The Only 3 Masks You Will Ever Need

Thursday, November 3, 2016

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 Blogger'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 Blogger sent you.

Stay tuned because in the next couple weeks, I will be doing a video blog on the skin sticks from Posh that you can get from Bri.

What's New From Seed Body Care?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Boxwalla Subscription Box Video Review

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Hello, beauties! It has been more than a month since my last blog post. Eek. Not what I wanted to happen. You know, I really miss my regular blogging. Back when I started the blog, Nick was 3 and Ben had just had his second birthday. Now Nick is a teenager and Ben just completed a marathon as part of a relay team -- he ran 8 miles in an hour and 17 minutes. Life has been busy. Moving, losing our old pooch, rescuing a puppy, homeschooling Nick, volunteering and my "day job" writing magazine articles and blogging for beauty brands has kept me, well, too busy.

I have been cutting back on other projects and my goal is to be back to DAILY blogging this fall. Part of something new will be doing some video teviews. I have only done ONE in the 9+ years that this blog has been here.

Let's try one today, why don't we?

Acne After 40

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

If you think only teenagers suffer from acne, think again. Your chance of developing acne rises as we approach menopause. You can thank your hormones if you start breaking out in your forties. If you have not dealt with acne since your teens, your experience is likely to be different at 40 than it was at 14.

In fact, the number of cases of women with adult acne is on the rise. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 25% of women in their forties and fifties struggle with acne. If you are one of the unlucky women dealing with acne after age forty, we have some tips.

1. Be aware of your menstrual cycle

Most cases of acne after age forty are linked to hormonal shifts. While menopause still may be several years off for you, your hormone levels are most likely fluctuating. If you still have your periods, it will be helpful to know when they might be starting.

Why? If you are fairly regular, you can take extra measures to help minimize your breakouts. Think of it as a pre-emptive strike of sorts. Hormonal acne often affects the chin area, so if you treat this area diligently for a few days prior to your menstrual cycle, you may be able to fend off a major breakout. Using an exfoliating product containing salicylic acid, for example, can help unclog the pores and prevent a major breakout from brewing. My favorite salicylic acid product is Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid.

2. Sign up for a yoga class

While stress does not cause new cases of acne, it can certainly aggravates existing ones. This is because stress makes the body produce excess levels of cortisol, which is an adrenal steroid. Finding ways to manage your stress more effectively may help reduce flare ups of acne. Take a walk by the ocean, meditate, take up painting or any other activity that makes you feel calm. Yoga is particularly helpful, as it not only can help reduce your levels of stress, but it involves physical activity.

3. Speaking of physical activity…

Many holistic health practitioners believe that exercise is the key to balancing your hormones. It would make sense to believe that hormonal acne is much less likely to occur without a hormonal imbalance. Regular physical activity is advised for weight management, lowering blood pressure, easing mood disorders and more. So lace up those sneakers and get moving. It may prevent some of those pesky hormonal breakouts!

4. Wash your face before bed

This should already be a must, but I know that so many people believe this is an unnecessary step if they do not wear makeup. This is not true. You still will have environmental contaminants, dirt and other types of grime present on the skin even if you cannot see them. If you go to bed with these on your skin, they will contribute to the likelihood that you will develop more acne, especially if you are already prone to the condition. The fact is that everyone needs to wash their face with a gentle facial cleanser before hitting the sheets. My personal favorite cleanser is the Advanced Botanicals Daily Facial Cleanser from Seed Body Care. In fact, I recommend their entire new facial regimen and personally use the cleanser, toner, and moisturizer.

5. Now is the time to treat your skin with great care

We are all busy. Sometimes it is so much easier just to grab whatever is handy in the shower and use that on your face. It is important to spend a few more minutes to take care of your skin, especially if you are suffering from acne after 40. More and more women this age find that they experience cystic acne, which can be painful and embarrassing. Following a solid skincare routine and sticking with it will help lessen breakouts, including unpleasant cystic acne. If you are feeling that you are "too busy" for a more detailed skincare regimen, consider an acne treatment kit. A good choice is the Exuviance Essentials Oily/Acne Prone Kit. When I used to freelance for this brand as an educator, I saw first-hand the dramatic results experienced by customers with cystic acne thanks to the potent, yet pretty gentle ingredients in Exuviance.

