Skin

April 4th, 2014  |  Comment   

Sunscreens That Won’t Make You Break Out

You’ve heard it all before, right? That the number one thing you can do to keep your skin looking fab—and head off signs of aging—is wear sunscreen. Every day. No excuses. All the lotions, potions, scrubs, serums, peels, masks, and oils in the world won’t come close to providing the long-term beautifying benefit (not to mention skin cancer protection) of daily sunscreen. It’s just that pesky daily part that most women have trouble with, myself included.

My sunscreen stumbling block? Most formulas make me break out. Big time. I have the indignity of seriously acne-prone skin plus the usual in-my-30s antiaging concerns. My skin is also a lot more sensitive than it used to be, and I’m a bit of a baby about product texture—I cannot stand when anything feels heavy or greasy on my skin and doesn’t sink in quickly. I’m naturally pasty pale. And the kicker: I use retinol at night (see: acne and wrinkles) which can make you sensitive to the sun.

Yeah, that’s a tall order, but I was on a mission to find my perfect, holy grail sun protection. The broad-spectrum sunscreen of my dreams couldn’t make my sensitive, acne-farm of a face break out. But it also had to sink in quickly and feel good, because after all the idea is to wear it every single day and if it feels greasy, looks bad under makeup, and gives me zits, I’m out. It also needed to be at least SPF 30.

This, as it turns out, is a tall order for my particular combo of skin issues. I tested a lot of sunscreen as part of my daily routine, in every price range. I tested sunscreen/moisturizer combos. Sunscreen layered with other moisturizer. Sunscreen layered with face oil. Sunscreen on its own. Even waterproof sunscreen for a winter beach trip. I’ve been at it for months, but I’ve finally found the perfect sunscreens for me. (Phew!) And because I know I must not be alone in this epic quest for zit-free, sun-protected skin, I’m sharing.

My Best Everyday: Supergoop SPF 30 Anti-Aging City Sunscreen Serum
This is it, folks. The holy grail, wear-it-daily sunscreen. It’s perfect: sinks in fast, isn’t greasy, looks good under makeup. It’s a chemical block, but it doesn’t contain parabens, fragrance, or oxybenzone. On days when my skin isn’t particularly dry, I can even skip moisturizer. (But pro tip: When layering, always apply sunscreen first. I was putting it on last. D’oh.)

My Best Higher SPF: EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
This sunscreen is a physical/chemical block combo that contains niacinamide to calm sensitive, acneic, or rosacea-prone skin. It didn’t make me break out, didn’t leave the usual gross white zinc residue, and sunk in fairly quickly. On days when I know that I’ll be out in the sun more than my usual desk job requires, I reach for this stuff. (But I like it as much as the Supergoop, it could totally be my everday.)

My Best All-Natural: Pratima Neem Rose Face Sunscreen SPF 30
If you’re looking for a 100% physical block, this micronized zinc formula was my favorite. No breakouts and it felt way more smooth than many other zinc-based formulas I’ve tried. (Those little micronized particles are the jam.) It didn’t look as good under my makeup, but I wear powder foundation so this may be perfect for ladies who use a liquid or BB cream.

My Best Water-Resistant: Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream+ Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ For Face
The only water-resistant formula that didn’t make me break out, and I tried several in every price range. I wouldn’t wear this every day, but it’s perfect for a trip to the beach or any outdoor activities where you’ll get sweaty.

Disclaimer: These sunscreens worked for me and my special brand of skin crazy. I hope they work for you! But as always, skin is an individual, tricky business and you just have to test to see what works for you. So do you have a holy grail sunscreen that you love? Share in the comments!

April 3rd, 2014  |  4 Comments   

Cult Cabinet: Guide to Multiuse Oils for Skin and Hair

 

Trends are funny – after decades of “oil-free” stamped everywhere on skincare products, we’re suddenly waking up to the beauty of natural oils for skin and hair.  You may have heard of argan oil (the key ingredient in Moroccan Oil haircare), but exploring the other great sources of moisture is truly a global expedition!

Just in time for bare legs (they need a good oil more than anything), here’s my guide to some of my cult favorite beauty oil types.

