June 2016 / Carmen Varner // Lifestyle Blogger & Social Media + Blogging Coach


Palmer's Cleanser & Makeup Remover Review

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Back at it again with another Palmer's face wash review. Yes oh yes! If you missed it, last time I reviewed Palmer's Skin Success Eventone Facial Milk cleanser (read here) — one of my favorite facial cleansers ever! This time around I opted for something creamy rather than foamy from the Palmer's range. Let's see how it held up.

The Packaging

The packaging states it's a cleanser & makeup remover that gently removes oil, impurities, & makeup. It says it's a lightly foaming formula that rinses cleanly. Technically its full name is Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Cleanser & Makeup Remover, but who has time for that? It comes in an easy-to-use squeeze bottle.

The Formula

Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Cleanser & Makeup Remover is incredibly rich & creamy. The cleanser looks somewhat like a lotion due to its lushness. I didn't find that it foamed up, but it lathered slightly.

The Effectiveness

Although it cleansed my face, it was not effective in fully taking off my mascara. I'd often have to wash it twice to remove it. However, my face was clean & washed without feeling stripped. If you have some intense makeup going on, start off with micellar water then work your way to this cleanser.

The Ingredients

This includes ethically sourced cocoa butter from the cacao tree. It's loaded with vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, & E, as well as flavonoids & shea butter. Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula recognizes the importance of supporting sustainable farming practices, & that's something I can get behind.

The Price

You can't go wrong with the price. For around $10, Palmer's Cleanser & Makeup Remover is affordable & conveniently available online or in most drugstores. You don't need much product due to the creaminess, so a little goes a long way.

Although I still prefer the Palmer's Skin Success Eventone Facial Milk cleanser, this creamy face wash held its own. I don't find that it was as effective as the packaging claimed, but it worked well & would be a great option if you want a budget facial cleanser.

How does Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Cleanser & Makeup Remover sound to you? What face wash are you loving right now? :]

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Summer Attire // OOTD

Monday, June 27, 2016

Ah yes, summer is here. If you recall, I'd been gushing over the glorious gloomy days, the considerably cooler mornings, & the beautifully brisk nights over the course of the last month. Well, that all went away within one day. San Diego went from a blanket of clouds to a heat wave in a 24 hour period.

california lifestyle blogger, summer attire, ootd

california lifestyle blogger, summer attire, ootd
Dress: Cotton On // Similar: here & here
Purse: Betsey Johnson // Similar: here
Shoes: Forever 21 // Similar:  here
Bracelet: Things Remembered // Similar: here & here
Ring: Dogeared Jewelry // Similar: here & here

I left the house at 7:30 a.m. & was hit with 78° F temperatures, eventually rising to over 100° in some areas of San Diego. I felt a sweat mustache forming, patiently waiting to make its embarrassing appearance. Grey gloom was replaced with blue skies & beaming rays of light. We went from peaceful, overcast days to obscene, ridiculous heat. We went from wearing light layers to feeling the desperate need to strip off completely.

california lifestyle blogger, summer attire, ootd

california lifestyle blogger, summer attire, ootd

I decided to use one of my faithful grey dresses & tailor it to being suitable for summer. You may have seen this dress in couple outfits (here & here), but it was always styled with cooler temperatures in mind. The Cotton On beauty has a 90s vibe to it, which is a time in my life I've become very nostalgic for.

california lifestyle blogger, summer attire, ootd

california lifestyle blogger, summer attire, ootd

Although I do love my velvet boots, there has been more than one occasion where a sexy pair of pumps would've come in handy. That's where these nude, slightly pink heels from Forever 21 came into play. I know I'll get a lot of wear from them.

california lifestyle blogger, summer attire, ootd

california lifestyle blogger, summer attire, ootd

Despite having a closet with a variety of options to choose from, I always find myself going back to certain pieces. I'm glad this grey dress will finally get some summer use. It's so soft & comfortable, but we'll have to see how it holds up in the heat. It's made of cotton, so it may be a bit heavy.

california lifestyle blogger, summer attire, ootd

california lifestyle blogger, summer attire, ootd

Although I'm 26 years old, I'm constantly discovering new things about myself  my tastes, likes & dislikes, my interests. You never stop growing, learning, or expanding your knowledge. One of the most important things I've learned is to keep moving forward. The more you look back on the past  — whether it's your outfits, your mistakes, your relationships  the more time it'll take to turn back around & go in the right direction.

