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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 28daysbeauty

 

Beauty Topic: Quick & easy beauty fixes for summer

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 28daysbeauty

Beauty topic: Combat dry skin

In the dead of winter, the combination of moving in and out of heated buildings and wind chills outdoors take a toll on everyone’s skin. Static electricity also spikes, which makes your hair and clothing a mess. And to make it worse, if you catch a bad cold or the flu, your nose and lips can get irritated or cracked easily from the amount of medication or tissues you go through. There are a few quick and easy ways to combat dry skin, especially to ensure you are taking proper care of your body’s largest organ.

Daily Care:

Even if you have oilier skin, there are certain ingredients in products that will exacerbate drier conditions and throw skin out of balance. During winter, it’s wise to switch up your daily routine from gel cleansers or topical drying agents (benzoyl peroxide, for example) to creamier formulas if your skin seems flaky or irritated. Unfortunately, no amount of makeup can easily cover up cracked or irritated skin – and in most cases can irritate it further. Maintaining moisture balance within your skin is one of the key ways to not only stay healthy (your skin blocks germs and bacteria from entering your body) but also a means to keep skin looking youthful. Skin that lacks moisture balance has telltale signs; lines and wrinkles, uneven tone and texture, loss of elasticity, flaking or cracking, and redness or irritation. Skin can also experience breakouts if the moisture barrier in the epidermis is out of balance.

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easy to use products to treat dry skin

I recommend switching to a creamier cleanser, such as CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser, as it helps to remove impurities and makeup, but contains ceramides to help maintain skin’s natural moisture barrier. A tip for use: use a makeup remover wipe or micellar water to pre-cleanse, then apply cleanser generously. Rinse with lukewarm water, and pat dry. Dove Sensitive Skin bar soap is also fantastic to use head to toe, as it moisturizes yet thoroughly cleanses. I do recommend using witch hazel as a toner after cleansing, as it helps soothe any irritation.

After cleansing and toning, apply a rich moisturizer that is suitable for any skin type: First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream. This moisturizer absorbs easily, but will not make combination or oilier skin feel greasy. It calms redness and irritation, and can be layered to build hydration for severely dry skin. Plus, you can use it head to toe! It is also safe for several skin issues, including treating eczema.

For cracked skin, one of my favorite treatments is Altchek MD’s Doctor’s Skin Remedy balm. This is amazing for lips, cuticles, hands, tips of nose, or any where skin feels severely dry. It also helps tame flyaways at your hairline, and smooth down unruly brows. I keep a tube in my handbag from September through May, since the Midwest is known for crazy weather conditions and it’s an awesome multi-purpose skincare product.

Special treatments:

One other great treatment to incorporate into your routine is a facial mist. One of my favorites is Caudalie’s Beauty Elixir, which contains brightening, hydrating and anti-aging antioxidant ingredients. The brand is known for incorporating polyphenols from grapes into it’s skincare line, which fight aging. This can be misted onto skin at any time, sets makeup, and is especially great at night – layer it underneath your moisturizer and wake up to glowing skin. Head’s up to guys too – this feels great and soothing to the face after shaving.

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one of my favorite facial mists!

If you are especially dry, I do recommend taking a cue right from your kitchen and applying either organic coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil onto clean skin. Both oils mimic skin’s own natural sebum, and are readily absorbed to heal. I recommend using them at night, since makeup will tend to slide right off skin if applied over the oils.

For acne sufferers, you may want to give benzoyl peroxides a break if skin is extremely red or irritated. Salicylic acid acne treatments are easier on the skin, and do not dry out the skin a much as benzoyl peroxide can. Clean & Clear makes a great spot treatment, with 2% Salicylic acid, which is considered a very effective strength.

Since we have more weeks of winter left, it’s crucial to make sure you take care of your skin. Not only will it help keep you healthier, it will make your transition into spring and warmer weather that much easier. Each of these products are unisex, and so I encourage everyone to take some time to care for themselves a bit more – you’ll feel more comfortable and confident even when the weather outside is frightful.

