Monday, April 17, 2017

Mystery Blogger Awards (blast from the past)

So I completely didn't realize these were still a thing but I was nominated by the lovely Cait and I remember a good blogger "award" being a rather ace time. However, the last occasion I did one of these was when I got a Liebster in 2014 (it's SO cringey oh my god) so who knows??

Part One: Three Facts About Me
1. I have a black Siamese cat named Nova who I genuinely believe has some form of mystical properties.
2. I'm horribly superstitious and have developed the odd habit here and there due to this that I have obviously normalized in my own brain.
3. I have a deep and ongoing love for flowers, specially hyacinths. My biggest desire is to open a flower shop somewhere lonely and hot like Arizona.

Part Two: Cait's Questions

-Does pineapple belong on pizza?
I actually hadn't tried pineapple pizza until a good week ago in which I was about to get on a train back from Northampton and was at this really overpriced pizzeria with this inconveniently large slices and impulsively asked for the controversial topping to feel like I was getting my moneys worth. Final answer: No. It doesn't.

-Do you think you can have breakfast food for dinner?
OK first off, why do I always get landed with questions involving breakfast food when I do one of these? Final answer: yes. Of course. Pancakes for every meal.

-If you could pick one film to watch for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Rather hard question in that my answer isn't essentially my favorite film of all time (it's Almost Famous if you were really dying of anticipation) but I'd have to choose Superbad just because of the entertainment value and that I've essentially tested this theory already through having watched it too many times to count and still finding humor within it. They Came Together is a close second for the same reasoning.

-Do you have a favorite makeup brand?
Though my makeup routine has been reduced to a good two steps, due to my lack of interest in cosmetics at the moment, I'd have to say NYX since their eyeliner is killer and they don't test on animals.

-What're a few things you're excited for in the next few months?
Probably the weather getting warmer, ending my junior year, and Pageant by PWR BTTM coming out next month. Also my e-book should be released sometime in the fall which is overwhelmingly cool.

Part Three: Favorite Blog Post You've Written
Ugh I wish this one was harder. Undoubtedly One Direction (and other): Why I Need Feminism. Kind of depressing since I wrote it nearly two years ago but I really went for it and it got such an intense response- exciting stuff.

Part Four: Pass It On! My Questions:
1. What are some of your superstitions?
2. What was the last show you went to? Do tell.
3. Least favorite trend?
4. Is 13 Reasons Why an unrealistic and offensive depiction of mental illness?
5. Do you believe in the law of attraction?

Kind of embarrassing in that I can't even think of anyone to tag due to being so out of touch with the main blogging community (my attention has been diverted more so to the online publication crowd lately- lovely people. Truly.) And I guess that's a good segue as any into a request for bloggers to leave their links below/ PLEASE rec me some good bloggers (esp. those that are into sustainable fashion/mindfulness/ethical shopping) I could really use a refresher.
Anyways, thank you to Cait for tagging me- it a pretty gr8 throwback and I love the nurturing and positive side of blogging like these tags. Good stuff.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Healing Properties: Starting to Harness Crystals

my crystal altar 

When I was first told by a friend who has similar anxiety patterns that howlite changed his life, I was all over how fake that came off. The immediate image that came to my head was a LA hipster drinking matcha and wearing hemp clothing telling me some rock could cure years upon years of spiraling like thank you but no. Melissa Broder said it best, "I know that I officially live in California because I'm carrying around a crystal in my bra". I was, however, persuaded to get into this form of healing after my anxiety and depression began spiking erratically and I was just kind of at that point of desperation in which I was willing to throw money at pretty much anything that would give me some sense of calm. You can't knock it till you try it right?? Right?? 

Before hitting your local crystal shop, here are a few things to consider:
-what do you feel you need crystals for? there's a huge variety of healing powers crystals have and though you can throw down on pretty much any one of them, understanding what you feel you need assistance on before even researching the stones themselves can save you a lot of time and money. 
-do your research! figure out how to exactly use the crystals you're interested in and how to use them. I've come across tons of crystal books in used bookstores for cheap but Crystal Vaults  works rather well also. 
-though crystals are known for their healing powers, relying solely on a stone isn't going to cure anything. think of crystals as a guide to helping you achieve mindfulness instead of a direct vehicle. 
Jade I keep by my bedside (along with my healing candle and jade ring)

