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

Beauty Topic: A short rant about sunscreen & chemicals

I recently visited a local Target after work to pick up a few items, and one of them was a new tube of sunscreen for my family. Being a former esthetician, and a sufferer of very sensitive skin that is also prone to sunburn, I knew exactly what brand and product formulation I was looking for.  While I won’t mention the location of this Target, I will rant about my disappointment in the selection that I was presented with in store, and why I’m afraid that the average consumer doesn’t realize that this is a problem. I normally don’t say negative things within my blog. But I’ll admit that I’m very concerned and rather ticked off, since a company or a brand’s product offering decisions can negatively affect people’s health and perception when it comes down to their purchasing options.

I walk into the aisle, and this is what I see:

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  1. Rows of products that are chock-full of chemical sunscreens that have known issues (ie. oxybenzone). Simply Google “safe sunscreen” or “sunscreens to avoid”, and you will be presented with a long list of professional opinions on chemicals to avoid in formulations. I would say that the majority of this wall (and my photo only shows part of the upper half) was composed of mostly ALL chemical-based formulas.
  2. Spray formulas or aerosols – if you Google this as well, you’ll find a ton of research over the years that shows these spray formulas send tiny particles into the air, and can aggravate asthma or allergies. In addition, these often have high levels of oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate, which are known from government data and reports to cause skin reactions and lesions. I get that it’s a convenient delivery method, but you have to weigh the cons in lieu of any pros for a “fast application”.
  3. “Sport” or SPF 100+ claims on a sunscreen product. I’m sorry, but WTF? SPF 100?? Does it mean that a tent or a roof comes out of the tube, and builds itself like a Transformer over your head so that you can walk around all day in the shade? If you read the labels, like on Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 100+, it still says that you have to reapply after 80 mins of swimming or every 2 hours. So, in essence, it’s still following the rules that any other sunscreen asks for, which is to reapply every 2 hours or so if you are active (sweating due to sports) or swimming. Why SPF 100+ or “sport” then? To me, this is a misleading label on a product, since the instructions are basically the same as any other sunscreen and doesn’t give the user any extra advantages.
  4. And lastly, the selection available of safer sunscreens was TINY. If you look in the upper left corner of the photo that I took, or at my other photo below of a different angle of the wall, there was a small space held for brands such as BARE Republic or Sun Bum that actually offer legit mineral-based formulas that perform. These broad-spectrum formulas are based on Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide physical sunscreens, and are not only safer for humans, but also the environment (such as ocean reefs). Neutrogena does offer a few mineral sunscreens, but they label them as “baby” formulas when, in truth, anyone can use them. Baby formulas are great for anyone with sensitive skin, as they are often fragrance-free, and safer in formulation for people who suffer from eczema or acne.

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Bottom line, in retail, the brands pay for shelf placement to get the eye-level views and arms-reach distance to most consumers; but these are NOT always the best formulas or products to choose from when it comes to overall skin health and allergy avoidance. Fifteen product rows just to promote the Up & Up (Target private label) brand of Sport sunscreen alone says, to me, that the buying and merchandising teams are out of touch with the growing concern among consumers to buy safer sunscreens. And Neutrogena’s product claims of SPF 100+ is a bit ridiculous, which can give a false sense of security to an average consumer who is rushing in to buy a few last-minute products before attending an outdoor event. Target has been on-point with other product lines and assortments, giving more space and promotion to health-conscious brands. So, I’m thoroughly confused on why they don’t give the same thought and consumer-research planning into the sunscreens they merchandise each summer. Especially with a product that contains chemicals with known health concerns.

Also, one of my favorite brands, CeraVe, didn’t get any product placement within the wall of sunscreen offerings at this Target. Their products utilize micronized Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, so that the formula is more sheer, and absorbs quickly. Their sunscreens are also fragrance-free, and incorporate ceramides, which add anti-aging benefit and help maintain the skin’s natural moisture barrier.

