Stop Treating Soap Like a Four-Letter Word

For the better part of the two decades I have been involved in the beauty industry, it seems as though people hear the word “soap”, especially in regards to bar soap, and freak out that it will somehow make their skin a dried-out, irritated, residue-covered mess. That is rather unfortunate as some of the most iconic skincare and revered hygiene products in the world, and over history, are bar soaps. In addition, bar soap is MUCH more economical and sustainable to produce, ship, package, and use than liquid soaps or body wash. If we take brief walk down memory lane of one of the world’s oldest beauty products to understand a bit more about how this happened, it can help explain why bar soap may be one of the easiest steps you and your family can take into making a more sustainable, and effective, choice for personal care.

Forms of soap has been made for thousands of years, stretching all the way back to ancient Egypt and China, and was used for both household and personal cleaning. Soap is very simple to make (only needing a few ingredients), but quickly became a fine art that was recognized worldwide by the 15th century. Marseille, France, in the Provence region, is still renowned to this day for their fine soap making, and it is often a status symbol in luxury hotels and spas. In America, Proctor & Gamble® started manufacturing Ivory Soap in the late 1800’s, with the slogan “It Floats”, as this feature made it popular for the reason that many people still bathed in outdoor rivers, ponds and tubs – if the soap floated, you could easily find it as it didn’t sink to the bottom. Throughout the centuries of human civilization, access to soap and clean water was often the first line of defense to disease, in addition to safer food and drinking water sources. By the late 1800’s, the first liquid soaps were invented, which allowed for easier dish washing, household cleaning, and laundering of clothing. Once plastic was introduced in the mid-1900’s, the concept using liquid soaps suddenly became much easier to sell to the newly minted “consumerism” driven markets of post-war economies.

But why has the last 20 years of the skincare business been so against bar soap, and pushed liquid cleansers and body wash instead? Well, creamy or liquid cleansers are not new. For centuries, mixtures of olive oil, natural waxes, honey, and other essential oils were combined to make cold creams or cleansing balms that gently cared for drier skins, and also act as a great pre-cleanse to remove makeup. But they were often packaged in glass, which added weight for shipping and could be slippery or hazardous to handle in wet bathroom conditions. In the post-World War II industrial boom, plastic soon dominated the packaging industry due to its cheap cost and flexibility to customize, which also allowed for more creativity (ie. branding) to be included. That translated into various body washes and face cleansers for both kids and adults, each specifically geared towards gender, favorite scent, or result / skin type (dry skin, oily skin, sensitive, with scrub beads, with added lotion, etc). It also became convenient, as a squirt would lather up really fast, and could be used as bubble bath too. With this explosion of possibilities for sales, manufacturers and retailers flooded the market over the years with options. Good ol’ trusty bar soap was suddenly dwarfed by this new avalanche of liquid options. Particularly in America, our obsessions with “newness” overrode the previous brand loyalty of more traditional products. Avon ladies began showing up at their neighbor’s doors, persuading their friends that skincare regimens (planned very specifically with color schemes, scents, and flowery names) were the thing to try – especially concerned with keeping that youthful appearance of the emerging Hollywood glamour standards. But the amount of plastic packaging waste started piling up, in addition with more garbage from elaborate gift set boxes and retail displays – marketing all of the benefits, and not meant to last past the season.

In addition, as newly developed anti-bacterial agents, such as triclosan, or deodorants were added to bar soaps (and liquid soaps too), people started to experience their drying side-effects when used daily. Dial soap was a staple for many workplace-use needs, such as in hospitals, but became a household name with the over-marketed protective fear against germs. With it came rashes and irritated skin when over-used, which most dermatologists recommended avoiding and treating with less harsh cleansers to remove everyday dirt. Lever 2000 bar soap contained a high dose of deodorants, which could cause allergic reactions on sensitive skin. While it may have been great for a specific use (such as post-workout or athlete’s locker room use), it was pretty harsh for an everyday beauty product. As a kid growing up in the 1980’s, I remember hearing the TV ads shout about the horrors of “soap scum” on glass shower walls, hard water concerns for skin softness (where’s the Culligan Man?) and oh my gosh, let Calgon take you “away” in your bubble bath to float into a relaxed pink oblivion. But in reality, no one was talking about the piles of bottles, tubes, pumps, and caps that were being tossed into garbage cans as a by-product of liquid soap. In 2019, National Geographic featured an article about the issues surrounding the “liquification” of beauty products over the years, revealing that body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and face cleanser formulas contain an average of 90-95% water. When purchasing these products, we are basically paying mostly for the water, fancy packaging to contain it, and fuel / vehicle expenses of shipping liquid (which is quite heavy) from manufacturer to retailer. And it all eventually goes down the drain, in addition to depleting fresh water resources…(insert face palm here). Effective skincare is about the maintained routine of cleanse, tone, treat, and moisturize. But it does not have to be in all-liquid forms to deliver the best results.

So where do you factor in with your own habits? Think about your daily routine, and how many bottles or tubes are sitting in your shower or at your sink. Bar soap can easily wash you head to toe, and the ones I feature below are gentle enough for face and body, plus everyone in the family can use them. Just like selecting any liquid or creamy cleanser, the same approach should be taken with choosing a bar soap – the results you want, as well as the skin type you have, are factors in your selection. One of the most iconic soaps in the world is the standard golden bar of Clinique™ “mild” face soap, originally created in the 1960’s as an idea from Estée Lauder’s daughter-in-law. Sold as a relatively inexpensive and refillable product (packaged in foil paper and cardboard), it has been the effective cornerstone of one of the most easy-to-use skincare regimens in the world. Fun fact – it also makes a great body soap, but it is not marketed that way. Most of the soaps I recommend below are fantastic to shave with too, by producing mounds of lather and reducing the need for yet another shaving product. Using bar soap daily can also be extremely economical overall, while reducing the amount of packaging waste your household tosses out.