When I first started getting into crystal use, I hit up a small shop on St. Marks (it's called Unique Collection- basically anywhere that sells crystals will do, I just really like going to the same place every time) and got  what I'd say are the best starters: rose quartz, jade, black onyx, and citrine. 
Shortly after, I ended up in Northampton and visited Inspirit Crystals (highly recommend- super fairly priced) where I picked up pale lavender obsidian, howlite, snow quartz, red aventurine, agate, and pink agate- all stones I find to be heavily important.
Once you've got yourself started, (no need to buy tons at once, I'd actually recommend simply getting 1-3 to start yourself off), it's time to actually practice. What I love about crystals is how accessible they are; no need for fancy ceremonies or rituals. Though I use each of my crystals when I meditate, it's important to look up each of the individual uses for your stones, to fully get the most out of their powers. Another way to harness their healing properties is simply bringing whatever crystal you feel is needed most in your bag/purse/I'd also rec. jewelry (hence the jade ring I wear at all times for balance and the howlite I keep in my purse for anti-anxiety).
Yet another concern is storage; I'd highly suggest putting your crystals on a window sill or a place with direct sunlight, as to let them charge. I've created an altar situation on my dresser where the sun hits them and I can easily meditate near them (though I'll usually hold my howlite and rose quartz whilst actually doing so).
Jewelry I wear practically everyday (rose quartz, tiger's eye, amethyst, and lapis lazuli)

Saying that crystals have mystically cured all my problems would be a hard no. Simply purchasing something, not matter what it is, for $5 really can't do much. However, developing these meditation routines and practices have definitely improved my skills in mindfulness and self tolerance, placebo effect or not, it's worked on me and I see no harm within that.

Monday, March 27, 2017

How I Achieved Mindfulness

  1. 1.

    the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.

    "their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition"
  2. 2.
    a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

The past six months have been a bit of wreck. My seasonal depression was right on time this year along with my regularly scheduled November breakdown in which I question everything in my life and drastically change them impulsively and obsessively, ultimately plummeting into loneliness and isolation. I haven't been doing too hot to say the least. Usually when I get into these funks, my method is to ride it out. Wait for the storm to pass. Anticipate the moment in which everything comes together and I become fascinated that I ever felt so down. Though this method has worked multiple times, it's long and painful and quite honestly, a waste of time. Why wallow for six months? Undoubtly the worst part of this wave of self loathing is my lack of productivity. Since December, it feels as though I've been highly unproductive to a whole new level and it really sucks because I have all these ideas but can't seem to find the motivation to execute them and instead, spend hours watching Netflix, snacking, and generally feeling bad for myself. Kind of pathetic. As I finally addressed this issue, I realized that though my depression can't miraculously be cured, I can surely change my habits and general mindset, along with taking my energy elsewhere. Since I began this process, I have mentally and physically felt my best, along with being marginally more productive. It's not a cure, but it's a start.

-STOP HANGING OUT WITH PEOPLE WHO DON'T MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF. When you are with friends, you should not only feel comfortable, but also viewing yourself highly. Though social anxiety is definitely a huge block towards this, if someone or a group of people make you feel lower or trigger you to think negative traits of yourself, drop them!! Stop wasting your time with people who don't care about you, use you, or just make you feel like shit. Being social should be something fun and enjoyable, not a chore or self pity sesh.
-DUMP THEM! UNFOLLOW THEM! BLOCK THEM! DELETE THEM! My biggest issue was purposely following accounts on social media that would make me feel low. No post, text, or status should have the power to ruin your mood. You have the power to unfollow and are in now way obligated to stay connected with someone via the internet. Unfollowing the people that triggered me felt so cleansing and gave me such a sense of power.

