Monday, December 30, 2013

My Favorite Things 2013

Hope everyone had a wonderful 2013!  It was certainly a great year for the beauty industry.  Some really innovative cosmetics launched in 2013.  Here are some of my some of my favorite hot and healthy new products from this year:
1.  DERMAdoctor DD Cream 15-Benefits-In-1 Dermatologically Defining BB Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($38 at Sephora)  
DD creams have been getting more and more beauty buzz everyday.  If you were impressed by the multi-tasking abilities of BB and CC creams, you'll love DD creams.  They combine the best of both worlds...the anti-aging qualities of BB creams with the color correction of CC creams.  And of course, they still have the protection, hydration, and coverage of both products.  I think we'll be seeing tons of DD displays at Sephora and Ulta pretty soon, but the first major DD to hit the market is made by DERMAdoctor and launched a few months ago.  It provides good coverage and has mineral-derived SPF (always a plus!). 

2.  Murad Essential-C Sun Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 35 PA+++ ($25 at Sephora)  
The first rule in skincare is sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen!  Unlike traditional drugstore sunscreen sticks, the Murad Sun Balm is really light-weight and non-greasy.  It also contains vitamin C, which provides antioxidant protection against the sun and evens skin tone as you're wearing it.  Plus, the vitamin C gives the balm a refreshing citrus smell, rather than the heavy sunscreen smell that you find with a lot of drugstore sunscreen sticks.  For days on the beach, stick to sun products that are lotions with physical sunblocks for optimal protection against the sun.  However, the Murad Sun Balm's convenient size and application makes it great for throwing in your purse...perfect for retouching your sunscreen on a sunny day or applying sunscreen on the go. 

3.  Philosophy Total Matteness Oil-Free Mattefying Pore Eraser ($40 at Sephora)
One way to make skin look firmer and more even is by minimizing pores.  In addition to your toner, the Philosophy Pore Eraser can help!  Natural bamboo extracts help mattify excess oil, and lentil seed extract helps refine pores.  Overall, it's tough to find a good mattifying product that isn't necessarily geared for those with acne, but the Pore Eraser seems to do the trick.  Additionally, this product is unique from other oily-skin treatments because it does not dry out skin and will even leave it soft to the touch.

4.  Ole Henriksen Perfect Truth CC Eye Creme Broad Spectrum SPF 15 ($26 at Sephora)
Most CC products available are for your face, but Ole Henriksen makes a CC creme for your eyes too.  Like a typical eye creme, it works to firm, hydrate, brighten, and depuff.  It also contains SPF and pigments to provide coverage around the eye area, making it ideal for day wear.  In fact, every woman should be wearing an eye cream - morning and night - in order to most effectively protect the delicate eye area.  And a little under eye concealer goes a long way, making your entire complexion appear more even, awake, and radiant.  Definitely a daily makeup must!  So, now you can combine applying your eye creme and your under eye concealer into one, easy step.  

5.  Boscia Konjac Cleansing Sponge ($18 at Sephora) 
It's not only about what cleanser you use to wash your face, but also how you wash your face.  Clarisonic brushes have gotten popular recently, but sometimes they are a little too harsh to use every day.  Instead, try pumping your face wash onto Boscia's new cleansing sponge.  It is super soft and gentle enough to use daily, even around the eye area.  At the same time, it provides very mild exfoliation.  Infused with Japanese konjac root, this sponge will help detoxify, soften, and brighten as it cleanses.  Much more effective than your average drugstore sponge!

    Those are some of my favorite things from 2013.  I'm super excited to see the products to come in 2014.  Happy New Year everyone!

    Monday, December 9, 2013

    Travel Light With These Beauty Products

    Whether you're going to see family or flying off to a relaxing getaway, the holidays can definitely mean traveling for a lot of Americans.  Bringing all of your moisturizers, hair sprays, foundations, etc. can take up a lot of room and add weight to your luggage.  Check out some of these tips for efficiently bringing your essential beauty products with you wherever you go:

    1.  Opt for 2-in-1 products.

    The best way to pack light is to bring products that serve multiple purposes.  For example, the Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick Compact in Pink Quartz ($42 at department stores) contains adjacent rows of shimmery pinkish and bronze shades.  Swirl your kabuki brush over the entire brick, and sweep it over your face to add a warm, bronzed glow.  Alternatively, you can use the individual colors on the brick as eyeshadow shades.  And don't forget that you can you can use the individual pink shades as a blush and the lighter shades as a highlighter.  This product comes in several different color combinations, but my personal favorite is this lovely and naturally looking Pink Quartz Shimmer Brick. 

    You can't talk about 2-in-1's without mentioning BB, CC, and DD creams.  For your complexion cosmetics, leave your daily moisturizer, tinted moisturizer, primer, and foundation at home, and bring one of these 4-in-1's.  They will provide the hydration, SPF protection, and coverage that you need for the day in one easy step.  Try the travel-size Dr. Jart+ Black Label Detox BB Beauty Balm ($18 at Sephora).  Boscia also makes a travel sized BB Cream Broad Spectrum SPF PA 27++ ($18 at Sephora), if you prefer an oil-free product.  Both have physical sunblocks as well as other great skin beneficial ingredients.

