Product Review: AHAVA Purifying Mud Mask

beauty, face mask, skin care, review

Ideally, every time you used a face mask it would be while wearing a fluffy robe with a hot bubble bath filling up behind you and Leonardo DiCaprio leaving desperate voicemails on your phone….back to Earth, Erin. Sometimes; however, there just isn’t time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone about my day with the best of intentions to use a mask before bed only to find myself bleary-eyed in the bathroom at midnight with barely enough stamina to use a cleanser. Even on those mornings when I wake up feeling the imminent threat of a breakout, I can’t spare fifteen minutes to sit with a clay mask – It’s a rare day I even leave time for breakfast.

So, what’s a time-strapped girl to do? Enter the AHAVA Purifying Mud Mask. This mask doesn’t take twenty minutes to do its thing, or even ten, but two. TWO. You’re practically rinsing it off before you’ve finished applying it.

The mask is a blend of Dead Sea mud and minerals which both serve to clarify and purify the skin. Horsetail extract works as a natural anti-inflammatory and antiseptic to soothe your skin while jojoba oil works overtime in the nourishing department. The formula is approved for sensitive skin and is allergy tested, along with being paraben and SLS/SLES free. Basically, AHAVA is winning all around on the formula front. The mask’s texture is perfect: smooth and buildable without being heavy or gunky. The scent is spa-like and subdued and utterly luxurious.

So, does speedy gonzalez work? I’d have to say yes. My skin feels clean and smooth and pampered after a go with this product and my budding breakouts seem somewhat deterred. While I wouldn’t declare this the best face mask I’ve ever used, it’s definitely the best mask I’ve used that has me out of the bathroom in less than five minutes. I would mention that the two minute time frame isn’t really a suggestion;  you can’t wander away from the bathroom as you might with another mask. Due to the purifying nature of the mud mask, you risk excessive drying if you leave it on for even a few extra minutes.

I personally use this either on those aforementioned nights when my bed is making an irresistibly persuasive case or in the mornings, right before popping in the shower. It’s an effective, pampering mask that accepts no excuses about lack of time or energy. While the bottle seems a wee bit pricey ($32/3.4 oz), a little goes a long way and I’ve had mine for months. This is the perfect face mask for the busy or narcoleptic girl looking to up their skin care game.

 

Advertisements

My Belated Resolution: An End to Comparisons

I know making big life resolutions is traditionally reserved for the start of the new year while the start of spring is traditionally reserved for conveniently forgetting all about them but I’ve decided to go ahead and make one anyway. Woo for nonconformity! Or something.

So what’s this untimely promise I’ve made to myself? Hint: it has nothing to do with the gym (I’m not quite that deluded).

I’ve decided…. to stop being jealous. Sounds simple, huh? Or perhaps unrealistic. I know jealousy isn’t something turned off with the well-intentioned flick of a switch. But I do believe it can be done, with effort, over time. Perhaps I should be more specific about the type of jealousy I’m referring to – I’ve decided to stop comparing myself to those around me, for I always seem to do so at the expense of my self-esteem.

I think it might be helpful if I provided some background as to where this resolution originated. Several months ago an acquaintance from university passed away tragically and unexpectedly. I wouldn’t say we were close, he was more a good friend of good friends if that makes any sense. Despite our minimal contact, when he passed away I was close enough to feel the shockwaves. To still feel the shockwaves. To experience that jarring and unexpected grief specific to the loss of someone who had so many of life’s firsts still ahead of them.

In so many ways we equate youth to invincibility – or at least we do while we still consider ourselves young. The various commercials for medications, wrinkle creams, and life insurance resonate only as messages for someone else. Someone with lines around their eyes, cholesterol pills in their medicine cabinet, and a diet that’s replaced Mountain Dew with Metamucil.

When this acquaintance passed away so unexpectedly, I felt for the first time the fraying edges of that cloak of invincibility I had wrapped around myself as a child. Suddenly I became aware of how much I had left to look forward to and how very much I stood to lose, how much there was to be grateful for. This awareness stuck with me for weeks and weeks, cropping up at random moments throughout the day. In one particular instance, I was making my commute home from work when I spied an annoyingly attractive woman across the subway car and had my usual, fleeting moment of jealousy – I wish I had her hair/skin/legs/style. These incidents of comparison – where I hold myself up against another and find myself lacking, are almost as consistent and unconscious as the in-and-out motion of my breathing. Such is the effect of our beauty-obsessed culture, especially evident among women. It is a constant state of being to measure ourselves against the ubiquitous icons of beauty and find ourselves wanting. In this particular moment of envy; however, my newfound sense of perspective kicked in and I was forced to wonder at the pointlessness and absurdity of what I was doing. Sure, this girl may have great legs and Pinterest-worthy hair but I have a supportive network of family and friends, a passport decorated with stamps from around the world, and a warm apartment to retreat to out of this especially bitter winter. While I can’t be sure that this woman isn’t also in possession of these things, I can assuredly state that any one of these things trumps great legs and bouncy hair.

