Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Argan Oil Must-Haves

I've been writing about the benefits of Argan Oil for years.

Are you using skincare products made with argan oil? If not, you may be missing out. Less known than coconut oil or jojoba oil, argan is truly a special oil. Argan oil itself contains more antioxidant and cell regenerative properties than olive oil, grape seed oil and avocado oil combined.

When applied to the skin, it absorbs quickly, and without an oily film, leaving behind a silky and satiny feel. It also works beautifully to restore shine and lustre to the hair.

Argan oil is commonly referred to as "liquid" gold -- and with good reason. Not just a filler, argan oil provides the skin with many nutrients and a whole list of benefits.

Argan the protector.

Argan oil is rich in phenols, making it a protective oil. It contains 200% more Vitamin E than olive oil. Argan is not just nourishing, it's a potent antioxidant and can effectively fend off free radical damage.

Need moisture? Look no further.

Argan oil is highly moisturizing. It is rich in Omega 6 fatty acids to help plump the skin, boost moisture levels and give a supple and healthy appearance. Choose a facial moisturizer or serum with argan oil to ease dryness (try Beautycounter Lustro Face Oil 1). You will be happy to discover that argan hydrates the skin without leaving a greasy film like other oils often do.

Slower skin aging? Yes, please!

Argan oil may make your skin look younger. Abundant in vitamins to improve skin elasticity, argan also boasts something called Triterpens, which aid in cell restructuring and can slow down the cell aging process. Because of the regenerating properties, your skin will benefit from hydrating products with argan oil. My go-to? Perfectly Posh As Good As Gold Argan Oil Skin Stick. It's the best $13 you will ever spend!

Could this oil help combat acne?

Argan oil may even fight acne, as many believe that it is not only antiseptic, but anti-bacterial as well. It's light and fast-absorbing and will not clog the pores.

Reduce inflammation with argan oil.

Argan oil may help fight inflammation. Evidence suggests that, when applied topically, argan oil may reduce pain, itching and swelling associated with various skin ailments.

We've only begun to hear about the many skincare benefits of argan oil. It seems like new research appears every few months promoting more and more benefits. Are you using skincare products yet with argan oil? Have you noticed a difference in the appearance of your skin.

What about argan oil in beauty products?

Yes! You will find many cosmetics out there now formulated with argan oil. My new favorite argan beauty item is also my NEW FAVORITE MASCARA! I have been using a new paraben-free mascara the past couple months and I love it so much that I just ordered another. If you have been reading over the years, you will know that this rarely happens. If you have not yet tried it, do yourselves a favor and try the Pur Minerals Big Look Mascara lengthens, thickens, and conditions without irritation, smudging or clumping. It's a winner!

Need a gift idea for the beauty junkie? Head to Sephora for the Josie Maran Whimsical Wonder Argan Oil Color Essentials boxed set.


Guillaume D, Charrouf Z. Argan oil and other argan products: use in dermocosmetology. The European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology. 2011;113(4):403–408.

Rawlings AV, Matts PJ. Stratum corneum moisturization at the molecular level: an update in relation to the dry skin cycle. J Invest Dermatol. 2005;124(6):1099–1110.


Friday, November 20, 2015

Samantha's Bellafill Journey: Part 2

Editor's Note: This is part 2 in a special series featuring a reader's journey with Bellafill -- an acne scar treatment performed by select dermatologists. Thank you to Bellafill for providing this treatment to our blog reader, and thank you to Samantha for sharing your experience!

Hello again! Samantha here for part two of my Bellafill® journey. It has been a crazy couple of months for me with my wedding happening and all my family in town!

Since my last blog post, I went in to Dr. Sabini for my first round of treatment with Bellafill® for my acne scars. My skin test came back negative so I was ready to go! Going into the treatment appointment I was very nervous mostly because I have never had any type of cosmetic injection before. Upon arriving, I was greeted by a very sweet nurse. She put some numbing cream on my face and gave me some ice to place on my face for about ten minutes. I have a feeling they normally don't do this, but she saw how nervous I was and offered it to comfort me. Dr. Sabini was very thorough and injected every scar on my cheeks that she could see as being a fit for Bellafill® treatment. Remember, Bellafill® treatment is only approved for facial rolling acne scars. I do have a few ice pick scars, which look like little holes, but not many. Bellafill® is not for these ice pick scars.

Before she injected each scar, Dr. Sabini would gently break up the existing scar tissue with the needle. This is to help Bellafill® more evenly fill in the scar. It was not as painful as I expected it to be, just a little uncomfortable. The whole process took about an hour, at most. I left the office and drove home just fine. My face did bruise and swell slightly at some of the injection sights, but this only lasted a day or two. Overall, I am extremely happy with this process so far! My wedding date was back in September, and I could see a major difference in my skin just a couple of weeks after the treatment.