    2.  Swap your cleanser for cleansing wipes.

    If you're flying, remember that most airlines have a policy regarding transporting liquids.  You are permitted to take a quart-sized Ziploc bag full of clear 3 oz. or less containers.  So, try makeup removing and cleansing wipes rather than a liquid makeup remover and a liquid face cleanser.  They're just as effective, and you don't have to worry about spills in your luggage or getting the product past airline security.  I really like the Ole Henriksen Truth To Go Vitamin C Wipes ($15 at Sephora).  They cleanse while soothing and moisturizing skin.  The vitamin C brightens and firms your complexion and gives the wipes a refreshing citrus smell.  Plus, this product comes in a convenient to-go pack that's perfect for traveling.

    3.  Pick up some smart travel containers.

    You can also try transporting your products in these clear, stackable travel containers ($6 at Amazon).  They are pretty spill-proof, clear, and light-weight, and you can stack as many as you need together.  I've spooned everything from loose powder to serums to toner to tinted moisturizer into these containers.  It's also a great way to keep your products organized! 

    4.  Invest in a travel brush set.

    Makeup brushes are long, bulky, and delicate.  To lighten up your load, bring along a travel brush set like the Sephora Collection Face & Eye Travel Tool Kit ($32 at Sephora).  There are tons of these types of products on the market today.  Sephora as well as companies like Bobbi Brown make variations of these sets, so you can choose the ones with the right combination of brushes for you.  This particular kit contains a mini powder/blush brush, eye shadow blending brush, eye shadow smudge brush, eye shadow crease brush, and an angled brow/liner brush.  The kit also comes with a small, compact case that fits nicely into luggage and protects your brushes from germs and damage.

    5.  Save your samples for a rainy day.

    Many of the large beauty retailers like Sephora, Ulta, and Blue Mercury as well as large department stores give you samples with every purchase that give you 2-3 uses.  You can also ask for samples of your favorite products at these stores.  I like to save mine and stash them away into a reserve that I tap into when I travel.  You get your very own free travel sized products! 

    Wishing everyone safe travels this holiday season!

    Monday, December 2, 2013

    Healthy Holiday Gift Ideas

    'Tis the season!  The holidays are here, and many of us are on the look-out for the perfect gifts for our friends and family members.  Cosmetics a huge driver of holiday sales, and most beauty brands have their holiday gift sets ready to go! 

    Here are a few of my favorite healthy holiday items that make for great gifts this season:

    Lush stores are a really fun place.  They have tons of soaps and bath bombs that are sweet smelling, colorful, and fun...making them loveable gifts.  My only complaint about Lush is that many of their products do contain parabens and/or sulfates.  But, their massage bars are free of both and can be really unique and enjoyable gifts.  You simply rub the bar over your skin in the shower as, it works a moisturizer to soften your skin.  Perfect for this dry winter weather!  It's available in different shapes and scents, but the Snow Fairy Sparkle one is definitely the most festive. 

    Every girl should keep one of these kits in her purse.  It is a very small, compact cosmetics case that contains anything you would need in a fashion emergency...Hollywood fashion tape, a deodorant-removing sponge, lint-removing sheets, a sewing kit, a stain wipe, an earring back, an instant button, a hair band, a nail file, a blister pad, and a shoe-shine sponge.  It's one of those items that you would never think of buying, but will appreciate once you do!

    Not to be totally unoriginal, but I really do love the L'Occitane hand creams.  As with every holiday season, you will see gift sets of them available everywhere.  Everyone can use some hand cream.  The L'Occitane ones are infused with shea butter to lock in moisture.  I like them because they absorb nicely and have a light, floral scent.  This set is a classic beauty gift that women of all ages can enjoy.

    Origins makes some of my favorite skincare products.  This holiday season, they're offering a festive ginger scented trio that includes a Ginger Souffle Whipped Body Cream, Incredible Spreadable Smoothing Ginger Body Scrub, and Ginger Float Cream.  You will definitely feel calm and refreshed as these products work to soften and nourish your skin.

    5.  DIY Spa Kit
    What's cuter and more creative than making your spa kit?  Gifts that encourage people to pamper themselves are the best kinds of gifts.  Here are some ideas for this DIY kit:

    Bellaboo Sweet Sin Chocolate Face Mask ($10 at Ulta) 

    This delicious mask is the perfect mask for relaxation time.  By cleansing and hydrating, the chocolate will leave your face smooth to the touch.  And don't forget that it will help provide antioxidant protection and nourishment to keep your complexion looking youthful and healthy.
    Earth Therapeutics Recover-E Cucumber Eye Pads ($7 at Ulta) 

    While you have your mask on your face, put these pads over your eyes.  The cucumber, green tea, aloe, chamomile, and vitamin E will help soothe the eye area.  Your eyes will appear fresh and awake.  These pads are also useful for those mornings when you wake up with puffy or red eyes.
    Earth Therapeutics Aloe Socks ($8 at Ulta)
    And don't forget to throw in some comfy socks to top off the experience.  These socks are not only super soft, but are also infused with natural aloe to moisturize your feet as you wear them.

    In general, people can be picky about their skincare products, so stay away from kits with serums, eye creams, etc.  For gifts for those you don't know as well or those who don't use cosmetics, opt for general personal care products (like the ones mentioned above) that all women can use.     

    ...but for those makeup wearers, try these fun and fashionable products:

    This stackable wand contains tinted lip balms in five core shades (beiges, pinks, reds).  To change shades, you simply remove the shade at the top, move it to the bottom, and push it up.  A super cute stocking stuffer!  

    This travel brush set contains a flat powder brush, concealer brush, shadow brush, and angled liner brush...everything you need for a touch-up on a night out or to apply your makeup on vacation.  Plus, the brushes are a pretty sparkly pink color and come in a stylish, sparkly case that fits conveniently in your purse.

