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.

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.

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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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Face Off: Lush Lip Scrub vs. Bliss Fabulips

lush sugar lip scrub, Bliss fabulips lip scrub, skin care, beauty, chapped lips, winter

Long gone are the humid days of summer and my lips seem particularly resentful of the change in season, remaining stubbornly chapped despite endless application of lip balm. When things are at their dehydrated worst and Burt’s Bees, EOS, and Carmex have all failed to make an impact, I reach for a lip scrub. I think of scrubs as kind of a reset for your lips: they buff away the accumulated dead skin, leaving you with fresh, baby soft lips. At least until you head back out into the Arctic Tundra that is this endless winter. Le sigh. 

When I say lip scrubs, you probably think LUSH. Their flavored sugar lip scrubs have cornered the market and everyone seems obsessed with the fact you can exfoliate your lips and then simply lick off the remaining sugar. None of their standard flavors (Bubblegum, Popcorn, Mint Julip) have ever appealed to me and the idea of licking up freshly buffed dead skin always seemed sort of…gross. So, in a fit of non-conformity, I picked up Bliss’ Fabulips sugar lip scrub instead and left LUSH to the masses.

Well, I did for a few months.

When I discovered that LUSH had come out with a holiday edition Santa Lip Scrub that was…wait for it….cola flavored, I jumped right on the bandwagon. Not only was I finally getting a chance to try the famous scrub, but it was in one of my favorite flavors and was christmas themed? JUST TAKE MY MONEY. I justified the purchase by deciding it would be interesting to compare it to the scrub I already owned, and this post is the result.

I was surprised at how different the products actually were. Fabulips is almost waxy in consistency, while Santa’s Scrub is far drier, with nothing really bonding the sugar together. As a result, you need less of the LUSH scrub to get good exfoliation but it tends to fall everywhere and feels much harsher on the lips.  The Santa scrub also contains enough red dye to double as a lip stain, mid-use I bore a rather unfortunate resemblance to Heath Ledger’s Joker. I will admit that the scrub did taste delicious, like cherry cola, and I may have even sneaked a lick. A major point in Lush’s favor is that the sugar mostly dissolved as I exfoliated, leaving me with limited clean up. With Fabulips, the waxy consistency takes more effort to clean off the mouth and, in turn, your fingers.

Ingredients-wise, Santa wins when it comes to simplicity, boasting a brief list of all-natural and easily pronounceable items. On the downside, only one ingredient (jojoba oil) seemed actually targeted at moisturizing. Fabulips, though it does contain several scarily scientific sounding ingredients, also includes jojoba oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, and vitamins e, c, and a. No contest on the moisture front.

A con for Fabulips is the price, this little number comes in at $18 for .5 oz, whereas Lush Lip Scrubs are only $9.95 for .9 oz. That being said, I’ve had both scrubs for months now and have barely made a dent in either. Overall, I’d have to say Bliss Fabulips is my favorite. The scrub is smoother, easier to apply, and decidedly more nourishing. If, however, you’re looking for a no hassle (and delicious) clean up process, then Lush might be the way to go. Either way, a lip scrub is an absolute essential for winter and life in general.

In related news, I’m off to listen to some TLC..

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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!