5 Budget Beauty Bargains We Love

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Don't be a product snob! I used to be.

To think of the products I missed out on because of the notion that "I only use organic/green/luxury/natural/beautifully packaged" products. Enough already.

The drugstore, Target, Walmart, Amazon, and your local grocery store may very well just have some of the best beauty and skincare products you've ever tried.


Here are five freakin' fantabulous products you'll regret not trying:

Freeman Polishing Charcoal + Black Sugar Gel Mask + Scrub -- If this product nixed the synthetic fragrance, it'd be near skincare perfection. I have tried so many charcoal masks, from Beautycounter and Origins to GlamGlow and The Body Shop and Posh. None are as good as the Freeman for just $3.27. Seriously. I have used this one for 2 weeks now and love it more each time. There are multiple skin-perfecting ingredients, including Kaolin, Banana Fruit Extract, Papaya, Raspberry, and more. It helps to pull out the "gunk" from your pores, but does so gently. It scores an A+ in my book.

There are many amazing drugstore mascaras. I love Maybelline Full & Soft and L'Oreal Voluminous. Another tried and true was a repurchase of Rimmel Extra Super Lash. It had been more than 10 years since I last used it and I had a HORRIBLE budget mascara (Essence Beauty in black & mint green tube) that was the worst purchase ever in recent memory. I stumbled upon a two pack of Rimmel at Walmart for $4.47 & bought it. It's really lovely.

Speaking of Essence Beauty, it's not all bad! While I didn't like the mascara, I love the Make Me Brow. It is a gel brow mascara and it is a great dupe for Lancome Modele Sourcils. I use it over my NYX Brow Sculpt & Contour.

Another rave -- at Walmart, I found LA Color Craze Nail Polish. I bought shade 788. I had low expectations for this since it was $0.98, but it is actually pretty good. Well worth the buck and much better than other cheap polishes like Sinful Colors. It's not Essie, OPI, Butter or Zoya, but it is a great pedi color.

Lastly, I have mentioned Alpha Skincare before. It's high end caliber, well-formulated skincare at an affordable price. I use their AHA cream daily and the Enhanced Wrinkle Repair Cream (.15% Retinol) at night. It is a great gentle retinol with an effective concentration for sensitive skin and at the right pH. It works. Try it!

The Beauty Writer's Guide to Exfoliation: Under $20 Edition

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Exfoliation is one of the most overlooked steps on people’s skincare regimens. It is also one of the most important. People seem to be aware of the fact that using an exfoliant is crucial, but they are often unsure of why it’s necessary.

An Intro to an Essential Skin Care Step

The skin that you are seeing right now is actually dead skin cells. It sounds far-fetched, but your skin sheds approximately 35,000 skin cells per minute. It is part of a 28-cycle where our skin is constantly exfoliating itself. This process slows down around the age of 35 and skin may appear bumpy or uneven and dull as if it has lost its glow.

These skin symptoms are caused by an accumulation of dead skin cells on the sratum corneum, or the top most layer of the skin. When we exfoliate the skin, we are speeding up cell turnover by sloughing off the accumulated dead skin cells. The result? A fresher, more radiant complexion with a smoother texture.

Exfoliation also helps your other skin care products work better. Picture an old door that you would like to repaint. The door is peeling, with layers of paint and environmental debris. If you attempted to paint over the door, the door would still be peeling and worn. It would be uneven and the painted would not be smooth and flat. Instead, what would you do first? To get a smooth paint finish, chances are you would scrape off the old paint, sand it down, and prep it for the rest of your painting.

This concept can be applied to your skin. If your skin is dull and uneven with an accumulation of dead skin cells, your other skin care products will not work as efficiently. Once you have exfoliated, however, the active ingredients in your skin care treatments will penetrate more deeply and reach the pores. Another perk? Your skin will look younger with regular exfoliation.

Mechanical vs. Chemical: Which is better?

There are two main varieties of exfoliation, each with its own advantages. It’s a matter of finding the best treatment for your skin’s needs.

