I don’t think beauty products should be allowed to have the following in their names: miracle, wonder, instant, lineless, wrinkle-free, laser/lift/tightening/facelift/eyelift (unless we’re talking about the real surgical procedures), and flawless, to name a few. They are loaded words that appeal to emotions and give the user false hope that the products will be miraculous. The FDA here in the US does not regulate beauty products and many promises are delivered to consumers that the hottest skin care item was “Clinically tested and 100% of testers found it to be effective”, when perhaps there were only 80 people in the clinical trial. And the clinical trial was done by the company producing the product in a controlled environment. i.e. a “side effect” of product x could be darkening of hair, and all of the testers are already brunette, so therefore 100% of all testers did not experience that side effect.

I am a big believer in several OTC* skin care lines. I’ve seen my skin go from acne-prone to gorgeous, glowing, and clear with products I’ve purchased at Nordstrom and Sephora, when things the Derm tried didn’t work. It’s important to know that OTC and even prescription treatments may not completely eliminate a skin concern. I’m a big believer in trying OTC products first, then if needed, consult a derm. I’m also big on research. Most websites provide a list of ingredients. If you don’t know what something is, look it up. Know what you are putting on your skin, be aware of any interactions or precautions to take (if you are using a 10% glycolic wash, plus a 5% salicylic treatment, you must wear SPF to prevent sunburn and damage, plus you must know if it’s okay to use other products containing these ingredients and frequency of use).

I see soo many people who end up not liking a product because they didn’t give it enough time to work, or people who are mixing ingredients that should not be used all together. Please do not use an AHA/BHA cleanser every day, a glycolic toner, a vitamin c serum, a salicylic treatment, retinol every night, chemical peels twice a month, plus exfoliate with a scrub twice a week…and not wear SPF. Oh, and then get a brow wax (and not disclose the products you’re using to your esthetician) and then wonder why your skin is so much more sensitive than it was before. That’s just ridiculous overload and entirely too many active ingredients at one time. Likewise, I’ve seen those who don’t do anything to their skin and wonder why they have skin issues. I’ve even ran into women (and girls) who don’t wash their face and they wear makeup everyday! Oy.

Following directions: To see optimal results from any skin care product or treatment, one simply must, must, must use as directed. A pigmentation brightening treatment is not going to work in one week. Same with any type of anti-aging treatment or acne treatment. A single hair removal laser treatment at the derm is not going to treat a large area (there must be a series of treatments used). It must be used consistently and long enough to see results (this does not mean skipping treatments or using when you feel like it). Dermatologists, esthetician’s, and beauty industry sales associates are not telling you to be consistent just to hear themselves talk. It’s the truth, use as directed.

*OTC = over the counter. Any product containing an active ingredient (benzol peroxide, salicylic, glycolic acid, AHA/BHA,  titanium dioxide, etc) that’s readily available without a prescription at department or specialty stores and even drug stores.

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September Faves

October 5, 2010

 

1. Tarte EmphasEYES Aqua-Gel Eyeliner, $18, in eight colors, sephora.com: I haven’t been wearing eyeliner almost all summer, with the exception of a few days. I like the way liner looks on my eyes, I just really dislike taking it off at the end of the day.  Tarte liner lasted all day and was actually easy to remove! It felt a little cool when I was applying it and that weirded me out a bit because my lids felt wet but it subsided after a few minutes. I would love to buy other colors (I have black) and might add them to my holiday wish list. I even thought the ultra-slim stick was easier to handle and use for creating a cat-eye. 

2. Urban Decay Book of Shadows Vol III, $54, sephora.com: Since I’ve missed out on previous book of shadows palettes, I figured I’d give this new one a whirl. I think it’s a good value for the assortment of shadow colors, two liners, and a primer. Oh, and the cute little diorama that lights up. Super cute! My only beef with Urban is the glitter shadows. I know the glitter is supposed to “lightly float under the eye creating a halo effect,” (those words were from a UD artist) but it makes me feel like a glitter bomb exploded on my face. Luckily this palette only comes with a few glitter pans and the rest have a light shimmer. It’s not yet on urbandecay.com and most Sephora stores should have them in-stock already or will be getting them soon. If you don’t see them out on display, ask. Mine came from the stock room. =) 