I am excited to see how much more my skin will improve throughout the course of my treatment. Dr. Sabini said the appearance of my acne scarring will be less noticeable as time goes on. It should only take one or two more treatments to achieve optimal results, and she is confident they will almost all be gone. Stay tuned for more in my next blog about my second treatment! :)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Debunking a popular internet beauty myth

If you have been reading for any of these 8.5 years, you know that I try to link to scientific studies and peer-reviewed articles to substantiate any worries about ingredients. I used to fall for fear mongering. We've talked about this before. I once took the Cosmetics Database as the gospel. As a new mom and as someone who'd just lost a loved one to cancer, I wanted to do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to protect my family from being more likely to develop cancer down the road.

And then I took my blinders off and came down to earth and and remembered that EVIDENCE and FACTS are stronger than fear and hysteria. Before I express a concern over an ingredient or product, you will see that I link to sources or mention studies. I am not talking about quoting Mercola, Food Babe or Natural News -- but actual, factual science in terms of peer-reviewed articles and studies.

Just because your cousin's friend's neighbor's stepmother read on Facebook that something is "toxic" does not make it true.

Today I am starting a weekly series on some of the claims floating around social media and the blogosphere that we should examine. Today is the first of many of these in-depth looks at scary claims.

Claim: "It only takes 26 seconds for the ingredients in your skincare products to be absorbed into your bloodstream."

You've seen this claim floating around Facebook and on blogs in colorful memes. It sure sounds scary, doesn't it?

Do not worry, friends, as this is just a MYTH.

To quote the ladies on the popular Esurance commercial, "That's not how it works! That's not how any of this works!”

When it comes to penetration, the 26 seconds claim is not how things work. In fact, there is no scientific data to back this claim, which seems to have originated on an organic health and beauty blog a few years back. The claim has spread like wildfire, but just because you read it on the internet does not make it true. By the way, the "Your body absorbs 60% of what you apply to your skin" is NOT backed by any peer-reviewed studies or other forms of credible science either.

A little skin primer

  • Our skin is made up of three layers. The epidermis is the outer layer that we see and feel each day. The dermis is the layer of living tissue found underneath the epidermis. It has hair follicles, nerve endings, sweat glands, etc. The hypodermis is also known as the subcutaneous fat layer. This is where fat is stored, body temp is controlled, and this is where the upper layers of your skin are attached to muscle and bone.

Some Skincare Facts

A bit of confusion to clear up

Part of the trouble out there is that the words penetration and absorption tend to be used interchangeably. The problem is, these are NOT the same thing.

Let's break it down. Start with a topically applied skincare product. Let's say a body lotion for the sake of this post. You rub that lotion into your skin and what happens? Skin penetration signifies the amount of the topically applied chemical (remember, everything is a chemical) that is between the top and bottom layers of the epidermis. At this stage, the chemical is not absorbed into the body.

On the other hand, skin absorption is when the ingredients get through the skin barrier and into the bloodstream. At this time, it is either filtered out when you go to the bathroom or is let to accumulate.

  • Some ingredients can  penetrate deeply into these layers. Some don't actually penetrate the skin at all. An example of this would be nanoparticles, which are often vilified. 
  • There are many factors that have an impact on whether or not something will penetrate the skin. These include whether an ingredient is water or oil soluble and its molecular size and weight to name just a couple.
  • Most ingredients do NOT actually absorb. They have molecules that are just too large or are only water soluble. They sit on the outer layer and cannot get any deeper into the skin.
  • When it comes to ingredients like retinol, ingredients called penetration enhancers are used so the active ingredients will be able to deeply penetrate the skin.
  • Let's talk about what happens when a skincare ingredient only penetrates the upper layers of your skin. In this case, it does not get absorbed into your bloodstream. These ingredients ultimately accumulate and are naturally sloughed off in the form of dead skin cells.
  • Even when an ingredient does manage to penetrate deeply and get absorbed into your bloodstream, your body will almost always flush it out thanks to the natural "detox" function of your kidneys.

The Bottom Line

Yes, we should be mindful to choose products with wholesome ingredients. However, there is so much misinformation out there. Science matters. Much of what you read on the internet condemning ingredients is written by people with ZERO background in formulation, chemistry, skincare, health, etc. Be wary -- do your own research -- and look for science. Research the websites from which you are gathering your info.


C.L. Gummer,R.S. Hinz,H.I. Maibach; The skin penetration cell: a design update, International Journal of Pharmaceutics.




International Journal of Pharmaceutics 06/2014; 472(1-2).



Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Hypoallergenic Myth


It's a popular, official sounding term, isn't it? It is meaningless, though -- doing nothing other than providing customers with a false sense of safety. "Hypoallergenic" implies that a product is less likely to cause a skin reaction, but science tells us that, in many cases, these claims are truly false.

“The FDA does not regulate or define the term hypoallergenic,” says Dr. Rajani Katta, professor of dermatology at Baylor and director of Baylor’s Contact Dermatitis Clinic.

There is NO regulation, nor are there any federal definitions or standards when it comes to hypoallergenic. In fact, hypoallergenic can essentially mean whatever a company wants it to mean.

When a company claims that their product is hypoallergenic, they do not have to submit any research or documentation to substantiate that their product is hypoallergenic.

MYTH: Here is a quote from a "hypoallergenic" skincare brand's website: "Hypoallergenic products do not contain allergens." 

TRUTH: This is nonsense.

 Here is what Co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, Stacy Malkan, says about this-- "People think 'hypoallergenic' means there are no allergens. That is just not the case." 

If you have ever had an adverse reaction to a product, you know all too well the redness, itching and irritation associated with that experience. Unfortunately, companies use that as an angle to market their products and provide a false sense of trust that their product is safer for you.

Do not fall for this. Anything can cause an allergic response. There is no regulation of this marketing buzzword and it is just a gimmick leading consumers to spend more money on their products.

Let's talk "hypoallergenic" skincare.

Many of the products on store shelves labeled as hypoallergenic contain the most well-known irritants there are.

Researchers at Loma Linda University School of Medicine confirmed that products bearing the hypoallergenic label, especially those marketed at children, actually contain common allergens. In fact, of the products they studied, 89% contained one or more chemical known to cause contact dermatitis.

When one examines the ingredients found in "hypoallergenic" skincare, it is troubling. For example, Methyisothiasolinone, a common preservative, was found in more than ten percent of the "hypoallergenic" products tested by Loma Linda researchers. For those unfamiliar with this preservative, it is one of the most irritating ingredients used in skincare and was named "Allergen of the Year" in 2013 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society.

Another ingredient known to cause an allergic response: fragrance -- both synthetic and those which are natural, such as essential oils. Fragrance can be highly allergenic, yet there are companies hawking their "hypoallergenic" products formulated with large amounts of fragrance.

One such product with this claim is Musti Eau de Soin Spray. It is a "hypoallergenic" perfume with the following ingredients:


The third ingredient is parfum. It also contains chamomile. While I am in no way suggesting chamomile is bad - it's not - it is actually a common allergen. I find it quite disturbing, though, that this brand markets the product as hypoallergenic and with instructions that say, "Musti can be used from the day your baby is born." Babies do not need perfume. Babies don't need the above ingredients sprayed on them from day one. Why on earth risk baby's extremely delicate skin?

Mustela, which makes Musti, isn't the only brand marketing so-called hypoallergenic products to parents of young children. 

Johnson's Baby Lotion claims to by "hypoallergenic" as well. While this formula is now paraben free, Johnson's should really know better than to say that their lotion (silicone + petrochemicals) is hypoallergenic. FYI, here are the ingredients:

Water, Isopropyl Palmitate, Glycerin, Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Mineral Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Polysorbate 20, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Fragrance, Carbomer, P-Anisic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Xanthan Gum, Ethylhexylglycerin, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-di-t-butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Red 33

It's just not those two brands. Burt's Bees is also guilty of making this claim. They market their Baby Bee products as hypoallergenic, when they very clearly contain ingredients more likely to cause a response. 

Here is a look at their Baby Bee Shampoo & Body Wash:

Aqua (water, eau), decyl glucoside, coco-betaine, lauryl glucoside, sucrose laurate, glycerin, parfum (fragrance), betaine, sodium cocoyl hydrolyzed soy protein, coco-glucoside, glyceryl oleate, sodium chloridexanthan gum, glucose, citric acid, glucose oxidase, lactoperoxidase, limonene

Again, understand that I am not calling these products unsafe, bad, or that you should not ever use them. I am saying that these contain artificial fragrance and other ingredients known to cause contact dermatitis.

Be an informed consumer. Do not fall for meaningless marketing gimmicks. Much like "chemical free", "dermatologist tested", "non-comedogenic" and other popular buzzwords, you need to be an ingredients detective!

Here are some of the most common allergens in skincare. Some may surprise you!

Sodium Laureth/Laureth Sulfate
Essential Oils 
Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives: Quaternium-15, diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl urea, bronopol
Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate
Kathon CG (the preservatives methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone)


    Zirwas, M. J., & Stechschulte, S. A. (2008). Moisturizer Allergy: Diagnosis and Management. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology1(4), 38–44.

    Kenneth A. Arndt, Jeffrey T. S. Hsu. Manual of Dermatologic Therapeutics

    University of Gothenburg. "Even Natural Perfumes May Cause Allergies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 February 2009.