In my opinion, the technology and skincare knowledge that we have today proves that safer sunscreens are a necessary part of overall health, and being a conscious consumer. Skin cancer is a huge issue across the globe, and I ask retailers, such as Target, to do a better job in giving their customers better choices to protect themselves – especially with the transparency and ample amount of information there is for any buyer or product developer to use in their decision-making process. I understand that they look at sales and last year’s numbers to make their plans, but this also puts customers in a bind who may not do their own research and put “trust” into the retailer to offer them safe products. Allergies, asthma, chemical burns, eczema flare-ups, dermatitis, and acne break-outs aren’t worth just spreadsheets of past customer buying decisions – it’s worth helping people to make better health choices, and giving brands who are responsibly making products the credit and shelf space to accurately market themselves.

© 2018 28daysbeauty

Beauty Topic: Quick & easy beauty fixes for summer

It’s been a while since I last blogged! Life got a bit cray-cray, but I’m super happy to have time to relax and blog just before the Memorial Day holiday kicks off. Even though it’s not officially the start of summer, it seems that everyone is finally ready to start living life outside and in the sun this weekend. Naturally, that can pose a few beauty issues that only seasonal weather changes can bring as we start showing more skin. Let’s take a look at a few hot topics and tips below for quick and easy skincare / makeup solutions, just in time for summer:

  • Avoid sunburnt skin: I’m still a bit shocked with how many people I know don’t take sun care seriously. The amount of data that the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Cancer Society has published on the long-term health effects of improper sun exposure has been widely publicized and distributed. This is not to be taken lightly. Sunburn can create immediate damage to healthy skin cells, and adults need to pay attention for their own (and family’s) health. Over time, prolonged sun damage can cause serious heath problems. If you or your family do experience a sunburn this summer due to fun in the sun, there are a few quick fixes that you should utilize asap to soothe skin:
    1. Take a cool bath or shower asap. Sunburnt skin is not able to easily correct it’s own temperature, and you may need to take cooler showers or baths over several days to reduce swelling or pain.
    2. Add 2 cups of baking soda or ground oats to your cool bath and soak – this is safe for children, and also immediately offers relief of itching or painful skin.
    3. Hydrate and moisturize! Keep drinking cool water, and keep the skin hydrated by apply unscented lotion – this also helps to reduce peeling. TIP: Avoid any products with fragrance – this will irritate the skin even further, and create more redness.
  • Change up your skincare: If you live in an area that experiences the changes of seasons, then you do need to plan for switching up your skincare accordingly. For summer, I stress using formulas that are gentle and fragrance-free. This includes body lotion – per my first point above, if you get a bad sunburn, the LAST thing you’ll want to put on your skin is a scented lotion. This cleanser and lotion below from CeraVe are two product staples that I keep stocked for my family at all times – if skin is at all irritated from being outside too long, or feeling dry from chlorine, these two products are great at soothing skin quickly. TIP: Add Witch Hazel to your daily AM/PM routine too, as it will naturally soothe and refresh skin each day, plus regulate oily shine.

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  • Use proven formulas to deliver quick results: Restating the importance again of proper skincare also extends to products that can be multi-tasking to prevent and correct issues. These are two products that I actually use year-round, but are even more important coming into the summer months.
    1. CeraVe’s Skin Renewing Cream Serum tackles anti-aging with an all-in-one type of serum. Using encapsulated Retinol and ceramides, this serum not only reduces fine lines and wrinkles, but repairs the skin’s protective moisture barrier. This is crucial to reverse the damaging effects of UV exposure. I love using it at night on my face, neck, chest, shoulders and arms – Retinol lightens discolorations, dark spots, and evens out my skin tone overall for a more uniform appearance. For under $20 a tube, it’s so worth it! TIP: If you get into the daily habit of apply a serum like this, it helps avoid the awkward effect of your facial skin tone not matching your neck, chest or shoulders as you age.
    2. Olay Complete UV365 Daily Moisturizer SPF 15 Sensitive Plus is a lotion I use every single morning, and can be used head-to-toe all summer long. Head to toe?? Yes. Especially if you use a Retinol-based serum or anti-aging skincare (like I mention above), you NEED to use daily sunscreen. Otherwise, you basically cancel out the benefits that your anti-aging products are giving you. I love this lotion because it absorbs quickly, soothes skin, and helps makeup to stay fresh. TIP: This is great to travel with as an all-over daily moisturizer + sunscreen duo. For under $10 a bottle (6oz), you can’t go wrong! (Good skincare does not have to cost a ton)

