Reviews

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  |  2 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 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  |  1 Comment    

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 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?

December 11th, 2013  |  17 Comments   

Store Brand Beauty Products that Work!

‘Tis the season to spend money on others… so why not save where you can on products for yourself? Store brands have definitely stepped up their game with lots of different beauty products, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite store brand items in this post! Some of these products aren’t available online (at least, not yet), but you can definitely check them out in the store.

Wal-Mart: Equate Everyday 2 in 1 Daily Facial Cloths ($8.37, WalMart.com)

These are the kind of face wash cloths that are dry in the package, and then you moisten them with water to build up a bit of a lather to wash your face. I’ve been using similar cloths from Olay since college to remove ALL of my makeup- even eye makeup- with no irritation. One side of the cloth is very smooth and the other side is textured and has a nice exfoliating effect. These are also incredibly handy for travel… you can just grab a few and they take up hardly any space (you also don’t leave a mess of the day’s makeup all over your host’s washcloths). These cloths from Equate are definitely my holy grail face cleanser/makeup remover!

Dollar General: DG Body Vanilla Body Butter Wash ($2.50, Dollar General Stores)

If you like creamy body washes that don’t strip your skin of moisture- this one from Dollar General is a great option! For less money than brand-name Softsoap, you still get a luxurious texture and a lightly sweet vanilla scent. I love that even though this is a very thick body wash, I feel like I’m getting totally clean.  If you find that your family is quickly draining bottles of shower gel, save a few dollars and try this!

 Walgreens: Well at Walgreens Sphere Lip Balms ($2.99 each, Walgreens stores)

Walgreens now has their own version of the popular EOS lip balms. For a dollar or two less (depending on your location and special discounts), you can try out these sphere-shaped lip balms. So far I’ve found a couple of flavors- Watermelon and Strawberry. They have a deliciously sweet scent and a tasty fruit flavor. Keep them around the house for a moisture boost when you need it, wear them under lipstick or lip liner for a smoother application, or keep them in your purse… I’m able to find these quickly in my bag because of their unusual shape!

Target: Up & Up Crease Brush and Smudge Brush ($1.97 to $2.49, Target.com)

 You might be surprised at the quality of brushes you can find at Target for just a few dollars! Target’s Up & Up brand has a couple of eye brushes that I’m especially fond of. If you feel like most eye brushes are a bit to large or don’t give you enough control with your eyeshadow application, give these a try. The bristles are super soft and nicely tapered to give you a great blend. The crease brush is nice for softening the edges of your look, and the smudge brush is actually a great size for patting shadow on your lids.

Have you found any store brand beauty products that perform as well or better than their brand name counterparts? Let me know in the comments section- I’d love to check them out! And if you’d like to see more beauty reviews and tutorials, check out my Beauty Broadcast YouTube channel and blog. Have a great day! – Emily

November 27th, 2013  |  2 Comments   

4 Quick Touch-Ups for Dry Skin

Hi everyone! It’s the season for dry skin, and sometimes the dryness can be pretty sneaky! This time of year, I often find that I’ll like the look of my makeup when it’s freshly applied, but as the day rolls on and I’m out in the dry air… everything from my lips to under-eyes are visibly dry. Here are a few quick, inexpensive, purse-friendly ways that you can touch-up throughout the day to keep your skin healthy and hydrated!

NYX Dewy Finish Long Lasting Setting Spray ($7.99, Ulta.com)

This setting spray helps you combat the appearance of dryness as soon as you finish applying your makeup. A couple of sprays of this on your face help lock in your makeup look, while removing a powdery appearance. I don’t find that the finish becomes overly “dewy”, but it really makes the face look fresh and keeps the makeup looking like skin. This is great for a little pick-me-up late in the day as well.

E.L.F. Daily Moisture Stick ($6, eyeslipsface.com)

If your main problem area for dryness is the under-eye area, this is the product for you! While I love my full coverage under-eye concealers, they don’t always stay looking so fresh as the day rolls on- especially when you’re applying it on top of fine lines and wrinkles. Just get a small dab of this on your finger, then apply it directly to any dryness under the eyes. It doesn’t un-do your concealer, but instead makes it look freshly applied- plus there’s a bit of a cooling sensation! This is also great for dry patches elsewhere on the face or body. Click here to see a video that shows my before & after with this product!

Jack Black Intensive Therapy Lip Balm – Lemon & Chamomile SPF 25 ($7.50, Ulta.com)

 Dry lips are something I’ve come to expect this time of year, and there are lots of great lip balms that can make your lips feel soothed and moisturized! But I stumbled across a new favorite when I was with my husband, browsing the Jack Black products in Ulta. This lemon lip balm will blow your mind with its amazing scent, but it’s equally impressive in its ability to hydrate chapped lips. I like to put it on before I start applying my makeup so my lips are nice and soft by the time I add lipstick, lip liner or gloss. It’s also handy for touch-ups on the go.

Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil ($7.75, Wal-Mart)

I love keeping my hands moisturized with lotion, but for some reason, my cuticles often remain dry. This cuticle oil has become a must-have for me- not just when I’m doing a manicure, but anytime I feel like the skin around my nails is feeling extra dehydrated. Just apply a tiny drop on each cuticle and rub it in. It makes a world of difference in the overall look of your nails!

Do you have any must-haves for dry skin? Share your tips in the comments section! And for more makeup reviews and tutorials, check out the Beauty Broadcast blog and YouTube channel. Have a great day! – Emily

August 16th, 2013  |  Comment   

Primetime: 5 Primers To Try This Summer

When it comes to my summer makeup concepts, in the sage words of Rihanna, I want you to stay. That’s all. Many primers talk a big game about helping your makeup ride out the day… and many fail. It acts like a sort of double-sided tape to keep your makeup from wilting before 5pm. Here, a roundup of the top five primers that have passed my rigorous tests. Check it.

 

Essence I Love Stage Eye Shadow Base, $3.50 at Ulta

This cheap thrill delivers. Use it under concealer or eye shadow for a little insurance against humidity or distance from your makeup bag throughout the day. Its creamy texture is blendable but not runny. I apply it with a small concealer brush to hide discoloration on my lids and undereye area.

NARS Pro-Prime Pore-Refining Primer, $34 at Sephora

Pores are so 2012. Lose yours with this skin smoother that locks on makeup while mineral powders control oil and blur the look of fine lines, pores and wrinkles.
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Primer, $13 at Neutrogena.com

The silky, lightweight formula includes soy and SPF for protection and a makeup base in a single step without clogging pores. I like to wear it by itself sometimes just to smooth and perfect my skin on low-key days.

Hourglass Mineral Veil SPF 15 Primer, $52 at Sephora

It smooths my skin, protects from UV rays and doesn’t pill.  I like that it gives everything I layer on top of it a little extra oomph. It’s a bit pricey at $52, but a little goes a long way and a bottle should last you six months plus.

Smashbox Photo Finish More Than Primer Blemish Control, $42 at Sephora

Don’t be put off by its Incredible Hulk green hue; this mattifying pore eraser yields smoother, more even skin, shrunk pores AND won’t break you out, a claim not many primers can make due to their high silicone composition.  This step saves me from humidity and helps anchor my makeup under even the most vile weather conditions.
What primers are you loving this summer?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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