Summer Self Care.

By: Jen Shoop

I hate the freighted and co-opted phrase “self-care,” but it was the only title that encompassed the various elements of maintenance, wellness, grooming, self-nurture, etc to which I am presently attending.

May was my month of good vibrations. I award myself an A for my efforts. I spent a lot of time outdoors, learning, reflecting, aiming to refocus my energy on good things. I now see the re-boot was necessary before the fun and frenzy of June. My children were off the walls with out-of-school excitement, day-camp festivities, and weekend adventures for much of this past month; our social calendar was packed; we hosted my brother and his family in our home for ten days; and I celebrated my 38th birthday. After a May of parentheticals, June was one long exclamation point.

July is calling for something different: almost without knowing it, I have been designing a program of self-care that runs across the physical, emotional, and intellectual:

+Teeth whitening! Did I share that I have been doing Invisalign for the last 10 months? It has done wonders for my confidence in smiling openly. I had braces as a teen, Invisalign in my mid-20s, and am now on my second course of the treatment. So much has improved in the technology and patient experience over the last decade. For starters, you no longer need to have those horrible molds made of your mouth all the time — scans are now done digitally, painlessly, and in less than two minutes in order to custom-build the trays! The “nubbins” they put on your teeth are much more discreet. And the trays are thinner! I am ecstatic with the results. I am upping the “big smile” ante this month by doing teeth whitening. I have the Lumineux set in my cart at the moment – I like that you can also get a pen to supplement or “top-up” the process after. I’ve been hearing good things about this brand — specifically that it causes less tooth sensitivity than other brands — but there’s a part of me that just wants to go with good old Crest strips, which I’ve always used in the past?

+SPF! Mr. Magpie and I are absolutely obsessed with Soleil Toujours’ Mineral Ally SPF. I received some in a gift box from Haven Well Within (along with this fantastic linen dress, which I’ve set aside to take to the beach in a few weeks — it is surprisingly flattered on; the cut is feminine rather than boxy) and I think we’re ruined for all other sunscreens. It has the best consistency and goes on totally sheer, but when it says it is “waterproof,” it REALLY MEANS IT. This has offered us the best coverage of any sunscreen I’ve ever used. I say this with confidence because if you’ve applied the sunscreen and then take a shower, you really need to scrub to get it off. (LuvScrubs are great for this.) That said, it doesn’t leave skin feeling sticky or white-cast or anything. It is just an incredible product — both a workhorse and elegant?

+Bronzing! I have been so diligent about the application of sunscreen this summer that I need a little extra (fake) color. I’ve narrowed down the tanning options to either Isle of Paradise’s spray (thanks to a Magpie for this tip!) or Salty Face’s tanning water, which many of you Magpies have raved about as the all-time MVP of this category of products.

+Eyelash enhancement! I have been talking about this forever, but I had eyelash extensions earlier this spring and so had to wait until all of those lashes had fallen off before starting to use Grande Lash, which Grace Atwood (very reliable source for all things beauty!) has raved about consistently. I wish I could have eyelash extensions all year round, but they destroy your lashes. They are SO fun for special occasions. I treat myself once a year, during a density of social occasions, and I feel like a million bucks while wearing them.

+Face masks! Before any night out, while getting ready, I like to apply Clarins’ FABULOUS de-puffing mask from my cheekbones down to the base of my neck, and then Origins’ Rose Clay Mask on my forehead and nose. This combination is EPIC. Your forehead is clear, bright, smooth, soft, and your cheeks down to your neck looks nearly chiseled as a result of the Clarins’ mask. I seriously had no idea I was ever “puffy” before trying this mask. When my skin is looking dull, I will sleep with this Jet Lag Mask or this divinely-scented Sleeping Facial from Korres on. I have also heard good things about Avene’s Cicalfate, which, despite the billing as a “scar gel,” can be used on any skin to restore texture and evenness. (I love European pharmacy fixes like these!)