These bar soaps below are some of the most easy to find and shop for. We’ll chat about homemade soaps too, but let’s focus on these four and their qualities to start. From the top left: Dr. Bronner’s All-One Hemp Baby Unscented Pure-Castile Bar Soap is one of the legendary naturally-based soaps in America since the late 1940’s. With a base of organic coconut, palm, olive, hemp, and jojoba oils, the formula mimics our skin’s natural oils to make it extremely mild yet purifying. Dr. Bronner was a real person, embracing the early conservation and Earth-conscientious practices of the 20th century, especially focused on fair trade, vegan and organic ingredients. To this day, the company strives for the highest standards in eco-conscious production, as well as sustainable paper-only packaging. For around $4 a bar, these long-lasting soaps are perfect for children, and adults with hyper-sensitive, combination skin that is prone to flare-ups of acne or irritation. To the right is the iconic Dove® Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar. A world-recognized beauty product, mass-produced by Unilever since the late 1950’s, this beauty bar is one of the most gentle and moisturizing cleansers, recommended by dermatologists. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database rates Dove’s Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar as a low 2 for overall toxicity, making it extremely safe for all ages, and is especially effective for super-dry, delicate, over-stressed or irritated skin. While many of us may not think of Unilever as an eco-conscious beauty company, they have committed to aggressive goals to use recycled plastic, reduce water consumption, and less wasteful production practices globally. I consider Dove the “non-soap” of soaps, and my favorite winter skincare staple. Committed to show real women in its marketing, the soap is extremely affordable (around $1 a bar), packaged in cardboard, and can be purchased relatively anywhere. From a sustainability standpoint, the safety and simplicity of the ingredients, the low waste packaging, economic accessibility, and the brand’s investment in youth programs make this a big player on the beauty stage, even though it does not adhere to natural or eco-conscious marketing messaging.

My favorite bar soaps for sustainable, sensitive skincare routines

A little less-known soap is the Pure Provence Certified Organic™ Triple Milled Unscented Soap (bottom), which is made in France of completely vegan and 86% organic ingredients. A hefty 5.3oz bar is long lasting, creamy, and made in the style of the famous Marseille soap making traditions. I usually buy this from Amazon in packs of 3 for $25, but an easy online search delivers other options. This formula contains Shea butter, and leaves skin squeaky-clean – it’s great for oily or acne-prone skin, or needing to remove grime and sweat after a workout. I love using this soap in our humid Wisconsin summers, as it balances yet completely cleans without any residue or irritation. Lastly on the left, the Cetaphil® Cleansing Bar is another inexpensive drugstore beauty staple that delivers results. Similar to the Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar, this is an extremely gentle soap that cares for all skin types yet cleans deeply, and is great for drier and aging skin. Another drugstore equivalent (not pictured) is the CeraVe® Hydrating Cleanser Bar, which is very similar to Cetaphil’s Gentle Cleansing Bar, but has the added anti-aging ingredients of ceramides and hyaluronic acid. Anyone using a stricter anti-aging skincare regimen would highly benefit from using the gentle cleansing bars of Cetaphil, Dove or CeraVe as skin can be stressed by aggressive exfoliation that involves AHA or BHA acids to smooth fine lines and wrinkles. The only criticism I have of Cetaphil, Dove, and CeraVe is the use of plastic wrapping to bulk-pack multiple bars – from a production standpoint, they could easily change to a cardboard outer box.

Homemade soaps are now more accessible than ever, being widely sold at farmers markets, natural food stores, boutiques, and online. Kits are easily found online or in craft stores, and can be a fun creative project to do with kids. I do support finding a local soap maker that you trust, if you want to pursue an even more sustainable approach to beauty. I just caution that you still assess the ingredients used, as many “natural” soaps often are heavily fragranced, and essential oils can cause reactions on sensitive skin. One of my favorite local grocery stores features an area soap maker, and they produce a fantastic unscented, olive-oil based bar soap that runs about $5 per bar. These soaps are packaged extremely minimally, often in a simple sleeve of paper. Think of these types of local homemade soaps as the same concept of farm-to-table food – the less distance a product has to travel, the better for the local economy and less pollution or waste. This is a main cornerstone of sustainable business practices, and allows for direct support of local talent.

Regardless, choosing any of the bar soaps above could replace at least two plastic bottles or tubes from your bathroom routine (face cleanser and body wash), as well as streamlines your regimen with a single multi-tasking product. These can also replace shaving creams and lotions, due to their high-lathering formulas. This saves money and waste, but still delivers results. When advising anyone on skincare regimens, especially those who have concerns of sensitivity or anti-aging, I often recommend using a gentle, moisturizing bar soap (inexpensive) and then investing in a treatment serum or moisturizer that sinks into skin and specifically treats concerns such as fine lines or uneven skin tone. Remember, any cleanser literally goes down the drain – you are simply needing to remove dirt, oil, dead skin, and makeup, which does not require a high investment. By using this balanced approach of low and high cost products, it allows for you to have more flexibility to invest in the beauty products that do more heavy lifting and absorb into the skin, such as serums, eye creams, and moisturizers – these will deliver the most impactful results. Since our skincare needs often change with the season, I keep multiple bars of each brand above on hand in my household to easily switch out as needed. One final tip: if you are dead set on keeping a liquid face cleanser (I know how hard it can be to let go of a beloved product), then use an alternating approach for AM / PM regimens. For example, I love Clinique’s All About Clean Rinse-Off Foaming Cleanser, and I’ll occasionally buy it. However, I’ll only use it at night, and in the morning I use bar soap head to toe. That way, it extends the life of my Clinique product, since I’m only using it once a day. In addition, the Clinique Cleanser is packaged in a tube, which is more sustainable packaging than a pump-style bottle. We’ll talk more about why this is important in future blogs!

By switching to bar soap, you can dramatically and easily reduce waste output from your household, yet uphold an effective skincare regimen. This can also be a cost-effective move, since bars can be purchased in bulk and used by the entire household, as well replacing multiple products. And if you’re wondering what to do about shampoo and conditioner, I’ve got plans for a dedicated post on that shortly!

© 2021 28daysbeauty

The long pause…

Hi friends! I realize it’s been over year since my last post, which focused on choosing safer sunscreens. You may have wondered what happened to cause the radio silence. No, I didn’t fall off the face of the earth, nor get bored with blogging or beauty. The truth is that I decided to back to college and pursue a master’s degree in Sustainable Management. Since late summer 2019, I have had little time for much else. But now, you may wonder, what the heck does sustainability have to do with beauty? Well, EVERYTHING. I typed this blog title of “The long pause…” not just as a nod to our current pandemic situation in which I’m writing, but also because I researched this past Fall just how wasteful and problematic the beauty industry has in the contribution to packaging and production waste. As the pandemic put a pause on our previous speed of life, many of us have also taken a moment to reevaluate our daily routines. Taking care of ourselves, including the little luxuries a product can provide as a boost to our morale, is very important to maintain our overall health. Before you think that this post may head off-track into a hotly debated political topics or bad news that makes you cringe, I’m urging you take a minute and think. What do we use everyday, head to toe, that either goes down the drain, into the air, into our bodies, or into wastebaskets? And what can cost us hundreds of extra dollars each year when instead we may need to save or buy other goods? Answer: beauty and personal care products. Let’s quickly connect these dots and discuss how significant this is, and how we can think differently as consumers as we reimagine our lives moving forward.

