After a long winter and short spring, beach season is FINALLY on the horizon. Just in time for Memorial Day Weekend, Sephora released the seventh edition of their Sun Safety Kit—and I must say, this year’s is their best yet! The travel bag includes 18 travel and sample-sized products, including moisturizers, BB cream, self tanners, primer, bronzing powder, hand cream and more from brands like Clarins, L’Occitane, Dr. Brandt, bareMinerals, Origins, Josie Maran, Smashbox, St. Tropez and more.
The Sephora Sun Safety Kit is a $210 value, but you can get it for only $30 ($20 of which will be donated to the Skin Cancer Foundation) while supplies last.
Have you used any of Sephora’s previous Sun Safety Kits? What’s your go-to product to protect your skin from sun?
We go way back. I’ve known about you since I was a kid (and my mother had her own tryst with you). I’ve been using you myself for at least a decade—when I first noticed that the squint lines around my eyes were becoming more noticeable. You do everything for my skin—you treat fine lines, wrinkles, sun spots, dullness, crepiness, and sagging skin (EVERYTHING)—and for that I want to say thank you…times a thousand.
In the beginning I had my doubts about you. I heard that you can’t use retinol with other formulas, and if I did my skin would have a negative reaction. Boy, was I wrong! After confabbing with dermatologists and scientists, they recommended using a retinol product like Roc Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream, a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 and your favorite, non-retinol anti-aging product to target and protect aging skin from multiple angles. And, there has been ne’er a bout of irritation.
You’re no spring chicken yourself—aren’t you celebrating your 25th anniversary this year?—so I’m pleasantly surprised that you’re still able to speed up cell turnover, sweep away the dead cells that cause dullness on my face, and boost collagen and elastin production.
How do you do it?!
Sure, you were a little slow to warm up to me. It took a year of consistent use for you to work on my deeper wrinkles (I heard that was normal), but I knew you cared and were working hard to transform my skin because you started evening out my blotchy complexion after just a few weeks.
So…since you’re celebrating 25 years I just wanted to write and say, you’re the best retinol!
P.S. I don’t usually write love letters to skincare ingredients (it’s just not my thing…and it’s weird), but you’re something special.
While there is merit to some beauty products that cost the earth (this gal has bought several replacement bottles of $150 Rodin Olio Lusso, for instance), the phrase “you get what you pay for” can be as incorrect semantically as it is grammatically. There are a bevy of fabulous beauty buys at your local drugstore that can be scored for under a Hamilton note. Here, my favorite inexpensive makeup, hair, skin care and body buys.
1. Revlon BB Cream: Revlon’s foundations have long impressed me, and the brand’s foray into the BB cream space is worthy of a parade. It yields light, smooth, even coverage with a hint of hydration ($9).
3. Maybelline Clean Express Makeup Removing Lotion: My lids and lashes have become a “no-fly zone” for regular face washing since I started getting lash extensions at Courtney Akai Lash Boutique and recently became a convert to Browhaus’ brow resurrection service. This creamy lotion on a Q-tip removes all traces of even the most stubborn liner, shadow and mascara ($5).
4. Neutrogena Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Mask: This is my go-to when I’m about eight months deep into a haircut. You and I both know highlighted, heat-styled ends are absolutely a Greek tragedy by that point. This creamy, lush masque whips them into shape without scissors ($6).
5. John Frieda Full Repair Perfect Ends Sheer Mist: Similarly, spritzing this stuff on ends before flat-ironing or curling can help me eke out another two months of wear on a haircut ($9.99).
6. Yes To Carrots Hydrating Shower Gel: Moisture, great cleansing, a crisp, refreshing scent and natural. Get involved ($7).
7. L’Oreal Paris Miss Pixie Nail Color: For six dollars, you can score the very same hue as talon titan Jin Soon Choi’s legendary Blue Iris Nail Lacquer, which beauty editors love. Note: You’ll need an extra coat or two; this one skews a bit more sheer ($6).