    Wallace DV. Pet dander and perennial allergic rhinitis: Therapeutic options. Allergy Asthma Proc 30:573–583, 2009.

    European Commission. 2013. Cosing, the European Commission database with information on cosmetic substances and ingredients. Accessed on March 1, 2013 at http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/cosmetics/cosing/ .

    Löffler H, Pirker C, Aramaki J, Frosch P, Happle R, I. E. Evaluation of skin susceptibility to irritancy by routine patch testing with sodium lauryl sulfate. Eur J Dermatol. 2001;11(5):416-9.

    Foti C, Bonamonte D, Mascolo G, Corcelli A, Lobasso S, Rigano L, et al. 2003. The role of 3-dimethylaminopropylamine and amidoamine in contact allergy to cocamidopropylbetaine. Contact Dermatitis 48(4): 194-8.

    Thursday, October 29, 2015

    Pumpkin, Cranberry & Ginger Delights!

    1. I have two limited-edition fall favorites from Perfectly Posh. The first is a body scrub and it smells like a delicious slice of homemade pumpkin pie. Pie to Die For features the best of both worlds for a body scrub -- sugar AND sea salt. It is a non oily scrub, so you will not find yourself slipping in the tub. It features real ginger, as well as cinnamon and ginger and sloughs off dead skin cells. I love how this makes my skin feel!

    2. The next is one that I just had the chance to try for the first time the other day. It is a super decadent -- yet lightweights and non greasy-- Skindelicious body butter called Lil Ginger Gets Snappy.

    I cannot get enough of it! It smells JUST LIKE my homemade gingerbread cake recipe shared here years ago. And what I love about this is that it is chock full of fantabulous skincare ingredients!You will find cocoa butter, coconut oil, aloe, shea butter, banana fruit extract, real ginger, carrot seed, white tea, cranberry, coffee leaf, and so much more. I promise you will LOVE it. $24

    3. Next is is my MUST HAVE fall perfume! In fact, I just ordered a new bottle today because I packed mine a while back (we are moving in a few short weeks!) This one is from Solstice Scents and is an absolutely intoxicating pumpkin perfume called Pumpkin Spice Latte. It is a blend of sweet pumpkin, coffee, cinnamon, gingerbread, whipped cream and nutmeg. It smells so heavenly and it layers beautifully with the scrub and body butter mentioned above. $15

    4. An old favorite that I will never stop recommending comes to us from Aunt Nancy's Handmade Soap in Tucson, Arizona. Nan's Pumpkin Soap is oh so creamy and lathers gently without stripping the skin of needed oils. It smells divine and is a goat's milk soap. $6

    5.  Make YOUR OWN fall Custom Blend at (seed) Body Care! You can choose their Lip Oil, Body Oil or Body Wash formula and mix your own recipe. For fall, how about a nice blend of Ginger and Orange? If you are more daring, one of the body products in a blend of Patchouli, Orange & Ginger would work beautifully, too. $7-$16

    6. Not bath and body related, but my neighbor gave me some Yankee Candle Scenterpiece Easy Melt Cups for my birthday and my most favorite is the Pumpkin Buttercream. It smells wonderful and I use it in a wax warmer. $4.99

    7.  If you are looking for an alternative to pumpkin and bakery scents, why not try the tart, yet sweet aroma of cranberries? Lemongrass Spa has a great Frosted Cranberry Body Collection for just $39 for four products! Get yours from my cousin Ashley.

    Friday, October 2, 2015

    Friday Favorites!

    Hello, beauties!

    What's new here in New York? Let's see. It's windy, gray and in the upper 40s right now. The perfect weather for a cozy sweater and boots. I am sitting here as we speak with my Tealightful Toasted Almond Spice Cake tea, purchased by my AMAZING consultant, Jarrod.

    I have been super duper busy lately, but I like it that way. I guess I always have, haven't I? I have been homeschooling Nick -- actually, he is mainly taking college courses online --but we have been enjoying field trips and working on writing and art together. I also have been immersed in writing projects, having more articles published in the latest copy of CosmoBiz Salon. I've had features in the August, September and October issues and am currently working on November. It's been a great addition to my freelance writing!

    I wanted to share some of my latest finds that I am coveting right now. First of all, I need to mention that I received my Au Naturale order yesterday. I am COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY by the powder foundation and my new lip gloss. They will be reviewed next week in a separate post. This order seals it, though. Au Naturale is *the best* brand of natural makeup on the market. No ifs, ands or buts.

