Head to Toe: My Fave Exfoliators

Head to Toe: My Fave Exfoliators

How long is your daily body care routine? Does it change on the weekend when you (presumably) have more time? My body care routine is about 30 minutes on weekdays. On weekends? All bets are off. I get to luxuriate and it’s fantastic. Self-care is important and it can look like anything to anyone. For me, weekends are for the additional at-home spa moment. Whether it’s a calming shower or bath, followed by a rich moisturizer before I go back to bed, or it’s a DIY manicure and/or pedicure, it’s all important and it all feels absolutely wonderful. Whatever your energy level allows, do it.

One of my most loved things to do is to exfoliate head to toe while I’m in the shower, when I step out I feel like a new, pampered person. Keep reading for the products that I use, and love:

Face: 

Acure Organics Brightening Facial Scrub, $3.99 for 1 Fl. Oz, Target 

This is one of my newest facial scrubs, I think I received the trial size (1 fl. oz) as part of a Target Beauty Box. No matter how it came to me, I’m just glad it did. This is a nice scrub for the face, but it requires a light hand, as it can be too abrasive if you scrub your face with too much pressure. Just a light, circling motion will do you just fine. And yes, your face instantly looks a little brighter after rinsing off.

Modern Friction Nature’s Gentle Dermabrasion, $21-40, Origins 

Not one of my most beloved scrubs and I think it could be more gentle, especially since the word is included in its title and packaging, but it’s effective. This is your pick if you are more mindful of ingredients, environmental impact, and the like.

Derma-E Anti-Wrinke Vitamin A Glycolic Scrub, $13.99, Ulta  

I don’t use this scrub often, but I do like it when I use it and I have a feeling that with its specific targeting towards wrinkles, I’ll be using it more and more (hello, year 29). Give this a go, if you’re starting to see wrinkles in places on your face that you’re not okay with (for me, I’m okay with laugh lines, forehead wrinkles though? No, thanks)

Hands:

Just A Minute 60-Second Manicure Scrub, $12, Bath and Body Works 

This citrus fragranced, sugar scrub isn’t necessary, but it’s a nice treat to have around. Your hands take a beating daily from all of the touching, shaking, washing, typing, etc. Keep the skin on your hands looking young, and bright by using this about once a week, and following it with a rich, creamy lotion or oil.

Body:

Soap & Glory Flake Away Body Polish, $13.99, Target  

I had been hearing about this sugar exfoliator for months before I decided to finally give it a try. That was almost a year ago, and I have literally used every ounce of this gentle, moisturizing product since first trying it. It took a little getting used to, as my skin is typically dry and itchy and so I was unsure of how often I should use this, but once I got the hang of it and starting using it once weekly, my skin began to rebel less and become less dry and itchy, and it holds moisture much longer. If you have dry, sensitive, itchy or otherwise timid skin, sugar exfoliators are going to be your go-to, leave the salt scrubs alone. Your skin will thank you.  Also, I have to mention this scrub’s scent, which is the brand’s Original Pink fragrance and includes bergamot, mandarin, rose, peach, strawberry, jasmine, and a few other yummy notes. You’ll be hooked immediately.

Shea Exfoliating Sugar Body Scrub, $7-$24.00, The Body Shop 

If you’re like me and sometimes want something more less fragrant (this smells faintly like the Shea nut it is derived from), and more down to earth, then this is the sugar scrub for you. Also, for the sensitive or irritate skin types, this scrub gets the job down with no fuss. It’s also moisturizing, although less than the Soap & Glory polish, so you’ll have to be ready to hop out of the shower, apply another moisturizer and lock it in before your skin has a chance to fully dry. If you’re looking for a way to try out sugar exfoliators, this is a good introduction as you can purchase a small size (1.7 fl.oz) for only $7. Can’t beat that!