    Bobbi Brown always makes gorgeous palettes around the holiday season.  As the name implies, this palette has colors that everyday women can wear every day.  It has neutral taupe, white, and black eye shadow shades and neutral pink lip shades.  All of these shades come in a small compact so you can throw it in your purse for touch-ups during the day.

    The Tarte pencil liners are pretty efficacious.  They have a nice creamy formula that allows you to move and blend the color really easily.  After a few seconds, it dries so that it stays in place all day long.  This particular set comes with beautiful onyx, purple garnet, azurite green, new taupe, and rose gold shades.  And don't forget that it comes with their signature Lights, Camera, Flashes Statement mascara that uses a precise brush to sweep color onto lashes and boost volume.

    10.  DIY Nail Set
    Bring the nail salon to your girlfriends!  They make for fun and original gifts.  Putting a kit together yourself can allow you to incorporate all of your favorite products and shades that you know your friends will love.  

    Sephora Collection Instant Nail Polish Remover ($10 at Sephora)
    My cousin got this for me last Christmas, and I absolutely love it.  Inside of the bottle is a foam ring filled with remover.  You stick your finger in the middle of the ring as the solution dissolves your nail polish instantly.  No cotton ball necessary and no work for you!

    Sephora Collection Set of 5 Color Hit Nail Set ($12 at Sephora)
    This collection from Sephora is a set of mini nail polishes.  Sometimes, it's hard to say which shades different people will like, but this kit contains neutral shades like reds, pinks, and beiges, which everyone can use at some point.   

    Sephora Collection Colorful Nail File ($3 at Sephora)
    To top it off, add a fun nail file to shape your nails before you paint them.
    This holiday season, if you're looking for gift ideas, check the beauty aisle.  After all, you can't go wrong with products that make you look and feel great.  Even if your friends and family members aren't beauty fanatics, there are some great products in stores right now that they will really enjoy.

    Happy Holidays everyone :)

    Monday, November 25, 2013

    Thanksgiving Inspired Beauty

    Thanksgiving is right around the corner!  I don't know about you, but I'm certainly ready for some great food.  To get everyone in the spirit of the holidays, here are some great beauty products inspired by some classic Thanksgiving dishes:

    Cranberry Sauce
    Cranberries are a super fruit for your skin because they have the power to tackle a variety of skin concerns.  First, they're rich in antioxidants, which helps reduce the damage that is caused by free radicals from environmental pollutants and the sun during the day, keeping your skin looking more youthful for longer.  Cranberries are also effective acne-fighters.  In addition to the their anti-inflammatory properties, they have antiseptic properties to control acne-causing bacteria formation on your skin.  Since cranberries are acidic, they contain acids that help exfoliate and regulate oil product by unclogging sebum (oil) glands.  And don't forget that cranberries are packed with vitamins C to promote cell turnover and collagen production.  So, your skin will be left feeling smooth, looking radiant, and feeling supple.
    I use Jason Natural Cosmetics Pure Natural Body Wash in Antioxidant Cranberry when I shower.  Jason Natural is a really reliable and affordable brand that's available at most drug and grocery stores.  They make a cranberry body wash that cleans without stripping your skin of good, natural oils, and it lathers really well (despite that fact that it's sulfate-free!).  Plus it's formulated with cranberry oil for antioxidant protection as well as aloe and glycerin to soften your skin.


    Carrots are not only great for your eyes, but they're great for your skin too.  Why?  The pigment that makes
    carrots orange is beta carotene, which your body converts into retinol.  Retinol helps slow aging, improve skin color, and keep skin clear.  As a very potent antioxidant, carrots can even help boost the effectiveness of sunscreen by helping it fight off UV damage.  The combination of cell regeneration-promoting vitamin C and natural lightening abilities, working carrots onto your face will allow you to have a smooth and even complexion.  And not to mention that carrots work as an anti-inflammatory too!

    One of my favorite skincare brands is Suki, who makes a lovely Pure Facial Moisture - Nourishing ($33 on product.  I really like their facial treatments because they absorb nicely and feel pretty light.  This moisturizing treatment can be used as a moisturizer or layered under moisturizer.  Ideal for mature or dry skin types, this product tackles wrinkles and helps boost skin elasticity using carrots in combination with other fatty acids and omega-rich oils. 

    Apple Pie

    An apple a day keeps the dermatologist away.  Why?  As we know, apples are anti-aging because of their antioxidant content and vitamin A.  But apples are also great for a variety of other skin concerns.  Not only does the acidity provide gentle exfoliation, but the enzymes help purify and tone pores.  A lot of mild peels contain apples because they are brightening.  If you have an uneven skin tone or discoloration, the vitamin C in apples assists in cell regeneration and collagen production.  Since apples are an anti-inflammatory and improve circulation, you can cut a slice and place them under your eyes to get rid of dark circles.  Lastly, apples have copper to assist in the production of melanin to aid in protection against the sun.

    There are some very efficacious apple products on the market...they're often used in peels for their exfoliating qualities.  Even during these cold November days, you should be wearing a daily moisturizer with SPF like the Juice Beauty Green Apple SPF 15 Moisturizer ($38 at Ulta).  I happen to like it because it contains mineral sunblock for optimal protection against the sun.  It also has hylauronic acid to lock in moisture, other nourishing natural oils, alpha hydroxy acids to even skin tone, and CoQ10 to smooth fine lines...especially great for more mature skin types!

