Drugstore Delights

As a beauty fanatic, I’m always on the lookout for the best products on the market. I shop at a wide range of stores, and might spend anywhere from 4 to 40 dollars on a concealer, 2 to 20 on a shampoo, and I’m quite certain I’d spend any amount on a product that could make my dark circles truly disappear. That being said, I often find that you get what you pay for – my favorite finds tend to come with a larger price tag. Sometimes, however, I’m blown away by a simple drugstore product that doesn’t even come close to breaking the bank.

Right now I’m absolutely devoted to a couple of drugstore collections that, in my opinion, are worth more than their asking price. About a month ago I decided I wanted whiter teeth. I’ve tried whitening strips, whitening gum, and a smattering of whitening toothpastes, but none have really come through with the results I’m looking for, and many come with an extra dose of chemical aftertaste that I simply do not enjoy. But, before throwing in the towel on my whitening efforts, I decided to give Crest 3D White a try. I bought the Flouride Anticavity Toothpaste in Radiant Mint, the Multi-Care Whitening Rinse in Fresh Mint, and I even grabbed some Crest Glide Whitening Floss in Mint Splash. At the very least, I figured, I’d have minty breath.

So far I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the 3D White collection, and I’ve noticed a real difference in the brightness of my teeth. Also, in the last week I’ve had several different people compliment me on my smile. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who thought my teeth needed a makeover! I’m not sure the floss is really doing any whitening, but it’s not hurting, and it’s a nice, easy-to-use floss that doesn’t shred itself on my teeth. Both the toothpaste and the rinse are pleasantly minty. In fact, I find it nearly impossible not to pounce on my boyfriend for a make out session after I use the rinse – my mouth feels so clean, I want to show it off! The toothpaste leaves my teeth feeling super clean, and again, gets results. I use all three products at least once a day, and I started to see a change in whiteness after about a week.

The other drugstore deal I’m loving right now is the Dove Go Fresh line. It started with the Dove Go Fresh Cool Moisture Beauty Bar with Cucumber and Green Tea. The ultra moisturizing non-soap has a light clean scent that makes me feel breezy and fresh. Once I realized how much I loved it, I decided to try Dove Go Fresh Body Mist in the same scent. Not only is it non-perfumey and, yes, extremely fresh smelling, it also has a hint of moisturizer in it! A few spritzes of this mist makes me feel like I just hopped out of the shower. And it costs less than $5.

As if soap and body spray weren’t enough, Dove also makes a cucumber and green tea anti-perspirant! My next stop at my local Rite Aid had me stopping at the deodorant section and yes, I bought the Dove Ultimate Go Fresh Anti-perspirant. It shares that same irresistible scent, lasts all day, and so far has kept my armpits completely sweat-free.

I may not be trading my department store mascara for one of its cheaper cousins anytime soon, and I don’t expect to give up my Sephora shopping sprees, but these drugstore gems have certainly renewed my faith in less-expensive products. They’ve also freshened my underarms – and my breath.

Now that’s delightful.

Advertisements

Pom’s the Word

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that pomegranate is a magical super-food that’s basically the fountain of youth and a cure for whatever ails you, all rolled into one creepy looking fruit.

I enjoy the occasional pomegranate-flavored beverage, but my latest beauty obsessions are leading me to believe that slathering yourself in pomegranate is an even better way to reap the benefits of the magical fruit.

I’ve mentioned it before, but right now I just can’t get enough of Murad Energizing Pomegranate Lip Protector. A subtle light pink tint and smooth, not sticky, formula make it a perfect daily lip moisturizer. It goes on like a gloss but feels like a balm, very soothing to dry lips. It has a lot of staying power, so a morning application lasts through much of the day, and with SPF 15, it’s sure to be a year-round favorite.

Speaking of year-round favorites, Korres Pomegranate Cleansing & Makeup Removing Wipes will likely be by my bedside from now straight through December. These pre-moistened wipes have a light fruity scent and take off makeup better than anything I’ve ever tried. Unlike most other cleansing wipes, these are generously sized – there’s plenty of cloth to make sure you get nice and clean. These towelettes leave my skin feeling soft and refreshed, but not too dry. No wonder they were advertised as a best seller at my local Sephora.

The cold winter months can wreak havoc on a girl’s skin and beauty routine, but thanks to these products I’m feeling like I have a fighting chance in the ongoing winter beauty battle.

Maybe pomegranate really is magical.