+Running! I already wrote a lot about this but my God do I feel like a different person on its account! So happy to have clipped back in and gotten over the initial hump of heavy-footedness. My next step is to commit to calisthenics post-run. I have been spotty on this front. The first two weeks, I would go home and immediately do a “core” fitness video using Apple Fitness+ (you have to subscribe to this service, but you then have access to hundreds of fitness videos for cycling, core, running, yoga, etc.). It has become a challenge for me to follow through on that because so often I return from my run and immediately drink about four gallons of water and then just want to sit, panting, in the cold foyer of our home, collecting myself. By then it feels almost inhumane to descend to a mat and prolong the exercise jaunt. But I really want to do this…!

+Golf! I have not lifted a club in probably a decade but Mr. Magpie have decided to get into this sport this summer by heading to the driving range or greens a few times this month to see if I have what it (even remotely) takes to play a round of nine holes. I inherited my clubs from my grandmother and they are insanely heavy — the technology then was not what it is now. So I am going to be…cautiously realistic about what I can achieve in a few sessions. We played putt-putt with the children a few weeks back and though putt-putt is an entirely different beast than actual play on greens, I was reminded of how fun the sport is, and how well-suited I am to it given how individualistic it is. I prefer sports that way — I would rather play against myself, and I prefer when no one’s success is dependent on my own (as in a team sport). Anyway, I think this will be a new intellectual and athletic challenge to tackle, and I’m looking forward to it. If I end up really getting into the sport, I might pick up a pair of golf shoes from GFore — I love their throwback Kiltie styles like this or this. (And how great are their pastel golf gloves?) TB also has a good pair. I also love some of the golf attire from Byrdie Golf, especially this dress and this skort, and the performance polos from TB and Hedge. For golf bags…wow these customizable ones from Stitch!

+Reading! I have been consuming a lot of audiobooks this summer (currently listening to Jesse Klein’s You’ll Grow Out of It after a lot of Magpie praise, and it is astute and hilarious), but just recently tumbled into Rebecca Serle’s One Italian Summer, which is totally taking me by surprise. I started it while getting a manicure last week and almost cried in front of the technician! It is honest, stirring writing about grief — at least at the beginning. Afterwards, I cannot wait to read Emily Giffin’s latest, Meant to Be, which is loosely based on JFK Jr and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. I have been hearing that this is just the kind of brain candy we all need this summer.

+Watching the Screen! Mr. Magpie and I have a date to see a matinee showing of the new “Top Gun” next week, which has garnered a shocking amount of favorable reviews, even from people I wouldn’t expect to enjoy it. I cannot wait. It’s been ages since we set foot inside a theatre, too. At home, we tried to watch the heavily hyped “The Summer I Turned Pretty” show, and were miserably disappointed! I feel like I am the sole outlier here but I just cringed the entirety of the first episode and couldn’t move beyond it. I loved (!!!!) Jenny Han’s previous work in “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” (even its less impressive sequels), so this came as a shock to me. I found the acting and writing clumsy and the treatment of various sensitive themes shockingly superficial, even parodied? We have been enjoying the Hulu show “Bear,” though, which is about a successful chef who returns to run his family’s beef sandwich shop in Chicago after the death of his brother. It is grittier and darker than my usual preferred fare, but Mr. Magpie and I love the cooking/kitchen elements, the insights into running a business, and of course the backdrop of Chicago, all of which feels remarkably well and truthfully captured. The main actor is exceptional, too — highly believable. Good script-writing. Not for everyone, but it’s sustained our interest for the past week! We also loved (!) the movie “Hustle” with Adam Sandler — a feel-good sports movie that felt of-a-different-era in a good way.