It's Just Another Mani Monday: Hand Care Edition

Monday, August 1, 2016

Hello, gorgeous! It's Mani Monday and I thought we'd talk about how you can have beautiful hands to go along with your favorite nail colors!

Proper skin care for the hands is a must to have the best looking manicure. Even the most gorgeous nail polish won’t hide the effects of dry or damaged hands and nails.

If your cuticles are ragged and the skin on your hands is dull, your mani won’t look as good as it should or could. Think of it this way — if your skin is flaky and dry, your makeup won’t look its best. It won’t apply smoothly and will look like what it is — makeup applied over dull, flaky skin. Makeup applies best over smooth, even skin that is primed for makeup. The same holds true for your hands. Unsightly cuticles and dry skin will take away for your beautiful manicure and prevent it from looking its best.

Never fear; I'm sharing 5 of my favorite tips for a beautiful manicure.

1. Remember that they are jewels, not tools.

My dear friend, Elizabeth, is a nail tech and I remember sitting in her chair when she was still a nail tech student. I was one of her “practice” clients, so to speak. She said how she had an instructor who drilled it into their heads that nails are “jewels, not tools.” This makes a whole lot of sense. Think of the abuse our nails take. I know that, as a mom, I have used my nails to separate Legos for my boys, just as I have opened pop-top cans with them. Don’t do it! That is not their purpose and you risk breaking them.

2. Gloves are your friend.

Be sure to wear gloves when you are gardening, cleaning the bathroom, and when you have your hands submerged in hot soapy water doing the dishes. The surfactants (cleansing agents) in dishwashing soap are often harsh and drying sulfates. These can cause weakness and brittleness to the nails.

3. Stay hydrated.

Yes, we all know that drinking water is important to our overall health. Did you know that it is essential to nail health as well? Water hydrates the nails, hair, and skin. If your nails seem brittle and break easily, very often dehydration is to blame. Be sure to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.

4. Pay special attention to your cuticles.

Cuticles are often overlooked, don’t you think? We use hand cream to help out our dry skin and we trim and file our nails, but so many of us neglect the cuticles.

Our cuticles actually are very important. They prevent microorganisms such as bacteria from getting into the nail bed, acting as a seal. In fact, your cuticles serve as an important line of defense against infection. When cuticles are dry, ragged or torn, infection is more likely. Pamper your nails with an emollient cuticle oil or cream. Be sure to massage into the cuticles regularly. I recommend doing so alongside your hand cream. Try to keep the cream or oil by your bed at night as a reminder to apply at least once a day. 

My top picks in cuticle and hand care: 

Seed Healthy Hand Cream (I love them all, but my stand-by is the Fragrance Free) is the ONLY hand cream we use in this house. For cuticles, I love the Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream. I have used it for about 15 years now. It lasts for months and is just $6.

5. Don’t forget to exfoliate.

As we get older, cell turnover slows down. This means that dead skin cells linger longer without a bit of assistance. When this happens, flakes are more evident and skin looks dull and ashy. While most of us take great care to use products such as scrubs or hydroxy acids on our face, the hands tend to be forgotten about. Use your favorite body scrub to exfoliate the dead skin cells. After exfoliation, you’ll notice that the once dry skin is radiant and with a more healthy glow. Maintain that glow by keeping hands moisturized and by regular skin exfoliation.

My top pick: Rachel's Plan Bee Body Polish in the Original scent. I use this from my neck to the tips of my toes. $20

Now that your nails and hands are in their best shape, you can choose your favorite nail color and know that your manicure will soon be getting lots of compliments!

Karley's favorite nail color brand:

I have tried so many nail colors over the years, from Wet N Wild to Chanel. My top pick is a brand called Mineral Fusion.

Mineral Fusion is 100% vegan, free of camphor, toluene, formaldehyde, and DBP. Each bottle is just $7.99.  My personal favorite shade is called Berried Gem and I wear this more than any other.

Boxwalla Review: Subscription Box Perfection

Monday, July 18, 2016

A few months back, I shared my thoughts on a new subscription box called Boxwalla. Since that post, I have had the opportunity to experience other beauty boxes from them and I wanted to share some of my thoughts -- and my favorite discoveries!

