Beauty, Interesting Discoveries, Makeup, Skin Care, Social Media

What is a Maven and could you be one?

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What is a Maven and are you one? You may have heard the term thrown into conversation and questioned what exactly that is. A maven is an information specialist or someone you rely on to connect you to new information on a specific subject. Given the definition, if you are reading this and participating in sharing your beauty knowledge as well as the knowledge of others using social media, you could be a maven.

Where are Mavens and why are they important?

Mavens are everywhere. Social media makes it very easy for them to put the information out there and for you to receive it. They are watching the trends, and writing relevant information for interested people to use. They have large social groups and companies love to engage them in conversation. Being a maven takes hard work and dedication, it’s not for everyone.

I have noticed there have been quite a few subscription services popping up recently regarding beauty products. These online services charge a monthly fee and either send you sample products or hold the fee in your account to use on whatever you like. One of the better known beauty subscription sites is Birchbox. For $10 a month they send you a box filled with product samples that match your beauty profile.

I became very interested in these services and have recently subscribed to two of them, Birchbox and Julep. I wanted to see what it was all about, especially since Birchbox has been popping up frequently in conversations. I just received both boxes but have yet to use the products. Birchbox contains 4-5 sample sized products that are available for purchase in their store. Julep, which is more expensive at $20 per month, sends two full-sized nail polishes and one beauty product. Their products are also available in their online store.

What sparked this topic idea was the title of the Julep box, a Julep Maven Box. This tells me they are looking for those who want to be ahead of the curve when it comes to beauty products. These sites are usually on top of the current trends, as well as looking forward to future trends. This is important to their business because the people who are subscribing want the latest and greatest. They are also hoping that you will fall in love with a product they sell and become a regular customer. The sites are open to anyone who wants to join.

What will this do for you?

If you are branding yourself as a beauty expert, it may be highly beneficial to look into these services. If you don’t want to subscribe to the service the least you can do is browse the site because there are blog posts on current and future trends, Birchbox does this particularly well. This gives you insight as to where the industry is moving. If you just love beauty products you might be interested as it keeps the costs down and allows you to try many different types of products before buying.

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Hair Cair

Beauty on a Budget: Suave vs. professional salon brands

I have never been much of a product reviewer but I came across a great find while searching for hair products that works while going easy on my pocket book. We are all on a budget when it comes to beauty products. It is so easy to spend big bucks on all sorts of products that promise results. Sometimes, it’s not the most expensive products that end up working the best.

I have been searching for a while now for a good, fairly inexpensive shampoo and conditioner. I have tried all manner of products from Biolage to Organix and a few in between. I found some reviews online and went to buy one of the recommended products. When I got to the store they didn’t have what I was looking for and as you know, there are many to choose from. Then, I remembered seeing one particular article about how Suave Keratin Infusion was good for dry, coarse hair. It had been a while since I even looked at Suave and for $2.88 a bottle I couldn’t refuse.

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After several washes my hair was silkier and shinier than it had been in a long time. I also recently began coloring my hair and needed the extra moisture and protection. It has been over a week and so far so good. The Keratin Infusion is part of Suave’s professional line and has been awarded Allure’s Best of Beauty Award in 2013. I would not have thought about trying it if I hadn’t seen it vouched for online. I also purchased the dry shampoo but have yet to use it.

Many would turn away from a cheaper product because of the price. The thought is “If it’s that cheap, it must not be good.” As beauty on a budget became a concern with the recent economic downturn, many are turning to less expensive alternatives. In return, companies have been answering with better products for less to meet the demand. It shouldn’t be about the label that’s on the brand, it’s about how well it works.

Beauty on a budget is still a big concern of mine and I’m sure yours as well. I will continue to search out these “diamonds in the rough” and relay them back to you. Doing research before purchasing a product is a must to make sure you aren’t going in blindly. If you can get a sample that’s even better.