    I also have been testing out the two new cleansers for Humboldt Soap Company. If you recall, I gave a rave review of the Egg White Complexion Bar in the spring and was eager to try Arice's newest creations. Humboldt Soap has two new liquid facial cleansers called Cleanseplexion with Argan Oil. One is a basic cleanser and the other is exfoliating with Jojoba Beads. I am super impressed with both formulas. They will not take off your makeup -- use the oil cleansing method or your favorite eye makeup remover for that -- but they do gently cleanse the skin with a simple, non-irritating formula. I am not generally a fan of exfoliating cleansers, as most are laden with plastic beads which are horrible for the ecosystem, but this one naturally and gently helps slough dead skin cells. Arice, I continue to be impressed with your products! 

    Ooh, do you see the pretty autumnal bronze nail polish I am wearing in the above photo? It's from Butter London and is called Trifle. I am wearing it with Jamberry Stardust Top Coat. They go so well together. I adore Butter's creamy, easy to apply formulas. That reminds me, I also tried a NOT so good top coat recently which also will get a full review next week. That was $10 down the drain for sure. This is Friday Favorites, however, so I am only sharing things I am really positive about today.

    I am a big fan of rosewater as a toner. I also love facial mists. I am so happy to have found the perfect rose facial mist and it is from one of my favorite brands on earth, Jane Iredale. The Smell the Roses Hydration Spray is full of fabulous ingredients, such as Aloe, Rosewater (REAL, not rose fragrance oil), radish root, rosehips, white tea and more. My face is so dewy and smooth and perfectly hydrated. I use it after cleansing morning and night. Best of all, 100% of the profits benefit Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

    Wednesday, September 30, 2015

    Seed Custom Blends Body Wash Review

    I really appreciate it when I have a chance to have something created JUST for me. There was the time when I had a beautiful black mod winter coat made especially for me, exactly customized for my measurements and then mailed a week later from eShakti, and then my exquisite custom blended foundation from Prescriptives, where I was able to have the perfect formula blended for me after a webcam conversation. Those experiences were delightful and made me feel pampered.

    Body care is personal. It uses all of your senses. You might have something that is the perfect scent and amount of lather, but not like how it makes your skin feel after showering. Or, you might have the perfect consistency, but not enjoy the fragrance.

    The brand new Custom Blends line from (seed) Body Care is revolutionizing the way we choose skincare. You can have a Lip Oil, Body Oil or Body Wash made especially for you, choosing up to three essential oils, giving you the possibility of over 1000 blend combinations.

    I went on the (seed) website and selected a new Body Wash. I decided to choose Orange, Lemon  and Rosemary Essential Oils in my custom product. I had so much fun choosing my blend. There are just so many options, and I just went with my mood at the time when making my selections.

    A few short days later, my customized product arrived.

    I confess-- I am in love with my new Custom Blend Body Wash from (seed) Body Care! This is the BEST natural body wash ever. If you have ever tried a sulfate free body wash before, you know that it can be really hard to find one that (A) doesn't feel greasy or slimy and (B) that actually lathers.

    Logically, I know that you do NOT need a lather! Lather typically comes from sulfates and have nothing to do with how clean your skin is actually getting. Yet, I still enjoy a bit of a lather. It's just a psychological thing, I suppose. The body wash from (seed) has a light and creamy lather without sulfates. It soothes and hydrates my skin without leaving an unpleasant film.

    It smells cheerful and uplifting without  artificial fragrance and contains no gluten, parabens, phthalates, soy or dairy. Vegan & cruelty free too! You knocked this out of the park, (seed)!

    I love that I can leave this in my shower for my boys to use without worrying about the ingredients. You see, I am that mom who makes sure the kids are using the best, most wholesome and natural (YET PROPERLY PRESERVED-- this one features an Ecocert  preservative) products because I worry about their health more than I do my own. I am anal when it comes to the products I use on them. Plus, Nick has very sensitive dry skin with occasional Eczema and Ben has dry skin with a small patch of Keratosis Pilaris. I know that (seed) is so gentle and effective. This is a product the whole family can enjoy with good for you ingredients that FEEL amazing and SMELL lovely!

    Are you unsure which oils to pick? You have to take this super fun & quick personality quiz from (seed) that tells you your ideal oil. My quiz revealed that my ideal oil is Palmarosa. How about you?

    Tuesday, September 22, 2015

    Samantha's Bellafill Journey: Part 1

    My name is Samantha Behiry. I’m guest blogging for Karley regarding an exciting journey I’m taking to improve my skin. For background, I am 29 years old and have been battling skin and acne issues for as long as I can remember. My acne breakouts have subsided for the most part, but I now find myself plagued by the marks left behind from having troubled skin for so many years. I have literally been praying to God for a solution to this problem that has significantly lowered my self-esteem on a daily basis. 

