5 Things to Know Before Getting a Facial

For me, getting a facial is one of the most relaxing, satisfying experiences to have!  Not only am I relaxing, but doing something good for my skin that is going to keep the signs of aging at bay!  Whether you are like me and get facials often, or have never had a facial and are thinking about getting one, read on to get my 5 tips for being prepared and getting the most out of your service!

Be prepared to answer some personal questions.  No one is trying to invade your privacy but understand that it is important for your practicioner to understand if you are pregnant, have any allergies or are taking any types of medications as sometimes this can react negatively withsome ingredients in the skincare products used during the facial.  Be sure to answer their questionnarie as accurately and thoroughly as possible to ensure you have the best facial experience possible.

Stop using retinol products 48-72 hours prior.  Every facial has an exfoliation component to it, and depending on the type you are getting some are more intense than others.  If you have just used a retinol product your skin may be too sensitive for certain types of exfoliation so let your practitioner know immediately so that the appropriate products can be used for your skin.

Leave the eye makeup at home.  As a step in every facial, the esthetician is going to cleanse your skin, removing any makeup you have on.  I know sometimes it’s difficult to go to a facial with no makeup if you are coming from work or somewhere where you need to have makeup on, but eye makeup is especially challenging to thoroughly remove during a facial.  From my experience as an esthetician giving facials to clients, I believe the time it takes to remove this detracts from the time the esthetician can be doing other parts of the facial, like the heavenly facial massage!  To ensure you are getting the most out of  your facial, I’d recommend removing your eye makeup prior to your appointment.

Aaah! Be sure you communicate with your esthetician so you can have the best experience at your appointment.

Don’t be afraid to communicate with your esthetician!   Be sure that your preferences are known about massage pressure, likes, dislikes, any issues with your skin you want to address,  etc.  Also, if you are claustrophobic, let your esthetician know.  Sometimes that towel wrap over your face can get intense so let your practicioner know so she can make the appropriate adjustments and ensure you have the best experience.  Remember this is YOUR facial and the goal is for you to have the best, most relaxing experience.  Trust me, your esthetician WANTS to have your feedback so don’t feel like you’re being mean or a diva.  What one person prefers is different for another and your practictioner is not a mind reader.  Help HER help YOU have a great appointment!

Hit the restroom before your session.  I don’t think I need to elaborate on this one.  Running down the hall of the spa with just a wrap on and product all over your face is not a relaxing experience!  Also, laying there preoccupied about having to pee only detracts from your experience, so plan ahead!  Most estheticians will ask if you need to use the restroom prior to getting started for just that reason.

So now that you have all my tips for a fantastic facial, get ready to relax and have one of the most luxurious experiences you can have!  Enjoy!

Product Review – AHAVA Time to Smooth Age Perfecting Hand Cream

In my quest to slow down the aging process as much as possible, I’ve been looking for a product that could help with the overall appearance of my hands.  As I mentioned in my Anti-aging post, while it’s natural to focus our anti-aging efforts on our face, we can’t forget our necks and hands or else they will giveaway our true age!  I heard about a product from AHAVA (Age Perfecting Hand Cream) that has a hand cream that protects hands with SPF and also addresses dark spots.  I don’t really have a dark spot issue but the SPF is a plus and anything I can do to be proactive with my hands is fine by me!

About the Brand

Ahava was founded in 1988 and focuses on harnessing the power of dead sea minerals into its products.  They are an environmentally responsible company with several programs focused on sustaining the Dead Sea region.  Their products are paraben and SLS free and the company does not test on animals.

Product Claims

  •  Multi benefit cream for youthful looking hands
  • 88% of women had a significant reduction in the appearance of dark spots.
  • Approved for sensitive skin, allergy tested and paraben free (one of my personal prerequisites!)

My thoughts

When I first applied the lotion to my hands, I liked the feel (not too greasy but moisturized.)  I also liked the way it hydrated my cuticles.  In my experience, some lotions don’t help the appearance of my cuticles.  The one thing I did not like initially was the smell of the lotion.  I’m not sure how to describe it; it was not perfume-y, or like SPF, but was very strong.  After using the product for a couple of weeks this did not bother me any longer.

