Interesting Discoveries, Skin Care

June 2014 Birchbox Reveal

I just received my June Birchbox in the mail and was extremely excited to find out what was inside. This month is full of travel ready samples that range from lotions to shampoos. The theme this month is travel since Birchbox recently teamed up with JetBlue. It is very fitting as quite a few of us will be venturing off on vacation.

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1. Coola Tinted Matte SPF 30 for Face: This is a mineral-based tinted moisturizer with sun protection. It goes on smooth and creates a shine free finish. This is a great product for the summer months as it works to minimize oil production and shine. I really like the sheer finish and light feel. Unfortunately, there’s not much product in the sample. It was mostly air.

2. Gilchrist & Soames London Collection Body Lotion: This is an antioxidant-rich moisturizer with ingredients such as grape seed that help smooth and soften. It has a light scent and is not too thick while providing excellent moisture. It also creates a cool sensation. I like the product itself but wasn’t impressed with the presentation. The sample was messy and looked like it had already been opened.

3. Folle de Joie Eau de Parfum: This is a fresh blend of mandarin, rose, and sandalwood. It is a great light scent. I love the fact that the ingredients named can be easily distinguished without being overwhelming. Spritz on pulse points such as your wrists and neck.

4. Number 4 Hair Hydrating Shampoo & Conditioner: This is a sulfate-free cleanser containing botanicals and vitamins designed to repair and protect dry, brittle hair. One of the most frequent comments is about the fragrance, it is a little manly but it is fairly light. It is a good shampoo, although slightly pricey.

5. Vasanti Cosmetics BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator: This product mimics microdermabrasion and contains enzymes such as papaya as well as aloe vera, and coconut for cleansing. I love microdermabrasion in general. It is my must do in my skin routine. Again the presentation wasn’t great, the bottle was full of air and contained little product.

There was also a travel quiz with a chance to win a travel certificate with JetBlue. Overall, the content of the box was good. I wasn’t very impressed by the quality of some of the samples. They were messy, looked already opened and full of air. This is the first time I have been even slightly disappointed with Birchbox’s selections. My favorite is the Joie Parfum as I love good scents. It is a bit expensive but well worth it. I will update this post when I use the shampoo and conditioner.

If you have any suggestions, comments or questions please leave them below. I love hearing from you!

Beauty, Makeup, Skin Care

Tips on Summer-proofing your makeup

We can all feel the heat and in some cases, humidity, rolling in to kick off the summer. The sun feels great, only not when your makeup begins to melt off your face. You will not only sweat more but your face will produce more oil. Here are some easy tips to help keep your make looking and feeling fresh.

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Before applying

Use a oil controlling cleanser and blot before applying.

Try using a clay mask once a week to control oil production.

Use a primer first. They create a barrier between your skin and the foundation. They also help your makeup stay on long. Eye primers are also recommended with eye shadow for the same reason.


Apply foundation sparingly. If you can avoid it don’t apply it at all. If you must apply do so sparingly. Light, sheer color is best. I recommend a tinted moisturizer or a light concealer.

You can use a translucent powder to set your foundation. Powders help absorb extra oil as it’s produced.

After application

Keep a sponge handy to smooth out creases as they appear. Then reset with a light dusting of powder.

Blotting papers are extremely handy and easy to carry around. They are also very inexpensive. If you feel slightly oily use one to stay looking fresh.

Other tips

Skip the heavy lipsticks and use a tinted lip balm or lip gloss.  Going lighter and more subtle on the lips will allow you to play with the bright purples and blues this summer. To get extra staying power you can use a lip primer. Stains are also in this season as they boast staying color. If they are too dry pair them with lip balm.

Use a waterproof or water resistant mascara. They have the staying power and look great for all occasions. To remove them effectively invest in oil free eye make up remover to use before cleansing.

Use these tips to beat the heat and keep looking fantastic. If you have any questions, would like clarification, or have tips of your own please share them. I love hearing from you!


Back to Basics, Beauty, Makeup, Skin Care

What does non-comedogenic really mean?

You might have heard the term non-comedogenic before but are not really sure what it means and why it is important. It is most commonly used concerning acne and acne fighting products. It is a very popular term used for foundations, serums, moisturizers and many other products. Given that, you will want to know what it means and what the benefits are.

What does non-comedogenic mean?

The word comedone refers to pimples (closed) and blackheads (open). If a product is labeled non-comedogenic it means the ingredients in the product shouldn’t block pores and create acne. These products are typically for combination, oily, and acne prone skin. However, carrying the label non-comedogenic doesn’t ensure the product won’t be a cause of acne. These products are typically oil and emollient free.

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Are the labels correct?

The next question is are the labels 100% correct? The answer is no, they have their limitations. The FDA doesn’t have a list of ingredients that need to be excluded in order to carry the label non-comedogenic. There also aren’t any standard tests to determine whether or not a product really is non-comedogenic. The most important piece is that skin is highly individual and what causes acne with one person may not have the same affect on someone else. This makes standardization very difficult.

Guidelines, not rules

Even though the labels aren’t a guarantee when it comes to preventing acne, they are usefully when choosing products. This is especially true for individuals with acne prone or oily skin. Look for products that carry this label and you will have better luck with controlling your acne, even though it may still take a little trial and error.

