May 2015 Empties

May tends to be a pretty exciting month, product-wise, because it’s the time of year when we use up our winter beauty staples and get to move on to lighter, more fun summer products. There will be plenty of those to discuss in the coming weeks, but for now let’s take a look at last month’s winners and losers:

Aqua Spa Relax Body Creme: I really loved this rich cream. Despite its thick texture it absorbed quickly, left no greasy residue, and kept my skin soft all day. Its lavender and chamomile aroma was quite perfumey when first applied, but it quickly diffused into a much more subtle scent that I really liked. 

Benefit Total Moisture Facial Cream: This tiny jar – from my Benefit Advent Calendar – saved my face during the last dry days of spring. When my tinted moisturizer just couldn’t provide enough moisture, I paired it with this thick-but-not-too-thick cream. It kept both dry patches and blemishes away while providing a perfect base for makeup. 

L’Oreal Volume Filler Thickening Shampoo: I found this shampoo incredibly disappointing. Since the ads for it featured Blake Lively, the queen of enviable hair, I was really hoping this shampoo would leave me with luscious locks. Instead it left my hair looking dry and dull, with no shine and a straw-like texture. 

Bliss Grapefruit & Aloe Body Butter: With its fresh citrus scent and rich texture, this body butter became my go-to hand cream throughout the winter and spring. It absorbs quickly and protects hands and cuticles for hours, even through the excessive hand washing of flu season. 

Aussie Moist 3 Minute Miracle: This deep conditioner isn’t new to this blog, and neither is my opinion of it. This is a high quality conditioner that can be used daily or as a weekly treatment. It repairs hair and leaves it silky and shiny without weighing it down. I still swear by it. 

Bliss Multi-‘face’-eted All-in-one Anti-aging Clay Mask: I decided to try this multi-tasking mask last weekend and almost instantly regretted it. It contains 10% glycolic acid, which was so harsh I had to wash it off after four minutes and still ended up with a chemical burn near my lip! Then my skin promptly broke out with several small pimples. Definitely not a fan. 

Whish Shave Cream: I recently wrote about this Birchbox find. I liked it more with every use. It really moisturized my skin and softened hair, leading to a closer-than-usual shave, less irritated skin and smooth legs that stayed that way for almost a week. 

Bath & Body Works Dark Kiss Body Lotion: This medium weight lotion featured a sort of sweet, sort of sultry scent and kept my dry patches in check through the spring. It didn’t clog pores and it gave my skin super soft all day. A perfect lotion for spring and/or fall. 

Beauty Protector Beauty Wash: This shower gel featured a sickeningly sweet scent and though it lathered up richly, it didn’t leave my skin feeling particularly clean. I’m a big fan of Beauty Protector’s hair products, but this body wash is definitely not for me. 

In other news, I finally came to the end of my body lotion stash last month! For those keeping track at home, it took me one year and five months to clean out that collection. So, now that I’m in the market for new lotions, please feel free to leave some recommendations in the comments below!

April 2014 Empties

I know it’s a bit early in the month for an empties post, but considering the pace at which I’ve been using up products these past few weeks, it just makes sense. This month I’m saying goodbye to a couple of old standbys and discovering some new favorites:

Aussie Moist 3 Minute Miracle: Even if you’ve never read this blog you’ve probably heard of this drugstore dynamo. It is hands down the best conditioner I have ever used. It’s ultra nourishing, leaves hair shiny and detangled but never greasy or limp, smells great and has a drugstore price tag.

Caldrea Coconut Fig Leaf Body Lotion: A nice lightweight body lotion that absorbs quickly and with absolutely no stickiness. I recommend this lotion for warmer weather as it isn’t very heavy and leaves skin feeling smooth and soft, even on humid days.

Clinique All About Eyes Rich: This has been my go-to eye cream and I’ve recommended it to many friends and family members who are now devoted fans as well. The cream improves just about any eye issue you might be trying to fix – puffiness, dark circles, wrinkles, you name it.

???????????????????????????????Thymes Lavender Body Lotion: I slathered this deliciously scented body lotion on my hands and arms before bed. Not only did I sleep like a baby every night I did this, but I awoke with soft skin and a light lavender scent still lingering on my arms and pillow. A definite winner – adding to the “must buy” list!

Bath & Body Works Coconut Lime Verbena Volumizing Shampoo: My only complaint about this shampoo was that I wish I had a bigger bottle! It has an exotic scent that brightened my whole day, cleaned both hair and scalp exceptionally well, and left my hair so soft and light that I couldn’t stop touching it all day.

