Quickie Skincare Tip: Baby Shampoo As Eye Makeup Remover

eye makeup remover, Johnson & Johnson's baby shampoo, beauty

I discovered this tip last fall when I was having eye issues and my Optometrist told me I’d have to specially clean my eye area twice a day. Theoretically I was supposed to use a fancy wash specifically formulated for eyes, but with a nudge and a wink she informed me that baby shampoo worked just as well and was wayyy cheaper. Sold.

After I began using this, I noticed that not only did it effectively clean any residual eye makeup but that it did so without leaving an oily residue, which is the worst thing about eye makeup remover, in my opinion. Here are a few more reasons why you should consider picking up a bottle of baby shampoo next time you’re in your local drugstore:

1. It’s cheap & cheerful. I know I mentioned this already but this stuff is cheap, and will last you for ages. I bought the 15 floz bottle of Johnson &  Johnson’s Baby Shampoo for $3.99 at Walgreens and it will potentially last me the rest of my natural born life. To compare, Neutrogena’s Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover is $8.49 for 5.5 floz and gets used up much more quickly. I use my humongous shampoo to fill up little travel bottles that I keep at my sink and in my shower.

2. It’s ideal for sensitive eyes. This one’s a no brainer, baby shampoo is formulated for babies – and they’re sissies. Jk but really, if babies can take it, you can too.

3. It works. This seems obvious but I feel it had to be said. While the shampoo will be thicker than your average eye makeup remover, it will not only clean away your makeup but will also help with any bacteria that’s built up in your eye area. It’s a much more thorough clean while still being gentle. It also washes off cleanly – no oily residue here. I especially like using this in the shower, no raccoon eyes for this girl.

4. It smells nice. Scent traditionally isn’t high up on my priority list when I pick up a new eye makeup remover, but it’s definitely an added bonus. Most removers are either unscented or have a vaguely chemical-y scent to them. Baby shampoo smells like flowers and fruit and, uh, clean babies? To be honest, the scent is really hard to describe but just trust me that it’s pleasant.

Next time you’re looking for an eye makeup remover to try or if you’re having issues with sensitivity, give baby shampoo a shot. Even if you end up preferring your old formula, there are still about a hundred uses for baby shampoo (brush cleaner, anyone?), and you just may decide it’s the best thing since sliced bread.

Image credit: walmart.com

Scarlet Fever: Embracing Red Blush

Red Blush, MAC, NARS, NYX, makeup

Almost no blush shade looks more alarming in the pan than a bright, in-your-face red, it looks like something you’d find stashed away in a clown’s makeup kit. But before you dismiss tomato shades as too intense and retreat to the safety of a nice peachy pink, let me make my case.

Every girl should have a red blush. The whole idea of blush is to mimic a natural flush, right? To infuse color into our complexion, to make us look healthy and radiant and like we just stepped in from a brisk walk. Now think about when your cheeks are naturally flushed, what color are they? Babydoll pink? Plum? Shimmery coral? Somehow I doubt it. Chances are, they’re red, red due to the blood that’s rushed to the surface…. are you starting to see where I’m going with this?

Red blush creates the most natural and gorgeous wash of color; the key is in the application. As you might imagine, being heavy-handed with a shade like MAC’s Frankly Scarlet will leave you looking overheated at best and contagious at worst. Red blush is best used sparingly, in a sheer, barely-there wash. For the most natural effect, apply it where you would naturally flush (hint: it’s not on the apples of your cheeks). I personally apply blush in an almost straight line across the tops of my cheeks. This results in a youthful, natural glow that, as an added bonus, also helps lift the face.

The very best thing about red blush is that it works for everyone and all skin tones (we all blush red, guys). Depending on your skin’s undertones you can choose a rose-red shade like MAC’s Frankly Scarlet or something like NARS’ Exhibit A with more orange undertones. Counterintuitively, I think this shade is particularly gorgeous on fair skin (think Snow White), though pale skin types will have to use an especially light hand. It’s the perfect shade for those sneaky no-makeup makeup looks.

snow white makeup, blush, beauty

Next time you find yourself reaching for your standard peachy coral or shimmery rose, do yourself a favor and give red a shot – I promise you won’t be sorry. Here are a few of the best red blush shades on the market for inspiration:

NARS (Exhibit A) – bright, orange-toned red powder blush.