What does the Derm say?

I recently talked to board-certified dermatologist Dr. R. Sonia Batra of Batra Dermatology in Santa Monica, CA to get the scoop on skin sloughing. She broke down the two key types of exfoliation -- mechanical and chemical -- and explained the benefits of each.

Mechanical Exfoliation

Mechanical exfoliation, or physical exfoliation, uses scrubs, sponges, microdermabrasion and brushes to buff off dead skin cells. Dr. Batra recommends this form of exfoliation to older people whose skin is becoming dry or showing signs of dullness, as opposed to those with oily and acne prone skin.

Just say NO to nutshells: What to look for in a manual exfoliant

  • When choosing a facial scrub, be sure it is free of nut shells, as they can scratch the skin and do more harm. If it contains nuts, be sure it says "flour" after it on the ingredients list.
  • Avoid scrubs with polyethelene beads, as these are bits of plastic that harm the earth. 
  • Look for natural fibers in sponges and brushes as opposed to synthetic. 
  • Mechanical exfoliation should be done no more than twice a week. 

Products to try:

Acure Organics Brightening Facial Scrub is right around $10 and if gentle and effective. This reminds me of the brightening scrub from 100% Pure, but I like this one more and it is much less expensive. It is rich in antioxidants, including pomegranate, blackberry, and acai. Walnut shell flour very carefully scrubs, while lemon peel helps brighten and exfoliate, This one also contains Rooibos and kelp.

One Love Organics Cleansing Sponge is made of 100% pure plant fibers and bamboo charcoal to gently exfoliate and clean the pores. Simply apply your gentle cleanser to the sponge and use instead of a traditional washcloth.

Chemical Exfoliation

Chemical exfoliation is different. You may hear it referred to as chemical peeling, even though a true chemical peel is not a procedure one would do at home. A chemical exfoliant involves the use of skin care products formulated with hydroxy acids (alpha, beta, etc.), retinoids, or enzymes to loosen the connection between skin cells and stimulate cell turnover. Chemical exfoliation can remove several layers of skin, help correct sun damage, and treat wrinkles. Dr. Batra recommends this type of exfoliation is for acne prone skin. NEVER use a manual (scrubby) exfoliant on acne. It is one of the worst things you can do!

Choosing the right chemical exfoliant

  • Beta hydroxy acid (look for salicylic acid) is best for acne, blackhead, whiteheads and rosacea. BHAs, unlike other hydroxy acids, can penetrate and unclog the pores. Another benefit of BHAs is that they are anti-bacterial. 
  • Alpha hydroxy acids are best for sun-damaged or dry skin. These acids cannot unclog pores. Of the different AHAs, glycolic has the smallest molecular size and is best able to penetrate the skin. 
  • Retinol (topical Vitamin A) works to encourage cell turnover from the deepest layers up, as opposed to working primarily on the outer layers. It is effective for deeper wrinkles. 
  • Fruit enzymes are ideal for congested skin. Looks for products containing pineapple or papaya, because they contain bromelain and papain to lift off dead skin cells. 

Chemical exfoliants to try at home:

 AHA/BHA -  Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Night Pads are the perfect sloughing cocktail. Glycolic acid helps to improve the look of patchy, flaky skin while the salicylic acid works to unclog bacteria from the pores. Hyaluronic acid (not an exfoliant -- but plumps and softens). These come in pad form and are very affordable.

RETINOL - Alpha Skincare Enhanced Wrinkle Repair Cream with 0.15% Retinol  targets deep lines and wrinkles over time using a stable form of retinol. The packaging is great, as it properly protects the retinol to keep it stable. I use this one every night and it works as well as products 5 times more expensive.

FRUIT ENZYMES - There are a couple enzyme based exfoliants I love, but not this affordably priced. The one I am really loving that is super affordable is Garden of Wisdom Pineapple Red Wine Enzyme Gel. You leave this light, gel-like mask on and the enzymes do their magic, lifting off the dead skin cells. Burgundy wine is also present.