-STOP WAITING. When I quit waiting for opportunities and/or people to approach me, I was amazed at how much larger my circle became. Reach out to friend crushes, contact old friends you fell out of touch with, and just keep an open and confident mind when it comes to social interaction. I used to cancel so much due to anxiety but now highly regret it because I've had some of the best times with people I wouldn't normally spend time with. One thing that comforted and encouraged me to take these social risks was planning out an "escape plan" if things got awkward (ex: "my mom wants me to be home in twenty minutes").
-RADIATE POSITIVE ENERGY. This is going to sound really fucking crunchy granola but I swear it was the best advice I've gotten. You get what you give. By carrying negative energy, the only thing you will get back is more negativity. Keep an open mind and you'll be in awe at how much positivity will come.
-SET GOALS/PLAN. Every morning, I write a checklist of all the things I need to complete by the end of the day, from tidying up to reading a chapter of a book. Another one of my goals is to write one piece a day, be it a three line poem or a five page editorial, it doesn't really matter as long as I'm working. By constantly pushing myself to do what I love and put more work out into the world, writing gives me a sense of purpose. I have recently added reading at least three poems and three blog posts to this set since I can't stress how important it is to stay connected and read other's work. Along with this, I make sure to journal at least one page every night as a way to wrap the day.
-MEDITATE. Meditation definitely will not cure any mental illness but it's important to have time for reflection and to yourself. Though curling up with The Office is quite a good bout of "me time" I find it vital to have at least fifteen minutes every morning and night of truly focusing on myself without any distractions.
-APPRECIATE AND TREAT YOURSELF. As much as it can sometimes suck, you are the only vessel you will have in this lifetime and once you accept that, you can move forwards. Embrace the things and people you love and appreciate the beauty in your life. I try to add new things that I love around me every week to a collective list, just by seeing these notes visually, it can really change my mindset when I'm down.
-DON'T LET NEGATIVE SITUATIONS CONSUME YOU. The other best piece of advice I've gotten is from this 2013 Rookie post titled, "The Wallow". Whenever I hear something I don't want to know or find myself focusing on one single thing and spirling off of it, I set a twenty minute timer and simply do my worst. May this be crying, letting anxiety bubble up, or simply mulling over how much my life sucks at the moment, there are no rules to the wallow and you should savor that. Once this moment is up however, it's now time to pour your energy into the logic and solution to the issue.
-FOCUS ON YOURSELF. I have spent far too much time comparing myself to others and it's honestly the biggest waste of time. First off, a person's exterior appearance can be drastically different from how they feel. Along with this, these ventures are pointless. Jealousy is a toxin and letting it eat at you is going to do nothing to benefit you. I stopped indulging these thoughts as much and instead of using these people to make myself feel inadequate, I took my admiration and used it as healthy inspiration (that sounds horribly cheesy I'm sorry).

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Here's How I Completely Gave Up Fast Fashion (and Transferred to Exclusively Secondhand)

Ever since I discovered Forever21 in the 6th grade, I've been hooked on disposable, trendy, and cheap fashion. It's natural, I mean every middle, and even high schooler has an instinct to wear what their friends are wearing and within the past decade, mall shops have made it the easiest to do so. Large companies such as H&M, Zara, and Forever21 are a phenomenon that isn't all that mysterious within essence, trends are able to drift through and consumers are able to own large, trendy, wardrobes at a seemingly low cost.
There are so many separate issues within shopping fast fashion, yet I also hate the condescending and classist way many influencers have talked about giving these stores up, and believe they're experts because they saw The True Cost once (not to knock this film, would highly recommend). A world without fast fashion is incredibly ideal to most people, but you also must look at the flip side of these buyers. Fast fashion is cheap and for majority of its followers, makes up most their wardrobe because it's affordable. Telling someone to give it up is much harder than it sounds, and in reality, will cost marginally more. Yet as I read more on ethical shopping, along with simply evaluating my wardrobe, found it not as big a sacrifice as I thought to gradually purge my habits.
one of my prized dresses from Urban Jungle in Brooklyn

