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!

fullsizeoutput_ddd

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.

fullsizeoutput_b49

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: 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.

H8qnu5MRQJ69i6iXA7r4cQ

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.

th6gwdGOSzCZ6rXXgWGc5A

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.

mHodcg4eROefOFKgXBPCKQ

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.

fullsizeoutput_b8f

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!

yjx18zfqqkmzmofpckzug.jpg

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 Review: Cheap Thrills Part #1 – e.l.f. beautifully bare top 3 picks

Inspired by a recent trip to Target that has renovated it’s beauty department, I decided to grab a few new items from some of my favorite brands and write a 3-part series that I’m lovingly calling “Cheap Thrills”. It’s not a dig at all – it’s meant with the highest praise in the fact that not only are these amazing products, but you can get them at super low prices! Win – win!! Plus, I love that the products I’m providing a review on in this series are all perfect for summer – they are long-wearing, low-maintenance, and can take the heat/humidity that comes along with all-day activities. Let’s get into it!

fullsizeoutput_7ad

From left to right, my picks are from e.l.f. Cosmetics’ “Beautifully Bare” collection:

  1. Natural Glow Face Palette in “Fresh & Flawless” – the palette features a champagne highlighter, two blushes, and a bronzer. The shimmer is subtle – not sparkly, which gives the skin a beautiful satin finish. The formula is 100% vegan, and cruelty-free. The powders are silky, very lightweight, and blend easily together. I like using this as a full-face palette – I’ve used the bronzer as a contour shade on my cheeks and eyes, and the highlighter in a c-shape around my cheekbones up to my brow-bones. Powders are great for any skin type in summer – they stay put and help your foundation keep from sliding due to sweat or humidity.

zXaeg0l+TIiyBA++B8jJYQ

2. Smooth Matte Eyeshadow in “Blushing Rose” – there are several colors that this cream eyeshadow comes in, and “Blushing Rose” is a soft, pretty mauve with a hint of grayish-brown. I apply after foundation and concealer, and prior to any powders – using the doe-foot applicator across the lid, and blend easily with an eye-shadow brush. It locks down to a matte, dry finish, and wears all day. I like layering this as an eye-shadow base before applying powder formulas. I tend to stay away from eyeliner during summer, mostly due to the humidity and sweat-factor, and focus on a bright lip color (more on that in a minute) instead. This is great product to add a bit of polish to an overall easy summer look. Just finish your brows and swipe on mascara, and you’re done!

3. And lastly, Satin Lipstick in “Touch of Berry” – I love, love, love brighter lipsticks for summer. It’s super easy to go simple on the rest of your makeup, and let a bright lipstick take center stage. Plus, in super hot or humid weather, a bright lipstick is much less likely to look messy or runny through the day – just reapply when needed.  By using less makeup overall, your look will look instantly refreshed when a new coat of lipstick is applied. This formula is light, hydrating, and softly glossy. This berry color feels like a balm, and looks fantastic on any skin tone.

fullsizeoutput_7b0

All in, these 3 products together are under $20 total! I’ve also taken these with me on a few weekend trips – they pack light, and are great with multiple looks. Stay tuned for the next picks, and happy shopping!

© 2018 28daysbeauty

Product Review: Living Proof Perfect Hair Day (PhD) 5-in-1 Styling Treatment

I know that it’s been a while since I last blogged. Life got a little cray cray. But, the even though I didn’t get any time to blog, I’ve been able to try and test out a bunch of different products (yay!) during the last month and a half. And one of them, per this blog post, I REALLY recommend adding to your haircare arsenal just in time for Valentine’s Day! I have been trying the Living Proof brand for a while, and while I’m not completely yet sold on their shampoo and conditioner (let’s just say my love for TRESemmé and Shea Moisture is really hard to overthrow), I am in love with their amazing 5-in-1 styling treatment “Perfect Hair Day”. I’ll admit that skincare and makeup are my forte, and that means that haircare and styling falls a bit lower down the totem pole in priority for me in my daily routine. I’m always up for trying a product that tackles multiple functions at once, and allows me to save a bit of time in getting ready.

Over the years, I’ve also learned to go with the flow and let my hair do what it wants. I have very straight, thick auburn hair – it reacts best to being kept in a longer style, no bangs, and being washed every other day. About twice a week I either curl it with a larger barrel curling iron or flat iron it straight, so I try to keep heat styling to a minimum overall between washes. In addition, I color it every 8 weeks, so I notice that it gets dried out easily. That being said, I wanted a product that could treat and help with all of those factors. Enter the Perfect Hair Day!

