Saturday, July 13, 2013

Find of the Week!

Every week I bring you a great buy for a great price and this week is no exception. Sally Hansen Insta-Dri nail polish--dries in seconds, comes in 32 fun colors and retails for about $4.00 at most drugstores. Perfect for those pedicures to show off your new sandals and perfect for touchups too!

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Nail Polish in Instant Iris

This stays for weeks with normal wear and looks smooth, not tacky.

Down sides: because of the quick-dri you need to be pretty steady-handed when applying or use more nail polish remover to fix any boo-boos. Other than that--perfect polish in great summer colors!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Must-Have Products to Take Camping

So your new boyfriend loves the great outdoors and the last time you went tent camping your biggest worry was how to fit your teddy bear in your backpack. Fear not, I have the low down on all the products you will need in your knapsack to keep yourself looking great without running water or a sink.

1. BB or CC Cream

A good beauty balm is a camping girl's best friend. If you are lucky enough to have subtle fine lines or slight skin discolorations, a BB Cream is the way to go. Most have light-reflecting pigments that make your skin look radiant without making him too suspicious that that glow comes out of a tube. They even have mattifying versions for those of us with excess oil.

If you have darker spots or redness from acne or rosacea, a BB Cream may not be enough. New CC Creams are a heavier-duty version that have more pigments for color correction and the same one-step application.

Sephora CC Cream--color correcting, moisturizing and comes in 7 colors!

2. An All-in-one Concealer

If you have dark circles (maybe from staying up late around the camp fire) and dark spots or hard to cover pimples, try a concealer that is liquid but not drying and the same tone as your skin. I recommend a stick concealer for dry skin or a liquid concealer for oily skin.

Body Shop's All-in One Concealer is natural and comes in 4 colors

3. Dry Shampoo

If you are lucky enough not to have frizz, dry shampoos are your friend to get that fresh feeling without the shower. Most come in easy spray bottles (and even travel sizes) and work to fight oil and smell great. Just spray in at the roots and comb through. For those of us with frizz problems, I recommend dry shampoo in conjunction with a wet comb to bring back some of the style from the day before.

Suave Dry Shampoo--$4 and it works great, smells great

4. Make-up removing clothes

For removing that day's grime and the first day's eye makeup, a good make-up remover clothe is perfect. No water needed, these little buddies are usually enough to take off eye makeup, dirt and oil. They even double as a facial cleanser for the next morning and a good sponge bath. There are moist versions for dry skin and oil-fighters for oily skin. I recommend a gentle clothe or sensitive skin clothe since these are being used on the eye area as well.

Neutrogena Cleansing Cloths in Night Calming--great for eye makeup and dirt as well as redness. $5.99 from

5. Combo Eyeliner/brow Pencil

If you are someone who feels completely naked without your eyes defined, go for a travel-sized pencil that will do double duty to lightly line your eyes and your brows. Try to find one with a brow brush on one side. Don't overdo it--just lightly line the top lid a blend well.

Tarte Brow Pencil--3 great colors for eyes & brows

6. Lip balm with a hint of color

Lip balm is the perfect covert operator--it looks like a chap stick and works like a gloss to provide shin and a hint of color. If you are someone with lips that disappear into your face, this miracle product will make them re-appear. And it fits in your jeans pocket!

Korres Lip Butter--7 great, glossy shades

Now, the practical: get all the primping done you can before you go--waxing, leg shaving, mustache bleaching, face peeling and tanning. Either wake up before the man to do your primping or find a little private time. No one would blame you if you say you need time behind the bushes!

Monday, July 8, 2013

The 5 Best Household Products for Skin Care

Here are 5 easy ways to make your own at-home facial masks and skin care remedies using products from your kitchen or under your sink. Each works to brighten, tighten and calm the skin for a great complexion.

1. Baking Soda

It is a little known fact that baking soda makes a great exfoliant. It can be little harsh so I recommend diluting a little in water and adding a little more dry to the palm of your hand. Wet face with warm water first and then work in the baking soda with your fingertips, concentrating on your problem areas. Your skin will be smoother after 1 application.