SALICYLIC ACID - For an exfoliant that is strictly BHA based, you cannot go wrong with Humane BHA Clarifying Toner Blackhead and Pore Minimizer Salicylic Acid 2%. On Amazon, it is around $18 and the ingredients are very good.

You can get too much of a good thing.

A word of caution when it comes to skin exfoliation. Many people are so happy with the results they see from their exfoliation that they decide to do it daily instead of as recommended. Excessive exfoliation can damage the skin and even make you look older. Use your products only as recommended and you’ll see your long-lost glow beginning to return.

Posh Mask Review

Thursday, June 1, 2017

I have talked about Perfectly Posh on the blog here before. I first tried this line of skin pampering products back before Christmas 2014, when I tried a chocolate scented body cream and the Caffeinator Skin Stick. I have ordered on and off and I joined Posh to get a seller discount briefly back in 2015. Posh has some really good stuff!

As you know if you're a regular reader, my day job is as a magazine beauty writer. I love some of the products so much that I have even featured them in my recommendations in magazines. Smashing Good Pumpkin and the Daily Grind Body Scrub are two of these products I have mentioned in print.

When I found out from my dear friend Steph that her niece, Bri Connaughton is a Posh consultant, I knew I had to get right on it and TELL YOU.

Posh makes some incredible products and Bri is The Beauty Writer's go-to Posh girl from here on out and I want her to be yours, too. In my opinion, though, the brand really excels at formulating some top-notch masks, so I am focusing on those today.

I was recently compiling a list of favorite masks to share my for the face and body with you and realized that half of my favorite skin masks are from Posh, so let's dish.

It is VERY rare that when I am making a list of favorite products (such as mascaras or conditions, for example) that half of my favorites would ever be from one brand -- in fact, I have never done that before. Posh hits a home run with their masks, though, and I wanted to share my thoughts with you.

Apricots Overnight is actually my favorite skin mask in ANY price range. As someone who has been in the skincare field for more than 20 years, I have had access to professional and boutique brands and Apricots Overnight really is an incredible product.

First of all, it contains a cocktail of proven anti-aging ingredients such as Acetyl Hexapeptide and luxurious Argan Oil. Protective sunflower seed oil is rich in antioxidants to help fight free radical damage, while Sodium Hyaluronate (AKA hyaluronic acid) holds 1000 times its weight in water. WHy does that matter? Well, it matters because as we get older, our own level of hyaluronic acid is greatly reduced, which causes a loss of elasticity. The result is looser, sagging skin with lines and wrinkles forming. When you apply a skincare product with hyaluronic acid like this mask, it helps replenish lost moisture and prevents new moisture loss. It is also known for giving skin a plumper, healthier appearance. 

Additionally, aloe vera soothes irritated skin and jasmine flower has been shown to help improve the appearance of scars, including those left behind from acne. 

Another standout ingredient in Apricots Overnight is CoEnzyme Q10 (Ubiquinone), which is an enzyme with antioxidant benefits. It is also a proven anti-aging skincare ingredient with many years of research behind it.

What I really love about this mask is the fact that it is a mask that you leave on while you are sleeping. It is a proven fact that skin cells work their magic most effectively at night. While you are getting some ZZZs, your skin is actually working really hard. 

Says dermatologist Dr. Howard Murad: 

"While cells repair and rebuild at all stages of sleep, the majority of cell turnover and regeneration occurs during deep REM [rapid eye movement] sleep."

After you cleanse your face at night, apply a layer of this mask and leave on overnight. Rinse clean in the morning. I personally use this mask twice a week, but you may find that more or less works best for you. A little goes a long way with this product. Mine lasts me for several months and at $22 per tube, you are left with skin that feels buttery soft and smooth and is dewy and plump in the morning. If you can only buy ONE product from Posh, trust me when I say that you need to snap this one up from Bri YESTERDAY. ---Apricots Overnight

The Stripper -- Let me preface this with a plea: For the love of all things holy, please DO NOT use this one on your face.