Feet: 

Earth Therapeutics Refreshing Foot Scrub, $4.96, Walmart 

I use this in the shower, even though the directions explicitly tell you to use this on dry feet. The shower is easier for me. This is great for use in between professional pedicures to keep your feet from becoming too dry, cracked and crusty–not cute in warm weather, sandal season. This scrub is quick and easy. Note: if you use this on dry feet, as directed, then you may experience some tingling as it contains peppermint and tea tree oil. That’s normal, but of course, if you feel uncomfortable in any way, rinse your feet, and find something more soothing for your dogs.

Those are my exfoliator picks, I hope you enjoyed reading about them and that you’ll give one, two or a few, a chance. How often do you give your body a fresh skin start? Let me know by leaving a comment.

Talk soon, xo-Layla
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K-Beauty: My Fave Sheet Masks

K-Beauty: My Fave Sheet Masks

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Photo: Chrissy Tiegen

These days, I’ll about self care and doing what you can to make yourself feel that you’re at your best. For me, that involves a lot of skin care and at home spa-like treatments. As much as I love makeup, I am trying to make the state of my skin a constant priority because its function is critical. Not to mention that your makeup looks best when it’s applied to healthy skin.

 

Cue my obsession with all things K-Beauty. Korean beauty is becoming more and more popular and for good reason: Korean women (and men!) are seriously diligent about skincare. We should all aspire to be dedicated to a care routine with the same fervor. After all, it produces RESULTS. The before and afters are undeniable. Most K-Beauty routines involve approximately 8 steps and can include as many as 12 or 13. Fear not: you don’t need to have these many steps to reap the benefits of the Korean beauty philosophy and method(s). Incorporating a step here or there will have your skin looking better than it ever has.

One of the easiest steps to incorporate is sheet-masking. These cloth masks (they sometimes come in other materials as well) are soaked with serums and moisturizers in a convenient and efficient design to optimize the benefits of the treatment for your skin. You simply unfold the mask, apply to your face avoiding your eyes and let it sit for anywhere from 15-30 minutes (check and follow directions listed on the package). For those minutes that you’re letting the mask sit and work its magic, I like to do absolutely nothing–it’s wonderful! Forced relaxation can be such a benefit and sheet masking trains you to just let yourself be and take rest. Whatever you need to do will still be there when your masking time is finished. And when your time is up, simply remove the mask and throw away. It’s just that easy!

I do a sheet mask at least every other day. Some weeks, I do one daily–I personally love those weeks. I find myself less stressed and with more clarity throughout the week. Since I’ve tried so many, I feel comfortable enough saying I have preferences that I think once you try as well, you’ll love:

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Photo: San Francisco Racked 

Tony Moly is my accessible and affordable sheet mask fix! I get them at my local Urban Outfitters for about $3 each. Sometimes, they’ll have a 4/$10 sale–great for grabbing a few extra or trying one for a different purpose.

  • Red Wine (Pore Care): this mask lives up to its name. I’m prone to large, visible pores so I tried this mask hoping it would reduce their appearance. That it did. Results don’t last very long, so it could be great for special occasions in the beginning.  I’m going to keep using them to determine if results are longer lasting with continued use.
  • Avocado (Nutrition): my face felt “fed” after using this mask for sure. I tried this before bed once and woke up with visibly brighter, plumper skin where scaly spots had started to appear. (Damn flaking face!)
  • Aloe (Moisturizing): I think this should actually also say soothing as I go straight for this one when I feel my skin is irritated or just generally behaving badly. The Tea Tree formula is actually labeled ‘Soothing’ and I find that odd as tea tree is strong and usually irritates many–mostly because it can be drying. Bottom line: this one is a sheet mask staple.

I haven’t tried them all yet, but I do have the Seaweed (Skin Purifying) and Rice (Clear Skin) on deck and will try at least one of them this weekend and report back.

What about you? Got any fave masks? Love to hear about your holy grail masks, especially your sheet mask picks, so comment below!

