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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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: 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.


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 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:


  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!



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.



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

Product Review: Sonia Kashuk Undetectable Foundation Stick

Sonia Kashuk is a real makeup artist, most notably having made supermodel Cindy Crawford look amazing for years. She also has a full makeup line at Target (since 1998), and stands by her mantra of affordable and accessible quality makeup. Having known of her talent for years, I decided to stop by her brand in the beauty aisle one day on a Target run to look at some of the newer products. One of the products I saw was the Undetectable Stick Foundation. I had not recently replenished my Clinique Chubby In the Nude Stick Foundation, so I decided to give this a try instead. I picked up the shade Latte 13, and took quick note that the product details indicated sheer, more natural coverage. I normally like more medium coverage foundations, but since I was needing a foundation to easily travel with, I decided to go ahead and purchase.

After using for about a month, I am a bit disappointed to say that I was a little underwhelmed with the performance of the foundation. The shade was right, and the formula blended easily with both my fingers and a foundation brush. But the challenge, for me, was that I just didn’t like the light coverage. I also felt that it didn’t have a lot of staying power, which I was used to with the Clinique stick foundation performance. I did like the size of the product, and the value of the amount of foundation you received for the money. But as someone who has a bit of hyper-pigmentation in my skin (since I’m so sun-sensitive), I didn’t feel that the coverage was buildable enough. Also, I have combination skin, which seemed to feel a little bit oily later in the day with this formula.

I do think that if you are looking for a very natural, easy-to-use foundation, you may really like this. If you have a more dry skin type, this creamy formula may be a bit more comforting for you as well, even though the product states that is has oil-absorbing qualities. (Wha? Yeah, I know!) The convenience of the stick packaging is great –  it was very convenient for travel! I am a fan of Sonia Kashuk makeup, as I think her brand offers a great selection of multi-tasking products, and very wearable shades, at a great price point. But for those who are wanting a higher performance foundation, I’m not sure this is the one that I would recommend.

© 2017 28daysbeauty

Beauty Topic: Buying Skincare in Kits

Many women have wondered if it’s worth buying a skincare “system” or a kit, since there’s often the marketing message “you need to use all products from the same brand at the same time to see results” attached with this concept. Having been a former esthetician, I have a very strong opinion on this. My opinion is “no”, that’s not really necessary. If you sell skincare for an at-home marketing company or for a major beauty brand, you probably will be upset with me. However, I do really like buying smaller trial kits from a brand, such as the one I’m going to chat about below, when I want to try more products within a recommended regimen. The reason my opinion is “no” to having to buy a system is that not all of a brand’s products may be 100% appropriate for the type of skin you have. For example, I really like the Olay Complete SPF 15 Sensitive Moisturizer. But my skin reacts to their facial cleansers based on their blend of sulfate ingredients, and irritates my skin enough to cause mild breakouts. Also, I don’t believe in shelling out a ton of money to try a new brand, as you can often find smaller/cheaper trial size kits that give you enough product to see how your skin will ACTUALLY behave over time when making the switch. I know women often attend home parties or visit a cosmetic counter for skincare, and buy a couple hundred dollars’ worth of a new brand – to me, that’s a bit risky and not all that necessary. Sadly, I’m also well aware that if the women aren’t happy with the results after using for a few weeks, they end up tossing the product rather than getting their money back.

Step 1 in any trial of skin, hair or makeup product is know what’s inside the product, and if you can tell what known allergens are inside (like synthetic fragrance) that may cause you a reaction. If that coast is clear, Step 2 is seeing if the kit has products that you know you’ll actually use daily. Many people rarely use a mask daily, for example. If you are truly seeking a new regimen, find a kit that you can use up daily as you’ll determine your skin’s reaction that much faster – for better, or for worse. This goes for haircare too – I really like trying a new haircare brand’s travel kit first, as I’ll use it for a week or two to see how my hair and hair color reacts to the products’ ingredient blend.

Sephora, ULTA, Target and most department stores often sell larger kits (or usually called “gifts”) around the major retail holidays: Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and back-to-school. And many brands offer kits online year-round. What can be great about these kits is that you often get a nice variety product for a better value than buying all full sizes. That way, if you really hate it and make the decision to toss, you’re probably only out about $20-$40, rather than over $100. Also, if you get a gift card for one of these stores, you’ll get more bang for your buck to buy a kit, over individual products.