    A couple months ago my prayer was answered when I came across a blog post here on The Beauty Blogger from Karley  asking if any of her readers were interested in trying a new, long-lasting dermal filler called Bellafill®, which was recently approved by the FDA to treat acne scars. I was literally jumping for joy when I heard of this new innovation.

    I am not the type of person to use anything on my skin or in my body without doing research first. I spent hours going through all the testimonials and reviews of this product. By the end of my research, I knew nothing would stop me from having the procedure done. I found nothing but positive remarks and results from other people just like me who had suffered from unsightly acne scars and found the solution through Bellafill®. Bellafill® was originally approved by the FDA and used to treat nasolabial folds (smile lines) and was just recently approved for correcting acne scars, and boy am I happy about that!

    I just had a skin test appointment in my hometown of Atlanta with Dr. Gabrielle Sabini, who has been amazing. I needed a skin test to make sure that I have no reaction to the filler. It was quick and painless. My treatment appointment, where my scars will be injected with Bellafill® is right around the corner and I cannot wait to see the results! Stay tuned for more as I will continue to be blogging about my Bellafill® journey.

    Saturday, September 19, 2015

    Weekend DIY: Acne Home Remedies

    I know there are so many people out there who love a good do it yourself (DIY) project. I happen to love whipping up different home remedies in my own kitchen. Some are duds -- like my cocoa face mask that stained my skin so it looked dirty -- but others actually work beautifully. If you are having a spa night with your girlfriends, making your own kitchen-inspired skincare can be fun.

    Did you know that there are some ingredients in your fridge and cabinets that may help mild cases of acne? Today I am here to share two of my personal favorites. Know that these are not long-term acne solutions, nor will they work for difficult cases of of acne.

    Strawberry Apple Cider Vinegar Astringent

    Ingredients to gather up:
    • 2 cups distilled water
    • 1/2 cup of lavender sprigs from your garden
    • 1 cup of aloe vera juice
    • 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
    • Handful of chopped strawberry leaves
    • 20 drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil
    Why use these ingredients?
    Strawberry leaves don't look like much of anything when you're cutting up your berries, but they actually have more than four times the vitamin C -- in the leaves alone -- than a large orange! Strawberries also contain natural salicylins. These are a natural source of salicylic acid (beta hydroxy acid) and are oil-soluble, meaning they can penetrate into the pores and help "de-gunk".
    • Lavender is soothing and helps to keep the skin balanced. It is a gentle humectant. Many believe lavender may also help prevent ingrown hairs and clogged pores.
    • Aloe vera juice is soothing and nourishing to the skin. It helps act as a gentle, protective barrier as well.
    • Tea Tree Essential Oil is native to Australia and it has been used for years and years by aromatherapists to help prevent acne and maintain healthy, clear skin.
    Combine ingredients and strain. Put in a bottle and store no more than a few days in the fridge. Apply with natural cotton pads as needed.

    Tea Tree and Jojoba Spot Treatment

    In a pinch and need to quickly fade a pimple? Try this homemade spot treatment using only two ingredients: Jojoba Oil and Tea Tree Essential Oil.

    We just discussed the benefits of Tea Tree Oil. It can also work effectively as a spot treatment. It's wonderful for oily skin, it's antibacterial and helps to dissolve facial oils.

    You will need a carrier oil to dilute your Tea Tree Oil as most find it too concentrated to apply directly to the skin. Try Jojoba Oil for this recipe, as it's a lovely natural for acne-prone skin. Jojoba Oil is not really an oil in the traditional sense. It is a wax ester. This means that it mimics your skin's own sebum, drawing excess oil out. Be sure to choose only 100% pure jojoba oil.

    Add several drops of Jojoba Oil to the Tea Tree Oil. I recommend a ratio of three parts Jojoba to one part Tea Tree Essential Oil. Gently combine and apply directly to your pimples.

    Do you like making homemade skincare in your kitchen? What are your favorite home remedies? Share them in the comments section below!

    Thursday, September 17, 2015

    $90 Way Too Tan® Giveaway!


    What's up for grabs? -- WayTooTan® Dark HYBRID TANNING SILICONE™

    What is Way Too Tan®?
    Luxe Silicone Emulsion + Organic Antioxidants + Anti-Aging Formula

    Way Too Tan® Dark HYBRID TANNING SILICONE™ is a high-end, one-of-a-kind, multi-purpose sunless tanning lotion that can be used year-round. Any time you want a SAFE, SUNLESS tan without damaging UVA and UVB rays, this is a stellar skincare luxury! Instead of the sun, Way Too Tan is a DHA & Erythrulose bronzer.

    The luxe silicone emulsion delivers an exceptional, non-irritating, non-sticky, non-oily, velvety smooth feel on the skin. After it sinks it, it transforms into a matte appearance for a shine-free natural glow. Excellent water-repellency, resistance & wrinkle correction are additional benefits.