First, I would like to review my current box, which is from Boxwalla's Wandering Woman series. I am over the moon excited about this box because I am delighted by each and every product in this one. Have you ever received a subscription box before and your only reaction was a mix of "meh" and disappointment? I know you are sitting there nodding your head, especially if you are an Ipsy or Birchbox subscriber. I mean no offense to either of those services; it's just that I used to be routinely underwhelmed with each month's delivery and ultimately cancelled both. My experience with Boxwalla, on the other hand, has been quite the opposite.

After 9 years of blogging, THIS lipstick is my favorite

Before I review my current box, I want to share my holy grail lipstick with you! This was in a previous beauty box from Boxwalla that I just never had a chance to get to writing about. I would be remiss if I didn't  tell you about this lipstick, though.

In fact, it's the first time in years that I have had a color AND formula I was so smitten with that I actually hit the bottom of the tube. The last one that had that effect on me was the long-discontinued Estee Lauder Futurist Lipstick in Divine Wine that I first bought in 1999. Well, Axiology Natural Organic Lipstick is the best natural lipstick that I have come across in my nine years of blogging.

My shade is called Reflection, which was initially intimidating. If you look only at the photo on the website, it looks like a dark purple. On the lips, it translates to a beautifully cheerful ripe berry. It is my go-to shade and I am about to place an order for another tube. I just cannot bear to be without this one, despite having dozens of similar shades in my arsenal. This is just the one. See below:

I say that this is lipstick perfection not just because it is a color I am in love with, but because this is the complete package. It comes in a stunning gold tube and the ingredients are top-notch: Organic Candelilla Wax, Organic Avocado Oil, Organic Castor Oil, Organic Avocado Butter, Organic Grape Seed Oil, Organic Coconut Oil, Vitamin E Oil, Elderberry Extract, Sweet Orange Oil; May Contain: Iron Oxide, Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Manganese Violet

At $28 this one is more than I normally would pay for a lipstick. Some of you buy expensive handbags. I get mine at Marshall's. Others splurge on the hair salon. I go to Super Cuts every 6 weeks and use Clairol Natural Instincts Medium Cool Brown every 4. My two splurges in beauty are It Cosmetics CC Cream and lipstick.

Thoughts on my latest Boxwalla Beauty Box 

As with my other Boxwalla boxes, this one is a keeper. No duds. You see, each month, the box is so thoughtfully curated that it's nearly impossible to not fall in love with every product in it. Each box tells a story, which is such a key difference between Boxwalla and all of the other subscription boxes. 

Rachel's Plan Bee Original Body Polish -- This is the best body scrub I have ever used. I have had many that I have enjoyed in the past, from Lemongrass Spa to Origins. This one, though, is spa-quality. It is the perfect combination of scrubbiness versus oiliness. You do not have to worry about slipping in your tub, yet it is not one that feels too dry. It is perfection. You will find sugar, Moroccan lava clay (not found in many scrubs on the market, so this is unique), kaolin, shea butter, grapeseed, beeswax and a beautiful citrus aroma (from essential oils). The ingredients are organic and you can tell that this was crafted with a passion for ingredients.

Rachel's Plan Bee Bee Cream -- I have the mini of this and it will definitely be a product I will buy in the full-size. Girls, you need this product in your life. It is elegant simplicity. A little goes a very long way. You only need about the size of a pencil eraser head to adequately nourish the skin. And the smell is intoxicating. Orange + vanilla + grapefruit = hello, lover! It is beautiful. It is refreshing. It is comforting at the same time. I also use this on my heels at bedtime. Use it on the cuticles, elbows, hands -- anywhere you please.

Henne Organics Rose Diamond Lip Scrub -- The only lip scrub I have ever really loved is one from Lush. Until now. This USDA Certified Organic product is so luxurious, especially with the rose oil in it. It also features an ingredient we rarely see in skincare called Red Chokeberry. Also known as Aronia berries, these are rich in antioxidants. In fact, they contain more antioxidants than any other berry. This product also has a natural pink hue and the ideal consistency. With coconut oil, jojoba, and shea butter, this sugar-based exfoliant leaves lips feeling like pure silk.

Gressa Skin Lumière in Elise -- One little drop is all you need to naturally tint lips and cheeks. Think Benefit Benetint, but with fabulous ingredients, a lovely consistency, and with skincare benefits. Elise is really a versatile shade. It almost looks like a coral and morphs into a natural pink that just looks natural. This is what I consider a hybrid product -- yes, it is a cosmetic item, but it is just as much a skincare treatment. This lovely serum contains sea buckthorn berry, radish root ferment, Coenzyme Q10 & more.

