Vegan Beauty Products

July 7, 2010

As more and more ladies and gents are becoming aware of the products they use, more companies are responding by creating parabin free products and even vegan products. I’ve been trying to compile a list of such companies for my readers, but it’s been a long road because some brands will have some vegan items while others in the line are not. Also, some vegan products are not classified as natural and vice versa.

On my search today, I found a small but reliable list of vegan goodies at Beauty and The Blog  for you all to check out until I finalize my own list. It will probably be a while before it’s posted because my July and August are pretty crazy booked, and I’ll try to post it as soon as I can.

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I purchased the Sephora Sun Safety kit  this year, just as I always do every year, to see if I can find my new holy grail of sun protection. The 2010 kit included Kate Somerville SPF 55 Sunscreen Serum, my new love. It’s lightweight, absorbs quickly, is great for my oily skin because it’s oil free and non greasy, and does not have a scent. I am so so so so hooked on this product that I had to go buy the full size. I had to order online, though, because my local Sephora only carries three Kate Somerville products. 

 The other suncreeens in the Sephora kit weren’t really anything amazing, though I did like the Jack Black Lip Balm in Lemon and Chamomile. I’ve been using the balm in Mint for several years and might switch to the Lemon version because the scent is uplifting. The kit also includes Bliss Best of Skintentions Moisturizer with SPF, which I have also been using since it launched. Another honorable mention goes to Murad Essential-C Eye Cream SPF 15, for its light weight formula that works well under makeup.

Bandeau swim top pictured above is from Vitamin A.

Men take note: rising temperatures and more humidity in summer can make your deep, rich, or bold winter fragrance smell more intense. If you love your current fragrance too much to change, consider skipping your regular eau de toilette or cologne for an aftershave, deoderant, shower gel, or body lotion in the same scent. Most brands produce these ancillary items to match their fragrances. Another option is to dillute your fragrance by spraying a bit into an unscented body lotion and applying to your body. You can also spray your fragrance into the air and step through the mist. If you do the latter, please take heed to spray only a little.

If you’re open to something  new, try switching to a cool, crisp fragrance during warmer months. You can often find similar versions of your winter fragrance that wear better when the murcury rises. Not sure where to start? Check out my suggestions below or hit up your local Nordstrom (I find their fragrance sales associates to be wonderful) or Sephora (look for or ask for a certified fragrance expert or peruse their Scentsa computer on your own).

Some of my faves for summer (or any time of the year because they are light) include:

1. Fresh Citron de Vigne, $18.50-$75; fresh.com and sephora.com: Founder Lev Glazman created this new and exciting fragrance inspired by sparkling notes of pinot noir. Its fresh and sensual notes of neroli, bitter orange, pinot noir accord, lemongrass, sandalwood, and amber make it optimal for everyday wear. I’m a huge fan of Fresh fragrances overall, and think that Lev, who is also a certified nose, has a very unique, fun, and sophisticated point of view in all of his creations.

2. Bvlgari Aqva Pour Homme, $55-$75; bergdorfgoodman.com, sephora.com: Inspired by the sea and mediterranean, this summer-esque fragrance is both fresh and soft while still masculine. It features only five notes, four of which are unique (mandarin, petit grain, santolina, posidonia, mineral amber).

3. Kenzo L’eauParKenzo Pour Homme, $54-$72; sephora.com: Subtle, fresh, and light, this remarkable fragrance from Kenzo embodies leisurely summer days. Notes include yuzu (one of my favorite notes), lotus leaf, aquatic mint, mandarin, and waterlily.

4. Burberry Touch for Men, $57 for 1 oz, burberry.com; While this fragrance has some spicy notes of white pepper and nutmeg, it’s rounded out by cooler notes of violet leaves, and mandarin tree leaves. This is a great option for guys who like a heavier fragrance during the winter months.

5. Burberry Classic for Men Summer Edition, $60 for 3.3 fl oz, sephora.com; One of my favorites for men, this fragrance is pleasantly surprising. The top notes of pineapple, citrus, and frozen mint are a fresh and unique blend. I love that this fragrance is rounded out by woody notes and tonka bean.

 When I’m laying at home sick in bed the last thing that crosses my mind is keeping up with my beauty routine. As of late, I’ve been feeling quite under the weather. The only thing I want to do is sleep, drink juice, sleep some more, and watch old movies. There are certain beauty items, however, that will sometimes sneak their day into my sick days and make me feel a little better or occupy my time, if only temporarily.