Quitting was the hardest part. To do so, I first took a look at my wardrobe that was mainly filled with far too many shirts of the same variation of a black crop top, a collection of band shirts from Hot Topic I haven't worn since freshman year, and two pairs of ill fitting American Eagle boyfriend jeans. Not so appealing. How did I own so much clothing yet wore seemingly the same outfit everyday? The first step was the purge. I chucked the jeans, packed away the band tees (who knows if they'll seem "vintage" in twenty or so years?) and left the black crop tops be. You can never have too many of those. Before deciding this was it, I looked at my basics pile (spaghetti strap tops) which was more than full. There's no pressure to trash your fast fashion pieces, in fact one of the vices of supporting it is how much people dispose of the low quality clothing. In 2016, 12.8 million textiles ended up in landfills. 
My next step was replenishing. Winter was coming, and I had trashed all my cheap sweaters last year. This is where the actually fun part came in. For starters, I'd have to confirm thrift shopping is far from being a new concept for me (and tragically have these cringy 2014 posts to prove it), shopping solely from it a little less so. Four years ago, I actually made an incredibly embarrassing (and alright, kind of cute) post about how to actually thrift shop and my own tips (which I'm surprised are still extremely similar) which I'm hoping to make an updated version of soon. 
part of my piece for Mad Sounds featuring this awesome camo jacket and plaid mini skirt I thrifted
Not only have I become an ethical shopper from switching over to exclusively secondhand clothing, I've also witnessed a whole laundry list of benefits from my new shopping habits. For starters, and this is pretty obvious, almost everything I own is one of a kind, or at least not mass produced. I always used to hate seeing someone wearing the same top as me and now it's kind of off putting to see a million of the same shirt on a rack. Thrift shopping also makes all my clothing so much more sentimental, everything has a story behind it. I love varsity jackets with names stitched on and worn denim and broken in Doc Martens. I love imagining the past lives of the items in my drawers (one of the coolest being a denim jacket in which I found train tickets all throughout France in the pocket). 
For the past two years, I've been incredibly insecure when it comes to standing out and have missed the thirteen year old version of myself who just played dress up everyday. At the moment, my dressers are spilling with cheesy $2 graphic tees, grass grazing $5 skirts, and $1 slip tops, I don't think I've ever been so happy with the way I dress. Along with this, by supporting stores like Goodwill, you are creating jobs for disabled people who normally wouldn't be hired, and patronizing charity shops like Housing Works or Out of the Closet**, your cash is going to a worthy cause instead of some CEO's pocket. 
**there also most likely is a hospice or church thrift shop near you- one of my favorite places ever is a small secondhand shop in the basement of a church two towns over where all the proceeds go to helping the local women's shelter. I once got a vintage Christian Dior slip top there- incredible. 
for my upcoming piece on Mimp about 70s style- floral blouses are a recent obsession of mine
For reference, here's a list of my favorite thrift shops (in order of preference):
-Unique (unsure if its mainly a NY/NJ thing)
-Urban Jungle (Bushwick) 
-No Relation (LES)
-L Train Vintage (Williamsburg/Bed Stuy/East Village)
-Monk Vintage (Williamsburg/Greenwich/LES)
-Out of the Closet (Atlantic Ave) proceeds go to AIDS Healthcare Foundation
-Housing Works (all over the city- my favorite is in the Flatiron district) proceeds go to both stopping AIDS and homelessness 
-Junk (Williamsburg)
-Buffalo Exchange (my favorite location is in Chelsea) 

*I also have a very condensed version of this list here

ALSO for further reading on fast fashion, my two favorites are The True Cost, Overdressed, this, this, this,  and this 

Hope this was a break from the classist talks on purging your $20 dresses. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Answer My Text U Dick!! (+Links)

So here's all I know:

-I'm writing a book! That's wild that's crazy and it's really a thing that makes me feel so incredibly amazed at how far things have escalated in my life. Though there'll definitely be way too many posts about it to come, look out for a collection of personal essays told in the format of stand up comedy.
-This is my favorite song at the moment. I may or may not have splurged on a maroon vinyl preorder of Pageant. (I also really miss doing music reviews?? Anticipate for one?? PWR BTTM is like my favorite band??)
-This is also so good.
-I'm trying to be a happier person and I've decided the solution is by writing more. Will I actually write once a week like I promise every other post?? Stay tuned.

-I went to my beloved New Museum Sunday (hence the photos) and made a pact with myself I'd never accompany anyone else here to never ruin it.
-I'm really proud of this poem I wrote for Crybaby Zine !!!
-Is Allday a good rapper?? Have I been listening to a lot of him?? Like I think at this point, I've accepted he's lowkey not a good musician but I'm so hardcore in love with him I think I'm ok with it.

-!!!!!!!this video!!!!!!
With this I leave you for now.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Here's Why I'm Incredibly Grateful I'm No Longer a 13 Year Old Blogger

(inspired by Rosie's post) (prepare for a plethora of horribly embarassing photos)
    So I have been here quite awhile haven't I. Before I kick this off, I want to just put out there that I
love writing and I love HF and most importantly, I love myself and anyone and everyone who has continued to follow me on this quite odd part of my life. Along with this, I do not say any of these words as a "kick in the face" or idea that I didn't love the attention I received years ago, I simply have different views about my past than I did previously.
me, circa 2013, long hair was never flattering on me 