I see photos of it on Instagram and then people want to know why their skin is burning. It is NOT a facial mask. The Posh website clearly states this. The esthetician in me begs you to stop applying it to your face (trust me, your skin will thank you down the road) and use it the way it was intended. Now that I have gotten that off my chest, this product is the ONLY mask that I use on my body regularly. 

About 20 years ago, I started using an expensive body mud called Borghese Fango Active Mud. It was a splurge, but it made me feel like I was having a mud treatment at the spa. I used it twice a week as part of my regular "spa nights" at home. I had never found anything I liked that was similar, so I continued to purchase it. Since I have tried Stripper, though, I have not reached for my Fango mud. That is a big deal, my friends. In fact, we moved to this house a week before Christmas last year and I still have not unpacked that jar.

So just why would you want to use a body mask like The Stripper Detox Body Mud? I mentioned earlier that I like to have mud masks on my body at the spa. Let's face it, though, I don't have time or the desire to strip down naked anymore and have a stranger rub me with mud. It's just not happening. It was one thing when I worked at a spa and could have it done for free, but I'd rather get mud-rubbed in the privacy of my own bathroom, thank you very much.

The ingredients in muds such as these help draw out environmental impurities from the skin. Charcoal, for example, has myriad skin benefits when used in a mask. Activated charcoal has the ability to "attract" skin impurities, pulling them from the skin. These are the same impurities that can trigger breakouts, a dull complexion, and skin congestion. 

Are you oily? Do you suffer from the embarrassing -- but very common -- acne on your back or butt? Then you will likely see a dramatic visible improvement after a few applications of this mask.

Charcoal is believed to help expedite wound healing and soothe inflammation, too, so that is another big perk.

There is also kaolin in The Stripper. Kaolin, a clay that is naturally occurring, is oil-absorbing, tightening, and anti-aging. A mud mask like this is great to get the skin from the neck down looking healthy and radiant. 

A tip: Get yourself a dry skin brush and use that first, then apply your mud. The brushing boosts skin circulation and will help the mud work even more effectively.

The Stripper is going to quickly before your favorite mud mask for the body! A large jar is just $24.
Get it here ---> The Stripper

Smashing Good Pumpkin

If you are oily, acne-prone or combination, you will adore this mask. It is a such a fantastic product that I wrote about it in the September 2015 issue of Cosmo Biz:

I love this mask because it contains Salicylic Acid, which is oil soluble and can get into the pores and help clean out the bacteria. Tea tree oil is naturally antibacterial, while the pumpkin contains Essential Fatty Acids and antioxidant Vitamin E, which can help to regulate oil production. 

In addition to being an exceptional mask for those with acne, it is also a good choice for those who are aging. I would recommend this for those going through the hormonal changes of menopause, which is actually a time when many women experience acne. The carotenoids in the pumpkin fruit (yes, it is a fruit!) will help improve skin cell turnover and make your skin look fresher and renewed.

Smashing Good Pumpkin ---; Find it here.

While Posh has so much more than just masks, the masks are my most favorite products, so try them without reservation. Shop with Bri and tell her The Beauty Writer sent you.

Yes, your oily skin really needs oil

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Yes, your oily skin really needs oil!

What we’re about to say may have you scratching your head, because it seems counterproductive.

Your oily skin needs oil. Forget everything you have heard in the past about avoiding oil at all costs if your skin is oily. In fact, you may be doing your pores a major disservice by omitting oil from your skincare routine. For years, people have shunned oil and had a real fear of it, believing that adding oil to already oily skin would only make matters worse. The opposite is actually true.

Oily skin is shiny and often looks greasy because there is so much excess sebum. It is more prone to acne breakouts, as it tends to be congested. Oily skin affects your makeup’s ability to stay put on the skin, and it even more negatively impacts self esteem.

If you look at the skin care products marketed toward those with oily skin that have been around for years, you will notice something they all share in common: harsh and drying ingredients. If you have ever tried them, you will know that most of them end up making your oily skin look even worse. There is a reason for this. The harsh ingredients in traditional oily skin products strip away the skin’s natural oils. When this happens, your oil glands overcompensate and produce even more oil. In other words, by trying to eliminate oily skin, you are actually causing your pores to produce even more oil.

