Monday, January 28, 2013

Lush! Travel Toiletries

Okay, so yes, another post on travel beauty supplies. Today, it's all about hair care: shampoo and conditioner. Last weekend, I went to the grand opening of Lush at the Short Hills Mall and bought a bunch of nice things (so this post will also be sharing my little haul).

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Makeup Samples

So I talked about sample-sized perfume for travel and today I'm talking about all the other sample stuff I get from Sephora and Ulta and the like. With both sites, sometimes they have coupon codes for a free kit of samples and I've gotten a few in the past. These kits come with samples of eye cream, lotions, face washes, body washes, hair care products, miniature mascaras, just so much stuff (depending on the theme of the kit). If you're going somewhere for just a few days, it's so much more convenient to bring a few packets of product rather than bottles. Even when I went to Istanbul for a week, I brought a small sample packet of Philosophy's Purity Made Simple to wash my face with and it was awesome because it took up just a sliver of space and I was able to toss the wrapper once it was used up. And these packets, even when they are only meant for a one-time use, usually contain enough product for at least 3 uses (for me).

Obviously, a vacation is no place to experiment drastically with your skin or hair - because what if you have a terrible reaction? - but I often get samples of reliable products that I know and trust or high end products that I know will be awesome and those will get tossed right into my luggage.

Again, like with the perfume, sometimes you can ask a sales associate for any available samples. Most recently, at Nordstrom, I went in very purposefully, knowing exactly what I wanted and bought some lotions and a foundation despite the fact that the woman helping me made many suggestions for other products. Instead of forcing her favored products on me, she sent me home with a bag FULL of different samples to try out, saying that if I ended up disliking what I bought, I should experiment and come back. I asked her if she always gives away samples like this and she said that they almost always have samples to give away and that I should always ask, because it doesn't hurt.

Here are two photos of just a few of the samples I have, ready to take with me on vacation. I received the "naturally gorgeous" sample kit (containing products derived from natural ingredients), two Sephora baggies with random samples (that I received from some nice associates in the store), and a Hello Kitty sample bag, which I LOVE because I love Hello Kitty. That bag was just a bonus - the samples didn't have anything to do with HK; Sephora just wanted everyone to get the bag.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Travel Makeup (Cabana Glama)

I've always enjoyed using makeup but haven't really "gotten into it" until this past year. I've been watching lots of youtube beauty gurus and perusing Makeup Alley for the reviews on the best products and doing a lot of browsing on Sephora. (By the way, I'll link some my favorite youtube gurus: shannon harris, tanya burr, and karissa pukas).

This means that when I travel, I've been itching to bring more and more stuff with me. Now, I'm not the type to buy loads of different brands of the same thing - I own one bottle of foundation, one blush, one eye primer, one bronzer, etc. The only product I own multiple brands/types of is eyeshadow, (which is just "duh," to me anyway). This makes it difficult for me to stop myself from bringing everything I own when I travel so what I looked into over the Christmas shopping season, was a one-stop-shop type of makeup kit that I could take with me on holiday and here's what I found:

This is Benefit's "Greetings from Cabana Glama" kit. It was released a while ago, but is still available on Sephora's website for the awesome sale price of $19.00 (marked down from $36.00). And the part that I really liked was the big mirror on the lid.
As you can see, it comes with the Some Kind of Gorgeous cream-to-powder foundation in the shade medium (which is a bit too dark for my skin right now but would work when I'm tan - which totally makes sense since this is a sunshine-type holiday destination kit), Hoola bronzer (which is quite popular) and a little brush, three eyeshadows: peach fizz (shimmery pink), bronze fuzz (tan shimmer), and cocoa pizzazz (shimmery brown), a sponge applicator, and Posie tint which works as both a lip and cheek stain. And like the package says, you can remove the makeup tray and use the little box to hold jewelry and other trinkets (which you might've collected while on your tropical getaway).

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Travel Size Perfumes

I'd heard a rumor late 2011 that the 3 oz. liquid limit would be lifted in 2012, but it was still in play when I flew to San Juan in November. Honestly, I think that the limit is helpful for me because it prevents me from packing way too much and the only thing that will change if/when the ban is lifted is that I'll shove my liquids into my big carry-on (instead of my smaller purse/backpack) and not worry about having to send it through the x-ray machine in its own cubby bin.