© 2017 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. 

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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

Beauty Topic: Soap – is it bad?

I get asked this question a LOT. And the answer is no. Many of you may be surprised, since there are a lot of “soap-free” cleansers on the market, and I think the message has gotten rather confusing over the years. And I actually love bar soaps – I like the way they make my skin feel, travel easy, and can be used from head to toe. So, let me further clarify my answer: no, not all types of soap are bad. What causes some “bad” things to happen (like rashes, dryness, dermatitis, itchiness, etc) is not the soap itself, but the ingredients that are contained within the soap. What may feel like reactions to a soap being “drying” could be more likely a few common culprits:

  • Deodorants: check your soap’s label for anything that is identified as a deodorant. These types of soaps should only be used for your body, not your face. And even then, I dislike them. Deodorants can be rather harsh, and if you shower everyday (and don’t work on an oil rig), then you probably don’t need it when washing. 
  • Fragrance / Parfum: this is one of the most common causes of allergic reactions on the skin. Bar soaps especially are often scented or contain fragrance, and therefore can cause flare-ups of itching, breakouts, dryness, and rashes. My rule of thumb? I avoid soaps with fragrance.
  • Mineral oil / Paraffin: mineral oil, and variations of it, have been around for a very long time.  It’s an extremely common ingredient found in many cosmetics, soaps, lotions, and conditioners; mainly because it’s cheap and an ingredient that combines well with others. However, it’s not great to skin – it will clog pores if it sits for a long time, or create a “film” that causes skin to flake or feel itchy. If you have oily skin, this will not help clarify your skin.
  • Antibacterial ingredients: if you were a kid in the 80’s and 90’s, you’ll remember the antibacterial ad campaigns that were all over TV, reminding everyone how gross everything is that you touch. Unfortunately, while killing germs, this is also one of the fastest ways to dry your skin out. Other than your hands, you most likely don’t need antibacterial soap head to toe.

But what soaps out there are good to use? Well, here’s a list of my favorites – you’ll also notice most of them are from brands that have been around for a long time, especially since they can be used by any skin type, are affordable, and they deliver great results. Fantastic combination of reasons, if you ask me!

  1. Clinique Mild Soap – in the green soap dish, this is one of the best soaps on the market. I have used it head to toe, especially due to having more sensitive skin in winter. Skin feels balanced, clean, and calm.
  2. Dove Sensitive Skin Soap – if you have drier skin, you will love how moisturizing this is. Also, it makes a fantastic shave cream!
  3. CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser Bar – this is one of my new favorites. Also great for drier or combination skin, I find this makes an awesome head to toe cleanser. I often have this with me when I travel, as it is a face and body soap in one. 
  4. Shea Moisture Black Soap – an age-old type of soap, black soap is incredibly helpful in naturally fighting acne, clogged pores, and dullness in skin. It will also naturally deodorize, so it’s a very purifying soap for both men and women.
  5. Aveeno Moisturizing Bar – technically, this bar is soap-free. But it still functions like a bar soap. And it’s wonderful if you have hyper sensitive or dry skin – it comforts and cleans. Many people prefer it as a facial cleanser, but it is also wonderful as a body soap. 
  6. Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild Soap and Lavender Soap – ohhhhhh, these are some of the best all-natural soaps you can get! The range of Dr. Bronner’s soaps are legendary, and these are some of the best examples of soap done right. Baby Mild and Lavender are two of my favorites. These are incredibly versatile, gentle, and purifying. And if you need reading material while in the tub, the labels are rather lengthy. 

“Soap” got a really bad rap over the years because of the harsh ingredients that had been commonly used in the distant past. But in the more recent decades, soaps have changed to be much more gentle and comforting to the skin. If you look for brands that stick to using good ingredients, you should have good luck. Especially if you like the convenience and affordability of bar soaps, give some of these a try! 