1. Marula Oil- This antioxidant and omega acid-rich oil comes from East Africa and is derived from the nut of fallen marula fruit – so it’s completely sustainable (not harvested while on the tree). It provides excellent protection with anti-aging and anti-redness benefits, and smells slightly sweet and very delicious. Try African Botanics Pure Marula Oil  ($80).

2. French Plum Oil -  Also high in skin-protecting fatty acids, this oil is cold pressed in France from, you guessed it, plums.  Lea Journo’s Revive French Plum Oil ($65) is equally great for skin, hair, and nails.

3. Argan Oil – Silky smooth and virtually odor-free, argan oil has become a modern classic of late.  Like marula oil, this is sourced from the fruits of a tree found in the Souss Valley in Morocco. Lots of brands sell this oil, but I like Poppy Austin’s simple bottle and excellent price ($26.55 for 2 oz).

4. Monoi Oil – My favorite cult oil forever, monoi is derived from the Tahitian tiare flower.  The pure oil smells vaguely floral and beachy, but the cult classic brand, Monoi Tiare Tahati, sells every fragrance you can imagine on Amazon.  The oil naturally hardens in cooler temperatures – to make it liquid again, simply bring it in your shower or bath to warm up.  Like argan oil, you can buy this from fancier brands, but the basic is just as good and costs far less – about $7.00!

5. Cocoa Butter Oil - Ok, ok, I’m cheating … this cult favorite is actually a blend of soy, sesame, and safflower oils with cocoa butter and Vitamin E. While it doesn’t have the purity of some others, nothing smells more like summer to me than this yummy scent, and at $5.29 for 10 oz, you can’t beat the value of Queen Helene’s classic.

Have you bought into the new oils trend? Are you fearlessly applying to your face, or do you keep your oils below the neckline only?

March 31st, 2014  |  1 Comment    

9 Reasons to Spray Tan This Spring

It’s that time of year when it’s starting to get warm again (not warm enough for a bathing suit), and you just want to be outside. Spring really is a tease to the upcoming summer. You can be outside without a coat, but you just can’t be outside with shorts yet (at least not where I live!).

Every spring, every two weeks… I start to spray tan. It is my spring treat to myself. I love having a golden glow to my skin. I refuse to hit a tanning bed, so spray tanning has truly become my new guilty pleasure. It’s something I’ve been doing now for 5 years continuously and have really gotten to be quite an “expert” of sorts at it (I also know tanning creams inside and out, too!).

I’ve had a lot of women ask me, “But why spray tan?”

I love it. It’s easy. It’s quick. It works. It gives me the immediate results I’m desiring.

There are also many other factors to a spray tan that I genuinely love. It’s something I strongly recommend my girlfriends trying out because it’s something that gives you a little “beauty perk.” It’s also something that you can easily do throughout the summertime, too. I mean, really… who needs those sun rays?

Here are 9 Reasons Why You Should Try a Spray Tan (at least once!):

1) You’re not sitting and getting baked under harmful UV rays. This for me is the most important.

2) You get a natural glow that lasts a solid week (7-10 days).

3) If you get one done at a reputable place, you won’t have streaks. This is something that is really important, make sure you ASK around before you randomly choose a location. You want to make sure people have good things to say about them.

4) No tan lines. OK, you can have tan lines if you want, but you absolutely can do COMMANDO!

5) You have a tan in minutes, literally. I do the instant one… I walk out looking like I’ve been to Hawaii for the week. There are places that have the gradual tan, too. Basically throughout the day you get darker and you see the “end” results after 8-10 hours.

6) I’m not kidding, every time I get a spray tan I look like I’ve lost a few pounds. I know, totally vain – but it really does give this “facade.”

7) You can choose how dark you want to go – light, medium or dark. I always go with the medium one. I think a lot of people think they’re going to be orange or too dark. You pick the shade.

8) It’s easy. I don’t have to do any prep work for it (well… I always shave my legs, but that’s it!)

9) It just looks GOOD! Who doesn’t love a little healthy glow on their skin, especially when it’s safer than getting it under the sun. Again, a vain one… but it’s true!

March 14th, 2014  |  1 Comment    

10 Skin Care Launches To Look Forward To

Looking for a little jumpstart for your skin care regimen this spring? There are tons of new offerings at a range of prices and I’ve been testing ‘em out for months. Here, my definitive list of the ones you need to try immeditely.

1. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleansing Cloths ($7.50)

Wipes are excellent for cleaning your brushes and to keep by your bed on nights where you just CAN’T deal with your unabridged skin-care routine. But I worry about how not rinsing my face after using them will affect my sensitive skin. Not the case with Cetaphil, whose gentleness has been a given for decades upon decades. Also, I love that these cloths are large enough to rid your entire face and neck of even the most stubborn makeup.

2. Cerave Eye Cream ($13)

This eye cream is thick but blends in easily, and is housed in a tube so that it’s sanitary, dispenses easily but precisely, and best of all, it’s absolutely giant, especially for the extremely reasonable price of $13.

3. Nuance Salma Hayek Age Affirm Glycolic Cream Cleanser ($14)

Micro-beads recently made headlines when New York state sought to ban the plastic iteration a few weeks ago. The ones in this cleanser are made from 100% bio-based ingredients and derived from plant sugars to gently exfoliate dead skin cells from your lifestyle. Rose Petal Complex fuses extracts derived from rose petals, violet leaf and lavender flower to nurture dry, aging skin.

4. L’Oreal Paris Youth Code Texture Perfector Pore Vanisher ($20)

Yes, it’s an extra pre-makeup step, but this colorless formula yields the same soft-focus finish as that of your favorite soap stars – just step into some dim lighting and feel as if you’re a Port Charles resident. Pores, unevenness and fine lines become a thing of the past.

5. Olay Luminous Tone Perfecting Cream ($24)

A little pricier for drugstore fare, but worth it for the texture and luminosity this cream imparts. If brightening and an unscented formula are your bag (baby), this cream delivers.

6. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream ($27)

You know how down coats have morphed into much lighter, packable versions but still able to keep you as warm as you need to be? This is the skin-care equivalent of that. It used to be that deep hydration resulted from a rich, heavy cream. With this one, a little goes a long way to keep your skin polar-vortex protected, even in the most violent winds. If you have dry, dehydrated skin, you need to test this baby out.

7. Fresh Soy Conditioning Eye Makeup Remover ($26)

A simple swipe of this on a cotton pad and all traces of even waterproof makeup are gone. Soy strengthens the lashes, while mallow extract soothes and softens the delicate skin around the eyes. So good, you can even skip your eye cream.

8. Royal Apothic 22 Flowers Face Oil ($58)

When Royal Apothic creator Sean O’Mara says there are 22 flowers blended in this fabulous face oil, he is not kidding with you children. I like to layer this quick-aborbing oil under my moisturizer in lieu of serum morning and night to amp up my skin’s hydration. In the morning, I awaken to luminous skin. The best part? It’s It’s suitable for all skin types, so get involved. Plus, like all of Royal Apothic’s gems, the packaging is so pretty, you’ll want to keep it out on display.

9. Julep Konjac Sponge ($12)

If you’re new to konjac sponges, get ready to be floored. These charcoal-infused sponges gently exfoliate and last up to 3 MONTHS. You can even use them with or without facial cleanser (though I tend to favor with). Made from the root of the konjac plant, these squishy sponges help you more effectively rid yourself of dirt, oil, and blackheads.

10. Origins Plantscription Powerful Lifting Cream ($60)

Gravity got Sandra an Oscar nom, but it’s not doing much for your skin, is it? Packed with Indian Commiphora, this cream improves the look of nasolabial folds around the mouth and restores volume and firmness, all while moisturizing beautifully.

 

March 6th, 2014  |  Comment   

Cult Cabinet: 4 Masks for Refreshed, Renewed Spring Skin

They say April is the cruelest month, but I’m feeling like March is pretty painful!  Spring is just around the corner, but in reality we’re stuck inside, with man-made heat sucking the last drops of dewy from our skin.  But let’s look on the bright side – what better time to sit around watching entire seasons of your favorite show on Netflix and quenching your face with a mask?

There’s been tons of innovation in the mask category of late, from new formula feels to unique product payoffs.  Here are 4 fresh takes on refreshing your skin:

1. Boscia The Art of Multi-Masking Set ($42)- If you’ve heard about this brand’s cult status masks (including their infamous Luminizing Black Mask) but been unsure which to try, pick up this brilliant sampler which comes with a brush – such a luscious way to apply a mask, making it a relaxing ritual before the product’s even started working.