3. Ojon Volumizing Two-Minute Hair Mask, $34 6.5 oz, ojon.com: I love what Ojon’s products do for my hair and at the same time, I can’t handle the scent and had to stop using the brand a while back. Luckily a fellow beauty-junkie that knows my qualms gave me a new jar of the Volumizing mask and said, “I know you aren’t loving the rest of the line but try this. I promise the scent won’t make you gag.” Um…where has this mask been all of my life? The scent is more of a jasmine and “green” scent and not the traditional coffee/chocolate/woodsy/”natural” scent of the rest of the line. It makes my hair feel bouncy, hydrated, soft, and makes it smell so good. The texture is also feather-light and feels whipped to perfection and I always look forward to using it. 

4. Lancome Definicils Precious Cells Mascara, $29, lancome.com, sephora.com: I like natural looking mascara and this delivers the results I want with an added bonus of lash conditioners. I like the unique brush; One side has a traditional wand, the other has longer bristles. I did a more dramatic last by building up mascara layers for work one day and one my clients thought I had on individual faux lashes. It also promises lash doubling properties and less lash fall-out when removing mascara. 

5. GHD Blue Serenity Styler (MK IV), $230, sephora.com, ghd.com: Ohhhh, GHD, how I love thee. I already own a GHD MK IV and I’ve been worried that my most favorite beauty tool in the world (yes, in the world) is slowly dying. It’s starting to not perform as it once did. It’s still functional, of course. It’s just taking slightly longer to heat up and the little beeper no longer beeps at me when it’s ready. I’d been eyeing the sleek, pretty limited-editions for a while. The Blue Serenity color lured me in. I love the bonus quilted case even the hard black case it comes with. I’ve tried many brands of styling irons in the past and I’ll be sticking with GHD, possibly forever. 

6. Peace, Love & Juicy Couture, $18-$87, nordstrom.com and sephora.com: The newest offering from Juicy Couture is supposed to be inspired by the “free-spirited, sixties-style vibe of Malibu.” It reminds me of something familiar but can’t quite figure out what. It is actually quite nice. It’s lighter than the other fragrances in the Juicy range and a bit more girly. Out of the featured notes, the magnolia, honeysuckle, and patchouli flower come out more with my skin chemistry than the others. Interesting, since I’m not into magnolia or patchouli. If you happen to be in Nordies or Sephora, give this one a wiff. I like the rollerball size. It’s small enough that I’ll use it all up before I grow tired of it and the price is right. 

7. Laura Mercier Creme Smooth Foundation, $50, lauramercier.com: In the past, cream foundations and I have not been friends. They felt heavy on my oily skin and they even looked heavy. I was given a small sample of this to try and I pretty much love it. It’s designed to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles, a feature that I can’t really vouch for since I have neither. It doesn’t feel heavy at all, only perhaps a tiny bit tacky when first applied. I didn’t set it with powder one morning when I was in a rush to get out the door and it lasted the same amount of time on my skin as when I do set it. I was a bit more dewy than usual but no biggie. A little goes a long way and if cost is a concern, I’m certain the jar would last a very long time as I’ve been using my little 5 g sample for three weeks and I’m just now running out. I’m debating if I love it enough to buy a jar of my very own because I’m between colors. Warm Ivory is a little light and the next color up, Sunny Beige, is too dark.

OMG Shoes!

August 19, 2010

I want these and would wear them everywhere. I would want them even if they weren’t adorned with Swarovski crystals. Super cute. I doubt they will ever be marked down to fit my price range. Just in case anyone wants to buy me a gift, I wear a US size 6 or UK 4.

Edit: The thing that I really loved about these shoes is the “sash” on the toe. I was browsing around Target and found a pair that had a similar feel. They were kind of cute and worked for what I needed them for (an interview) so I bought them. I bought half a size larger and I’m glad that I did because they run a little snug in the toe area. Not quite the same, but still cute.

Acupuncture for Anti-Aging?