Sustainability is centered on the topics of economics, humanity, and the environment. They are forever linked together, as humans cannot survive without either the environment (water, air, food sources, minerals, etc) or an economic model that supports our communities. This has been true since the dawn of civilization. Most people also think that the concept of sustainability or climate change is only a recent topic of the last 50 years, but it actually stretches all the way back to the 1700’s and the first Industrial Revolution. This and the subsequent second and third Industrial Revolutions changed everything – the power of machines changed our ancestors’ lives, economy, and advanced modern civilizations and lifestyles forward. While many wonderful outcomes happened, this came at a cost – fossil fuels began to be burned at higher rates to support manufacturing, deforestation occurred, and garbage started piling up. The landfill or “dump” became a thing that communities had to start dealing with. Since World War II, the pollution and industrial consumption of raw materials, along with increasing global population, has grown at exponential rates. This is where consumerism comes into play – never in the thousands of years before the 20th century has the rapid consumption of products ever had such huge impact on our lives and economies. And beauty thrives on this principle – the majority of its products are considered “consumables” – meant to be used up, thrown away, and repurchased as soon as possible. Think about your own bathroom and how much plastic is currently sitting there in beauty products alone…can it all be recycled? Nope. In 2018 alone, U.S. households threw out 7.9 billion units of beauty and personal care product rigid plastic waste (Roshitsh, 2020). And only about 5% of plastic gets recycled annually, due lack of proper facilities and materials processing (World Economic Forum, 2016). For U.S. landfills, the EPA reports that one-third of all landfill waste is from the beauty and personal care industry (Roshitsh, 2020).

The beauty industry depends on a few key business practices that have made it the $530+ billion global behemoth (Forbes, 2019) that it is today: UPT (units per transaction), system selling, and trends. As a consumer, you are impacted because all “push” you to buy more. For example, UPT’s are tracked by beauty associates to ensure they meet their daily sales quotas at a counter, or by retailers on their online sales metrics. Does it mean that you had to buy the eye cream AND the newest mascara because it then gets you the free gift with purchase, when you only really need the eye cream? No, but you just helped satisfy the daily UPT quota. After a month, have you used the new mascara or the free items in the gift with purchase? Or did you end up throwing them away? Or worse, find them stuffed at the back of your bathroom cabinet a year later when cleaning out clutter, and risk using them as they are fully expired? Beauty products, especially skincare, are designed to be sold in sets – it increases the UPT’s and sales revenue. But, do you really need all of the products in order for it to work? As a former esthetician, I can say that no, you don’t need them all – and by using too many products, it may be contributing to your skin’s sensitivity or create a reaction. And lastly, trends in products (shades, formulas, holiday packaging) cause unnecessary waste each year due to the amount of product that either goes unsold or over-produced due to incorrect forecasting, and then ultimately thrown out. Per Zero Waste Week, more than 120 billion units of packaging are produced annually by the beauty industry – contributing to a loss of 18 million acres of forests each year.

This may sound like I’m hating on my former past in the beauty industry, but I’m not. My goal is to challenge their status quo and mindset that has prevailed for the last 100 years or so, and help consumers understand their role in this issue. Beauty products are inherently consumable by design, so they will always be needed, but they do not have to be so wasteful. Beauty is also one of the fastest-growing entrepreneurial industries, as anyone with enough seed money can start their own brand or become a consultant. To support more sustainable action, there’s a sizable amount of articles and videos out there about the dangerous side of counterfeit beauty products (such as toxic ingredients or contaminants) thanks to investigations by sources such as Refinery29. There are growing critical reviews on the issue of marketing eco-friendly beauty products featuring “clean” ingredients but are over-priced and over-packaged – creating the problem of green-washed consumerism that still pushes buying products over consuming less. Sadly, there are also human-rights issues, such as hazardous working conditions, or pollution linked to cosmetics production. I’m asking us, as consumers, to think about our daily use / toss practices within our own bathroom and household behavior. In short, be more savvy as consumers about how we spend our money and produce waste each day – this is thinking sustainably. And instead of me adding to the existing noise out there of well-established beauty bloggers and influencers that focus on brands, technique, and product, I’d rather highlight easy ways that you can be more sustainable in your own beauty and personal care regimens each day while still getting healthy, high-performing results. For example – there’s a lot of bad myths about bar soap that emerged over the years, but it is one of the easiest ways to use a whole-body, multi-tasking product that reduces packaging waste in your daily routine. Plus, I will feature brands that ARE making a sustainable difference, along with tips for choosing products for specific reasons rather than just chasing trends. Being more sustainable in daily beauty and personal care routines also respects skin sensitivities – not everything natural has to be heavily scented, which can cause skin breakouts.

Now, don’t rush to your bathroom and suddenly panic – we’ll discuss these gradual next steps in coming posts. It’s far easier than you think, and also can save you money! Until then, stay safe, wear your mask, and find some time to relax and enjoy the world around you. Happy Holidays and wishing you a much better 2021!

P.S. Check out my references here – well worth the read:

Roshitsh, K., January 2, 2020, “The Beauty Battleground Is Still Mired in Plastic, Faulty Claims”, Women’s Wear Daily Magazine, URL: https://wwd.com/beauty-industry-news/beauty-features/plastic-packaging-beauty-personal-care-1203407978/ 

Sherriff, L., September 17, 2019, “The Minimalist Beauty Company Tackling the Industry’s Waste Problem”, Forbes.com, URL: https://www.forbes.com/sites/lucysherriff/2019/09/17/the-minimalist-beauty-company-tackling-the-industrys-waste-problem/?sh=12e8241a4326

EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency), September 21, 2020, “Containers and Packaging: Product-Specific Data”, Facts and Figures about Materials, Wastes, and Recycling section of website, URL: https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/containers-and-packaging-product-specific-data

World Economic Forum, Ellen MacArthur Foundation and McKinsey & Company, The New Plastics Economy — Rethinking the future of plastics, 2016, http://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/publications

Bailly, J., May 13, 2020, “Did It Take a Pandemic to Get Serious About Beauty Waste?”, Allure Magazine, URL: https://www.allure.com/story/beauty-industry-packaging-waste

Product Review: Safe(r) Sunscreens

So, last summer, I went on a rant about sunscreens and how annoyed I was at the selection available to customers at local retailers (such as Target®) since the majority of their products contained chemical sunscreen and fragrance, which can cause severe allergic reactions. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE Target®, and I’m happy to see that their selection has started to improve by providing customers with more variety. But there are also other specialty retailers that have stepped up to the plate and are focused around holistic and healthier options that actually perform. One of them is Thrive Market®, which is membership-based, and provides a lot of great beauty and bath products that align with greener, more conscientious formulas. In the last several years, growing concerns around chemical sunscreen ingredients from consumers has caused even the American Academy of Dermatology™ to weigh in on the subject. Their current guidance, per the FDA, is that there are two sunscreen ingredients that are considered “generally recognized as safe and effective” (GRASE), which are Titanium-dioxide and Zinc-oxide. Reason is that these are physical sunscreens, and generally cause no irritation or reaction on the skin. The FDA is currently calling for more safety data on the majority of chemical sunscreen ingredients on the market (like avobenzone) in order to determine if they can be classified as GRASE. Remember to take that into consideration as you shop for products! The product technology keeps getting better and better, and I’m excited what these newer brands are bringing to the table for both kids and adults.

