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

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

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

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

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

Happy Holidays!

©2018 28daysbeauty

 

Beauty Topic: Help! I’ve got a bad sunburn…

Sadly, we have all been there as it seems to be a rite of passage in enjoying your summer. And while there’s plenty of research and studies out there that prove daily use of sunscreen and sunblock are necessary for ALL ages and genders (parents, it’s not just for your kids, but YOU too!), a bad sunburn can sometimes happen when you either forget to apply before rushing out the door, or simply don’t use enough. Since there are so many articles and information readily available to you that talk about how to choose sunscreen and sunblock wisely, I’ll focus instead on daily care for a sunburn. This can be vital, especially in helping to determine 1) how severe it is and 2) how to calm skin down. The products I’ll be talking about are safe enough for kids and adults to use, but the since adults tend to be more forgetful about putting sunscreen on (or worse don’t think they need it) I’ll be speaking directly about the care that needs to be taken for men and women. Unfortunately, alcohol can increase skin’s sensitivity to UV exposure, so all-inclusive beach vacations require skincare to be taken seriously to ensure you can actually enjoy your time off. And don’t even get me started on the idea of going to get a “base” tan at your local tanning bed salon before a vacation – bottom line, it’s not a good thing to do. You are just that much closer to direct UV damage.

If your sunburnt skin is blistering and you get chills, or start feeling nauseous, then you need to seek immediate medical attention. The combination of these conditions do require medical staff to help and prevent further health issues. Otherwise, red, pink and swollen skin needs to have cold compresses or ice packs applied, kept away from more sun exposure, and it’s wise to drink lots of water and take pain relievers. But then there’s usually the dreaded question – “what happens when I get into the shower”, and “how bad is it going to sting?” First, I recommend taking colder or lukewarm showers for the next few days so that your skin is not additionally stressed. Having a sunburn often throws off your skin’s ability to regulate temperature correctly, so taking your usual hot shower will only make you feel worse and your skin a brighter shade of “lobster”.

Second, if you normally use a scented body wash or soap with synthetic fragrances or deodorant built in, that will most likely increase irritation or redness. Synthetic fragrances are one of the #1 causes of allergic reactions or rashes on skin, and having a sunburn significantly decreases your skin’s ability to defend itself against irritants. Bottom line, ditch any of your coconut + lime verbena or cucumber melon body washes with loads of synthetic fragrance, and stick to unscented moisturizing soap or body washes that contain a soothing blend of oats and vitamin E. This will make a huge difference in helping your skin to heal, and reduce redness. One of my favorites is Shea Moisture’s African Black Soap Body Wash (below) or Dove’s Sensitive Skin bar soap. African Black Soap is also naturally deodorizing by containing charcoal, so it’s perfect for eliminating summer sweat while caring for sunburnt skin.

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And lastly, moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. A sunburn basically throws off the equilibrium of your skin, and your body’s natural defense is to try and shed this damaged skin as soon as possible. This speeds up your skin’s normal routine of shedding skin cells, as well as effectively drying out the excess, damaged skin as your body tries to repair itself. Peeling skin should NOT be picked. You can gently buff it away in the shower with a body puff or washcloth, but be very careful to not scrub it off harshly. After toweling dry, make sure to moisturize effectively with fragrance-free lotion – look for formulas like Aveeno’s Daily Moisturizing lotion (above) that contains colloidal oats and dimethicone to protect and soothe skin. Putting a lotion on with synthetic fragrances can cause little red bumps and additional stinging – it’s best to avoid them. Many people will automatically think to apply aloe gels, and while they can help, you truly need moisturizers that work to repair the skin’s natural moisture barrier which minimizes peeling.

But what happens if your face is also affected by sunburn? I have found that First Aid Beauty’s entire line up is perfect for repairing hyper-sensitive and sunburnt skin, and also contains the ingredients I just mentioned are beneficial in body care. These are some of my favorites (below) from their product line, as you can use them on your face and body for cleansing and moisturizing: Ultra Repair Lotion and Ultra Repair Gentle Cleansing Bar. These formulas contain oats, ceramides, and a blend of antioxidants to repair damage and immediately calm skin. In addition, I’ve been LOVING their 5 in 1 Eye Cream – it’s gentle and effective, and does not cause any stinging. A day of sailing in summer often causes my eyes to feel dry, irritated, and itchy; and this eye cream soothes and brightens my eye area skin tone.