+Limiting Phone Time! Mr. Magpie has been on a rage against the machine this summer. He has been trying all sorts of tacks to reduce the amount of time he spends on his phone, and the degree to which it invades his life. He puts limits on his apps, uses DND, analyzes his screen usage, puts his phone in a different part of the room, etc. He now prefers calling people in order to make plans (versus the inevitable protracted back and forth over text), and adheres religiously to the one-screen-at-a-time rule. (If we’re watching TV, we both put our phones out of our lines of sight.) I share this hope for the summer, especially when with the children. I majorly unplugged when my brother and his wife were in town, and I realized during that time a few things that may at first seem dissonant with the general goal of limiting phone usage. The first was that I found that the longer I went without my phone, the longer I’d let messages and emails sit in purgatory, even when I did have my phone with me. It was strange — almost as if not checking my phone for a few hours made me less likely to respond to things when I’d resume use. As a result, I implemented a rule for myself: respond to texts as soon as I see them. Too often I let things just hang out for a few hours for no real reason — and it is not only impolite but counter-productive, as I then have the invisible burden of responding to those messages hanging over my head. (Has anyone else struggled with this?). In general, my hope now for the summer is to keep my phone away from me (not always in my pocket!) and to check it during appropriate times, i.e., when the children are already engaged in something and I will therefore have time to actually respond to whatever is waiting for me. When I am checking my phone, I aim to respond promptly to everything received. This reminds me in general of a strategy I heard about in my former career: my boss used to try to only check emails at morning, noon, and night, and to otherwise stay focused on the work and conversations with his team instead. I loved this idea, because email can easily control the pace and flow of work if you let it. Of course, this does not make sense for all jobs or positions, but I liked the strategic approach to email.

What about you? Any goals for the month — intellectual, emotional, physical?

A few completely random recent finds I also wanted to share…









P.S. On the art of letter writing.

P.P.S. More summer beauty finds.

P.P.P.S. The summer I misbehaved.

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8 thoughts on “Summer Self Care.

  1. Oooh, I so appreciate this list of “self-care” goals for the month. I have been itching for a bit of this myself — it’s funny to think that dental care would fall under this list, but I know what you mean. It isn’t indulgence, it’s genuine care for yourself! That said, one thing I’ve had on my mind for ages are eye gel patches — I am oddly fixated on instituting a morning routine with eye patches, given that I have increased telework flexibility in the summer. Do you have any recommendations?

    I just finished “The Summer I Turned Pretty” and even the title made me cringe — really? I do agree that “To all the Boys” was stronger. I didn’t love the brother dynamic and the characters / their feelings / how they acted on their feelings was inconsistent, imo. And yet, I made it to the end… We are happy to have “Only Murders in the Building” back on Hulu, and recommend that!

    I am struggling so much with screen time since being ill so much of June. I would spend exhausted hours scrolling on the couch, ack! I’ve had some insomnia that increases my nightly viewing, too, when I don’t want to turn on a light. I need to really decide to set some boundaries and stick to them! Inspo welcome!

    1. You are not alone! So hard when you are feeling unwell, though — give yourself some grace. There are periods where you watch more TV and periods where you watch less. It all comes out in the wash! One of the things I try to do when I wake up and feel the urge to turn on my phone or TV — play “Botticelli” in my mind. This is a game I used to play with my family on paper — you have two columns of letters and you are trying to name celebrities with those initials. The first column has the alphabet going A-Z. The second is either a random mish mash of words spelled out down the column or (easier when doing mentally) the same letter, so, say, pick “B” or “C.” Then you go AB — Alec Baldwin. BB — Bugs Bunny. CB — Charles Barkley. Etc. Keep going alllll the way through the combo ZB, finding celebrity names for each pairing. I promise you will RARELY get past like S or T. If you do, pick another letter and start over. It’s the perfect level of thoughtful and mindless and it always puts me to sleep!