Case in point, my husband gave me a Valentine’s Day gift card for Sephora, and I decided to treat myself to a First Aid Beauty Kit that features their Pure Skin Face Cleanser, their famous Ultra Repair Cream moisturizer (that I LOVE) and their Facial Radiance Pads. The 2.0 oz tubes contain about 4 weeks worth, which totals 28 days of beauty!!! Get it? 😉 That is the whole point of trying these types of sizes – I knew that within 4 weeks (which is the appropriate amount of time for skin cell turnover) that I would have my results, and be able to form an educated opinion. First Aid Beauty’s skincare concept is designing products specifically for people with very sensitive skins, but who also want results. Since I hadn’t tried their Facial Radiance Pads or Pure Skin Face Cleanser before, I was totally game to test them out.


After using the set for about three weeks, while also using witch hazel as a toner after cleansing, here’s my thoughts on these products:

  1. Pure Skin Face Cleanser: I am really happy I decided to try this, as I love foaming cleansers that are gentle, but also remove all makeup. Since I love both Clinique and CeraVe cleansers, this one had to at least perform similarly or exceed my expectations. I was first surprised how concentrated it was, as a little bit goes a very long way. Also, it’s pH-balanced formula has natural extracts, is fragrance-free, and zero parabens. It feels comforting and cushy, but rinses cleanly without stripping skin. Based on that, and the fact that my husband keeps stealing this in the shower, I think it’s become a new family favorite.
  2. Facial Radiance Pads: One of my favorite nightly treatments is a mild AHA application to help purify, exfoliate, even out, and brighten skin overnight. These are super convenient in application, and remind me of the Altchek MD Glycolic Pads that I’ve used before and like. What is great with these is that the 28 day supply of pads is a convenient travel-size, and I’ve already used it a few times on weekend trips. My skin felt comfortable after applying after witch hazel, and prior to moisturizing. In the morning, my skin felt soft, brighter, and I’m starting to see some darker spots fade. This formula combines lactic and glycolic AHA’s, plus contains similar skin-loving extracts as the cleanser, without fragrance or parabens. Loving these so far, and the full-size prize is very reasonable at $30 for 60 pads.
  3. Ultra Repair Cream: This moisturizer is appropriate for any skin type, but especially cares for the hyper-sensitive, eczema sufferers, or any skin type that is dry, overstressed and in need of calming hydration. The formula also combines natural extracts, contains zero fragrances or parabens, but is also very concentrated. It’s appropriate for face, body, or hands. I’ve been using this every night with the other products above, as I use the Olay Complete SPF 15 moisturizer during the day. And my skin continues to feel great, as I’ve raved about in previous posts! I love how the antioxidant and ceramide-3 blend is anti-aging, yet also builds the skin’s natural defenses and strengthens the moisture-barrier. This size was incredibly convenient to take with me on weekend trips as an all-purpose moisturizer.

If I were to buy all of these individually, it would have been $90 for the normal full sizes. But for $30, this was a great way to enjoy a product I already love, plus get to try two new options from this brand for a month. Through this little experiment, I have even more respect for the brand, as I can tell the science and research they have put into these products are really innovative. I like the blend of nature and science, as it creates formula combinations for sensitive skin to receive the special care it needs.

I truly hope this review helps, as I think many people (men and women) can be frustrated by the amount of skincare choices out there – but knowing what to look for, and that these value kits can be a great option to try, helps in narrowing down selections while sticking to your budget. Plus, if you purchase from a known retailer, you can often return a kit if it just doesn’t work out for you.

© 2017 28daysbeauty


Product Review: Julep Love Your Bare Face Cleansing Stick

Korean beauty innovations have made a huge impact on the retail scene in recent years, and are changing the way that many women shop for both skincare and makeup products. Some of these K-beauty products include cleansing sticks, which are basically solid versions of liquid facial cleansers. One of my favorites is from Julep – a Korean-inspired brand that has brought both simplicity and innovation to the forefront. Here’s what I like about their Love Your Bare Face cleansing stick:

1) It’s so easy to use!! Remove the cap, twist up a bit of the stick, and swirl across  a damp face. Then wet your hands, and work into a lather. This also works beautifully with a konjac sponge for extra deep-cleaning. Julep offers konjac sponges, but my favorite is the sensitive skin version from Eco-Tools. Rinse after 30-60 seconds, and your skin feels clean and soft!

