available skincare

while i used to love ordering skincare online or going to be more niche stores (sephora, beautylish, etc.), i am feeling quite over that at the moment*.  maybe because i’m back to being a broke student and maybe because i’m no longer living in an area where i have access to those stores.  for something like skincare that you go through so quickly, it doesn’t feel efficient to keep ordering online.  whatever the reason, i’m seeing some definite changes in my skincare routine specifically, and i have to say, i’m not mad about it. *with a couple exceptions of course!bb available skincare1.jpgmicellar water: i have gone through 2 big bottles of bioderma as a first cleanse/makeup remover over the past 6 months.  while i love the formula and honestly just the luxury of that product, i no longer want to have to order my makeup remover every time i need to restock.  i got a travel size of the garnier micellar water to compare and honestly i don’t see one bit of difference.  i just purchased the full size which is huge and will last probably the whole summer or more.  garnier micellar water is available at target and other drugstores.

face wash: i just finished both my glossier milky jelly cleanser and the first aid beauty cream cleanser, definitely prefer the latter over the former.  this is my third bottle of mjc but i’m just meh about it.  it’s hard to get and quite expensive and just not as remarkable as it should be.  the fab is a true cream consistency but fully removable with water and gets all of my makeup off, while the mjc doesn’t come close.  i was going to repurchase my old standby cetaphil when i saw the la roche posay tolerane hydrating gentle cleanser at my target and saw extremely solid reviews online.  this is creamy like the fab – really it feels like lotion – but is gentle on the skin and eyes and very hydrating.  i don’t feel that tight-face feeling after using this which i pretty much always get because of my dry skin.  i think this has been helping to clear up my skin along with some other products i’ll mention later (it contains niacinamide like the glossier super pure), so i’m quite impressed thus far.  this was a few dollars more than other drugstore cleansers ($15) but contains 13.5 ounces of product.  it might be harder to find if you don’t have a target or walgreen’s near you, but worth a try if you can find it.  plus it’s a really big size so cost efficient.  they also have a purifying version if you have normal to oily skin!

toner: toner is a new step for me.  usually i will use a facial spray here, but i decided to try out the thayer’s alcohol-free rose witch hazel when i saw a travel size version at target.  witch hazel’s are reportedly great for the skin (the alcohol-free kind!) and help to balance and tone the skin.  my skin feels healthier and more balanced after i use it, so i’m trying to be good about it morning and night.  i’m liking it so far and will pick up the full size.  available at target, drugstores, and health food stores.bb available skincare3.jpgserum: deciem hylamide low molecular ha.  back to a tried and true favorite.  i mentioned here that i finished up my previous ha from purchased from beauty heroes and went back to hylamide when i was done.  it was a great decision and i don’t think i’ll be straying for quite a while.  available at cvs.  the other serum i’ve been using over the past month that is a bit of a cheat is the glossier super pure serum.  when i first got the serums, i was very disappointed.  i didn’t see any results and they felt too watery to be doing anything.  but i’ve recently gone back to the super pure and i can honestly say this is helping the stress acne i’ve been experiencing over the whole month of june.  it’s becoming my secret weapon – i apply it only on the acne on my chin before applying any other skincare.

oil: indie lee squalane.  now this one is a little bit special because it isn’t that readily available.  however, it is carried in some anthropologies and natural beauty stores, so i bet you can find this somewhere near you depending on where you live.  i found a natural beauty store about an hour away from me, so while i won’t be going there often, i will definitely return on my next shopping trip.  i am finishing up my first bottle of this and now have a backup which i am very happy about.

moisturizer: good ol’ cetaphil.  i like this thick version because it is so moisturizing and pulls all of my other products into my skin.  in the summer i use just a little bit, whereas in the winter i pile it on.  i do like their lotion version (versus the cream), but this works better for me.  the less readily available favorites are glossier priming moisturizer and first aid beauty ultra repair cream.  the glossier has been my daytime summer moisturizer of choice this year, it’s light and sinks in almost immediately but keeps my hydrated and glowing all day long.  the first aid beauty is more of my winter lotion, but i have 2 backups that i’ve been making my way through.  i interchange it with the cetaphil – they are pretty much the same but the fab is a little more moussey and lighter, but with the same hydrating results.  because of the texture it is also easier to use a little bit and spread it over my whole face, so i can use this during the summer without looking or feeling too greasy.

mask: i’m very picky when it comes to detox masks.  because i’m dry but acne-prone, i never want anything too harsh, but effective enough to make a difference.  my go to for years as been the feeling beautiful lemon and mint mask, but i no longer live near ulta and can’t seem to find that one anymore.  i tried the yes to tomatoes clear skin detoxifying charcoal mud mask and i LOVE it!  it’s very similar to the origins charcoal mask which i love but recently used up.  this is a salicylic mud mask that tightens and clears the skin, but doesn’t feel as tight as the origins.  i see better results with this mask than any of the high end clarifying masks i’ve used! bb available skincare2.jpgwhile i don’t always love my insatiable need for new things, i think that it is slowly showing me what products i actually like and want to keep buying.  lucky for me, in the case of skincare at least, my picks are relatively affordable and easy to find.  though i do get sad about all the money i have spent on selfcare in the past, i like this new direction i am going and i think it will continue for a long time to come.