  2. Ooh, so much to comment on here!

    INVISALIGN! I’ve always been curious about this — or, at least, since my mid- to late 20s. I had naturally straight teeth until young adulthood (no need for braces) but let my wisdom teeth come in and they have caused some crowding. I know I need to get them out (it’s been on my list for years & there are various reasons I’ve put it off) but once I do, I think I would like to try Invisalign to get my teeth back to straightness! I know you wrote about the technological advances over the past decade, but otherwise, how have you liked it?

    SPF — very curious about Soleil Toujours! In recent years I have been switching between Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen and Glow Screen for face/décolletage and using Sun Bum SPF 50 spray for body … but I’m intrigued by this brand I had never heard of!

    Films/TV — we recently tore through Hacks and just adored it. Both of the leads are so charming in their own funny ways! Film-wise, we’ve been taking advantage of our Criterion Collection subscription (SO worth it if you like films!) and just spent three consecutive evenings watching Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy with Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke (I’d somehow never seen?!) Really enjoyed them.

    Phone Time — I love (and personally adhere to) your philosophy around responding to texts. Emails are tough — I’d love to take the same approach as your former boss but since basically all of my colleagues work in (considerably) different time zones, that doesn’t really work for me. But I’m putting it in my back pocket for a future phase of life! In terms of general phone use, I find that time limits are key (I go back and forth on these but currently have a timer set for Instagram and Twitter, and find that it really, really helps). I also like to just keep my phone in our bedroom while I’m out doing things in other areas of our home — and for me, the “out of sight, out of mind” thing really does apply!


    1. Hi MK – I know you only solicited Jen’s advice re: Invisalign, but I’m just chiming in about wisdom tooth removal. Obviously, I don’t know your exact situation, but I also continually delayed my surgery out of pure dread and I’m here to tell you that I ended up having a perfect experience. I was 20 when I got mine out, but I have an exceptionally small mouth and other issues that made it riskier. Sleeping upright in a recliner or propped up on pillows for the first 2 nights, requesting maximum sedation (HA!), icing religiously, not using any straws, and taking Ibuprofen on a regular schedule expedited my recovery tremendously. I was SO nervous about it and it was better than everyone expected – I was eating full meals within three days and had so little swelling that I was able to go out in public. The only way anyone could’ve been able to tell I’d had it done was that I had the tiniest bruise near my jaw, but that’s very common and I found it barely noticeable. (I also bruise very easily to begin with. My doctor told me that less than half of his patients bruise!)

      Hoping this made you feel a little better. Godspeed!

      1. Thank you for chiming in with this experience!

        MK – Invisalign has been fantastic. I’m so impressed with the results and they now require such infrequent trips to the orthodontist! I’m so happy I did this and only wish I’d done it sooner. My one major concern is using the retainer when I’m done. I’m contemplating getting a permanent retainer but I feel like you can see those…so I will just need to be very diligent about wearing the retainer at night!

        You will LOVE the Soleil Toujours stuff! Seriously can’t rave about this brand enouhg!

        Thank you also for the movie and TV recs! I love Julie Delpy!


    2. LML, thank you so much for your reassuring comment! I really appreciate knowing that it wasn’t so bad for you — I will take your tips to heart and hope that I’ll have a similar experience 🙂

      And Jen, thanks for your further info re: Invisalign — very intrigued and going to chat about it with my dentist when I see her next month!


  3. Yes! Applauding your efforts to limit phone time. I have intentions to do this but no real plan so of course it’s not happening. A good goal for the month! I’m also planning to work on a few kindergarten skills with my oldest, and book our vacation rental for next year. Also trying to have regular monthly walks with one friend and a monthly meal with another.

    Have you watched Outlaws (on Prime)? We just finished it and thought it was pretty funny!

    1. Thank you for the rec – have not even heard of it! Love your plans for the summer, especially the idea of booking a rental for next summer and monthly walks. I feel like having the anchor of summer plans to look forward to a year out is a big blessing. Something to look forward to! Mr. Magpie and I are planning to rent a house for a few weeks next summer and you’re making me think I should begin the search sooner than later – thanks for that push!


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