    Skip the harmful aging and burning rays and get a *natural looking* deep tan without the sun. Not only is this a sunless, moisturizing formula, but it also contains anti-aging ingredients. Did I mention that it smells AMAZING? It's a sweet tropical vanilla that smells like heaven.

    Why I love it 

    First of all, it has one of my most favorite skincare ingredients: Grape Seed. Grape Seed Extract provides 20 times more antioxidant power than Vitamin E and 50 times more than Vitamin C. It helps fight free radicals to protect the skin from damage, nourishes and strengthens the skin cells. Rich in Resveratrol, Grape Seed extract also helps to keep the skin firm and youthful in appearance and also improves collagen flexibility & strength.

    Japanese Green Tea and White Tea extracts provides a high concentration of polyphenols to protect skin from harmful free radicals and tighten skin.

    Hyaluronic Acid helps to provide deep moisturization & hydration, and improves skin elasticity, while rreducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Plus it gives skin a more youthful appearance.

    The advanced airless pump system keeps the formula fresh and long lasting and is unlike the delivery and packaging systems of other sunless tanners. Because of the airless pump, it keeps the lotion more stable and preserves product integrity.


     Unlike most paraben-filled sunless tanners on the market, Way Too Tan provides an abundance of antioxidants including Grape Seed Extract, White Tea, Green Tea and more. Panthenol (B5) and Hyaluronic Acid will keep your skin looking smooth & supple while tanning. This product is gluten free, and for those with unique allergies, there is no aloe or hemp.

     a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Nailed It! New Glossique Fall Wraps!

    A couple months ago, I shared my experience with Glossique Nail Deco nail wraps. These American-made nail wraps do not require any heat, remove with zero damage, and are cruelty-free & vegan. I wanted to show off my latest Glossique mani.

    This design is called Aztec Legend and I am currently on my third day wearing them. I usually get at least a week with them. I know they'd last longer, but my nails grow pretty quickly and showing the regrowth at the bottom bothers me.

    What I love about Glossique:

    • The wraps are available in two styles: Regular and Petite. I get the Petite because I have smaller nail beds and these fit perfectly.
    • You do not need a heater.
    • They bond well to the nails without looking like "nail stickers".
    • They remove without lifting up tiny layers of nail, ultimately causing nail damage.
    • Free shipping when you spend $50
    • They offer a "Guaranteed Bliss" return policy.
    Have you tried Glossique yet? What's your favorite design?

    Tuesday, September 15, 2015

    Splurge Worthy: Monat Review

    Have you tried Monat yet? Chances are, you have seen posts about this direct sales brand pop up on your Facebook newsfeed or on Instagram. Is it worth the hype? An emphatic "yes" is what I say to that!

    May I confess? A few months back, I was given a tube of shampoo of Monat shampoo to try. I was pretty unimpressed, actually. I tried to like it. Truly. But I just couldn't. I learned, however, that I was using the wrong system for my hair and that is why I didn't love my results.

    My hair is full and thick with waves and volume of its own. It is also color treated. Last fall, I went dark and every few weeks it's colored "Medium Cool Brown." It can get pretty dry, too. See what I mean? If I do not flat iron, it is a frizz fest:

    Jenny Sanzo over at the Flower City Fashionista is a Founder with Monat. She hooked me up with samples of the Balance system and last week, I gave it a try.

    "You won't need a flat iron," Jenny had said in an earlier conversation.

    In my mind, I was practically rolling my eyes because I ALWAYS NEED MY FLAT IRON to have smooth locks. Jenny was right. I washed my hair with the Renew Shampoo. First off, this is a sulfate-free shampoo with an amazing scent (phthalate-free). It lathered pretty well for a sulfate-free shampoo and left my hair feeling clean, but without dryness. I followed with the ultra rich (but not at all greasy) Replenish Mask. My hair felt so silky and healthy!

    After washing my hair, I sectioned off my hair after using my Wet Brush. Then I used my round brush to blow dry. My hair was smooth, free of frizz, shiny and did not need a flat iron. Not only did this save me a good 15 minutes, but it saved my hair from more heat styling.

    I am a believer!

    Yes, Monat is more expensive than your typical hair products. If you splurge, though, I know you are going to love it! Whether you are a handbag girl or buy designer shoes -- we all deserve to have one splurge item in our lives. If yours is hair care, you'll adore Monat.

    Check out Jenny's website today and tell her The Beauty Blogger sent you.

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

    5 Fall Skincare Favorites

    Fall is right around the corner. Do you know what that means? Before you know it, furnaces will be turned on and the air will be less humid than the 91 degrees it was today. When it comes to your beauty routine, that means changing things up to compensate for dry skin.