Research suggests that using face oils for oily skin may be the solution. Your oil glands will find balance with gentle, non-clogging oils. Many skincare oils contain antibacterial and anti-inflammatory ingredients to soothe and balance oily skin. The right plant-based oils will help to eliminate toxins and ingredients that increase the likelihood of skin congestion.

Don’t be afraid of oil! It is just what your oily and combination skin craves!

The 5 Best Face Oils for Oily and Combination Skin

1. Biossance 100% Squalane Oil is just incredible. I have tried many "pure squalane" oils before and they are NOT created equal. This product from Biossance was formerly known as the Revitalizer. It is amazeballs. I absolutely love this oil. Why squalane? It is a very stable oil, which is essential. Unlike many other popular oils (even argan), it is a 100% saturated oil, so it is even more shelf stable than the good old standby coconut oil. It is ideal for those with an uneven skin tone, roughness, and acne scars from oily skin. It nourishes rough patches, making skin look smoother and softer without increasing sebum production. Note: Squalane is NOT the same as squalene, which should be avoided.

2. Belif Tea Tree Oil is best for those with oily skin who are trying to combat pimples. Tea tree oil is naturallly ant-bacterial. Plus, it is scientifically proven to work as well as harsh benzoyl peroxide, making it an excellent spot treatment. This product also adds in rosemary, chamomile, and lavender.

3. Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil is considered by many to be the gold standard, as it has been around for decades. I have used Clarins Lotus Oil for 20 years! It purifies, improves skin texture, and reduces the appearance of large pores without causing irritation. It is the perfect choice for those with oily skin that is beginning to exhibit the signs of aging.

4. Dr. Hauschka Clarifying Day Oil is just what your skin is begging for if it is irritated, red, and inflamed. Wheat germ and calendula help calm and soothe, while neem oil helps ease oil production without stripping natural emollients.

5. Are you looking for an overnight treatment to work its magic while you get your beauty sleep? Origins High-Potency Night-A-Mins Skin Refining Oil contains salicylic acid, which can penetrate the pores and help lift out bacteria. It also is rich in antioxidants to protect the skin from environmental contaminants. This is a great choice for combination skin prone to oily patches.

The 5 Best Products to Minimize the Look of Pores

Friday, May 26, 2017

One of the most common questions estheticians are asked is, “How can I make my pores look smaller?”

Large pores can wreak havoc on a person’s self esteem. If you could banish your pores with ease, I think it’d be on pretty much everyone’s wish list. The idea that you can shrink pores, sadly, is just a myth. The size of your pores is largely determined by your genetics. You can temporarily minimize the look of large pores, but there is nothing that can be done to permanently shrink them, no matter how tempting ad copy makes a product sound.

So just what can you do to minimize the appearance of large pores? There are many steps you can take.

  • Exfoliate the skin. Just lifting out excess bacteria and sebum by exfoliating can help minimize the look of pores. Look for products with beta hydroxy acid (also called salicylic acid) to help unclog pores, leaving them cleaner and smaller. Glycolic acid, mandelic acid, and fruit enzymes are other effective exfoliants. While they cannot penetrate the pores the way salicylic acid can, just the act of a thorough sloughing goes a long way.
  • You can visit the dermatologist’s office or your favorite skin therapist for a chemical peel. Peels can help refine and resurface an uneven texture, making pores look less visible.
  • When searching for skincare treatments, look for products containing Retinol. This ingredient is derived from Vitamin A and, when applied topically, can help slow down and minimize sebum production. Less oil production equals less visible pores.
  • Be sure you are using a broad spectrum sunscreen. UV damage affects the pores, which is a little known skincare fact. The sun’s rays weaken cells and decrease elasticity, making your skin looser with larger pores.
  • When you apply makeup, be sure to apply a skin smoothing primer. These silicone-based products help to minimize the appearance of pores while creating an even surface. Today’s primers can make even the largest pores look nearly invisible.

