Can we all agree that the goal is not to NEED foundation in the summer? I’m off for a week of fun and sun in Greece for a wedding (it’s all VERY “The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants 2″–what do you mean you never saw it?!) and I’m packing my most vital skin care items. These are officially the Windex to my Gus Portokalos of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” fame, carefully chosen to help me keep my makeup to a minimum. Obviously, I packed the earth regarding cosmetics, though. Just in case.
Now in an oil-free iteration, this magical formula puts your skin in soft focus while evening out texture and tone. It makes large pores, acne scars and fine lines much less noticeable without adding heaviness. All that and SPF 30, too. Get involved.
This peel helps get rid of dead skin cells that can dull up my glow–and girl, I need it to attract all the Greek shipping heirs. Alba’s latest launch from their Good & Clean line (great for oily skin!) uses a fruit acid detox fusion that naturally makes pores look smaller and brightens up my skin. See you soon, Stavros.
This easily spreadable SPF from my sun care go-to Neutrogena is worth checking a bag. SPF 30 is just enough that I’ll be protected but not to the point I’ll return from vacation resembling Nicole Kidman’s children in “The Others,” and it’s water-resistant and oil-free. No bacne at a beach wedding!
BBs and CCs used to come in a single shade–vampire. In 2013, brands started to up their shade offerings to a range of perhaps 3-7 hues, but it’s still difficult to nail your shade, especially when you’re at the drugstore. Almay takes the guesswork out of the entire equation with a hypoallergenic iteration that boasts a creamy, blendable texture that masks imperfections easily and includes smart shade technology so it naturally adjusts to your skin tone. My favorite part? It packs a hefty SPF 35, not typical for most BBs and CCs.
I use wipes for EVERYTHING from fixing my makeup to sharpening a cat-eye to removing oil post-workout to cleaning my brushes. They are vital to my day-to-day, and I burn through them at a rapid pace, making 25 for $5 a great deal from Aubrey Organics. These never irritate my sensitive skin and smell vaguely herbal, which always makes me feel haughtily virtuous.
What are your inexpensive skin care favorites?
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).
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.
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?
When it comes to bar soap, I’m typically a Dove girl through and through. Why? It’s a matter of practicality, really—everyone in my little family (my dry skinned hubby, my sensitive skinned toddler, and me with crazy-combo skin) can use the same gentle-yet-cleansing soap, so I’m not having to buy three different bars for the varying degrees of skin toleration to soap that live under one roof. I seriously thought Dove was it. I mean, it is! But, I thought nothing could hold a candle to it until I tried MoonEssence Pt. Reyes Whey Bar Soap.
MoonEssence is an organic skincare line based in Petaluma, CA and they make this AMAZING soap (that you can use from head to toe—even in your hair—snatch!) from natural, raw whey. It has a delicate scent (like Dove) and, like Dove, it also leaves skin soft and moisturized instead of tight and dry. I wondered how this little organic skincare company could make a soap that rivaled my go-to staple from a behemoth brand.
Apparently, other whey soaps are made from powdered whey. GASP! But, this is made with raw whey, which is loaded in proteins that help nourish, heal and protect skin instead of destroying its protective mantle (basically, anyone with dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea or skin allergies should consider stashing a bar).
I know what you’re thinking—that’s great and all, but why does the soap look like a wedge of blue cheese? The whey comes from the Point Reyes Cheese Company, makers of the famous Point Reyes Blue Cheese. Plus, the soap (like some cheeses) goes through a 3-week curing process, allowing the ingredients to really permeate the entire bar.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love my Dove soap, but it’s nice to have options.
When it comes to my personal beauty routine, the quicker… the better. I don’t have time to spend an hour on my hair. I don’t have time to spend in front of the mirror perfecting my eye makeup. I don’t have time to sometimes even shave! The quicker I can get out the door in the morning or to bed at night, the better.
But… and this is a BIG but, there are certain things I shouldn’t be skimping on or not doing on the beauty front. One of them is moisturizing my skin – face, hands and body.
It’s usually right around this time of year when I take out my spring skirts, shorts and dresses. I get excited for the warmer weather and can’t wait to shed a few layers of clothing for the new season. A few weeks I started doing a few closet turnovers (wishful thinking of Spring!!) and quickly realized that the skin on my body was (very) dry. I also think my pregnancy has attributed to my drier skin this season because it’s never been this “bad” before.
I have been LOVING certain body lotions this season to battle my dry skin and I’m excited to share with you my (3) FAVE picks for Spring (and yes, right into summer, too!).
1) Vaseline Spray & Go Moisturizer
Vaseline Spray and Go Moisturizer is a NEW spray lotion that moisturizes and absorbs in seconds so you can (literally) put your clothes on right after. It’s super easy and super cool. I love the spray because it goes on effortlessly and you don’t have to wait around for drying time. The 360 continuous spray motion helps to cover arms, legs and body in seconds and leaves skin feeling instantly soft, not sticky or greasy. Leaves your skin totally smooth and soft (and smelling FAB!).
2) NIVEA Extended Moisture Lotion
This is NIVEA’s New Extended Moisture Body Lotion. What I personally love about this lotion is that you get up to 48 hours of relief for dry skin with Pro-Vitamin B5. If you have extra dry skin, this should be your lotion of choice. It really works well and targets exactly the areas you moisture.
3) Kiehl’s Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter
This literally goes on like butter! It has the most delicious scent ever and goes on light, but still gives you a 24-hour hydration. The lotion is air-whipped for instant penetration to restore, protect, and soften skin. Such a great option when it comes to finding a perfect body lotion for your skin.