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  • Use powder makeup to help your look stay-put in humidity: I love liquid foundations, but in hot or humid weather, they can often loosen up easily and slide due to sweat. Here’s two of my favorite powder makeup solutions for summer:
    1. I’ll reach for my favorite powder foundation, PUR’s 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Powder Foundation SPF 15, to help minimize shine for my combination skin. This mineral makeup contains skin-loving, anti-aging ingredients that balances tone and minimizes fine lines. For best results, use a shorter-bristle powder brush (or “chisel” brush) to apply in small circles. Make sure to blend along the jawline, and on to the neck and chest to help even out skin tone. TIP: Use a large eye shadow brush to dust eyelids BEFORE applying eye shadow or liner. This helps to set a base that absorbs sweat and moisture, and allows eye makeup to last longer. fullsizeoutput_76d
    2.  I love to use Wet n Wild’s MegaGlo Highlighter in Precious Petals: this rose-gold hued pressed powder looks amazing on pretty much every skin tone, and is under $5 for a big compact. I use it for eye shadow, and highlighting the bridge of my nose, brow bones, and cheek bones. TIP: Using a blush brush, apply in circles to your chest, shoulders, upper arms, and down the shins and calves of your legs to create a sexy overall glow during summer. The powder formula adheres to skin, resists sweat, and catches the natural light to give skin a warm, shimmery sheen. I like using this trick more than body bronzer!fullsizeoutput_765

A few simple tricks and switching up products can make a huge difference going into warmer weather, and give your skin an added boost to look it’s best!

© 2018 28daysbeauty

Beauty Topic: Saving money in 2018 & top picks to stay on budget

It’s the start of a new year, and many of us make resolutions to improve our lives. Mine this year is to save more money. I want to travel more, and pay down debt, so in order to do that, I need to look at my overall lifestyle. If you Google “how long does it take to develop a habit”, there are few studies that come back with a variety of time ranges – anywhere from 21 days to 66 days is the average. But one thing that I think that can help in achieving a new goal, or fulfilling a resolution, is to think about the various factors that contribute to it overall. To achieve my resolution of saving money, I thought about the amount that I spend on beauty products in a given year and how I shop. Within the beauty industry, there’s a ton of marketing and advertising to drive the message home that you NEED to have prestige beauty products. But in reality, is that really the case? In a PeopleStyle.com study from March 2017, they determined that the average woman will spend $15,000 in her lifetime on beauty products. This doesn’t apply to services like hair cuts or pedicures, but just beauty products alone. I’m here to say “no” – you don’t need to spend a ton to look great and take proper care of your skin, hair, body and nails. Especially in this day and age, there are so many great brands that are delivering high-performance products that provide you with multiple options to spend exactly the amount you are comfortable with, without having to sacrifice quality or style. If you absolutely love a prestige beauty product (like perfume, foundation or lipstick), you can also look at splurging where it matters most to you, but then saving money in other beauty categories to make up the difference. Let’s take a look at some of these brands, products that deliver, and my top picks to help you spend less this year on beauty:

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Clockwise from the top:

  1. Trader Joe’s beauty: from skincare to body care, their formulas rival top dollar brands’ ingredients and performance, but cost a fraction of the price. The Nourish All-In-One Facial Cleanser is great for both men and women, and helps to combat acne while also being anti-aging. Their Enrich Moisturizing Face Lotion SPF 15 is a great dupe for the Olay Complete SPF 15 lotion, and is safe for sensitive skin. If you love lavender, their Spa Lavender Hand & Body Lotion is naturally scented and soothes skin. I usually keep these stocked, as my entire family loves to use these products daily.
  2. e.l.f. Cosmetics: this brand was started years ago to provide quality beauty products for very low costs. I hate to call them “cheap” because it has such a bad connotation. What they do is remove the hype and high-cost markup that is found in prestige beauty brands, but still deliver on-trend and classic colors that perform. In addition to their Mineral Mascara (amazing!!), one of my favorite e.l.f. products is their “Tickled Pink” Blush, which is a direct dupe of the iconic NARS “Orgasm” blush. For $3, you can’t go wrong to give this a try and see for yourself.
  3. Simple skincare: available at almost all drugstores, this brand is focused on quality care for sensitive skin. I LOVE their Micellar Water, which gently removes all makeup, dirt, and oil as an essential pre-cleanse step in your nightly routine. This award-winning product rivals some of the most expensive French formulas on the market. I’ve often gone into a Walgreens or Target when traveling to pick up skincare products by Simple, especially if I realized I left an essential at home.
  4. LORAC makeup kits: yes, this prestige brand holds a special place in my heart. It’s founder, Carol Shaw, is an icon in my book. But what I also LOVE about this brand is that they often package their best selling products in kits or gifts at an incredible value! For example, a single LORAC Alter-Ego lip gloss is around $17 each. During the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I got this amazing Mod Goddess Alter-Ego lip gloss collection from ULTA on sale for less than the $26 sticker price! It’s a beautiful 6 piece set of high-performance lip gloss at a steal (worth $102). If you’ve never tried LORAC’s lip gloss, I highly recommend them – the color payoff is incredible, and the long-wearing formula deeply moisturizes. Makeup kits from prestige brands are a great way to save while shopping your favorites.
  5. L’Oreal mascaras: in truth, L’Oreal is one of the largest beauty companies in the world, and owns a large percentage of many beauty brands on the market. But one of their best performing values is the Voluminous Carbon Black mascara. If you want dramatic, long and full lashes, this is a go-to mascara for less than $10. Extra bonus, you can usually use coupons when purchasing or find a BOGO deal as well! Mascara needs to be changed out every 3 months to avoid eye infections, and there’s really no reason to spend more than you have to!
  6. EOS lip balm: while their classic round spheres are immediately recognized, I prefer the stick version of these awesome lip balms. I bought a few twin packs, as I keep one in my gym bag, desk drawer, night stand, and purse. Packed with organic ingredients and natural butters, they are a much healthier alternative to the petroleum-based lip balms and cost an average of $4 for a twin pack. I freak out if I can’t find my lip balm, so these packs make it easy to stock up and keep in convenient places.
  7. TRESemmé shampoo and hairspray: oh, how I love TRESemmé! One of my former coworkers once commented that she wished to be able to afford “fancy shampoo” someday. Why? There’s TRESemmé! I use their Extra Firm Control hairspray daily, and I’ll switch back and forth at times between their shampoos and other brands. They recently launched the Repair & Protect 7 shampoo, which is fantastic for color and chemically-treated or heat-styled hair. Shampoo goes down the drain, literally. So, I’m much more apt to switch up shampoos when needed, based on how much I want to spend. If your hair needs some serious repair, while maintaining color, give this one a try!
  8. Dove Sensitive Skin soap: this truly is a family-friendly, daily beauty product, and can be used from head to toe. It’s also incredibly budget conscious, and you can buy it in bulk at Costco, or multi-packs at Target. There are no synthetic fragrances to irritate sensitive skin, and it keeps skin healthy by cleansing without stripping moisture. Plus, it makes a really great shaving lather for legs!
  9. SheaMoisture skincare, hair and body care: this brand is fantastic! Not only for it’s social consciousness, but also it’s variety of quality, high-performing natural products. This brand is available at both ULTA and drugstores, and offers great solutions for beauty challenges, such as problem skin, dry hair, and anti-aging. If you want to take better care of your skin this year, and perform home facials more often, I suggest their African Black Soap Clarifying Mud Mask. Priced around $15 for a generously-sized jar, this mask deeply cleanses, soothes, brightens and unclogs skin, while being safe for those with sensitivities. Tip: Once a week in the morning, smooth this on your face, and then jump in the shower. The steam activates the charcoal in the mask, and allows it to work even better. As you wash your hair and body in the shower, let the mask sit for a few minutes to get spa-quality facial in a few minutes! Rinse and finish your shower as usual.