What do you think of this outfit? :]

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Snapchat: carmenvarner

5 Things I'm Loving Right Now ♥

Friday, June 24, 2016

The sunrises & sets as fast as I exhale one solitary breath. The involuntary nature of the expulsion & inhalation of air within my body can be compared to the passing days. Each moment goes by as quickly as my lungs draw in oxygen. Instantaneously. It's not something to control or have a say in. It just happens. Time & time again. Friday, we meet again. Here are five things I'm loving right now.

california lifestyle blogger

Work Views

It's official. I'll be traveling to Southern California resorts nine out of 12 weeks each quarter (three months). I'm in the midst of creating a schedule of where I'm going, what day I'll go, & what I'll be covering. This is a shot from Coronado, California. I'm enjoying a sparkling cranberry lemonade.



Roosters are pretty animals. I never knew that because I've never spent any time around one. But there's always room for change. There's a surprising & beautiful range to their looks. This rooster might as well consider a career in modeling or maybe even acting. I could see him in a commercial.

san diego county fair

A Night at the Fair 

The San Diego County Fair (or has locals still call it: the Del Mar Fair) is a long-standing tradition in the community. It's grown tremendously because it was utterly packed this year. It was like going to Disneyland on Saturday — shoulder to shoulder, traffic galore. I especially adore looking at the photo gallery & paintings, the farm animals, & of course you have to grub on some fried fair food.

chuao chocolatier


I love when Fred surprises me with dessert. He recently brought some Chuao Chocolatier chocolate bars for me to try out. I love tasting their various concoctions. Although milk chocolate isn't my favorite, I really enjoyed the Strawberry Waffle Wild & Caramel Apple Crush.

neon sign

Neon Signs

Upon exploring Coronado, California's crown jewel, I saw a whimsical sign for a motel. I was immediately drawn to its vintage, classic vibe. Super cool. It was like a blast from the past. You rarely seeing neon signs these days.

What are you loving right now? Do you have any weekend plans? :]

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Tips & Ways to Increase Your Facebook Reach

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Whether you've been reading my blog long-term or briefly, you should know that I am a social media professional. I spend my time on various social media channels trying to get the most reach, the most clicks, the most purchases for each brand.

Other posts from my social media series:

increase your facebook reach

Facebook is a complex social media outlet, especially since its algorithm changes every time you blink your eyes (or so it would seem). While my own account is not the most robust, popular account, I use these methods for all brands. One of the brands I do social media for has seen an enormous increase in engagement & reach — with posts getting 100+ likes & 2,500+ estimated reach with a following of only 4,000 users. Take a look at these tips & ways to increase your reach on Facebook. 

Create a Facebook Page

In order to increase your Facebook reach, the first thing you need to do is create a Facebook page. There is an enormous difference between a fan page & a regular profile. The fan page is a profile where people "like" the page versus where they "friend" you. Create a page for your brand, blog, or company & fill out the profile in its entirety. That means you need a profile photo, a cover photo, the website link, description, bio, & everything in between.

Share Content from Other People

Although this may seem like the antithesis of what you want to do, sharing content from other pages or people expands your reach further than if you posted something yourself. This means more people will view, like, or comment on that particular post. For example, if you share content from BuzzFeed or another relevant source, you'll end up expanding your reach & the people who see your page.

california lifestyle blogger
In this post I tag the brand within the post, check in to the brand, & use relevant hashtags.

Tag Brands or People in the Post

If you're at a local coffee shop enjoying one of their specialty drinks, tag the company within the post. If you're wearing a particular brand's tank top, tag them. Give credit & they might share the post, like it, &/or comment on it.  All of these factors will increase your overall reach.

