Surprise Summer Pick: Schmidt’s Waves Natural Deodorant

Let’s be real about something for a minute. As much as I might like the concept of natural deodorants in theory, in reality I usually find them disappointing and, if I’m honest, ineffective. After a lifetime of using standard antiperspirants, I find the dampness that natural deodorants leave behind to be disconcerting. Not to mention the traces of B.O. that always seem to make their way through. Occasionally I’ll be drawn to some pretty packaging or rave reviews and will pick a new variety up to test, but I have never found a natural deodorant that tickles my fancy – until now.

I was drifting down the beauty aisles of TJ Maxx when my best friend pointed to an appealing blue and orange labeled tube of Schmidt’s Waves Natural Deodorant and told me it was her absolute favorite. As I trust her with all things beauty-related, I grabbed one and decide to give it a go. I put it in my medicine cabinet and forgot about its existence until I ran out of my usual antiperspirant and needed something to get me through. I swiped it on and hoped for the best.

First let me just say that this deodorant smells like a summer day. It has a coconut sunscreen type of scent that instantly puts me in a good mood. And somehow the scent gets better when it mixes with sweat! I don’t understand it but I will tell you this – this deodorant will have you feeling like a sexy sea nymph cruising the beach on a hot summer day. It hasn’t completely replaced my standard antiperspirant, but it is in my summer rotation. If you’re a natural deodorant skeptic like me, I urge you to give it a try.

Anti-aging All-star: L’Oreal Revitalift Derm Intensives Night Serum with Pure Retinol

Anti-aging All-star: L’Oreal Revitalift Derm Intensives Night Serum with Pure Retinol

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.

Summer Beauty Must Have: Facial Mists

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.

Staying cool this summer with Boscia, Avene and Taylor Jenkins Reid.

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.

Manna Kadar Lip Bliss: The Cure For Chapped Lips

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.

December Kisses

December Kisses

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.

What’s your go-to lip product this season?

Sweet Relief: Burt’s Bees Lip Butter

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.

Eye Love Summer

Eye Love Summer

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!

What are your favorite eye products this summer?

Sheet Mask Sunday

I’m very drawn to sheet masks. They usually come in fun packaging and I like the idea of perfectly portioned beauty treatments that take very little effort. Most sheet masks consist of a concentrated treatment that sits on top of your skin. When your mask time is up, you simply remove the sheet and massage the remaining treatment into your skin. Easy peasy.

Because I’m so drawn to these treatments, and because they typically have an easy-to-justify price tag, I’ve amassed quite a collection of sheet masks. So in an effort to work my way through them, I have declared this my inaugural sheet mask Sunday.

Since it’s January and the combination of freezing cold winds and dry indoor heat has pretty much turned me into a scaly lizard, I decided to go for hydration. Today I tried not one but three masks. For my flaky face I used a Sephora Aloe Vera Face Mask that claims to hydrate, refresh, and plump the skin while leaving it supple and full of moisture. It was definitely refreshing and did plump up my skin a bit. My face still feels drier than it should but it no longer looks flaky, so that’s a win. With it’s aloe content, I could see this being a lovely post-beach day mask in the summer. If your skin is only moderately dry this would probably do the trick.

The other masks I used today were these fun Aveeno Repairing Cica hand and foot masks. With these, you slip your clean, dry hands and feet into disposable booties and gloves, chill out for 10 minutes, then remove and massage the leftover product into your skin. These masks contain shea butter and prebiotic oat, which is meant to soothe and nourish the skin. I really enjoyed these masks and can feel a definite increase in hydration in my hands and feet. If you have tough calluses this won’t eliminate them, but it will leave your skin feeling really comfortable and soft. As a bonus, these masks are fragrance-free and formulated for sensitive skin. I would recommend them for anyone looking for a quick and easy winter pampering session!