This past Spring, I selected both Target® and Thrive Market® as retailers to shop for mineral-based sunscreens, and put them to the test for the first half of summer. My competitive sailing season starts in May, and our outdoor concert series (that I help organize) begins in June, so I’ve had plenty of opportunity to truly test out the performance of these products by spending some long hours outside. Here’s my review of two brands that I’ve really come to love over the past two months!

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First up, Bare Republic® is gaining wider shelf presence and online assortment depth within Target. Their products offer higher-SPF levels, closer to other national brand sunscreens. Most experts will say that you should at least use an SPF 30, but some people with ultra-fair skin may want a higher Sun Protection Factor (SPF) based on their personal needs. This Zinc-oxide + Titanium-dioxide formula is easy to apply and melts quickly to absorb, and doesn’t leave the feeling of a film on the skin. Plus, it’s fragrance-free, hydrating, and acts like a beauty product – it contains antioxidants derived from algae extracts, and natural oils. It’s also vegan, paraben free, and water-resistant. The staying power of this product is great too. My husband commented that he felt it performed well during his longer cycling rides, and wants the stick version for his bike pack. This brand offers up multiple sunscreen application styles, such as sticks and sprays. With all the controversy around spray sunscreens affecting asthma and allergy sufferers, I’ve decided to stay with the simplicity of the tube style and avoid any adverse side effects.

Second, Thrive Market® has been offering a growing assortment of suncare items, including the brand Raw Elements®. I decided to try two styles from them (stick and tin), as I was really intrigued per it’s multi-purpose approach and avoidance of plastic packaging for the larger product. I always have a sunscreen stick in my purse since they are so convenient and quick to use. But I’ve been super critical of formulas – they can’t feel like a ton of wax or be sticky, and need to be smooth under my lipstick. Well, Raw Elements® definitely delivered and then some. This is a Zinc-oxide based formula, packed with natural extracts and ingredients. Like Bare Republic, it contains beeswax, but even in the stick style it didn’t feel heavy. Oh, and the tin style? Amazing. It’s hydrating, creamy, and buildable – almost the same type of adjectives you’d expect to describe a good foundation. It does not feel heavy under makeup, and the product does what it says. Application tip: run the back of your index finger along the top of the product, using your fingernail to scrape up a dime-sized amount and rub gently between your fingers to heat it up for smooth absorption in to the skin. The tin looks small, but really lasts. Also, it’s been great to travel with, as the cap screws on tightly and has less risk of bursting open from pressure.

In short, both brands really deliver great protection for kids and adults and are very affordable. The skin-friendly formulas are as performance-driven as they are eco-conscious. For those living on the coasts, or going on a beach vacation, both are also reef-safe. If you’ve done any research on the topic of tourism and ocean water around reefs, you’ll know that the sunscreen chemicals of oxybenzone and octinoxate harm corals and are of growing concern to marine biologists. My tip? You’ll provide huge impact to speak with your wallet by choosing safer formulas for yourself and your family, which in turn will help convince large manufacturers to change their formulations.

©2019 28daysbeauty

Product Review: Thrive Causemetics beauty haul for summer

Happy official start of summer everyone! I’ve taken a few months off to focus on work and volunteering, but all during this time I’ve been testing some new products. And as we’ve progressed through the first half of the year, have you stuck to your resolutions? One of mine is to be a more conscientious consumer in all aspects of my daily life. Not only in beauty and personal care, but my overall consumer habits in general. That being said, I’ve done more homework, looked into brand stories and business practices, and taken a deeper look into what the companies that make their products actually stand for. As a consumer, you speak with your wallet and the purchasing decisions that you make – even the smallest tweaks in your spending can be powerful. Coming from a long career in retail and e-commerce, I have firsthand experience in seeing how consumers can make, or break, a brand.

Think about brands who have been disruptive to the retail industry (i.e. TOMS, Warby Parker), and turned the notion of social responsibility into sound business practices that give back to those in need. That brings me to this review of Thrive Causemetics – since I’d reviewed a few of their products way back in March 2017, I’ve remained impressed with their innovation and expanding product line-up while advocating for women’s health. I decided to treat myself and bought a full-face worth of makeup, and have been using the products over the last several months – sometimes all at once, or often interspersed with other brands’ products. Happily, I’ve found that as the weather has been heating up, these make perfect choices for summer beauty. Let’s take a deeper dive and explore what I bought!

Thrive Causemetics Beauty Haul

Clockwise from the top:

  1. Glossy Lip Hydrating Serum: In the shade “JoAnn”, a berry/plum/mauve, this feels and looks awesome! True color payoff while adding shine and hydration, it’s a perfect combination. In fact, I feel like this gives my fave lip colors (Clinique’s Different Lipstick in “Sugared Grapefruit” and LORAC’s Alter Ego Lipgloss in “Duchess”) a huge run for their money in daily use. This formula packs an antioxidant blend, along with anti-aging Vitamins E and B5, plus Sodium Hyaluronate to hydrate.  Hint – I also used this as a blush when traveling, and it gave a beautiful monochromatic look with my lips. LOVE!
  2. Focus Eye Shadow Palette: I got the shade “Palette 3”, which is a combination of four warmer earth shades (see below), and are all matte. These shades were deeply pigmented and all very blendable. The formula also packs antioxidants and Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate lids. While I really liked the formula, I realized that I think I’d want to try more cool / neutral shades, like Palette 2. Nonetheless, it’s a great quad eye shadow palette that features true color payoff and easy to wear shades.
  3. Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara: Ok, this is my new FAVORITE mascara. Hands down. The formula, brush, and performance are all fantastic! The shade is a universal deep black, and truly lengthens and thickens lashes almost immediately. But is still a buildable formula! Plus, it doesn’t flake or smudge – I’ve already been sailing this summer while wearing it, and it stayed put. Woot! Totally in love with this stuff, and it’s worth the more prestige price of $24.
  4. Infinity Waterproof Eyebrow Liner: The shade “Christina” (Light – Dark Blonde) is perfect for my coloring, easily blends, and the micro-point pencil makes application go on smoothly and accurately. The pencil has a spoolie brush on the other end, which is perfect for blending and grooming. I really like that even though this is a long-wearing, waterproof formula, it is easy to remove at the end of the day.
  5. Buildable Blur CC Cream and Blend + Blur Sponge: Last, but not least, these two hero products are amazing for summer! The CC cream gives even coverage, while protecting with SPF 35. The formula contains a blend of Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, Octinoxate and Octisalate sunscreens, which provides a broad spectrum defense against UV damage, yet is gentle for sensitive skin. The Color-Correcting cream also contains Vitamin C to help brighten skin, and micro-pigments that “blur” the skin to cover fine lines, uneven tone and pores. The best defense against aging is wearing SPF every day, and this product makes it especially easy by combining powerful skin-friendly ingredients into a simple easy-to-use step. Use the Blend + Blur Sponge to apply the cream to skin and achieve a flawless finish. Always dampen the sponge to properly distribute the CC cream. Pump the CC cream on the back of your opposite hand (to warm up the product), and dip in the point end of the sponge to then apply the cream in sections around your face. Dot, build, and blend as needed! Make sure to wash the sponge and let fully dry before using again.

