Monday, April 28, 2014

Add a Dash of Glitter to Your Look with These Products

What better way to make your makeup pop for your next night out than to add some glitter?  Check out some of this glittery cosmetics:

The eyes...
The nails...
The lips...
 The face...
  • NARS Super Orgasm Blush ($20 at Sephora) is a natural-looking deep pink shade that adds subtle sparkle to your cheeks.  NARS blushes are generally a fan favorite, and this product is no exception.
  • Make Up For Ever Diamond Powder ($25 at Sephora) is the perfect translucent, super sparkly highlighter to instantly illuminate your complexion.  Dust it on the cheekbones and under the brows, the high points of the face where the light hits.  
The body...

The hair...

I wouldn't recommend using all of these products at the same may turn into a blinding glitter overload!  Stick to using one or two of these products at once.  I like to limit glitter to the eyes and lips.  A little sparkle helps highlight those features without being overwhelming.  And many sparkly products aren't the healthiest.  For example, it's super tough to find a glitter powder that is free of bismuth oxychloride.  But for those appropriate occasions, glitter is a really fun way to spice up your look!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Beauty Brands That Are Saving the Earth

Did you know that Americans generate around 250 million tons of landfill waste every year?  That's a lot!!  Luckily, many beauty brands are working to recycle and reuse to help save our precious planet.  In honor of Earth Day, I wanted to give a shout-out to some healthy beauty brands that are not only doing your beauty routine good, but also doing our planet good.

Aveda, known mostly for its skin and hair care, fully embraces the idea of sustainability from their partnerships with non-profits like the Earth Fund Grantmaking Program to the use of sustainable furniture in their corporate office to their use of wind power in manufacturing.  As the first privately held company to sign the CERES Principles (Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies), Aveda incorporates plant-derived plastics and recycled packing into all of its products.

Tarte Cosmetics is a vegan cosmetics brand that makes a variety of skincare and cosmetic products and engages in initiates to save the rainforests of the Amazon.  The company is constantly researching formulas and biodegradable plastics to make their products more sustainable and even offers tips on creative ways to reuse packaging.  They also sell replacement powders for their reusable compacts...saving you money and saving the earth! 

As the name implies, EcoTools makes a variety of affordable eco-friendly beauty tools.  All of the packaging is recyclable and uses post-consumer recycled paper.  Makeup brushes also feature recycled aluminum ferrules...the bristles are so soft that you wouldn't believe that they're synthetic and 100% cruelty-free.  Plus, all products feature natural materials like cotton and bamboo.

Throughout the product lifestyle, Vapour Organic Beauty is committed to sustainability with all of its cosmetics.  First, the company sources ingredients from organic farms that help reduce pollution and toxic water waste.  Anhydrous filling system are then used during manufacturing to reduce landfill waste, while wind power powers the plants.  In addition, the company has offices that are wind and solar powered and prides itself on engaging in green practices like re-using shipping materials.  Product packaging is developed from recycled material, uses soy ink, and is both biodegradable and non-toxic.

Manufactured in Vermont, Tata Harper uses renewable energy (recycled methane gas) in their facilities to manufacture its skincare products and remains energy efficient by keeping all activity in one place.  The brand utilizes recycled paper and glass bottles in their packaging and engages in sustainable farming practices to source ingredients.

Weleda has taken on initiatives to allow for a greener planet.  Using, Fair Trade and BioDynamic agricultural practices, the brand harvests its powerful natural ingredients for its skin and body care products, while simultaneously preserving the earth.  Along the way, Weleda funds research and development to reduce waste in their production processes.  And of course, the packaging is eco-friendly too!

From production to consumption, Burts Bees is an innovator skin and body care as well as in sustainability with local partners like NC Green Power and Renewable Choice Energy.  It works to reduce different types of waste.  A reverse osmosis system allows 700,000 gallons of water to be reused during manufacturing.  Facilities are designed using energy-efficient lighting, resource management software, and efficient production equipment to reduce waste.  Any leftover facility waste that cannot be recycled or composted is transformed into biomass-based fuel or electricity.  Every year, Burts Bees sets goals to further reduce waste.

