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I made a small Victoria Secret order recently thanks to birthday gift cards and VS coupon codes. I got one of the new Biofit 7-Way bra (OMG amazing), a self tanner kit (reviews coming when I try it), and a lotion from their new Naturally Victoria’s Secret line.

The scent is Vanilla Sandalwood, which sounded like my cup of tea since I like both vanilla and sandalwood. Have you ever been at a Catholic mass and incense was burned during the service? That’s exactly what this lotion smells like. It is not for me at all and will be sent back. It also doesn’t feel very hydrating. Perhaps other scents within the line are better and this experience reminds me to never buy scented items online without sniffing them in person first.

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Yum, yum! Pacifica’s Brazilian Mango Grapefruit fragrance smells like summer. It features notes of tropical fruits including mango, peach, pineapple and grapefruit. I really smell the mango and don’t get any of the other notes. I love that the packaging is portable and petite. The fragrance didn’t last very long at all on my skin, only about an hour. This would be great layered with Pacifica’s other scented body products or as a refresher to any of the perfumes. At only $9, it’s a fun little indulgence.

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I’ve been using Bliss Best of Skintentions SPF 15 moisturizer as my day hydrator for the past few weeks and I’ve been loving it. It’s not heavy, has antioxidants, and features subtle pretty skin illuminators. I also love the Japanese SPF PA++ rating. Bliss Best of Skintentions SPF 15 moisturizer has all of these, plus minerals and omega 3 fatty acids. Finally, a skin care product that gives me everything I want and more! While it is a fantastic formula, the scent is not my favorite. It’s a fresh floral that seems to disappear when I apply my makeup over it. When I go bare faced, the scent lingers for an hour or so. If you are not particularly sensitive to fragrance you probably won’t even notice.

Bliss is carried at Sephora, The W Hotel, select Nordstrom, Macy’s, Saks, and other department stores and boutiques. Check out the Bliss website to find a retailer near you.

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For the past two weeks, I’ve been using Josie Maran Argan Oil under my PM moisturizer (currently Korres Thyme Honey Moisturizer). Love, love, love! I want to bathe in it but alas, I only have a small sample vial of the product. You can also use Argan Oil as a hair treatment, on your body, and it’s also recommended for dry cuticles and eczema.

My oily skin is prone to occasional breakouts, especially when I’m PMSing. Since I started using it, my skin looks clear, radiant, and feels a tad less oily. It’s certainly not a miracle product but I do admittedly adore it, so far. The texture is neither thin nor thick, it is quickly absorbed, and doesn’t have a heavy scent. I’d describe it as slightly earthy in a good way. While I like this brand, I am also researching other brands that sell the same product for perhaps a bit less. I might break down and buy a bottle if I don’t find a suitable alternative. Buyer beware: make sure you check ingredients of what you are buying as some companies add fillers to keep the price down.

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I’ve been using this mask for nearly a month and I have to say, it’s pure perfection! Oh Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Revealing Mask how I love thee. My skin can be fairly sensitive and it hasn’t caused any irritation, it leaves my skin exfoliated and glowing, and it helps to reduce the appearance of my large pores. I love the brush because it makes for a truly indulgent treatment minus the indulgent price at $42. Psssssst: at the NYC Caudalie Spa the 50 minute Vinoperfect treatment is $185.

 Ladies also take note.

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1. First, and most important, be consistent! The more you take care of your skin, the better it will look. Think of it like going to the gym: once a week won’t really do much for you but if you go daily, you’ll notice a real difference. It’s the same with your skin.

2. Cleanse your skin twice daily. If you are aiming for clearer skin, this is an important step to cleanse away dirt and oil.

3. Protect your skin by using an SPF of at least 15 and if you work outdoors, make sure to reapply every few hours.

4. Exfoliate! Not only will it help shed dull, dead skin cells, it will help any creams or lotions penetrate the skin more effectively. Some cleansers do double duty by exfoliating, so check the label. Look for BHA’s (or beta hydroxy acid) or anything that mentions exfoliation.

5. Hydrate your skin with a good moisturizer, preferably without an SPF in the product. A moisturizer sans SPF can be used in the AM and PM.

Shopping Tips:

While there are skincare brands that specifically cater to men, you can use any brand. There aren’t any “women only” brands, though quite often the packaging is designed to appeal to that market.

You don’t need to drop a lot of cash on your skincare routine. The age old debate of department/specialty store VS drug store products is a personal decision and neither is right or wrong.

Heads up: unlike drug stores, you will receive personalized help at a department store counter or store like Sephora then at a drug store, so if you have questions, they tend to be good places to start.

If you do have a Sephora in your area, you can make an appointment for a complimentary consultation. This is a free session (usually a few minutes in length up to a half hour) where a skincare expert can demo the products on your skin, help establish a routine that fits your skincare needs and lifestyle, and they can answer any questions you may have. You can check their website (www.sephora.com) to find store locations.

If you need a few items at once, are trying a new brand,  or are just starting out using skincare, gift sets and travel packs are a great way to try products out. They are often smaller then full size items and can help you figure out what you like best. They also tend to be great values for your money.