Until recently, I wasn’t even aware of how much I made these comparisons, the same way I’d imagine most women reading this are similarly ignorant. We place ourselves perpetually in competition with other women, as though beauty, poise, and admiration are finite resources we must constantly struggle to retain a share of. It’s not that we’re petty or shallow or undercover masochists, we’re simply byproducts of a culture that has placed youth, beauty, and attention at the apex of desirability. A culture that has taught us to equate our self worth with our sex appeal, to idolize models and treat airbrushed celebrities as achievable standards of what it means to be beautiful.

And truthfully, i’m tired of it. I’m tired of perpetuating a culture that has its priorities so very out of order. I’m tired of feeling my self-confidence shatter to pieces every time I have a major breakout or put on a few pounds. From a rational standpoint, I know that every woman, no matter how gorgeous or confident, has something she’s insecure about. I know that things like intelligence, kindness, wit, and tolerance are far more worthy goals to strive for than sex appeal. I also know that I will no doubt be working on this resolution for the rest of my life. That being said, I’m already noticing a difference.

Now, when some girl with flawless skin and kick-ass style sits next to me on the subway, instead of running the usual depressing checklist in my head of all the ways I am less cool/exotic/clean/schmexy, I instead counter that instinctive comparison with the reminder of something I have to be grateful for. Ok, I could never pull that dress off BUT I’m living in the city I’ve dreamt about since I was twelve. Sure, she somehow escaped puberty with skin like a baby cherub but I’m blessed to be among the depressingly few debt-free college graduates. I realize this all sounds very Hallmark and cliche but it really puts things into perspective. It’s a reality check that not only stops the self-deprecation in its tracks but also includes a healthy dose of gratitude, which is scientifically proven to be one of the most significant contributing factors to overall happiness.

Like I said, I realize that this resolution is more of a process than a decision and I’m aware that my seemingly permanent breakouts will no doubt always induce feelings of inadequacy but I’m determined to give this thing a shot. Things are changing for women across the globe, and in western culture in particular, the calls for realistic beauty standards are becoming ever louder and more powerful. Even the most monumental of cultural shifts start small, with individuals, and I intend to be one of them. It’s time to stop treating beauty as an objective goal and more as a subjective concept. Every person has a beauty unique to them, visual or intangible, and it makes no sense trying to rank one person’s over another’s.

So, I am officially declaring 2014 the year of no more comparisons. Hopefully by the time 2015 rolls around that knee-jerk instinct to measure myself against other people will be well on its way to extinction and my happiness and self-esteem will reflect the change.

If you made it to the end of this marathon post, I am both suitably awed and tentatively hopeful that you found it in some way compelling or interesting. I’d love to hear any thoughts other women/beauty bloggers/humans have on the subject!

P.s. I recognize that this post might seem a wee bit hypocritical on a blog dedicated to all things beauty but I personally feel that beauty products not only help boost self-confidence but are also just plain fun to play around with. It’s all about keeping a healthy perspective.

Run & Repurchase #1

Bobbi Brown, NARS, Clinique, beauty, cosmetics

As a new(ish) grad living in New York City, I too often find myself battling between supporting my beauty habit and purchasing basic necessities such as groceries or metro cards (prioritizing – still working on it). While my practical self generally is able to keep me out of Sephora, there are a few bits in my beauty collection that I can always seems to find room in the budget for.

Here’s a selection of the tried-and-true beauty products that I’ve decided must be accessible to me at all times. The products that, should they run out, I immediately run out and repurchase.

  • Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle – I’ve professed my love for this leave-in conditioner multiple times already on Full Coverage, but I just can’t get enough. This product leaves my hair hydrated, shiny, protected, and super soft. Oh, and it also smells amazeballs. I make sure to have another bottle on its way before I’ve even finished the last one. Full review here.
  • Bobbi Brown Brow Pencil (Grey) – I’m not sure where I would be without this brow pencil. Well, actually, I do have some deeply repressed memories of barely-there brows that were apparently filled using completely the wrong color. The worst thing about the whole debacle is that I did this for years and no one said a thing. It wasn’t until a good samaritan at the Bobbi Brown counter convinced me to make the switch that all three friends I was with fell over themselves to assure me I was currently making a tragedy of my eyebrows – which has to be some sort of girl code violation. Either way, this cool-toned taupe pencil is a perfect match and I’ve been hoarding back-ups for years. I personally find it difficult to find a good, cool-toned brow pencil for blondes. Brow pencils on the whole seem to skew warm but generally there’s only one option for blondes and it’s always too golden. I will say this pencil has mixed reviews online, mostly due to the soft formula and propensity of the pencil to crumble under pressure of sharpening; however, the finish is soft enough to seem natural and with a little extra caution, the sharpening issue is mostly avoidable. While I wouldn’t recommend everyone make the switch, if you’re a fellow blonde having issues matching your eyebrows to the rest of ya, give this baby a shot. P.s. this also comes with a pencil sharpener which is absurdly useful.
  • Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial – this is another Full Coverage all-star, and oddly, my most popular review to date. This cream is absolute luxury in a pot, it’s one of the few products I’ve tried that makes an immediate and glorious difference in the appearance of my skin. While this definitely comes in at the high end price-wise on the run & repurchase list, it’s one of those luxuries I can always justify and would recommend to anyone. Full review here.
  • Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer (Vanilla) – This is another product that’s earned its very own review, linked here. This is my go-to concealer for under-eye darkness and around the nose redness. The formula is creamy and blendable without being remotely heavy. It’s also an excellent product for highlighting given the inherent radiance (think down the nose or along the cupid’s bow). I do have to mention that I switch to a different concealer when it comes to concealing blemishes. Given the aforementioned brightening element, this tends to draw attention where it’s applied, not good when dealing with spots, especially raised ones.
  • Clinique Almost Lipstick (Black Honey) – I mentioned in my 2013 Year End Favorites post that I was ready to declare this little wonder my favorite lip product of all time and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to find it holding the same title next year. While this lipstick looks downright alarming in the tube, it’s actually a gorgeous sheer cranberry on the lips that can either be worn as a tinted lip balm or built up to full-on red lip drama. Did I mention this also suits everyone? Think Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants but, you know, with lipstick. (..Gross?) Either way, Clinique’s created an absolute winner here, the texture is smooth, hydrating, and totally non-sticky and the slim silver tube fits easily into even the most minimalist of clutches.

I decided to leave this first list at 5 products, but rest assured there’s a lot more where that came from. Keep your eyes out for more repurchase essentials to come!

Product Review: Number 4 Super Comb Prep & Protect

product review, hair care, conditioner, beauty, birchbox

A few months ago, a sample-sized bottle of this leave-in conditioner arrived at my apartment courtesy of beauty addiction enabler Birchbox. Having already tried, and loved, two other leave-in conditioners I’d previously been sent, I happily whisked the sample off to my bathroom, sure it would be no exception. Sadly this time, BBox let me down.

Firstly, I’m not a huge fan of the scent. It manages to be both herbal and oddly cloying, a potent and almost medicinal combination that doesn’t appeal. What really put me off this leave-in conditioner, however, was its effect on my hair, or should I say lack thereof. As far as I can tell, this product didn’t accomplish much of anything, my hair was no softer, shinier, or at all easier to brush through. There were times I even suspected it made my tangles worse (I understand that makes zero sense). I’ll admit that my favorite leave-in, Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle, is a hard act to follow but this didn’t even come close.

What’s most puzzling to me is that the reviews online are generally incredibly positive. I can understand not everyone feels the same about the scent, that’s typically a personal preference, but I can’t account for the reviews that claim this sample bottle changed their life. As far as I can tell, the best thing about this product is that it sprays in fine, even mist and is 100% vegan. Overall, I’d say if you’re looking for a good leave-in conditioner, skip Number 4 Super Comb Prep & Protect and order either this number from 12 Benefits or the aforementioned gem from Beauty Protector, both of which are cheaper too.

Has anyone else given this product a try – am I the only person who wasn’t won over?

Image credit: Birchbox.com

Product Review: Yes To Tomatoes Daily Clarifying Cleanser

product review, beauty, skincare, oily skin

Sorry it’s been a while, peeps!

…is it cool if I call you peeps?