Now I know what you might be thinking: $49.95 is a lot for a beauty box. Let's break it down. All of the products in the box are full size, with the exception of the Bee Cream ($6). The Gressa product sells for $28, the Rachel's Plan Bee scrub for $20, and the Henne lip scrub for $24. That is $78 in products ALL of which will be used with love. In fact, in the three boxes I have had from Boxwalla, I have thoroughly enjoyed every single product. I am confident knowing that each box has been well thought out. It shows. The folks behind the scenes at Boxwalla have a keen eye for what they are choosing for the boxes and I know you will adore your products as much as I do mine!

For more information, visit the Boxwalla website:

Boxwalla on Facebook 
Boxwalla on Instagram 
My other Boxwalla review 

How to choose the right laser skincare treatment

Friday, July 15, 2016

My readers often ask my thoughts on laser treatments for anti-aging. I am excited to share a guest post with you today on the topic:

Despite being one of the most popular skincare treatments available in the markets, laser procedures are still a big mystery to most people. Even those who opt for regular laser treatments seem to know little about the actual procedure and what it involves. If you’ve ever wondered about how laser treatments work, then this article is for you.

Laser Treatments Stimulate Cells Using Heat and Light

As much as it might seem like laser treatments magically transform the skin, there is a perfectly logical explanation to how they work. Lasers use heat and light to stimulate the skin cells, providing you with the desired results.  For instance, if you opt for a laser hair removal treatment, the procedure will entail damaging the roots of each hair, thereby discouraging regrowth. This is done by targeting the hair follicles, killing them to curb hair growth.
In another example, if you have a laser skin tightening procedure done, the laser will work by inflicting ‘’injuries’’ on your cells. These microscopic injuries on the skin will help boost collagen production, leading to tighter and younger-looking skin.

Ensure That You Pick the Appropriate Laser and The Proper Treatment

If you think getting a laser treatment is as easy as walking into a skincare clinic and randomly choosing an anti-aging laser treatment, nothing could be further from the truth. There are so many different laser treatments available, each one targeting a specific issue, ranging from anti-aging to hair removal, to even tattoo removal.
Another factor to consider is that there is no one-size-fits all approach to laser treatments. Depending on the shade of your skin and hair, you will have to opt for laser treatments that will work effectively for you. This in turn means that you will have to find a clinic that specializes in performing the treatment that you want, with the laser that will suit your specific needs.

Topical Treatments Are Limited in Their Effectiveness

One common arguments against laser treatments is that you can always stick to applying lotions and creams to treat your skin issues instead. But the fact of the matter is that such topical treatments are very limited in their effectiveness. While some give little to no results, some others take months to show visible results. And that is provided you use the creams and lotions regularly for a long, long time which, let’s be honest, most of us never do. So if you want to reverse the skin damage and want to see the results soon, then you need to opt for laser treatments. It’s a good idea to go in for a laser treatment and then use a good cream or lotion to maintain your skin.
Hope this article has helped you understand how cosmetic lasers work. You can now make a decision based on what you know about laser procedures. If you’re still undecided, go ahead and consult a dermatologist. They’ll be able to provide you with a tailor-made treatment to meet your needs. And if you do find the right clinic and opt to have a laser procedure, you are sure to be fully satisfied with the awesome results.

The Beauty Blogger's Tips for Younger, Glowing Skin

Friday, June 24, 2016

Stop the clock! Aging is a fact of life. Looking older, however, doesn’t have to be something you just sit back and accept.

I’m here with 8 simple tips on how to slow down the signs of aging. Try them--you’ll thank me later! 

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1. Use sunscreen every single day. 

An effective sunscreen is your best friend when it comes to looking younger. The most common signs of aging are from sun damage--brown spots, uneven texture and tone, noticeable fine lines, and wrinkles. Sunscreen is your very best preventive measure when it comes to looking younger. 

My top paraben-free facial sunscreen right now is from Exuviance. Their Sheer Daily Protector SPF 50 is water-light, offers broad spectrum protection and is non-sticky. It can be so difficult finding a facial sunscreen, but this works well under makeup and can be used even on very oily skin.
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 2. Look for retinol night creams.