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A few simple switches to these products during summer, or on a beach vacation, can make all the difference in helping to soothe skin. I always preach about using a daily sunscreen, but it’s often the daily skincare that can make a big difference in how fast you heal. Plus, the benefits with making a full switch to products that have these skin-caring attributes means that your skin will be healthier in the long run, and avoid blotchiness or redness any time of the year. You can easily find these brands at ULTA, or online at various retailers. Another plus that is they are safe for the family, so you can maximize your dollar by having products on hand that everyone can use. Stay safe and enjoy your last weeks of summer!

© 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.


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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

 

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

My best beauty of 2016: Top 10 Savvy Splurges & Cheap Thrills

As the year comes to a close, I wanted to recap for you the beauty products that I found myself constantly reaching for, as I think they are worth noting in the flood of beauty choices available. Many of them aren’t really “new” to the market, but they are the ones that I think a) deliver GREAT results and b) are worth the money. So, I divided my top 10 beauty products into 2 groups: 5 Cheap Thrills (which cost under $15) and 5 Savvy Splurges (which cost over $15). In the beauty industry, it’s surprising to me how many people think the higher the price tag, the better the product. There’s a certain perception people have, but in reality, it’s all about the performance. Check out my top picks – they all are great for ANY skin type, even hyper-sensitive skins.

Top 5 Cheap Thrills:

Who doesn’t love a great deal that is also a performance workhorse? I also love the fact that all the 5 products you see below can easily be found at Target, or online at Amazon.com. Stock up on these if you can, since you’ll find that these become a part of your daily routine year-round (clockwise from the top):cheap

  1. Simple Micellar Cleansing Water – This is the fantastic alternative to expensive micellar cleansing waters that burst onto the American beauty scene a year ago. The best part is that this is truly great for sensitive skins, cleans deep, and removes eye makeup easily. For a new, large 13.5 oz size, it’s a mere $8.99 at Target.com. Use as a pre-cleanse at night, with cotton pads, to remove all makeup and prep skin for your cleanser. Your cleanser will work even better, and your skin will be balanced.
  2. Dove Sensitive Skin Bar Soap – All hail this fantastic soap! It creates a luxurious, foamy lather, makes for a comforting head to toe clean, and doubles as a great shaving cream in the shower. For an 8-pack on Target.com, it’s only $9.39. The nice thing is that it’s great for kids too – if you need a soap that is safe for the whole family in the bathtub. Use with a bath puff for extra lather and suds.
  3. e.l.f. Mineral-Infused mascara – For only $3, it’s hard to pass up this awesome mascara. It’s buildable, doesn’t smear or flake, and can look natural or dramatic. The silicone brush lifts and separates, plus always creates a clean look without clumps. Mascara should be replaced at least every 3 months to avoid eye infections, so this price points makes it even easier to do.
  4. TRESemme TRESTwo Extra Hold Hairspray – I use this hairspray daily, as it’s great to maintain any style. It resists humidity, and holds all-day without feeling crunchy. Plus, you can get it in travel sizes, so I keep a bottle at my desk to help fix any hair emergencies fast, but it doesn’t irritate my scalp. The 14.6 oz size is $5.99 at Target.com, and it lasts!
  5. Up & Up Witch Hazel – If you struggle with finding toners that don’t burn and actually do something, then look to witch hazel as your daily skin fix. Witch hazel is a natural extract, and acts as antiseptic, soothing and balancing astringent for the skin. After cleansing, soak a cotton pad and wipe over skin – it helps clear away dead skin cells from dry skin (to allow your moisturizer to do its job properly), and clears/heals acne breakouts from oilier skin types. Men will like it post-shaving, to help soothe razor burn. At $2.49 for a 16 oz bottle, Target’s own private brand Up & Up version is a steal. It’s located in the first-aid section, since it’s always handy to keep for cleaning minor cuts and scrapes. Insider tip: witch hazel is a staple in many spa facial treatments and toner brands on the market.

