About Me

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mascara Comparison

I haven't bought a tube of mascara in probably over a year. And yet I wear mascara nearly every day. How is this possible, you ask? Free mini mascaras seem to keep throwing themselves at me everywhere I turn -- namely, Ulta and Sephora.

I have gotten two minis of Benefit's cult-fave They're Real! Mascara, which I think is my favorite. Everyone raves about this one, and I get it. It lengthens without clumping -- what more can you want? It also works pretty well if you're one of those gals who likes to apply multiple coats. In terms of volume, I would say it's not the best choice. It gives you so much length, though, it makes you forget about volume. Interesting story -- I recently had my makeup done for a wedding by a woman who has been in the biz for years, and she absolutely hates They're Real! because she said it clumps. She also said they always use disposable wands and not the wands that come with the mascara for hygienic reasons, so the wand might be the key to They're Real!'s success (although it looks like any ordinary wand to me!).

Another luxe fave is the mini I recently got as a free gift with my Tarte BB cream purchase -- their Gifted Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara. I know their Lights, Camera, Lashes Mascara gets a lot of love, but I've never tried that one so I can only speak to Gifted which is part of their Amazonian Clay line. Like They're Real!, this mascara gives amazing length with a single coat. It can be a little quick to clump when applying multiple coats, but not too bad overall. I also feel like it gives much more volume than They're Real!, which is a big plus for me. It can be a little stubborn to remove with just my face wash, but a few swipes with eye makeup remover usually does the trick. 

My third favorite mini that I have in my makeup drawer right now is the Noir Couture 4 in 1 Mascara by Givenchy. I never buy "designer" brand makeup, so this is definitely not something I would've purchased on my own, but I was pleasantly surprised. I like the three-bulb wand style for reaching all my lashes, and it also doesn't clump and gives good length and volume. 

My least favorite mini that is currently in my rotation is the Make Up Forever Smoky Extravagant Mascara. It's bleh. Doesn't do much in terms of length or volume, but is an OK basic mascara. The cone-shaped brush also doesn't do anything for me. Pass. 

And finally, I have to mention a drugstore mascara that I love and have actually repurchased in the past: Physicians Formula Organic Wear Jumbo Lash Mascara. This is, honestly, the one I'm most likely to buy the full-size off once my minis run out. It's less than $10, natural, and does what most of the above mascaras do. I first bought this a few years ago after asking a coworker what she used on her fabulous lashes, and I just noticed they have a couple new formulas in the Organic Wear line that must've come out in the past few years. If the above mascaras are a bit on the pricey side for you, I would definitely recommend starting with this one and seeing how you like it. 

Does anyone else have a problem with knowing when to throw mascara out? You can't easily see what's left in the tube, and unless there's clearly no product on the wand, or it's clumping like crazy when it didn't use to clump, how do you know? I've never had a mascara do any of the above, so usually I just toss it after I can't remember how long I've been using it. I know different makeup products have different shelf-lives, but I usually don't follow these as I like to use things up to the last drop (or, as my husband would say, I have a compulsion to use things up to the last drop :). 

I also wanted to mention that I gave my blog a little facelift since there were some technical issues with the layout I was previously using. I don't love it, but I'm considering upgrading to a nicer blog as soon as I have the time and resources. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014


A few months ago a friend of mine started selling BeautiControl products. For those of you (like me) who are completely unfamiliar with the brand, BeautiControl is primarily sold through representatives and catalogs, like Avon or Mary Kay. BeautiControl has a smaller product line (as far as I can tell) and everything I've tried has been high-quality, better than I remember Avon or Mary Kay products being.

I've actually been using two BeautiControl moisturizers as my main moisturizers -- the BC Spa Facial Defend & Restore Moisture Lotion SPF 20 in the AM (only on days when I know I'm going to be outside the majority of the day) and BC Spa Facial Defend & Restore Night Creme in the PM. Both don't irritate my skin or cause breakouts (yay!). There also isn't any noticeable fragrance, even though the website doesn't specifically say that they are fragrance-free.

Starting with the day moisture lotion, I like that it has SPF 20 from titanium dioxide and not one of the more chemical sunscreen ingredients that usually irritate my skin, like octisalate. It comes in a squeezable plastic tube, which is my favorite kind of packaging because it protects the ingredients from destabilizing due to exposure to light and, more importantly, means you can use it up to the last drop! The consistency of the lotion is not my favorite. It looks like greasy sunscreen when you squeeze it out of the tube. When you put it on, however, it absorbs quickly and does not look shiny. I've noticed that my skin tends to get shinier throughout the day when I use this, but I should probably invest in an oil-absorbing powder to wear that would take care of this problem. And while it's certainly not drying, it's also not particularly hydrating. I should note that BeautiControl sells a heavier version for drier skin of both of the products I'm reviewing in this post, and I have not tried them. I got the lighter versions since it was the beginning of summer when I bought them.