So today's post is about travel-sized perfumes. Many brands sell rollerball packaging (which is often less than 1 oz. of product) and mini spritz bottles but as you may know, it can be costly. Buying in bulk saves you money and the converse is also true - the unit price of smaller packages is way higher than the unit price of larger packages. What I like to do is collect the little mini sample perfumes that I get for free and use those when I travel. It's a little safer not to worry about a larger bottle of perfume, it's super convenient, as they fit in my smallest clutch and can be taken with me when I'm out and about, and did I mention that they are FREE? Free!

I collect the bulk of my samples when I buy things from Sephora online but I also ask the girls (and sometimes guys) at the store if they have any samples that I can have (when I'm checking out, because I feel rude and embarrassed to ask and not buy anything). Ulta also provides free samples with every online purchase as does Nordstrom. I'm sure loads of other places offer free sample perfumes and you can always ask an associate at any department store. Just make sure to show how grateful you are, especially if you don't plan on purchasing anything.

Here are just a few that I've collected this year. I usually try and pick perfumes that I know smell nice and then maybe another just to experiment with and try out. As you can see, some of these have spray tops and others have dip stick applicators, depending on the brand. The spray is a bit easier to use but also uses up more product so it's a draw for me whether one is better than the other.
And look at how small! These samples are usually less than 3" so they'll fit almost anywhere.
It's 100% possible to travel really lightly and still smell lovely. So start collecting those sample perfume bottles - ready, set, go!

Friday, January 04, 2013

Skincare: Etc.

Hi! So this will probably be my last post on skincare. I might do a post on makeup as well, but I haven't really decided yet.

Today's post is about the extra little things I do to keep my skin looking its best.

skincare etc.

  • Once a week, I like to do a few special things to keep my skin from becoming dull.
    • The Clarisonic does a great job of deep cleaning my skin but I do find that I need to exfoliate once a week to get my skin really polished. I like Philosophy's Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash. Like many of the other products I'm currently using, this one was another free sample from Sephora. It has tiny little exfoliating particles in it that help to buff away the dead skin cells. BUT, I will share with you an easy money-saving trick... if you do not have an exfoliating face wash and do not want to invest in one, just use a little baking soda and water. It works really well, but can be drying so make sure to really moisturize afterwards.
    • I like using Clinique's Oil Control Mask once a week (I try not to do this the same day as the exfoliating) because it really has helped control how much oil my T-zone produces in a day. I used to use a blotting paper or powder my face twice a day - I put my makeup on around 7, blot around 11 and again around 4pm - but now I barely have to touch up. The mask contains clay, which helps absorb excess oil and it works. I just take three pea-sized blobs, one for my forehead and one for each cheek and the spread it all over, avoiding the skin around my eyes and eyebrows, and then let it sit on my skin for 10 minutes, sometimes longer if I get caught up doing something. Then, using warm water, I gently rinse and then pat dry.
    • I also like to use a moisturizing mask, the chocolate masque by Montagne Jeunesse is great (so is their fruit smoothie one). Though it looks kind of offensive when I put it on (kind of like black face makeup) it smells amazing and makes my skin feel hydrated, smooth, and clean. It feels thick, like a super creamy moisturizer. I'm not sure if the pack is meant to be used all at once, but I can get about 3 or 4 uses out of one packet. I just scoop out a small amount and spread it all over my face, wait 10 minutes, and then rinse off with warm water and pat dry.
  • I'd also like to share about a few products that I use in "emergencies."
    • When I feel a pimple coming (sometimes you can just tell that one is brewing under your skin), I just swipe on some Burt's Bees Herbal Blemish Stick. This stuff is serious! Even though I'm not a fan of the packaging - the rollerball applicator makes me feel like it traps germs into the product - it zaps away any lurking pimples before they actually fully develop. It has a pungent herb-y smell and it will sting if your skin is too dry or chapped or if you have a cut.
    • I've also been using Clean & Clear's Persa-Gel for years now and it works (for me). It tends to dry out my skin and it can bleach clothing and pillowcases (and probably bleaches skin a bit as well) and makes me super sensitive to the sun. However, I like to use it as a spot treatment for any blemishes that make it past the Burt's Bees (which is rare) and along my jawline when I am starting to feel hormonal (which is code for "my lady times") as a preventative measure. I also tend to break out where the earpieces of my glasses touch my face but using the Persa-Gel in that area prevents that from happening.
    • The last thing I want to share is Caudalie's Quench Serum. I received a small tube of this, again, as a free sample from Sephora and it is amazing. There are some days, in the winter, not too often in the summer, where my skin is just super parched - like if my humidifier runs out of water in the middle of the night or if I have windburn from the day before - and I just take the tiniest amount (the size of a dew droplet, a little goes a long way) and rub it all over my face, concentrating on the driest areas, before using my regular moisturizer. This stuff is so good, I am considering buying the full size version when I run out of my sample tube.
So that's it! The end of my skincare series. It might seem like a bit of work to maintain, but really, once you develop some good habits, it's just second nature. Besides, your skin is your largest organ and the better you treat it now, the better it will look when you're old(er). Also, I'd like to mention that all of the products I mentioned above come in travel-friendly 3 oz. or less containers.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Skincare: Moisturizing