    Pumpkin Pie

    If you haven't tried pumpkin for your skin, you're missing out.  Pumpkins provide great
    antioxidant protection against free radicals.  Their enzymes provide mild exfoliation to soften skin, while vitamins A and C work to prevent aging, assist in cell turnover, and boost radiance.  And for those of you with blemish-prone skin, pumpkin oils contain vitamin E and fatty acids to calm skin and regulate oil production.  Great for all skin types!  

    To brighten up for holiday photos, try the MyChelle Incredible Pumpkin Peel ($28 at Whole Body).  I really love MyChelle products because they're very gentle, but get the job done.  Their pumpkin peel is made with pumpkin pulp, enzymes, and juice along with detoxifying ginger root oil.  It deeply exfoliates and nourishes to rejuvenate and purify your complexion leaving you with a gorgeous glow.  Use it as a weekly treatment to refresh your skin so that you can put forth your best holiday face.

    Chocolate Mousse

    My favorite part of any meal is dessert, and as a chocolate lover, I reach for the chocolate mousse.  Luckily, my skin loves it as much as my taste buds do.  Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, offers multiple benefits for your skin.  In particular, it provides deep hydration, stimulates microcirculation, improves skin thickness, and supports collagen production.  Its antioxidants also help provide protection against sun damage, and the natural oils from cocoa help smooth your complexion.  What's not to love about chocolate?

    The holidays are all about some rest and relaxation, so pamper yourself with the Eminence Chocolate Mousse Hydration Masque ($33 on  Just apply a thin layer on your face and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes before rinsing it off with water.  Your face will be instantly soothed and conditioned.  My only warning with using chocolate products is that they may give you a serious chocolate craving...

    Toasted Walnuts

    Since nuts have abrasive properties, they are most often found in scrubs.  In particular,
    walnuts are really good for your skin.  They contain proteins and omega-3 fats that protect your skin, renew skin, and keep your skin supple and moisturized.  Vitamin E helps soothe, reduce inflammation, and prevent skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis.  Grab some walnuts, and you'll have a smoother complexion in no time!

    The Ole Henriksen Walnut Complexion Scrub ($24 at Sephora) is a nice nutty scrub.  Some nut scrubs are too harsh on skin, but this one is rather gentle and great for removing impurities.  It definitely leaves your skin feeling clean, soft, and glowing.  But my favorite part about it is that it smells delicious :)


    Who doesn't love a glass of wine?  Your skin definitely will primarily because polyphenols in wine help prevent skin oxidation that causes aging.  Additionally, red wine is derived from grapes, which contain resveratrol, one of nature's most powerful antioxidants in the fight against signs of aging.  It also has anti-inflammatory and anti-septic properties to help ward off pimples and amino acids to stimulate cell repair and regeneration.  By lightening naturally and improving circulation, even a dull complexion will have a youthful glow.  Overall, a little splash or red wine is the perfect way to tighten and tone.

    So, try work this 2-in-1 into your weekly regiment: 100% Pure Red Wine Resveratrol Scrub and Mask ($21 on will exfoliate and restore radiance.  You can use it as a scrub or leave it on for 5-10 minutes before rinsing for a more intensive treatment.  Jojoba beads help gently remove dead skin cells, while conditioning and nourishing skin at the same time.

    Just like applying them topically, eating these foods can be beneficial for your skin too.  A delicious Thanksgiving feast can lead us to overeat.  If you're feeling guilty about your food intake this year, ease your guilt by reminding yourself that you're helping your skin :)

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

    Monday, November 18, 2013

    The Power of Tea

    Now that the weather is getting chilly, I am all about a nice, hot cup of tea.  Tea is's
    cheap, easily accessible, and offers a variety of powerful health benefits.  In fact, different types of tea contain different amounts of polyphenols, which have antioxidant, anticancer, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.  But did you know that tea is great for your skin too?

    Skin Benefits of Tea:
    • Antioxidant activity of tea is more potent than that found in 22 fruits and vegetables including orange juice, carrots, and broccoli (USDA).  Antioxidants strengthen your skin's immune system by helping to fight against aging and skin cancer related to sun damage and free radicals in the air.  This means that all teas are anti-aging.
    • Teas are super hydrating, despite any caffeine content.
    • Their composition of natural ingredients = they are toxin-free
    • They are soothing and calming, which means that they are super gentle and non-irritating.
    • Every skin type can reap multiple benefits from almost every type of tea. 

    There are a few major types of tea.  Check out the benefits of some popular ones:


    What it is:  As the name implies, black teas like assam and darjeeling (my person fave!) are dark in color because they are fully oxidized and more processed than other types of teas.  Oxidation also allows for a caffeine content in black teas.   

    Why it's great:  Black teas are rich in vitamins C and E, which along with polyphenols and tannin, help promote cell turnover and repair.  The caffeine in black teas helps stimulate circulation to boost radiance.  It's especially great in eye creams because it helps de-puff around the eye area.  And don't forget that black tea helps fight blemish-causing bacteria. The fact that it tackles the 3 major skin issues - aging, brightening, and acne - makes black tea idea for normal skin types or those of you, who want to target all 3 of these issues.