Retinol, a Vitamin A derivative, is proven to help target fine lines, crow’s feet, brown spots, sun damage, and uneven texture. With so many “miracle” ingredients on the market, retinol is one that has been recommended by dermatologists and estheticians for years.  It has been proven to be effective in multiple scientific studies. It does make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so be sure you only use it at night. 

My top pick-->My favorite over the counter facial retinol product is Paula's Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment, which combines a high concentration of retinol with peptides to help reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles.

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 3. Get the glow! 

Having radiant skin makes you the picture of good health and it brightens your entire complexion. Brighter skin will help you look younger.  When it comes to makeup, search for powders with “radiant” or “luminous” in the name and they will set your makeup while leaving a soft focus, youthful glow. Highlighters, applied with a brush to the middle of your nose & above the cheekbones will also add a luminous glow.

My top pick--> My favorite products to give your skin a glow are the highlighters from Colour Pop, which are really affordable and of great quality. 

4. Whiten your teeth. 

 A clean, white smile instantly takes yours off your face and can help brighten your eyes and complexion. Even though you brush and floss and take good care of your teeth, they naturally become more yellow by consuming drinks like coffee, tea, or red wine. There are many home kits to easily whiten your teeth in as little as two hours that work as well as expensive bleaching procedures at the dentist. Teeth whitening is an important step in your overall beauty routine and it can take years off of your face.

My top pick--> My fave is actually a Target Up & Up brand product. Their Luminous White 7 Day Whitening Wraps are great! I use them twice a year to help reverse my daily tea, coffee, and occasion red wine drinking. My teeth aren't white a la Ross on Friends, but they get much whiter after using.

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 5. Try an at-home peel. 

There are many facial peel products available for home use, from glycolic and mandelic acid to fruit acids. Perhaps the most popular option is glycolic acid. Glycolic acid has been researched for many years and we know that it works on the upper layer of the epidermis. Not only does this ingredient help reverse sun damage, but it reduces other signs of aging such as fine lines and age spots. 

As a gentler, still effective option to glycolic peel pads, I advise using exfoliating pads with fruit enzymes. Don't think that they won't work just because they use natural ingredients -- fruit enzymes can work as well as their more irritating counterparts. A good peel pad will help lift off dead skin cells, reduce the appearance of large pores, improve texture and clarity, and give a radiant glow.

My top pick --> You have to try the Countertime Enlightening Treatment Pads from Beautycounter.  Sugar cane extract, apple, lemon and orange all brighten the skin naturally. The ingredients are absolutely stellar, too! 

6. Embrace antioxidants. 

I often refer to antioxidants as skincare super heroes. They help shield your skin from the harmful free radicals that are swirling around you. Free radicals come from environmental pollution, cigarette smoke, UV rays, and more. All of these have a negative impact on your skin and actually speed up the aging process. Antioxidants in skin care products include Coenzyme Q10, Vitamin E, resveratrol, and green tea extract. Look for these ingredients when you are shopping for moisturizer to help reverse some of the signs of aging.

My top pick--> This one is an oldie but goodie: Estee Lauder Day Wear Advanced Multi-protection Anti-Oxidant Creme. When this product launched in the 90's, I was working as a Counter Manager for Estee Lauder. The whole concept of antioxidants was new to me. The product has stood the test of time and it was one I have recommended for years after leaving the company.

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 7. Apply eye cream twice daily. 

Yes, you do need an eye cream! Some people believe that all you need is your regular facial cream under the eyes. This is false. The skin under the eyes is thinner than an eggshell. It requires extra care. Think about it--does your under eye area experience the same troubles as your cheeks or forehead?  No. The skin is different. Think of smiling, squinting, and all of the other expressions by the eyes. That is one reason the first signs of aging appear near the eyes. You do need an eye cream.

My top pick--> Beautycounter Vibrant Eye Perfector with Marine Extracts is my favorite eye cream. The ingredients are top-notch and effective. In addition to caffeine and Vitamin C, you will find raspberry, cranberry, grape seed, apricot, and chlorella (marine extract). This lightweight eye treatment contains anti-aging peptides, soothing calendula, and nourishing camellia. You will see that I am mentioning Beautycounter again. Please note that I am not a consultant, but a VERY happy fan. If you have any questions about Beautycounter, Donna Casali is the one to ask. 

8. Stay hydrated. 

“Are you drinking enough water?” 