IMG_4285

Let’s talk about what makes this product awesome:

  1. It handles 5 common, and essential, hair styling concerns: it volumizes, smooths, adds hydration, strengthens, and gives an overall finishing polish/shine. Score! I love the fact that I can use just 1 product, but achieve all of these benefits.
  2. It doesn’t weigh hair down, is silicone-free, and creates great volume and texture. Having straight hair, I definitely notice when a product causes buildup or makes my hair feel limp and dull the next day. Silicone can cause build-up on hair, especially from products that are left on hair strands all day. I love the fact that this product does all of the things it says it does (see item #1), but you can go into the next day using dry shampoo to refresh, and it still gives you the benefits you had the day before. I also like that it adds shine, but doesn’t make hair slippery.
  3. It’s super concentrated and a good value despite the $28 price tag for 4 ounces. It’s a cream formula, and you apply it to clean, damp hair. I shampoo and condition, like usual, and then apply about a nickel-sized amount all throughout my hair before blow drying.
  4. It delivers results! As one of the brand’s co-founders, Jennifer Aniston is one of my style icons, and my hair is actually very similar to hers in style and texture. I can see why she used to endorse this brand. My hair holds it’s style better, has had zero static or flyaways in this harsh winter weather, and has been healthier between colorings. She always looks amazing, including her low-key but polished hairstyle.

My only challenge to Living Proof is to change the packaging of this product – I think a tube would be a much better package, since the current cap gets clogged a bit. But this has now officially replaced my other serums and styling products that I used to layer. If I want a lot of added shine, I’ll use my Biosilk Original Silk Therapy on top of this, but I’ve found that I’m just not reaching for it as much as before. Other than my dry shampoo and hairspray, the Perfect Hair Day (PhD) 5-in-1 is my new go-to daily staple! Give it a try and see how it makes a difference with your hair.

Product Review: Burt’s Bees makeup

For those of you who got gift cards to ULTA this Christmas, and you are looking for a fresh, natural new makeup line to try, I suggest looking at Burt’s Bees! Earlier this year, Burt’s Bees expanded their collection of makeup beyond lip glosses, lipstick and BB cream. They’ve added a full line of blush, brow pencils, eye shadows, mascara, eye liner, foundation, and introduced new colors of lipsticks. If you’ve read my previous blog post about natural beauty picks, I recommend the lipsticks from Burt’s Bees as being a great alternative to mass or big label brands. Their new full line boasts formulas that are paraben, petrolatum and pthalate-free. But I was wondering about performance, as natural makeup lines in the past have often lacked in that department. You also may have noticed in my last post about using multi-tasking products in your gym bag that I show the Burt’s Bees makeup line in my bag – I chose to try this line out for just that purpose, apart from my usual routine. I wanted to try the performance of this all-natural line, as well as being a space-saving and multi-tasking line of essentials in my gym bag. After trying them for the past 3 months, I’m super impressed with the quality, pigmentation, and long-wearability of the Burt’s Bees makeup line! Let’s do a deep dive and see what makes these an awesome choice for people who want more naturally based, but high-performing, makeup.

IMG_4294

First off, I wanted to try the Burt’s Bees BB cream, as I needed to have a multi-tasking product in my gym bag to act as moisturizer, foundation, and anti-aging treatment, as well as protect with SPF. BB cream to the rescue! This BB cream is a bit thick, but it smooths on easily, and hydrates without making my combination skin feel too oily. The SPF is titanium dioxide based, and delivers broad spectrum protection. I especially like the light coverage to even out my skin tone. In this last month, I’ve mixed a little bit of moisturizer (First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream) on any drier patches of my face, prior to applying the BB cream. The finish is a little bit dewy, but mostly a satin effect – the coverage is light, so it’s a great post-workout makeup to show off a healthy glow.

Next, I grabbed the classic black Nourishing Mascara, which promised to lengthen lashes and increase volume. I usually just go for mascara when getting ready after a workout, as I feel the skin has an awesome glow about it – I want to let my complexion shine a bit, and not worry about too much eye makeup. This mascara is great! It does what it says, and lengthens and volumizes. I wouldn’t say that it beats my other favorites (e.l.f Mineral Mascara, or L’Oreal’s Carbon Black Voluminous mascara), but for an all-natural formula, it does not flake or smudge! My only wish is that the brush was a bit thinner – it’s a great silicone-style brush, but doesn’t allow for the control that a skinnier brush would give.