© 28daysbeauty 2015

Beauty Topic: my favorite eye creams

There are a ton of eye creams out there. Fact. And while there are a lot of great ones to choose from, I find that I usually come back to two specific creams due to a few reasons; 1) they contain the crucial ingredients that even some of the most pricey options on the market have for a great value, and 2) they work especially well for my hyper sensitive skin. And the good news is that these products are relatively easy to get.

Hyaluronic acid is one of the most widely used ingredients in eye creams and serums. This is not a new ingredient to the beauty industry, as it’s been known for years to deliver fantastic results fast. This vital ingredient can hold up to 1000 times its weight in moisture, and will immediately make the delicate skin around the eye area look healthier and more hydrated. It also helps the skin retain moisture over time. Peptides are the other big ingredient, as they help maintain healthy skin cell structure and repair damage. I often hear from women that they don’t feel they need a separate eye cream, apart from their daytime moisturizer. However, the skin around your eye area is a much thinner and different structure from the rest of your face – it is crucial to treat it diffently if you want to achieve anti-aging effects, or get rid of dark circles and puffiness.

Top pick #1: Mario Badescu Hyaluronic Eye Cream

This cream always feels incredibly refreshing and never irritates the skin around my eyes. It immediately hydrates and soothes, making the skin appear firmer. And a little goes a very long way. I especially like this as it never feels greasy, and makes for a good base for eye primer and shadow. 

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one of my longtime favorites
 

Top pick #2: CeraVe Eye Repair Cream

This cream is packed with some pretty powerful anti-aging ingredients, yet doesn’t irritate. It also makes for a great base under eye primer and shadow, and is also very hydrating. I love that this comes in a tube, so it’s usually the eye cream that is my gym bag or my suitcase. A little goes a long way with this one too! 

 

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one of the best anti-aging eye cream values
 
Give these a try if you’re looking to make a change, or if you’re new to using eye cream. Both of these are even great options for men, too. With regular use, you will notice a big difference in appearance with the delicate skin around your eyes. 

© 28daysbeauty 2015

Beauty Topic: Travel & post-sun skincare

My husband and I just got back from a few days with family down in Fort Myers, FL. And, as usual, our priority was to avoid sunburn, as we are both fair-skinned and auburn haired. The weather was 98 degrees and humid for the weekend, and my skin was definitely at an all-time high for sensitivity. Plus, I ran out of my travel-sizes of skincare. What is a girl to do in a pinch when in a city that you normally don’t frequent? Head to Walgreens and look for good alternatives. Here’s what I recommend from Walgreens that you could pretty much find coast to coast, and are multi-tasking:

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CeraVe & Simple skincare choices
  • CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser Bar – this is a great cleanser for both face and body, and is super gentle to skin that has had too much exposure to chlorine and sun. It’s hydrating, yet deep cleansing, and is great as a shaving cream substitute. I like that is also saves space in your suitcase by combining both face wash and body wash into one convenient bar.
  • Simple Smoothing Facial Scrub – this scrub is great for the face, but also for arms, legs and feet. I like traveling with this, as it helps to polish and moisturize feet after running around in sand and flip flops, but is also gentle enough to use on your face to remove dry flakes. It’s a super gentle yet effective scrub.
  • Simple Replenishing Rich Moisturizer – this moisturizer is great for facial skin that is irritated, sunburnt or dry from pool or ocean water. It also makes a great moisturizer for patches of body skin that are over-dry and also suffering from irritation. It holds moisture, soothes redness, and helps to repair damage. Since this moisturizer and the scrub are rather inexpensive, I rely on these from head to toe to keep my skin in top shape while traveling.

Even very humid weather can make skin feel overly dry if you are going in and out of air conditioning, the pool, and the ocean.  And if you run out of the bath and skincare essentials that you brought, chances are you are able to get some great and inexpensive multi-taskers nearby that will keep you looking great! 

© 2015 28daysbeauty