   I started How Fitting in February of 2013. I was 13 years old and midway through 7th grade. For all those who aren't aware, I am currently 17 and in my second semester of 11th grade. Weird right? I want to give a little background, draw a picture of 13 year old Annie if you will. For starters, I was very depressed. In a regular middle school fashion, my closest friends (since elementary school) had recently left me and I was having horrible waves of loneliness, self loathing, and routine panic attacks. Though my rather upbeat and excitable style of writing at the time didn't show it, I was in an incredibly unstable place with myself and emotions. Actually, the reason I started How Fitting was (OK OK not just to be like Tavi Gevinson) to gain self esteem and self security. I began writing about the media I loved from my favorite band at the time, All Time Low, to the horribly questionable clothing I wore. However cringy they were, I had many many obsessions and needed a place to talk about them (I was yet to make friends who shared my loves). Though I am so (so so) happy I'm no longer the same, something me and my 13 year old self share is our constant curiosity and love for loving things. I really do believe if How Fitting didn't exist, I wouldn't be as fascinated with everything as I am now.
   Though we are only talking about 4 years ago, blogs and the Internet were quite different. I really mean it. I mean this was at the real kickoff of fashion bloggers becoming celebrities and brands getting on the bandwagon of collaborating. Along with this, there were *so* many less blogs- it almost seemed like everyone knew each other. I'm not going to lie, I really miss that mentality and state in which 13 year olds having no idea what they're doing could easily build a community. As I got more and more into it, I gained a larger and larger following until reaching up to 2,000 followers which was insane because if you saw how absolutely terrible I was, I have literally no idea why 1998 (not including my parents of course) people actually wanted to read 2013 How Fitting. I was receiving comments claiming I was a "precocious child" (I remember this comment so well because I admittedly didn't know what that meant at the time and originally took it as an insult) along with emails and opportunities to work with various companies (OK who allowed that?? What company actually wanted to work with a 13 year old??). It was all super surreal.
the classic photo I used at age 14 on here- I'm embarrassed to say I have this same dye job except it doesn't look nearly as good
   As I turned 14, my mentality became quite different as I was a year away from high school and on the brink of what seemed like false maturity. A lot happened throughout 2014 How Fitting; I tried (and failed) to create an online publication, I had my first "real" boyfriend, my first "real" "heartbreak", and holy hell I even came out as gay on here. I'm not going to go in the pretentious reflective direction, but HF really helped me become a lot more self aware. I was so unsure of myself before I started blogging and not only did my writing improve, having everything out there almost helped me "create myself" (or at least the side I wanted people to see). And that's where I get into the part in which I explain the title and arguably what this entire post is about. I went through a lot in the 8th grade- I still would rather not have most of these things public but for starters, my depression got a lot worse. I started Prozac. I went through yet another period of having no friends. Yet through it all, I continued to write as though my life was filled with picnics and cos playing and playlists with songs no one has ever heard of until the point where I got into the habit of being that character. A lot of 2014 How Fitting has no actual reflection on what I actually was. How Fitting almost taught me how to lie and put on a persona. Becoming a blogger yourself makes you pull back the curtain on everyone else you admire and understand how taxing and hard it can be sometimes to put on this "mask" on everything being OK. Along with this, though I love writing, I really do, I really wish I took some time out of how invested I was in this blog and actually could be thirteen and not pressured at seemingly every second.
me at LIM summer 2015!! I was such a cute n emo bb!

   Moving onto 2015, I not only began high school but also started interning at Nordstrom (at 14-15 years old, I was their youngest intern) which turned out to be a 2 year long anxiety attack. Thank god that's over. By 15, after spending the summer and fall of 2014 at FIT, I was describing my next summer of being at LIM's Fashion Lab (on scholarship) to the girls at Nordstrom before leaving for break. Like most times, this was met with a string of "wow I wish I could be as motivated" or "wait you're 15??" or something along the lines of matching my rather unusual level of determination and relative success with my age. Though I would love to continue to scriptually jack myself off, what I'm trying to say here is how pressured I actually felt on the inside. I hated being the youngest (which I always tended to be) and I hated being the constant wunderkind- it's honestly so much to put onto someone. The problem was I was putting it all onto myself. Ever since the age of 13, when How Fitting was born, I have continued to have the same mentality of "never enough"; there's always a new level of success, there's always a better offer, nothing is ever good enough. Though this, in theory, is a motivated and fine way to live life, I have set myself up to fail. I'll never be satisfied. This entire piece seems, like I said, textual masturbation but in all honesty, every single one of these things gave me so much anxiety.
an outfit post at age 15
   I'm currently 17, as said previously, and since then have quit my Nordstrom internship, been taking FIT classes (for actual pure fun- that was such an odd concept to me at 14), and I don't know, became the fashion editor and staff writer for several publications I'm head over heels in love with. I like to analyze my rather atypical early teenage years and really wish I could tell my 13 year old self to please stop stressing out over stupid shit like your future twenty years in fashion (and *please* stop wearing that plaid cropped blazer). I'm not going to pretend as though the last 4 years haven't been beautiful in their own way, but god am I glad to no longer be a 13 year old blogger anymore. I love what I do now and I definitely see me doing this for years to come, but also wish I was able to separate my constant need to success from having fun. Having your 13 year old self imprinted on the internet is an odd thing. This isn't a cautionary tale, more of look behind the curtain of what it's actually like to start something like this at such an early age. I love How Fitting and everywhere it has taken me, I love the every single person I've gotten to work with on silly projects and more serious projects and this really cool project me and my friend Zoe one time did about sex ed that we never published, and most importantly, I love the friends I've made through ranting about Doctor Who and thrift shopping and dressing up and am so excited for my future of not being a 13 year old. Cheers to four years.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Back2Black (eSalon Review)