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Even if you aren’t a pro at makeup, Thrive Causemetics truly makes application easier through their thoughtful packaging and impressive formulas. I typically don’t justify a higher price-point on makeup unless I think the performance and payoff is worth it – these are absolutely worth it. And if you are looking to simplify your routine for summer, I recommend this full-face combination to achieve a simple, yet polished, look for everyday wear.

These are fast becoming my new favorites and I can’t wait to try more products from Thrive Causemetics – especially as my purchase helps women in need. ♥

©2019 28daysbeauty

Beauty Topic: Caring for your skin when you’re battling the flu or a cold

Speaking from firsthand experience, those of us with ultra-sensitive skin seem to get the one-two punch of extra irritated cheeks and scaly or raw noses when sick. But in truth, colds and the flu season affects all of us and our skincare regimen to some degree. I’m just getting over a nasty virus that most conveniently arrived JUST as my beloved Midwest was smacked with 10 inches of snow last week. How wonderful to be outside shoveling and snow blowing while trying to prevent your nose from resembling the now-frozen Niagara Falls. Winter’s cute, isn’t it?

Kidding aside, we also have to contend with the age-old best practice of washing our hands frequently – it keeps colds and the flu at bay but also can cause rashes, dermatitis or cracked and bleeding skin. Or going through a ton of facial tissue due to clogged sinuses, which can strip needed oils and moisture off of our noses and upper lips. Everything that I’m describing can actually make you sicker (as raw or broken skin can allow bacteria to seep in) or just add to your overall feeling of misery when ill. But never fear – there are 3 easy tips that I recommend everyone follow, young and old, to ensure that skin stays as healthy and well as possible this winter. Friendly reminder: your skin is not only your body’s largest organ of elimination (sweat, oil, shedding dead skin cells), but it’s also your first line of defense to a healthy immune system. Treat it well, and it will care for you in kind.

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Tip #1: Wash your face, body and hands with a moisturizing, unscented soap daily.

CeraVe® makes a fantastic Hydrating Cleanser Bar soap that can be used virtually from head to toe, and by anyone in the family. During a cold or while fighting the flu, scented or deodorant body washes may further irritate skin, or cause you to sneeze more, due to allergy-causing synthetic scents. Plus, the CeraVe bar contains ceramides, which are essential to rebuilding the skin’s moisture barrier and protecting it even while deep cleaning. I also love it as it helps to reduce redness – this can be especially helpful for raw or irritated hands. I usually keep a few packs of these soaps around the house as they are also great for travel and gym, as an all-purpose cleanser and body wash. For just a couple of bucks, your skin will feel comforted by soothing lather and squeaky clean, and it’s safe to use on kids who may be suffering from colds too.

Tip #2: Load up on unscented moisturizers from head to toe, and go VERY easy on anti-aging or anti-acne products.

Moisturizers, creams, lotions and serums with added fragrance (or “parfum”) in them will sting, burn, cause irritation, redness and quite possibly cause a further allergic reaction when you are sick. Your body is using all of its strength to mend itself during a cold or the flu, and so your skin can be extra-sensitive during this time. Don’t add unnecessary synthetic fragrances, or even some scented essential oils, into the mix – it will probably just make you more red, or hurt like hell when you apply. Also, alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids (such as salicylic acid) will further dry out skin and most likely cause more irritation while sick. For the couple of days or week or so that you may be sick, don’t worry about fighting wrinkles or pimples. Focus on soothing the skin and retaining its moisture barrier. I LOVE First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream® – it’s the holy grail of moisturizers for any skin type. Oily skin types still love it because it hydrates but does not feel greasy. Use this product from head to toe, especially on dry, cracked skin that needs to heal asap (like hands or noses). I always have a jar of this on hand in our house, especially in winter, and it’s safe to use by the entire family.

Tip #3: Turn your shower into a healing spa by incorporating soothing aromatherapy, even at lower temperatures.

CVS Health and a few other brands make these fantastic little 3-packs of effervescent tablets that turn your shower into an aromatherapy session. When I was a kid, my mom would use Vick’s VapoRub™ on my chest to alleviate congestion, but I’ve found over the years that it irritates my skin due to the amount of essential oils contained in the formula. Instead, I’ve found that these eucalyptus and menthol shower vapor tabs are a great way to get the same benefits for my sinuses, but forgo the irritation of my skin. When your skin is super sensitive, you should avoid taking hot showers, and instead go for more “warm” showers. This will prevent your skin from drying out further, or staying irritated longer. Since these tabs are water activated, you can still get the great benefit to open up your congestion, soothe your aching head and body, and breathe better even at a lower temperature. Hint: put on a deep-cleaning clay mask while showering, and add these tablets in at any time to feel like a relaxing, home-spa experience! Find these near the cold medicine aisle.

Just by making a few small changes in your skincare regimen, and having a couple of these products on hand, you can start feeling better and lessening the side-effects from a nasty cold. Take care and stay safe and warm!

©2019 28daysbeauty

 

Product Review: Quick & easy NYE look by KIKO Milano

Throughout the holiday season, we often have numerous parties and get-togethers that almost always include multiple photo opportunities from beginning to end. And how many of us have photographs from holidays past that we’d rather forget? I’ve often found that busy holiday parties don’t allow much time for touch-ups, and if they are emotional (due to seeing loved ones or friends whom you haven’t spent much time with in a while) can wreak havoc on eye makeup. Plus, if you’re traveling or are out-of-town, it helps to keep packing simple. This may sound funny, but I’ve put a lot of thought into this over the years, especially in trying to balance business, friends, and family parties around the holidays. This past September, I was able to buy a few products from one of my favorite European brands, and put the look to the test through the holidays! And voilá – my 2018 NYE look from KIKO Milano!