For my cheeks, I chose a blush in the shade Shy Pink. LOVE!! It’s a perfect blend of peachy-pink, and with just the slightest amount of shimmer. And wow, the pigment is really strong! Just a little bit goes a really long way, and I can easily blend it with my travel kabuki brush from Eco-Tools.

Lastly, I grabbed their brow pencil in Blonde, which has a spoolie brush on the end. This is super easy to use and convenient – the wax is soft, highly pigmented, and very blendable. Like the blush a little goes a long way, and just sharpen before each use. Even though the temperatures are a bit extreme right now, I haven’t noticed any fading or smearing of color. My brows look groomed and even, with just the right amount of color.

Not pictured is my Burt’s Bees Lipstick in Blush Basin – it’s a gorgeous rosy-pink neutral, and is so moisturizing that I don’t need to prep first with lip balm. The great thing about this shade is that it looks completely natural, yet polished, and goes with whatever outfit I’m wearing after my workout. I’m seriously considering making a few of these a standard product in my daily routine, and not just keeping in my gym bag. The line is also very reasonably priced, and is fully available online at ulta.com. Target has the lipsticks and BB cream as well, but not the blush or eye makeup yet. If you are looking for a more naturally based makeup routine, but want high-performance products, treat yourself and give this line a try!

©28daysbeauty 2017

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:

n746z4xeshehwuyxq5dlrw.jpg

  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

 

Product Review: Onomie Powerful Priming Serum

The weather is starting to change, my sailing season is officially done, and autumn is officially here – my favorite season. What also will be starting to show is all of the sun damage that may have occurred over the summer. For those of you who do tan, you may be noticing that there are darker splotches or patches as the color fades. And for those of us who normally burn, you may notice freckles or dark spots that are suddenly appearing. Serums are one of the best products to tackle specific skin challenges, as they are concentrated and packed with active ingredients. I normally switch up my skincare routine between winter and summer, and fall is the perfect transition period to make those product updates. So, I looked for a serum that had claimed to address uneven tone and dark spots, as I noticed I have a bit of sun damage on my cheeks from being outdoors this summer. I’d been asked by a friend to review the Onomie brand before, and after researching their formulas and skincare approach, I decided to give them a try. I’ve now used their Powerful Priming Serum since mid-August, and here’s my thoughts after 45 days of use:

IMG_3798

  1. The formula is a clinical-grade blend of natural plant extracts and Vitamin C, which is one of the things that appealed to me about the brand. These extracts, like Willowbark, are known to increase collagen production, hydration, even skin tone, and improve texture. However, the product has an added shimmer (mica) to the product, which I had to get a bit used to. After using this product for a while, I found I could actually do without the shimmer. Yes, it helps to blur fine lines and add radiance to the skin, but I’m not sure it’s what I want in full face coverage. I prefer to add shimmer with a highlighter where wanted.
  2. The product’s packaging dispenses just the right amount for a full face application. I have also used additional pumps to apply on my neck and chest. I have also found that my arms and backs of my hands have some dark spots (presumably from hours out on the water), so I’ve been liberally applying to help even tone overall. I recommend using serums that have pump packaging, as it seals the product against bacteria and air (oxidation). This keeps the product hygienic and fresh, without adding the risk of causing breakouts.
  3. Speaking of breakouts, I noticed that within the first two weeks of use that I developed a few small pimples along my cheeks and jaw. But that is to be expected, as a product that increases cellular turnover will naturally “purge” the skin of any blockages or debris that may be embedded within pores. This usually calms down, once the skin has had a chance to settle into the new product and the fresher cells begin to emerge. Tip: if you do experience persistent breakouts, or if you notice suddenly that you have a rash or a worsening breakout, then stop application.

IMG_3799

Another selling point of the serum claimed that it was a priming serum, meaning that it would help makeup last longer. I did not find that to be the case for me. I’m a sensitive/combination skin type, and often experience an oily T-zone – I didn’t find that using this primer made my foundation last that much longer than I’m normally used to. My final results with using this serum for the last two months is that I’ve noticed a subtle change in the overall tone of my skin, which is what I wanted due to the darker spots on my cheeks. And my skin felt hydrated and smooth.