Check in at a Location

Continuing on the above tip, checking in can increase your reach as well. It benefits the business & that's a good social media tactic for everyone. If they see your check in, they may share your post. Sometimes you have to give someone exposure to receive it.

Post Often

If you're posting once a week you might as well not post it all. This is a bit sad, but it's the truth. The more you post the more people will see what you have to say. This goes along with the Facebook algorithm. I personally saw a clear difference from when I was posting once every few days to at least once a day. My reach grew considerably.

jackfruit nachos
In this post I check in at the location & use relevant hashtags.

Use Hashtags

Although hashtags aren't as useful as they are on Instagram, people still search things with hashtags on Facebook. Use any relevant hashtags to what you're talking about, but limit hashtags to five or less. Bonus tip: take advantage of any trending hashtags.

Share Posts in Relevant Groups

Join five or so groups that are relevant to your blog topics. If you focus on travel, join groups that talk about travel. If you're a fashion blogger, join fashion groups. Sharing your relevant posts within groups tailored to your specific audience will garner views. 

california lifestyle blogger
This is what a Facebook Page looks like. I used "Contact Us" as my call to action.

Use the Call to Action Feature

On every Page, Facebook allows you to create a call to action. Establish which call to action is most relevant for your brand. You can choose from Contact Us, Book Now, Call Now, Send Message, Use App, Play Game, Shop Now, Sign Up, Watch Video, Send Email, Learn More. There are many options to help you tailor it to your brand.

Use Video

Video content is queen. Video continues to be the best algorithmic boost. As BuzzSumo found, “the average video post in April 2017 reached 12.05% of the total page audience, just ahead of photos at 11.63%, links at 7.81%, and status updates at only 4.56%."

Ask a Question

Keep your readers engaged by asking a question to get their feedback. For example, I featured a specific brand of coffee, but at the end of my caption, I ask my followers what their go-to coffee order is. Ask for feedback from your followers but be specific with your question. By specifically asking "what's your current coffee order?" I ended up with better results than without a question. It's conversational. Remember: if they answer, be sure to respond. Keep the dialogue going.

Facebook is like the ocean. It's always changing with a consistent ebb & flow. You may think you understand it one day & then the next week they launch a new feature or alter the algorithm. But don't worry, I've got you covered stay tuned & subscribe to my newsletter (in the right hand side of my blog) & check back for more social media posts!

More social media posts from my Social Media Basics series:

Were these tips & tricks to increase your Facebook reach useful? Let me know if you have any other questions! :]

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Fashion Week San Diego Spring Showcase 2016

Monday, June 20, 2016

Imagine yourself sitting an arm's length away from a meticulously crafted piece of art. This art started off as an idea & made its way from a humble sketch with pencil & paper to the three-dimensional, wearable work of art you see before you. This is fashion. As a San Diego blogger, it's time to see what San Diego designers have to offer!

fashion week san diego
The Stylish Bisou

fashion week san diego

I had the opportunity to attend the Fashion Week San Diego Spring Showcase 2016*. It was the perfect occasion to see some of San Diego's fashion designers. Garments ranged from a basic t-shirt with a catchy phrase to intricate layered designs. You could walk around the showcase & literally feel each garment, caressing the hours upon hours of love & labor that went into it with your own fingers. Browse through some of the looks.

Save the date for the official runway shows September 29 to October 2. If you have the option to attend an event like this in your city, I highly recommend doing so. Fashion Week San Diego takes an innovative approach to traditional fashion weeks by opening up the fashion industry to the general public with year round events.

