You’ve probably heard of retinol. And if you’re anything like me (and pretty much every person I’ve talked to about it), you’re probably wondering if it really works. Out of all the “use this to look younger” products on the market, those containing retinol seem to be the ones that actually live up to the hype. So how does it work?
Retinol is a type of retinoid, which are vitamin A-based topical treatments that are used for a variety of skin concerns. According to Harvard Health Publications, they reduce wrinkles by increasing the production of collagen in the skin. As a person with increasingly aggravating forehead wrinkles, this sounds like great news to me. But it also sounds too good to be true.
So when I received a bottle of L’Oreal Revitalift Derm Intensives Night Serum with Pure Retinol compliments of Influenster for testing purposes, I was eager to give it a try. I completed a 30 day test, following the instructions on the package – use twice a week week one, every other day week two, and nightly as tolerated after that. Retinol can be harsh, so it’s important to follow these instructions to let your skin adjust to the ingredient. I found that using it more than every other day made my skin flaky, so I maintained that schedule through the end of the test. I’ll admit I was skeptical that I’d see much in the way of results in such a short period of time, but I’m here to report that wasn’t the case at all. I was completely floored when I compared my before and after picks:
There was a definite improvement in those pesky forehead wrinkles, and that was from every other day use! I will caution you that retinol can also make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so it’s important to always wear SPF when using retinol products. That said, I have never used any anti-aging product that is this effective. If you’re concerned about wrinkles or fine lines, I’d say this serum deserves a place in your skincare routine.
If you’re currently dealing with the kind of sweltering summer heat that makes you want to fling yourself into the sea, please allow me to introduce you to my favorite summer skincare treat: the facial mist. Lovely, refreshing, and with just a hint of unnecessary self indulgence, I use these little beauties to keep me cool all summer long and here’s why you should, too.
Avene Thermal Spring Water is a fine thermal water spray for sensitive or irritated skin. It helps soothe a sunburn, calm redness after a workout, or simply refresh your skin whenever it’s hot or uncomfortable. I keep it in my beach bag so I can use it to cool and hydrate my face after a day of sunning and swimming.
I use Boscia Rosewater Mist with Witch Hazel on an almost daily basis, for three reasons. First, it has a light, pretty wild rose scent that makes me feel like a garden nymph whenever I spritz it on. Second, it has a toning and cooling effect that makes me feel refreshed and instantly more put together every time I use it. And third, the witch hazel makes it extremely effective at soothing brown tail moth rashes. If you don’t have brown tail moths where you live, consider yourself lucky. If you do, do yourself a favor and buy yourself a bottle of this mist!
We’re heading into another few days and nights of hot, humid weather here in my neck of the woods. If you need me, I’ll be chilling over here with my facial mists.
We all have our favorite lip balms. Sure, I’m always down to try the newest lipsticks and tinted balms, but when it comes right down to it, you’re always going to find classic Burt’s Bees in my purse and a candy cane Chapstick in my medicine cabinet. However, come the first week of February with its dry indoor heat, biting outdoor winds, and a level of dehydration that I don’t quite understand, and I start looking for that holy grail of winter beauty products – something that will un-chap my poor lips.
Enter Manna Kadar Beauty Lip Bliss Lip Mask. It came in an Allure Beauty Box last fall, and aside from its cute pink and gold packaging, I didn’t think much of it. Then my lips started to get dry, cracked, and downright angry. My usual chapstick seemed to make them feel worse, so I swiped on some Lip Bliss. Instant relief! The tube said to apply before bed for maximum results, so I did. I woke up with smooth, soft, happy lips. I no longer go to bed without it.
I occasionally use Lip Bliss as a daily lip balm as well. It comes in a tube but isn’t sticky or overly glossy. It has a mild, pleasant, slightly sweet scent and is extremely hydrating. Pro tip: you can use it on cracked cuticles, too!
If you’re searching for a quick and easy fix for chapped winter lips, look no further. You can find Lip Bliss here.
When I received a bottle of Static Nails Liquid Glass Lacquer in Irene in my Allure Beauty Box, I thought it was a pretty color. What I didn’t realize was that it would instantly become my new favorite nail product. Here’s why:
This sheer nude shade is pretty and flattering. The applicator brush might be the best I’ve ever encountered – the lacquer was so easy to apply that I made zero mistakes – no messy spots around my nails that needed to be cleaned up when I was done. It dried fairly quickly and left a gorgeous glassy finish. In a matter of a minutes I gave myself a manicure that looks natural but also extremely put together. What’s not to love about that?
Between festive outings and the dryness that comes with winter weather, I’ve been cycling through a variety of lip products, looking for the perfect balance of hydration and enhancement. Sure, there a times when my lips feel dry or I’m about to venture out into the cold and I opt for my trusty winter standbys, Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm or Candy Cane Chapstick. I remain a loyal fan of both of these classic balms. But sometimes a girl wants something a bit more glam and holiday-worthy than clear Chapstick.
There are so many pretty lip color options around it can be hard to choose. I tried Tarte Color Splash Lipstick in Ocean Drive, a fierce hot pink. The lipstick is surprisingly moisturizing and has a pretty matte finish. Unfortunately this shade of pink isn’t quite right for me, but I would definitely recommend this collection to anyone looking for a hydrating matte lipstick with nice color payoff.
I couldn’t resist the ultra-glam Gucci Lip Balm in No More Orchids, a pretty medium pink tinted balm in even prettier packaging. This balm is more pigmented than I expected, and quite long lasting, but sadly isn’t very hydrating. I imagine I’ll be wearing it nonstop when spring arrives, but probably not to any holiday parties.