One important point that I do want to highlight with this (and any serum that contains Vitamin C or exfoliating ingredients like Willowbark) is that you need to wear a minimum of SPF 15 during the day to protect skin for this to be effective. Otherwise, you will not see progress on the benefits of tone correction and reducing fine lines.  Vitamin C can also make your skin more sensitive to sun exposure, so it’s best to protect against further damage.

Overall, I think it’s a solid serum, and I especially like the approach that this brand uses with a blend of nature and science. Onomie features a blog on their website, in which they feature articles from estheticians and topics such as stress relief. They offer bundles of products, and also a subscription service; which is a smart way to try a regimen and also ensure that you won’t run out of product – especially since this only sold online, or in their NYC showroom. I think this brand has a lot of promise going forward – I like their indie yet educated approach, and I think we’ll continue to see great product innovation come from them!

©2017 28daysbeauty

Product Review: Clinique’s BIY Blend It Yourself Pigment Drops

Full disclosure, I previously managed a Clinique counter years ago, and so the brand holds a special place in my heart. But for good reason – even though they are a major beauty brand (owned and founded by the Estée Lauder company), I like that they stay true to their mission of producing great skin care and always allergy testing. So when Clinique launches products, I tend to perk up and listen. Case in point, they are on a recent kick of featuring newly customizable products. Since I’m always on the look out for a great tinted moisturizer, this newer product of BIY Blend It Yourself Pigment Drops caught my eye – this is pure pigment that allows you to make any moisturizer into a light tint or full-coverage hydrating foundation. Whee!!! As a makeup artist, my head immediately started swirling with all of the multi-purpose and functionality possibilities – even the idea of adding a bit to eye creams to help conceal dark circles and reduce puffiness while evening skin tone was amazing. As a pragmatic and sensitive skin-focused esthetician, I was also excited as this gives a lot of people who normally shy away from heavier foundations a chance to experiment by finding their perfect coverage on their terms. Foundation can often have a lot of fillers, so this allows you the option to take straight pigment and apply with the vehicle (serum or moisturizer) that you decide. The benefit of this is that it takes on whatever finish the serum or moisturizer is – matte, satin or dewy. Score!!

IMG_3800

There’s a full range of shades to pick from, and easy to test on the jawline just like you would with any foundation. My shade is BIY 105 (VF-N), which is Clinique-speak for “very fair – neutral”. Don’t let the small bottle fool you though. If you think about it, foundations are usually pigment mixed with a base that does specific functions: long-wearing, smoothing, anti-aging, SPF protection, moisturizing, full-coverage, oil-control, etc. If you think about it, you can accomplish this with a moisturizer (best fit for your specific skincare needs) and then customize it with a level of coverage that you want. Mind. Blown. Speaking of coverage, let’s get to that – the drops are measured and are very concentrated. Caution, a little goes a long way. It’s a very watery consistency but that doesn’t mean that it’s diluted. I like more full-coverage foundations and I’ve found that 2 drops in my dime-sized dot of Olay Complete All Day UV SPF 15 Moisturizer is the perfect blend. I’ve also found that the coverage is buildable – I’ll take a a little bit of the pigment, and layer where needed.

The one thing that I’ve learned from using this for the past 3 months is that I am not using a foundation brush to apply – this now falls into my morning regimen at my moisturizer phase. I will also apply this down my neck and around my eyes, with layering to build up coverage. I’ve found that it works best to use the back of my left hand as a palette: first squeeze a dime-size amount of Olay moisturizer, and then drop 2 drops of BIY into the moisturizer. Swirl to mix, and then apply and blend out. I’ll use a little bit more to layer where needed, if I want more coverage. If you want a more mattifying effect, I recommend using Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel rather than the Olay moisturizer – it creates a silky finish that helps keep oily spots shine free. If you are looking for a very full-coverage effect with more shine control, you can easily blend a powder foundation over the top. Conversely, if you want a dewy affect, blend a single drop with a moisturizing serum for a sheer, hydrated look.

I do still use foundations, as sometimes I prefer my favorites (such as L’Oreal True Match or PUR’s 4-in-1 Liquid foundations) to achieve a specific look or effect. But I now include BIY in my mix of makeup, as it provides options that I couldn’t get with other products. My hope is that this stays within the standard foundation line-up for Clinique, and that this review helps clarify how to use it. Once you get the hang of it, and you see how to blend it in with your favorite skincare treatments or moisturizers, I think you’ll love having it as an option to use.

© 2017 28daysbeauty