Favorites of 2010

December 29, 2010

1. Hot pink lips: Bold, effortless, chic. This was the lip look I rocked the most this year, with a natural eye, of course. Faves of the year included Sephora Rouge Cream Lipstick in Mr. Lover, Benefit Posie Tint Stain (3-5 layers for intensity) layered with Smashbox O-Gloss Original (always turns my lips bright hot pink), and MAC Lipstick in Girl About Town.

2. Lashes: It’s rare for me to wear faux lashes even though I love them so (my eyes freak out if I wear them too often) and when I have a full fringe, I always feel super glam. My faves are still Ardell because the quality surpasses the price (around $4). The #120 demi are my absolute faves and I also like #113 and #122. My lash glue of choice is always Duo waterproof clear lash glue unless…I can get my hands on the Makeup Forever lash glue that comes with their lashes. I hoard this whenever I buy Makeup Forever lashes because it is absolutely the best I’ve tried.

3. The love of my life (well, purse-wise at least) is my Lux De Ville Lucky Me bag in black and leopard. I love it because it’s roomy and super cute. It isn’t, however, great for rainy weather, so I’m currently using their Starlite Kisslock bag in red sparkle, which doesn’t hold as much but makes me happy because it reminds me of Dorothy’s ruby slippers, just in purse form instead of shoes.

4. Headbands! Love! It takes  a drab hairstyle to fab on mornings when I’d rather sleep than make an effort with my hair. I just brush, slick into a pony, pop on a headband and I look like I tried.

5. Josie Maran GOGO instant volume mascara: I always admit that mascara is not my thing, so when I do end up loving one, it’s the real deal. The brush is almost a triangular shape and it gives my lash a flirty flutter without clumps. Thanks, Josie. P.S. I also kind of love everything from this line, so maybe I’m biased? It really is a super fab line that I highly recommend.

6. Zirh Shave Gel: See a few posts back. Amazing!

7 & 8: Perricone Super: I’m sooo loving the Lush Lips and Hyper Hydrator, both with coconut water. Coconut water is great for the skin (I would like to say that I drink it regularly, but I only drink it a few times a month) and the smell is light. The lip treatment is ultra hydrating, silky, and is indeed very lush. The moisturizer is light and helps keep my oily skin in check. The line is also a bit more wallet friendly than Perricone’s core line, which I also love and can’t always afford.

9. Perricone Advanced Firming Eye Activator: Anti-aging! Brightening! Tightening! I love this eye cream bunches and always buy it when it’s within my budget. I’ve been a devotee of this product since 2006.

10 And as always….Bliss Best of Skintentions moisturizer is still tops in my skincare regime. I love the way it makes my skin look and feel. If I need an instant pick-me-up, this does it. I also love the built-in SPF (with the Japanese skincare rating of PA++).

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.

 

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.

 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.

Day 1: Peel day. I was ready for a run-of-the-mill facial when my esthetician friend says, “How would you feel about doing a light chemical peel?” Um, yes please! I felt a slight tingling during and after, which wasn’t really a big deal. My skin felt soft, was a little pink, and was super shiny (it’s always shiny, anyway). When I got home I noticed some of my congested pores were already starting decongest themselves, especially around and on my nose.

Day 2: My skin is clear, smooth, and glowy. When I did a shortened version of PM skin care routine, I noticed a little peeling/flaking action but it wasn’t too bad. I’ve been instructed to stay away from my beloved AHA’s, BHA’s, any other exfoliant, and any harsh anti-aging/anti-acne treatments. I cleansed, spritzed on a hydrating mist, and applied a hydrating PM moisturizer. I did cheat and spot treat a blemish that found its way to the surface of my skin.

Day 3: Note to self: Do not use Shiseido Sunscreen after a peel. It was way too thick and showed every little area of peeling skin. Other than that, my skin felt and looked good. I started to see some congestion coming up and my skin will most likely be showing signs of an acne flare up very soon.

Day 4: More peeling. It’s still not bad or noticable, mostly exfoliates off when I cleanse with my Clarisonic Brush (only 1x a day instead of the usual 2x). I have not been wearing any makeup. More congestion from my pores is starting to surface.

Day 5: First day wearing makeup. My skin looked great without makeup today but it was back to work and that meant makeup time. A tiny blemish decided to make an appearance but it’s not a big deal and not noticeable.

Day 6: Again, my skin looks great. Glowy, gorgeous, mostly clear except for the visitor that popped up yesterday.

Day 7: Blemish gone. Skin looks radiant. I want another peel!

The month after: My skin still looks beautiful, though a bit of hormonal acne has surfaced near my jaw, which is to be expected, thanks to Auntie Flo. I still want another pro peel and under the advice of a trusted skin care guru, I am now using the OTC  Ole Henriksen Micro/Mini Peel. I have received the Ok to use it and have tried it twice. LOVE! Easy to use and gentle, except that I’m not fond of the first step, which is a seemingly abrasive scrub.

I might try microdermabrasion next. We’ll see.

By the way, I think you all should know that I love 24 and will be very sad when it’s over.

Lush Figs and Leaves Soap

November 18, 2009

 Mmmmmm. I love Lush’s Figs and Leaves Soap because it smells like a little peace of heaven. The scent is light, slightly clean and also a little foody. It also feels divine and exfoliates without being messy or leaving behind a film. Figs and Leaves exfoliates with fig seeds and is scented with essentials oild of ylang ylang, orange blossom absolute, and added fragrance.I love this because it’s gentle, smells divine, feels wonderful on my skin, and doesn’t leave my skin feeling dry. The only downside, for me, are the leaves on the top of the soap. Sure, it’s pretty decoration, but it gets mushy with use and can clog the drain. I just simply peel the leaves off after my first use. I discovered this soap thanks to a little sample that a nice sales lady added into my bag and I’ve been hooked ever since. I love it during fall and winter the most and will sometimes indulge in a bar during other months as well.This soap ranges in price in store depending on the size you get and the online quote for a 3.5 oz bar is $7.60. You can also have the lovely sales people at the store cut your very own custom bar as well.

Lush is best known for its natural approach to skin, body, and hair care. Sometimes synthetic materials (man-made) are used and they strive to use skin and eco-friendly versions. There are several locations world-wide and the online store is the only place to find “Retro Lush” items (previously discontinued products). Many items are also vegan friendly.

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.

7sea

Even though I rarely purchase Crabtree & Evelyn products, I do have a soft spot for everything C & E. My very first job when I was 18 was at the tiniest Crabtree store in the middle of a busy mall. It was holiday and the scent of their seasonal Noel potpourri and candles flooded the store. I still adore the gardener’s and la source lines and will buy my faves when they are on sale (rarely).

This huge jar (32 oz!) is filled with Crabtree & Evelyn’s Aromatherapy Purifying Seven Seas bath salts, $35. Designed to cleanse the skin of impurities, it is also conditioning thanks to hydrating essential oils. The scent is fresh and citrus with a bit of mint.

I feel like this salt might be doing something but I’m a skeptic when it comes to things that promise to “detoxify.” It is relaxing and I like that the salt actually dissolves completely, unlike other bath salts I’ve tried that just end up at the bottom of the tub. The directions for use include soaking for 20 minutes, which I just can’t do. I don’t have the patience to lay in the tub for that long and my water usually turns cool. This was a decent bath product but I probably wouldn’t purchase this again because there are better out there.