After chopping all my hair off over the summer, the possibilities were endless for my finally healthy hair. Ever since my ultimate flop at having blonde hair last year (and pretty much destroying it in the process), I had accepted that with the current backed up and colored state of my hair, having the platinum locks I wanted wasn't going to happen. However, now that about all my hair had never been colored, this was finally achievable. After a single (30 Vol.) bleach process, my hair was rather patchy and orange in some places, needing to be toned. I never got to that step though because after a month or so, I was pink. Though the bubblegum was a fun color for about a week or so, due to the orange tones in my hair, I ended up with an ugly fade after about two washes. With no possibility of going back to blonde and no desire for another crayola color, dying my hair black seemed like the ideal option.
Black is my fall back color for everything. Just like how a lot of my friends will shave their heads if they don't like their haircuts, if I ever fuck up my hair color, black is always there for me.
examples include:
-the ninth grade in which I let my friend dye my hair into a purple to blue to green ombre (why??? why???). After a solid hour of crying, I ended up with a blue black box dye.
-the tenth grade when I let the SAME friend (what was I thinking????) do a "color melt" (aka a plethora of neon shades randomly scattered around my head). Shoutout to Feria to that one.

So as I was not yet ready to go back to brown and wanted the pink as far away from me as possible, I was pretty hype to go back to my trusty shade. For those unaware, the first time I dyed my hair black, I regularly went to a salon, super pricey, and the second time, I used a box dye that did no favors for the appearance and health of my hair. Not wanting to repeat these mistakes, I instead went with my mother's recommendations to try out eSalon.

eSalon is an online service that claims to provide salon quality dye for a marginally cheaper price and more convenient home application. Having gone through many many many different brands of dye, all promising similar features, I was pretty skeptical. The setup of picking out your color is stupid-proof and admittedly kind of fun. After providing information on your hair type, length, and current color, a set of avaliable tones are shown for you to choose from, for the magical eSalon fairy stylists to mix for you- one thing I'd like to add is that I was pretty unimpressed by the options for black, having only one labeled "soft", and one labeled "blue". Having hated my black hair from sophomore year that featured purplish tones, I went for "soft".

 The kit features: a developer, your custom color, a stain remover, stain guard, two pairs of gloves, shampoo, and conditioner which is pretty good for an at home hair kit. In the beginning, the dye was a little bit frustrating because it takes longer than most products I've used in the past to develop (and when it did, it turned a dark brownish color which made me quite nervous). Even after leaving it on for an hour, the color seemed rather brown, but after washing it out (WARNING: This stuff will take FOREVER to get out. I'm not kidding it seemed almost impossible), I was left with a beautiful, shiny, black!
Overall, I was pretty impressed by the quality of eSalon's dye, as it has left my hair in the same state health wise and the tone is just as promised. I'm especially a big fan of their custom color and the way they show you exactly what tones were used to mix it on their website and in your custom directions (complete with very cute illustrations)!
I also hit up their other service, The Match Up, that provides a similar custom-to-you feel through handpicking hair products on a subscription base, and would super recommend their color safe shampoo and tone corrector that takes the bronze hits out of your color as it begins to fade. Though I definitely have my critiques (developing, the amount of time it takes to wash out, and a slight bit of fading after a month), reasonably priced dye doesn't get much better than eSalon and I'm very content currently looking like the bitch from apt. 23.