    1. Nix the foaming cleansers and choose a creamy formula.

    A milky cleanser will be gentler on your skin this time of year. Most foaming cleansers contain irritating soaps. Creamy cleansers are best unless you have oily skin. Look for a sulfate free formula for gentle cleansing. Cleansers with green tea and cucumber are especially gentle around the eye area.
    Try the Yes to Cucumbers Gentle Milk Cleanser, $7.99

    2. Spritz on some hydration!

    Facial mists are a fabulous addition to your skin care regime this fall! When you spray on moisturizing ingredients, they help nourish skin cells and will help your facial cream work more effectively. Use a mist prior to moisturizing and again to set makeup. You can even use them throughout the day if you are feeling dry. Try  Jane Iredale Pommist Hydration Spray, $27

    3. Switch from a lightweight, oil free moisturizer to a cream.

    While fluid formulations are ideal when your skin is holding more moisture, a richer cream is often necessary to help keep the skin hydrated. Massage a night-time facial cream into your skin each night so you can wake up with velvety soft skin. Try: Perfectly Posh Never Grow Up Anti-Aging Face Creme is infused with coffee seed, anti-aging peptides, argan oil, meadowfoam seed oil, Vitamin C & more, $24

    4. Exfoliate with fruit enzymes.

    Using harsh, granular scrubs will irritate the skin. Fall’s dry skin craves exfoliation from natural fruit enzymes such as papaya and pineapple. These natural sources work best to lift dead skin cells and help the skin look renewed and refreshed. Try: MyChelle Dermaceuticals Fruit Enzyme Scrub, $18

    5. Use body oils to quench the skin after your shower.

    Hot water can dry out your skin. Very often, you step out of the shower only to find that your skin itches from the dehydration. Unlike traditional body lotions, oils absorb right into your skin instantly and help your skin retain moisture. The new breed of body oils come in spray form, so you won’t have slippery hands -- or bottles to drop! Try: (seed) Relaxing Blend Body Oil, $14

    As seen in...

    I am so fortunate to do what I love.

    The new September 2015 issue of CosmoBiz is out and I have 5 articles in it this time around.

    Click the cover image above to read the digital edition.

    *Curious about the safety of gel polish for your nails? I have an in-depth look at this issue on page 66.

    *What makes you feel beautiful? Asking others this very question led me on a very personal journey. Take a look at page 70.

    *Thinking of coloring your hair? I dish on the latest trends from top colorists. Find it on page 40.

    *Are you in a rut? Is it time for a makeup shake up? No worries! I am here to share tips from the experts on page 68.

    *Pumpkin -- it's not just for lattes! Why is this ingredient so amazing for the skin? Learn more on page 46.

    Tuesday, August 25, 2015


    Here are the top 5 things that I have discovered about myself over the years:

    1. I no longer give a flip what people think of me. I am a recovering people-pleaser. I used to do myself a real disservice by being a "yes" person. Each time I said yes to something that made me cringe on the inside, I would be showing myself disrespect. As I get older, I say "no" more often and do not let any guilt eat at me. Life is too short to say NO to yourself by saying YES to everything else.

    2. I FEEL and look better and am healthier at 40 than at 30. Ten years ago, I turned 30 suffering with pretty severe depression. My dad had just died at age 56 of pancreatic cancer, I had two under age 2 and was EXHAUSTED. I was overweight and eating to make myself feel better. I was not in a good place. I've shed the weight (literally and figuratively) and feel younger at 40 than I did in my twenties. It's all about loving and respecting myself (and my family) enough to be kind to my body.

    3. I have always been my toughest critic. I am really hard on myself. I am working on this. No matter what I do, it is not quite good enough in my eyes. This one is a real work in progress. Stop back when I turn 50 and hopefully this will be a thing of the past.

    4. Gosh darn it, though, I like me. I do. I think I am--as my big brother used to say--pretty SWELL. I like to make others feel good. I like to help people. Sure I am quirky, but like a fine wine or a block of cheddar, I get better with age. I am a much more accepting person, more forgiving. I no longer go through life holding onto things-- like they say in Frozen, you have to "let it go." I am more patient. Being a mom has helped with that.

    5. Nothing is more important in this life than the people you surround yourself with. I know this. If people suck the life out of you, don't associate with them. Simple enough. My children, my husband, my family, my crazy group of friends who have become my other family-- they make my life complete. If you have people you can talk to, laugh with, whose shoulders you can cry on -- if you have people who truly bring you joy, then you are lucky. I am so fortunate. No amount of money, number of bylines or kudos or things of that nature could EVER measure up to what truly makes one rich -- family and friends. I realize that each day. My life is rich.

    I have been enjoying some time off with my family the past couple weeks. I will resume regular posting after Labor Day!