2) The formula is fantastic! The base of this formula is coconut oil, with a blend of other oils that purify, comfort, break down makeup, and soothe skin. Plus, fruit enzymes work to exfoliate and purge skin of debris and dead skin cells. If you normally experience a bit of dryness or flakiness as the weather becomes cooler, this formula is perfect for combination, sensitive and drier skins – it helps skin keep hydrated as the climate changes. Green Tea extract and Vitamin E round out an impressive blend of ingredients, with no added fragrances. 

3) Perfect for travel or gym bags! Anyone who travels a lot can tell you that it’s tricky to find beauty product packaging that doesn’t burst open. Or how cool it is to find a multi-tasking product that takes  up minimal space or your bag. I was truly surprised how much product you get, and the size is the same as an average stick of deodorant. Plus, the package design is waterproof, and the cap twists on securely. I’ve had my cleansing stick now for about 2 months, and there’s still quite a lot remaining. It’s a great value! 

This is fast becoming a favorite cleanser of mine, and just may replace my go-to everyday Clinique Mild bar soap. Especially since the packaging is so easy to use and travel with. Don’t let the oils and extracts in the formula scare you if you have combination or oilier skin – this is a great cleanser for most skin types, especially as we go into Fall. 

© 2016 28daysbeauty 

Beauty Topic: Stick-style Makeup

Stick makeup, whether automatic or pencil-sharpener style, has been growing in popularity over the last several years. Especially due to certain brands, such as Nudestix, which are entirely sold in stick packaging only. I’ve heard many women say that they really don’t know how to use this type of makeup, but in reality, its incredibly easy and fun to use. Not to mention very convenient, especially if you are someone who doesn’t have a ton of time in your schedule or travels often. Hint: these are great choices for gym bags!

I much prefer automatic-style over pencil sharpening, especially for travel. Also, you end up getting more use of product and less waste, because you aren’t having to scrape away so much with a sharpener. The brands and products that I’m featuring below are the exact choices I used in my recent trip to Italy – they are not only easy to use, but also high-performance formulas in a high-humidity climate.  

cargo, clinique, billion dollar brows, revlon
my top picks for stick-style makeup

From the top:

1) Cargo Color Stick (in Key West) – Cargo has a hold on my heart, since their products are versatile and performance-driven. I love using this Color Stick with my foundation brush to create a beautiful flush of color on my cheeks, and also use with my fingers as a neutral lipstick. It’s creamy, with just a slight shimmer. Plus, it doesn’t streak or fade. Just twist up and dot to apply, then blend.

2) Billion Dollar Brows Univeral Eyebrow Pencil – this is amazing!! It’s a fantastic neutral shade that many can wear, and is an easy to use twist up pencil, with a spoolie brush on the end. It holds up to humidity, and is very buildable. The formula also controls brow hair, which makes it even more versatile.

3) Clinique Chubby in the Nude Foundation Stick – new from Clinique, this is a bit of a echo of the Maybelline Express Foundation Sticks from the 1990’s (all hail Sarah Michelle Gellar’s ads), but the formula is modern and outstanding. Twist up and smooth across the broadest areas of forehead, cheeks, nose and chin. Blend easily with a foundation brush, and the formula feels lightweight yet buildable. It also makes a great spot concealer, if needed. The formula does not contain sunscreen, so make sure to prep with an SPF moisturizer.

4) Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm (in Enchanting) – honestly, this is quickly becoming my favorite matte lipstick. The style is similar to glossy balms, but the coverage is full. Plus, the formula just rocks – it’s matte, but moisturizing, and wears well. I haven’t experienced the cracks or icky goo spots that some matte lipsticks create after an hour or so. Matte lipsticks can be hard to wear, especially lighter nude shades. But this one doesn’t disappoint – just beautiful! 

5) Clinique Chubby Stick Shadow Tint for Eyes – this is a great combination of color and staying power, which also can act as a base for powder shadow. This formula definitely has shimmer, but spreads easy with either your finger or shadow brush. The dry-down is fast, and is long-wearing. What I really like about these is they can be easily layered – just make sure to allow dry-down before applying the next shade.

clinique, cargo, revlon
easy to use formulas

I highly recommend these brands and formulas if you are going to be traveling, or want multi-tasking products that are easy to use. Plus, I think all are a great value for the performance you receive. 

