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A Few of My Favorite Things, Summer 2020

I know, this title almost seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? I tried to get my eldest son to share just one silver lining from quarantine the other night. He refused to admit anything other than having me around more. The next day my youngest declared that Coronavirus time was the best because we got to stay home all the time and watch more movies. He seemed to be forgetting his usual mantra of, ”I want FUN!”, which he wails at the top of his lungs like a wounded animal when it all gets to be too much.

However, I am an optimist at heart. I can’t resist sharing good things all the time. It is one of my most annoying traits. The categories of my favorite things I am sharing this week are Beauty, Home, Kids, and Fashion. I hope they make your summer a little brighter.

Happy Shopping!


Admittedly, I am a little late to the BeautyCounter bandwagon. It took my meeting a consultant who was also a mom looking for clean products for herself and her family to get me on board. It helps that she is a friend of our longtime RLS makeup artist, whom I trust implicitly. BeautyCounter products are truly clean, high performing products. I’ve been using only clean products at home for 15 years, but I’ve been a little slow on the skincare and makeup side.

I’d say I’m now 85% clean in skincare and 60% in makeup. I think my barriers have been cost, convenience, and performance. Some BeautyCounter products do cost more than I usually spend on comparable products, but some of them don’t. And most are worth the difference. These products perform as well as any traditional products.

Lani sans Makeup after two weeks of using BeautyCounter skincare.

I’ve highlighted four of my favorite products c/o BeautyCounter below. If you are interested in purchasing any of them yourself, I encourage you to shop from Caroline Byer’s personal BC site or the links provided. You can also contact Caroline directly at or DM her on Instagram @linalikesit to schedule a virtual consultation.

BeautyCounter Counter+ All Bright C Serum, $79

This Vitamin C Serum is a new star in the BeautyCounter lineup. I became obsessed with finding a good Vitamin C serum after listening to an Everything is Fine podcast episode with Jean Godfrey June, beauty editor extraordinaire. She swore that finding a stable form of Vitamin C was the secret to glowing skin. The powder she recommended was too high maintenance for me. I need an easy pump. The proof is in the pudding. See the picture of me above with absolutely no makeup on after two weeks of using both the BeautyCounter Counter+ All Bright C Serum and the Counter+ Overnight Resurfacing Peel.

BeautyCounter Counter+ Overnight Resurfacing Peel, $63

I have one major statement to make about the Counter+ Overnight Resurfacing Peel. It does the job of a Retinol without the Retinol. Any beauty editor or dermatologist will tell you the number one thing you can do for your skin is to use a Retinol product. I have been happily using a natural one from Shaklee for a few years now. It makes me look years younger and I am thrilled with it. However, there were many years when I was pregnant or breastfeeding that I could not use a Retinol product.

I would have loved to have access to a product like BeautyCounter’s Counter+ Overnight Resurfacing Peel during that time. One client told me she has hesitated to start with Retinol because she can’t keep up with wearing sunscreen everyday, a must with these products. If you can’t or don’t want to use a Retinol, the Counter+ Resurfacing Peel will give you the same results.

BeautyCounter Brilliant Brow Gel, $24

I am always on the hunt for the perfect brow gel. I like a little color and a little hold. The fear of the color smearing off or of looking trendy with too bold brows is real for me. The BeautyCounter Brilliant Brow Gel, part of their ingenious Flawless in Five collection, is subtle enough that I can wear it with minimal makeup, yet it still does the job of taming my sometimes unruly brows.

BeautyCounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Mist SPF 30, $36

Like most parents, I love spray sunscreen for the ease of application on squirmy kids and in the minimal time I have for my own sunscreen application. What I don’t like about spray sunscreen is the horrible fumes that come out of the bottle when you are applying it inside (as recommended), or the worry that you are not putting enough product on your body. The BeautyCounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Mist has absolutely no fumes and a light, lovely, no-scent smell. Yes, I know that makes no sense but it is true! I absolutely love it! Also, when you spray it, you see actual product come out, not a mist of nothingness. It is hard to explain. Just trust me. This product is a winner. I’ve also been using the BeautyCounter Mineral Sunscreen Stick SPF 30 (which even goes on wet faces well!) on myself and the kids’ faces, which keeps them from complaining about sunscreen getting in their eyes.