    Product Recommendation: The JUARA Sweet Black Tea Eye Creme ($38 on is one of my favorite eye products because it's light and absorbs quickly.  The black tea in this product and in many other black tea beauty products is kombucha, or fermented black tea.  Although kombucha has a very strong and distinctive taste, the fact that it's fermented makes it an even stronger health tonic and skin-saver.  In fact, kombucha is a key ingredient in many of JUARA's products.  The kombucha in eye cream helps tighten and smooth fine lines, and the caffeine helps reduce puffiness.  The JUARA product also incorporates rice bran and avocado oils for extra moisture, protection, and elasticity.


    What it is:  Green teas are generally brewed the same day that they are gathered.  Since they are not as oxidized and processed as black teas are, they have a very low caffeine content and a weaker taste.  This also means that green teas retain a lot of the plant properties such as the green color.  And luckily for your skin, they retain a lot of their vitamins and minerals as well. 

    Why it's great:  When it comes to tea and skincare, green teas have definitely gotten most of the attention primarily because they offer such power anti-aging benefits.  Compared to black teas, green teas have a higher content of the catechin polyphenols that give teas antioxidant power.  In addition to assisting in warding off early signs of aging, its anti-inflammatory and purifying properties and ability to help regulate sebum (oil) product
    make it a great ingredient for those with acne-prone skin too.  Thus, many popular acne-fighting products like Proactive contain green tea.  

    Product Recommendation:  For those of you with oily skin, the Boscia Green Tea Oil-Control Mask ($34 at Sephora) will help control shine.  Boscia is a really effective brand that blends the best of botanicals and science (hence the name).  With the help of cucumber and burdock root, the green tea in this gentle peel-off mask will work to mattefy, nourish, and smooth your skin.  


    What it is:  White teas, including silver needle and white peony, are even less processed than green teas and are grown mainly in China.  Thus, of all teas, they have the lowest caffeine content and the lightest taste.

    Why it's great:  White teas offer similar anti-aging benefits to green tea.  They have a comparable amount of catechin polyphenols to green teas, but a different composition of them.  Since it has less caffeine than green tea, it is even more hydrating and helps lock moisture into your skin.  White teas also help detoxify skin to keep your pores clean and give your complexion a natural glow...ideal for dry or dull complexions.

    Product Recommendation:  The 100% Pure Mint White Tea Tonique ($19 on is a really nice balancing toner.  It soothes skin, replenishes moisture, and removes impurities to help clear skin.  The mint also works to tighten pores and offers a slight and refreshing tingling feeling.  Perfect for oily/combination skin types!  You can also try an oil-free, light day-time moisturizer like the Origins A Perfect World SPF 25 ($41 at Sephora) for strong protection against aging.


    What it is:  Unlike other teas, herbal teas aren't produced from leaves.  Instead, the actual plant leaves from herbs, flowers, fruits, and vegetables are brewed.  Many of them are often blended with other types of teas.  There are 3 main types of herbal teas:  herbal infusions, rooibos, and mate.  You are probably most familiar with herbal infusions such as chamomile, hibiscus, rose, and ginger.  

    Why it's great:  Certain herbal teas are especially nourishing for your skin.  But different types of herbal teas can offer very different benefits.  For example, chamomile tea is an herbal infusion that has useful healing properties.  You can use it to help heal acne scars, soothe minor irritation and sunburn, and brighten to even your complexion.  Herbal infusions are ideal if you have sensitive skin or any skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis.  In addition, the discovery of African red teas, which are a part of the rooibos tea family, has been a great breakthrough in skincare.  Why?  Well believe it or not, these teas have an antioxidant power that is 50 times that of green tea.  They also contain an enzyme called superoxide dismutase, which also fights free radicals and helps with cell regeneration.  Overall, rooibos teas offer optimal protection in the fight against aging.  Plus, they lack bitter tannins, so they have a nice, sweet taste too!
    Product Recommendation: The Juice Beauty Simply Pure Chamomile Cleanser ($22 at Ulta) is a very delicate cleanser that softens as it cleanses.  In addition to chamomile, it contains other natural skin-protecting and soothing ingredients like aloe, white tea, and grape seed oil.  One of my favorite skincare brands, Ole Henriksen, produces an "Age Control" line of products featuring African Red Tea.  The Ole Henriksen African Red Tea See the Difference Serum ($48 at Sephora) has a great non-greasy feel.  Apply it morning and night to create a virtually impenetrable barrier against the free radicals and sun exposure you may encounter during the day.

    So, there are a lot of different teas out there that offer a variety of different skin benefits.  Luckily, many beauty brands have recognized the benefits of tea and produce healthy skincare products containing tea (all of the product recommendations above at 100% healthy).  Hopefully, this post will help you pick the products that are best for your unique skin needs :)

    Working tea into your life is just as simple as swapping 1 glass of water for a cup of tea every day.  You can even just wet a tea bag and rub it over your face at night or in the morning as a refreshing toner.  

    Whether you drink tea or apply it topically, you skin will thank you!  For more on teas, visit:

    What's your favorite type of tea?

    Monday, November 11, 2013

    Battle of the Oils

    One of the latest trends in beauty products has been pure oils.  If you haven't tried them yet, you're definitely missing out!  I'm not talking about the serum oils, cleansing oils, or moisturizing oil treatments (like the Bobbi Brown Extra Face Oil) that have been around for a while...I'm referring to plain, old pure oils. 