1/2 tsp. Olive Oil
The name of this skincare line reminds me of a tomato sauce. Maybe because it rhymes with “marinara” and I’m typing this post before lunch(??) But, probably because it evokes in me the outdoors, like a vine of ripe heirlooms surrounded by fresh lavender and chamomile (#yesIgarden). The company’s founders would probably suggest the later.
Primavera launched more than 20 years ago in Germany with the mission to bring the power of skin- and mind-healing plants to the masses. Well, they’ve found at least one convert in me.
I don’t have seasonal allergies (that’s my hubby’s and son’s bag), but you wouldn’t know it by the recent appearance of my skin—it’s been dry, itchy, and red for the last month. I started using the Primavera Calming Face Cream to see if all of the lovely plant extracts in it (chamomile, borage seed, honeysuckle, ginger root, licorice, helichrysum) could inoculate my not-allergic-to-anything-but-still-crazy-looking skin.
And, it’s been working. Apparently, the active ingredients are super-mild, so as to quiet dry, reactive complexions like mine while locking in moisture. My skin is a lot less dry and blotchy looking. Using it also makes me feel more chill, thanks to the aromatherapy qualities of the ingredients. Confession: After applying it to my face, I sniff my hands for a good 60 seconds and then I’ll rub a little on my pulse points for later.
The vehicle through which a product is delivered is an ever-changing thing in the beauty space. Jars and pumps have their merits, but here are five unlikely beauty items now available in spray form that are so good, each warrants its own boombox-over-the-head moment a la Lloyd Dobler. Read why I’m having a spritz blitz now that the formulas below can be applied with the press of a nozzle.
Vaseline Spray & Go Moisturizer: I live by myself and have never in my life hydrated my back (and ignore the “Silence of the Lambs” Buffalo Bill-ness of lotioning up one’s back). Now I can, thanks to Vaseline’s genius spray version ($6).
Model In A Bottle Makeup Setting Matte Spray Finish: In lieu of powder, spritz on this mattifiying miracle spray to set your makeup and mattify in even the most tropical climes ($18).
Style Sexy Hair Spray Clay Texturizing Spray: This stuff gives you the effect of a clay in a no-mess spray form and yields a more even application to achieve a texturized look. I apply it after curling my hair to break up the waves and make them less “prommy” ($19, launches this summer).
Guerlain Terracotta Spray SPF 10 Bronzer: Yes to a bronzer that comes in two shades, one of which is perfect for my natural vampire skin tone, AND imparts SPF in a handy dandy spray format ($61).
Skinceuticals Equalizing Toner: Yes, it does the same thing as when you sweep it on with a cotton ball, but I like to spray this one on my back and shoulders when the odd blemish pops up—usually precipitated by workout wear ($34).
One of the best things about blogging about beauty off the beaten path is the notes I receive from small brands in every corner of the globe. I loved discovering these 100% natural Welsh balms are from Gwdihŵ – that’s pronounced goody-hoo … and yes, I was also like: goody-what? But that’s Welsh for “owl,” and these wise little guys pack a powerful punch of aromatherapy and healing benefits.
Using pure ingredients, essential oils, and locally grown herbs, the balms are made using traditional methods, and I could just feel that they were crafted with love. (Also, THE OWLS! Too cute).
The Smoochy Lips Orange Lemon lip balm is deliciously refreshing and made with beeswax, coconut oil and almond oil – so it literally is good enough to eat.
If you’re as preoccupied with your cuticles as I am, you’ll appreciate a Nail Wizard in your life. This cocoa butter, olive oil and lemon oil balm is permanently perched on my bedside. I use it as an overnight treatment to bring my nail beds back from the depths of dryness, and it smells amazing too.
For the insomniacs amongst us, perhaps the better bedside treat is the Night Owl Sleep Balm. Consider this ylang-ylang and mandarin balm insurance against a restless night – just rub into pulse points as you would a fragrance.
