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.



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.

Product Review: Origins Plantscription SPF 25 Anti-Aging Oil-Free Cream

skin care, oily skin, moisturizer, day cream, product reviewBack before the sun cruelly abandoned New York to a grey and snowy winter, I went in search for a good daytime moisturizer with built-in SPF. When I spotted Origins Plantscription SPF 25 on the shelves at Sephora, I couldn’t resist. Not only is Origins one of my favorite skin care brands, but the cream was oil-free, anti-aging, and had a broad spectrum SPF higher than 15. With all my boxes checked, I whisked it straight to the checkout counter.

Having been using this cream for a number of months now, I still go back and forth about whether or not I love it. On the upside, this cream has a gorgeous, rich consistency; a lovely, subdued herbal scent; built-in SPF; beautiful packaging; and it really moisturizes the skin. On the downside, the formula is heavy: it needs at least ten minutes to sink into the skin and can leave you looking a tad shiny. For someone with oily skin like me, that makes this moisturizer a no go for the warmer months. During the winter; however, my dehydrated skin has been loving the intensity of this cream, it’s become a daily staple. The other downside is the price, at $55/1.7oz this product is a tad expensive, though it does last a number of months.

Overall, I’d say this moisturizer is better suited to dryer/normal skin types or for faces that need some extra TLC this winter. While I’ve enjoyed using it, I don’t think I’ll be repurchasing Plantscription SPF 25 any time in the near future.

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Product Review: Boscia Luminizing Black Mask

skin care, boscia, sephora, face mask, oily skin, acne

While our body’s natural propensity to dull our memory of pain is usually a wonderful thing, there are occasions where this backfires – ask any woman in labor with their second child. While I am in no way suggesting that this mask is as painful as birthing a child, I definitely had that why didn’t I remember how much this hurts?? moment as I was peeling this mask off my face for the second time.

Let me set the scene: it was a Saturday morning, I had fallen asleep the night before with a face full of makeup and was looking for some way to apologize to my face. Poking around my bathroom, I found this little number tucked away and decided it was just the pick me up my skin needed. The formula of this mask is singular to say the least; the product is pure black, shiny, and thick, with a latex-like texture. Applying it is the most fun aspect of the whole process. A tip here is to ensure your mask is applied in an even, fairly thick layer with clean edges – this will make peeling it off much easier later. It’s also STRONGLY advised that you do your best to avoid any hairs around your face unless you’re in the mood for an impromptu waxing. By the time you’re done, you’ll look a little something like Julianne Hough circa Halloween ’13.

After around twenty minutes or so, the mask will have completely dried, feeling tight and shiny across your face. I suggest you take a minute here to enjoy your last pain-free moments. This mask is essentially a pore strip for your entire face, grasp an edge and pull away from your skin, pausing occasionally to curse and wipe away tears. I’ll be honest, at one point around the top of my face I debated whether I could pull of a shiny black forehead as a an accessory for the rest of my life. This is also the joyous time when you discover those super fine, invisible baby hairs around your face you were blissfully unaware of until this mask attempted to rip them out. In the interest of full disclosure, this took me around twenty minutes to fully peel off my face (I stopped a couple times to shore up my courage). After the bulk of the mask was removed, I was able to easily clean off any lingering smudges with toner on a cotton pad.

Despite the unpleasant removal process, this mask still impressed me. Again, like a pore strip, it actually pulled gunk out of my pores which I could see stuck in the mask remnants (gross, but I can’t resist looking). More importantly, my skin felt baby soft and smooth afterwards. My complexion was brighter, healthier, and slightly luminous. It’s for these reasons that I’ll most likely be slathering this mask on yet again despite my apparently low pain tolerance. For anyone out there looking for a totally unique, totally effective face mask – I’d suggest giving the Boscia Luminizing Black Mask a go.

p.s. I’d skip using this mask during active breakouts or you’ll risk aggravating the skin further.

$34/2.8 oz or $15 for a three mask sample pack at Sephora.

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Product Review: Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial

Oh hey…long time no see. I could tell you that I’ve spent the last month moving into a new apartment and putting in some overtime hours at work but I know that’s not really an excuse. The truth is I’ve been terribly lazy and I intend to make it up to you. I’ll start with a review on maybe the loveliest skin care product I own. I can only hope that when you try it and fall in love like I did you can forgive me for being a lazy bum.

Korres, Sephora, Facial, Skin care, moisturizer, rose, brightening, routine, vitamin c, hydration

A while back I went a bit skin care crazy. I’d noticed that my usual moisturizing routine didn’t seem to be doing the trick anymore and my skin was looking a tad dry. I’d also been using a daily moisturizer without spf (I know, I know) and decided it was time to find some new face creams. I popped into Sephora, steadfastly ignoring the gorgeous new Marc Jacobs beauty collection that was calling my name, and headed straight to the skincare section. After raiding the shelves, I  headed for the money trap otherwise know as Sephora’s cashier line. I swear, my purchase doubles between the time I first get in line and when I reach the cashier. On this particular trip, one of my sneaky waiting line grabs was the Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial. I don’t have much of a relationship with Korres, and I tend not to be a fan of hugely floral scents, but I’d heard good things about this product and it sounded like just the thing for my suddenly dehydrated skin.