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The premise of my selections are based on optimal light-catching formulas, a soft eye, and a bold lip. Let’s take a look at each product, and how I’ve worked into my routine for the holidays: (from the top)

  1. Bright Duo Baked Eyeshadow in 14 Satin Ancient Rose + Matte Wine: I love KIKO’s shadows as you can use them wet or dry, and the shadows are matched to exactly compliment each other. To me, this duo is actually a great neutral combo for blue eyes – the pink/purple tones make blue eye color pop. I blend the light pink over my lid, and then using a wet shadow brush, I shade my lash line with the darker purple to create a soft effect. The satin finish isn’t too sparkly, and gives just a hint of shimmer.
  2. Radiant Touch Creamy Stick Highlighter in 101 Rose: since I have a neutral undertone to my skin, I chose a pink highlighter to get a different effect than my other champagne-toned highlighters for the cooler months. The pink plays well with the eyeshadow shades above, and helps give a rosy-glow to skin. In addition to my cheekbones and bridge of my nose, I also use this highlighter directly under my brow bone and on the inside corners of my eyes, before adding eyeshadow. This gives an extra element of dimension, and works well as a day-to-night look.
  3. Jelly Stylo glossy lipstick in 511 Fuscia: for days that I know I’ll be talking a lot, I prefer glossy finishes. They wear more easily, and keep my lips comfortable and hydrated. I love this lipstick, since it combines vibrant color (like a lipstick) with the hydrating finish of a gloss – without the shimmer. This bright pink gives the focal point of the overall look, and makes for an easy touch-up that always looks great on camera! Pink is becoming my new favorite for the holidays, since it’s easily goes from day-to-night – reds don’t always make an easy transition if you’ve got an all-day activity!
  4. 30 Days Extension Daily Treatment Mascara in Black: my quest for a great formula and silicone brush got a win in this great treatment mascara! The treatment complex of the formula stimulates lash growth to lengthen and strengthen. It also wears well through the day, and is buildable for either a natural or a dramatic look.

Pairing these with a great foundation, a natural blush and eyebrow pencil, this combo creates a soft yet dramatic look that looks great for either personal or business parties! I especially love the low effort needed to get an amazing look – perfect for a busy New Year’s Eve! You can recreate look with similar shades, or try this brand out for yourself.

I discovered KIKO while in Italy in 2014, and quickly came to love their professional quality formulas and low price points – whenever I go back abroad, I’ve always stocked up on a few more products to try! Luckily, you can buy the brand online – I think this is a brand to watch, since they have such a huge following in Europe, and are starting to make their way to the States. Heres to a great 2019 – Happy New Year!

©2018 28daysbeauty

Beauty Topic: Top 3 tips on Black Friday & Cyber deals for beauty products

Every year, this weekend and next week is focused on buying gifts as the official kickoff of the holiday season. But Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and holiday countdown offers are also the best times to stock up on your favorite skincare, haircare, body care, makeup and perfume. If your inbox is any indicator of the amount of deals being currently marketed, you’ll find that even high-priced beauty brands can offer discounts – making it the perfect time to also score gifts with purchase, buy-one-get-one deals, and free samples. Plus, you can usually save even more money by buying kits or gift packaged best-sellers from your favorite beauty brands. So, in other words, treat yourself! Merchants put a ton of time into planning and creating the best gift sets for their brands, with a main focus on value. The Christmas season is the biggest time of competition for every shopper’s dollar, and so it’s totally worth checking out your favorite brands to see what kind of deals you can find right now.

First tip: Buy beauty in bulk and save $$$! For example, Clinique offers jumbo sizes and gift sets of their best selling cleansers, clarifying lotions, and moisturizers at ULTA, Macy’s, and Sephora, which equal big savings. LORAC always offers fantastic gift sets of my favorite lip glosses for just $25 at ULTA and Kohl’s, which if individually purchased would total $102. Kits are also a great way to try new colors, and you can refresh your look easily throughout the year with a new shade. And First Aid Beauty makes some of the best skin care kits around – you can get their iconic Ultra Repair Cream, Lip Therapy, Intensive Peel, Facial Radiance Pads and Pure Skin Facial Cleanser together for only $14 more than what the full-size Ultra Repair Cream normally retails at! These are also great ways to try a new brand, stock up on your favorites, or get bonus travel-sizes for the gym or your desk. And don’t forget haircare! This time of year offers fantastic deals on hair dryers, curling irons or hot styling tools. As for prestige brands, the sales are totally worth it. I buy my favorites from L’Occitane (a French beauty brand) in multiples during this time of year, since their products usually do not go on sale. I love their Shea Butter line during winter for deep and soothing hydration, and 20% off makes for a great time to stock up! More on this brand in future blog posts…

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Second tip: Be careful buying beauty or perfume as a gift for someone else. Unless you know the recipient’s favorite brand, colors or specific scent, a cologne or perfume or makeup gift set can be rather awkward to receive. Especially if the gift receiver has never worn the scent or doesn’t like it, has severe allergies, or doesn’t wear makeup often. You will also see a ton of blockbusters promoted this time of year – a “blockbuster” refers to the absolutely gigantic makeup kits that are sold at retailers or drugstores, usually containing every color under the sun. These are typically marketed to teenagers, or as easy gifts that an Aunt or Grandma can purchase and give to the younger girls in the family. But unfortunately, these kits often don’t have the higher quality of products that you’d expect – they can contain fragrance, a ton of glitter, or other ingredients that may cause allergic reactions. If you know the gift receiver wouldn’t wear every color of eye shadow possible, I’d say a nude eye palette would be a more suitable gift than something that looks like Rainbow Bright’s closet exploded. Another thing to consider is that perfume and cologne gift sets almost always come with scented body wash and lotion. But these are often so heavily fragranced that if the receiver does have sensitive skin, they risk a rash or dermatitis developing from the higher percentage of scent in the product than their normal body care products. Proceed with caution, and know your gift recipient’s tastes before taking a gamble.

Lastly, if you aren’t already part of a loyalty program for a retailer, you are definitely missing out. Kohl’s, ULTA and Sephora are among my top favorite loyalty programs for buying beauty products, and it can make a huge savings difference during the holiday season. Kohl’s Cash can’t be beat as an overall deal, and being an ULTA Platinum Level Ultamate Rewards member certainly has its perks. They offer birthday gift freebies, extra bonus items with your purchase, and also first-looks at sales or discount offers before the general public. And some of the best product samples that I’ve received are from Sephora’s Beauty Insider program, which clued me into new favorites (looking at you, First Aid Beauty). In short, take the time to sign up, and then USE it! Especially if you love brands or products that these retailers carry, you’ll see the savings pile up over time and it’s free for anyone to use.

Happy Holidays!