So today, I am sharing about my moisturizing routine, as I said I would.
moisturizing routine
  • After cleansing, in both the morning and evening, I use Shiseido's Brightening Softener, from their White Lucent Collection. Like I mentioned yesterday, I do have some hyperpigmentation and scarring, which I am trying to ameliorate, so I like that this product is supposed to be brightening. I've been using it for just 2 months now, but I have noticed a difference. The directions say to apply with a cotton pad but I just sprinkle a few drops into my palm and then slap my hands together and then just pat my face, concentrating on the areas where my skin tends to dry out the most. It definitely plumps up my skin and gives it a more youthful texture, which I definitely appreciate. Then, I let it soak into my skin for at least 5 minutes before applying anything else on top.
    • Why use a softener/toner? I'm no dermatologist, but this is how I like to think about it: I visualize my skin as a sponge, the toner as water, and moisturizer as food coloring. If I took the food coloring and dropped one drop onto the sponge, there would just be a spot of color. However, if I took the sponge and soaked it in water first and then added some food coloring, the dye would spread. I feel like the toner gives your skin more moisture and softens it a bit so that it'll be easier for your skin to absorb any moisturizer or creams you want to use.
  • In the morning, I prefer a lighter moisturizer and one that will work well with my makeup so I use Philosophy's Take a Deep Breath. It is unscented (it's really unscented, no smell at all), light, airy, and glides on easily. It also soaks in really quickly and gives me lovely soft skin.
  • In the evening, like with my cleansing routine, I have a slightly more extensive moisturizing routine.
    • I use a slightly heavier moisturizer, but one that is still light, Shiseido's gel moisturizer, again from their White Lucent Collection. I tried the cream moisturizer but it was just too thick and my skin took too long to absorb it and it felt heavy and greasy on my face. The gel is still an effective moisturizer but it's much lighter and soaks into my skin quickly.
    • Then, I use DDF's Erase Eye gel on my dark circles. I bought this product on Hautelook earlier this year but only just started using this a month ago. It has definitely brightened the skin around my eyes, so if you are in the market for a dark circle brightener, I recommend this one.
    • After I let the eye gel soak into my skin for 20 to 30 minutes, I use Sundari's Chamomile Eye Oil, which I received free from Sephora as a sample gift, all around my eye. I like using this to moisturize that delicate skin, which tends to dry out so easily. Keeping that skin moist will help prevent future wrinkles (or at least I hope!).
Thanks for reading. Tomorrow's post will be about other useful products that I don't use on a daily basis but help maintain my skin.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Skincare: Cleansing

Hello and Happy New Year! I just wanted to share a little bit about my current skincare routine/preferences whatever you'd like to call it. I figure, since it's a new year, if you aren't so diligent about your skincare, you might want to start now.

I've never really had super amazing skin, at least I haven't since 7th grade when I got my first pimple. But, I am quite thankful because it's never been so terrible that I've been afraid to go out in public with my naked face. I've always had slightly bumpy skin on my forehead, redness and enlarged pores around my nose, and I'd often get one or two big ugly pimples (the kind that stay on your face for a whole week) on my chin and jawline at specific times of the month (if you get what I mean).

Traveling and ruining sleep schedules, of course, did not help my skin at all.