1. Sephora Collection Colorful Mini Nail buffers, $8 for pack of 3; Sephora.com: I am really bad at keeping my nails up. They get filed and trimmed a few times per month and maybe even a coat of clear polish or the occasional swipe of colored polish. Other than that, I keep my nails fairly low maintenance. I like to keep these mini buffers on hand for quick fixes (snagged nails, uneven nail bed). I also love whipping one out when I’m sick in bed and watching TV to pass the time.

2. Lush Honey Trap Lip Balm, $6.95; lush.com: I love this moisturizing balm for sick days because it’s not sticky, greasy,  absorbs quickly, and won’t end up on my pillow when I’m napping. Thanks to a blend of shea butter and oilve oil, the hydrating formula feels great on the lips without leaving residue. It also features honey, a natural humectant, to hold moisture in.

3. Caudalie Grape Water Mini, $8 for 1.6 oz; Sephora.com: If you follow this blog, you’ll know that one of my go-to “It” brands is Caudalie. I use and adore a lot of their products. I always have a mini Grape Water on hand for spritzing anytime I feel dry or need an instant boost. I love chilling one in the fridge to mist myself with when I’m running a fever. It feels lovely, cool, and I love that I’m giving my skin an antioxidant boost at the same time. *Also great for hot summer days.* 

4. Carol’s Daughter Body Aches Bath Salts, $18 for 16 oz; sephora.com: I love these bath salts for when I’m sick or after an intense workout (especially Jackie Warner’s workout DVD’s). Peppermint, sea salt, and epsom salt help to ease muscle aches, while lavender calms the senses. I’m not a fan of the little floating lavender bits in my tub so I used an old nylon or cheesecloth to filter the salts under running water. 

5. Fresh Rose Face Mask, $55; fresh.com: Another of my go-to brands is Fresh. I love the luxe formula’s and simple yet elegant packaging. I love the decadent rose mask because it helps to hydrate and sooth the delicate skin around my nose when I’m sick. Sometimes I will even leave a little on when I’m napping to protect the area. It’s calming effect is thanks to rose, cucumber, and aloe. If I need to make a brief appearance anywhere, say a visit to the doc or pharmacy, it’s a great quick fix for the mild facial puffiness I get when I’ve been laying down for a while. 

6. Josie Maran Argan Oil Moisturizing Stick, $22; sephora.com: Argan oil and vitamin E hydrate and nourish the skin in a quick and easy to apply stick formula. I love this handy tool for it’s multi-tasking abilities: as a quick body hydrator (elbows, cuticles, hands, feet, knees), a quick lip “balm,” around the nose,  to slick back any stray or flyaway hair and to hydrate the ends of my hair. It’s a great on the go beauty item and also fab for sick days when you don’t want to put in much effort. 

Some favorite movies to watch when I’m sick include: The Thin Man (any in the series, especially the orginal), North by Northwest, any Doris Day & Rock Hudson movies, Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

 I love anti-aging products because I hope to do just that: anti-age and keep the skin I have now for as long as possible. Here’s to hoping that having a great skin care routine in my 20’s pays off when I’m 60. There are so many products on the market that promise to lift, banish fine lines and wrinkles, reduce pore size, firm, restore elasticity; there are even creams that promise to lift your bust and booty. Famed plastic surgeon Robert Rey from Dr. 90210 even has his own line of skin and body care.   

So do these “miracle” elixirs really work? Some can help a bit and can be great alternatives to plastic surgery. While you won’t see the same results as you would from surgical procedures, they can help soften the appearance of aging, though the only thing that will give you the effects of a facelift is an actual facelift.

When it comes to the various brands available, there isn’t one that’s “best” because each and every line has its own unique variables and you should take into account your skin type, your needs, any allergies to specific ingredients, your budget, and the amount of time you have in your daily routine. Skin care products, whether for acne, aging, or general upkeep require time and consistency; you need to use products as directed to see optimal results. 