2. Bliss No Zit Sherlock ($38)- This rubberizing mask “envelopes” skin to let acne-fighting ingredients sink in while sucking out the bad stuff – a superhero worthy attack strategy for time-of-the-month troubles or less-than-perfect complexion.

3. The Face Shop Living Nature Sheet Mask 15 Pack ($21.99) – Since you’re hiding inside in your sweatpants anyway, fear not the scary look of these sheet masks, which feel cool and relaxing and won’t mess up your clothes or hair like a cream or mud mask. This awesome sampler pack of 15 different natural versions, from Aloe to Pomegranate to Rice to Honey, will keep you entertained and beautiful until the sun starts shining in April.

4. Nars Aqua Gel Luminous Mask ($39)- Whether you have 10 minutes before a night out, or the entire night (and maybe a water-proof pillow), this ultra-hydrating gel mask gives skin a brightening, refreshing boost. According to studies, 91% agreed that skin felt renewed (the other 9% were in a bad mood – hang in there guys, Spring is just around the corner)!

What’s your end-of-Winter rejuvenating ritual?

January 24th, 2014  |  2 Comments   

Beauty Detox: Products for a Gorgeous New Year

 

I don’t know about you, but the holidays left me feeling a little gross. I definitely needed to hit the reset button on my diet and my beauty routine. Between piling on every gold, sparkly makeup product known to woman (hey, I like to get festive!) and the endless parade of sweets that left my skin a little drab, I needed a fresh start. Now I don’t believe in making tons of unrealistic resolutions, and I also don’t believe that humans need to pull toxins from our bodies via drastic detox regimes. (Nope, not really a thing.) But I do think that the new year is a great time to refresh both mind and body, so I went in search of some fun detox beauty products to get me in the mood. (Call it the January equivalent of pine-scented, sparkly-Christmas-festive.) My faves:

This Nip + Fab Detox Blend Body Lotion ($10) is a delight. The scent is a delicious mixture of tea tree, jasmine, and green tea that smells vaguely medicinal (in a really, strangely good way—I promise). It absorbs quickly—my lotion must-have—but leaves skin super-soft so it’s moisturizing enough to stand up to this wacky winter we’re having.

Did I mention my skin looked blah? Between the flaky wind-chap (terrifying) and the clogged pores, there was absolutely no winter glow happening. That’s why I love Doll Face’s Refine Peel-Away Refining Gel Mask ($28). You let it dry and then peel it off (which I find strangely satisfying) so it deep-cleans and exfoliates but it’s also moisturizing thanks to the hyaluronic acid. Perfect for winter skin that needs both kinds of TLC!

My hair had also gotten bogged down: In a way-overboard attempt to hydrate, I’d been slathering on a super-moisturizing shampoo plus a super-moisturizing conditioner plus styling products (yes, multiple). Enter this Pantene Damage Detox Daily Revitalizing Shampoo ($5). It gives you a good deep clean but it’s gentle enough for daily use. And it smells great. Welcome back shiny, bouncy hair.

The lesson? You can definitely have too much of a good thing—booze, Christmas cookies, and yes, even moisturizer. It’s all about balance, and that’s a beautiful New Year’s goal we can all embrace.

— Amanda Wolfe

January 13th, 2014  |  Comment   

5 Ways to Rescue Dry, Winter-Ravaged Skin

The weather has been brutally cold lately in New England. Last week it was as low as 4 degrees in the morning! Four degrees! I was bundled from head to toe and I was STILL COLD! I know it’s going to get cold in the winter, I’m never fully prepared for how chilled to the bone I get! It’s funny, the weather is the ONLY thing moms are talking about at school pick-up.

One thing that takes a huge toll on many women during this time of year is dry skin. Hands, face, legs, arms, lips, and feet… skin gets rough, scaly, and dry during the winter months and it’s difficult to return skin to a healthy glow.

Here are five ways to take care for your skin in the winter:

1) Moisturize your face before you head to bed and when you wake up in the morning. It’s a routine you should keep for your whole life. Keeping your skin moisturized is so important because creates a protective barrier for your skin.