Brand Crush: Bliss

Brand Crush: Bliss

You may have heard that Bliss – the iconic NYC spa known for its effective products, sassy product names and hefty price tags – recently gave itself a makeover. They kept the quality products, fun names and cute packaging, but ditched the high prices and a whole lot of other stuff; the brand is now paraben, phthalate, SLS, SLES and cruelty-free.

Since it doesn’t get much better than clean, cruelty-free, inexpensive beauty products, I decided I just had to try a few things to see if Bliss was still a beauty contender. I was absolutely delighted by my experience from the start; a buy two, get one free promotion plus a 20% off code (and free shipping!) meant that I got a cleanser, moisturizer and a body butter for $25. And, since Bliss products are now available at Target, I was able to pick up a pack of makeup remover wipes the last time I was there to add to my quickly expanding Bliss collection.

When my package arrived it was adorable. Seriously, receiving a package filled with pink packing hearts is so fun it makes you eager to place another order – we’ll played, Bliss. I’ve been using all of the products regularly and I have to say, I love every single one. Here’s the lowdown on my product picks:

Bliss Fab Foaming 2-in-1 Cleanser. This gentle exfoliating cleanser smells clean, lathers beautifully and doesn’t leave my skin feeling tight. It does improve the tone of my skin and reduce blemishes literally overnight, especially when paired with…

Bliss Ex-glow-sion Super Rich Moisturizer. This product claims to give you dewy, radiant skin. Consider that confirmed. It feels so good when you slather it on. It’s rich enough for those cool, dry months without being greasy or too heavy for summer. I’m in love.

Bliss Makeup Melt Oil-free Makeup Remover Wipes. Since I’m a sucker for polka dots and anything that allows me to skip a full face wash when I’m feeling lazy, it was only a matter of time before I picked these up. These simple wipes easily dissolve makeup without drying or irritating my skin. And at $7 for a 30-pack, I don’t imagine my nightstand will ever be without them again.

Bliss Body Butter. I’ve tried the Lemon & Sage (classic) and the Blood Orange & White Pepper varieties. Both have very light, lovely scents and a rich texture that easily melts into skin. I usually save body butters for the winter months but could not resist the blood orange scent and have continued to use it for months. Luckily it absorbs quickly and has proven itself to be a fine summer staple as well.

If you haven’t already placed a Bliss order, I say do it right now (be sure to sign up for their newsletter to get 20% off your first order). Just be prepared to fall in love with every product you try.

Summer Must-have: Fresh #SportYourSugar Lip Kit

I have always been a sucker for cute packaging. Three summer-ready lip balms? Neat. Three summer-ready lip balms in a sporty little zipper pouch? Where do I get mine??

The answer is Sephora, and I have to say the Fresh #SportYourSugar Lip Kit is the best beauty purchase I’ve made in a long time. It comes with minis of the brand’s popular Sugar Tinted Lip Treatments in Rose and Honey. I’ve loved the Rose variety for a long time but this is my first experience with Honey and I’m hooked. The flattering warm nude is my new go-to summer lip color. Both of these tinted balms feature SPF 15 as well as the smooth texture and long lasting moisture Fresh is known for.

The real stand out in this kit, however, is the Sugar Sport Treatment. This SPF 30 sunscreen stick provides protection for your eyes, lips and face. My sister and I put this sporty orange tube to the test last week while we vacationed in Disney World. With temperatures in the 90s and hours spent out in the sun, we really got to see what this stick could do. And we’re impressed. We applied it regularly to our lips and were thrilled that it didn’t rub off on our teeth like so many sport balms do. We also swiped the stick around our eyes (no stinging or burning!) and pressed the waxy sunscreen along our parts to avoid the dreaded sunburned scalp. I could not believe how well this stuff held up! After a full day of sweating, Splash Mountain and swimming, the Sugar Sport Treatment was still in place. The best part? Smudging the product into my hair didn’t leave it looking greasy or flat, but it did protect my skin all day. No sun burns for either of us!

My summer beauty routine tends to be fairly minimal but this kit has definitely earned a spot in my beauty bag this season. If you plan on spending any time in the sun this summer, do yourself a favor and buy this!