NARS Matte Multiple (Siam) – matte true red cream blush.

MAC Powder Blush (Scarlet Fever) – rose-toned matte powder blush.

Josie Maran Coconut Water Cheek Gelee (Getaway Red) – true red water-based blush.

NYX Powder Blush (Red) – very similar to MAC Frankly Scarlet, slightly more pink.

Quickie Makeup Tip: Bronzer As Eyeshadow

Bronzer’s one of those makeup items that every girl seems to own. Whether shimmery or matte, well-loved or mostly neglected, chances are you’ve got one stashed away somewhere. Being a pale girl with a built-in radiance (read – oily skin), bronzer doesn’t tend to fall on my list of holy grail products. I have one or two, sure, but it’s only in summer that they see any regular action.

That’s all about to change; however, bronzer is definitely having a moment this year, and I am all about it. Bronzed, sexy, Victoria’s Secret eyes are making a comeback for spring and bronzer is your one-stop-shop for achieving them. This past year saw matte bronzer as a go-to transition crease shade: a soft brown that added warmth to a look while making the transition between shadow and skin that much more seamless. This trick worked especially well with something like a black smokey eye, making a traditionally intense look more wearable.

For 2014, bronzer is taking over the whole lid and it couldn’t possibly be easier. Simply sweep a wash of bronzer over your entire lid with a fluffy brush (think MAC 217) and blend through the crease. That’s it. You’re left with a subtle, trendy, smokey eye in the space of maybe thirty seconds. This look works with either shimmery or matte bronzers, though matte works better for defining the crease.

The real beauty of this tip is that your bronzer is already matched to your skin tone, you’re working with a color you know suits you –  no guesswork involved. It’s a wonder it took us this long to figure out. This would be an especially great trick to keep in mind when traveling this summer – think about how much space you’ll save leaving your palettes at home.

Anyone else tried the bronzer/shadow look?

Tips & Tricks: Quickie Winter Skin Tip

If your skin is anything like mine, aka oily and prone to breakouts, you’ve most likely amassed a rather extensive collection of drying/purifying/detoxifying face masks over the years. Usually, this is a wonderful thing. During a particularly harsh winter, however, it becomes a slight problem. As I mentioned before in my Hydration Station: Winter Survival Kit post, my apartment is heated by evil radiators whose apparent goal in life is to suck every last drop of moisture out of my skin. Nowadays, when I reach for one of my trusty masks, I have to worry about drying my already dehydrated skin even further.

Since breakouts are rudely immune to seasonal changes, I’ve been forced to come up with a compromise. Instead of applying a face mask in the usual manner, I use it as a spot treatment instead. I grab an old standby (like Origins Clear Improvement or AHAVA Purifying Mud Mask) and dab it only on areas with active acne, using a slightly lighter hand. This way, I get that pampered satisfaction unique to a face mask without stressing my winter face. As Hannah Montana would say, it’s the best of both worlds.

Anyone else have sneaky winter skin care tricks? I’d love to hear ’em!

Hydration Station: Winter Survival Kit

It’s official – radiators have got to be the most drying heat source of all time. This being my first winter (Polar Vortex, rather) with radiators as my home’s primary heat source has been an experience. I didn’t know it was possible to feel like you were about to dry up and blow away from the inside out, but I am now intimately acquainted with the feeling. As a girl whose skin type has always been wedged firmly in the oily category, dehydration of this level was quite the unpleasant surprise. Luckily, I had some hidden gems patiently biding their time in my beauty stash that saved the day.

Hydration heroes, assemble!

