Happy birthday, America! What better way to celebrate than with a fresh swim editorial?

For the holiday I’m rocking a patriotic string bikini by LA-based brand Minimale Animale. Designed and manufactured in the U.S., these killer ‘kinis are not for the faint of heart.

Minimale Animale suits are made for celebrating–or so it seems. All their pieces are gorgeous, but lately I cannot get enough of this blue star-spangled bikini.

For me, the more minimal the coverage, the better–at least when it comes to swimwear–which is why I am so drawn to this label. I am much more comfortable in basic, minimal styles than I am in unconventional ones. So, I always feel my best in Minimale Animale’s ‘kinis, and this one is no different. It is super simple, so when I’m in it, I feel free to be myself because it lets my personality shine through.

I have never been a huge fan of “fashionable” swimsuits; I tend to favor classic cuts and string bikinis over trendy styles. When I want to make a statement on the beach or at the pool, I’ll opt for bright colors and eye-catching patterns, instead. On the Fourth of July and beyond, this retro-inspired suit definitely stands out.

The classic string style of this top is super flattering and allows for minimal tan lines, while the high-cut briefs provide cheekiness I look for in a swimsuit. This blast-from-the-past high-cut look is making a major comeback this season; it is a great way to spice up a plain bikini without looking overdone. In fact, the skimpy cut gives this suit the slightly undone vibes I am always coveting no matter what I wear.

Shop my suit:

The So Choice Top, $100

The Skinny High Cut Lucid Brief, $80-$90

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I can hardly contain my excitement for this post because I’ve teamed up with Summersalt, an up-and-coming, eco-friendly swimwear label!

Summersalt launched earlier this year, but that hasn’t stopped big-name publications like GlamourAllure and Elle from raving about it. Committed to sustainability, Summersalt constructs its swimwear (as well as its poly mailers, accent labels, postcards, notecards and envelopes) from recycled materials.

“Since our fabrics are 5-times stronger and more durable than ordinary suits, we hope you will wear it for longer and recycle it when it’s time for something new,” Summersalt’s website reads.

“It’s an industry standard that each suit arrives in a poly bag to ensure freshness and sanitation. The poly bag that your Summersalt suit arrives in is completely recyclable, and we are actively looking for a vendor that makes them out of completely recycled materials…Our resealable pack is 100 percent recyclable and reusable…Use it for wet bathing suits when you travel.”

Last week, the label generously sent me a few pieces from their collection! Being so heavily invested in the fight against fast fashion, I could not be more thrilled to share my new goodies with Haute Mess readers just in time for summer.

Summersalt’s swimsuits are both comfortable and stylish without being overly revealing; they’re made for active beach goers who spend more time moving around than lying in a lounge chair.

“Our durable fabrics retain their shape to withstand even the grandest adventures and activities,” the site continues.

Not only do their swimsuits provide UPF 50+ protection, they are able to withstand the effects of sand, sweat and chlorine–aggressors that can wreak havoc on other swimsuits.

As their too-cute packaging states, the only thing more eco-friendly is skinny dipping. (Plus, nothing is over $95!)


The Cabana, $50

The Mesh Low Rider, $45

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It’s no secret that vacations are packed with activities that cause skincare woes. From late nights to food and alcohol indulgences to long days spent in the sun, I tend to return home with a subpar complexion. Not to mention, air travel itself strips skin of its moisture, causing even more irritation.

So, whenever I return home from a trip, I love to detox my skin. Loading it up with antioxidants combats pollutants, while clay masks deep clean pores clogged with dirt and oil. Collagen and hyaluronic acid restore moisture big-time and help to prevent signs of aging. Together, all these components restore my troubled skin and bring it back to a healthy state.

To start, I kick my normal skincare routine up a notch. After cleansing, I tone skin with micellar water; lately I’ve been loving Bioderma’s Sébium for combination to oily skin, but Pacifica’s Cactus Water Micellar Water Cleansing Tonic is another go-to. And if I am experiencing breakouts, I will also go in with witch hazel where it’s needed (usually in my t-zone).

