Review: Almay Pure Blends

[pureblends2.jpg]
[pureblends1.jpg]
[almaymulti.jpg]
Almay is the latest in drugstore brands to embrace the natural and eco-conscious trend in cosmetics.
 
They recently launched a new branch of the line called Pure Blends, which features liquid foundation, loose powder, blush, lip gloss, mineral makeup, and eyeshadows.
 
I have tried each item in the line and have been testing them out now for several weeks.
 
My Take:
 
Pure Blends is not nearly as good as Organic Wear by Physicians Formula. Organic Wear outshines Pure Blends almost every step of the way, even though much of the Organic Wear line could use improvements in terms of the quality and convenience of packaging.
 
This is not to say that Pure Blends is bad. It isn’t. It just feels like the company was in a hurry to compete in this ever-growing market and quickly threw together this new range. The products I enjoyed are STELLAR. The products I didn’t like at all were bad. Really bad.
 
There is no middle ground. I felt 2 products were fabulous and will definitely be purchased again, while 3 were just terrible.
 
 
Eyeshadow:
 
The Eyeshadow is a dream. I lightly dusted my lids with a mineral finishing powder to hold the shadows longer. The formula applies with ease. The texture is just divine–very soft and silky without being shiny. The colors are true and this lasted all day. The part part? The price! These were just over $7 each at Ulta. However, I bought them when they were Buy 1, Get 1 Free and then used a $3.50 coupon. I ended up with 4 eyeshadows for $11.50!
 
Seriously, if you are looking for an eyeshadow that applies and blends with ease, provides true colors and lasts all day, run over to the store and buy these! I would avoid the colors with reddish/deeper hues (such as the cinnamon shade). The ingredients lists says “…may contain carmine” and carmine is crushed female insects. You can always call customer service (as I often do) to find out specifically which shades contain carmine. I wish companies would stop saying “may contain” and label each specific color to take the guesswork out of it for the consumer.
 
I purchased: Stone, Oatmeal, Steel, Ivory
 
Ingredients:Mica, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Lipids, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Zinc Stearate, Squalane, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch, Kaolin, Lecithin, Phospholipids, Euterpe Oleracea (Acai) Fruit Extract, Citrus Junos (Yuzu) Peel Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera (Lotus) Flower Extract, Cymbidium Grandiflorum (Orchid) Flower Extract, Viola Tricolor (Wild Pansy) Extract, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Sorbic Acid. May Contain:Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, 77492, 77499), Chromium Oxide Greens (CI 77288), Ultramarines (CI 77007), Carmine (CI 75470).
 
 
Blush:
 
Again, another fantastic product in this line. I prefer the convenience of a round pot, other than these old Cover Girl-style compacts from the late 80s. That being said, I am very picky about quality and ease of packaging, so do not let my own complaint about this deter you.
 
The actual product itself is wonderful. My most favorite blush, for reference, is Lancome Blush Subtil. I try not to use this favorite of mine (since the 90s) because the ingredients aren’t that great, but if you have used this you will know the texture I prefer in my blushes.
 
I apply this Pure Blends blush in Orchid with one of two brushes–either the slanted brush for blush from Everyday Minerals, or else my Eco Tools brush. The color, again, is true. Texture is soft and luxurious for a low cost blush. This is far better than the Organic Wear blush, which yields a choppy look.
 
This is one of the best “green” blushes on the market in any price range. Again, please take notice of the carmine as a possible ingredient if this is an issue for you.
 
Ingredients: Mica, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch, Kaolin, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Lipids, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Squalane, Zinc Stearate, Euterpe Oleracea (Acai) Fruit Extract, Citrus Junos (Yuzu) Peel Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera (Lotus) Flower Extract, Cymbidium Grandiflorum (Orchid) Flower Extract, Viola Tricolor (Wild Pansy) Extract, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Phospholipids, Lecithin, Sorbic Acid. May Contain: Iron Oxides (CI 77491, 77492, 77499), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77981), Carmine (CI 75470), Ultramarines (CI 77007).
 
 
Lip Gloss:
 
I would like to find something positive to say. I cannot, unless I tell you that Fig looked great in the tube on the shelf. That is it.
 
This was very, very disappointing. The texture is horrible. It was thick and sticky, while being drippy and greasy at the same time. It had a strong, plastic type taste as well. The color did not look like the color in the tube at all. I found that it went on with almost a greenish tint (in a pinkish-brown). It almost looked as if I applied a soft olive green on top of a nude raisin. Not flattering. Nothing about this worked for me.
 