However, in the past 2 years, my skin has greatly improved (I had big ugly week-lasting pimples maybe twice this year) and in the past month, it's gotten more glowy and soft, and that is because I purchased a Clarisonic and it has been working. The Clarisonic has also helped to minimize the appearance of pores around my nose, thank goodness (because my big pores are embarrassing to me). So, I just wanted to share what has been working for me because maybe this will help some of you.

First, let me say that I have combination skin and I tend to get really shiny right between my eyebrows but the skin around my mouth is really dry.

So today, I will start with the cleansers I use:
clean up
  • In the morning, I use Philosophy's Purity Made Simple. I received a 4 oz. bottle of this stuff from Sephora as a sample gift or something (can't really remember the circumstances) and 6 months to 1 year after receiving it, I ran out of my normal cleanser and in a moment of desperation, started using it and it's been great. It doesn't foam up so it feels a little weird, like you're not really getting clean or something, but it feels creamy and leaves my skin feeling soft and gently cleansed. It also has a light scent, which I can only describe as kind of herbal and soapy, but it doesn't last on your skin. I like using this in the morning because it is gentle and when I've just woken up, it's not like my skin is super dirty. I just rub a pea-sized amount between my fingers and then rub it onto my face in small circular motions for 30 seconds and then rinse.
  • In the evening, my skincare routine can be a bit more extensive because I'm usually wearing makeup and I need to get that all off.
    • I'll start by taking off my eye makeup with Clinique's eye makeup remover (which has to be shaken up before using) and a cotton pad. I like to soak two cotton pads and then I'll lightly press each one over my eyes for 10 seconds to start dissolving my waterproof mascara and any eyeliner. Then, I gently swipe the pads over my eyes.
    • Next, I use Mac's Cleanse Off Oil to get rid of all my foundation, blush, bronzer, etc. The great thing about using a cleansing oil is that it really gets all your makeup off. The oil actually dissolves the makeup and isn't harsh on your skin. I use a small pump (probably 1/4 teaspoon worth of product) in my hands, rub it around between my palms to warm up the product, and then I swipe my palms onto my cheeks and forehead to distribute the product onto my face. Then, I use my finger tips and rub, in small circular motions, for 20 seconds, or it no longer feels slick. Then, I wet my fingers with a bit of water and then rub the water into my skin, which emulsifies the cleansing oil and makes it feel milky on  my skin. I'll rub around my face for another 20 seconds or so and when it feels like all the makeup has been dissolved, I'll rinse it all off. And my face does NOT feel oily at all afterwards, just fresh and super clean.
    • And then, to finish off my nighttime skincare routine, I use DDF's Brightening Cleanser with my Clarisonic. I'm drawn to products with "brightening" in the name because I have some hyperpigmentation and acne scarring. While my face is still wet from rinsing off the cleansing oil, I take a bit of the brightening cleanser and rub it all over my face (except eye area). Then, I use my Clarisonic, as directed in the instructions. I have the Mia 2, which has two settings, one which is slower and more gentle and then a faster setting. I just use the faster setting. And what's great is that the Clarisonic will give you a little buzz to let you know when it's time to move onto the next part of your face. It's automatically set to give you 20 seconds to work on your nose/chin area, another 20 seconds for your forehead, and then 10 seconds each for your cheeks. I never press the brush into my face, but rather, just sort of let it rest against my skin and slowly move it in small circles. It leaves my face feeling SO clean and I absolutely love it. 
I will say that with the Clarisonic, as is warned in many reviews, I did experience a "purging period" which just meant that the extreme deep cleaning power of the Clarisonic drew out the deep down dirt and gave me a few breakouts. The bulk of pimpling (is that a word?) happened around my chin, so I guess that my chin was full of the most deep down dirt. Also, because it gets rid of dull, dead skin, I feel like my lotions and creams soak into my skin much better, which is another plus.

My Clarisonic came with a nifty little travel case and pouch and one full charge (18 hours) gives you 24 minutes of use (a.k.a. 24 washes). So if I were to take this on holiday, I would just get it fully charged and then take it with me and I could leave the charger at home. Oh, and I got mine from Nordstrom and most kits come with a sensitive brush head.

Tomorrow, I will share my moisturizing routine.
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