Verdict

Overall, I am happy with this product.  This is a more expensive product so from the beginning I had high expectations about the performance of the cream.  I do feel that it has improved the appearance of my hands, and I like having the security knowing there is an SPF on my hands when I am out and about.  Like I mentioned, the smell did bother me at first, but now I am used to it and actually enjoy it.  I plan to repurchase this when I am finished with it and look forward to seeing more long term improvement in the appearance of my hands!  Want to try it?  I purchased it at Nordstrom.com.

Comment below and let me know what some of you favorite hand creams are.

5 Ways to Transition your Skincare for Spring

As we get ready for spring, whether it’s cleaning your house top to bottom or adding new pieces to your spring wardrobe, it’s important not to forget to transition to a spring skincare regimen as well.  Our skin acts differently as the temperature and climate starts to change, so you need to be sure you are using the best products to care for your skin in the current season.

I have combination skin, so as the weather gets warmer and more humid, I start to have an oily t-zone, so I need to slightly modify some products that I am using in the colder winter months to be sure I am taking care of my skin the best that I can.  Does that mean buying all new products?  No, not at all.  Read on as I outline the specific products you should evaluate as the season changes:

#1 Cleanser – What kind of cleanser are you currently using?  If your skin tends to act dry in the winter, you may be using a milky, creamy type of cleanser.  As we transition to warmer weather, it may be time to use a foam or gel cleanser that can work to keep your skin balanced in the warmer weather when it may act more oily.  One cleanser that I’ll be transitioning to is Murad’s Time Release Acne Cleanser.

#2 Moisturizer – If you are using a moisturizer with a thicker consistency for extra moisture for dry winter skin, you may want to consider transitioning to a lighter formula for warmer, humid days.  Don’t skip moisturizer, even if you have oily skin!  I made that mistake in my teens, thinking that it was bad to add moisture when my skin was oily, but what that did was make my skin produce more oil, causing breakouts.

#3 SPF – If you’ve ready my anti-aging article, you know that SPF is a vitally important part of your skincare routine all year long.  So if you aren’t using a daily SPF, you need to start ASAP and continue using all the time.

#4 Primer – I know this is delving into makeup a little, but there are lots of primers out there that do a lot of different things, so it is important to assess this seasonally.  For example, in the winter months I use a hydrating primer to add more moisture to my dry skin.  In the spring moving into summer, with warmer more humid days, I like to use a mattifying primer to keep my skin less shiny.  One that I’ve used and enjoyed is Dr. Brandt’s “Pores No More.”

#5 Nighttime serum/lotions – Another part of your skincare routine to evaluate for the warmer seasons is your nighttime regimen.  You may want to shift from thicker moisturizers to lighter formulas, or Retin-A, as that can be drying to the skin.    With any retinol product, remember that it does make your skin more sensitive in the sun, so even more reason to be extra diligent with your SPF (see #3 above).

Summary

Everyone’s skin type is different so this is not a one-size-fits-all equation, so you may not be making the same modifications to your spring skincare regimen that I do.  However, what is important is that you evaluate how your skin behaves from season to season and take the time to make sure you are using the correct products to keep your skin in the best condition all year around!  Comment below and share what changes you make to your spring skincare routine for the spring and summer seasons.

Best of Wet n Wild – Top 5 all under $6

Lately I have really been loving some great drug store products!  If you missed it you can catch the article I wrote on some of my favorite e.l.f. products, but there are some great products from Wet N Wild that I NEED to share with you!

I remember Wet N Wild from way back when I was in high school, but I don’t remember using a lot of their products or thinking they were good quality.  Today, the brand has really upped their game and the products are so affordable it is a fantastic value.  In addition, I love that everything is cruelty free.  Read on so I can tell you about my top 5 products from this brand!



Photofocus Foundation ($5.99)- I am blown away by the quality of this $5 foundation!  It promises to prevent any photo flashback, being tested under various lighting conditions with different Smartphone models.  I don’t really care about all that so much, but what I DO care about is that this goes on easily, gives a smooth semi-matte finish and has great lasting power.  I also like that it doesn’t feel heavy on my skin when I wear it.  The applicator is a spatula which I find makes application easy.  There is a great shade range selection with 20 colors to choose from (some high end foundations don’t even have that broad of a range!)  The only drawback that I’ve found with this foundation is that it does not contain an SPF so be sure to apply one separately!