Good chat. Until next time…xo

 

#TheGreat28: Birthday Beauty

#TheGreat28: Birthday Beauty

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Photo: SheKnows

I CANNOT believe it’s been a year since I’ve posted. An entire year. Time didn’t feel like it was moving that quickly and yet, it felt it was going by way too fast. Weird how that works.

Last time we had a chat, I was still 26 going on 27. Birthdays make me feel a little reflective, but only slightly. 27 was pretty mild in terms of introspection. This year, I’m a few days into my 28th year of life and it hit. HARD. It’s not jarring, but it definitely feels different in the sort of way that’s frustrating and annoying. The cure: what else? Beauty :)

I had a great birthday. Everything I imagined and then some. I rocked one of my favorite red matte lip colours (Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl ), an easy-going and figure forgiving royal blue dress, and a great small bag. Birthday beauty is one of my favourite occasions and a red lip colour always perks me up.

It also gets me thinking about what my beauty looks for the upcoming year might be like, which always leads me to seek out inspiration (hey Pinterest!). Keeping your eyes open to images and other visuals around you is so great for being introduced to new ideas, trends and looks that you might like to try. If you’re not finding yourself stuck in a style or beauty rut, or are just looking to add more to your repertoire, I’d encourage you to be deliberate about finding inspiration and actually following through on any of the new ideas you’re drawn to. It can do wonders for your mood, self-esteem and general outlook. With things the way they are lately, we all could use a boost in any of those areas.

So…28 is here. I’m embracing it and looking forward to what’s in store, so much so that I made myself a little list and can’t wait to celebrate when I check something off. Here goes:

  • Take better care of my skin…including incorporating more preventative products
  • Drink plenty more water (for skin and overall improved health)
  • Go glam more often…why wait for a “special occasion”?
  • Experiment with more eye looks…I love a bold lip, but it’s time I give my eyes some more love, they deserve it ;)
  • Take more selfies!!…because why the hell not?
  • Go with the flow…experiment and have fun, staying confident the whole way–at the end of the day, it can all be undone with the swipe of a micellar water soaked cotton ball

What about you beauties? Any birthday beauty faves or “resolutions”? I wanna hear all about them! Write me in the comments.

P.S. I missed you guys. Happy we could catch up. xo.

Layla 

First Impression: Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 35

First Impression: Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 35

Warm weather is finally here! *shimmy, shimmy*

The Northeast is notorious for less than enviable fall/winter weather, but this year my tolerance must’ve completely forgotten to show up because I was OVER. IT. before winter even really set in, got comfortable and decided to stay a while. Now don’t get me wrong, cold weather is good for a few things when it comes to beauty. For us oily or combination girls: it means we’re matte all day without too much maintenance. Spring and summer means we’ve got to have our blotting game on fleek. Which brings me to the reason we’re all here: my latest rant/review.

If you’re new here then I must tell you: I’m a HUGE fan of Birchbox. Love my monthly box, the Birchbox shop and I’m dying to visit their retail location in Soho. Obviously, this means that I have Birchbox points. Lots of them. (I’m almost ACE status, whoo!) I’ve been hoarding my points for a few months, just waiting for the right product to come along and make me want to cash it all in. Last week, I saw it: Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 35. 

Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 35 in Dark, $39 Photo courtesy: Smashbox
Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 35 in Dark, $39, 1 fl. oz
Photo courtesy: Smashbox

First things first: when you read the box you’ll notice that the product description says this BB cream is a “5-in-1 miracle worker proven to PRIME, PERFECT, PROTECT, HYDRATE and CONTROL OIL.” STOP HERE: this is the point where I audibly squealed with delight. Okay, we can keep going now.

So…how do I feel about this product? I’m….still on the fence :/

I’ve only used it this one day (today), so I will give it more time for sure. I applied this BB Cream (with my Real Techniques Expert Face Brush, that I LOVE!) at around 7 a.m. and removed it via makeup remover wipe at about 7 p.m. I did have to use blotting powder and films throughout the day, but not for my whole T-zone; just my nose. Otherwise, it did a decent enough job of controlling my oil.