The night creme is also light and fast-absorbing, and does a much better job of moisturizing than the day lotion. At the same time, I feel like it's just an ordinary night cream. And it comes in a tub, which is not ideal. Both of these products are also on the pricer side at $30-35 each. While it's certainly not that extravagant (ahem, $100 moisturizer post), I think you could find similar products at a drugstore in the $10-20 range.

While we're on the BeautiControl topic, I've also tried their sensitive skin line which, naturally, irritated my skin, and some of their makeup products, which, on the other hand, I love. Cute, innovative packaging (their lip glosses have a mirror on the side and a light inside the cap -- genius!) and good colors. I also finally found my holy grail brow pencil from their line, in the most perfect, easy-to-apply shade of brown.

Overall I've been pleasantly surprised by BeautiControl and would recommend checking them out if you have a rep in your area.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tarte CC Primer

Okay, time for a traditional post about just one product that I've been using recently and am happy with: Tarte Colored Clay CC Primer. I bought it on a whim one day at Ulta to use up a coupon I had that was expiring (always a sound reason to make a purchase, right?) and I've been using it almost every day for about a month now. 

I was intrigued by the little color wheel on the stick that includes green and pink that is supposed to help correct redness, which is certainly a problem for me. I usually draw a flat line across my cheeks, chin and forehead, trying to press down evenly, and then use my fingertips to blend out the line. When I read this in the instructions I was a little skeptical, but it blends really easily and beautifully. I would suggest that if you have combination-dry skin like mine, you start with a good moisturizer, because the "stick" nature of this product means that it's not packing much moisture and I've noticed on days my skin is a little drier it can kind of bring little flakes or just make my skin look drier in general. This product is supposed to be a primer, but for me it's all I wear unless I have an acne scar or small pimple that needs some extra coverage, in which case I spot-apply my liquid foundation. That said, it is definitely light coverage and nothing more, which I personally think is the way to go unless it's a special occasion. 

I'd be interested in trying out my Tarte products based on my positive experience with this one, and because my good friend Ruth uses Tarte products for her makeup routine (even for her own wedding!) and always looks glowing. <3

Saturday, August 9, 2014

August Beauty Update

Hello loyal readers (all 2 of you)! I know it's been a few months since my last post but I do have a few new products I've been using and loving that I hope to share with you on a semi-regular basis going forward. I just ran a 5k yesterday for the first time without having to stop to walk at all, so, in my world, that means I can do anything. 

First off, a followup to The Acne Post - Revisited. I am still loving Peaches Skin Care. I have been back since then for a third facial and have been consistently using their Flawless Exfoliator, Classic Cleanser, Perfect pH Toner, and, more recently, Perfecting Polish. Every morning, I use the Flawless Exfoliator, wash off, then the Classic Cleanser, wash off, and (only every other morning or 2-3 times a week depending on how often I'm using my Clarisonic at night -- don't want to over-exfoliate!) then a tiny bit of the Perfecting Polish, which is one of the most unique products I've ever used. It's a white paste with just a little bit of something rough (I think it's the sugar) that dissolves once it hits your damp face and really seems to get any remaining dead skin off. It's one of those products that the first time you use it, you'll be amazed at how soft your skin feels. The same thing happened to me when I first used my Clarisonic (which I have mixed feelings about, but, I'll leave that for another post). It may seem like a lot of steps for washing your face if you're used to just cleansing, but it goes pretty quickly and I've found that the results are more than worth it. And in the evenings it's much simpler -- just cleanse, tone, and moisturize. 

The one area where Peaches falls short for me is moisturizers -- I'm allergic to their only moisturizer. So I've been trying a few other new brands and having good results, which I will share with you soon once I've had a little more time to evaluate. I'm still scraping the bottle of my $100 moisturizer and realizing the green recycled glass packaging, while pretty, makes it also pretty impossible to use it up to the last drop. 

Another Peaches product I received a sample of and will probably purchase is their Retinol Night Creme. I'm starting to think more about preventative skin care to fight wrinkles and I've heard that retinol-based creams are the best. This one is non-irritating and very light, almost like a gel, and I put on a tiny bit at night a few times a week instead of my moisturizer. 

If you don't live in or visit Santa Barbara often, Peaches has a location in Montgomery, Ohio, and you can also buy their products on their website. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

What's in my Bag?