Tip: Your hair can change depending on the season so if your old trusty isn’t working as well as it used to don’t toss it. Simply adjust to the formula your hair needs at the time. You can also mix and match formulas if you have two needs in mind, like volumizing and moisturizing.

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Skin Care

Oil facial cleansers: How they work

While I was doing research on a different topic, I stumbled upon oil facial cleansers. I haven’t seen them before and was intrigued. Isn’t’ the whole point of cleansing, using serums, and moisturizing to help control the amount of oil your skin produces? I was surprised by what I found out: using a oil cleanser might be just as good or better than your current cleanser.

Fresh and lovely woman washing her face
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You might be asking how is that possible? Especially if you have combination/oily skin. It turns out oil can be a very effective way to fight blemishes and extra oil production. Traditional acne cleansers can be harsh, stripping away too much natural oil leaving skin too dry and prone to over producing oil. This can create a vicious cycle of harsher products and more of them.

Oils bond with the excess oil on your face, gently removing it along with dirt and daily toxins. Water doesn’t bond with oil so cleansers use certain chemicals to remove excess oil. Research shows that oil bonds with oil, making it ideal for gently cleansing skin. This particular bond has a deep pore cleansing effect. However, you don’t want to use just any oil, plant based are the best and certain formulas are used for different skin types.

Other benefits

One prominent cause of breakouts, besides picking, is skin dehydration. This creates microscopic cracks in the skin, giving bacteria a way in. Oil cleansers can help maintain skin’s moisture, creating a barrier to bacteria and outside elements. If you are worried about pimples make sure to pick a non-comedogenic oil cleanser and rinse off completely. Certain formulas provide antioxidants, helping fade pigmentation and scarring. Each formula will provide different benefits.

How to apply

Oil cleansers should be applied to slightly moist skin, not wet. This allows the oil in the cleanser to bond better to the facial oils, makeup and dirt on your skin. Using the cleanser, give your face a massage to clean skin and unblock pores. After a couple of minutes, thoroughly rinse your skin. There should be no residue and the cleanser should be completely removed.

Oil cleansers are another product that is gaining recognition in the skin care world. It’s not a fad and will be around for a while. If your current cleanser isn’t working out for you, maybe think about giving an oil cleanser a try. The cost is minimal if it helps your skin. This type of cleansing can be as beneficial for dry skin as oily/combination skin. The end goal for you is clear, healthy, hydrated skin and I want you to have all the options.

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Best way to apply liquid foundation: brush, fingers or sponge?

After writing about proper cleansing in addition to how important it is to not touch your face and get dirt in your pores, I began agonizing over the best way to apply liquid foundation. If most women are like me, they apply it with their fingers. In doing some research I found some tips and tricks for easy, streak-free application of foundation as well as recommended application methods.

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It’s okay to use your fingers!

You might think it’s bad for your skin to apply liquid foundation with your fingers, however, that’s not the case. The main reason some experts don’t recommend it is because it can lead to a streaky finish. If you do choose to use your fingers just make sure you wash them before and afterwards so you don’t add extra dirt to your face or accidentally wipe foundation on your clothes.

In order to get a good finish you may want to start with a foundation primer. Primers help increase the longevity of the foundation and create a smoother finish. You also don’t want to use too much foundation so start with a little bit by putting small dots on the trouble zones first. Then blend it in and if you need to add more to a certain area for an even look add a little bit more. Don’t forget to blend down the jawline to your neck, the goal is a natural finish.

The lowdown on brushes

Foundation brushes are recommended by many as they provide a streak-free application for liquid foundation. You will still want to use a primer to create a good base. You should use the same technique with the brush as with your fingers, start with the trouble areas by applying small dots and blending outward. Brushes are a great tool but optional. One must have brush is a concealer brush. They tend to have thicker bristles and are good for getting the concealer all over the blemish. Don’t forget to wash them periodically to rid them of bacteria and makeup that builds up.