Top 5 Savvy Splurges:

Some beauty splurges are totally worth it, since they deliver that extra-special level of performance and can be multi-tasking to get the most for your money. The ones that I’ve chosen below are the over $15 price point, which some people would scoff at for being too “low” of a splurge price point level. Yeahhhhh, sure. But how many times have you bought a higher price point beauty product with the promise of it being “totally worth it”, only to be disappointed and have buyer’s remorse? Probably more often than you care to admit. Also (this is important) – if you have a closet or drawer full of these miracle-in-a-bottle types of high price point beauty products, and you haven’t used them within the last year, then PLEASE toss them or return them. You don’t want to risk eye infections or breakouts due to expired products or bacteria buildup, just because you refuse to let your hard-earned dollars go to waste. Navigate beauty hype cautiously, and remember that $15 could also equal a fantastic bottle of wine! (clockwise from the top):

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6) Clinique Different Lipstick (my favorite shade is Sugared Grapefruit) – this collection of lipstick shades from Clinique has been a fan favorite for years. This formula feels lightweight, yet delivers great color payoff. The shades range from cream to satin finishes, are long-wearing, and moisturize lips. I wear Sugared Grapefruit almost daily year-round, as it’s a beautiful pinky-peach color that matches my natural lip color. At $17 a tube, I love that these are available at Ulta and Boston Store, since I can earn points and use my rewards.

7) Cargo Color Stick (my favorite shade is Key West) – Cargo has a knack for developing multi-use makeup, with high performance formulas. For the past year, I’ve found myself constantly reaching for this as a blush, and multi-tasking it as a lip color when traveling. They are $28 per stick, and come in a variety of shades, plus a bronzer shade of St. Tropez. The great part is that you get a LOT within the tube, so they last a long time. You can easily find the entire shade range online!

8) Julep Skip the Brush Creme-to-Powder Blush Stick (my favorite shade is Sheer Glow) – Oh, what a fun brand Julep is! This Korean-beauty inspired brand also features great multi-use products, including this Sheer Glow highlighting stick. I love to use it under my brow bone and on my eyelid, to give shimmer under shadow. As well as a highlighter on my cheekbones, forehead, and bridge of my nose. The stick is super easy to apply, and the creamy formula is very blendable – it looks glowy, not glittery! Each blush stick is $24, and you can either subscribe to the Julep Maven beauty boxes, or find them at Ulta.

9) Altchek MD Glycolic Renewal Pads – This NYC beauty brand is dermatologist developed to give high performance skin care, without a super high price tag. A jar of pads (36 per jar) is $20, and delivers a great micro-peel, anti-aging treatment that you can easily use at night, under your favorite moisturizer. My family and I have super sensitive skin, and what we love about these is that they don’t burn. At. All! I use them about 2 to 3 times per week, after cleansing, and I wake up to glowing, softer, clearer skin. Find these online from the brand’s website, or at Kohl’s.

10) First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream – Hands down, this is one of my favorite moisturizers of all time. It’s soothing for all skin types, and doesn’t leave a greasy shine. It absorbs quickly, hydrates fast, and helps repair the skin’s natural moisture barrier. You can use it anywhere on the face and body, and a little goes a really long way. Even people with oilier skin need to hydrate, especially if you are in a seasonal or dry climate. A large 6 oz jar is $30 at Ulta or Sephora, but it will last for a while. People with hyper sensitive skin, such as eczema, will also love this – it calms irritated skin, contains colloidal oatmeal, anti-oxidants, and ceramides without any parabens. I consider this one of my anti-aging secret weapons, to help build healthier skin.

I hope these product recommendations help you in tackling your beauty challenges, and sifting through performance versus price. I’m looking forward to trying some new brands and products next year, so feel free to let me know if there’s any out there you have questions about! Be well, and have fun, in the New Year!

© 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