5 Must Have Beauty Products

Ever since I hit puberty, I have constantly been struggling with my skin.  I have that annoying combination skin that is highly prone to break outs – despite all of the different products I’ve used. However, over the past few years, I have become laser focused on perfecting my skin care/ beauty routine.  While my daily skin care routine involves a variety of products and steps, there are five products that, without a doubt, have made a major impact on the quality of my skin.

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1. La Mer The Cleansing Foam

In the past year, I have been told repeatedly by my dermatologist and several beauty professionals how terrible it is to exfoliate every day.  The way that they explained it to me was this – exfoliating daily is the equivalent of taking microscopic sand paper to your skin each day – YIKES!  Exfoliating should only be done around once or twice a week (if you have oily skin like me) or less if you have dry skin.  Of course, here I am using a Kiehl’s exfoliating face wash morning and night! However, it took me years to find a face wash that worked on my skin without causing me to break out.  So I decided to do some serious research which lead me to La Mer.  Now, I know La Mer is extremely expensive and for years I have always wanted to give it a try – to see if it really is worth the amazing reviews.  So, after saving up some of my Nordstrom notes, I took the plunge and bought The Cleansing Foam face wash – and man oh man is this stuff amazing! I now only use my Kiehl’s in the shower (about two to three times a week) and I stick to La Mer for my morning and nightly routine.  Unfortunately, now I have to ration this stuff out to make it last!

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2. Kiehl’s Iris Extract Activating Essence

Another product that I had heard about for years is an essence.  I always thought the concept of an essence sounded silly, but everyone kept telling me it was worth a try.  What finally convinced me to take the plunge, was reading about how Asian women have been using an essence as a part of their beauty routine for years now and they consider it a critical step to maintaining youthful and healthy skin.  I have always thought that Asian women have the most amazing skin, so I decided to give it a try.  You can see in the picture above that I have only used about a quarter of the bottle – despite having bought it close to five months ago!  I pat this onto my skin, twice a day, after washing my face and applying my toner.  Not only does it give your skin a boost of moisture, but it also helps to activate whatever products you apply afterwards. Basically, by adding an essence into your beauty routine, your other products will work better and last longer!

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3. Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM

I have been using retinol for almost a year now, but I didn’t discover this stuff until this past July.  I was previously using a Sunday Riley retinol and I had every intention to continue using that product.  However, when I went into Sephora to buy another bottle, the man working there started to tell me about Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM.  I must add that he had amazing skin.  He told me about how this was the strongest retinol formula on the market, without a prescription, and that you only had to let it sit for about two minutes before adding your moisturizer.  With the Sunday Riley retinol, you have to wait 15 minutes before applying anything else on your skin – which is a pain in the a$$ when your routine is already 20 minutes long!  I have now been using this retinol formula for about 10 weeks and it has made a tremendous difference in my skin.  Not only does it keep my breakouts to a minimum, but it also gives me firmer skin and an even skin tone. This is truly a must have product!

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4. MAC Prep + Prime

I have never worn a ton of makeup, so I never cared much about using a primer.  When I was given my first set of makeup in high school, a primer was included.  I went to the Bare Minerals counter and they showed me how to apply each product in the kit.  I remember being told how important primer is and that it would help your makeup go on smoother and last longer.  However, I never felt as if it made a difference for me so, I eventually stopped using it.  Years later I wanted to give it another try – so, I went to Ulta and bought the latest and greatest Bare Minerals tinted primer.  Once again, I wasn’t a fan.  After trying my hardest to make it work, it slowly faded to the back of my makeup cabinet.  Then, this past Spring, Nordstrom sent me a deluxe sample of this MAC Prep + Prime.  I wasn’t expecting much, but I was thrilled to discover what an impact it made!  There is no oily glow associated with this primer and my makeup still looks great at the end of the day – it may have taken years, but I finally understand the importance of a good primer!

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5. The Beauty Blender

As I previously mentioned, I don’t wear much makeup.  I simply use a primer, a touch of concealer under my eyes, foundation, bronzer, and a highlighter, if I am feeling fancy.  Well, maybe that is a lot – but it’s all relative!  Anyways, I have always applied my concealer with my fingers, which I know is not the best idea.  Not only are your hands covered in germs, but they aren’t meant for evenly blending makeup.  I had tried makeup brushes in the past but I never felt that they made any noticeable difference.  Then last week, for some reason, I decided to try this Beauty Blender that everyone seems to be so obsessed with.  I now totally understand the obsession.  You are supposed to get the blender wet and then towel it dry before you blend your concealer, or whatever liquid product you are using.  I swear to you that this little blender is the most important product that you can add to your makeup routine.  I never knew that my makeup could look so natural.  It really does blend your makeup into your skin – whereas without it, your makeup just kind of just sits on top of your skin.  Whatever the science is behind this perfect pink blender, it is amazing!