I’ve been to various spas (shout out to my faves: Skin by Mamie in New York City and Mandarin Oriental DC) over the years, but I still get all nervous and stuff beforehand. Why? I have no clue! Maybe it’s because I have to walk around in a public facility in a towel or bathrobe (sometimes with nothing on underneath!)…maybe it’s because a stranger is touching my face and lower back and upper back and mid back…maybe it’s because said stranger gets an up-close-and-personal view of my zits, squishy parts (hello, muffin top!), and forehead wrinkles. Going to the spa—as beneficial as it is—is just weird when you think about it, which is why I’m always searching for ways to make it less awkward. Here, Josie Feria, director of Spa Operations at Lapis Spa at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach, helps me out.
Don’t go on a Saturday afternoon…
Try to reserve at least a week in advance and try to go to spas on weekdays when the facilities are quieter and staff and technicians are less burdened by high volume. When spas are less full, you get more privacy. Also, schedule your appointment earlier in the day or early in the shift as even the most talented and fit personnel become weary after performing multiple therapies.
If you don’t like people touching the backs of your legs, skip the body scrub…
Go online and review the treatment menu before calling in to make appointment. Review treatment descriptions, goal of treatment, and any info available on products. Know what you want. Relaxation? Pain reduction? Removal of dry skin? What you want determines what you should get.
Print this out and memorize it before your next spa trip…
- Back to back heat treatments can overheat the body and cause light headedness or dizziness and should avoided.
- Alcohol should never be ingested before or after any spa service especially any involving heat as alcohol dehydrates the body.
- Vigorous massage releases endorphins and may cause a drop in blood pressure so a feeling of light headedness is common – avoid vigorous activity, bending over quickly, smoking or drinking alcohol right after a massage.
- Avoid coffee and high sugar drinks before enjoying going to the spa as these are stimulants and will make relaxation very difficult.
- Scrubs should not be taken with a sunburn or directly after shaving.
- Best to leave jewelry at home. Also, ditch the contact lenses and opt for glasses.
As Annelle once said in Steel Magnolias, “Miss Truvy, I promise that my personal tragedy will not interfere with my ability to do good hair.”
Beauty bars are cropping up all over of late. The spa/salon day of yore is OVER: Clearly, it’s totally 2013 to abbreviate your beauty services. Not to mention, why get smashed when you can get smashing instead? The days of languishing Steel Magnolias style while enjoying a beauty service is long gone. So embraced modernity and I hit up three of Manhattans finest beauty-on-the-go establishments for a little grooming bender and discovered a few vital products to add to my repertoire.
The first stop on my beauty crawl was at Boom Boom Brow Bar, where my brows quietly experienced a coup. Owner Malynda could not be more lovely; her dog even accompanied me as I “browsing.” Danielle tinted my brows a similar shade but a bit warmer, so they look more robust. Then, she did a little wax clean-up without leaving me looking like ’90s Drew Barrymore, which was greatly appreciated. I took home the Boom Boom Brow Bar Brow Job brow growth serum, which has beefed up my brows considerably in only a couple weeks since my appointment. $49 at boomboombrowbar.com.
Next, I headed to Clear Clinic, Dr. Eric Schweiger’s new walk-in acne treatment center, the latest quick fix for skin. Here, you can zap a zit with a cortisone shot on the go, get a chemical peel or microdermabrasian and be in and out in 30 minutes. I opted for the latter and Jillian Cirillo exfoliated my skin in one of the clinic’s private rooms. My skin glowed for the next couple days and my blackheads were dramatically reduced. The microdermabrasian service costs $150. Take home Dr. Schweiger’s Me line of products, specifically his glycolic-laced Peel Me Pads, which leave skin brighter and more even-textured.