We’ve all heard this question from our mothers, but mom was right! You do need to drink more water. Drinking water is quick, it is easily available, and it costs nothing. Unfortunately, it is one of the most underutilized skin care tips to look younger. When you drink 8 to 10 glasses of water each day, your skin looks more hydrated, supple, and younger.

Following these eight tips won’t erase 20 years from your face. Being consistent with the above will help prevent future signs of aging, though!

Safer Sunscreens: Why you may want to skip the EWG's "good list"

Monday, June 13, 2016

Let's talk about sun care today, why don't we?

I have spent so much time over the past several years researching the science of sun care, especially the last 3-4 years of magazine writing. My work involves taking a look at studies -- not just the fear you will find circulating on the web.

This guy, now almost 11, was covered in sunscreen at the beach.

The EWG's annual sunscreen guide is out. Before you toss your current sunscreen and run out for a new bottle of "Organic, Non-GMO, Ecofriendly, So Safe You Can Eat It" sunscreen, there is something not many people are aware of:

Making the "good list" is good for marketing. Nothing more. It does not mean that the sunscreen is effective. 

You see, I used to believe that to be ranked highly by the EWG was REALLY A GOOD THING -- that they tried and tested and evaluated the products, that they verified the ingredients, that they really investigated each product in their Skin Deep Database.

This is NOT the reality.
  • The EWG's sunscreen list is truly meaningless. It is in no way based on credible science and the EWG does not even test the products it recommends, which is just ridiculous. I used to do PR for a direct sales "organic" skincare brand. They had a "safe" sunscreen made with "fresh spring water" and aloe vera juice and it had no broad spectrum preservative (yuck) . It was zinc oxide based. The product was really quite dangerous from the perspective of it being likely to quickly form mold, staph and other nasties. There are many similar products-- products that are not shelf stable, products that fail to truly offer adequate sun protection -- but the EWG doesn't seem to consider those little tidbits. Anyway, it was my job to get this product included in the annual sunscreen guide. To do so, a company ONLY needs to submit a photo of the ingredients label, usage instructions, and copy and paste ingredients label. Nothing more. No product samples. No supplier info. Nada. This particular product has now been recommended 4 years in a row by the EWG despite multiple customer complaints of it being ineffective- much like The Honest Co. fiasco. Sadly, scientific research has discredited most of the EWG's fear mongering. I am a huge proponent of healthier, better ingredients - but the EWG does shoppers a huge disservice. 

  • Now let's go back abut a decade to when I had my own skin care brand, KZM Facial Care Boutique. I made natural facial care products and sold them online via Etsy and in small boutiques. My line was Leaping Bunny Certified Cruelty Free, appeared in multiple newspapers, and was featured in Martha Stewart Whole Living. My skin care was in celeb swag bags at film festivals and I was SO PROUD that a stay at home mom with a passion for ingredients and a background in esthetics and makeup could have a successful, well-respected little business. I submitted my products to the EWG and thought they might like to try them before posting them on the website. No. No need. I was really stunned at the lack of oversight. And today, 7 years after closing my business and contacting them multiple times to make them aware, my company  STILL SITS IN THE SKIN DEEP DATABASE. I told them immediately that I was closed. They kept individual products (which were scored 0-2 in terms of safety) up for more than 5 years!  There is ZERO oversight. If you really believe there is someone personally checking each and every product, you're quite mistaken.
But wait, are you saying that the typical Neutrogena and other brands are good for you? No. I am not saying that at all. You know after 9 years of reading this blog that ingredients are VERY important to me. I will not try or buy a product without studying the ingredients with a fine tooth comb. It is just important for me to say that natural isn't always better and synthetic isn't always the devil. 

I recently spent a couple of weeks studying up on the latest information again as I prepared a beauty magazine's guide to sun care. Here is my piece in the June 2016 issue of Cosmo Biz-

There are some TRULY good sunscreens out there with mineral ingredients AND decent preservation. My recommendations to you are:

Beautycounter Protect All Over Sunscreen SPF 30 -- Excellent ingredients with a broad spectrum preservative! Tell Donna that The Beauty Blogger sent you on over. I am NOT afffiliated in anyway, but she is knowledgeable, caring and kind and will provide you with outstanding customer care.

Alba Very Emollient Sunscren Fragrance Free SPF 30  -- I have used this on my boys for years and they have NOT gotten a sunburn. It is preserved properly and fragrance free.