I have been fighting hair frizz like nobody’s business since the pandemic started. I don’t know if it is from spending so much time in dry air inside or what, but it just got to ridiculous proportions. I can’t say I’ve solved the issue completely, but it is about 75% better since I’ve started using a few new products in tandem. My hair looks best when I wash or wet it in the morning, then let it air dry. Unfortunately, I usually end the day too gross to wait till morning for a shower.

Lani’s hair after a few weeks of New Wash and MoroccanOil Styling Cream

MoroccanOil Hydrating Styling Cream, $14

The suggestion of MoroccanOil Hydrating Styling Cream came from one of our longtime New York clients who gives us a lot of amazing resources. I like that I can use it as a styling primer before I straighten or blow dry my hair, or when air drying it curly. The only hard part is remembering to put it in my hair after my shower!

Hairstory’s New Wash, 8 oz $40

New Wash was an Instagram ad that got me. It spoke directly to my problem, frizzy hair. No shampoo or conditioner was touching my frizz issues. Of course, I was horrified by the $40 price tag. New Wash maintains that you can wash your hair less and don’t need conditioners or detanglers, etc. so that price is not as high as it seems. Some of that is true for me, and it certainly is cheaper and easier than a Keratin treatment, so I was willing to try it.

The verdict? Although it took a while for me to get the technique correct (enough product, really scrubbing it in and rinsing well), I am pretty happy. The frizz in my hair is much abated, the smell of the essential oils and the time you have to take working in the product create a mini-spa experience, and I’m putting less plastic into the world with the one pouch. New Wash also comes in a Deep (clean) and Rich (moisturizing) formula. I will also add that you can buy larger packages to save money and the formula is clean (no parabens, sulfates or other nasties) and cruelty-free.


As we are all spending a lot of time at home these days, I thought I would highlight a few items that are making home a little nicer for me.

Lani’s bedroom, as seen in her Design Mom feature. Sheets by Brooklinen, Duvet Cover and Shams by Liberty London.

I just realized that this whole bed set was a present from Mr. Real Life Style! He bought me the Liberty London set on a work trip (remember those) and the sheets soon afterward. We discovered quickly that they made a perfect, super cozy set. He doesn’t like to have a heavy blanket on the bed in the summer so we use our duvet cover without the duvet inside during the summertime. (A note about the Liberty duvet set if you click through. They are all reversible and I like the side with the small pattern, not the paisley, best. So yes, this is the right set, just reversed from how they show it on the website.)

Brookelinen Luxe Core Sheet Set, $159

I’ve never really cared where my sheets came from or how much they cost, only what they looked like. However, we’ve been buying more expensive sheets for years because I am obsessed with John Robshaw’s Indian block prints. We also had a set of linen sheets from Restoration Hardware we loved. However, we kept getting rips in the fitted sheets of the soft, luxurious fabrics. I guess we sleep too hard!We needed to find sheets that were soft, strong, and pretty. Mr. Real Life Style used his research skills to find Brooklinen.

Brooklinen’s luxe sateen sheets have held up well and feel amazing. We have been so impressed we just ordered a plain white fitted sheet to use with the patterned top sheets we have in the linen closet.

Prefer Green Silicone Baking Cups, 24 for $11.99

Am I the only one making a lot of muffins these days? Mr. Real Life Style keeps telling me to stop, as my time is so limited, but muffins make me happy! They also make the kids happy, which counts for a lot these days. Of course I pretty much never make traditional muffins. I go for healthier recipes that utilize ripe bananas and applesauce rather than white sugar, as well as alternative flours. My kids are so used to it they don’t seem to know what they are missing. This is the recipe for Gluten-Free Zucchini bread I made this week, which was a huge hit with my whole family. It is a double recipe so I made one loaf pan and a set of muffins. I followed the recipe with the exception of halving the brown sugar and doubling the ginger and applesauce.