I truly believe that taking care of your skin is essential to aging gracefully and each of these products is a must have addition to your routine.  Regardless of your skin type, I know you will love each product as much as I do!

XO

Après Sun

It is officially Summer and the heat is upon us! As much as I looove a beautiful beach day, my skin and hair don’t always agree. In order to combat flaky skin and brittle hair, I have gradually acquired a group of products that help my skin and hair recover from the salt water and sun exposure.  Because, what good is a deep tan and blonde hair if it looks like sh*t!

I have always been a huge fan of the Kerastase Elixir Ultime, but I recently decided to give the Oribe Gold Lust oil a try.  Honestly, I love them both.  Each one smells amazing and keeps my hair soft and frizz-free.  I apply the Gold Lust oil to my wet hair after I get out of the shower, or when I get home from the beach and decide to rock my salty hair to work.  It truly makes such a difference – especially when you have long tangly hair like mine!

Another Oribe product I just started using is the Royal Blowout spray.  Since the heat protectant spray I used before is no longer available, I decided to go with Oribe.  The damage from the sun and salt water already takes such a toll on my hair that when I blow it dry, I have to use a protectant spray.  The combination of the Gold Lust oil with the Royal Blowout spray makes my hair sooo soft and keeps it feeling nice and healthy!

I also recommend using an Oribe shampoo and conditioner! My favorites are the Gold Lust and the Bright Blonde collections.

Now, when it comes to my face, I have several products that I use when I get home from the beach.  The Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate is amazing.  I have posted about this stuff before, but it works miracles on a sun burnt face.  I either apply this under my tinted moisturizer if I am going out for the night, or I apply it under my Kiehl’s night cream.

sk-II

After that, I apply my SK-II eye cream.  My eyes get super puffy and red when my skin gets dried out from the sun and this eye cream not only combats that, but it also prevents signs of aging! It also comes with a tiny little application spoon so you apply just the right amount.

mask

It doesn’t happen very often any more, but when I get super burnt and my skin is in serious need of moisture, this Kiehl’s mask is unlike any other.  Every time that I use this mask, I wake up the next morning with the best dewy skin a girl could ask for.  I have even made Rob use it on his hands at night when they get torn up at work and it works wonders!

maui babe

While there are a million products out there for your face and your hair, there are hardly any products meant for sun burnt skin, aside from the standard Aloe Vera.  I have been a big fan of the Maui Babe browning lotion for some time now; however, I recently discovered their After Browning Lotion and I am obsessed!  This stuff is truly the best stuff I have ever used on my sun burnt skin.  It is packed full with all of the nutrients your skin craves after a day in the sun. I will apply this on top of my Kiehl’s body lotion after I shower, and then I reapply as needed throughout the day. My skin not only is extremely soft, it smells absolutely amazing! I highly recommend this product!! The best part is that you can likely find it at your local grocery store – I get mine from Harris Teeter.

XO

Beach Bag Essentials

Although the official start of Summer is still a month away, I’ve always considered Memorial Day weekend the start of Summer.  So in preparation for the weekend ahead, I want to share my beach bag essentials!  I always have my beach bag on standby so I can scurry on up to the beach at a moments notice and these are my must-haves for any beach day.

kayu-st-tropez.jpg

For as long as I can remember I have always used either a Billabong back pack or a Vineyard Vines tote as a beach bag.  However, this year I am buying myself a woven tote because it is much easier to dump the sand out of than a bag with pockets.  It is also way cuter! I have narrowed my choices down to the following three bags.  The Kayu St Tropez tote (above) which comes in a handful of great colors.

sundry bag

This fun Sundry bag.

giselle

Or this Giselle tote. Each one is so cute but I have yet to make up my mind!

beach people

When it comes to beach towels, I am always trying to find a huge blanket style towel that actually will absorb water. The Beach People towels have been on my radar for a few years now and this guy is officially mine.  They make a variety of great towels in tons of patterns and colors – which makes it hard to only buy one!