Which is your favorite design? :]

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*Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ticket from Fashion Week San Diego. All opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. Learn more about my disclosure here. :]

5 Things I'm Loving Right Now ♥

Friday, June 17, 2016

Fridays are always a day of reflection for me. I like to take a moment to go over the week & my goals. Some weeks are more productive than others. Some weeks are more frustrating than others. Some weeks are better than others, plain & simple. But that's the way life works. Here are the five things I'm loving right now. 

fish tank


In honor of the release opening of Finding Dory, here's a picture of a fish. I went to Coronado this week to get some pictures of one of the resorts & this sweet fish tank was located in the lobby. He's like a fish unicorn.

bee cookies

Bee Cookies

These cookies were as cute as they were tasty. They had three designs: one with a bee, one with honeycomb, & one with a pretty little flower. They were simple & a perfect pair to a cup of Earl Grey tea. Shout out to Christine for making them!

tinkerbell cake

Tinkerbell Cake

You know what? I want to celebrate my birthday like a four-year-old. I want to genuinely enjoy the day with the people I love the most. I want to put on a pretty dress & have a fancy cake. I'm officially going to throw my own birthday party next year with no shame & no regrets. Anyhoo, how adorable is this Tinkerbell cake that Fred's mum made?

designer stationary

Designer Stationary

I'm all for affordable stationary. I've purchased some great things from the dollar store. This time around I opted for these three 40 page Nicole Miller notebooks. Aren't they beautiful? I love the bold & vibrant designs. 


Long-Lasting Flowers Round 2

Remember last week when I talked about my awesome long-lasting bouquet from Aldi? Well, they're still kicking! These bad boys have lasted me over two weeks! Can you believe it? I'll definitely continue buying flowers at Aldi.

Join me each Friday for 5 Things I'm Loving Right Now ♥.
What are you loving right now? :]

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Back2Basics // OOTD

Monday, June 13, 2016

Hooray for gloom! We've been having a delightful blend of completely overcast days paired with cloudless mornings. I always take advantage of cooler weather here because it's such a rarity.  I find myself yearning for more of those chilly dawns & brisk evenings, those short-lived moments when sporting a jacket isn't just a fashion statement but a necessity.

california lifestyle blogger, ootd

I've noticed a shift in my style of the last couple years. I used to be all about mixing patterns & creating whimsical combinations — it was all about making a statement, an impact. I strived to find the most eye-catching designs at the cheapest price, often forgoing quality altogether. Now that I find myself attending meetings, traveling to cover events, & working with brands, those myriad of crazy outfits aren't always appropriate.

california lifestyle blogger, ootd

The great thing about blogging is that you can see a transformation before your eyes. Scroll back far enough & you can genuinely witness a person's growth. My very first blog outfit is still a favorite, so I'm true to who I was but just older, wiser, & more experienced. And that's a good thing. I still love the boldest of patterns, I just don't buy them as often. I focus on adding pieces that'll last longer.

california lifestyle blogger, ootd
Top: New Chic* (similar) // Tunic: H&M (similar) // Pants: HUE (similar) // Shoes: H&M (similar) // Earrings: Schönbrunn Palace (similar)

This outfit consists of pieces that together create a harmonious outfit but as separates they can be worn flexibly. The HUE jeggings have been a staple in my wardrobe from the moment I got them. You can see me wearing them here, here, & here

california lifestyle blogger, ootd

I brought the black & white patterned tunic with me to my Europe trip in 2010. It's lived a long life & traveled to several countries. It's definitely a fun top that's lasted the test of time. The black open backed top is a relatively new piece in my collection; it's an unexpected twist on your average black blouse.

california lifestyle blogger, ootd

I'm all about finding key garments that can be worn over & over until they eventually disintegrate into nothing. Garments that are so well loved that even a third party can recall the obscene amount of times they were sported. That's my attitude for now at least. I'll have to check in a year to see my growth since this moment.

california lifestyle blogger, ootd

How has your style changed over the course of the past year? What are some of your favorite pieces of clothing in your closet? :]

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* Disclaimer: I received the blouse complimentary from New Chic. All opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. Learn more about my disclosure here. :]

Cologne (Germany) Street Art & Graffiti

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

If you're looking for things to do in Cologne, Germany, you could spend the afternoon searching for all the street art in the city.