…sorry.

josie maran argan oil light, winter skin care, dehydrated skin

Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil Light – I’d heard endless praise about the original version of this oil circulating the beauty blogosphere for ages, but, given my aforementioned oily status, I could never bring myself to try it. Then, one fortuitous day at Sephora, I found the light formula offered as a points reward and decided it was fate. Months later, in the depths of oh-so dry desperation, I unearthed this little bottle in my drawer and whisked it straight to the bathroom for a test run. Despite being an oil, this serum dries instantly on the skin to an almost powdery finish which isn’t oily or heavy in the slightest. The oil is almost completely scentless and, despite my secret fears, caused no breakouts! Perhaps most miraculous of all was that it proved to be the extra TLC my parched complexion was looking for and has become a Polar Vortex staple. This nifty oil can be used on the hair, and can even be used under makeup as a day time moisturizer. Wintertime win.

Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial – Winter officially marked the transition for this gorgeous cream from occasional luxury to nightly staple. A super pampering, hydrating, plumping night cream that smells like a rose garden. Full review here

Sephora Collection Age Defy Eye Cream – This eye cream marks the first item of Sephora skin care I’ve ever tried. I received a sample of this in one of my VIB goodie bags and was impressed enough by the rich, creamy texture to upgrade to the full size. This cream is thick, smooth, creamy, and hydrating. It’s formulated sans parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, Phthalates, GMOS,  or Triclosan. It also includes HydroSenn+, a natural ingredient which they claim is more effective than hyaluronic acid! All that at $25 – a bargain if I ever saw one. The packaging, equipped with a pump, is also germaphobe-friendly, a rare thing in an eye cream.

Bliss Fabulips Sugar Lip Scrub – Did you know it’s possible to be addicted to lip balm? You can become dependent on it, which explains those days when even non-stop balm action can’t soothe your chapped pout – and why I have a lip balm in every purse/jacket/pair of jeans I own. Here’s where a lip scrub comes into play; instead of merely swiping your Burt’s Bees over the dead, dry skin that’s accumulated on your lips (gross, sorry), you use a scrub to gently buff the dead skin away, leaving your lips supple, soft, and primed for moisturizing. During my dry spell, I bumped this baby up from once a week use to almost every day, it was the only thing (apart from copious water drinking) that made any real difference.

Macadamia Deep Repair Masque – I mentioned this mask in my 2013 favorites post from a few days ago. This product is a miracle worker for dehydrated, tired locks. Let’s start with the smell. I know it’s probably the least important element of a hair mask, but, honestly, it’s one the best smelling substances I own – perfumes included. I smooth this mask on in place of conditioner after shampooing and then attend to the rest of my shower business while it soaks in – cleanse my face; wash my body; briefly debate shaving my legs, decide against it because, winter; contemplate where my life is going…so and so forth. By the time this mask is rinsed out, my hair is smooth, detangled, and smelling ridiculous. When it’s dried, it’s shinier, softer, and feeling distinctly hydrated.

Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle – the love affair continues. I have a full review on this little number here, but let me just say this detangles like no other, hydrates, protects, and smells amazing. P.s. it’s only $21.95.

MoroccanOil Treatment Light – Since the ends of my hair are a testament to every dye job, blow dry, and curling iron my hair’s been subjected to over the last few years, sometimes they need a little extra attention, particularly in winter. Enter MorrocanOil. Given that I have naturally fine hair, I opted to go with the light treatment formula – I simply work one pump’s worth of product through the ends of my hair and style as normal. It doesn’t weigh down my hair, has no greasy residue or lingering scent, and leaves my ends softer and healthier. It’s a cult favorite for a reason, people.

The Body Shop Vitamin E Body Butter – this also made an appearance in my 2013 favorites. This body butter has been my absolute savior over the last few weeks. More than my Soap & Glory body butter, more than even my Laura Mercier Souffle Body Creme, this lotion hydrates my skin for the entire day, without being heavy or sticky. With a huge variety of beautiful and delicious scents to choose from, I look forward to working my way through the entire line, one body butter at a time. Or maybe two, they all smell really good, you guys.