S&L

My other choice for a nice and big beach towel is Serena & Lily.  The aqua color is perfectly beachy and the size is great for sharing!

bain

Now, being born and raised by the beach has given me years to test out all of the tanning lotions out there and there are only two that I use – and swear by.  Bain de Soleil Orange Gelee has been an integral part of my tanning routine for years now and it is amazing.  This stuff not only helps you tan it also seems to prevent me from burning.  Of course, it only has SPF 4 in it, so if you have fair skin then I recommend using a much higher SPF.

maui

Maui Babe is my other favorite tanning lotion.  This one literally smells like coffee beans, which I love!  It does a great job of helping you achieve a dark tan.  The only complaint I have is that the color gets all over your swimsuit when you apply it.  The color washes out, but I would recommend the Bain de Soleil on the days that you are wearing a white swim suit!

nuetrogena

As much as I love a deep dark tan on my body, I never play around with my face and neck.  My sister always makes fun of me because by the end of the Summer by body is ten shades darker than my face. However, I am trying to protect my face and prevent any sun damage – which could lead to premature aging.  Neutrogena makes my favorite face sunscreen.  I have been using this for several years and not only does it work well, it also doesn’t make my skin break out. I also use their Ultra Sheer Stick for my lips.

hat

To provide additional protection and to help keep the sun out of my eyes, I found this perfect cotton sun hat from JCrew.  They have several great hat options – each for a great price!  I particularly love this hat because it is soft and made from cotton which won’t make my head itch.

shades

One thing that you will never catch me on the beach without, is a pair of sunglasses.  I typically like my Ray-Bans the best for the beach because they are polarized and sturdy.  However, I also love a cute pair of shades that match my bikini, so sometimes fashion out weighs practicality.

The most important item in my beach bag will always be my water.  I am honestly not a fan of the Swell water bottles because they don’t hold more than a bottle and a half of water.  I drink a ton of water each day – especially when I am out in the sun.  I recently discovered these awesome BKR water bottles which actually hold a liter of water.  The little spiked guy is so cool, but, at the moment, the spiked collection only comes in the 500mL size.  So for the time being I’ll stick to this pretty blue bottle and stay hydrated!

Two additional items that I keep in my beach bag at all times are It’s A 10 leave in conditioner and Off bug spray.  The conditioner helps prevent my hair from turning into dreadlocks and of course, the bug spray always comes in handy when the wind suddenly switches and sends the bugs right at you!

I know this was a long post, but these are truly the essentials when it comes to packing a bag for the beach.  Fingers crossed the weather is nice this Memorial Day weekend so I can grab my bag and head off to the beach!

XO

Best Products for Clear Skin

Ever since I hit puberty, I have struggled with my skin.  It is super oil but also red and dry.  I have tried almost every acne product on the market and NOTHING works.  I finally met with a dermatologist back in high school and was put on prescription medicine for several years.  However, now that puberty is over, so is my prescription medicine.  So, I have been perfecting my non-prescription regime for the past three years and I my current routine seems to be juuust right.

wash

I have been using Kiehl’s forever and I love their products.  This face wash is the best stuff I have ever used.  They took it off the market for a few months last year to re-do the formula, and it was such a struggle to find a replacement. Once the new formula was released, I literally ran to the store to stock up!  I wash my face every morning and night with this cleanser.  I have one bottle in the shower and one bottle on my sink – it’s that great.

toner

After I wash my face, I apply this toner on my face and neck.  If my skin is feeling dry, I cut back on the toner and only use it every other day or just at night.  It works great on acne prone skin and it helps control the oil on your face.

SR

These two products are amazing!  I swear they have given me the best skin of my life.  Since I started using them, I have received tons of compliments on my skin.  I highly recommend using them together.  Each time I run out of one, my skin definitely feels the effects. They are a bit pricey but I promise they are worth it.  Sephora offers a set with both products in mini sizes so you can give them a try before breaking the bank. The Night Oil has retinol in it, which helps with acne and wrinkles.  However, you can only use it at night and it works best if you let it sit for 10-15 minutes before applying the Good Genes lactic acid.  I use the Good Genes twice a day and it both brightens and plumps up my skin.  I’m telling you, these products work miracles on my skin.

oil

After I apply my Good Genes, I apply a small amount of Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Oil on my face, neck and the back of my hands.  I have been using this stuff for years now and it really helps to keep my skin hydrated, especially during the Summer.  This oil is only meant to be used at night time but Kiehl’s also offers a Daily Reviving Oil that works just as well.  I personally stick to the night oil because I don’t want to look too oily during the day.

lotion

Last, I apply Kiehl’s Rosa Artica cream all over my face and neck.  I only use this lotion at night time because I like to use a CC cream during the day.  However, I have tested many night creams and this is my favorite. It smells great and is light weight. It also has anti-aging properties which will hopefully help to keep the wrinkles away!

While these products work well for me, this combination may not work for all skin types.  Each product works amazingly so depending on what your skin needs are, they may work for you as well!

XO