Not only is Alison Raffaele one of my favorite facial cosmetic brands, but it is also very eco-friendly.  All of the brushes are super soft and are made with wood that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and cruelty-free, Takelon bristles.  All products feature non-toxic, skin-safe ingredients as well as recyclable packaging.

All of these brands are natural or organic.  Natural/organic does not necessarily imply that a brand is sustainable.  But luckily, most natural and organic brands are very eco-friendly...a great way to help both your body and the environment.  This Earth Day, don't forget to do your part in saving the planet one lipstick tube at a time ;)

Monday, April 14, 2014

All About Mascara

What's the one makeup product women can't seem to live without?  Surveys show that it is mascara.  I tend to agree because a little mascara can make a huge difference.  It only takes 2 minutes to apply and can really open and highlight your eyes more naturally than eyeliner or eyeshadow can.

But the market is so saturated with mascara products these days.  How do you narrow down your options?  First, I like to start by focusing on paraben and sulfate-free products (like the product recommendations below).  In general, try to look for smudge-proof formulas.  Save water-proof formulas for the beach because they often peel or clump easily.  Many mascara formulas are similar, so it's really all about the brush.  Different brushes serve different functions.  Most women with normal lashes are looking to boost lash definition.  Fine toothed comb brushes like the Juice Beauty Lash Defining Mascara ($19 at Ulta) can help sweep lashes upwards, while depositing clump-free color onto lashes that won't transfer to skin or stick lashes together.  Volumized lashes can offer a slightly more dramatic look.  I absolutely love the Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes! ($19 at Sephora), and it is definitely a fan favorite.  It is "clinically proven to increase the appearance of lash volume by 424%," and the natural formula is very gentle on lashes.  Overall, I like the mascara's light, soft feel and natural look.  

For those of you with sensitive eyes...try Almay's mascaras, which are hypoallergenic and ophthalmologist recommended for contact lens wearers.  I especially like the Almay One Coat Triple Effect Mascara ($8 in drugstores).  Almay is an affordable and effective brand with products for people with sensitive skin and eyes, and their mascara is no exception.  They make specific lengthening, thickening, volumizing, etc. mascaras, but the One Coat Triple Effect is a very general mascara product.  It builds, extends, and sculpts lashes in one simple sweep.
For those of you who prefer waterproof products...try the bareMinerals Flawless Definition Waterproof Mascara ($18 at Ulta).  The formula is waterproof, but it is not as sticky or flaky as many other waterproof products, while the fine bristles help brush lashes upwards and allow you to easily reach all of your lashes.  With beautiful shades like Ripe Plum and Espresso, you had definitely a color that goes with any look.

For those of you with sparse lashes...try a thickening formula like the Jane Iredale Longest Lash Thickening and Lengthening Mascara ($33 on  The large brush adds a lot of color with each sweep (you only need 2 coats) while separating lashes.  Like all Jane Iredale products, this mascara is good for your lashes too.  A good tar-free mascara is hard to find, but this is one of them.  Also, it contains seaweed to condition and fortify lashes. 
For those of you with short lashes...try a lengthening formula like the Revlon Grow Luscious Mascara ($8 at Ulta).  I didn't think that the fatter brush on this mascara was going to work well for lengthening, but it's actually really nice!  Since my eyelashes are pretty short, this is usually my go-to mascara.  The formula glides on really smoothly, and the brush makes for a neat and full application.  This product comes in multiple shades, but my personal fave is the Black Shimmer.  The "shimmer" is very subtle, but really adds a sparkle to the eyes.

And don't forget about your lower lashes to complete the look.  Since they're smaller, they can be harder to reach.  If coating the lower lashes is tough for you, invest in the Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara ($10 at Sephora).  The short brush is designed for reaching all of those lower lashes, and the formula removes easily when exposed to warm water. 