Here’s what I like: it has sun protection (the full coverage, truly safe variety aka broad spectrum), instead of a 9-12 month expiration date, this product could last 24 months (it’d probably be gone by then honestly), and the coverage is sheer/light which is just enough to even your tone and look polished while still allowing your skin to shine through and breathe.

What I’m kind of *meh* about: the sun protection is actually a combination of 4 sunscreens and one of them is oxybenzone which has been known to be a skin irritant for some so tread very carefully if you have sensitive skin or have experienced issues with your skin and sun protection in the past. Lastly, the darkest shade (which is what I purchased) is good enough for my skin tone which is comparable to a MAC NC/NW45 or 47 without needing to do too much blending.

I can’t recommend trying this or not just yet. But if you simply can’t wait to get your hands on this and see what’s what, then I’d say, snap up a travel size (0.25 oz). Unfortunately, the travel size only comes in 2 shades: light and light/medium. (Really, Smashbox? Come. On.)  But if these are the shades you need, you can find this size on Amazon and directly from the Smashbox website.

Ciao Bella! (Kiko Milano Haul)

Ciao Bella! (Kiko Milano Haul)

Hello glossies!

Sorry I missed posting yesterday, it wasn’t a very good health day. But it’s all good: I’m back and now we can gab about a few new treats I picked up at my local Kiko Milano Cosmetics on Wednesday evening.

For those of you who haven’t heard of, or don’t know much about Kiko Milano, let me help bring you up to speed. Kiko Milano originates from Italy and has just recently made it’s way to our side of the globe. If you visit Kiko Milano’s website (www.kikocosmetics.us) you’ll see that this brand describes itself as a destination for “professional make up and cutting edge skin care treatments. The brand’s products don’t contain any paragons and are formulated to be hypoallergenic. Bonus: the  brand examines products for any allergic reactions, etc. for 30 days, instead of the standard 2 days required by U.S. law. I LOVE that. Also personally, I’d also like to add that this brand is hip, trendy, fun, vibrant and all around energetic.

My neighborhood store is a bit small (I’m not sure if all locations are on the small side or not) but there are plenty of products to play with and choose from. The store’s design and layout are very well organized and colorful, yet sleek. My only grievance-and it’s a small one-is that sometimes I go in and the music is a bit loud; it can be hard to talk to the knowledgeable and friendly salespeople. See below for a pic of what a Kiko Milano location may look like.

Photo Credit: timeout.com
Photo Credit: timeout.com

Okay, enough background-let’s get into the goods. Here’s what I picked up at Kiko Milano with a few quick thoughts to accompany each product picture. Side note: I went in because I’m still on the hunt for my perfect red lip…I know, I should be attending meetings. WOMP. Anyhoo…

First up is the Illuminating Mask. 

Kiko Milano Illuminating Mask (Brightening & Energizing), purchased for $4
Kiko Milano Illuminating Mask (Brightening & Energizing), purchased for $4 Photo Credit: pinterest.com

This mask comes packaged in a single use sheet form and promises to “give radiance and energy to the face.” It also claims to help “fight dull complexions and give skin a healthy, smooth look.” I haven’t tried this yet, but I’m obsessed with sheet masks so I can’t wait to get into this. I hope I’m not disappointed.

I also picked up the Intensive Hand Balm which I think is especially great for transitioning weather, especially of the sort we’ve been having around these New England parts these days. I really like this balm, it’s light and feels so incredibly silky but absorbs and moisturizes almost instantly and even stays on through a hand washing or two before you feel that you really need to reapply. The only thing I’d say about this balm as a warning is that it is scented. The scent isn’t unpleasant necessarily but it’s not easily identifiable. It’s strong upon initial application but wears down quickly and nicely.