There are so many well-formulated products on the market to help with this skin concern. Which pore minimizer is best for you? We’re sharing 5 favorites:

1. Skinfood Peach Sake Pore Serum is the perfect recipe for those who are looking for both anti-aging and pore minimizing benefits. Featuring Vitamin A and Vitamin C to lessen the appearance of fine lines, this serum also contains reparative ingredients to help improve overall texture and tone. These include Argan Oil, gotu kola, and other tropical extracts.

2. Make pores disappear before your eyes with Dr. Brandt Pores No More Refining Primer. Apply to cleansed skin under makeup to help blur imperfections and provide an even canvas for selfie-ready makeup all day long.

3. Aloette Aloe Pure Restorative Enzyme Peel is a gentle, yet effective exfoliant that helps to brighten dullness as it exfoliates lackluster, flaky skin that gets trapped in the pores and leads to breakouts. Natural fruit enzymes, such as papaya and pineapple help reveal smoother, silkier skin as it lifts away the dead skin cells that make pores appear larger.

4. If your skin could use a moisture boost, Skinceuticals Daily Moisture plumps the skin with hyaluronic acid, to help repair collagen. Natural thyme, horsetail and licorice increase hydration while reducing the appearance of pores.

5. Beautycounter No. 3 Balancing Facial Mask is your best choice for oily skin. Naturally astringent activated charcoal helps to purify, detoxify, and reduce oil as it minimizes the appearance of large, deep pores. Salicylic acid helps exfoliate and kaolin clay draws out excess moisture.

New Subscription Boxes from Seed Body Care

Monday, May 8, 2017

You guys, guess what? Seed Body Care recently launched a body care subscription box and I could not be more pleased with the contents! My May Beneficial Blends Box just arrived today and I wanted to share the contents. The theme of this month's box is Dream Land. Before I continue, though, time is of the essence, as the special introductory pricing ends the day after tomorrow.

Just how does this subscription beauty box differ from others?

  • You always get at least 1 full sized Seed product
  • You always receive 2 to 3 products that are the blend of the month
  • Freebies! A gift! More!
  • Gorgeous, gift-worthy packaging
  • Neat info cards to explain the blends and the products

How much does the Beneficial Blend Box cost?

  • 6 months for an intro price of $17.95 per month (free shipping, regular price is $19.95)
  • 3 months for an intro price of $19.95 per month (free shipping, regular price is $22.95)
  • 1 month for an intro price of $22.95 per month (regular price is $24.95)

What is in the May box? Watch my video for more details.


Review: Jane Iredale Mineral Quad Bronzer

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Let's talk about the Jane Iredale Mineral Quad Bronzer today.

I have been a Jane Iredale fan for years now. Everything from their BB cream to lip gloss to powders and face mists have all been beautifully formulated with exquisite packaging and with a luxurious feel. My newest product from the company is no exception. Love, love, love this product.

Okay, ladies. My skin is very fair. I am equal parts Irish and Greek and I definitely reflect my Irish ancestry as far as my complexion goes. When I "get some color", it isn't a golden glow or beachy tan. Nope, it's somewhere between salmon and lobster.

I have trouble with bronzers. They tend to show on my skin looking orange a la Donald Trump.

What's a girl to do when she wants to have some color, but to have it look natural? Jane Iredale Rose Dawn Bronzer was made for girls like me. It gives a color boost without saying, "OMG, why did Karley dye her skin orange?" 

Ingredient bonus: A bronzer with pine bark extract? Sign me up!

The ingredients are amazing, the texture is luxurious, and a little goes a long way. The best part? You rarely see this ingredient in color cosmetics, but this bronzer contains Pine Bark Extract, which is anti-aging and rich in bioflavonoids. I have written before at length about the beauty benefits of pine bark, including in a recent magazine article.

If you are looking for a new bronzer, I highly recommend checking out the Mineral Quad Bronzer, which come in 4 shades, from Jane Iredale.