Ingredients:Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Punica Granatum Sterols, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Cera Alba (Beeswax), Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Euterpe Oleracea (Acai) Fruit Extract, Citrus Junos (Yuzu) Peel Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera (Lotus) Flower Extract, Cymbidium Grandiflorum (Orchid) Flower Extract, Viola Tricolor (Wild Pansy) Extract, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil, Vanilla Planifolia Fruit, Litsea Cubeba Fruit Oil, Sorbic Acid. May Contain: Mica, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, 77492, 77499), Yellow 6 (CI 15985), Red 6 (CI 15850), Red 7 (CI 15850), Carmine (CI 75470).
 
Loose Finishing Powder:
 
Another dud. This was highly scented, first of all. While it may be fragrance free, it has a strong scent. I also do not like the fact that silica is in this in such high concentrations. I applied this over the liquid makeup which I will review below. It was very chalky and gave me a caked on look, even though I applied it very lightly with a kabuki brush. I wouldn’t recommend or repurchase this one either. I chose this in Translucent Matte.
 
Ingredients: Mica, Lauroyl Lysine, Silica, Lecithin, Euterpe Oleracea (Acai) Fruit Extract, Citrus Junos (Yuzu) Peel Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera (Lotus) Flower Extract, Cymbidium Grandiflorum (Orchid) Flower Extract, Viola Tricolor (Wild Pansy) Extract, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Sorbic Acid, Iron Oxides (CI 77491, 77492, 77499), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77981).
 
Liquid Makeup:
 
This was by far the worst of the bunch. It was absolutely horrible. This has a light coverage, which is fine. I adore tinted moisturizers and a light coverage. This wasn’t easily blendable and I have spent lots of time over the years blending makeup on others and myself.
 
As with the powder, this was very fragrant. All of the floral extracts make this very strongly scented and it was extremely irritating to my skin. After one day of use, I had two whiteheads on my nose and itchy redness on my cheeks. A glutton for punishment, I applied this a second day. My face felt very warm and became red again, with visibly clogged pores by that night. This product also contains Borax, which I wouldn’t want to put on my face.
 
You all know I am very good at taking care of my skin, and this was clearly the trigger for me.
 
The color (Naked) looked fine when first applied and then oxidized within an hour. This was just a bad, bad foundation all around.
 
Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Squalane, Glycerin, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Euterpe Oleracea (Acai) Sterols, Sucrose Laurate, Cetyl Alcohol, Cellulose, Stearic Acid, Euterpe Oleracea (Acai) Fruit Extract, Citrus Junos (Yuzu) Peel Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera (Lotus) Flower Extract, Cymbidium Grandiflorum (Orchid) Flower Extract, Viola Tricolor (Wild Pansy) Extract, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Phospholipids, Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood) Wood Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Seed Oil, Xanthan Gum, Glyceryl Stearate, Alcohol, Silica, Sodium Borate, Caprylyl Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol. May Contain: Mica, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, 77492, 77499).

The Beauty Blogger’s Favorite DIY Body Scrub

Re-sharing my MOST FAVORITE body scrub ever! I have been making this for nearly a decade!

 

I love salt scrubs. As much as I love sugar scrubs, I like salt for serious exfoliation.

My favorite salt scrub from retail shops is the old Origins Salt Rub. It used to be over $30 per jar — I started using this way back when Origins sold it in glass jars. It is not in a $31 tube. About ten years ago, I stopped buying the Origins and started making salt scrubs myself. It is easy and the homemade scrub we’re going to make is (in my opinion) just as good as the pricey one!

Make your own salt scrub in a 16 ounce jar (weighs in about 27 ounces) at home for only about $2.00 for per jar with today’s DIY project! I like to make several at one time which I just did earlier to give away as gifts!

[addeos.jpg]

Start with 1/4 c. salt and slowly add in essential oil
 

[SCRUBblendit.jpg]

After oils are added to salt, blend!
 