Curious for more street art & graffiti? I highlighted CopenhagenOceansideLos AngelesSeattleVenice BeachCanada, & Israel

Cologne (Germany) Street Art & Graffiti

Cologne Travel

The quest to discover various types of street art makes every day less mundane & more like a personal art gallery. Wherever you go, colossal city or tiny town, there will always be art forms to find. Some cities have designated walls where artists are welcome to create their work. This post is a collage of Cologne, Germany graffiti.

I'm girl who looks at the ground, but not in a shy, mousy type of way. I mean this in the way that I'm always looking for something. You wouldn't believe how many of my trip souvenirs came from finding stuff on the ground  — scarves, key chains, figurines, pens, lighters, & even a glass cup. It's just a part of my nature to look for the unexpected.

Germany Street Art & Graffiti

That's the reason why street art & graffiti have remained a constant point of amusement over the years.  I love free stuff & a complimentary tour of a public, local museum is the way to go. Although it was a brief day excursion through Cologne, Germany, I was able to see a decent amount of public works. Twerk Biatch! is my ultimate favorite. Looking back at photos like this makes me want to get out of the house, drive a few miles, & roam the streets to see what art awaits.

The Cologne Cathedral is another fun thing to do in Cologne, Germany!

Which Cologne, Germany street art is your favorite? :]

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Creating New Adventures in Beautiful Southern California

Monday, June 06, 2016

* Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Stanley Brand. All opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. :]

We have to go out & create our own adventures. Fred & I decided to head to Lake San Marcos to enjoy the sunny skies & warm weather. It's often hard to pencil in the time to get outside the house. We're usually gawking at our computer screens, monitoring social media or working on some sort of marketing campaign.

california lifestyle blogger

This year we made the conscious effort to do more with our free time — although we do love our Netflix binges. We decided to take advantage of the beautiful Southern California afternoon & have a little picnic by the lake with our newly acquired Stanley Brand* gear.

california lifestyle blogger

My boyfriend was ultra psyched when I gave him the set of adventure goodies. He was ranting & raving about the quality. He was genuinely excited & that was a joy to witness. He said he could see everything coming in handy during Coachella or another camping excursion to keep hot stuff hot & cold stuff cold.

california lifestyle blogger, stanley brand

The Stanley Brand Classic Vacuum Growler is ideal for traveling because it's made with stainless steel rather than glass. We filled our growler with beer for the picnic, but if we were going on an excursion to see the sunrise, this would be perfect for coffee or tea.

california lifestyle blogger, stanley brand

We cheered to our adventures, to our future dreams with some La Croix & the Adventure Stainless Steel Shot Glass Set. We have hopes to get an apartment within the next couple months & do some international traveling next year. For now, the shimmering lake, magical mountains, & singing birds will have to do. It's not so bad here, not bad at all!

california lifestyle blogger, stanley brand

Southern California is pretty gorgeous & we're next to a whole slew of breweries. I really am a beer girl through & through, so both Fred & I wished the Stanley Brand Adventure Stacking Pint Glass came into our lives earlier. Any glass that will keep your drinks colder for longer is vital. 

california lifestyle blogger, stanley brand

The pint glass totally would've come in handy at Coachella. We would've placed it in our ice chest to remain cool during the day & keep our beer cold once we poured it in. Until then, this will be added to our growing pint glass collection. At least this one is designed to preserve cold drinks. Yippee! I'm a slow drinker, so this is ridiculously thrilling for me!

california lifestyle blogger, stanley brand

Fred & I thoroughly savored our afternoon. As we were finishing up eating our sandwiches, we watched as a ferry pulled up to the dock. Two dads & their two sons cruised out & set up their fishing gear. It was a heartwarming moment seeing the fathers & sons enjoying their time together. If you're looking for the perfect present for the adventurer in your life, Stanley Brand is the way to go. Treat a loved one or treat yourself. 

Where was your last adventure? :]

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* Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Stanley Brand. All opinions are 100% mine aka Carmen's. :]


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