Coloricon blush ($2.99) There are five colors in this blush collection and my favorite is  “Pearlescent Pink.”  This color is a beautiful peachy pink with a slight sheen.  This formula blends perfectly and gives a beautiful flush to the cheeks!   These blushes really have a generous sized pan that will last a long time for the price.  The color is very pigmented, and a little goes a long way so don’t be too heavy handed with this product!  Another nice blush color in this collection is “Apri-Cot in the Middle” which is a peachy nude also with a hint of sheen.  Ooh la la!

Color Icon Bronzer in “Ticket to Brazil” ($3.99)- This is a perfect shade for lighter skin tones and not too orangey.  There is no chunky glitter or shimmer which is something that I look for in bronzers also. The pan is a really generous size – I think it might take years to hit pan on it!  It just adds the right amount of color to give more dimension to the skin.  Another plus is that it has SPF 15.  I feel like I look relaxed, having just returned from vacation, every time I put it on!

MegaLast Liquid Catsuit lipstick ($4.99) These liquid lipsticks are a recent release from Wet N Wild that has taken the beauty community by storm.   I still cannot believe that these liquid lipsticks are $5!!  There are 13 shades ranging from your nudes to your really dark vampy shades.  “Rebel Rose” is my favorite shade – it’s a beautiful pinky brown mauve.  Another honorable mention goes to the color “Give Me Mocha,” a warm pinky brown.  The product has great staying power and does not over-dry my lips.  Note that this is a matte formula, so if you are a shiny, glossy type of girl then you probably won’t enjoy this product.  I love the packaging – you get a generous amount of product and the applicator has a little curve in it which makes it so much easier to apply on your lips.  If you are a liquid lipstick fan, then you know that these products are not forgiving and need a precise application to look good, both of which can be achieved easily with this lipstick.

Photofocus pressed powder ($4.99)- I actually purchased this is a darker skintone to use as a bronzer when I am self tanning and darker than I am now, even though it is actually a pressed powder that can be used to set foundation and concealer into place.  I really like the feel of the powder and it has a great shade selection with 8 different shades to choose from.

 

So you really have nothing to lose in trying out these products if you haven’t been using Wet N Wild.  Many drugstores and retail chains like Target carry their line and they also have their website if you like to shop from home.  Let me know what your experience has been with Wet N Wild and what products you are loving from the drugstore!

5 things you should be doing NOW for antiaging

We are all different ages and our skin is uniquely ours, based on how we take care of it as well as our environment and heredity.  If you are like me, you want to turn back the hands of time and keep people guessing what your real age is.  No matter what condition your skin is in now, by following the following five things you WILL improve your skin’s appearance and ward off the signs of aging.  Read on to see what they are…

# 1     Drink a lot of water  – This may seem like a no-brainer, but keeping your skin hydrated inside and out is a sure way to keep yourself looking younger and glowing.  Remember, our skin is the largest organ of our body, so it is important to take care of it!  This also includes getting enough rest and eating a healthy diet as the healthier you are, the better your skin will look.  From a product perspective, be sure to use Hyaluronic Acid.  I mentioned the benefits of Hyaluronic Acid in my Best Winter Products article but the same applies here. Hydrated skin looks plumper and younger and it is important to be hydrated both inside and out.  If you aren’t already, be sure this ingredient is incorporated into your skincare routine!

Get out and enjoy nature – but don’t forget the sunscreen.

#2     Use Sunscreen – This is another thing that so many of us neglect in our daily activities.  Trust me,  sunscreen is not just for summer!  It should be applied year-round before going outside.  We don’t think about it, but there are so many free radicals in our environment that all work to break down the elasticity of our skin.  Harmful UV rays fall into this category.  Sunscreen is your “force field” to make it difficult for these environmental toxins to gain access to our skin.

Tretinoin cream is another name for Retin-A. It comes in varying strengths. This is the lowest.