And that’s a wrap! That’s all I have to offer you in this bitter time of intense cold and dehydration. Hopefully something in this winter survival kit helps someone else make it through the rest of January without drying up and blowing away!

Image credit: josiemarancosmetics.com

Tips & Tricks: Oily, Acne-Prone Skin

skin care, washing face, cleanser, makeup, cosemetics, oily skin, acne, dehydrated skin, tips

In seventh grade my science teacher devised an inadvertently cruel experiment for our class. The basic idea was that either you or your partner swabbed your face with a q-tip and then ran it across a prepared petri dish. The “fun” portion of this experiment was getting to watch the bacteria from your face grow and thrive in the petri dish as the weeks passed – aka humiliating torture for a group of newly blemished, self-conscious preteens. You can imagine there was fierce competition to be the partner whose face was not swabbed. My partner declared in no uncertain terms that my face was to be providing the bacteria. Seeing as how she was a foot taller than me it seemed in my best interest to agree. At the time I was twelve and had yet to experience the dubious joys of puberty. Our petri dish remained stubbornly bacteria-free much to the envy of my classmates and my smug pride. Well – karma got me back for that one. BIG time. Two years later I hit puberty head-on and have spent the last eight years learning how to deal with skin that is, joyfully, both extremely oily and acne-prone. While I’m far from a skin-care expert, I’ve managed to pick up some tips and tricks along the way, things I wish I’d know back in high school and I thought I’d share them for anyone with similar skin issues. Here we go!