[freshnessparselyscrub.jpg]

Add a fresh sprig of parsley as a garnish! I also stir some into my scrub (chopped).
Store in a jar and label or decorate as you choose!
The results are wonderful. Your skin will be smoother than silk and feel like butter. If you’ve ever paid $100 for a spa “Salt Glow” treatment, consider doing this at home and you can do the treatment as often as you’d like!
Before you use it, heed this warning: SALT STINGS BROKEN OR IRRITATED SKIN! I learned this when I first used a salt scrub and didn’t think about the sting factor. I applied it all over my legs after I shaved them. OUCH! Scrub first…then shave!
 

Let’s Talk Ingredients

You’ll need sea salts, carrier oils, and essential oils. This is a 100% natural product! If you are making a large batch, I recommend a preservative in case you get your wet fingertips in the jar.

I buy my sea salts right at Wegmans. They will come in different grains. I like to use coarse, so but you can use fine — or a mix of each.

For the carrier oils, today I am using Grapeseed, Sunflower, and Olive Oil. You do not need to use multiple oils like I do. You only need one. I just like the blend of these oils. You also do not have to buy the same ones I have listed here. You can use any oils you have handy, such as jojoba, macadamia, even canola from your baking cabinet!

Now, for the essential oils, I am using Peppermint and Rosemary Essential Oils from Plant Therapy Essential Oils.

I also add in some chopped fresh parsley to my own.

This is a truly invigorating scrub to refresh the senses while giving your skin the royal treatment!
I also add in some chopped fresh parsley to my own.

This is a truly invigorating scrub to refresh the senses while giving your skin the royal treatment!

How To Make It

I start slowly. I like to do a bit at a time. We’ll be using 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of oil today. I start by adding 1/4 cup or so of salt into the jar. Then I like to add just 5 drops at a time of essential oil (I add 10 drops of each essential oil total per scrub). Add some carrier oil. Then add more salt, more essential oil, etc. Stir a bit before you add in more salt.

Hmm. Now my scrub looks like applesauce.

Don’t worry! I always give the scrub a very quick stir and your scrub will be back to looking very scrubby with the coarse grains visible.

This is a very simple project! I like to even add in a bit of fresh parsley. Why, you ask? No one really talks about the myriad benefits of parsley to the skin. It can help clarify and tone the skin, making it look fresh and bright. It also helps to reduce redness and swelling. I think it’s a very underrated natural ingredient for homemade skin care, but it’s worth adding in to your scrub.

So that is how you make your scrub! 1 part salt, 1 part oil, 10 drops of essential oil and a sprig of parsley! It couldn’t be simpler. Just wait, though, to see how soft and radiant your skin will be!

What’s In It Wednesday: Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2

Clinique…the white lab coats have you fooled into thinking that the line is a group of dermatologists–almost a feeling of being in a professional medical setting when you’re having an analysis at the “Clinique computer.”
I am completely amazed by Clinique’s status in the skincare and cosmetics arena, particularly when their most mediocre products–Dramatically Different Moisture Lotion and Clarifying Lotion 2–are such great sellers.
I will discuss the ever popular DDML at a later date. Today I’d like to focus on their “exfoliant” called CLARIFYING LOTION 2.
The Clinique “expert” computer always types me a “2”. This is based on nothing scientific, but is more a form of profiling. Because I am fair skinned with blue eyes and blonde hair, and nothing else more, I AUTOMATICALLY fall into a 2, just as those with darker skin and dark hair fall into a 3 or 4, even if reality says that their dry skin makes them a 1. It is an antiquated system without relevance.
Using the system devised for 2s several years ago, my skin was nearly destroyed. Keep in mind that the Clarifying Lotion back then contained acetone–you know the main ingredient in nail polish remover. While the harsh chemicals have, for the most part, been removed from Clinique’s alcohol in a bottle–oh, pardon me, I mean Clarifying Lotions–the rest of the ingredients remain.
Clarifying Lotion #2 is a toner, a harsh alcohol-based toner. This is targeted at those of us with dry cheeks and a more oily t-zone–a normal to combination skin type.
Let’s take a look together at the list of ingredients:
Alcohol Denat., Water (aqua purificata) Purified, Witch Hazel (hamamelis virginiana), Glycerin, Menthol, Sodium Borate, ext. d & c violet number 2 (ci 60730), d & c red number 33 (ci 17200) and d & c red number 6(ci 15850)
 
Alcohol denat is denatured alcohol. The dictionary defines denatured alcohol as “Ethyl alcohol to which a poisonous substance, such as acetone or methanol, has been added to make it unfit for consumption.” This is the very first ingredient in this product. This is not a benign fatty alcohol to soften skin. This is harsh alcohol and it is the very reason all you can smell is alcohol when you open the bottle.
 