It’s been a bit hectic lately IRL for me and I’ve neglected my blog horribly. I feel terrible and I solemnly swear not to fall behind again.*

Today’s post is on a cleanser I’ve been using in the mornings for the past several months, the Yes To Tomatoes Daily Clarifying Cleanser. The Yes To line is one that I first noticed popping up in my local drugstores a couple years ago and have been steadily working my way through ever since. Their Yes To Cucumbers Facial Wipes currently rank as my all-time favorite cleansing wipes and the Yes To Cucumbers Eye Makeup Remover Pads are in the process of being tested as we speak. So far the only product from the brand that’s been a real let down is the Yes To Cucumbers Daily Calming Moisturizer with SPF 30 which I picked up during my search for an affordable day cream with an SPF higher than 15. The moisturizer is a total miss, the cream is super thick and patchy and leaves you with odd white zinc spots all over your face that are nearly impossible to blend away.

The Yes To Tomatoes Facial Cleanser is a totally different story, however. I’ve been on a bit of a mission over the past six months or so to find decent drugstore cleansers that are non-foaming, gel formulas. Non-foaming because foaming cleansers disrupt your skin’s natural acid mantle which leads to excessive drying, and gel because it’s supposedly the most effective texture for oily skin types. It turns out that this is a fairly rare combination, at least in the drugstore.

The Yes To Tomatoes cleanser is not only gel-based and non-foaming but is also 96% natural and formulated without petroleum, SLS, or parabens. It’s cruelty free too! So far, so good. The active ingredients are lycopene (from tomatoes) which serves as a natural antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties; red tea, another source of antioxidants; and watermelon, which contains natural fruity acids to help exfoliate and cleanse the skin while also hydrating it.

Overall, this is a pretty great drugstore cleanser. It has a vaguely medicinal scent which, while not my favorite, is subtle and doesn’t linger. It leaves my face feeling clean and refreshed without the tight dryness I typically associate with clarifying cleansers. This definitely is the thickest of the formulas I’ve tried, the gel is oddly viscous, to the point where it was occasionally hard for my fingers to gain traction against my skin. While that did take me quite a while to come to terms with, it’s by no means a deal breaker.

The Yes To Tomatoes Daily Clarifying Cleanser is an excellent, affordable facial cleanser for anyone with oily, problematic skin or anyone looking for an effective cleanser that won’t disrupt their skin’s pH balance. While I have decided to try something new when this bottle runs out, I have a feeling I’ll come back to this cleanser many times in the future.

$9.99/3.38 0z at most drugstores.

* I advise you take that promise with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Best & Worst: Oscars 2014 Beauty

The Oscars have once again come and gone, leaving us dazzled by the gorgeous gowns, envious of the star-studded selfies, and gutted that Leo once again left the theater without a golden statue. This year, a few beauty choices caught my eye as the movie stars worked the red carpet and after parties and I decided to share my standouts.

BEST USE OF COLOR

Vanity Fair Afterparty, beauty, makeup

Rita Ora is killing it lately with her makeup – did anyone else notice her amazing purple smokey eye at the Grammys? Well Rita outdid herself at the Vanity Fair Oscars Party, sporting an unusual and gorgeous navy smokey eye with a bright yellow inner corner highlight. THAT is how you wear bright eyeshadow, friends. This might be my favorite look of the whole night.

oscars 2014, beauty, makeup

Idina Menzel (sorry, Adele Dazeem), manage to squeeze in a makeup update during her costume change for her “Let It Go” performance. She debuted some seriously cool green eyeliner on stage which worked beautifully to enhance her brown eyes and infuse some edge into her otherwise fairly safe nude gown/soft waves look.

BEST LIP

beauty, oscars 2014

Kerry Washington’s deep raisin lip is perhaps the most talked about lipstick of the night. Not only does the deep tone work beautifully with her coloring, it also pairs perfectly with her cool-toned purple gown to jazz up an otherwise boring look.

oscars 2014 beauty

Emma Watson, could that red lip be any more stunning? It goes perfectly with her effortless, edgy look and works as her sole statement accessory. A perfectly executed red lip. Hats off to you, Hermione.

BEST EYELINER

Oscars 2014 beauty

Olivia Wilde’s dramatic winged eyeliner worked in perfect harmony with her understated Valentino gown. The bold liner application is balanced by a bare under-eye while the use of white eyeliner to sharply define the wing keeps this look clean and modern.

WORST

Oscars 2014 beauty

Ok, I know I may get some heat for targeting America’s golden girl but WHAT is up with those brows, JLaw? Her sparse and un-groomed brows were especially noticeable after she smoked up her shadow for the Oscars after party. This may be because I am a firm believer in the transformative power of a defined eyebrow but I feel they ruined an otherwise stunning makeup look. Was anyone else unable to look beyond the brows?