What about sponges?

Sponges are another option for liquid foundation application. I don’t recommend using one to apply liquid foundation as they tend to absorb more than makes it on to your face and they need to be regularly replaced for hygiene concerns, i.e bacteria. There is a new generation of sponges called beauty sponges that are highly recommended for a great finish. If you want to use one try getting it wet before applying so it doesn’t absorb as much foundation. The blending ability varies per sponge but they can create a good, natural finish.

The important points about liquid foundation application are:

  1. It’s okay to use your fingers, be sure to wash your hands
  2. Start with a primer
  3. Buildup to the coverage you want
  4. Blend out and down
  5. Make sure to clean your brush
  6. If using a sponge, wet before use
  7. Check for lines and streaks
  8. Wait before applying powder so it doesn’t stick

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Inner Beauty

Finding Inner Beauty: The beginning of a journey

Inner beauty is not quantifiable or readily visible. As women we focus quite a bit of our energy on outer appearances and how others perceive us. Collectively women spend over $426 billion a year on beauty products. Studies show that 35% of women use at least two products daily and 17% use three or four. The real struggle is matching up how you look on the outside and how you feel on the inside.

Inner Beauty

There are so many self help books out there that it can be overwhelming. You may end up picking one at random and either agree or disagree with what the author has to say about finding yourself and your inner beauty. In doing some research on the topic I have found some common techniques other’s find helpful. I want to share them so you can use them as well.

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Inner beauty is described in many different ways but it basically comes down to being a generally good person, showing kindness, honesty, etc. I have heard inner beauty dismissed as a term used by “ugly” people to feel better about themselves. This is completely false and we all know this to be false but, unfortunately, negative thoughts are more prevalent than positive ones. One part of the journey to find inner beauty is about finding the positive things in life.

The Beginning

  1. Start by smiling more. It seems a little too simple but it will change the way people interact with you. It will also help change your view of the situation for the better.

  1. Find something you are passionate about and pursue it. This could be volunteerism or a hobby that you have been wanting to get into. A hobby is something you do that is completely of your own choosing and is shown to help relieve stress as well as realize accomplishments outside work that are your own.

  1. Be present in your life. You know those conversations where you are vaguely tuned out and maybe thinking about what is for dinner or what movie to watch later. Being focused and aware of those around you will help your relationships and a feeling of connection. Showing people you genuinely care about what is going on will help you with those relationships in a positive way.

Again, these seem like such small, obvious things to do but we tend to forget about them during the course of the day or the week. I have recently begun a practice of verbalizing the things I am grateful for in my life. They are sometimes small things like my job and my home as well as bigger things like my husband and my life in general. I have found it makes a big difference on my attitude. I find that verbalizing them is more powerful than writing them down because they seem more real. It all depends on what feels best for you.

As I continue down this journey I will continue to post my findings on what works in order to help others be more happy in their lives. If you found this helpful please share or leave a comment if you have suggestions or questions.

Makeup, Skin Care

Why shouldn’t I pick my face? Tips on dealing with blemishes

As a teenager and young adult we have been told to stop picking our faces. It is nearly impossible to resist the temptation when you are looking in the mirror and see an unsightly blemish that must go. Especially since they seem to turn up at the worst possible time. What you may not be thinking about is the damage you might inflict on your skin by popping that pimple.

What is Acne?

Acne is caused when hair follicles become plugged by oil and dead skin cells. If the openings are larger you end up with a blackhead and if the opening is small you end up with a whitehead. Both can develop into tender, red, swollen inflammations or pimples. No single factor causes acne but links have been made to hormone changes and, if you have oily/combination skin you are more prone to acne as your skin tends to overproduce oil.

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What’s the big deal?

