I get a pimple during my period, it drastically fades any pigmentation.Get it from Urban Skin Rx for $58.
Essence Gant

Breakouts are like the curse that keeps on giving. When they finally go away, they leave behind a dark or red spot to mark the territory they once occupied on your face. Up until this year, I used to just wait out the time it took for any hyperpigmentation to fade on its own. But now I use Urban Skin Rx Super C Brightening Serum because I will NOT be a victim. I kept hearing all these amazing things about Urban Skin Rx products, so I was super hype when the serum was in a swag bag I received. Since that fateful day we came into each other's lives, I've secured three other bottles. It's one of those things I don't believe in living without.

So after I cleanse and tone my face (and exfoliate, depending on the day), I apply the serum with the medicine dropper and let about five drops drip onto my face: my forehead, both cheeks, chin, and nose. Then I gently pat it all into my whole face and let it absorb about 15 minutes before I apply my moisturizer and SPF. I'm usually doing my hair or getting dressed between this time. I apply it in the morning (before my moisturizer and SPF) and at night, and I've seen my skin tone even out within weeks. If I get a pimple during my period, it drastically fades any pigmentation.

Get it from Urban Skin Rx for $58.

7. Leaving shit in the figurative toilet is my new thing and it's been serving me well!

instagram.com

So last month I had a HORRIBLE taxi experience. I was leaving a screening for Netflix's Nappily Ever After in Soho and I had about 30 minutes to catch my train home. I desperately wanted to make that train because it was pretty late, and the next train wasn't scheduled for another hour. I initially called an Uber, but the nearest car was about 10 minutes away, so I kept my eyes peeled for taxis as I waited. When I saw an open taxi, I cancelled the Uber and asked the cab driver to take me to Penn Station. He agreed, but right as I was about to open the door I remembered that I'd left my wallet at work, not in the direction we were going, and asked the driver if he had the Curb app, which lets you pay for rides from your phone. He said yes, so I threw my bags in the back seat and hopped in. I also saw that the Curb option was on his screen.

When we arrived at Penn, about 20 minutes before my train was leaving, I followed the app instructions and went to enter the seven-digit code that should've been on my driver's screen. The code, however, was not on his screen so I asked him where it was so that I could pay. And that was the beginning of everything going completely south. He flung his hand at me, as if I was a fly that needed shooing, and said, "I don't know. Give me cash." I explained that I didn't have cash or a card, which is why I asked him if I could pay via app before I even got into the car. He then started yelling, "PAY ME MY FARE! PAY ME MY FARE!" and naturally I got anxious and scared. I spotted a taxi dispatcher in front of Penn and flagged him to the car to explain what happened. He also tried to pay with my phone, following the app instructions just as I had, to no avail. He told the driver, and the driver went OFF. Not only did he start yelling even louder, but he got out of the driver's seat and walked around towards me like he was rolling up on a grown-ass man in a bar — like yelling in my face and waving his fist. Both the dispatcher and I tried to calm him down, but he only got louder and started waving his hands even more. The dispatcher began to walk away, and I begged him not to leave me alone with the driver because I was legit terrified. He then asked the driver if I could CashApp or Venmo him, but the driver said no and continued yelling. At this point my hands were shaking because I was scared that I would either be physically attacked by this larger and likely stronger man, or that he would alert NYPD and I'd be locked up for an $11 taxi ride, or both.

I got desperate and asked a man walking by if he could pay for the ride and I would Venmo him. He said no. I then saw a black girl walking my direction and explained the situation to her. She agreed and used her card to pay the fare. I thanked her over and over and insisted on Venmo-ing her. She declined the offer and said, "You don't have to Venmo me; you've been through enough." In that moment I got super emotional and did a mental replay of everything that transpired in the last 15 minutes or so: how the driver really got buck with me over ELEVEN dollars, how the dispatcher was really gonna leave me there with him, how the first man I asked to help me out said no, how I could've been assaulted and/or arrested for ELEVEN dollars, how countless people walked by and saw and heard a man yelling in my face but didn't stop to check on me, how there's a possibility that things would not have escalated so quickly had I been white and/or male, and how I'm so immensely grateful for black women because time and time again, they consistently have my back when shit gets really real.

I entered Penn Station, in perfect time to catch my train all thanks to my sister whose name I do not know. When I got home, I went into my room and burst into tears because I was still shaken up. I changed into my workout clothes and decided to run out my emotion in the gym downstairs. The next morning I was still upset, and debated whether or not to vent to my mom on my walk from Penn to work. I decided not to, and instead leave the moment right there where it was. I was emotionally and physically drained from it, and didn't want to keep carrying it with me. I decided then and there that this was going to be my practice moving forward for other incidents: acknowledge what happened, process it, cry if necessary, and release it — don't harbor its energy or relive it by retelling it. (I realize that this is not always an option, like in instances of severe trauma.) Instead of recanting it for family/friends or letting it occupy my mind and feelings hours and days later, I actively let it go. My energy is a resource, and I'd much rather invest it into things like work and cocktail hours — not retelling or holding onto incidents that are such a small, irrelevant part of my overall experience.

Follow me on Instagram @TheEssenceOf_ to see more of my fave products, and to tag me in yours. See ya soon!

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