Once my brows and skin were in order, I enjoyed a glass of bubbly and a blowout at Drybar on 16th Street, where I am truly the Norm to its Cheers. Stylist Matt hooked me up with a voluminous, bouncy blowout that lasted a full three days and was so shiny, I could practically fog it up if I were to breathe on it. There, he used the new Drybar Money Maker Hairspray, which imparts flexible hold and anchored my ‘do even during an especially sweaty Flywheel session the next morning. $25 at shop.thedrybar.com.
What are your thoughts on beauty bars? Yay or nay?
I’m currently 24 weeks pregnant (well, 24 weeks and 1 day) with my 5th baby.
As I was getting changed in the locker room the other day at the gym with my girlfriends, they were amazed as to the small amount of stretch marks I have on my belly. Both of them have had 3 babies each, and they quickly both started chatting about how their bellies look like roadmaps with all the stretch marks! They were making me laugh, but in all honesty… it’s something us moms and moms-to-be think about.
With my first (4) pregnancies, I was able to decrease the amount of dreaded STRETCH MARKS because I started early in lathering my belly with creams and lotions that did their best to help prevent them from forming.
It’s not that I’m against stretch marks, let’s face it… they are a mom’s badge of honor and courage. We earned every single one! Every stretch mark a mom has on her belly is a beautiful and natural thing, but (and this is a big but) there are ways to decrease the amount of them that you may get. Many of us don’t want 100′s of them, and there are ways to decrease the amount that you may get, it’s just the matter of taking the time to lather your belly with some fabulous creams and lotions.
Not to mention, it’s the most common beauty question I get from pregnant women on my own personal blog, “Can you share the best stretch mark creams to try?” I thought it would be helpful to list some of my FAVORITE products that I have tried and used and loved.
Best Stretch Mark Creams to Try:
1. Mama Mio’s Goodbye Stretch Marks
This is a fabulous stretch mark minimizing product, clinically proven to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. The cream isn’t heavy, it really does go on very light and it’s something that you can do in the morning and before bed. Mama Mio has been around for years and they are such a trusted brand when it comes to pregnancy beauty and skincare. And, very importantly, this is safe to use during pregnancy.
2. Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Cream For Stretch Marks
Probably one of the most popular of all the stretch mark creams! First of all, this cream REALLY works. Second of all, the smell of this cream is heavenly. I actually use this in the morning and the scent stays with me all day long, it’s wonderful! This has Vitamin E, Collagen & Elastin in it to help reduce and minimize the marks.
3. TriLASTIN Maternity Stretch Mark Prevention
One of my girlfriend’s SWEARS by this product! I just tried it out recently and I loved how it felt on my skin. Many women have asked me about it and I’ve let them know that it went on beautifully and really felt smooth on my skin – which is important to me. TriLASTIN Stretch Mark Prevention cream contains 15 natural, botanical oils and extracts that nourish, hydrate and protect to help maximize skin strength and elasticity. An exclusive blend with sugar cane extract, mango and shea nut butter, leaves your skin silky smooth with a subtle glow.
4. Mama Mio’s Tummy Rub Stretch Mark Oil
This is one of my FAVE products! I love rubbing oil on my belly, it feels so smooth and so soft. Mama Mio pregnancy skincare products work because of their very high levels of Omega 3, 6 and 9. Protection against pregnancy stretch marks, 100% moisture and natural goodness – but it isn’t at all oily? Weird but true! Your thirsty skin immediately soaks up Tummy Rub Oil leaving it super soft with a protective sheen.
5. Thyme Maternity Soothing Therapy Stretch Mark Cream
I am in LOVE with this product! I got the chance to check out this product in January and I thought it was such a fabulous idea and I loved the mixture and the contents of it. There are 3 things which make it so effective:
- Seaweed extract helps circulation and helps reduce the appearance of stretch marks
- Vitamin E conditions and nourishes the skin, reducing scar tissue
- Avacado oil provides moisture to skin