Some scientifically proven active ingredients to look for when choosing anti-aging skin care include: 

  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA): Exfoliates the skin’s surface and can improve texture. Common types to look for include lactic, glycolic, lactic, malic, citric, and  tartaric. 
  • Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA): Exfoliates and, unlike AHA’s, can penetrate pores due to their oil solubility, giving you deeper benefits. BHA’s can help with rough skin texture, wrinkles, acne and minor sun damage. Salicylic acid is BHA. Also look for willow bark as it’s a naturally derived form of Salicylic.
  • Coenzyme Q10: Helps to reduce free radical damage.
  • Retinol (vitamin A): Smoothes wrinkles, skin texture, and helps to create healthier skin cells. Presceription strength retinol products include Retin-A and Renova. OTC formulations are available in both high-end brands and drugstore brands.
  • Neuropeptides: Aids in anti-inflammation relief and helps to boost collagen and elastin.
  • Vitamin C/L-ascorbic acid: antioxidant properties, helps reduce  discoloration.
  • Amino Acid: Helps with plumping lines, discoloration.
  • There are several more out there so I recommend if you’re curious, do some homework based on ingredient, your budget, and skin type.

IMPORTANT info about active ingredient listed above: 

Please note that when using the above products, you MUST religiously use a broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen of at least 15 or higher (my old derm insisted that everyone must use at least a 30). This is because these active ingredients can make your skin more susceptible to sun damage. I know you’re probably saying, “But I’m never in the sun and I don’t burn so I don’t need it!” Oh yes you do, indeed. While you can see what’s happening on the surface of your skin, the deeper layers can hide what you don’t see and often times these active ingredients can magnify the sun’s effects up to 50%. What does this mean? Basically that you’re wasting money on product because the “good” you are doing is being undone and can surface in more wrinkles, age spots, sun spots, and other surface imperfections later on. UV rays are still present on cloudy and rainy days and can still effect the skin, so use your SPF every day.

Eau de V-day: Men

January 22, 2010

Fragrance is a great Valentine’s Day gift for yourself or a loved one. Here are my top picks for anyone close to your heart: 

1. Yves Saint Laurent L’Homme, $43-$100, sephora.com: Modern and sensual, this offering from YSL will dazzle your senses with bergamot, cedar, ozonic accord, white ginger, cedarwood, and vetiver.

2. Givenchy Play, $53-$71, sephora.com: Fresh, play-ful, and inspired by hottie Justin Timberlake, this well-rounded fragrance features bergamot, mandarin orange, bitter orange, grapefruit, Amyris wood, and black pepper.

3. Diesel Only The Brave, $53-$65, sephora.com: Bold, confident, and masculine, this fist shaped bottle with Diesel knuckles only needs four fragrance notes to get its point across: lemon, leather, amber, and cedarwood.

4. Dolce and Gabbana The One For Men, $40-$70, sephora.com: Mmmm…I saved the best for last as this fragrance is pretty much sex in a bottle. Who wouldn’t want to get close to a guy wearing The One? With its notes of grapefruit, coriander, ginger, orange blossom, cedar, and amber, it’s both fresh and woodsy all in one bottle. Or…snuggly.

 

I rarely watch TV nowadays but tonight I will be tuning in to How I Met Your Mother because Tim Gunn will be making a cameo on the show. Exciting! Also, check out TG’s facebook page for a video update of the People’s Choice Awards best and worst fashion. I didn’t watch the awards show and I would love to know who the  “star who looked like he came in from doing yard work” is.

EDIT: If you missed the show, you can catch the Tim Gunn scene here (@ 1:33):

Beauty: Save vs Spend

September 9, 2009

DSCF3142

 

In an ideal world where money is not an issue, I wouldn’t mind all of my beauty products to be the creme de la creme of their category. In the real world, I am more prone to spending a lot on some items, while others make no sense for me to drop a small fortune on. Here are some of my suggestions on when to shell out the big bucks and when to be thrifty.

Invest in:

  • Quality brushes: Trust me, quality makes all the difference. “Quality” by the way, does not necessarily equal pricy. I have a $15 blending brush by brand A and the same one by brand B that was $25. I like brand A the best and it’s $10 less!
  • Foundation: Go to a counter or beauty store and get matched for color. Some places will even offer you a sample to try first so you can see how it will look on you. If they don’t do samples, see if they will apply it for you so you can see how it looks.
  • Fragrance: Even this little luxury can brighten the gloomiest of days. If you can’t afford the whole bottle a lot of lines now offer less expensive travel sizes or rollerballs for much less. It you love the scent and want the best value, look for gift sets because they offer a lotion (and/or shower gel) along with the fragrance. Tip: Sometimes places like TJ Maxx or Costco will have the same fragrances at a lower price.
  • Skin Care: Spring for acne or anti aging products.
  • Sun protection for your face with both UVA & UVB protection (or broad spectrum).
  • Brow, face, or body waxing: You usually get what you pay for in this category.
  • Clothing staples: Investment pieces that are timeless, high quality, and go with everything.
  • Handbag/Purse: Choose a style that is durable and has structure. Neutral colors are best. Or buy designer at a lower price from stores like TJ Maxx or from websites like Hautelook (membership is required and is free).