©2016 28daysbeauty

Beauty Topic: multi-tasking sun & skincare for travel

My husband and I just got back from vacation in Italy, and we needed to keep our luggage rather light due to regular travel between various cities. We have the exact same skincare type: sensitive, reactive, and easily sunburnt. 

san gimignano
Countryside of San Gimignano

The climate and weather of Italy in June is very consistent – high 80-90 degrees, and very sunny. So instead of relying on lotions and toiletry items given to us by our hotels, I specifically choose products from brands that I knew would be high-performing, and also preventative/corrective to help take care of both of us. Think about it – have you gone on any vacations where you got badly sunburnt or had a rash/reaction that made you feel awful the rest of your trip? It happens, and so here’s my recommendation that any skintype can use to look and feel great:

olay, first aid beauty, cerave, cotz
top picks for moisturizers & face sunblock

Moisturizers & facial sunblock:

1) First Aid Beauty is quickly becoming one my top beauty brand picks of all time. Why? All of their products are jam-packed with high-performing ingredients that also soothe even the most sensitive skins. The Ultra Repair Lotion can be used on face and body, and is fantastic for repairing over-heated skin, reducing redness, hydrating, and balancing the skin. We used this lotion at night, as our night cream and body moisturizer.

2) Olay Complete Sensitive Skin Moisturizer – this is my gold-standard for daytime moisture and SPF protection (see my other posts about this). We used this head to toe, even as a body moisturizer, in order to make sure we had SPF coverage. A 6oz bottle was the perfect size for us to share.

3) CeraVe Eye Repair Cream – I didn’t want to pack too heavy of an eye cream, since I knew we’d be dealing with humidity, but I wanted a formula to mostly treat and soothe. This formula nails it everytime. It is lightweight, but is loaded with anti-aging and hydrating ingredients. For the price, it’s one of be best values on the beauty market for performance. Plus, the tube is perfect for travel. 

4) CoTZ Face – with SPF 40, and an all mineral-based formula, this product was our workhorse for targeted facial sunblock protection. The formula is perfect for men and women, and absorbs quickly. I used it prior to makeup, and on the areas that would be affected most by sun – cheeks, nose, forehead, back of my neck, and ears. It worked perfectly, and didn’t add any shine or a greasy/sticky feeling that some sunblocks do.

neutrogena, altchek md
high-performing must-haves

For body care, I did pack along my favorite high-performers to prevent sunburn, and treat cracked/dry skin:

1) Altchek MD Doctor’s Skin Remedy is a multi-tasking balm that repairs chapped lips, ragged cuticles, small irritations, flakiness, and other dry skin issues. A little goes a long way, and it makes a great lip balm base for lipstick. We used it as a hand cream, since we were constantly washing our hands due to public places. It has made it’s way into my daily skincare regimen.

2) Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunscreen – for all skin types, this truly is one of the best you can get for sun protection that won’t cause allergic reactions. So many people buy spray sunscreens or chemical based sunscreens, and then end up having reactions, redness, bumps, and other skin issues. This never failed us – it is sweat proof and waterproof, and didn’t cause any irritation. One tube was great for the both of us, and we used it over the Olay moisturizer to give extra coverage to arms, legs, and shoulders.

first aid beauty
first aid beauty’s bar soap

Finally, the best multi-tasker of the bunch was the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Gentle Cleansing Bar. Don’t let the name fool you – this is a really highly performing product that we used head to toe (face and body) that got us squeaky clean yet feeling hydrated and soothed. This is a fantastic new soap on the market, and I was so impressed with the condition of our skin. It performed in various water (hard and soft), and washed  away the sweat, dirt, and grime from us being active tourists. One bar was plenty for us to share – it’s a great value! 

By packing smart and effective products that care for your skin, you can save space in your luggage and feel comfortable during your travels. Many people rely on hotel provided products, but then end up feeling itchy or irritated due to unknown ingredients. Plus, these have changed my routine at home a bit, to help save time and money in buying multi-taskers that perform!
© 2016 28daysbeauty