My product recommendation: Olay Regenerist.

2) Try this DIY reatments for dry hands. My hands get the worst in the winter, they are so cracked and dry and it’s painful. You can do your very own at-home hand treatments once or twice a week (depending upon how bad your hands are) to soothe aching hands. My grandma used to do this to my mom when she was a little girl and then she did it with me and now I do it on myself and my sons. I lather ointment/cream on my hands and then put socks (or special gloves like these) over my hands before bed! It’s super easy, but works like a charm!
My recommendation: Vaseline.

3) Use lip balm regularly. Cracked lips are the worst and it’s tough to wear lipstick or lip gloss with flaky, dry lips. Make sure you’re balming your lips just like you’re moisturizing your face and hands.
My recommendation: Blistex (in the winter).

4) Invest in a humidifier. I love using a humidifier throughout my house because they disperse the moisturizer evenly. I learned this “trick” from my mom! They keep the air in your rooms from getting too dry and zapping the moisture from your skin.
My recommendation: Vicks Cool Mist Evaporative Humidifier.

5) Vitamin time! Make sure you’re taking a multi-vitamin, they truly do wonders for your body and your skin!

January 9th, 2014  |  Comment   

Cult Cabinet: 4 Fresh Approaches to Cleansing

January feels like a great month for trying new things and considering a fresh take on your routine. – Here in NYC, where temps are hovering in the lowest digits and skin is at it’s driest, it’s also an opportune time to ditch harsh cleansers for a gentler approach!

If you’ve found your skin tiring (or tightening …) of the ultra-popular spin brushes, here are 4 completely different approaches to cleansing that marry gentle exfoliation and smoothing with gentle deep cleansing.  From cult classics to the new and exotic, each feels like a new sensation …  

1. Boscia Konjac Cleansing Sponge ($18)  This vegetable material feels like nothing you’ve touched before – unless you’ve been deep sea diving lately!  Ever-popular in Asia, it’s naturally detoxing properties pair with your favorite cleansing to create a gently foaming, smoothing effect.

2. Eve Lom Cleanser ($80) For the price of a single facial, you can invest in the cult nightly routine that many swear has changed their skin.  Unfurl Eve’s soft muslin cloth and her map-like instructions as to how to apply, massage, and remove her ultra-luxe cleansing balm (it’s the most relaxing ritual ever), and you may find your routine, and possibly your mental state, changed for life. Tip: if you already have a favorite cleansing balm or oil, take a tip from Eve and pick up a muslin cloth (aka cheese cloth) – you can buy them at the supermarket!

3. Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser ($24.50)  If you’ve ever been given a warm cloth at the beginning of your sushi meal, you know how refreshing and relaxing something so simple can be!  In the winter months, nothing is more soothing than this cult British facialist’s creamy cleanser, washed clean with the included cloth soaked in hot water and wrung out in her “polishing” step.  At a third of the cost of Eve Lom, it’s a great alternative to try a similar ritual for less.

4. Wondercloth ($9.20) If you’re now convinced a cloth may change your life, at Cult of Pretty we recently discovered this oddity, which deep cleanses with just water (seriously) and rinses clean without soap.  Watch in awe as your makeup slides off you and this new-fangled material – we don’t understand it either, we just know it works!  If you’ve wanted to experiment with dropping cleanser from your routine to let your skin rebalance, this is an amazingly simple way to give your skin a break.

What are your favorite cult cleansing tools, tips and tricks?

January 8th, 2014  |  6 Comments   

Indulge in the Best Food-Scented Beauty Products

 So many people (myself included) resolve to eat healthier in the new year but there’s another way to get your fix of decadent foods, and it’s almost as satisfying as eating them! I’ve rounded up some of the most realistic food-scented beauty products that you can enjoy, minus the calories and the dirty dishes. Not only are these products especially pleasing to our noses, but also, they’re quality items. So why not sweeten up your daily routine? Here are my picks…

 Philosophy Cinnamon Buns 3 in 1 Shampoo, Shower Gel & Bubble Bath ($17 for 16 oz. size, QVC.com)

This is the grand-daddy of amazing food-scented beauty products. Somehow Philosophy is able to go beyond the smells of sweetness and cinnamon, and actually harness baked goodness in a bottle. You won’t go about your day smelling like the sticky dessert, but for those few minutes in the shower, you’ll be immersed in cinnamon bun heaven. As an added bonus, you can use this as shampoo or bubble bath. And if you are so inclined to take this concept to the kitchen, Philosophy supplies you with a recipe for cinnamon buns right on the bottle.