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available skincare

dealing with acne flare-ups

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if you, like me, have had acne in the past, you probably get the occasional flare-up – be it from stress, junk food, climate, travel, etc.  i’ve been pretty much acne free since june, but have had a couple sizeable acne-style breakouts since then.  including last week!  i recently tried this amazing sheet mask (more on that later) and it really got me thinking about how i deal with these breakouts.  and i’m not talking about the rare pimple from your period or whatever.  i’m talking those omg-do-i-have-acne-again situations.  soooo long story short, here are my tips for handling those acne flare-ups, both physically and emotionally!

DON’T go in with the big guns // i think the first impulse whenever pimples appear is to go in with the strongest acne eliminating products available.  but generally, this is not the best way to approach the situation at hand!  i find that continuing with my normal routine with some additional, gentle treatments is key.  for one thing, all of those drying, irritating, alcohol-y ingredients will completely dry out your acne areas and make them last for far longer, even though they might be smaller sooner.  does that make sense?

if you are using any sort of topical acne creams (i use aczone – i’m sort of in love with their new packaging, is that weird?!), don’t feel persuaded to add more than your usual amount of product onto your skin.  once you have gotten over the initial brutalities of these creams, they work with your skin, not against it.  but by added an extra dollop all over, you’ll return to all the dryness and irritation you have put behind you.

DO use a good spot treatment for the first couple days // i’ve tried a good few of the spot treatments on the market – acnomel (old school product my parents’ have used forever haha!), mario badescu drying lotion, and acne free terminator-10, and tea tree oil to name a few – but the one i’m loving at the moment is the indie lee blemish lotion.  it looks and feels much like the mario badescu drying lotion, but with better, and less!, ingredients.  it’s also far more gentle and easier to remove.  i only use a spot treatment for the first few days, which is the optimum time to dry out the blemishes but not overdry them.  if you use a spot treatment every single night you have a pimple, you are just going to dry out and irritate your poor little face.  so don’t do that!!bb acne treatments3.jpgDO use a mask every few days // i love masks!  while i don’t always see results with masks, i love the process and the pamper time.  for acne (and redness and inflammation) i usually use one of the following: origins clear improvement charcoal mask, glossier mega greens galaxy pack, or freeman feeling beautiful mint & lemon clay mask.  i only use these masks on the areas that need them, followed by a thick layer of glossier moisturizing moon mask all over.  i also don’t leave detoxifying masks on for their entire prescribed time, usually 10 minutes max, because of my dry skin.  be sure to use a moisturizing mask or thicker moisturizer after your detoxifying masks, because even if you are oily your skin is probably dehydrated.  moisture is key!

a very exciting mention is the leader’s brightening recovery mask.  i don’t really like sheet masks, but i saw this at ulta last week and thought it sounded like exactly what my skin needed.  it toned down almost all the redness i had and helped to heal and relax my last couple active blemishes.  my skin was in a completely different state the following morning.  seriously impressed!  one thing i do love about sheet masks is all the extra essence/serum they include, so i made sure to let that really soak into my face, neck, and chest before continuing with my nightly routine (even if it feels sticky at first, give it time).bb acne treatments2.jpg
DO use makeup to your advantage // you guys know i’m not much of a face makeup girl.  i never wear foundation if i can help it, and if i do wear something it’s a skin tint, tinted moisturizer, or light powder foundation at most.  that being said, i am always compelled to pile on the high coverage bases when i’m acned-up.  i try my best to avoid this, however, and just be strategic about how i’m doing my makeup.  i usually keep some kind of medium coverage foundation on hand for these instances, and right now i have the l’oreal pro-glow foundation.  it’s actually quite nice and glowy, but still medium coverage and buildable, so i get all the results i want.

i apply foundation only on the areas i really need it – you’ll need a good color match! – with one finger.  yes that’s right.  one finger.  i find that by patting the foundation into the skin with my middle finger i really push the product in and make it look extremely natural.  plus, you are concentrating the coverage where you need it only.  it’s a little time consuming, but i highly recommend this method.  do the rest of your face as you normally would, and use lots of facial spray.  i guarantee your acne will be undetectable (except to you of course, because it’s on your face!).