I've been seeing these posts a lot lately and I thought it would be fun to do one myself. In order for this post to have any meat to it, though, I have to describe everything that could possibly be in my bag at any given time. (I do usually carry a large purse, so it's actually pretty likely that everything listed here could be in there at one time.) So, besides my phone and wallet, here are my must-haves:

1) Hand sanitizer. Doesn't matter what brand, just needs to be there. Especially if you are not carrying #11, so you can use this and a napkin or one of #7 in a pinch. 
2) Mints. Usually Altoids, the small ones. The wintergreen flavor is my fav, but since they sell only Original in the smalls at Trader Joe's that's usually what I have. I made the mistake once of thinking I could live without having mints on my person at all times, and am pretty sure I traumatized a young child with my garlic-onion breath. Never again. 
3) Compact folding hair brush. You know what I mean; the little round ones that fold in and pop out like a sea anemone. 
4) Compact with pressed foundation with mirror. Even though I have not been wearing foundation as of late, I do not want to be stuck with a zit on my face or some redness when I have a work meeting or something of the like. And a mirror is always useful. Use the foundation sparingly. 
5) Hair ties. At least two.
6) Bobby pins. Again, at least two. The boppy pin monster and hair tie monster are actually much more lethal than the better-known sock monster. 
7) Tissue pack. I like these from Kleenex because they come in fun, chic prints, but they aren't as pricy as those fancier, but awesome, tissue packs from Sniff.
8) Lip balm. See this post. The L'Occitane one is still my favorite, but I actually am more likely to have Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15, untinted, in my bag. The SPF makes me think I'm doing the right thing for my lips during the day, even though if I listen to my own/Peaches' advice in my previous post I should probably be thinking otherwise.
9) Lip gloss. How have I not done a post about this topic yet? More to come, but Buxom glosses are my go-to.  I also am dying to try Burt's Bees new line of tinted lip balms and glosses. 
10) Hand cream. See this post. Lest you somehow find out on your own and I lose all trustworthiness, neither of those hand creams are actually in my bag right now -- a Johnson's body care, lavender & chamomile scented one is. I don't love it. In fact, I don't even really like it. I just am irrationally determined to use it up before throwing it out, because I don't want my $2 to have been wasted (or even....was this a stocking stuffer from my mom?)
11) Lemon-scented wipes. These ones from L'Occitane are a fancier version of the ones I usually use but can't find online. I got them at Target in the travel cosmetics bins section. These aren't always in my bag, and when they're not, I without fail find myself in a situation where they are gravely needed, like eating tacos with grease running down my arms. (If you're grossed out, you clearly haven't been to Lily's. The grease is totally worth it.) 

Only 11 items...I would say that's less than average for a young woman, no? Am I missing anything essential? Please tell me so I can go out and buy it immediately! :) Something I would like to add to the list is food, maybe in the form of a granola bar or nuts. I've definitely found myself out and about and hungry but not hungry enough for a full meal, and end up eating more than I needed to at a restaurant or at least spending more money than I needed to. For some reason I never think ahead to bring a snack in my giant purse --- going to work on that! :)

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Acne Post - Revisited

It's been a while since my last post, and that's mainly because my skincare routine has been in a transitional period after I made some drastic changes about a month ago. I wanted to wait at least one month to write this post so I could give you some honest and time-tested feedback. 

I decided to get a facial at a place I've been going for years for bikini waxes called Peaches Skin Care here in Santa Barbara. My skin was majorly breaking out after I switched to a heavy daytime moisturizer with a high SPF (FYI, it was Boscia Restorative Day Moisture Cream SPF 15 -- heavy and greasy, ugh) and I was feeling desperate. I knew from doing my usual extensive online research that precedes any kind of beauty-related service that Peaches makes their own products, uses microcurrent and microdermabrasion (say what?) in their facials, and boasts on their website and social media sites that they can clear up any kind of acne, with before and after photos that seem too good to be true. So I had high expectations, and also high doubts that my uber-sensitive skin would do well with the two M's that I thought were reserved for "medical" spas (i.e. places you can get Botox but say you're going to the spa--or so I hear).

After a facial that was a little over an hour with a friendly and concerned esthetician, my face was looking a bit battered (she did very thorough extractions), but I was feeling hopeful. Here are my main takeaways from Peaches:

  • Regular facials with extractions, microdermabrasion, and microcurrent are important for skin maintenance. The extractions get all the acne-causing gunk out, microderm brings up layers of new skin, and the microcurrent lifts and tightens (they call it a "face lift without surgery"...which I think is more than a bit of a stretch).  A second facial a few weeks after the first is the most important to make sure the new skin that was brought up by the first facial stays clean (or maybe this is a ploy to get you to buy a facial package at Peaches...which gives you a small discount if you pay for 3 facials at once. Either way, I bought it).
  • Only pure antioxidants penetrate the skin and make a difference. I didn't feel pressured into buying their products, but the way the esthetician seemed to honestly believe they were the best out there and that they could change my skin sold me. I bought a cleanser, exfoliating wash, toner, and mask. (Full disclosure: I would've bought their moisturizer except that after testing it on my arm I had an allergic reaction.)
  • Yeast infection cream can cure your acne.  The esthetician also insisted I put Monistat 7 (yes) on my face morning and night after toning. She said that acne is often a fungal problem and so the Monistat helps with that.
  • Milk of magnesia is a fabulous face mask. They recommend you sleep with it on your face like a mask or at the very least in problem areas, as it calms skin, curbs oil production and helps acne. I've been leaving this on overnight on areas where I feel like I might have a zit coming on, and, sure enough, I wake up zit-free in the morning!
  • Wear sunscreen on your face only when necessary. This probably shocked me even more than the vag cream. According to Peaches, sunscreen ingredients are pore-clogging and cause breakouts. She recommended a titanium dioxide sunscreen to use only as needed, but since wide-brimmed hats are for sale in the Peaches lobby, I think it's safe to assume they prefer hats to sunscreen.
  • Makeup is the devil. Absolutely NO liquid foundation. Pure mineral makeup with no fillers is OK (i.e. no Bare Minerals) but they really hate foundation, saying it causes acne. 
  • Even worse than the devil: Wearing the devil while working out. Sweat will cause your makeup to clog your pores even more. 

All of this might seem pretty extreme and weird to someone who has not tried everything to clear their skin and had no luck. But people like me, think, hmmm, this actually kind of makes sense.

Was it instant omg-this-skincare-is-a-miracle? No. Have I had any breakouts? Yes. Have they been smaller than usual and few and far between? YES. They also go away quicker and without using any targeted acne treatments like the ones I reviewed in my original Acne Post. In fact, most of these minor breakouts happened while I was traveling and not following the routine to a T, and since I got back and had my second facial (3 weeks ago) those breakouts cleared up super quick and I have not had a single breakout since.

The main issue I am dealing with now is minor irritation that may or may not be related to the Peaches products and routine. After my first facial, my skin was definitely more sensitive and reactive, and I was also flushing at the littlest cause. Since my second facial, it's been a lot better. Some days I can feel my skin flushing more easily than others. I also suffer from bad seasonal allergies that always affect my skin, and it's prime season right now. Since my skin is looking so great otherwise, I am really hoping it's not the products. I will probably be in denial at least for another 6 months until I use them up anyway. :)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

I bought a $100 moisturizer

I have been wanting to write this post for a while now but wanted to be fair and give myself enough time to use the product before reviewing. And now it's finally that time -- and I have a lot to say, so bear with me. It's been about two months since I bought Tata Harper's Repairative Moisturizer for a whopping $100. To be honest, I only paid $80 since they were having a limited time 20% off sale and I jumped on the opportunity. But still, $80 is a hefty price to pay for a 1.7oz bottle of cream. And the overall verdict: worth every penny, if it won't break your budget.

I had never heard about Tata Harper before I had a facial at the spa at the Four Seasons here in Santa Barbara. The esthetician explained to me how her products are 100% free of chemicals and synthetic products, and how Tata Harper created the line after her father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and his doctor highly recommended eliminating harmful chemicals from his products. I was literally stunned after the facial when I looked in the mirror and saw dewy, glowing skin, free from the redness and blotchiness that I always have after a facial. I immediately thought, "I'm going to buy every single product she used on my way out of here," then when I saw the price of most of those items was over $50, I changed my mind.

A few weeks later I changed my mind again when I saw Tata Harper's 20% off promotion. Another plus of buying directly from their website is that they include 3 free samples with every order, and shipping is free on all orders over $40. I'm also loving all of the samples I've gotten, but I'll save my reviews of those for another post. :)

The Repairative Moisturizer is Tata's dry skin moisturizer, and after using it morning and night for about a week I started noticing a difference. My dry patches and flakes started to disappear. I should also note that while my breakouts have not disappeared completely, I have fewer, smaller pimples than I've had in the past. The moisturizer has a light, silky consistency that absorbs into the skin easily, and it has a pleasant but strong floral scent.  It lacks SPF which is probably my main complaint, as I have to layer my SPF over it in the mornings and it doesn't mesh flawlessly with the moisturizer. As far as packaging goes, it comes in a light green glass bottle that is beautiful and I definitely plan on reusing it after I use up the product.

This past week, as part of my ongoing efforts to use up the beauty products I have before buying new ones, I started using my old morning combo of Philosophy's Hope in a Tinted Moisturizer with Weleda's Soothing Almond Lotion to create a more moisturizing tinted moisturizer. After a few days of using this combo the dryness started creeping back in. There hasn't been any changes in weather during this time, so I think it's safe to say it's likely the lack of my Tata Harper. I made the heartwrenching decision to dump the Philosophy and go back to using Tata twice a day. 

As much as I love this product, I don't think I will stop looking for something somewhat comparable that costs less than half as much. $100 is nothing to sneeze at. It's almost a cell phone bill or 2 Anthropologie sale tops. It's a vet visit for Dexter. Maybe someday spending $100 on a cream won't seem selfish and wasteful, but not today.