These Prefer Green Silicone Baking Cups have been a game changer. No more buying wasteful disposable paper muffin liners or dealing with cleaning out the muffin tin. In fact, I should lose my muffin tin altogether. I line these silicone baking cups up on a cookie sheet and pop them in the oven. Afterward, they hand wash quickly or go in the dishwasher.

Hand-painted Stainless Steel Tumbler by Indiblossom, $20

I’m a big believer in little luxuries. I have four of these hand-painted stainless steel tumblers by Indiblossom; two yellow and two purple. Just drinking water at my desk out of these beautiful cups adds to my daily enjoyment. Use code SUMMERFUN for 20% off your order. Your purchase supports artisans in the Kashmir region of India, who have been greatly affected by both political unrest and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Always surround yourself with beautiful things if possible!


I will do anything to keep our kids (non-screen) occupied these days. Below are a few things that have been working for us lately.

Actual unsupervised doodle by Max (8)

My boys are not into crafts to the point of incredulity. I’ve gotten them into drawing or coloring for a bit once in a while, but it takes a lot. When girl moms tell me about their daughters spending hours at the dining table coloring, I want to cry with envy.

Black Doodle Pad and Ooly Chalk-o-Rama Crayons

However, I happened upon a Black Doodle Pad and put it together with some chalk crayons we already had, and my kids showed a lot of interest. I’ve been leaving them out on the dining room table and they will just stop and start coloring. Finally…

Team Magnus Incog Water Gun

This is the water “gun” mentioned in last week’s newsletter. All credit goes to my neighbor Agnes for finding a water gun you can let your kids have without violating a “no toy gun” policy because it looks like a giant USB drive. I haven’t “pulled the trigger” yet for my kids, but I’m close. It is so hot in DC and I am sick of tying water balloons for them!

PLUS PLUS 240 Piece Basic Mix Construction Building Toy, $14.99

When your kids are sick of Lego and you are worried their brains are rotting from screen time, it is time to buy them some PLUS PLUS toys. Don’t let the “people” above intimidate you, my kids have spent hours building random shapes that have thrilled them to no end. I don’t understand it, but I am going with it.

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull, $6.23 from Amazon

Reading aloud has been a huge win during quarantine. The kids love it and we have more time to do it. I had been reading the Harry Potter series to Max before the start of the pandemic, and we finished it a month or two ago (time, what’s that?). I am not the first parent who has had to answer the question of where to go after possibly the greatest kids book series ever. After some fumbled starts, we found the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull. The kids are really into it, and I enjoy it too, which is a requirement for the books I read aloud to them.


This is my favorite outfit right now! I need an outfit that keeps me cool, dries quickly when I accidentally spray myself while making water balloons (see my wet leg below), is appropriate if I need to run an errand, and can be worn during exercise. Most importantly, I still need to feel fashionable!

Lani wearing her c/o All Day Alba Maria Mini Skirt, Starter Shorts, & Birks

All Day Alba Maria Mini Skirt in Evening, $158.00

Use code RealLifeStyle20INF for 20% off your full-price order!

Starter 3 ” Training Bike Shorts to wear under my skirt, $14.99

These bike shorts are so comfortable I might need them in a few more colors!

Birkenstocks Gizeh Essentials EVA Sandals, $39.95

You must own these shoes! I have a black pair of the Birkenstocks Gizeh Essentials EVA Sandals, and am waiting for a silver pair of the Arizona style to arrive imminently. They are waterproof, supportive, and stylish. Need I say more?

Real Life Style is a style consulting firm that teaches busy women to wear their power so they can live their lives fully and confidently. Lani Inlander and Kyle Dunphy are based in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and serve clients nationwide. We offer personal styling services, an on-demand e-course, corporate services, and training to become a personal stylist.

Once in a while, you can find Lani Inlander and Real Life Style on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Mostly, they are happily busy serving their fabulous clients, not hanging out online!

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