So, you are thinking why shouldn’t I try to get rid of a blemish? Besides oil and dead skin cell build up, blemishes also contain bacteria. When you squeeze the blemish you may be pushing the bacteria deeper into your skin, causing a deeper inflammation and longer healing time. You are also breaking the barrier between that particular blemish and the rest of your skin. You could actually see more blemishes in that area by picking at it. If your nails and fingers are not clean you may also be introducing new bacteria to the area. Scarring can happen as fingernails and other tools can tear the skin. Scars take much longer to heal and disappear than a blemish. In some cases, scars may be permanent.

What can I do about a blemish?

One easy way to avoid acne is check your makeup bag. If you are using heavy foundations and creams, you may not need them or be using too much and not washing it off at night.  It is also possible you aren’t using the right cleansing/moisturizing products. Go through and evaluate your products to make sure you are using the correct ones. I have said it before, if it doesn’t work don’t be afraid to toss it. You aren’t doing your skin any favors by using a product that isn’t right just because you bought it.

It is also recommended to steer clear of pore strips. They could actually, over time, enlarge your pores, and they don’t really get the deep down portion of the blemish that is causing the problem. Products with salicylic acid are a better investment as they act like a exfoliant, removing dead skin cells and getting deep into the pore. Look for a toner you apply with a cotton swab directly after cleansing.

In reality, blemishes will heal themselves in about 3-7 days if left alone. Instead of picking, invest in a dry, non-comedogenic concealer to hide the visible redness. The dry concealers usually come in sticks or pots. Use a brush to get the product exactly where you need it and blend past the borders of the blemish for better coverage.

If you found this helpful please share or leave a comment if you have suggestions or questions.


SPF: One of your skin’s new best friends

In keeping with the spring theme I decided to re-introduce our skin to sunscreen. Many products such as primers and foundations now have SPF (sun protection factor). This is really nothing new but you will be seeing a resurgence as the weather is getting warmer and exposure to the sun will be greatly increased. This will also serve to remind you of the importance of protecting your skin and why you should invest in these beauty products.

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UVB/UVA rays and your skin

You may see or hear the terms UVB or UVA rays when talking about sunscreen and protecting your skin. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is part of the light spectrum that reaches earth from the sun. UVB rays cause the actual sunburn while UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply, causing wrinkling, leathering, sagging and other light-induced effects of aging. UVA rays compound upon the cancer causing effects of UVB rays and increasingly are seen as a cause of skin cancer on their own.

SPF refers to the ability of a sunscreen to block the UVB/UVA rays. The SPF rating is used to measure the time it would take you to sunburn if you weren’t wearing any sunscreen versus the time it would take with sunscreen. For example, if you have a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 it means if it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start to burn, using the SPF 15 sunscreen would prevent reddening 15 times longer, so roughly 5 hours.

After seeing that and knowing there are SPF 100 sunscreens out there you might assume that the higher number the better. In terms of blocking UV rays SPF 50 is at the top end, blocking out 98% of UVB rays. SPF 15 blocks 94% and SPF 30 blocks 97%. As you can see, the SPF increase is misleading. You would think that an SPF 30 is twice as effective as an SPF 15 but that is not how it works. The higher SPF sunscreens offer negligible extra benefits and tend to be cost prohibitive.

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Sunscreen and your skin

One major complaint about sunscreen is that it is usually thick, creamy and not ideal for those with oily/combination skin. Fortunately, there are lighter sunscreens for your face and now your body to help minimize clogged pores. Facial products such as primers and foundations now have SPF as well you don’t need to apply sunscreen to your face if you use these products. Use of these products will help minimize dark spots and skin discoloration on your face.


To get the full benefit of the SPF it is recommended that you apply the sunscreen a half an hour before going out in the sun and use water resistant formulas. For maximum benefit you should apply 1 oz or about a shot glass, any less and you are not getting the advertised SPF. It is important to re-apply the same amount every two hours regardless of SPF. You should also re-apply immediately after swimming, toweling off or sweating. Keep in mind damage can be done without seeing a burn.

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