#3     Vitamin A is your friend – There is so much information on so many skincare products out there that it can be overwhelming to know what to use.  I’m sure you’ve heard of retinol, which is essentially Vitamin A.  Retinols need to be a part of your routine to anti-age!  If you are new to Retinols, I’d start with any over the counter retinol cream and slowly integrate it into your routine.  Most store-bought creams are mild but everyone’s skin reacts differently.  Basically what this will do is help with your cell turnover (which slows down as we age) leaving us with smoother, glowing skin.  If you are in your 30s or 40s you should get Retin-A (also commonly known as Tretinoin) which is a much stronger dosage (about 10X stronger than retinoids). Typically you need a prescription for this but there are some online places you can order it.   Another benefit is that this treatment also clears acne!  Use sparingly until your skin is used to it, and be sure to be extra diligent about sunscreen when you are using any of these vitamin A products as they increase skin’s sensitivity to the sun.  NOTE:  If you are pregnant or nursing you should NOT use these products!

#4-     Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate! – You could be using all the best products for your skin, but if you are not exfoliating, or removing the dead layers of skin from its surface, none of your products will penetrate fully or be as effective.  So maximize all your skincare products by exfoliating at least 2/3 times per week.  You can use products that can manually exfoliate or some that have mild acids in it to melt off those layers.  I like Dermologica’s Gentle Cream Exfoliant.

#5-     Don’t forget your neck and hands– In our quest to keep our skin looking younger we all tend to focus the most attention on our faces; after all, that is the first thing we see on each other!  However, as you are applying products to your face don’t forget to also apply to the neck and even the decollete area.  Nothing is worse than having our necks betray our true age when we’ve worked so hard to keep our face looking young.  Be sure to give your hands some TLC also to keep yourself looking young in all the right places.  I made this mistake and wish I could get back those years, but now I apply my products on the neck and back of the hands to fully reach all the key areas that begin to show our age.

SUMMARY

So how many of the tips above are you already doing?  Following these steps are relatively inexpensive and can save you in the long run of possible cosmetic procedures to turn back the hands of time.  The sooner you start putting these tips into practice the better prepared you will be to hold off on those lines and wrinkles. Happy anti-aging!

 

5 Best e.l.f. Products Under $10

It is so exciting to find great beauty products that work well, but it’s even MORE exciting when those products are $10 or LESS!  I’ve pulled together my 5 favorite affordable make up products by the brand e.l.f. (eyes lips face) to share with you, because who doesn’t want to save some bucks on make up?

Leave your house with a flawless face for $3!

Tinted Moisturizer, SPF 20 Sunscreen, $3

This product has well outperformed my expectations.  I use it on days when I’m running to the gym.  I can get my sun protection in, and the tint evens out my complexion.  It wears well and speeds up my morning routine.  This product would also be great for people that don’t like foundation but want to camouflage a few imperfections before heading out the door in the morning.  There are several shade selections and it is only $3.

Generous size of four great colors for your cheeks.

Powder Blush Palette $6

I am still blown away by this product.  For $6 you get four different shades of blush in generous sized pans.  I find the colors nicely pigmented and they last on my face throughout the day.  It’s great for travel and a nice way to experiment with a few different shades without breaking the bank.

Ten beautiful warm matte shades for $10.

Mad for Matte 2 Shadow Palette $10

At $10 this is the most expensive in my roundup of products, but still a fantastic value in my opinion.  There are 10 shadows in a great compact palette that are all beautiful warm tones.  If you enjoy those colors, you will not be disappointed!  There is great color pay off and I find the colors blend nicely on the lid.  This is another great travel piece as well.

Give your face a large drink of water with this sheet mask.

Hydrating Water Sheet Mask $6

We are approaching springtime, but the March wind and unpredictable weather is here, and so is my dehydrated skin.  This sheet mask is easy to use and gives my face a healthy dose of hydration and a much needed pick-me-up each time I use one.  It’s easy to use and the mess free clean up make this a no-brainer for me.  For more tips on keeping your skin hydrated, you might want to check out my previous post 7 Must-Have Products to Survive Winter Skin.

Use this nifty tool to apply jar based masks or even foundation.

Pore Refining Brush $5

While I love the sheet masks from e.l.f., as the skincare junkie I am I do have some other masks in my collection that are in a jar.  This brush is so unique and perfect for spreading those products on my skin easily.  With any products in a jar it is much more hygienic to avoid putting our fingers into the jar to avoid any contamination.  It’s rubbery texture makes it easy to wash off and it’s double ended with a small traditional brush on the other end for those smaller, hard to reach areas!