Some department store counters charge for consults, so be sure to check prices. Sometimes the cost of the consult is redeemable in products.

You can also walk up to any counter or store at any time and they should be able to help you find products right for you if you are short on time. This should be free and quick (under five minutes).

If you feel pressured to buy something and aren’t ready to commit, see if you can take home a sample of the product to try first. Some places sample generously and some don’t.

If heading to the drug store, most brands have packaging on the box that will tell you what they do (i.e.: cleanser for oily skin or moisturizer for all skin types).

Fresh

February 10, 2009

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I love the brand Fresh! They have a few new products out and I also indulged in an older one.

The new Soy Face Cream is for all skin types and packs a punch. Vitamins A, C, and E are infused as well as tea, rose water, soy proteins and jojoba seed oil. The result equals a moisturizer that’s light weight and also leaves your skin looking glowy and smooth.

The first day I tried the new Rose FreshFace Primer my skin was a little irritated. It seemed to calm my skin down a bit, thanks to anti-inflammatory ingredients. After the third day of use, my skin felt better and as I passed by a mirror, noticed my makeup still looked great after work. All in all, this is one of the better primers I’ve used.

I’ve also been sniffing my newest bath time acquisition, SugarBath Lychee Bath Cubes, every chance I get. They are lightly scented and slightly fizz under running water. I’d save these for an occasional bath since they’re fairly pricey for what they are and the scent doesn’t linger on your skin after your bath.

Oil cleansing

February 7, 2009

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For quite some time I’ve been using cleansing oils to take off my makeup, followed by my usual cleanser. There are tons of misconceptions floating around about using oil on your face. No, it won’t break you out or turn your complexion into a grease-ball. Oil cuts oil, meaning it will help to dissolve the oil your sebaceous glands produce as well as makeup.

I’ve tried DHC Deep Cleansing Oil (my fave, although I dislike paying shipping), Boscia Makeup Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil, and Nude Skincare Cleansing Facial Oil. Lancome and Shu Umera have some that I have not yet tried but I’ve heard nothing other then good things about them. A fellow artist gave me a few little tubes of the Nude oil at an audition we were both attending and I fell in love with it instantly! I just couldn’t fathom spending $52 on something that was primarily soybean, vegetable, and olive oil.

Steph at Endorphins sent me a note about oil cleansing a while back and I wanted to share the information she’s bestowed upon me. Check out Steph’s article, which includes tips on mixing your own oil at home. I never thought to make my own cleansing oil! I concocted my own blend last night (10% castor, 60% sunflower, and 30% olive, although you don’t need to use both) and it felt like a combination of DHC’s and Nude. I’m totally excited by how much money I’m going to save.

What’s your type?

January 9, 2009

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What’s your type? Personally, I like tall boys with dark hair and brown eyes. Just so we’re on the same page,”tall” (for me) is generally anything over 5’5, being that I’m only 4’11. Learning my skin type, however, ended up being a little more painful then just liking what I see. I remember being 14, in the dermatologist office for the first time, staring at the tourture-esque tools on the table and scared to death. My derm told me I was acne-prone, oily, and needed extractions. I would spend the next few minutes trying not to cry from the pain of having my pores poked and prodded.

My bad derm experience aside, knowing your skin type can help you figure out the best way to care for your body’s largest organ. If you have oily skin, you certainly don’t want a moisturizer for dry types as it may be too rich and emollient. Below are simple and easy ways to determine your type–skin type, that is. 😉

Dry skin: Your skin may feet tight, especially after washing your face. Throughout the day your skin has a matte finish with no T-zone shine. You may also experience flaky patches and sometimes redness.

Oily skin: Yours skin looks shiny and feels slightly greasy to the touch a few hours after washing your face. Throughout the day you may notice more shine. The texture of your skin might be coarse, like the skin of an orange, due to large pore size.

Optimal (or normal) skin: You neither feel dry or oily. Your pores tend to not be enlarged. Skin tone is often times even with zero to little redness.

Sensitive: Your skin tends to be easily irritated. You may have mild to severe redness (rosacea) and experience a sensitivity to some products. Skin is delicate and can turn red easily.

Combination skin: If you experience two of the above skin types, you may have combo skin. Combo skin types often need to treat their skin according to both types.

Acne prone skin: Anyone, regardless of skin type, can be acne prone. Oily skins tend to, on average, be more acne prone then others. “Acne prone” skin can be mild ( a few breakouts here and there)  to severe (cystic acne).

Still not certain what skin type you have? Try an easy little experiment: cleanse your skin as usual in the morning and follow your daily routine. Check in a mirror throughout the day to monitor shine. If your entire face looks shiny, you are oily. If you have no shine at all and your skin feels tight, you are most likely dry. If your face feels neither oily or dry, you are optimal. If you experience any of the above types, you are combo.

Next up: The best ways to care for your specific skin type.

Skin physiology

January 6, 2009

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Before we delve into the perfect products for your skin, we first must go over basic skin physiology.

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