On days when I want to look fresh faced with just a hint of lip color, I’ve been reaching for NCLA Beauty Balm Babe 100% Natural Lip Balm in Pink Champagne. It’s a silky, shiny, lightly pigmented pink balm that protects against the cold and tastes great, making it a great choice for anyone looking for a subtle lip look while standing under the mistletoe.
As much as I like the NCLA balm, more often than not I find myself wanting just a bit more color on my lips. Which brings me to my pick for best holiday lip product: Love + Sage Well Red Tinted Balm. Packaged in a perfectly portable tube, this smooth, hydrating balm features the prettiest slightly brick-red shade that goes on sheer and is easy to layer on for more color. I turn to it again and again because the shade feels just right for every occasion, whether I’m heading to the office or going out for holiday cocktails with friends.
I’m a sucker for some fun packaging and one look at the bottle design for this midnight purple nail polish told me that I needed it. When first applied it dries to a matte black (think chalkboard) with a subtle deep purple shimmer. I wanted something a little glossier so I added a top coat. Either way, the polish was easy to apply and gave full coverage and lots of color with just one coat.
This fun polish is only available for a limited time at NCLA so go grab some while you can!
I have always been a sucker for shiny new school supplies, so imagine my delight when Benefit and Influenster sent me a tube of Benefit’s new Boiing Cakeless Concealer, shaped like the eraser end of a pencil. As my recent posts have indicated, I’ve been very into reducing and camouflaging my under eye circles, so I jumped right in to give it a try.
I received a tube of shade 01, the lightest of 12 shades offered in this full coverage liquid concealer that is designed not to look cakey. Great news for my fair skinned friends – this shade is very fair without being too yellow, which is often hard to find in a concealer.
This truly is a full coverage concealer; I usually use products with a sheer or medium coverage and so I was a bit shocked when I first dabbed some on. However, once blended in the concealer looked natural, brightened my eyes and kept my dark circles at bay for a full 24 hours. Or at least they did when I forgot to wash my face one night before bed – the next morning at brunch my sister commented on how good my skin looked. We’ll call that a win!
As promised, this concealer hasn’t caked or creased on me, and I plan to continue using it, especially on days when my eyes are looking particularly dark. One word of caution: the tube features a cushion tip applicator that I find deposits far more product than I need. My advice: use a very light hand to dab some on and then blend lightly with the tip of your ring finger.
I received this product free for testing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Is there anything lovelier than discovering a top notch new lip product? One that soothes and moisturizes without causing pesky little breakouts? One that can be applied before bed and prevent dry lips all night long?
That’s exactly what I’ve found in Burt’s Bees Lavender & Honey Lip Butter. I’ve long considered Burt’s Bees the gold standard in lip care, and I usually have at least one tube of the classic balm on me at all times. This new lip butter is wonderfully moisturizing without the minty sting of the balm, which I can be irritating to sensitive skin. The butter is silky smooth and lightweight. It comes in an easy-open tin (seriously – I know how hard to open the old tins could be!) and I love the mild lavender scent – aromatherapy for the win!
Burt’s Bees Lip Butter comes in two other varieties: Rosemary & Lemon (which my sister is obsessed with) and Orange Blossom & Pistachio. And at less than $5 each, you might as well try more than one. I picked mine up at Ulta, but you can can also buy them online here.
When: For a special event or anytime you want to feel like you have your act together.
Where: I picked up a package that included 36 nails (six were accent nails) at Walgreens.
Why: I really like the look of gel manicures but I don’t like to spend a lot of time or money on my nails. For less than $10 and about as many minutes, I was able to give myself a fun, glossy manicure that didn’t require any drying time and that stayed put for five full days (my friend’s lasted seven, but I was particularly hard on my hands when I had them on). Pro tip: I find most press on nails to be too long and square for my taste – I prefer a shorter and more rounded tip for a more natural look. After I applied the nails I used a regular nail trimmer to cut and shape the nails – the file that came with the kit didn’t work for me. I received tons of compliments on my manicure and people were surprised to learn they were fake. I’ll definitely buy these again.
I have a confession to make: I’ve become a little obsessed with eye treatments. I can’t stop using eye masks and I’m hooked on my new eye cream (more on that below). But here’s the thing: all this eye love seems to be working. When I look in the mirror I’m not seeing crazy dark circles and I’m no longer focusing on those little crinkles near my eyes. And these treatments aren’t just effective, they’re also quick and easy. Eye masks, for example, are generally very easy to apply and take about 10 minutes to work their magic. And since you can wear them while doing almost anything else, they’re a great way to take care of yourself when you’re feeling too busy to squeeze in anything extra.
Here’s a look at my new favorite eye treatments:
Context Vitamin C All Day Eye Cream: This product is actually a lightweight eye gel that glides right on to instantly brighten and smooth the under-eye area. I swear it makes fine lines disappear, and the second day I wore it my coworker mentioned that I looked especially bright eyed that day. I no longer leave home without applying a tiny dab under each eye.
Wander Beauty Baggage Claim Rose Gold Eye Masks: I kept seeing ads for these rose gold foiled eye masks and they looked so fun I had to try them. I ordered a box of them from Sephora (a box contains six pairs) and thoroughly enjoyed lounging on my couch watching the new season of Queer Eye with them on. They didn’t do a whole lot to reduce puffiness but they did brighten my eyes and I felt super glam with them on.
Sephora Cucumber Eye Masks: These claim to be soothing and they definitely are. I used them after work on a long, hot day and loved the cooling sensation of the serum. These masks were a little messy fresh out of the package but they stayed put and left me feeling refreshed.
Bath & Body Works Gold Hydrogel Under Eye Mask with Caffeine: By far my favorite of the eye masks, this pair of rubbery gold masks was easy to apply, fun to wear, and drastically reduced my eye puffiness – caffeine is the key. Next time I’m near a Bath & Body Works I intend to stock up on these little gems!