  • Use a proper cleanser. No makeup wipes for you my friend, not unless they’re merely to remove makeup before heading in with a good cleanser. Taking the time to properly cleanse your face twice a day (morning & night) is huge step towards managing problem skin. That being said, don’t cleanse your face more than twice a day as you run the risk of drying out your skin and throwing your skin’s acid balance off-kilter, which will make your skin even MORE prone to spots – bad news bears. Avoid foaming cleansers for the same reason. I know it’s lovely to have a tangible indication that your cleanser is doing something to your face but these are drying to the skin and should be avoided. You should also be careful when it comes to exfoliating cleansers. I used one every day in high school, I was convinced it was the only thing that would really clean my oily face. Bad move, me. Over-exfoliating not only dries the skin, it also leaves your face more vulnerable to UVA/UVB rays and air pollutants – it removes the tougher, outer layer of skin cells, exposing newer, more delicate skin. You should also avoid exfoliating areas of the face that are currently experiencing a breakout. You’ll spread the bacteria and prolong the breakout – no thank you. I’d advise exfoliating a maximum of three times a week (Clarisonic included!).
  • Keep bacteria as far from your face as possible. This includes measures such as: avoiding touching your face throughout the day, keeping hair off the face, changing your pillowcase every few days, using a fresh cloth each night to remove cleanser/masks, and washing your makeup brushes every week or after a breakout.
  • Remove oil throughout the day. Perhaps the single most useful product for people with oily skin is the blotting sheet. These remove excess oil from the face without disturbing your makeup and leave your skin feeling cleaner and more matte. I use these constantly throughout the day – I have a pack in every bag I own! If, like me, your face produces enough oil that you could potentially be considered a national resource, then you may also consider a mattifying powder. My all time favorite is the Neutrogena Translucent Oil Control Powder. It absorbs any lingering oil without looking cakey. That being said, don’t overuse powder as a means of banishing shine. Layering it up will give you a cakey look and most translucent powders do have a tiny hint of color that will manifest with excessive use. Also, while these powders will neutralize shine, they’re not actually removing the oil. It’s still sitting there on your face and mixing it up with a ton of powder can actually increase the likelihood of breakouts. Blotting sheets all the way – my favorite is the CVS brand – no need to splurge for these babies.
  • There’s a difference between high coverage and high quantity. When you have a particularly stubborn breakout that is fighting all attempts at being camouflaged, resist the urge to layer tons of concealer on – if a couple layers isn’t doing the trick then neither will fifteen. Go out and find yourself a full-coverage concealer that’s highly pigmented and will cover spots and acne scarring without needing a ton of product (something like Makeup Forever Full Cover Concealer or MAC Studio Finish). Don’t use these as your overall concealers, however, just where you need them to keep your face looking natural.
  • Keeping the makeup on your face. A huge challenge for people with oily skin is keeping your makeup on and in place. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to ensure you’re not rocking the dead panda look by the end of the day.
    • Primers – a good, oil-free primer will smooth your face, prep your skin for makeup, and act like a glue to hold it in place (Smashbox make a good oil-free one and Benefit’s “Stay Flawless” primer  helps mitigate oil throughout the day). If you have oily eyelids too then invest in an eye primer (my favorite is Nars Pro Prime but Urban Decay and Too Faced both make nice ones).
    • Setting spray – these are brilliant for those of you who aren’t so keen on using a primer or powder. These are sprays that seal your makeup and prolong the life of your look. You’re supposed to use these after all your makeup is in place but you can also use them before applying your makeup to act as a primer. I actually use this three times while doing my makeup – before my primer, after my cream products, and finally after my powder products. Urban Decay has teamed up with Skindinavia to carry a whole line of these. “De-Slick” is their setting spray for oily skin and it rocks – smells amazing too!
    • Setting powder – this should be the last step of your makeup application. You apply this with either a pouf or a powder brush and push the powder gently over top of your makeup – if you brush it on like bronzer you run the risk of disturbing your carefully applied makeup! I also take a little on an eyeshadow brush and run it under my eyes to keep my concealer from creasing. There are tons of these powders available but my personal favorite is the cult fave Laura Mercier Setting Powder in Translucent. It’s really finely milled so it works right into your makeup and sets it without looking powdery or imparting any additional coverage. You could also use a mattifying powder like Soap & Glory’s One Heck of a Blot or Rimmel London’s Stay Matte Pressed Powder for additional shine-fighting goodness. Finally, you can use a pigmented powder like MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation if you’re looking for that additional boost of coverage for an extra flawless look.
    • Blotting sheets – I’ve already expressed my deep love for these but using them after you apply your makeup absorbs any oils inherent in the products themselves which helps with longevity!
  • Don’t be afraid of moisture! You don’t need to limit your skincare to products that are specifically formulated for acne prone skin. While it makes sense to tailor your makeup and skin care to your skin type, don’t forget that your skin is more than its problem areas! When you’re constantly bathing your face in serums, face washes, lotions, and spot treatments that contain ingredients like salicylic acid, you run the risk of stripping your skin of its moisture.  I can personally attest to the fact that it’s possible to have skin that is both oily and dehydrated. The kicker is that dehydrated skin will often produce even more oil in an attempt to rectify the situation – Lord have mercy. While increasing your daily water intake is a good way to combat this issue, you also need to work from the outside in. Using a night cream (a bedtime moisturizer that’s more intense than your average day cream) is a great way to sooth dehydrated skin and balance out harsher acne products. There are plenty of great ones that are oil free such as Olay Regenerist Deep Hydration Regenerating Cream – it’s super moisturizing, smells amazing, and is completely oil free! I’d also recommend steering clear of any concealers/foundations that are targeted at acne sufferers. Not only do these dry out your skin with continuous exposure to acne-fighting ingredients, but in my experience, they’re also inferior when it comes to coverage and finish.
  • See the good! Having extremely oily, acne-prone skin can be incredibly demoralizing at times and a particularly bad breakout can drain your confidence with one look in the mirror. That being said, no breakout (or puberty) lasts forever and if your shiny face is your biggest woe, you’re probably doing all right. But as a final morale boost, here are a couple benefits to having oily skin! 1) It’s suggested that those with oily skin are less inclined to develop fine lines as they age. 2) They also have a built-in radiance that some women spend a fortune trying to imitate! A friend’s mother once asked me how I always achieved such a glowy look to my skin – it’s all about perspective!

If you made it to the end of this marathon post I hope it means you found it somewhat useful! If you have any other tips or tricks I’ve left out, please leave a comment and let me know!

Image credit: DailyGlow.com