Purified Water is as it seems, water which has undergone a purification process. This one is A-OK.
 
Witch Hazel is an astringent. However, this is not the alcohol free version which is called witchhazel hydrosol or distillate. This contains alcohol, which is silly to me since more than half of this product is already alcohol!
 
Glycerin is a good thing. It’s a natural humectant derived from vegetable oils, more commonly from soybean and cococnut oils.
Menthol is a compound derived from plants, typically from a mint plant. While this “natural” ingredient sounds harmless, it gives a icy, cooling sensation which easily translates to redness, dryness and irrititation when used on the face.
 
Sodium Borate is known as Borax. It can be used–in very small amounts–as a water softener. You’ll find it in many bubble bars and bath bombs. If it is in a very, very small concentration, it is considered safe on the skin. That being said, it has already been determined that this is not safe on broken, red, or irritated skin, or on the skin of infants and small children–so if you’re using bath products in the tub, make sure this isn’t on the list of ingredients of bath bombs and other bath goodies. Common sense will tell you that if this is unfit for use on broken, red or irritated skin, that you must not use it on acne irritation or sensitive or sunburned areas of the skin.
The artificial dyes: Violet 2 has already been banned for use in cosmetics (makeup) because it is unsafe. It is still allowed in skin care. It would seem that if it is too hazardous to use in, say, a blush, that you don’t want to run this near your eyes, nose or mouth. Red dye 6 is often derived from and tested on animals. Skin care products do not need artificial dyes! Come on, Clinique! Wake up.
The Bottom Line:
This is a bad, bad product.
First of all, it is not an exfoliant–neither chemical nor manual. This is an alcohol-based astringent. I would not this on the oiliest of skins. How they fool people into thinking this will exfoliate you skin is baffling.
Afterall, if this could exfoliate, you would not need to buy their Turnaround Cream or 7 Day Scrub now, would you?
The only Clinique “clarifying lotion” with an actual exfoliant in it is MILD CLARIFYING LOTION. This contains BHA–salicylic acid. This is an oil soluble agent that can exfoliate the pores. I do not understand why this product is aimed at those with very dry skin. In reality it is ideal for combination and oily skins as it will tone and exfoliate without alcohol. I’d use this on acne-prone skin. I cannot even recommend this one, however, as it is chock full of silicones, parabens and other no-nos.
Run, run away fast from any Clinique beauty advisor who tells you that your skin could benefit from this. If you’re a glutton for punishment and want a similar effect without ALL of the harsh ingredients, buy a bottle of cheap witch hazel at the drugstore for a couple of dollars.

DIY Wednesday: Bath Whip & Foaming Scrub

Start with Foaming Bath Whip base
[VANILLAOIL.jpg]

I use Vanilla Essential Oil to scent

[SUGAR1.jpg]

White sugar works well in a foaming scrub
[cocoasugar.jpg]
The Chocolate Mint Scrub contains cocoa powder
[foam1.jpg]
This is the amount of suds I am getting just from rinsing the bowl I used in running water!
 

[CHOCOSCRUB.jpg]

The finished Chocolate Mint Foaming Scrub
 

[vanilla1.jpg]

The finished Vanilla Bath Whip
 

[bathwhips.jpg]

The result of the 20 minute DIY Project!
 
 

Today for DIY Wednesday we’re going to use 1 base to make two different products.

This is a very simple project and you will be able to make 2 products–Foaming Bath Whip (cream soap) and a Foaming Sugar Scrub–in about 20 minutes start to finish!

Let’s talk about our supplies. I am using CRAFTER’S CHOICE FOAMING BATH WHIP BASE from Wholesale Supplies Plus. I have a one gallon bucket. This will cost around $30, but will make many large jars for you to make as gifts or just for some at-home pampering!

You’ll also need some carrier oil. I like GRAPESEED OIL because it is a very non greasy oil. SWEET ALMOND OIL is also great in this. Buy these at your favorite natural foods store or even at some supermarkets. Wegmans has both oils.

I am also using VANILLA ESSENTIAL OIL, COCOA ABSOLUTE, and PEPPERMINT ESSENTIAL OIL for the scenting of these items.

A good organic cocoa powder and plain white sugar will be used in the scrub.