Then comes serums. I love Glossier‘s Vitamin C serum called Super Glow to brighten dull, tired skin, and I’ll treat blemishes and redness with its sidekick Super Pure.

Even for those with oily skin, it is so important to moisturize–especially after cleansing, toning and serum-ing. I alternate between Glossier‘s original Priming Moisturizer and Clinque’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel; both are super safe for sensitive or acne-prone skin!

After moisturizing, I’ll give my skin a break for a few hours, then I’ll use a clay mask for a deeper clean. To leave skin feeling cleaner and more refreshed than ever, I use Aztec Secret’s Indian Healing Clay mixed with apple cider vinegar (a heavy-duty mask for oily skin, blemishes and blackheads), or Glossier‘s Mega Greens Galaxy Pack (which treats the same problems, but is much more gentle).

I let the mask sit on my face for about 30-40 minutes, then I’ll rinse with warm water and gently pat dry. Lastly, I use a Korean or Japanese sheet mask, which are relatively new to my beauty routine. Loaded with collagen, hyaluronic acid and Vitamin E, these masks restore moisture and elasticity stripped away from both travel and the deep cleaning process. As the instructions typically state, after removing the mask, I use my hands to gently massage the essence into my face and downwards, onto neck.

When I’m ready for bed at the end of the night, I treat any pesky whiteheads with Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion. This product is totally worth all the hype it gets from bloggers and YouTubers because, much like Aztec Secret’s mask, you can actually feel it working its magic. However, this product is a spot treatment, so I use a cotton swab to dab it only wher I need it.

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Earlier this month I visited Los Angeles for the second time and spent an afternoon exploring Little Tokyo. In between various boba and sushi spots were quite a few Asian beauty stores that stocked their shelves with tons of different products.

As a beauty junkie this was super exciting for me, so I went a little crazy while I was there–I’d never seen so many lip stains or sheet masks in one place in my life!

First, I stopped in TONYMOLY to find the Get It Tint Water Bar, a moisturizing lip stain, in a fun blood orange color–I’d been eyeing it ever since fellow Glossier Rep Amy Serrano raved about it in a YouTube video.

This stain has some serious staying power; plus, its instant cooling effect makes it the perfect option for summertime. With a little of Glossier‘s Balm Dotcom, it stays looking fresh–not flakey!–throughout the day or night.

[source: YesStyle]

I also picked up a Natural Green Hand Cream with avocado. All my life I’ve had such a hard time finding a hand cream that does its job without making my skin feel sticky or dirty, and this one definitely does the trick! Avocado is known for its anti-aging properties, so I’m hoping over time this cream keeps my hands looking and feeling baby-soft.

[source: TONYMOLY]

At a store called Make Asobi, I bought my first bottle of the cult favorite micellar water from Bioderma. I opted for the one designed for combination and oily skin, called Sébium, as my skin tends to be on the oily side.

The first time I used this product, I instantly felt a difference! I’ve been using Pacifica’s micellar water since I discovered it in November, and although I love it, nothing can compare to Bioderma’s.

Both brands offer an instant, rinse-free and mess-free cleanse that is gentle on skin. But, Bioderma’s micellar water works its magic much deeper into the pores in my opinion, leaving my face feeling much freer of impurities while using less product.

[source: Escentual]

(Side note: While in LA, I also used one of my friend’s Sensibio H2O wipes to remove my makeup one night before bed, and it left my skin feeling cleaner and softer than ever before. Unlike Simple’s micellar wipes, Bioderma’s are saturated with product. I will definitely be ordering them online soon; I’ll need to re-up on the micellar water, anyway.)

It’s no secret that traveling wreaks havoc on the skin, so I stocked up on some sheet masks while I was there, too–this store had so many different options! I chose five from a brand called Pure Smile (including one with snail essence!), and they definitely delivered.