As you use up products in your daily routines, and want to cut back on costs, think about where you may be able to save while still maintaining your personal style and quality. Plus, all of the brands I mention above are raved about by beauty editors and magazines alike – the proof is in their performance, and you’ll see a savings!

© 2018 28daysbeauty

Beauty Topic: Packing your gym bag like a boss

It’s that time of year that we especially need to keep up with our health and exercise routine, despite the holiday rush and busy schedules. One of the excuses that many of us end up making is that it takes too much time to prep our gym bags. There’s also the challenge of trying to fit in a visit to the gym during the day, but needing to be at a company party or holiday celebration that evening – you don’t want to show up without looking your best. I totally get it – and I’ve found a few ways to combat this and help ensure I have what I need for the gym on a daily basis. Here’s some packing tips and products I’ve been using, and had great success with, especially during this busy season:

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  1. Grab unused makeup bags and organize products into groups: If you’re like me, you often shop during “gift with purchase” timeframes from your favorite beauty brands. This can result in a bunch of empty, unused makeup bags hanging out in your closet or bathroom drawers. Put them to better use! I currently have 3 in my gym bag (above) and use them in the following categories: a bag for makeup, a bag for shower items (shampoo, conditioner, etc), and a bag for feminine products. That way my gym bag always stays organized, and I can easily refill these bags when needed rather than fishing through my entire gym bag. Ziploc bags can also do the trick if you don’t have spare makeup bags. I also am re-using a fabric drawstring sleeve that held my bedroom sheet set as a shoe bag. It’s perfectly sized to keep the items in my bag protected from the soles of my shoes. (Hint: old pillowcases work well for this too!)
  2. For easier showering, use a reusable shopping tote bag to hold shower-only items: I don’t like having to haul my whole gym bag into the showers with me. I found a simple solution in using a reusable shopping tote (like my Bliss one above), and keeping my soap dish, razor container, clean wash cloth, and makeup bag for shower items (per my mention of this before) inside of it. That way, I can just grab it out of my gym bag and go right into the showers – I also use the tote as my “laundry bag” to keep sweaty gym clothes and used wash cloths from getting the inside of my gym bag wet on the way home. These tote bags are thin, and fairly weightless, plus they don’t take up much space inside your gym bag. If it starts to smell a bit funky, simply toss and replace as needed.
  3. Use travel-sized toiletries of your favorite products: I’ll admit I’m always kind of surprised when I see people hauling full-sized products around locker rooms. Why? There are so many easy options to either make your own travel-sized versions of your favorite products, or simply purchase travel-sized options – this saves both weight and space in your gym bag. Clinique, for example, sells a large amount of its product line in travel-sizes. I caution against using products that may be at the gym, like complimentary body wash – these often are loaded with synthetic fragrances, so there’s a chance you could develop a reaction if you have sensitive skin. Instead, use a solid bar soap for head-to-toe washing – CeraVe, Cetaphil, First Aid Beauty, and Dove make bar soaps that are gentle and appropriate for both face and body. Solid bar soaps don’t leak, last a long time, and they transport easily. Target has a great selection of travel-sized and TSA-approved bottles for shampoo, conditioner, and lotion that you can fill from your full-sized products. Travalo perfume bottles are great for keeping your favorite scents in a travel-friendly size – they’re easy to fill and fairly inexpensive. They make great stocking stuffers too!
  4. Use up beauty product samples: If you order online often from ULTA or Sephora, shop gift with purchase promotions, or have a subscription to a beauty box brand, you probably get a bunch of beauty samples regularly. These are perfect travel-sizes! From skin care to perfume, these make great options for using up within your gym bag. I just got my birthday samples from Sephora (Caudalie facial moisturizer and serum), plus had enough rewards points to get a new Kat Von D perfume vial – they are the perfect size for just this type of usage. It’s a great way to test new products, but also a convenient way to prevent these from piling up in your bathroom vanity.
  5. Get a travel-size version of your favorite hair tools: Many gyms offer hair dryers, but I’ve had more than one occasion where they just aren’t the power that I want, or in worst-case scenarios, barely work. I picked up a tiny Babyliss hair dryer that I absolutely love for under $35 – it’s powerful, and super lightweight. I also have a small flat-iron in my bag, that I use for controlling the ends of my hair. One item that I have discovered as a must-have is a plastic claw clip for my hair – it can keep my hair up in the shower (when I’m not having to wash it) or helping to style post-showering with either the blow dryer or flat-iron. I also have travel-sizes of dry shampoo and hair spray, as I prefer to use the formulas that I know and love.
  6. Lastly, use multi-tasking products: To save space and weight in your gym bag, use products that can be used in multiple ways. For example, BB cream can substitute foundation, moisturizer, SPF and an anti-aging treatment in one makeup product. The bar soaps that I mentioned above are great for face and body. You can also find an unscented, antioxidant-loaded lotion that works from head to toe to care for skin, such as First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Lotion. Use a washcloth for exfoliating your body and face – it also helps to ensure that sweat and odors are washed away, and give you a polished glow. I picked up a pack of baby wash cloths at Target, and they are the perfect size to have one in my gym bag at all times. For makeup colors, I advise to keep neutrals (blush and lipstick) in your makeup bag; this ensures that no matter what you’re wearing, the colors will look natural and fresh. Look for a separate product review soon on the makeup I currently have in my gym bag!