August 12, 2010

 

I ❤ Diane Lane. I have liked most of her movies and I think she is adorable. I’m also kind of jealous that at 45, she has a glow that I don’t have at 28. She can, however, afford beauty treatments that I can’t. I usually DIY it, whereas she can shell out for treatments like acupuncture facials. According to the RealSelf blog, she gets regular acupuncture facials (also known as acupuncture “facelifts”) to help soften the look of fine lines and wrinkles. This treatment may also help under eye bags, firm facial contours, and aid in relief from other health issues, such as insomnia. Most acupuncture facials include the use of herbs, creams, and occasionally even light therapy for a more luxurious treatment.

Personally, I’ve considered acupuncture for my migraines but can not handle needles, no matter how small. Perhaps someday if I conquer my fear of needles, I will try it out. If it doesn’t help with my migraines maybe I will see beauty benefits?

White for Summer

August 1, 2010

Summer is the perfect time to wear white. It helps to keep you cool when the temps rise and it looks tres chic anywhere from a night on the town to a day at the beach. You do the monochromatic thing and wear head to toe white (just make certain you do different shades of white or add a splash of gold or silver or a tiny bit of color) or you can pick and choose pieces, accessories, and even makeup. One of my fave quick and easy summer eye looks is to draw on a sheer shimmering white eyeliner and smudge until you’re left with a faint sparkle (Try Sephora Collection Flashy Liner in #02). I also like doing the same technique with a sheer shadow (I like Sephora Collection Aspen Summit #23, which is in the free birthday gift for beauty insiders this year).

Where to buy above items: Tops and sandals are from forever21.com, necklace is from fantasyjewelrybox.com, white shadow is the Sephora Collection Shadow mentioned above, white silver ring is from pret-a-beaute.com, and the velver rose hair clip is from flowerclip.com.

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.

 

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 keep a small basket of items I use regularly in my nightstand. I also sometimes stash things in my basket that I know I should totally use but don’t as a reminder to actually use them.

1. The neighbor that lives behind me is notorious for having parties that last into the wee A.M. hours. And they don’t invite me! To be fair, we aren’t acquainted. Since I’m not in attendance at these parties and I need my beauty sleep, I always stock plenty of ear plugs in my nightstand. I also always travel with ear plugs. I usually get mine from Target and buy whatever’s the cheapest. You can even find them in fun colors. My current selection is a bag of grey ones that were around $5 for 20.

2. I love girly, fruity fragrances. When it comes to home scents, I prefer more masculine scents. My three favorite notes are amber, sandalwood, and vanilla. I’m currently down to my last few sprays of Diptyque John Galliano room spray. It’s described as having a burning wood note but smells more cuddly than like camping. $60 for 150ml at beautyhabit.com. My next spray is a generic spritzer from Target simply called Amber Vanilla.

3. I love lip balm! My daytime favorite is Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm with SPF 15 in natural mint. My bedtime fave is Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment. It has a calming, subtle lemon scent and smooth texture that sinks into my lips and doesn’t settle into my pillow slip. $22.50 at fresh.com.

4. I love the light fragrance that candles give off while unlit. Among my favorite scents (yet again) are sandalwood, vanilla, amber, and other woody fragrances. My selection du jour includes K. Hall Designs Sandalwood vegetable wax candle. I’ve also used their driftwood candle and it was just as fab. $25 at khalldesigns.com.

5. & 6. I constantly moisturize my hands. The only hand lotion I will use (unless I’m really desperate) is Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream. The ultra nourishing formula has a suble, uplifting scent and doesn’t leave your hands feeling greasy. $19 at Sephora or Caudalie.com. I spend so much time hydrating my hands that I often forget about my feet, so I keep Bliss Foot Patrol cream in my nightstand. It’s loaded with exfoliating alpha-hydroxy acids that help slough off dead skin while I sleep. $18 at Blissworld.com.

7. If I can swing it, I will sleep as late as I possibly can. On days where I can sleep in until the sun has risen, I need a sleep mask to block the flood of sunlight my bedroom gets in the morning. I prefer satin versions because they are soft and don’t leave creases on my face in the morning. This version is $8 at nicolejane.com. 

8. I sleep with my hair up because it drives me insane having my long hair down. I sleep kind of crazy and waking up because my hair is in my face is annoying. I always keep a stash of Goody elastics close at hand. I prefer the ouchless version because they are gentle on my hair.