    There are many great benefits to using a light layer of oil underneath or instead of your moisturizer.  Why?
    • Since these oils are derived from natural substances, you know they're healthy.  
    • They're gentle, soothing, and great for even the most sensitive skin types.
    • They're more potent than moisturizers, which means that your skin gets a stronger dose of beneficial ingredients.  Moisturizers that "contain vitamin C" for example also contain a lot of fillers that dilute the ingredient.
    • They offer benefits to all skin types.
    • Save time and money.  These 2-in-1 products are treatment + moisturizers.
    • Believe it or not, they often feel less greasy (they absorb pretty fast) than traditional moisturizers.  And they smell pretty nice too :)
    • You can use them anywhere on your body - try them as a hair treatment, makeup remover, or cuticle moisturizer too.
    A lot people are hesitant to use oils though because some myths have given them a bad rep.  

    Myth #1:  Oil = sun sensitivity   
    Many of us have probably heard of people using baby oil to tan because it draws sunlight to react with your skin.  The truth is that certain oils, primarily citrus-based oils, can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.  Many pure oils, however, will not.  Just be sure to check the packaging of an oil to make sure that it won't make your skin sensitive to sunlight.  In fact, you can use products like the Josie Maran argan oil and the Boscia tsubaki oil both day and night.

    Myth: Oil = acne
    Some oils such as mineral oil (baby oil) can aggravate acne.  First of all, there are often scents and fillers in baby oil that can make you break out.  Secondly, these lubricating oils are heavy, aggressive, and sit on the top of the skin (rather than penetrate it), which can clog your pores.  Pure oils are much lighter, more delicate, and get absorbed by the skin, so all skin types - even those with acne - can use them.

    That being are the four most popular and commercialized pure oils on the market today:

    1.  Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil ($48 at Sephora)
    Winner:  Repairing/Replenishing 
    You've probably heard about argan oil by now, since it's been one of the hottest new beauty products in the past few years for everything from skin to hair to cuticles to even stretch marks.  Argan oil comes from Moroccan Argan trees and is rich in both vitamin E and fatty acids.  Thus, it offers some really great skin benefits including repairing, nourishing, and conditioning and is really great for all skin types including acne-prone skin. Josie Maran is the queen of argan oil, which is featured in all of her products.  She even makes a "light" argan oil for those of you, who want an extra light-weight product.   

    2.  Marula Pure Marula Face Oil ($78 at Sephora)

    Winner:  Soothing/Softening
    Marula oil comes from marula nuts in East Africa.  Why is it a super skin-saver?  In addition to its protecting, and rejuventating properties, marula oil is loaded with omega acids that smooth and firm skin to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  Antioxidants also work to slow aging and fight free radical damage.  Overall, the oil offers great soothing and softening qualities for all skin types and is especially useful for people with skin conditions, dry skin, or sensitive skin.  Plus you can even add it to other facial products to increase efficacy.

    3.  Tarte Pure Maracuja Oil ($46 at Sephora)
    Winner:  Brightening/Radiance
    Extracted from superfruits of the Amazon, maracuja oil is a great natural brightener.  Rich in vitamin C, which helps your skin cells with the natural turnover process, this product will rejuvenate your skin and leave your complexion with a radiant glow.  It also contains essential fatty acids that you're skin can't produce naturally, but help keep your skin supple and hydrated.  For those of you with dull skin or dark spots, this is the oil for you.  And don't forget that maracuja is a great anti-inflammatory too!  Just one thing to keep in mind is that this product may make your skin photo-sensitive, so limit your usage to night-time skincare.

    4.  Boscia Tsubaki Beauty Oil ($46 at Sephora)

    Winner:  Anti-Aging
    The Japanese have always been pioneers in skincare.  Boscia's Tsubaki Beauty Oil features Japanese ingredients that will keep your skin flawless for years.  First, tsubaki or camellia oil (from camellia plants in Japan) is a great source of fatty and omega 3 acids to fight signs of aging and protect against free radical damage.  This product also includes wakame, or Japanese sea kelp, to replenish protein and assist in collagen product as well as rice bran oil to boost radiance and increase microcirculation.  Great for all skin types and ideal for mature skin!

    Personally, I am a huge fan of pure oils because they feel great, and I generally see results faster than I do when I use other moisturizers or treatments.  I have tried all four of these products and absolutely can't say a bad thing about any of them.  However, since I have oily skin with blemishes and acne scars, I use argan oil in the spring and summer (vitamin E helps repair sun damage too) to treat the former and then switch the maracuja oil in the fall and winter to treat the latter.  Different oils offer differ benefits, so you have to look for the one that's best for you.  Usually, I put it under my moisturizer at night and sometimes, I use it in the morning too as extra hydration to lock in moisture on extra cold days when the air is dry or to keep my makeup in tact if I have a long day ahead of me.
    You may see other cheaper brands of these oils in stores like Whole Foods.  Just make sure that they're pure, meaning that no stabilizers, scents, preservatives have been added, and that they're cold pressed, which minimizes the loss of nutrients during the oil extraction process. 