Lastly, you’ll be whipping these great items up with a hand blender.

We’re going to make the FOAMING BATH WHIP first. This is a rich and thick bath cream or cream soap. It is perfect for shaving your legs!

I am making a simple vanilla bath whip with Vanilla Essential Oil.

Start with 8 ounces of bath whip base. Add 2 tablespoons of oil. Blend for about 5 minutes with your hand mixer. Make sure you scrape the sides of your bowl so you incorporate everything. Fold in several drops of vanilla essential oil, or scent of your choice. If you are using a synthetic fragrance oil, use 2-3%. I recommend gently folding the oil in with a spatula.

If you only want to make the bath whip, place in jars and you’re done!

If you’d like to make a scrub, then leave half of it in the mixing bowl. My scrub will use that vanilla foaming bath whip. Add in 4-6 ounces of sugar to your vanilla bath whip and gently incorporate into your bath whip. It looks like a great deal of sugar, but do not worry!

Add in 3 T. of cocoa powder. Cocoa powder is loaded with antioxidants and contains copper, so this delicious smelling baking staple is also beneficial to your skin! Now I am adding in about 8 drops of peppermint essential oil and 6 drops of cocoa absolute. Gently fold in again.

Now you have a creamy chocolate mint sugar scrub that will foam right up!

When placed in the jars, it’ll look like you have 2 dishes of ice cream. If you want to be fancy, you can add in mica, liquid colorants or even sprinkles. You can also pipe the bath whip like a cake icing if this is a special gift.

If you have a lot of product left (dependent on jar size), just place it in an airtight container. I have a Tupperware container of bath whip in my cabinet.

Note: If these are for you or someone you know will use them fairly quickly, you don’t need to add a preservative. If you plan to sell these or store them for any length of time, you absolutely need to add a preservative. I recommend Optiphen, which is paraben free, making sure to follow the manufacter’s guidelines.

The Only 3 Masks You Will Ever Need

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 Hexapeptideand 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.

The Best Red Lipsticks for Spring 2016

Red in every shade is again trending in spring makeup, but it’s a look many are intimidated by.

 

Many women fear reds because they tend to buy the wrong shade suitable for their complexion. Finding the right shade is key, says eco makeup artist Sally Biondo. Biondo, an organic beauty expert, has enhanced the natural beauty of celebrities such as Jessica Simpson, Hilary Duff, and country songstress Naomi Judd. With just a few easy tips, Biondo shares her thoughts on achieving gorgeous red lips.


A classic red pout is timeless enough for women of all ages to wear anytime. Once just reserved for night time looks, Biondo says that when paired with a soft neutral eye and a hint of cheek color, red lips are perfectly appropriate for daytime wear.

 

Biondo says that the trick to pulling off the look all comes down to your complexion, specifically your undertones. An easy way to find your undertones is by looking at the veins on the underside of your arms for clues. Once youve done this, finding your perfect red will be a breeze.  

  • Cool Undertones— Those with rosy skin and green or blue eyes often look best in blue-based reds. If you look best in silver jewelry, chances are you have cool undertones. Women with cool undertones typically have visible blue veins on the underside of their arms. Try Boots No. 7 Stay Perfect Lipstick in Love Red, the perfect blue-based red hue.

  • Warm UndertonesThose with yellow or peach in their skin typically have warm undertones and look best in an orange-based shade such as a tomato or brick red. Eye colors with this undertone typically range from hazel to brown. If you have warm undertones, the veins on the underside of your arms will appear slightly green and you will look better in gold jewelry rather than silver. Red Apple Lipstick in Risque is a stunning warm red.



  • Olive Undertones— Women with olive undertones generally have a mix of both olive and yellow in their skin and tend to have a medium skin tone.  The veins on the underside of their arms are both green and blue. The ideal red lipstick for women with olive undertones is a coral red. A good red option for those with olive undertones would be Osmosis Colour Lipstick in Sassy.

  • Neutral Undertones— Some women possess both warm and cool tones and can wear lipsticks with either base. Those with neutral undertones look good in both gold and silver. Choosing a red will be easier for you and almost any shade will do. If you are unsure whether you are warm or cool, choosing a lipstick with a neutral base will be a safe choice. A deep bold red with neutral undertones can be found in Ruby by Au Naturale.