The 5 Best Drugstore Makeup Products

Monday, April 24, 2017

My makeup collection is a mix of drugstore, Indie beauty brands, and high end. You're just as likely to grab a Yves St. Laurent product as a NYX when blindly reaching into my bag. What I love about makeup is that, in 2017, you are very able to find super affordable products, but with beautiful textures and decent ingredients.

Here are 5 stand out products that I highly recommend

1. The Wet N Wild Au Naturel Bare Necessities Palette is awesome. The colors are true, blend beautifully, are soft & highly pigmented with very little fall out. $5 and this is a great dupe (but higher quality!!!) for the Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette!

2. My FAVORITE new find! Eek! I love the Bare Minerals Bare Skin Serum Foundation. My shade is Linen. It is super thin, like the old Lancome Eau de Teint -- like a watercolor paint. Anyway, the Bare Minerals is $29.50 & the bottle runs out fast. The e.l.f. Cosmetics  Beautifully Bare Foundation Serum is a dead ringer. Trust me. They are nearly identical. My shade is Fair/Light. Retails for 8 bucks. Get it! I apply it with a damp e.l.f. Selfie Ready Stipple Brush.

3. Another e.l.f. favorite of mine is the Lavender Brightening Primer. My two go to primers- Stila and Laura Mercier - have gone ununsed since I started using this one. $6

4. Brows on fleek are easy peasy with the NYX Sculpt & Highlight Brow Contour. It is so soft, but firm. It stays put, looks natural, and is perfect. My two most favorite brow products are from Milk Makeup and It Cosmetics. This one is just as good, if not better. Oh, and it blows Anastasia Beverly Hills out of the water. True story.

5. Last, but not least --> my new Holy Grail lipstick!!!! I love Revlon Super Lustrous lipstick. Always have. The Iced Amethyst is my new go-to shade! Here it is on me --

10 Timeless Beauty Favorites

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Oh my goodness, I first started using Lancome Modele Sourcils when I was freelancing for Lancome as a college junior. Over the past 20+ years in the beauty industry, I have used countless brow groomers. Modele Sourcils in Taupe is my go-to to keeps these brows in place.

I first started using Bi-Facil to remove eye makeup with my very first Lancome gift with purchase. Yes, you can use more affordable options, from natural beauty brands to high end -- even plant-based oils in your kitchen. Bi-Facil is magical. A little goes a very long way and it thoroughly and gently removes even the most stubborn of waterproof mascaras.

Estee Lauder Double Wear is in my top 5 foundations of all time. I started using this back in 1998 while working for Estee Lauder. Bone is my shade. They now have a couple different versions of Bone (I get the warmer toned to neutralize the pink in my skin) and it is a perfect match. Double Wear is fragrance free, won't budge, and looks as flawless at 9pm as it did at 9am. It has beautiful texture, too. This one won't rub off on your collar, nor does it fade throughout the day. It is my favorite higher end long-wearing formula.

Another Estee Lauder favorite of mine is Advanced Night Repair. I have used Advanced Night Repair on and off since 1997. This is the best higher end anti-aging serum on the market and has only gotten better over the years. I especially appreciate that this one is a fragrance free product. When I was working for Lauder, this was ALWAYS first on my list of gratis products because I loved it so much. It really, truly works when used consistently.

I recently repurchased the blush shade that I wore on my wedding day: Clinique Soft-Pressed Powder Blush in Plum Gorgeous. Oh my, how I had forgotten what a beautiful product this was. I hadn't worn it in so many years. Since I have been much more flexible with what I use (because of acknowledging science over fear when it comes to ingredients), I have started falling in love again with some really lovely products from my past. Yes, there are more "sexy" or "trendy" brands and I use them and love them, but there just some really amazing products I am so happy to be using again.

Speaking of Clinique, this is the very first Clinique product I ever purchased. I was in high school and it is still in my makeup bag (not the same tube, of course). Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey is a cult favorite -- and with good reason. It's nourishing and it's sheer, yet when you apply it to your lips it just transforms to a beautiful wash of plum.