Here’s what Sephora has to say on the subject:

“This overnight facial-in-a-jar is a breakthrough in beauty sleep. More than a mask, more than a night cream, it contains the Korres Phos Compound, a proprietary blend including a brightening agent and stabilized vitamin C. Day after day, week after week, uneven tone and dark spots will continuously improve. After only 14 days you’ll see skin that’s brighter, more even-toned, and exceptionally radiant. “

To me, this is the ultimate pamper yourself product. Everything about it is decadent, from the scent to the texture to the packaging to the price tag. I mean, it’s called a sleeping facial – that’s like the definition of pampering. For me, it’s not a product you whip out as part of your daily routine, more something you use once a week or when you feel your face needs some extra love. That being said, it seems that most people use it as their night cream, so, if you’re willing to fork over the money, go for it!

Let’s start with the smell, shall we? It’s incredible. Remember when I said I wasn’t a huge floral fan? This may be converting me. The strong rose scent instantly makes you feel like you’re in a spa or an English garden somewhere. I love it, it makes me feel like a princess. If, however, you’re not a fan of rose or heavy scents, this is definitely not the product for you.

On to the texture. It’s surprisingly light, it has an almost gel-like quality and glides into the skin effortlessly. Given that it’s a sleeping facial, the idea is that you’re quite generous with your application, but even then, a little goes a long way. While the facial doesn’t feel heavy, it definitely has a residue, your face feels slightly tacky after application. This could most likely be avoided if you used it more sparingly, but I like that I can really feel it on my skin – makes me believe it’s really doing something! Sometimes I can even feel traces of it on my face when I wake up the next morning.

And the effect? I genuinely feel like my face is refreshed after using this, it just seems happier. My skin feels moisturized and lovely, looks all glowy, and feels nice and plumped up. It’s an indulgence that gives me a little boost of confidence every time I use it. Added bonus for those of us with oily/acne prone skin: it doesn’t break me out in the slightest! The product is also 95% natural so should work for sensitive skin too. All in all, I’d say the only downside is the price.

If you have a bit of spare cash to spend and are in the mood to treat yourself, I highly recommend this.

$48/1.35 oz at Sephora

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Product Review: Lush Mask of Magnaminty

Lush, Face Mask, Beauty, Skin care, acne, oily skin, cleanser, exfoliating, pampering, luxury, cosmetics

I love a good trip to the Lush store, everything is so pretty and smells so good, it’s a girly paradise. I think it would be so fun to be the person who mixed up their fabulous concoctions – like when you were little and made potions from all the different products in the bathroom. To be honest, though, I only buy a couple kinds of Lush products; I don’t take baths and I can’t bring myself to pay that much for shampoo. I will, however, splash out for a Lush face mask. There’s something so luxurious and indulgent about slathering on a face mask and Lush make some great ones. For years I would pick up the Cupcake one when I happened across a Lush, it’s specifically formulated for oily, spotty skin (sigh) and smells like chocolate. What’s not to love? But while it felt lovely and cool on my skin, I can’t say I ever noticed any real benefits. On my last trip, however, they were completely sold out of Cupcake so the saleslady recommended I try their Mask of Magnaminty, her personal fave and the only Lush face mask that doesn’t require refrigeration (I always forget I have one in the fridge). Here’s a snippet of the description from the Lush site:

“China clay and fresh peppermint reach deep down to pull the debris from your pores, giving you that delightful tingly-clean sensation. We add loads of aduki beans to exfoliate flaky or dry skin, vanilla absolute to calm redness and honey to soothe.”

I am in love. The mask smells (and looks) like mint chocolate ice cream and is soothing and cool on the skin. It’s very thick in consistency yet comes off cleanly – no sneaky green residue. The very best thing is that the effect is immediate. Even when I’m having a breakout, my skin still feel refreshed and looks happier and healthier as soon as I wash it off. Speaking as someone whose face was bitch-slapped by puberty, I know there’s no miracle cure for problematic skin. That being said, this mask may be as close as it gets. A friend tried it while at my house and then went out that same week and bought it for herself and her mom. There’s a rumor she even got her boyfriend to use it…I don’t know why men don’t use more beauty products, skin problems aren’t gender specific last I checked!

Anyway, I’m off to go use this very mask. I have a feeling I’ll be repurchasing this product for years to come and I suggest you check it out next time you find yourself in Lush!

($24.95/11.1oz) available in stores and online.

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