Make sure you curl your lashes BEFORE you put on your mascara.  Curling them with mascara on can make your lashes brittle and cause them to stick to the curler.  My personal favorite curlers are the Shiseido Eyelash Curler ($18 at Sephora) and the Laura Mercier Eyelash Curler ($16 at department stores), which has a cushy pad that prevents pinching and unique compact shape for travel.  Also, heating your curler with a blow dryer helps your curler curl (just be careful not to burn yourself because the metal will get hot).  You can even buy heated curlers like the Sephora Heated Eyelash Curler ($17 at Sephora).  If you have lashes like mine that don't curl very easily, you can use a brush with a curved wand like the Buxom Sculpted Lash Mascara ($19 at Sephora) in addition to curling your lashes.  As the name implies, the S-shaped wand will help sculpt and shape lashes more effectively than a straight brush.  Many drugstore brands make a product with a curved wand, but I like the Buxom one because of the ultra fine brush bristles and the vitamin-rich formula.

Another way to improve your mascara wear is by applying a primer first.  This will hold the mascara onto your lashes for a longer period of time and prevent smudging, flaking, and fading.  Like your hair, your lashes can get brittle after being coated with mascara day after day.  Primers can also protect your lashes from mascara.  The Tarte MultiplEYE Clinically Proven Natural Lash Enhancing Primer ($22 at Sephora) is a natural option that nourishes and conditions lashes with HydroPlant peptide to help them naturally appear longer and fuller.

The nice thing about mascara is that there are many great options for wallet-friendly prices.  So, picking up your favorite mascara from the nearest drugstore can be a guilt-free treat.  After all, there's nothing more elegant than luscious lashes! 

 What is your favorite mascara?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Toner vs. Astringent

We often hear the terms toner and astringent used interchangeably.  But do they mean the same thing?  Which one is best for you?


The two products are in fact very similar.  They both refine/tighten pores and help remove excess oil, dirt, makeup, and residue.  There are a few slight differences though: 

Astringents often have antiseptic properties that help clean bacteria from skin's surface and unclogs pores.  In addition, they generally have an alcohol content that mattifies oil.  Thus, astringents are ideal for younger women, oily skin types, and blemish-prone skin.  Natural astringents include witch hazel and cucumber.   

Product recommendations:   
Toners tend to be alcohol-free and more gentle than astringents.  They are often better for balancing and softening skin.  For example, aloe and rosewater are natural toners.  Women with mature skin, combination/normal/dry skin types, or sensitive skin should choose a toner rather than an astringent.

Product recommendations
  • Caudalie Beauty Elixir ($18 at Sephora) for mature skin.  Like all Caudalie products, this elixir has grapes for powerful antioxidant protection against aging.  With nourishing essential oils, it is a part toner, part serum that leaves skin feeling moisturized.
  • Origins United State Balancing Tonic for combination skin.  This product keeps the skin's pH balance in check...reducing excess shine in the T-zone and softening dry areas of the face.
  • Murad Hydrating Toner ($27 at Sephora) for dry skin.  The toner helps restore hydration to the skin with lecithin to keep skin supple.  And vitamins C and E provide antioxidant protection.
  • Korres Pomegranate Toner ($20 at Sephora) for normal skin.  Pomegranate extract is a natural nutrient-rich ingredient that will condition and rejuvenate your skin to reveal a radiant glow.
  • Avene Gentle Toner ($20 on for sensitive skin is formulated with softening and soothing spring water.  This toner is hypoallergenic and so gentle that it is suitable for even the most sensitive skin types.

Should you be using a toner or astringent?  Yes!  Most toners and astringents say to use them day and night.  You should definitely be using one at night after cleansing and before treatments and moisturizers to clean up anything your cleanser may have left behind.  Also, tightening your pores will keep dirt and toxins out as well as make your complexion look and feel smooth and refreshed.  I like to use a cotton ball to help sweep away residue and toxins from my skin, but you can totally spritz toner/astringent if you prefer (though it may not clean your skin as thoroughly).  Whether or not you use it in the morning is up to's not as big of a deal if you don't because it's not as essential for your skin to be squeaky clean.  Using an astringent in the morning will help reduce oil during the day if you tend to get shiny.  And tightening your pores in the morning can improve the appearance of your skin throughout the day.  Personally, I use a moisturizing toner in the mornings more for its smoothing and softening effects so that my makeup holds better during the day. 

Do you use a toner or an astringent?