La Roche Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Tinted Sunscreen -- GREAT for the face. This has a slight tint and offers really solid sun protection. Paraben free and I have never experienced pore clogging from this one.

Sunscreen is CRUCIAL. And ingredients really, truly matter. If you have the choice of protecting kids with an unpreserved "organic" "all natural" SPF though or a brand like Neutrogena or Banana Boat, I stand with the SCIENCE. Choose the "unhealthy" brand name if you are in a true pinch. One blistering sunburn during childhood has been PROVEN to greatly increase your risk of melanoma as an adult. Please keep that in mind -- oh, and repeat after me -- COCONUT OIL IS NOT AN EFFECTIVE SUNSCREEN! That is another wacky claim found on the net from bloggers who have taken some of the research out of context. YES, it can provide you with POSSIBLY an SPF of 4-6, but you would need copious amounts and fails to offer the necessary broad-spectrum protection. The same with carrot seed oil...

The Beauty Benefits of Tea

Thursday, April 28, 2016

You may often see tea listed on the ingredients labels of your favorite beauty, skin and hair care products. White Tea, Green Tea, Rooibos, Green Tea and more can also be found in many do it yourself beauty recipes. We’re here to share some of the beauty benefits of tea. Sit back, enjoy a cup, and learn more about some other reasons to love tea even more.

Does your hair look lackluster? Try a tea rinse.

Tea can help enhance your hair’s color and shine.
Did you know that a tea rinse can enhance the natural tones and highlights in your hair without strong chemicals and unpleasant odors? A tea rinse will not give you a new color. In other words, if you are golden blonde, you cannot pour black tea in your hair and end up a brunette.
If you are a brunette, rinse your hair with Black Tea. Blondes & redheads can add a boost with Chamomile Tea. I use Black Tea in my hair as a weekly rinse.

I am going to share a simple DIY tea rinse for your hair.

How to make the rinse: Combine 2 cups of brewed black tea with 2 cups of water if you have dark hair. If your hair is light, the proportions are different. Combine 1 cup of brewed chamomile tea with 2 cups of water. Once your tea/water mixtures are combines, bring to a boil for several minutes. Cool so there are no hot spots and pour over damp hair and leave in for 30 to 60 minutes. When  your time is up, rinse with cool water. You will notice a subtle enhancement of your color and should see an increase in the amount of shine.

A recipe for beautiful skin

In skin care, Green Tea holds so many remarkable benefits.
Green Tea is a powerhouse antioxidant which has been shown to significantly halt the glycation process as they promote collagen synthesis. What is glycation? Simply put, it is the process of sugar proteins damaging the collagen and elastin in the skin. Choosing skin care products formulated with Green Tea can help fight glycation and minimize the signs of skin aging caused by dietary indiscretions such as excess sugar consumption.
The EGCG in Green Tea also helps protect against free radicals. Free radicals not only impact your health, but they negatively impact your skin. UV damage, smoke and other pollutants can wreak havoc on your skin, accelerating the aging process and damaging cells. This damage causes collagen and elastin to break down, making you look older, as we just mentioned with the glycation process.
When you apply skin care treatments with antioxidants, you may be shielding your skin from harm. There are actually several published, peer-reviewed studies about tea and the skin. One that stands out to me is the one published in the American Association for Cancer Research, which talks about tea’s ability to help prevent UVB damage.  Look for skin care products with Green Tea on the ingredients label. Even better, you can make your own.

We’re going to create a recipe today using Tealightful Earl Grey Green tea.

Did you know that Earl Grey tea is also beneficial to the skin? Earl Grey offers anti-bacterial properties. This tea contains Bergamot Oilwhich not only has a lively citrus aroma, but may help improve the appearance of your skin. Not only can Bergamot Oil help your skin look more radiant, but it contains antiseptic properties. This makes Bergamot a wise choice to help care for acne, psoriasis and other troubled skin conditions.
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Today, I’m sharing a simple Earl Grey Green Tea Facial Toner recipe. Toners are spritzed on the skin or applied with a cotton ball and help remove any traces of makeup left behind after cleansing. A well-formulated toner can also restore the skin’s pH. Another fun tidbit — when you store a green tea toner in the fridge, it feels amazing on the skin on a hot summer day! I *only* drink tea from Tealightful, a Rochester-based company. You'll find a link to my fabulous consultant, Jarrod Parsons, below.