Soaked with collagen and hyaluronic acid, these masks restore moisture and elasticity stripped from the skin during travel, after a day in the sun or the morning after a night out. And for about $2 a pop, they’re something every gal should keep on-hand at all times. (Plus, the colorful Art Masks are just so fun; it’s like wearing a Snapchat filter IRL.)

[source: 0035mm.com]

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In 2015 I was fortunate enough to visit Los Angeles for the first time with Katie, one of my closest friends in the world! Flash forward two years, and Katie is now living there; I couldn’t be happier for her or more proud of her. And, of course, I couldn’t have been more eager to visit her as soon as she made the cross-country move out there. What can I say? I’ve been in love with the place ever since we landed at LAX the first time.

A couple weeks ago I booked myself a redeye flight and told Katie I’d see her on the 2nd! She’s a total city girl, and I’ve been a beach girl since day one–thankfully, LA has the best of both worlds (plus, the mountains, which neither of us can get enough of), so we didn’t miss out on anything.

Beach

I spent a couple warm, sunny days enjoying the Santa Monica/Venice Beach area–two neighborhoods in which we spent a ton of time our last trip. At the risk of sounding like a total tourist, I just cannot get enough of Venice’s world-famous boardwalk–there is always something new to see there. And the beachside views really can’t be beat.

Because we’ve only had a handful of good beach days so far on the East Coast, I was able to take a couple of this season’s swimsuits for a test run–including a pair of high-cut bottoms for my first time ever. I enjoyed fresh fruit on the beach, and later picked up a multicolor knit halter top in Venice–which worked perfectly for a night out with my black vinyl pants.

Silver Lake, Melrose Trading Post + Little Tokyo

These are three LA must-dos I missed out on last time I visited. Thankfully, I had time for all three during my second trip.

Katie took me out to her favorite (and super authentic!) Thai restaurant in Silver Lake called Night + Market Song. I ordered Kuay Tiew Khua Gai, a rice noodle dish with octopus served over romaine lettuce, and we shared a side of coconut sticky rice.

That morning I woke up bright on early so I could get to Melrose Trading Post when it opened. As I mentioned on Instagram, Melrose Trading Post is a vintage-lover’s dream; it was full of topnotch handmade and secondhand goodies.

I luckily found the perfect pair of light-wash Levi’s at one of the first vendors. As a size 25, it is really difficult to find a pair of booty-hugging vintage jeans–most are catered to women size 27 and up. Because these jeans are secondhand, they’re already broken-in and super comfortable! I seriously don’t want to take them off.

At Melrose Trading Post I was also able to enjoy local food trucks. For lunch I decided on an ahi poke bowl full of fresh, local ingredients. It was so flavorful that I’m still thinking about it…

Later on I made my way to Little Tokyo in the Downtown Arts District. I tried frozen boba for the first time, and stocked up on some Asian beauty products at Tony Moly and Make Asobi (haul + review coming soon). The Japanese Village Plaza was super cute and a fun place to visit! It made me forget I was in the middle of LA; I didn’t want to leave.

Hollywood

Kaite lives in Hollywood, so I spent the week with her in the Hills. It is a young, lively area where bars are busy every night of the week! My favorite spot by far was Good Times at Davey Wayne’s–a 1970s-themed bar with a major house party vibe. 

Instead of the beach, I decided to spend an afternoon at W Hollywood’s rooftop pool–and I am so glad I did! It was clean and quiet, but still a ton of fun. Plus, the view from the word-famous rooftop is incredible, even with a little construction happening in the area.

Earlier that day I met up with Katie for lunch at a small place on Melrose Avenue called Antequera de Oaxaca, where we had quiet possibly the best tacos and guacamole ever.

On my last full day in town, it was pretty chilly by LA standards, but we still managed to make our way to Griffith Park for a hike–and were definitely able to break a sweat! Hiking in LA is the best, and it is always a great way to end a West Coast trip.

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