Brand Crush: Buxom

Sometimes, like it or not, a brand is just plain good, and despite my best efforts to resist, I end up with a new brand crush.

My latest infatuation? Buxom.

I didn’t want to like this cosmetics line. Honestly, I just don’t like the word Buxom. But eventually I received a sample of Buxom lips, a sticky, sweet-smelling lip polish that plumps lips and looks AMAZING. It’s long-lasting, and I’ve been carrying a tube of the Sugar shade ever since.

But last week, my crush morphed into obsession when I decided to try Buxom Lash. This mascara is absolutely wonderful. It’s dark and makes lashes look long and thick. I’ve been using it for a week and have had no eye irritation, even after I forgot to wash it off one night before bed. It doesn’t flake, and lasted the full 15 hours I wore it before taking it off. It has also lasted through both sweat and tears. It just might be my favorite mascara of all time.

I think it’s love.

To Tan or Not to Tan?

As summer approaches, and wedding/tank top/swimsuit season draws closer, many smart ladies start to consider taking some rather drastic measures in order to look better. An otherwise bright and rational girl might find herself crash dieting, excessively exercising, and, craziest of all, tanning.

I’ve been planning on writing a post about self tanners for quite some time, but decided that I’d better get on it after talking to my sister yesterday. In preparation for her best friend’s wedding, she’s thinking of hitting the tanning booth so she’ll look better in her dress.

“Wait!” I told her. “Let me write my post about self tanners first.”

I obviously don’t need to preach about how dangerous tanning is. We all know the risks. Besides the obvious risk of cancer, nobody really wants sun spots, wrinkles, or leathery skin, do they? Yet the urge to tan can be a hard one to suppress.

I’ll admit, I’m guilty of lying in the sun from time, and have even stepped into a tanning booth more than once. (In my defense, I wore sunscreen every time.) The biggest draw for me is that the heat feels good. And yes, I feel a little sexier with a little summery glow. Just a baby one. Is a baby tan that bad?

In a word, yes. Which is why I love the idea of sunless tanners.  I especially love the body lotions that gradually build up over the course of a few days to give you a slight, natural-looking tan. Many of them are also firming lotions, so bathing suit fear can be doubly silenced. So, easy choice, right? Just go to the drugstore, grab a bottle of lotion, and get busy moisturizing.

Not exactly.

My biggest issue with self tanning lotions is that they tend to smell terrible. Even under the somewhat tropical scents that many lotions add, I just smell the weird chemicals that will turn my skin brown. Another big issue, of course, is streaking (as in streaks of color, not running around town naked). One must be very diligent when one is applying one’s self tanner. Just as bad as streaking is the unfortunate build up of pigment that flocks to dry patches – knees, elbows, and ankles are all prime spots.

What’s a pretty lady to do?

Every year companies get better and better at hiding that chemical smell, and this year I’ve found one that actually smells fresh. Victoria’s Secret Sunkissed Bronze Instant Self Tan Lotion with Tint is my sunless tanner pick this year. Not only does it smell good, it’s fast-acting. The lotion itself acts like a bronzer for your body, giving your skin a nice beachy glow instantly. After that, the self tanner gets to work. My skin turned a shade or two darker overnight, so that I looked a little tan, but not scary. With only one application, the color lasted about 5 days.

I did end up with some dark spots on my ankles, and a silly looking white circle around my belly button. For the most even application, here’s your best plan of attack:

Shower and exfoliate. Getting rid of dry skin will aid in a more uniform application. After the shower, dry off completely. Carefully and evenly distribute the lotion all over your body. I recommend doing this in front of a mirror so you can see any glaring missed areas. After application is complete, wash hands thoroughly. Using a dry towel or wash cloth, gently rub ankles and wrists to prevent any dark streaks. You can also rub elbows and knees if you think there might be too much pigment. Let lotion dry for at least 5 minutes before dressing.

Eat Pretty

Lately I’ve been on a mission to live a little healthier – I’ve been making an effort to drag my lazy butt off the couch and get some excercise, and I’ve also been trying to change my eating habits. I’ve given up butter, I’ve switched to fat-free yogurt, and my daily fruit and vegetable count is slowly but surely increasing.