  • Not ready to go bold? Do you love the red lip trend but are looking for something subtle instead of a high-impact lip? Try sheer lipstick or stain. Anyone can pull off a sheer red.  This will add a hint of red shine without having a full coverage look. Try Beautycounter Lip Sheer in Scarlet, a true red.

 

Tips and tricks for flawless application:




  • Exfoliate your lips. Mix equal parts sugar with a natural oil such as olive or sunflower for a homemade lip scrub. This will slough off dead skin and help prevent flaking. Smooth lips are key for lipstick application and red can be unforgiving if you have dry lips. Don’t want to make your own? Try my favorite lip scrub in the world, Lush Mint Julips.

  • Moist lips are key! Nourish with lip balms containing natural ingredients such as shea butter, cocoa butter and grape seed oils. These ingredients help to keep lips hydrated and the natural oils may even provide anti-aging benefits. Even better, try Seed Body Care Lip Oil. I haven’t used a singe balm since they debuted the oil!

  • To ensure a flawless, bleed-proof look, clean up the edges of the lip with concealer. Make sure the concealer matches your skin or it will draw attention to the area rather than camouflaging any mistakes. You can also try a flesh toned lip liner to seal in color. Try Cargo Reverse Lip Liner, which is a flesh shade to prevent feathering and bleeding without interfering with your lipstick color.

Review: Decleor Aromessence Neroli Serum & Night Balm

I think I am in love. Shh. Don’t tell my hubby.

Just kidding.

But I am in love enough with these facial care products that I recently “broke up” with the serum and night cream I had been using that I believed were irreplaceable. These products are that good.

I have been using the same facial products since May. They are quite lovely. And they worked pretty well for me. Also back in May,  I received a package from Decleor. It was full of luxurious looking products, but I never opened them until about 5 weeks ago because my skin was just fine. It happens each fall — when the air temps drop and the humidity falls, my skin becomes dry. That is when I remembered that I had just packed the items from Decleor in a moving box (eek, 10 more days till the big day is FINALLY here). I took out the products and am completely blown away with the quality  and the results.

I have not used the BB Cream or the Rose serum yet, but I will unpack those soon and try them out and get back to you with my thoughts.

What I have been using religiously — Aromessence Neroli Essential Serum and the Aromessence Neroli Essential Night Balm.


Serum Review –I have long been a fan of facial oils. My first experience with them was when I was a Clarins Counter Manager right after college. I remember that I was not quite 22 and had fairly oily skin. When our visiting exec recommended I try the Lotus Treatment Oil, I was scared. Using an oil on my skin went against everything I had previously been taught. That oil turned my skin around, though, and I was forever convinced that oils can benefit even the oiliest of skin types.

I used to use oils at night. This one says to use in the morning and even I was skeptical about this. What if my makeup slid off? What if it had my looking like an oil slick?

Here is my AM routine:

*Cleanse skin with Avalon Organics Wrinkle Therapy CoQ10 & Rosehip Cleansing Milk

*Apply Clinique Mild Clarifying Lotion Alcohol Free (It has salicylic acid to gently exfoliate too)

*Apply two drops of Decleor Aromessence Neroli Essential Serum

*Wait 5 minutes and apply Bare Minerals Prime Time primer

*Apply It Cosmetics SPF 50 CC Cream (Radiance formula, shade Light) with a Real Techniques Stippling Brush

This facial oil serum absorbs very quickly into the skin and does not leave an oily film or residue behind. I have never had luck with an oil before my makeup, but this one is different. It really leaves my skin feeling soft and hydrated without any unpleasant greasiness.

Did I mention the ingredients? They are really top-notch and beneficial to the skin.

  • Corylus Avellana (Hazel) Seed Oil, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Neroli Oil, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Oil, Juniperus Communis Fruit Oil, Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Oil, Carum Petroselinum (Parsley) Oil, Linalool, D-Limonene, Geraniol, Farnesol, Citral


Night Balm ReviewThis is my most favorite product from Decleor. It was the first one that I tried. Let me share my experience. I started using this when my mother was recovering from hip surgery and I was traveling back and forth. My husband was on a business trip in Dallas and the dog had a tummy bug. At the same time, we accepted an offer on our house and had to find another. I was SO stressed, sleeping less than two hours a night, and felt like I was barely functioning. My skin was DULL and I looked as tired as I felt.