Laura Mercier Creme Brulee Souffle Body Creme ($55, Sephora.com)

 This body creme feels as good as it smells and makes for an incredibly decadent post-shower treat. If you love the scents of warm caramel, spun sugar, and vanilla bean, you’re in luck. They all combine in this luxurious body cream, and the softly sweet scent lingers throughout the day. Creme Brulee is a rare treat for me, but it’s nice to have daily access to this jar! On a practical note, it really does a good job of softening even the most parched areas of your skin.

Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer ($30, Sephora.com)

We don’t normally associate luxurious scents with powder products, but this bronzer actually has a chocolatey-sweet scent. It’s not overwhelming, but I can’t help but take a whiff every time I apply it… it’s such a surprising little treat! This is also one of my all-time favorite bronzers. I’ve used up two already, and as you can see, I’m on my way to finishing a third. It’s the perfect cool, matte color to contour your cheekbones, or add a natural-looking bronze tint to the body. Too Faced has recently taken off with the chocolate concept, creating the Chocolate Bar eyeshadow palette. I have a tutorial video with that here, if you’re interested!

ChapStick MixStix Green Apple Caramel Lip Balm ($2.99, Drugstore.com)

A more affordable way to indulge is waiting for you at your local drugstore! If you’re going to apply lip balm, why not have an enjoyable scent and flavor? I was really surprised at how accurately ChapStick pulled off the green apple and caramel scents. The apple side of this balm has a sweet, yet tart scent, and the caramel side smells exactly like those individually wrapped Kraft caramels. I like to apply one side of the balm to my top lip, and the other to my bottom lip for the perfect marriage of these sweet scents and flavors.

I’d love to know what food-scented beauty products are in your stash! Let me know in the comments section :) And if you’d like to see more beauty reviews and tutorials, check out the Beauty Broadcast YouTube channel and blog!

December 26th, 2013  |  Comment   

Cult Cabinet: 4 Game-Changing Products for ’14

As a beauty blogger, a lot of so-called “miracles” come across my desk.  Most make it to my face, stay in rotation for a few days or weeks until I know enough to write a review, and then get passed along to any takers amongst friends and family.

But not this bunch – this best of the best line up has made it into permanent rotation and I’ll be rebuying well into 2015!  There’s definitely a theme: simple, effective, and multi-use.  If you’re looking to revamp your routine for the New Year, these fab four are a great start …

1. Waxlene All Natural Balm ($4.99) This is a beeswax-based petroleum jelly alternative, so if you’re obsessed with rosebud salve or Aquaphor but looking to make a natural swap, I highly recommend this.  The fact that it smells and tastes like the lightest of honey doesn’t hurt!  Excellent for lips, cuticles and anything else that needs moisture.

2. SW Basics Cream ($32) – This ultra-simple facial moisturizer is made by hand in Brooklyn using only three ingredients – shea, olive oil and coconut.  If you’re envisioning a greasy mess, fear not.  I have combination acne-prone skin and this cream has changed my life!  My face literally drinks it in; I’ve used it in summer and winter alike and I can’t recommend it enough.

3. Lift Lab Purify & Clarify Daily Cleanser and Detox Mask ($65) – This is the most amazing multi-use cleanser!  A virtually microscopic blob will turn into the lushest lather you’ve ever used, and it also has a mild exfoliant to help slough away dead skin.  Apply a thicker layer as a mask, and chill out while it deep cleanses.  I use this every night and feel squeaky clean, yet moisturized.  How do they do it??

4. Benefit Lollitint ($29) – If you’re looking for a way to rock Pantone’s Color of the Year, that mysterious Radiant Orchid who is neither pink nor purple, lilac nor bubblegum … this new shade is the jam!  Like all of Benefit’s famous tints it works as a blush or lip color, and this shade is beautifully flattering on a range of skin tones.

What favorites from 2013 will you keep rebuying in the New Year?

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