All of this healthy eating got me thinking, how can I change my diet to gain clearer skin and shinier hair in addition to lower cholesterol and a smaller pant size? So I did a little research, and found some especially helpful articles on WebMD. In the lists of foods that are said to improve hair and skin, there are a few that overlap. Here, the foods to choose if you want to eat pretty:

Low-fat dairy

Whole grains

Salmon

Nuts

Poultry

In addition, those who want to focus on their skin should reach for berries and green tea, while those who are concerned about their hair should choose dark green vegetables like spinach or brocolli, and protein-rich eggs.

Some of my favorite eat-pretty choices? Stonyfield Farm Fat Free Yogurt, Yoplait Light Yogurt, and Olivia’s Organics Baby Spinach Salad.

Protect it!

As I write this, the sun is shining gloriously through my window, lighting up the new spring leaves and making everything warm and beautiful. And while I do love the sun, its warmth, and the cheerful shine it brings to life, I do not love the wrinkles, sun spots, and cancer that lounging in the sun unprotected can cause.

I’ve been watching a good deal of trash television lately, and I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. Over-tanning! Jerseylicious features a lot of big hair, bad eyeliner, and over-the-top tans. Over the weekend I watched a health show about people who are addicted to strange things, and one girl tanned so often that her skin was orange and she no longer resembled her family members. Why? In a time when the health risks associated with tanning are widely known and much too real to be ignored, why are people still (literally) baking themselves in the sun?

Now, I’m not saying we should all march around looking pasty and pale. There are plenty of sunless tanners out there that look natural and are actually good for you skin. (Check back later this month for a post on self-tanning!)

A lot of people just love being outside in the warm weather, and I don’t blame them at all. It’s wonderful, and getting out to enjoy nature and the fresh air is a perfectly healthy thing. Just please, think of your skin. It holds you together and can make you look radiant and youthful or saggy and old. So protect it!

In the warmer months, I don’t leave home without some SPF. Many beauty products, from powders to glosses, contain sunscreen that you can apply without thinking about it. But as soon as I get out of the shower, I slather on a body lotion with SPF from head to toe. My current favorite? Vaseline Aloe Fresh Protecting Lotion. It smells fresh, smooths skin, and keeps me safe from daily sun damage, all at once. As for my face, I vary the moisturizer, as long as it has SPF 15 or higher. I’m liking Eucerin Redness Relief Daily Protecting Lotion. It soothes redness while also providing protection from the sun.

A tip to keep in mind when applying sunscreen: don’t forget your neck, chest, hands and feet. These parts are often neglected and can give away your age. Nobody wants a youthful face to be accompanied by a turkey neck.

That Really Chaps my Lips…

Here we are, mid-January, smack dab in the middle of indoor heating season and sub-zero temperatures outside. Despite gulping down as much water as I can stomach each day, and even with diligent application of lip balms and glosses, I’m being plagued by a persistent case of chapped lips. Even my trusty ol’ standby Burt’s Bees isn’t solving the problem. Here, some helpful hints on how to heal (and prevent) chapped lips.

1. Exfoliate. There are many ways to do this, and you may want to vary your technique depending on the severity of your situation. You can gently brush a dry toothbrush over your lips, or rub a dry, rough wash cloth over them to loosen dead skin and create a smoother, less irritated surface. If your mouth is really dry and burning, you can get some relief from Laura Gellar Lip Strip, a cooling sugar scrub designed especially for exfoliating dry lips. After massaging the scrub over your mouth for 30 seconds, you will enjoy a pleasant cooling sensation and a noticeable reduction in any flakes of skin that might have formed on your mouth. It is not a permanent solution, though, and you will definitely want to follow up with a balm of some sort.

2. Moisturize. Keep adding balms and glosses to your mouth to ease the dryness and help create a barrier against elements that worsen the situation. Right now I’m alternating between Burt’s Bees, an Avon lip moisturizer, and Philosophy Red Velvet Cake gloss (see page Glosses & Balms for more info). When my lips are really dry, I find that layering vaseline or a thick lip gloss on top of Burt’s Bees before bed is an extremely effective way to heal and moisturize chapped lips. After a few nights of that treatment and you should be back on track.

3. Hydrate. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, drinking plenty of hydrating fluids can help boost your health and your beauty. It helps keep your immune system up, keeps skin (and lips!) from becoming overly dry, and really adds a nice glow to your overall appearance. Keep a water bottle on your desk. And to all of those water-haters out there, do your skin a favor and try Crystal Light or some other on-the-go water flavoring trick. For about 5 calories you can turn a bottle of plain water into a delicious fruity drink. All while saving yourself the trouble of having to repair your poor chapped lips.