Kiko Milano Intensive Hand Balm, purchased for  $9  Photo credit: pinterest.com
Kiko Milano Intensive Hand Balm, purchased for $9
Photo credit: pinterest.com

I want to stop here to mention that Kiko has great sales. They’re almost always placed in the middle of the store on a table. There are a few products in each category (lips, eye, skin) that you can browse and pick up a treat at a sweet price. Obviously, I had to take advantage of Kiko’s latest sale: The Shine Lust Lip Tint in #11Vintage Rose which usually retails for $12 but was on sale for….$1.96!!!! YES. You read that correctly. Shade #11 is a really nice sheer, gloss that gives you a natural, pretty flush of lip color.

I know what you’re thinking: “you went in for a red lip and so far all you got was skin stuff and a gloss?!” Well, here it is folks, the moment you’ve been waiting for (but maybe not really): THE RED LIP.

I purchased The Precision Lip Pencil in #307, Fire Red for $6. The pencil itself is a classic red with blue undertones (in my opinion of course). It’s not a chubby pencil so filling in your lips takes a little patience but it’s worth it.

Kiko Milano Precision Lip Color in 307, Fire Red, $4  Photo credit: Kiko Milano UK
Kiko Milano Precision Lip Color in 307, Fire Red, $4
Photo credit: Kiko Milano UK

I could wear the pencil alone, or pair it with the Velvet Mat Lipstick in 608, Apple Red. This is one of the deeper reds in the Velvet Mat lipstick collection. Kiko Milano engineered a brilliant design for the packaging of this lipstick. You simply push down from the top of the tube and the bottom half containing the lipstick slowly pops down and out. GENIUS. Don’t have to worry about your lipstick mistakenly popping open in your purse, work or gym bag.

kiko milano lipstick packaging
Kiko Milano’s GENIUS packaging
Kiko Milano Velvet Mat Lipstick, purchased for $9  Photo credit: Kiko Milano UK
Kiko Milano Velvet Mat Lipstick, purchased for $9
Photo credit: Kiko Milano UK

That’s it for my Kiko Milano haul. Apologies for the long post but I didn’t want to leave anything out.

Have you ever been to Kiko Milano? If so, what are your favorite products? I’d love to hear, leave me a note in the comments below.

Chat soon.

xo, Layla

Poll: How Often Do You Go Sans Product?

Poll: How Often Do You Go Sans Product?

Hey guys,

No long post today. Just me…in your business. <ha ha>

Somedays, when I know I won’t be leaving the house at all, I take a nice soothing shower or even better a long bath and then I get out of the tub and don’t put any products on until the sun goes down. No deodorant, moisturizer of any kind, NOTHING. I like to just let my skin take a full on, long depth breath. I have no idea if it’s beneficial or not, but I know that I feel that I am doing something nice for skin and by extension, my body.  When the sun goes down, I take another shower and then moisturize before slumber. I can’t do it for a full 24 hours, at some point I just don’t feel clean and it gets to me. *shrugs* I’m a little quirky like that. What can I say?

Well, actually I can say this: the gravity of what the skin does for us all is just beginning to hit me in its totality. And I try everyday to take better care of my skin. I’m drinking more water and other (mostly) healthy fluids, I’ve been exfoliating head to toe more regularly, etc.

Our skin protects us everyday millisecond of the day. It’s imperative that we return the favor. And if like me, you live with a chronic illness and some of its tell-tale signs are via your skin, you must be extra kind. Take my word for it. When I am super baby gentle and nice to my skin, it rewards me by giving me warning signs of impending health crisis if I pay attention closely.

Wait, I promised this wouldn’t be a long post. So…now it’s your turn. Do you ever go sans product for any amount of time? Take my poll and comment below.

Chat soon.

xo,Layla

Let Your Skin Troubles Evaporate

Let Your Skin Troubles Evaporate

FacialSteam

I’m so happy to be writing again after almost a month. I’m always inspired but lately haven’t been able to find the time or scrounge up the energy with my added school schedule.  Speaking of…the end of Spring term is exactly one week and one day away and I am feeling all of the hard work and long nights that it took to make it through.