©2018 28daysbeauty

 

Beauty Topic: DIY all-purpose coconut oil

If you haven’t been under a rock, you’ll have been completely aware that coconut oil has been having a HUGE moment the last couple of years in the beauty industry. But it’s not technically a new phenomenon. Coconut oil has been used for centuries by various island cultures as a natural beauty product, especially because it’s a multi-tasking superstar. In its raw form, coconut oil is an effective hair conditioner, skin moisturizer, makeup remover, cuticle conditioner, and contains essential fatty acids that make it an excellent cooking oil as well. Due to its multiple benefits and relatively low allergy risk, it’s used as a base ingredient in many beauty products. If you have dry, brittle or damaged hair, dry skin, wear a lot of makeup or waterproof formulas, or suffer from dermatitis or eczema, then coconut oil is highly recommended to work into your daily routine.

There are several premium brands that hit the market recently, but one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to use coconut oil is to purchase it from your local grocery store. However, the packaging is not always appropriate for a bathroom. Case in point, I was at the gym about 2 months ago, and saw a woman with a 16oz glass jar of coconut oil (from a local grocery brand) on the counter next to her, as she was finishing getting ready after showering. While I completely appreciate her resourcefulness and cost-effectiveness, I worried for her safety since a 16oz glass jar with a tin lid is NOT very safe around slick bathroom surfaces. So, this experience inspired me to write this post, since I already create my own more user-friendly packaged coconut oil. It’s very easy to complete as a do-it-yourself project, and takes about 20 minutes tops. Here we go!

First, gather the following materials:

a. 16oz jar of virgin organic coconut oil. My #1 choice is from Trader Joe’s, as it’s usually about $5 for a full-size jar. Hard to beat that price!

b. Grab a clean, large mixing bowl from your kitchen cupboard.

c. Get a clean teaspoon to stir the oil (see step below).

d. Prior to starting, purchase a clean 3oz plastic travel jar with lid (I got mine from The Container Store for under $2) – make sure to wash both in hot water with soap, to remove any contaminants and bacteria, and dry thoroughly. Keep the lid off to start.

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Second, use the following steps to create a bathroom-friendly and travel-safe coconut oil beauty product:

  1. Make sure the lid of the coconut oil jar is initially loosened up. Keep the lid on the jar, tight enough to keep out water.
  2. Place the mixing bowl in your kitchen sink, and put the coconut jar inside. Fill the bowl with hot water (not boiling) so that the jar is mostly submerged but not fully underwater.

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3. After a few minutes, the coconut oil should start turning slightly “clear” on the sides of the jar, but still white in the middle. Once this happens, take the jar out, and place on the counter and dry off completely with a towel.

4. Unscrew the lid, and stir up the coconut oil with the spoon to fully blend. The oil’s consistency should mimic milk or heavy cream, and still be white in color.

5. Pour the oil into the open plastic 3oz travel jar, filling to the edge of the lowest thread on the jar’s lip.

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6. Put the metal lid back on the large 16oz coconut oil and place into a cabinet to cool down and solidify again. Hint: if you haven’t yet tried it for cooking, give it a whirl! It’s super tasty and good for you.

7. Lastly, let the small 3oz travel-sized jar sit still and cool down on the counter for a while – this may take about an hour or two for it to solidify. You can also place within the refrigerator, if preferred. Once it’s solid, the coconut oil is now in safer packaging for use in a bathroom – plus, it’s easily packable for travel!

If you know you want multiple travel-sized jars, one large 16oz jar will make about 5 small 3oz travel jars – and you can easily pour them all at the same time, and then just let them chill! Store all coconut oil in a cool cabinet or shelf, and out of direct sunlight.

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If you are wondering how long the 3oz size will last you, you only need to use about a dime to a nickel-sized amount at a time. When using coconut oil, let the natural heat of your hands melt down the oil into a creamy texture, and use wherever needed. For example, my current 3oz jar has lasted me about 2 – 1/2 months with daily use. I scoop out two nickel-sized amounts daily as an overall body moisturizer after I shower. At night, I scoop out a nickel-sized amount to use as a full-face makeup remover, and gently breakdown mascara – I then remove it all with a Costco makeup wipe, and then wash my face with my normal nightly routine. Plus, it’s a great cuticle treatment before bedtime, and conditions rough elbows and heels. With winter weather coming fast, it’s a perfect time to start using coconut oil and keep hair and skin properly conditioned.

The uses don’t stop there! There’s a lot people who love making their own lip balms and soaps, and coconut oil is often a base ingredient. Simply search recipes on Google that call for coconut oil, and you’ll find various homemade projects and recipes for almost any beauty concern. Have fun!

© 2018 28daysbeauty

Product Review: Best picks for travel makeup

Helloooo! I took the month of September off from blogging, as life got a bit crazy with work and travel schedules. But nevertheless, that didn’t stop me from continuing to try out new products, and discover a few favorites in the process. I’ve got a bunch of new blog posts that I’m composing, and my first begins with the subject of travel-friendly makeup. I don’t think this topic is covered very well in most normal beauty or fashion magazines and blogs. Most of the attention is paid to luxury or prestige products, but there’s a huge need for many women to get solid recommendations on makeup that not only travels easily, but performs too. This could also apply to women who keep a touch-up stash in their desk drawer, in their gym bag, or just want fuss-free products. Travel is stressful enough, let alone worrying about a glass bottle of foundation or a compact of blush breaking apart inside of a suitcase. So, let’s get into my picks per my recent trip to Europe, and the reasons why I chose them!

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Before we even get into the product details, there was one requirement that I used when choosing the products: all of those selected did NOT need to be applied with makeup brushes. Reason being is that I only took 2 makeup brushes with me (a foundation and a blush brush), as I was trying to keep my bags as light as possible.

Ok, and now for the products! You may notice a common theme within the brands shown, and that is that the majority of what I selected are Julep products. I looooove Julep – they are a USA-based, K-beauty inspired brand, and I’ve always had great quality and performance from their products. But what I also love is that their products are very user-friendly, and the packaging reflects a no-fuss type of application style. Here are 3 of their products that I nabbed for my trip and my thoughts:

  • Julep Cushion Complexion in 130 Ivory:  It’s the similar concept of Clinique’s Beyond Perfecting Foundation + Concealer, but the travel-friendly twist-up sponge applicator made application a breeze. The formula contains turmeric (naturally anti-inflammatory and brightening) and camellia seed oil (lightly moisturizing) to care for skin, and is buildable for coverage. The finish is a semi-matte effect, and helps to blur imperfections and fine lines. Traveling from England to Scotland to Paris, this makeup held up between both climates, from country-side misty rains to hot and sunny strolls around the city.
  • Julep Eyeshadow 101 in Slate Shimmer: If you don’t like most eyeshadows, I challenge you to give this a try. The creamy, twist-up stick formula applies with super smooth and shimmery color, yet is easily buildable to be as low-key or intense as you want. Plus, it’s waterproof, and did a decent job of staying put all day. The sponge blending tool on the other end of the wand was awesome to easily smudge into place on lids. Slate Shimmer is a beautiful neutral – it can be dressed up or down, which makes it super versatile for travel.
  • Julep Skip The Brush Blush Stick in Golden Guava: This is by far one of my most favorite of the Julep line. This beautiful pink + peach + rosy-gold color gives a natural flush to cheeks, with a hint of shimmer. It also doubles as an awesome lipstick, which can be super useful in packing light. Simply dot onto cheeks, and easily blend with fingers or a blush brush for a soft effect.