Down sides: it can be a little harsh. Try to limit the treatment to 1 a week.

2. Oatmeal

So good for dry skin, oatmeal can make a great mask. Wet your face with warm water and make up the oatmeal in hot water or milk. The heat opens the pores and the oatmeal moisturizes the skin as well as tightens.

Down sides: make sure the hot oatmeal isn't hot enough to burn the skin. Keep it warm, but not too hot.

3. Eggs

Egg whites make a great tightening mask and the yokes make a great moisturizing mask. You can separate the yokes from the whites or leave together for both effects. Rinse clean skin with warm water and pat egg evenly onto skin with fingertips. Rinse off with cooler (but not cold) water. The cool water serves to close clean pores the way hot water opens them.

Down sides: egg shells carry salmonella. Be careful when handling eggs, especially the shells. Wash your hands afterward and don't get too near your mouth or eyes

4. Yoghurt

Great for moisturizing and for healing, yoghurt makes a fantastic mask. Use plain, unsweetened yoghurt and whip with a spatula to get a creamier effect. Leave the mask on for 5 minutes and see softer, moister skin.

Down sides: make sure to get unsweetened, plain yoghurt. Sticky, sweet yoghurts can have ingredients that irritate the skin.

5. Strawberries

Nature's acidic face peel. Take one strawberry, wash and spit open and then apply to clean skin. Leave on for 5 minutes before washing off. The natural acids eat away dead skin cells and leave smoother skin.

Down sides: don't leave on too long. It can irritate more sensitive skin and can redness.

As always, don't get carried away. Test a small part of your arm with any of these just in case your skin doesn't like the ingredient. Have fun and start experimenting!

Lips to Die For: a Lip Stick that Shines like a Gloss

It's Monday and that's make-up day! Time to bring you the best make-up products out there and in that spirit I have a high-pigment lip color that shines like a gloss but wears like a lip stick. Urban Decay Super-Saturated High Gloss Lip Color is highly pigmented and packs a vibrant punch with a glossy finish. It wears as long as your average lipstick, which could be extended with lip liner.
Courtesy of Sephora
I recommend pairing it with Urban Decay's 24/7 Lip Liner to extend the wear, like I have in the picture below.

Here I'm wearing F-Bomb (a fantastic neutral red) lined with 24/7 lip liner in Gash, a darker red. I've worn the combo from 9 am through 7 at night and eaten twice--only 1 touch up. 

Down sides: only a few shades, and not all of them match with a 24/7 lip liner color. I love Naked, is a shimmery natural color that is the best nude lipstick I own, however if I want it to last longer, I'll have to put a layer of lip liner under it and my choices are either play up the pink with "Wicked", a brighter pink shade of the 24/7 lip liner, or give it a brick undertone with "Midnight Cowboy", a dark brown-pink. It makes me search for perfect liner to match and that's not too kind on the wallet though Super Saturated's initial cost of $19 is not too shabby. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Find of the Week: the Best Bargain Product for Shiny Hair

Every week I will bring you one product that is kind to the wallet and works better than the spendy alternatives! This week it's my new favorite product line for shiny hair: Moroccan Argan Oil Shine System from Suave Professionals.

Courtesy of
I haven't tried Suave in many years but after reading this was the top pick for shine-inducing shampoos in a national magazine, I had to try it. The fact that it is about $4 a bottle in most retail stores can't hurt, right? I've tried Argan Oil infused products before and haven't always been impressed, but this shampoo-conditioner combo did what it claimed. My hair was super shiny and super soft. I find you can get most of the same results using just the shampoo or just the conditioner so if you need let's say a volumizing shampoo you can pair it with the shine conditioner and have the volume and the shine.

Down sides: the smell. It is a little baby-powdery for me, but it dissipates after an hour or so. I've found that if I just use the shampoo or the conditioner and not both, the scent is almost non-existent.

Top 5 Ways to Clear Skin Through the Decades

As a woman in my 30s, I have battled acne all my life. I have been following the fads as well as the advancements in skincare for the last 20 years. Here are a few top treatments I have used in the past--from grease busters to re-surfacers to drying lotions--and a few tricks to help your complexion from day to day.