DO pamper yourself // acne sucks.  and when it comes back to haunt you, that sucks even more.  so take your time with your skincare, drink lots of water, and get some sleep.  your flare-up will be over in a few days and now you have a few more tricks in your arsenal for the next time those assholes decide to pop up uninvited.bb acne treatments4.jpg

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dealing with acne flare-ups

pamper night essentials

P1060266.jpgmasks

when i need a little detoxifying, my go to is the origins charcoal mask.  i find that it is exfoliating, while still gentle enough for my sensitive and dry/normal skin.  i apply a super thin layer on warm, damp skin and let it dry fully before washing off with lukewarm water.

i also really enjoy the freeman’s lemon and mint clay mask.  it works in a similar way to the origins, going deep into the skin to cleanse and clear pores.  i especially used this when i was struggling with my acne, and i felt it helped keep my skin a little bit calmer, especially in the summer.  it’s also great to use more as a spot treatment as opposed to the whole face if you have drier skin like me.  i was having a hard time finding this in my local drugstore, but now that i am back in the midwest i know i can get it at ulta.  need to do that soon!

i always follow a more drying mask with a generous layer of the glossier moon mask, which is a thick moisturizing cream.  i let it soak in for 20 minutes and then wash off with lukewarm water as well, massaging the remainder of the mask into my skin to get all the moisture i can.  i will occasionally use the moon mask all by its self if i feel like my skin is really struggling, aka all the time in the winter.  this also makes an incredible hand mask, so i highly recommend using it for that purpose as well!

if i feel like something quick, i am in love with the milk makeup x uo urban defense mask.  it is a thick gel mask that only requires 3-5 minutes of wear, and then is washed off in a similar manner to the glossier.  i like this one because it is cleansing and clarifying as well as moisturizing, and it’s a quick fix for parched skin.

i follow up my masking with my usual skincare routine, which right now consists of the mario badescu rosewater spraygo-to face hero oil, my acne gels, and cetaphil moisturizer, and dior creme de rose.

nails

an at home manicure is probably my favorite way to unwind, and i take great pride in my ability to do so and do so well.  i very rarely get an actual manicure, only if i have a gift certificate or a special occasion, so as a result i’ve perfected my at-home routine.  i used to paint my nails a lot more often, but i still enjoy the act of taking care of them even without polish.

though i used to cut my nails, i prefer to file them these days.  i find that i have more control over what they look like as well as the length, and since i like them pretty short it’s easier for me to get a nice straight line with a file.

my favorite base coat is the opi nail envy matte version.  i find the matte version adds a little more grip for the nail polish to stick to, and it looks really natural on its own as well.  this is really the first base coat that i have tried and stuck to, and almost a year after purchasing i never paint my nails without it.

i don’t really have a preference as far as nail brands go, but i do find that essie chips pretty quickly on my nails.  nail polish definitely doesn’t last super long on me, but i find opi and nails inc. are stronger contenders.  right now i’m wearing opi’s lincoln park after dark, an oldie but goodie.

for top coat, quick drying is my main specification.  i have tried the opi rapidry, essie good to go, nails inc 45 second top coat, and am currently using seche vite.  i was really hestitant to try seche vite because of the health warnings, but after quite a bit of research i decided to give it a go.  basically, like many other nail polishes, seche vite is potentially harmful if breathed in constantly and on a daily basis.  it is no more harmful than any other nail polishes, excluding natural and 5-free ones of course.  i think it is a great product and love how quickly and strongly it dries my nails.  i’m not sure if it extends wear time, but it definitely doesn’t shorten it.  next to the nails inc this is definitely my favorite top coat, and i love the shiny, strong finish it gives.

i don’t really do anything for my toes – i usually have them bare in the winter.  i am much more likely to splurge on a good pedicure though since they last so much longer and are really the height of relaxation for me.  so at home i might pop on a bit of moisturizer or vaseline and then stick those puppies into some thick socks.

youtube, shows, movies, & magazines

the best way to relax is to do all of the above while sitting in front of a screen, be it a computer or a tv.  from youtube videos to my favorites shows to movies, i love to zone out and just relax while taking care of my body at the same time.

the most relaxing youtube channels to watch, in my opinion, are tamira jarrel, chrissstttiiine, and extrasunbeamsjess; these ladies put my mind at ease and i actually like to fall asleep to their voices, as weird and creepy as that may sound!

for shows, i watch miss fisher’s murder mysteries all the time, as well pretty little liars and vanderpump rules (not quite as relaxing, but i love a good bit of reality tv).

for movies, it depends on the season.  right now i’m all about the christmas movies, as well as wes anderson.  but usually a like a good psychological thriller, jane austen drama, or anything indie and off the beaten path.

as far as reading material, i prefer to read magazines while pampering, as opposed to a book that requires more attention.  my favorite magazine is definitely nylon, and i loved this month’s featuring the awesome alia shawkat.  i picked up this issue of frankie magazine while in new york last week and i have already read it cover to cover 3 times.

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pamper night essentials