Last week, I decided to pay more attention to de-stressing and detoxing my body and my skin so when I had finally found my Summer term textbook on Amazon, I decided to also see if there was something I could get to add to my arsenal of skin tools. Just like magic, I took a few clicks and voila! I had happened onto the Conair Facial Sauna System. And for all of $21.80, I was in business!!

Just an hour ago I embarked on my first facial sauna. It was certainly easy enough to do. Before I used the system, I cleansed my face with Clinique’s Liquid Facial Soap Mild for Dry/Combination skin. This is an old standby, tried and true product for me. Definitely in my Holy Grail ranks. Next, I moved on to the steam system.

Gentle, yet effective cleansing
Gentle, yet effective cleansing

The Conair system itself was very easy to use once I had read the clear instructions. I didn’t use any of the attachments that come with the system as I just wanted to keep it extremely simple for my first time.  I read a couple of articles and how-to posts on using the system as part of a broader at home facial process. Some tips I used, others I discarded based on the sensitivity of my skin. For instance, most articles suggest steaming for a minimum of five minutes. My skin reacts and behaves badly with out prodding so I decided to try the lowest timer setting, which was three minutes. The process of steaming itself was so relaxing, I almost fell asleep. I was very surprised at how short of a time it took to bring me into a peaceful lull. So here is my biggest and most important tip: MAKE A CONCENTRATED EFFORT TO STAY AWAKE during your steam (for safety purposes of course).  Conair has designed the system with a few safety nets already (automatic on/off, timer which loudly signals the end of your session) but help the system out a bit and just do your best to stay awake, okay? K.

Steam in, Gunk out
Steam in, Gunk out

After the steaming, I rinsed my face with cold water as instructed and moved on to the next step in my facial: Clinique’s 7 Day Scrub Cream. I love this cream. It does a great job of exfoliating but is gentle as it is a creamier formula than most scrubs and grains. In fact, when it’s dispensing from its bottle, you think it’s a cream cleanser until you begin to rub it into your face and even then it’s hard to detect the actual exfoliating agent(s).

Clinique 7 Day Scrub Cream Rinse Off Formula

After I rinsed my face of the exfoliating cream, I moved on to highlight of my facial: the brightening mask. The one other time I used a mask of this nature, it was the Garnier Dark Spot Treatment Sheet Mask. I liked it, it was effective and left my skin visibly brighter after only one use. However, since then, I haven’t been able to find it available for single use purchase. When it first launched that was the only option, now it seems to only be sold in a multi pack for around $17.99 at my local Walgreens. I haven’t seen it at Rite Aid. So, in the interest of finding a more affordable alternative, I decided to try the Walgreen’s version: Studio 35 Beauty Brightening Mask. I’m not blown away. It was…decent. I found it to be ill-fitting even though the packaging claims it can be torn for adjustment. I found that since it was so saturated with product (which is a great thing!) it was hard to get a good enough grip to tear it for sizing. And once it dried out enough to tear it, it was time to take it off. I also noticed that upon its removal, my skin was the same dull tone it was prior to use. It’s safe to say, I probably will not be using this again.

*shrugs*
*shrugs*

I finished my facial with the following products (in the order of use):

Clinique Clarifying Lotion 3 for Combination Oily Skin
Clinique Clarifying Lotion 3 for Combination Oily Skin
Clinique Acne Solutions Spot Healing Gel
Clinique Acne Solutions Spot Healing Gel
Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture for Sensitive Skin
Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture for Sensitive Skin
Clinique All About Eyes Serum De-Puffing Eye Massage Roll On
Clinique All About Eyes Serum De-Puffing Eye Massage Roll On

My skin feels squeaky clean and very soft. With continuous use, I’m sure I’ll be to my goal of even, healthy, glowing skin in no time :)