And now for the rest! Most of these are routine favorites of mine, but there are 2 newcomers that I’m super happy I tried on the trip:

  • butter | LONDON’s Sheer Wisdom Serum Shadow in Rose Petal: I love liquid or cream eyeshadows that also act as a creaseless base for building on other colors. This product contains a blend of anti-aging peptides, and acts either as a solid wash of color or as a neutral primer. Easy to apply with a doe-foot applicator, it can be applied with or without a brush. As we traveled between various climates and humidity levels, this performed and stayed put all day.
  • Model’s Own Grand Master Lash mascara: From the UK, this brand has had limited distribution in the states, but if you can get your hands on it, it’s awesome! After e.l.f. discontinued the version of Mineral Mascara that I loved, I’ve been on the hunt for a replacement. Grand Master Lash (love the name, btw) delivers!! The wand is a dead-ringer for the silicone brush that made the Mineral Mascara awesome, and this formula does not disappoint. It’s buildable, smear-proof, and easily washes off. But I can’t find it at Ulta anymore! Hopefully this brand is not discontinued…

To round out my travel-friendly makeup assortment, I relied on a few tried-and-true selections:

  • LORAC Alter Ego Lip Gloss in Heroine: LORAC makes my absolute favorite lip glosses. They are hydrating, super pigmented, and made from high-quality ingredients. “Heroine” is a beautiful neutral rosy-gold pink, and has a slight shimmer. It was my main lip color through the entire trip, and can look either casual or super polished. Win!
  • NYX Tinted Brow Mascara in Chocolate: As I’ve written about before, this brow mascara is my jam. Simply stated, it’s quick and easy to use, and lasts through the day – without any touch-ups needed!
  • L’Oreal Brow Stylist Definer in Brunette: I’ve also written about this automatic pencil + spoolie before, and it was one of my go-to’s for the trip. I love pairing it with the NYX Tinted Brow Mascara to achieve super-defined brows in a snap.
  • e.l.f. Brush Cleanser Wipes: These are the travel-friendly versions of my favorite daily makeup brush cleaner. For whenever I chose to use the makeup brushes that I took with me, I used these to quickly clean them up.

So, after traveling through 3 countries, which product in the travel line-up was a true game changer? To me, the Julep Cushion Complexion was the winner! Quick and easy to apply, with skin-caring ingredients to boot, this product is innovative, packs easily, and is a new favorite.

Julep Cushion Complexion

©2018 28daysbeauty

Product Reviews: Cheap Thrills #3 – mascara picks from e.l.f & NYX

The last of my three-part series on cheap makeup thrills for summer wraps up with the topic of mascara; a product that a lot of people consider the “holy grail” of a polished makeup look, but can be a bit of a challenge to find one that delivers and lasts. Especially when its the one beauty product that needs to be replaced four times a year. A cheaper formula is especially beneficial to help with this, since it’s not easy to essentially throw away a product if you feel there’s still some left to use. To help avoid eye infections, it’s important to replace your mascara every 3 months, and never add any other liquids into the tube that could contaminate or introduce bacteria. Having been a former makeup counter manager, you wouldn’t believe the stories I encountered of women adding olive oil or water into their more expensive mascara tubes to make them last longer, and then coming to the counter to return it when it “didn’t work anymore”. Really?! Really. So, in short, finding a less expensive formula that you like, and stocking up on several tubes, can lessen the amount of buying trips you make and ensure that you have healthy eyes for the year.

But what are the basics of finding a good mascara? Quite frankly, the market is flooded with choices, from $2 to upwards of $70 per tube. But what are the main aspects that I look for in selecting my choices? The first thing I look at is the brush – it makes ALL the difference in the results of the application. And second, I look for multi-tasking formulas that also care for and condition lashes. Once I make my picks on those two factors, I’ll then wear the product for a full week in order to make my final decision. Here’s two selections I made on my trip to Target at the beginning of summer: NYX The Skinny Mascara and e.l.f. Cosmetics Lash Extending Mascara, both in black shades.

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To me, these brands are very similar – professional grade makeup that retails for a fraction of the cost of other brands. But there are a few subtle differences for each formula that I want to explain further:

  1. NYX’s The Skinny Mascara is not a new product, but captures a trend that is growing – full, dark lashes that look more natural and defined. For several years, huge, gargantuan mascara brushes were all the rage in makeup marketing, but unfortunately, they were a total hassle and awkward to work with. I’ll admit that I hate using big mascara brushes. But this brush is absolutely super thin, and I LOVE it! It captures every single lash, and suddenly brings them all into focus. Giving you complete control, you can build this formula from airy and light to bold and super-defined. I have found it takes a bit of practice to work with, especially if you are used to a larger brush. But once you get the hang of it, it’s hard to go back to a larger brush. Plus, this formula stays all day long – no smearing or smudging, even in humidity. It’s water-resistant yet easy to remove at the end of the day with coconut oil or makeup wipes.
  2. e.l.f. Cosmetics used to make my favorite mascara – the Mineral-Infused Mascara that had a total kick-ass silicone brush. But, unfortunately, they discontinued that formula a while ago (why, e.l.f., why?!). So, I picked up their new Lash Extending formula, and gave it a whirl. While it doesn’t mimic my old favorite, this newer formula is a good alternative as an overall multi-tasking mascara, with both volumizing and lengthening qualities. The formula conditions lashes with vitamins B and E, delivers bold color, and stays all day – it didn’t flake or clump. The brush is not silicone, but it does give an even coat on the first couple of strokes, and the formula is buildable. While the NYX formula was easier to use in defining each lash, this formula gives more length and a thicker texture from the start. If you want a good, solid formula for every day use, this is a great choice.

Both of these choices are affordable ($6.99 for NYX and $3 for e.l.f.) and easy to get at either ULTA or Target, plus both brands are coupon-eligible at ULTA. Both brands are cruelty-free, and the e.l.f. formula is vegan too. If you are on the hunt for a good mascara this summer, and don’t want to spend too much, give these a try! You don’t have to be a makeup artist to get great results with either of these picks.

© 2018 28daysbeauty