Each of us has our own preferences when it comes to workouts. But if you plan a bit ahead, and make use of some items you may already have around your house, you may discover that it’s easier to make gym visits a priority. Once I started getting into the habit of making sure my bag had my essentials, I found it less stressful to make the time and go workout.

I wish health and happiness to you and your family this holiday season – if you take time to care for yourself, I’ve found that it keeps you feeling more joyful and energized despite the hectic schedule.

©2017 28daysbeauty

 

Beauty Topic: Going to the spa on vacation & spa etiquette

As I’ve been lucky enough to travel quite extensively so far in my life, one thing that I’ve noticed is that my fellow Americans don’t usually plan for or consider spas a part of their vacation activities. Let alone their day-to-day routine. Which, to me, is really unfortunate. Our culture will spend tons of money for food or experiences, but often pass up a spa visit because it may be classified as too elitist or “luxurious” for the money. Spas, or “baths”, have been considered a part of civilization for thousands of years, and were truly meant to be a part of routine health and well-being. Since working in a spa as an esthetician early in my beauty career, I’ve realized how important it is to plan spa visits for myself regularly, as well as into my trip itineraries whenever possible – it truly adds to the pure relaxation of your vacation, or can help you during stressful times of your daily routine to escape for a bit and unwind.

In 2016, my husband and I were in Assisi, Italy, and stayed a night at the Nun Assisi Spa, which is not only heartbreakingly beautiful, but also is the recipient of numerous awards as a travel destination. This small spa hotel is a historical site dating back to time of the 1st century, and the services, products, and staff are amazing. As my husband and I were planning our Italy trip, we made a point to devote a day to just relaxing at the spa, and receiving massage and nail services. The underground infinity pool is warm and calming, and is next to the traditional four rooms of a Roman-style bath: the Tepidarium, Calidarium, Sudatorium, and Frigidarium. These rooms range in temperature to help purify the body and soothe the mind and senses. The modernization of the ancient space was so intelligently designed – it kept parts of the original Roman columns, yet the treatment rooms and amenities are beautifully done. Robes are plush, and there’s a lightly scented aroma throughout the spa. The day we spent at this spa was so incredible, and our services were so comforting and well done – it was such a nice bit of relaxation within a busy trip of sightseeing and touring. Given the opportunity to go back to Italy in the future, we’ll make it a point to stay here again!