I started using the balm on a Wednesday night. I remember — it felt so wonderful on the skin, immediately quenching the dryness. The dog got me up every hour to take him out and I remember looking at myself in the bathroom mirror around 3:30. My skin was glowing and looked so refreshed. The results from the balm appeared quickly.

Over time, I have seen a softening of those coupe pesky fine lines that have crept in. My skin tone is even. It is healthy looking.

The trick with this gem of a product? Only add a TINY amount to your fingertip — I mean less than a size of a pea. Then massage between your finger tips and gently massage into the skin.

Ingredients —

  • Corylus Avellana (Hazel) Seed Oil, Beeswax (Cera Alba), Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax , Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Neroli Oil, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil, Dipteryx Odorata Seed Extract, Tocopherol, Coumarin, Farnesol, Geraniol, D-Limonene, Benzyl Benzoate, Eugenol, Linalool.

 

The Skin Benefits of Corylus Avellana Seed Oil 

You do not often see this one in skincare. What is Corylus avellana? It’s common name is European hazel or hazelnut oil and it really is splendid for the skin. It is the #1 ingredient in both of these products. So what are the benefits, exactly?
  • Astringent oil delivers non-greasy hydration to the skin
  • Quick to absorb
  • Ideal for normal, combination and oily skin types
  • Rich and Vitamins B and E
  • Abundant in flavonoids
  • Gentle enough for sensitive skin
  • Hydrating and skin balancing

The Skin Benefits of Neroli Essential Oil

Neroli is very special. This essential oil is also very expensive. Why? To yield just one pound of the oil, you need at least one thousand pounds of orange blossoms!
Neroli comes is distilled from the flowers of the bitter orange tree. It has myriad skincare benefits.
  • May help improve the appearance of acne scars
  • May help improve skin elasticity
  • Calming and relaxing to sensitive skin

Thoughts on Decleor

Decleor is a luxurious brand of HIGH QUALITY, effective skincare. It reminds me of a combination of three lines: Tata Harper, Clarins and Suki. In many ways, it marries those three into one ideal collection.

I didn’t think I would find myself changing things up so much, but I am so grateful that I gave the products a chance, as they are truly exquisite.

For more details, visit http://www.decleorusa.com/.

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.

Sources:


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

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23722409

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19401210

http://www.wellsphere.com/general-medicine-article/do-cosmetic-ingredients-really-absorb-into-the-blood-stream-in-26-seconds/1940812

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

http://journal.scconline.org/pdf/cc1969/cc020n08/p00487-p00499.pdf
http://personalcaretruth.com/2011/01/the-impermeable-facts-of-skin-penetration-and-absorption/

The 5 Best Bar Cleansers for the Face

Are you a cleansing snob?

Don’t be! I want you to get that idea out of your head that bar soaps are bad. We have discussed this before at length. Bar soaps are good for your skin!

The cheap bars you buy at the store — Dove and Zest come to mind — are NOT real soap at all. They are bars made of beef fat and harsh cleansing agents and fragrances which tend to be devoid of any true skincare benefits. REAL soap contains natural butters, oils, vitamins and minerals to care for your skin.

A well-formulated bar soap can do wonders for your skin! Today, I am sharing the 5 best bar soaps for the face:

 

  • A couple of months back, I told you about Humboldt Soap Company Egg White Face Soap. Have you tried it yet? In addition to argan oil, crushed grape seeds to exfoliate, and egg whites, you will find olive & coconut oils. If have normal to combo skin, you will absolutely adore this bar! $7.50

 

  • Are you still using LUSH Coalface for your oily skin? Stop! I know it is popular, but there is a much better option. The LUSH contains sodium lauryl sulfate. The Perfectly Posh Gender Bender Chunk contains activated charcoal, silt (Dead Sea mud) and nourishing shea butter. When my t-zone is oily mid-summer, I swear by this. I also see an improvement using this on Nick’s eczema.By the way, you will save money and get a better product with Gender Bender. The LUSH bar is $13.95 for 3.5 ounces. Gender Bender is just $9 for 7 ounces!