1. The Pill

Image Courtesy of
Yes, the number 1 cause of acne breakouts is hormones, not, the foods you are eating or sweating too much at the gym. The pill can balance out your hormones and tame acne breakouts. This is the best way to tame your acne in your teens and 20s, when your hormones are fluctuating the most. Alternatives to the pill that give you the same dose of hormones, like the patch and certain implants can have the same effect, but the pill has been tried and true for decades.

Down sides: you have to take it at the same time every day and there are possible side effects as noted by your doctor or pharmacist. Just consult with your doctor to see which birth control option is best for you. There are a lot of different pills out there so ask you doctor which he/she recommends.

2. Benzoyl Peroxide

Photo Courtesy of
A common ingredient in acne-fighting creams and the main ingredient in Proactiv, benzoyl peroxide works to dry out acne and sterilize the area to prevent more breakouts from occurring. This treatment is great for someone who doesn't have sensitive skin and who has large pimples and oily skin. You can find "gentle" versions of creams and face washes that have smaller amounts of benzoyl peroxide. I recommend trying these first to see how your skin reacts and then moving to a higher dosage. I would also recommend trying 1 product with this ingredient, either a cream or a face wash and not both to prevent over-drying

Down sides: can over-dry your skin, especially sensitive skin. Because of its skin-bleaching properties, it can also bleach you clothes. Yes, bleach your clothes! So be very careful when using it and don't use it on your body unless you plan on only wearing polyester clothes that don't bleach and washing then separately for the rest of your life. Because of this, I only use a benzoyl peroxide cream (Terminator 10 with time-release medication) on my face and very sparingly. 

3. Salicylic Acid

This acid is naturally found in willow bark and acid foods like strawberries and works to peel off a layer of skin and speed skin regeneration. It can work wonderfully for people in their teens through their 40s and can been gentler than benzoyl peroxide for many. Unlike benzoyl peroxide, this doesn't stain your clothes so it is suitable for use on your body to fight those pimples that crop up under your bra strap or on your front or back. 

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Down sides: can be drying or irritating and is not recommended for pregnant women. Because it works to take off the surface layer of skin, it works great for little black heads and to reduce those larger pimples, but those with sensitive skin might find it too drying. The highest over-the-counter dosage is 2% so find either a face wash or a spot treatment that has 1% or less and work your way up to 2. Also, because it is closely related to aspirin it is usually not recommended for pregnant women.

4. Sulfur 

That's right, sulfur. There are quite a few masks and spot treatments out there with sulfur as an ingredient and they can work to dry a pimple out as wells as treat it. 

Courtesy of Sephora 
Many of these masks recommend using it as a spot or overnight treatment to diminish the size and look of pimples. They work for most people and are usually not too drying.

Down sides: the smell and not too effective. The sulfur smell can be too much for some people (my husband can't stand it). Also, the masks work to dry out the oil in the pimple and calm the skin. They don't usually work as fast as the stronger medicines like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. 

5. Tea Tree Oil

A natural ingredient, tea tree oil is an antiseptic and can work to heal pimples. Coupled with other calming ingredients like sulphur and green tea, it can work well to treat pimples after a breakout.

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Great for sensitive skin and safe for pregnant women, this ingredient can work best for certain skin types. 

Down sides: the smell, effectiveness. I love the smell of tea tree oil but for some reason it is too antiseptic-smelling for my husband so I have to cover up the scent before bed time. Also, it is not as strong of an ingredient so those of you with severe acne might not find it works as well as others. However, since it is safe for pregnant women (hormones in the 1st trimester can ravage the skin), I used Belli's spot treatment through pregnancy and an still using it today. I was the only thing that worked since my skin became too sensitive for even smaller doses of other meds. It works great to dry out pimples and counter redness. 

Bottom line:

Ask you doctor what would work best for you and try out a few different options. There are a lot of treatments out there and they don't all work for everyone. You'll have to keep trying until you find the right one for you. Until then, don't pick at your skin, concealer is your best friend and ease into new treatments to attain the best possible results!