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Last month, my husband was in Las Vegas for business, and I decided to join him at the end of the work week for an extended weekend getaway. We stayed at the Mirage, and even though I’ve been to Las Vegas several times, I’ve never been a guest there before. The Mirage actually houses an award-winning spa, and has a local following of routine clientele. I’m not a gambler, and seeing as though I was smack-dab in the middle of one of the most sought-after hospitality destinations in the world and had the time, I couldn’t pass up making a massage appointment to try out the spa.

The spa itself is beautiful, and is a welcome relief from the constant blur of lights, sounds, smoke, music and crowd moving through the casino floor. There is a private set of jacuzzis in both the women’s and men’s divisions of the spa, and the waiting rooms are quiet and pristine. My therapist was professional and fantastic in her technique – she was caring, attentive, and was obviously proud of her spa; welcoming me to enjoy all of the amenities and take my time. The robes here were some of the best I’ve ever used, not a one-size fits all, but sized appropriately for a woman’s body frame. My few days away felt like more a true vacation, being able relax for half a day in the spa. I’ll definitely come back to the Mirage Spa again, given the opportunity to return to Las Vegas.

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So, now that I’ve talked about a couple of great spas and why to visit them, let’s chat about proper spa etiquette – which is applicable at ANY spa environment. Note: I’m giving you these recommendations not only as a person that used to work in a spa, but also as a patron of spas – I’ve seen some bad behavior over the years that definitely impacts other guests, and your ability to truly enjoy a quality spa experience.

  1. Be quiet!!! Seriously, you don’t need to talk that much at all. The technician is also not there to make small talk – they are there to focus on your comfort, and your treatments as scheduled. It’s YOUR time to relax, reflect, rest, and just be still. I’ve worked on people who have literally talked their entire way through a facial or a body treatment – that’s not relaxation, nor does it make the technician’s job easy to focus. Turn off or silence cell phones too, and keep them in your provided locker.
  2. Be mindful of other people’s space and relaxation. Especially if you are in a group of people, like a bridal party. The walls are only sound-proof to a point – I get that you are there to enjoy yourself, but laughing, shouting, and drinking excessively (usually champagne) is not appropriate behavior within a spa. Even in the waiting room or lounges before or after your services. Also, put your dirty towels and robes in the baskets provided, and dispose of used napkins or leftover snacks in the garbage. Unless you’ve rented out the whole spa for your own use, keep in mind that other people are paying to have peace and quiet.
  3. Understand that paying for services doesn’t just support the technician, but also pays for your amenities provided during the time you are there. That includes the jacuzzis, showers, products, towels, robes and staff that keep the spa running. Prices are not something to haggle over or complain to the staff about. Also, if you feel that a service isn’t being received as you expected, speak up immediately and not after the service is done – it’s much easier to fix or correct a service mid-way through, if you feel something isn’t right.
  4. Be honest and clear about any allergies or health conditions before your treatments begin. If you have skin sensitivities, or have an existing injury, talk with the staff to ensure that they take that into account before your services begin. As an example, I always explain that mint or peppermint essential oils can easily irritate my skin, and I request them not to be used during a facial, pedicure or massage. This eliminates any reaction for me, and also helps the technician understand what products are best to use in the treatment.
  5. Get over being “awkward” about your body parts. This one is always one that makes me laugh, because spa employees are very much like people in the medical profession – the body, to them, is not something to be prudish about. It’s just part of the gig, and they are used to working on various parts of the human body and studying anatomy in their training. For example, in Europe, the standard is for the person receiving massage treatments to usually be completely naked, with the exception of paper underwear. In America, our technicians are much more compliant with modesty, and will drape the body accordingly. Just a word of caution, as cultural standards for treatments are not necessarily the same in different regions of the world.

Most of all, enjoy yourself and the amenities provided. Spas take great pride in providing comfort, and the amenities are there to make your stay even better. Also, you can usually find fantastic spas pretty easily. If you are on vacation, ask your hotel concierge, or simply look at Google or Trip Advisor. I truly recommend giving this a try the next time you vacation, or even looking in your surrounding community if you are feeling the need for a quick escape. The health benefits of relaxation, and being able to feel comforted and treated, is totally worth it for all of us.

©2017 28daysbeauty