    In addition to these more commercialized oil products, there are also some other oils that are great for your skin.  Some may be slightly less potent than the pure oils I just discussed.  But, they're still nourishing ingredients for your skin and only a fraction of the cost.  In particular, there are a few types of oil that can be power products for your complexion:
    • Coconut oil provides deep hydration by gently removing rough and dry excess skin cells and locking in moisture.  It's also great for hydrated, shiny hair.  Plus, it provides antioxidant protection.
    • Avocado oil is not only rich in free-radical fighting antioxidants, but it is also rich in vitamin E, essential fatty acids, and omega-3 oil.  You get skin that is moisturized, soothed, protected, nourished, and more supple.
    • Grape seed oil comes from grapes and offers anti-inflammatory properties to fight acne, an astringent to tighten pores, antioxidant protection, and fatty acids to help stimulate cell regeneration.
    • Jojoba oil from seeds of the jojoba plant is actually a liquid wax.  Interestingly, it can be great in treating a variety of skin conditions.  In particular, it helps dissolve oil that can clog your pores, which controls blemishes, even out your complexion, and soften fine lines and wrinkles.  As an antibacterial anti-inflammatory, it helps soothe skin irritation related to conditions like eczema and sunburn.
    • Sweet almond oil is a great skin softener (rather than moisturizer) to keep your skin feeling supple and elastic...and not to mention that it is packed with soothing, turnover promoting, and anti-aging vitamins A, D, and E.
    • Rosehip oil has been growing in popularity, especially amongst celebs like Miranda Kerr and Victoria Beckham.  Why?  It contains the big three - vitamin A to fight wrinkles, vitamin C to fight dark spots, and vitamin E to fight damage - along with antioxidants and inflammation fighters. 
    All of these oils are 100% healthy and can be conveniently found at Whole Foods and other grocery stores.  Like pure oils, you can simply use a few drops under or in lieu of your moisturizer at night. 
    Now what about essential oils?  Essentials oils are highly concentrated oils that are derived from plants.  Many of them are good for your skin.  For instance, lavender oil offer soothing and antiseptic properties.  Since essential oils are so concentrated and can be quite fragrant, try to use them more cautiously and sparingly if you incorporate them into your skincare regiment.  In other words, rather than using a few drops of them each night as a moisturizer, mix a few drops into your jar of moisturizer.  This will dilute the oil a bit and keep it from irritating your skin.  And keep them away from your eyes!  I personally prefer to save essential oils for my baths. 

    Overall, oils can be a rewarding addition to your beauty routine.  Just make sure that you are using the right types of oil and oils that will suit your specific skincare needs.
    What types of oil do you use?

    Monday, November 4, 2013

    Ways You Age

    There are tons of environmental factors and behaviors that theoretically can age us.  But which ones really do age us and why?

    A few case studies have revealed evidence for several behaviors that are thought to expedite the onset of signs of aging.  Check it out:

    Culprit #1:  Not washing your face

    Evidence:  A woman didn't wash her face for 30 days (left: before, right: after).  A dermatologist estimated that it aged her skin by about 10 years.

    Why?  Aside from allowing for skin irritation and acne-forming oil and bacteria to develop on her skin, not washing her makeup off every night definitely contributed to the aging process.  Your skin needs a certain amount of oxygen and moisture to repair and regenerate properly when you sleep, which is tough to do with makeup sitting on your skin.  In addition, pollutants and free radicals in the air get on our skin from simply walking around outside every day.  You need to cleanse your face to not only remove oil, germs, and makeup, but also to remove free radicals, which accelerate the skin aging process.

    Solution:  Wash your face each night before you go to bed.  If you have oily/combination skin, try a gel-based cleanser like the Boscia Detoxifying Black Mask ($28 at Sephora).  For normal or dryer skin types, try a creamier formula like the Jurlique Rose Moisture Plus with Antioxidant Complex Moisturizing Cleanser ($22 on

    Culprit #2:  Sun Exposure

    Evidence:  A 69-year-old man, who spent 28 years as a truck driver, had much more pronounced signs of aging on the left side of his face, which had been exposed to the sun as he was driving, than the right side of this face. 

    Why?  The UV radiation that is emitted from the sun is extremely hot and so powerful that it can penetrate glass (like car windows).  Our bodies in general were not made to be able to tolerate this heat for prolonged periods of time.  For example, in addition to feeling tired or dehydrated, the sun can play a part in the formation of cataracts.  While exposure to short-term, intense sunlight (like at the beach) can burn us, prolonged and consistent exposure to any sunlight can help in the formation of both sunspots and wrinkles.  

    Solution:  Wear a heavy, physical sunblock like the Lavanila Laboratories The Healthy Sunscreen SPF 40 Face Cream ($28 at Sephora) during your days at the beach.  Don't forget that the sun is out every day, so it's important to apply a moisturizer with SPF like the bareMinerals Advanced Protection SPF 20 Moisturizer ($30 at Sephora) every morning.  And for those times, you end up exposing yourself to more sunlight than you intended (driving on a sunny day), whip the Murad Essential-C Sun Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 35 ($25 at Sephora) out of purse and quickly glide the stick formula over your skin. 

    Culprit #3:  Not Moisturizing Adequately

    Evidence:  A woman's wrinkles diminished and skin tone evened around the eye area after using an eye cream for a few weeks (absolutely no retouching involved!).

    Why?  First, your skin needs hydration to retain a natural moisture balance that allows it to appear healthy and undergo processes such as cell regeneration.  So when you moisturize, you are allowing your skin to function at its best.  Moisturizing also makes your skin more supple and elastic, which can make it more resilient to stretching when you rub it, laugh, etc.  Specifically, the skin around the eye area is particularly fragile and thin, so wrinkles can really easily develop there.  Lines around the eye and lip can get further exaggerated as we laugh and smile.  Eye and lip creams, in particular, can provide a better level of hydration and richer nutrients to prevent wrinkles in this area.