Spring is coming… allegedly. You wouldn’t know it from the cashmere and down I rocked this morning (while still feeling frosty, I might add). Just as you need different outerwear for 30-degree weather and below, 50-degree climates and 60-70-degree balmy days, your skin care needs to shift as well. I find that the heavy winds of January and February require a much thicker moisturizer to do the job and in March and April, I focus on lighter formulas, exfoliation and of course, SPF. Here’s a glimpse of the state of my skin care union as we transition into warmer weather.
Dermalogica Ultrasmoothing Eye Serum I ditch my thick, viscous winter eye cream out for a treatment fluid like this one just before the Ides of March. I like that it doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin but contains powerful ingredient hyaluronic acid to refresh and hydrate. It also boasts carrot oil, which stealthily converts into vitamin a and retinol in skin. $50 at dermalogica.com.
Elizabeth Dehn For One Love Organics Whether natural is your bag or not (I remain squarely in the latter camp until something smelling vaguely herbal sans parabens is fabulous enough entices me out of my chemical-ridden madness), you will adore the straight-up elegant texture of this serum created by Beauty Bets blogger Elizabeth Dehn. It fuses a concentrated blend of vitamins, antioxidants from organic green tea oil and seabuckhorn oil to ward off photo damage. $68 at oneloveorganics.com.
The sad reality is that we have to reapply SPF throughout the day, but over makeup, it can get dicey. I like to carry this stick sunscreen from CeraVe to slick on when I’m outdoors. Its consistency is dry, so it won’t cause my look to slide right off my face. I put it on in stripes on my cheeks and nose (and look like a football player briefly) before rubbing it into my skin. It also works on lips. $10 at cvs.com.
This one’s about to become a staple in your nighttime routine. But first, let’s discuss. An eye cream that exfoliates? Yes! This scent-free eye cream rids your lifestyle of dull, flaky skin AND fine lines, thanks to a low percentage of glycolic acid. Also great: Dr. Schultz labels each of his products with a number, so you’ll know which to put on first (they should be applied in ascending order). $50, beautyrx.com.
On warmer days, I smooth this shine-correcting sunscreen on instead of moisturizer to protect my skin without providing added hydration without aggravating my acne-prone skin. At 1.7 ounces, it works perfectly in a carry-on or a beach bag, as well. $38 at ddfskincare.com.
Launching next month, Clinique blends their popular skin care franchise, Moisture Surge, with cutting-edge skin care market trend CC cream. While we’re waiting for ZZ Cream to inevitably hit shelves, you’ll want to give this one a go. Available in a spectrum of shades, the tinted balm uses lavender-hued color-correcting optics to address complexion concerns like dullness and sallowness and does the job without looking even as if you’re wearing makeup. The violet hue is invisible, lest you worry you’ll unwittingly channel Edward Scissorhands when Peg applies purple Avon primer all over his face. $35 at clinique.com.
To quote famous philosophers (TLC) in the negative, I do want [some] scrubs.
We know that dry, flaky skin totally assassinates our sultry, smooth complexion game. In the doldrums of winter, it’s nearly impossible to achieve the same glowy quality a little natural Vitamin D provides, but keeping up with a twice-weekly exfoliation helps keep dead skin cells from accumulating on skin’s surface, giving it a most uninvited dehydrated, dull appearance. But which kind to choose–physical or chemical? Let’s discuss the differences with a little physical (and chemical) education. To start, as Olivia Newton John once said, let’s get physical.
Physical exfoliators are scrubs that physically slough off the dead skin using salt, sugar or another type of granule. Opt for a scrub with rounded, non-irritating beads, which won’t tear the skin. A few favorites of mine:
St Ives Apricot Scrub is a long-time staple of mine. The oil-free formula contains corn kernal meal and walnut powder that feels satisfyingly grainy and smells luxuriously of fresh apricots. A quick rub on damp skin yields polished, clean skin.
Obey Your Body Radiance Repair Peeling Gel, an Israeli import I initially learned about at a kiosk at a mall. It contains Dead Sea salt and other magical ingredients that work like a dream employee to smooth my skin back to high-school levels of fresh in minutes by exfoliating off dead skin via little “peels.” Don’t be put off by its weird texture, once you take a damp wash cloth and remove all the debris, your face will feel incredible.
Origins Modern Friction is a natural alternative to microdermabrasion. Lemon oil and rice, among other botanicals blend in this exfoliator to send sluggish cells to the curb without irritating even sensitive skin.
Chemical exfoliators contain glycolic, salicylic, lactic or malic acids. It’s all very periodic table. These ingredients loosen and lift dead cells, leaving new, bright skin behind. Pores also look dramatically diminished. Score. Some of my top hits in my exfoliation station:
Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser breaks up cellular build-up and reduces discoloration for a more even skin tone and smoother texture. Plus, it’s only $15 for a bottle that will last you at least 6 months to a year. Use this one in place of your regularly scheduled cleanser a 2-3 times a week. Pair it with the DDF Revolve 400X Micro-polishing System for even better results. Have an aha moment with some AHA (alpha hydroxy acids).
Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel This feels like an indulgent mask, but rocking it for just ten minutes is enough to positively digest dead skin cells robbing your mug of its luminosity. A good bet for sensitive or mature skins, it contains natural fruit enzymes of papaya and pineapple to clarify the complexion.
GrandCenteral Beauty S.M.A.R.T. Skin Perfecting Polisher‘s name has nothing in common with the busy train station hub in Manhattan–though it does deliver with speed that rivals that of an express Metro North car gleaming, soft skin. Made with natural fruit acids such as those from apples, oranges, watermelon and lemons, the scrub provides a natural source of glycolic and citric acids. Natural botanicals are added to help soothe, moisturize and brighten skin.
What are you using to exfoliate?