I hope these product reviews help you if you are thinking about trying the e.l.f. brand and don’t know where to begin, or if you have some products currently and are wondering which others might be good to try.  Comment below and let me know your great product finds under $10.  Happy shopping!

7 Must-Have Products to Survive Dry Winter Skin

It seemed like winter was going to be not so bad this year, but then the groundhog predicted  6 more weeks of winter and we just got hit with some significant snow – what is a girl’s skin to do?  If you are like me, it is a battle to keep my face from looking flaky and my cuticles from being a peeling mess!  Lucky for you, I’ve done a lot of product testing to see what works for me and I have some great products that have really helped keep my skin hydrated.  I list them below, broken down by specific problem areas that I experience every winter.

LIPS – with some of the windy days of winter it’s hard just to go outside to get the mail without feeling like all the moisture is being knocked out of our skin, especially the delicate lip area.  My can’t live without lip balm is by BITE beauty.  They are a natural cosmetic company known for their lip products that are all made from edible products!  Their Agave Lip Masks  are awesome!  They keep my lips nourished and come in some light tints if you want to add just a hint of natural color to your lips.  I wear these to the gym all the time.

Another lip product I can’t live without is  Tarte’s Lip Facial.  This will exfoliate those lips to make the lip mask product more effective.  What’s great about this product is that it comes in a pencil, so you just swipe it on your lips like a lipstick and rinse off.  It’s also great to travel with

FEET – I am one of those people that is very diligent about getting pedicures in the summer when I’m wearing sandals all the time, but the second my feet are under wraps in boots for the winter, I skip the nail salon.  The result is really rough heels.  That was until I started using Gold Bond Ultimate healing Foot CreamThis stuff is amazing and won’t break the bank!  I slather this on my feet every morning before I put my socks on and my feet have never felt better.

FACE – I’ve found that success in keeping my face hydrated is a combination of a few key products and a good skincare routine.  I use Retin-A for anti-aging, and this can make my skin even more prone to that flaky, dry look (I know, very attractive!)  One product I’ve invested in is a cleansing milk as my facial cleanser.  I have combination skin, so in the summer I use a different cleanser, but the thicker creamy consistency of the Juice Beauty Cleansing Milk feels great going on and leaves my skin feeling clean and moisturized each day!

No matter what cleanser or moisturizers are in your skincare routine, one key product you should make sure you are using is hyaluronic acid.  Hyaluronic Acid  is naturally found in our bodies and helps to moisturize and create fullness or plumpness in our skin.  It attracts 1000 times its molecular weight in water, binding skin cells to water.  It also attracts water in the environment to our skin.   However, as we age, the amount of hyaluronic acid in our bodies decreases, which can make our skin less plump and give it that crepey texture.  Whether it’s an ingredient in your moisturizer or on its own in a serum, it’s a key ingredient to have in your skincare routine.  I use mine in a serum and apply right before my moisturizer, morning and night.  There are a lot of serums out there in a broad range of products, but I’ve found a brand called OZ Naturals that works great and is very reasonably priced.

One last face product that adds even MORE moisture to my skin each day is the Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer.  Applied right after your moisturizer, this primer allows for makeup to blend on top beautifully but keeps my skin from flaking.  Coconut water is a main ingredient and it smells great too.

NAILS/CUTICLES – Nothing drives me crazier than looking at my hands and seeing dry, peeling cuticles.  Whenever I can, I swipe on the L’Occitane Nail and Cuticle Nourishing Oil and rub it in and instantly my nails are transformed and look human again.  The tube is just the perfect size to keep in your purse or in your desk and the brush at the end makes it a snap to apply.

PLEASE SHARE – Have you tried any of these products?  Tell me!  I’d love to hear about your experience, good or not.  Also, leave a comment and let me know what your winter “holy grail” beauty products are!  Let’s help each other stay hydrated this season.

Please note that some of the links in this article are affiliate links.  If you purchase any of those products, I receive a small commission.  This is at no additional cost to you.  I appreciate your support of this blog if you do decide to try some of the products!