My first full-time job out of college was as a Clarins Counter Manager. That is when I was first introduced to the concept of using oils on the face to help balance oily skin. It went against my esthetics training. I thought it was crazy until I tried it myself. I had pretty oily skin back then and I was apprehensive about trying the oil. I was sold after the first couple of applications. Clarins offers other oils, but Lotus Face Treatment Oil is my favorite to help balance excess sebum and keep it in check.

Another Clarins favorite is Beauty Flash Balm. I have been purchasing it on and off for 2 decades. It truly adds a boost of radiance and health to your skin. It was an essential for me when I was in my early 20s working at Clarins after long nights out so I looked wide-eyed for work, and it was a must when I was a sleep-deprived mom to two babies. It continues to be an essential for me now at 41. Clarins Beauty Flash Balm actually works best OVER your makeup. If you dab it on, it doesn't disturb your makeup and gives a wonderful radiance.

I will never forget my introduction to *magic Liquid Powder from Prescriptives. I was in my 20s working as a makeup artist at Estee Lauder at the Eastview Mall Kaufmann's store. On my lunch break, I wandered over to visit my friend at the Prescriptives counter, which was located by the women's fragrances. I thought she might be ready to head to the food court, but she was busy unpacking a box of the latest Prescriptives release -- *magic Liquid Powder. I remember her telling me about it and then she offered to let me try some. I almost laughed at the idea that a powder could be a liquid. I mean, it looked just like regular old loose powder to me. When I felt it applied with a brush, I was in awe. It felt like liquid. And when I looked in the mirror, my face was absolutely radiant. I bought my first jar. Now, 18 years later, I am still using it. There were years I did not -- but there really was never anything out there that was the same concept.

Absolutely underrated these days is the skincare brand most loved by my grandmother: Elizabeth Arden. Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant has been around FOREVER. Well, not forever, but since 1930! Yes, it has petrolatum. It isn't cutting edge or glamorous, nor does it possess the "it factor". Do you know something, though? It is a darn good product for weathered, chapped skin. I like to keep one of these tubes with me in the wintertime to really protect my skin from low humidity and dehydration. 

It's Not Easy Being Green (Oh, but it is!)

Friday, March 17, 2017

It's not easy being green... Actually, it was easy to put this beauty collage together for St. Patrick's Day today! 🍀

The Best Peel Ever!

Aloette Pure Enzyme Peel Girls, this is the most fan-freakintastic facial enzyme peel on God's green earth. Click here if you want to try it and I'll hook you up!

You need this in your life. Aloe vera is the #1 ingredient to calm and soothe, plus there is papain, a fruit enzyme to slough off dead skin cells. You will also find
hyaluronic acid, cucumber fruit, lemon to brighten and lighten age spots without harsh chemicals, as well as pineapple. Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain. This helps reveal a natural luminosity and glow. There is NO better peel, no better aloe face product out there. 

Restore pH with Seed

Next, we have Seed Body Care Lemon Balm toner. I have talked about this one before. Soothing, calms hypersensitive skin, cools, balances pH🍃

Bargain Skincare 

Who doesn't love a bargain?💲 Now, I know you are going to be skeptical about this. Just trust me, my friends. Let me preface this by saying, the scent is strong. Ugh. Thankfully, it isn't floral and it dissipates quickly. Do yourself a favor: RUN, don't walk, to ALDI and find this on an endcap by maxi pads and the acetaminophen. 

One of the best kept secrets in all of the beauty industry is Lacura skincare, which is like a mix of the old Orlane and LaPrairie high end brands. Lacura is under FOUR BUCKS, but the products are quite lovely! The last time I ran into Aldi to grab some berries, I noticed the Q10 Day Cream for $3.99. What is in this paraben-free, American made, cruelty free moisturizer? There is antioxidant Coenzyme Q10, bioflavonoids, aloe, panthenol, soy, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, papaya, jojoba and elderberry. You will love how lightweight, yet rich, this feels!

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