    Solution:  Moisturize both day and night, so your skin is hydrated 24/7.  While your daily moisturizer should be a little lighter and contain SPF, your evening moisturizer should be a little bit heavier because your skin loses moisture as you sleep.  Additionally, your evening moisturizer should be packed with nutrients to best assist your skin in the rejuvenation process that occurs during your slumber.  For your eye and lip areas, try a more heavy duty product like the Caudalie Pulpe Vitaminee Eye and Lip Cream ($49 at Sephora)

    Culprit #4:  Smoking

    Evidence:  The picture below shows identical twin sisters.  The one of the left is a non-smoker, and the one of the right has been smoking for 29 years.

    Why?  As many of us know, smoking is detrimental to your overall health.  The damage that it does to your organs and systems will be reflected in your skin through sagging around the eyes and nose and discoloration of certain areas of the face.  In addition, facial gestures during smoking can lead to wrinkles around the mouth and chin areas faster than you would hope.

    Solution:  Stop smoking!

    Culprit #5:  Dehydration

    Evidence:  A woman, who was drinking less than the recommended water intake, began to drink 3 liters of water per day.  Just 4 weeks later, her skin looked noticeably healthier and more youthful.

    Why?  Afterall, our bodies are composed of about 70% water, which is vital to our functioning.  In terms of skincare, water helps flush out toxins that make us more prone to blemishes.  The natural glow and reduced appearance of wrinkles in the right-hand photo can be explained by the fact that water helps maintain the moisture balance that keeps skin soft, making our skin more supple and elastic.

    Solution:  It is recommended that we drink at least 8 cups of water per day.  Many of us don't actually keep track of how much water we're drinking.  So to make sure that you're drinking enough, set aside at least 4 pint-sized water bottles each morning to finish by the end of the day.  

    In addition, there are a few correlates with aging that haven't been proved with concrete photos like the ones mentioned above.  However, there are scientific explanations for them. 

    Culprit #6:  Poor Diet

    Explanation:  Like the rest of your organs, your skin needs vitamins and nutrients.  The foods that are good for your skin are the foods that are good for you in general.  Eating tons of fruits and vegetables will help protect your skin and the rest of your body with antioxidants.  Specifically, foods like oranges that contain vitamin C can promote skin cell turnover, and foods like turmeric, a part of the ginger family, work to brighten your complexion.  Working to incorporate them into your diet as well as into your skincare products can bring on a multi-pronged attacked against aging. 

    Solution:  Sometimes, it can be hard or unappealing to eat these foods in place of others or as snacks in addition to regular meals.  The easiest way to work skin-healthy ingredients into your diet is by subtly adding them to your meals.  If you're cooking pasta, simply throw in some extra green veggies, add some turmeric powder to your sauce, or squeeze a citrus fruit into your drink.

    Culprit #7:  Lack of Exercise

    Explanation:  Mild to moderate aerobic exercise (super rigorous exercise can put a lot of pressure on your skin) can help prevent wrinkle formation by helping maintain a healthy balance of moisture and oil to keep your skin supple and elastic.  It also promotes circulation and stimulates new cell growth, which give your complexion a nice, natural glow.  Sweating while you work out can help flush your skin of toxins...just remember to cleanse afterwards to prevent acne and odor.   

    Solution:  Exercise doesn't have to mean buying a gym membership or finding an extra hour in the day to jog.  Simply take the long walking route to work in the morning or swap the elevator for the stairs :)

    Culprit #8:  Not Enough Sleep

    Explanation:  In general, the PM is a night for your body to regroup and recharge for the next day.  As a part of this process, your skin is regenerating skin and drying to recover from the damage of the day.  If you're not getting efficient and enough sleep, you're denying your skin this opportunity.  

    Solution:  It's definitely hard to squeeze more hours of sleep in with our busy schedules.  So, instead try to work on getting quality sleep.  Soothing pre-bed routines such as a taking warm bath, drinking herbal tea, or reading a good book can help calm the mind and prepare your body for optimal sleep mode.  Also, remember to avoid caffeine in the evenings and staring a at computer screen too late at night (the stimulating lights keep you awake).

    Lastly, there is one proposed correlation with aging that has received rather mixed results:

    Culprit #9:  Pulling

    Theory:  Some people speculate that consistent stretching on the skin can promote wrinkles.  For example, we often hear that it is best to sleep on your back with a silk pillowcase to prevent crease lines and tugging that occurs when your face is on a pillow.  There really hasn't been any "evidence" or scientific explanation for this assertion (because it's pretty tough to measure), though many hypothesize that the link exists.  In my opinion, it makes sense that constant pulling can stretch the skin, and it's better to avoid it just in case.

    Solution:  Only use gentle, upward motions when massaging your face or applying products.  In addition, use your ring finger to apply cream around delicate areas like the eyes and lips.  Your ring finger gives you the least amount of control, so you exert less pressure on it when you smooth cream into your skin.  As for pillow wrinkles, you can try a silk pillowcase.  The Pond's Institute even recently came out with an Illuminage Skin Rejuvenating Pillowcase with Copper Oxide ($60 at Bergdorf Goodman).  Copper is a mineral that helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles and is embedded in the fibers of this
    pillowcase.  Not to mention that it's super soft too.  If anyone tries it, let me know what you think!

    The takeaways?  There are multiple factors that contribute to aging, though we don't necessarily know which ones contribute more.  The best way to prevent wrinkles and sunspots is to approach the aging process holistically, paying extra attention to "proven" causes of aging like sun exposure and proper skincare.  Just remember that fighting aging is about good wrinkle creams AND good general health behaviors.

    **All product recommendations are healthy