 

  • If you are hypersensitive or have flaky skin, Rosacea or other skin concerns, I recommend the Suki Sensitive Cleansing Bar. Enriched with colloidal oatmeal & shea butter, this bar is free of artificial dyes. $11.95


  • I cannot say enough about the Carrot & Goat Milk bar from Aunt Nancy’s Handmade Soap. It is positively delightful and ideal for mature, sensitive and dry skin types. There are no added fragrances of any kind and it is full of good-for-your-skin ingredients such as wheat germ oil, carrot puree, grapeseed oil, coconut oil and more. $6


  • If you are looking for a fragrance-free bar cleanser to treat acne, check out the Sibu Beauty Cleanse & Detox Sea Buckhorn Facial Soap. I love the fact that Sibu is another good company out there making sure that they are using sustainable ingredients. This bar contains organic Sea Buckthorn Oil, citrus peel, oat kernel flour and more. $6.95

How to get rid of spider veins naturally

Spider veins.  They can truly have a negative impact on a womans self esteem. This condition affects nearly half of the population.  If you often find yourself covering up with long pants and skirts, even on summers hottest days, these tips may be for you.

 

Here are ten ways to get rid of spider veins naturally.


  1. Elevate your legs.

This is crucial.  When you are seated, be sure not to cross your legs. Elevate them on an ottoman or step stool as much as you can while seated.  This is important for regulating blood flow in the legs and improving circulation.


  1. Get a massage.

Not only are massages a relaxing treat, but they may improve your spider veins.  Poor circulation is related to spider veins and we know that getting regular massages can improve your circulation. Thats why massages can be an excellent remedy for this condition. If possible, schedule a Swedish massage on a monthly basis.


  1. Cayenne pepper (Capsicum)

One of the most popular homeopathic remedies for spider veins involves the use of cayenne pepper. Anecdotal evidence suggests that mixing a spoon of cayenne into water and drinking it daily may bring relief because of cayennes effect on circulation. Cayenne pepper is also found in skin care products! My favorite one is Perfectly Posh Hot Pepper ShaBang Body Butter. This cocoa butter-based muscle rub features Capsicum, along with soothing aloe vera and may be worth a try for your pesky spider veins.


  1. Exercise!

Movement benefits all of us.  Whether it be riding a bike, swimming laps or taking a walk, exercise is essential to well being.  It gets your circulation moving, which helps improve spider veins.  These low impact exercises above use your legs, which will help prevent these unsightly veins from reappearing.


  1. Support hose may help.

Compression stockings arent exactly fashion forward, but they may greatly improve this condition. Plus, they are readily available at your neighborhood drugstore.  They gently add pressure and get the blood flowing in the legs to help get the problem under control. It is an affordable, painless, and effective way to treat spider veins.


  1. Be sure you’re at a healthy weight.

If you are overweight, try to shed some pounds slowly and in a healthy manner.  Not only will getting down to your ideal weight improve your overall health and self esteem, it may also help with your spider veins. If you are overweight, you are adding stress to your legs and feet, which both contribute to spider veins.


  1. Make an apple cider vinegar compress.

You can soak towels in a small basin of apple cider vinegar and wrap your legs in the towels.  You can also apply as a compress.  Why? The vinegar can help calm swelling, inflammation, and pain caused by spider veins.  We recommend chilled vinegar, as anything warm applied topically may make the problem worse.


  1. Apply witch hazel.

Witch hazel is a cooling ingredient and when it is applied to the spider veins with cotton balls, it can help reduce the pain and swelling.  Witch hazel also has astringent properties, making it an excellent choice for spider veins. Simply apply to a fresh cotton ball and pat onto affected areas.  This is one of the best ways to soothe the discomfort that goes along with this condition.


  1.  Consider Gotu Kola extract.

You know me. I love natural remedies, but I also need evidence and science when it comes to ingredients. This one I was not sure whether to include, but if you take supplements, you may want to give this a whirl. Gotu Kola has been used for thousands of years to treat many conditions.  It is well known for treating conditions related to veins and circulation, making it a prime choice for spider veins.  In fact, if you do an online search for this natural extract, you will find thousands of testimonials for people saying that their spider and varicose veins were cured by taking Gotu Kola.


  1.  Dont forget the sunscreen.

Skin care experts are quick to recommend sunscreen usage for many reasons.  Using sunscreen can also help to prevent spider veins.  Sun damaged skin and increased exposure to the sun actually make existing spider veins look much worse.  Be sure to protect your skin from the sun.  In doing so, you will help reduce the appearance of spider veins at the same time.

My top 3 sunscreen picks:

Alba Botanica Fragrance Free Very Emollient Sunscreen SPF 30

CoTZ Sensitive SPF 40 Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

Perfectly Posh My Hero SPF 30+