If you have acne prone skin I have a few tips to help with breakouts. Try not to touch your face as acne thrives on bacteria and your hands are covered with it. Wipe down things that go near your face often such as your cell phone or work phone with antibacterial wipes.  Cleanse at least once a day, twice if you can and use a oil free moisturizer.

If you have any suggestions or comments please leave them. I love hearing from you!

Beauty, Skin Care

Gym time and your skin: Tips to keeping a clear complexion

Your daily workout is great for your mind and body. Regular exercise also has great benefits for your skin. The focus is usually on your cardiovascular system but when you build up a sweat it promotes healthy circulation that helps your skin healthy and vibrant. There’s almost nothing like the stress relief working out provides. That stress relief can extend to helping stress related skin issues such as acne and eczema.

Even with all those benefits, there are possible down sides if you don’t take proper care of your skin during and afterwards. You may notice extra breakouts around the T zone, chin or hairline. Here are some tips on how to maintain your skin without skipping your workouts.

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  1. Take your makeup off before the workout. The mixture of sweat and makeup is a great recipe for breakouts. One recommendation is to keep no water needed facial cleansing cloths around to easily wipe makeup off.
  2. Try to relax your face during workouts. You’ve probably been told to relax your face and focus on breathing to help with the exercises. It turns out you want to relax for a different reason as well. All that grimacing from concentrating could cause wrinkles down the line.
  3. Clean off the equipment before use. Bacteria and free radicals play a major part in causing breakouts. Other people touch their face and then the equipment all the time. If you then touch it and touch your face you are transferring the bad stuff directly onto your skin. All gyms have cleaning materials available for use before and after your workout.
  4. Use sunscreen if outside. Exercising outdoors is refreshing, however, can be damaging to your skin. Use a moisturizer with SPF on your face and don’t forget the rest of your body. Sunburns ultimately lead to wrinkles and loss of skin elasticity.
  5. Wash your face after your workout. Exercising flushes out toxins in the skin, which is good, however, build up causes clogged pores and breakouts, especially along the hairline. A mild cleanser is recommended as over-cleansing can lead to dry skin. If you have oily skin you may need something stronger.
  6. Change out of your sweaty clothes. Staying in your workout clothes can cause breakouts below the neckline. It is a good idea to shower after working out with a gentle body wash.

You also want to make sure you drink plenty of water before, during and after a workout. Dehydration is not only bad for your body as a whole but can be visible on your skin. It will show up as crepey appearances around the eyes and neck. There are many ways of determining the proper amount of water to drink. The eight glasses a day model is still widely used because it is fairly close and easy to remember. It’s a good place to start.

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

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.

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.

Skin Care

Facial Cleansing Brushes: Are they worth it?

A newer trend in facial cleansing is battery operated facial cleansing brushes. Now, the brushes have been on the market for a few years but have seen a recent surge in popularity. They feature vibrating heads that are supposed to clean and exfoliate skin better than a wash cloth or by hand. One major question to ask is are they worth it?

Having not used one myself, I searched for accounts of others who have added them to their skin care regimen. The initial reports are very favorable. Users were boasting clearer, healthier looking skin due to the brushes exfoliating properties, quickly removing the makeup and daily buildup.

After daily use over an extended period of time users experienced irritated, red skin and multiple breakouts. Could the facial cleansing brush be causing these issues? After consulting dermatologists users realized it was indeed the brushes. Overuse and poor maintenance can lead to excessive dryness, irritation, redness and sensitivity. However, does this make the facial brushes unusable?

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The answer is no. While breakouts can be caused by overuse and not properly cleaning the brush, there are many benefits. A study done by Lancôme revealed women who used a facial cleansing brush on half their face felt the side they used the brush on was more toned, pores appeared smaller, and skin looked brighter. So far so good for the brush.

In the study women also used a serum after cleansing and were seeing results in two weeks that were normally seen in four. This is attributed to the exfoliating properties of the brush, which effectively removed impurities, dirt and makeup to let the serum better penetrate the skin. The brushes also increase blood circulation. These results were echoed in a study done by Olay.

After reviewing the studies and user accounts there is a definite upside to facial cleansing brushes. However, they are expensive to buy and maintain. Considering the growing number of them on the market this trend is here to stay. There is no use in buying expensive serums and moisturizers if they don’t get where they need to go, your skin. This is accomplished by use of the brush or microdermabrasion, it’s up to you.

If you decide to use the facial cleansing brush, proper maintenance cannot be stressed enough. Most of the issues experienced with them initially was the lack of cleaning the brush. Recommended cleaning techniques include anti-microbial soap and water, soak the head in alcohol for about one minute, and make sure to thoroughly rinse after use. If you have sensitive skin begin by using the brush every other day for about a minute, 20 seconds on each side so you don’t overdo it.

The next question is do you need an expensive brush or will a more modest model work? Research states the less expensive brushes cleanse just as well as the more expensive ones. The advantages to a more expensive brush are higher quality bristles so you don’t have to replace the heads as often, a charger instead of batteries and a timer so you don’t cleanse too long.

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