DIY Earl Grey Green Tea Facial Toner Recipe
  • Chilled Tealightful Organic Earl Grey Green Tea (one cup of brewed tea)
  • A drop or two of vitamin E oil (optional)
  • One crushed-up 500mg vitamin C with rosehips tablet
  • Combine the above ingredients.
  • Shake really well. I store this in an amber or cobalt spray bottle and spritz on.
  • Keep refrigerated and discard after 1 week.

Do you have a favorite way to incorporate tea into your beauty routine? I’d love to hear your comments on the subject.

The Best Paraben-Free Products for Chocolate Lovers

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Eat More Chocolate!
Could your favorite sweet treat improve your skin?

Wouldn’t it be fabulous if something most of us find irresitable could possibly make our skin look younger? I don’t know about you, but if you give me permission to indulge in a bit of chocolate, I ammore than happy to oblige.

Could it be true? Yes! While it may not turn back the clock, chocolate--especially dark chocolate--is highly beneficial to the skin.


  • Dark chocolate contains an abundance of flavonols.  You may have heard about these antioxidants commonly found in red wine.  They are also present in dark chocolate and provide many benefits. Flavonols have been shown to reduce inflammation and protect the skin from UV damage. We know now that UV damage is one of the leading causes of aging, so this is one reason to reach for some chocolate.
  • Dark chocolate consumption helps to lower the amount of stress hormones such as cortisol.  When your body produces excess cortisol, collagen breaks down.  This collagen breakdown causes fine lines and wrinkles.  Chocolate, though, reduces stress hormones which may help to prevent collagen from breaking down in the first place.
  • Dark chocolate is rich in nutrients believed to improve skin clarity and texture.  You’ll find Vitamins A, B1, C, D, E, iron and calcium in dark chocolate.

Eating chocolate isn’t your only option when it comes to reaping the skin benefits.  There are many products on the market with antioxidant-rich cocoa and dark chocolate to help improve the appearance of your skin and reduce the signs of aging.  I am particularly drawn to the new wave of chocolate-based masks to reduce the signs of aging.  I do love chocolate in ANYTHING, though. All of the products mentioned below are free of parabens and SLS.  Let’s take a look at some of my tried and true favorites.

FarmHouse Fresh Sundae Best Chocolate Softening Mask, $22

This rich mask may resemble a decadent ganache, but it feels like heaven on your face.  It’s thick and a bit sticky, but you will adore how fresh and renewed your skin looks once you have tried it. FarmHouse Fresh has crafted a truly spa-worthy facial product in this exquisite mask!  Your skin will drink in the benefits of bentonite, macadamia seed oil, jojoba and coconut oils, as well as Coenzyme Q10 and royal jelly. This is MY FAVORITE FACE MASK! Skin is left plumper, brighter, and nourished.

Fresh Cocoa Body Exfoliant, $45

There's nothing like a good body scrub. Add chocolate into the mix and you have this decadent treat from Fresh. This is an incredible scrub. It smells heavenly and leaves your skin feeling as smooth as satin. Coconut shell powder and cocoa shell powder are the natural exfoliants in this scrub, which really feels like the ultimate body care luxury!

Aunt Nancy's Creamy Peppermint with Chocolate Swirl Soap, $6

It's my favorite bar of soap. Chocolate + peppermint = one happy blogger! And you won't find a better place to get your soap than over at Aunt Nancy's Handmade Soap on Etsy. I have been a customer of Nan's for more than EIGHT years now. Here is my first review of Nan's amazing soaps. One of my go-to bars when I order is Nan's a goat's milk bar called Creamy Peppermint with Chocolate Swirl. It is my FAVORITE bar of soap. Try it and you'll love it too!

Lush Dirty Massage Bar, $10.95

Chocolate + lavender? Why not! If you haven't tried the massage bars from Lush, you may just be missing out on something fantabulous! My top pick is the Dirty Massage Bar, which contains an abundance of essential oils, cocoa butter and shea butter. It smells truly unique!

Philip B. Chocolate Milk Body Wash & Bubble Bath, $35

Lather up with the Philip B. Chocolate Milk Body Wash and Bubble Bath. This is a true and rich chocolate aroma and it has a creamy lather that doesn't dry out the skin. It smells just like a chocolate milkshake and is something all chocoholics will want in their bath & body collection.

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