Save on:

  • Sun protection for the body: Drug store is just fine. Still look for UVA & UVB protection (or broad spectrum).
  • Lipstick: This age old mood enhancer is very cheap for companies to manufacture. A lot of drug store colors and textures are very similar to higher end lines.
  • Brush Cleaner: Make sure to purchase brush cleaner to protect your investment. Most brush cleaner is fragrance and alcohol, so I say why spend $20 on a bottle when a $10 bottle has the same ingredients?
  • Body lotion: Look for hydrating butters (shea, coco, etc.) and essential oils on the label.
  • Shave gel, lotion, or cream: There isn’t a huge difference in expensive vs cheap.
  • Clothing trends: Why spend $200 on a piece that will be out next year?
  • Handbag/Purses that are trendy: Target usually has a good selection of trendy bags.
  • Manicures (if not getting faux nails): Basic mani’s are done the same way at pricy salons and budget friendly salons.

Skin Care Expiration

August 31, 2009

suggestion

 

Have you ever been using your favorite skin care or body product and think, “So when does this expire, anyway?”

Some products do have expiration dates, though those are few and far between. Many brands have an expiration suggestion printed on the back of the bottle, jar, ot tube. It looks like a jar with the lid open and has a number printed inside. This number indicates the number of months after opening the product that it should be good for. Conditions such as contamination (IE dipping unwashed hands into a jar) or forgetting to put the lid back on the product can shorten that amount of time.

In the above photo, one of my products is optimal to use until six months of opening, while another is good for 24 months. The amount of time will vary from product to product depending on factors such as ingredients (essential oils, plant or fruit extracts, parabins aka preservatives, and etc.).

if you are using a skin care product as directed, it should not last longer then the expiration suggestion. Some products (body items, for example) may last longer then the suggested amount of time. In these cases, it’s best to monitor the texture, color, and scent for any changes which can indicate it has spoiled.

Don’t remember when you first opened a product? I always try to mark the bottom or somewhere inconspicuous with the month and year, just so I don’t forget. This is also a good idea if your product doesn’t suggest any time frame of expiration so you will know how long it’s been around.

Secret Breakout Causes

July 22, 2009

acne

 

Arg! I’m breaking out randomly on my face and chest! I haven’t broken out on my chest since I was 14 and it’s annoying. Not much in my skin care routine has changed, except for last week I ran out of my MD Skincare Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel Pads and I used a different sunscreen then usual. Those two could be the culprits, or it could also be something below. I’m banking on it being a little of everything.

  • Did you know that not washing your pillow slips (or pillow cases…which ever you prefer to call them) regularly can cause or worsen acne? That’s because bacteria and oil from your skin and scalp can collect on them causing more breakouts. I usually wash mine twice a week but I kind of skipped a week. Icky, I know, I just got lazy. I made sure to toss them in the wash today.
  • Leaning or resting your face on your hands can cause breakouts on your chin from oils in your skin. I try not to do this but sometimes it happens. I’m not breaking out around my jaw so I can nix this as one of my current acne causes.
  • Not washing your makeup brushes regularly can be a big acne-causing culprit. I keep my makeup brushes super clean and I just washed every single brush I own last night (close to 90) for added insurance that none of my brushes are causing it. BTW: I keep seperate brushes for clients and seperate brushes for myself.
  • I own a Clarisonic and absolutely adore it. Best thing ever! You are supposed to change the brush head every three months and wash it weekly with an anti-bacterial soap. Yeah, I kinda sorta forgot last week so I did it today.
  • Picking and “popping” acne can also lead to more acne in surrounding areas. Bacteria can spread via your fingers, so if you must pick (please don’t-it could possibly leave behind a scar), always do it on a clean face with your fingers wrapped in tissue. I like to take a steaming hot towel to the area and leave it there for a minute or two. If it “pops” then yay! If not, I leave it alone because it’s not ready to go.