Bath & Body Works Coconut Lime Verbena Volumizing Conditioner: A decent conditioner, it shares the delightful scent of its shampoo sister and worked wonderfully as a stand-in shaving cream.

Osmia Organics Spot Treatment: This organic blemish fighter is my skincare secret weapon and I am very sad to see it go. It is made up of a blend of oils that zap blemishes, pimples and random skin bumps in a matter of days, sometimes hours. If you have any lingering spots that you can’t seem to shake, buy this now. You won’t regret it!

A Year of Good Hair Days: Beauty Resolutions Part I

The results are in. The people have spoken. Love of Gloss fans are concerned with two major beauty issues this year:

Bad skin and bad hair.

Fear not, fellow beauty enthusiasts! I am here to help. I’ve been spritzing, slathering, scrubbing and sampling all sorts of things to ensure we all stick to our beauty resolutions and make 2013 better (looking) than all years that have come before it. While the majority of you said you wanted to improve your complexions this year, many readers also voted for a year of good hair days, and since taking better care of my hair is my 2013 beauty resolution, my first post will be about hair. (If your skin is in serious need of some TLC, don’t panic – Beauty Resolutions Part II will be posted later this weekend!)

So, down to business: I want to take better care of my hair. And not just by getting regular trims (which we all should) or taking a break from heat styling once in a while (again, not a bad idea). Like many women, it’s not that I have bad hair. On the contrary, my hair has the capacity to look quite lovely, to be my crowning glory, so to speak. Just the other day I received several compliments on its beauty: “So shiny!” “So soft!” “Your hair looks so pretty like that!” Yes, I’m perfectly capable of having soft, shiny, pretty hair. I know just how to style it. But more often than not I simply cannot be bothered to put in the necessary effort to achieve the coveted “what beautiful hair you have” effect. Which brings me to the first step in my year of good hair days plan:

Banish the Bun: I’m looking at you, top-knot/ballerina bun. For too long this has been my go-to solution for bad hair days, lazy hair days, running-late-so-no-time-to-straighten days… basically, unless I happen to roll out of bed with perfectly straight yet voluminous hair, or jump up an hour early with a burning desire to style my long, thick mane, my hair is pulled back in a simple, smooth, not-too-tight bun. Or at least that’s how I used to handle things. This year, things are different. But why, you ask? I know lots of girls (and beauty bloggers!) who swear by the high bun. It’s so simple! It can be so sophisticated! It also causes your hair to thin; consistently pulling your hair taut puts stress on the hair follicles and causes breakage. I didn’t worry too much about this – after all, I have an obnoxious amount of hair – until I noticed recently that the hair around my face and the front of my part actually looked thin. So, for the health of my hair and the sake of my vanity, I have sworn off the bun. This step in and of itself has forced me to put a little more effort into my hair. I’m taking the time to style and wear it down more often, and on days when I’m looking for a quick fix, I’ve swapped the bun for a sleek side-swept low ponytail. It takes the strain off my roots and is a far more flattering look for me. I should have made this change years ago!

Get a Little Dirty: Or at least, don’t get too clean. We’ve all heard it before; washing your hair too often strips your scalp – and your strands – of natural oils that help keep your hair soft, shiny and healthy. But most of us get a case of the icks when we think about skipping the shampoo. Nobody wants to have stringy, greasy locks. Here’s the good news: after you get into the habit of not washing it every day, your hair will actually adapt and stop getting so slick. In fact, over-washing your hair is a contributing factor in why your hair produces all that oil – it’s trying to replace some of the good oil you’ve been washing away. I’ve read that hair models barely ever wash their hair between jobs, which is why their hair looks so phenomenal in ads. Happily, I’ve found that even just switching from daily cleansing to shampooing every other day is enough to make a difference in moisture and shine.

Use dry shampoo to freshen locks between washings.

Use dry shampoo to freshen locks between washings.

Even better news? If you feel like you need to freshen up a bit between shampoos, dry shampoo can take care of excess oil, boost volume and leave behind a clean, fresh scent. Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Refreshing Dry Shampoo is hands down the best I’ve ever used; it’s inexpensive, smells good, works on all hair types and works in a matter of seconds. It’s a life saver. Try it.

Switch it Up: Don’t you hate when you suddenly find, after weeks, months, maybe even years of using your trusted favorite shampoo and conditioner, that your hair no longer looks like it used to? Some believe that your hair gets used to the products and stops responding to them. While personal experience tells me their might be some truth to that, I think the more likely cause is the fact that our bodies are constantly changing. As we age, we have different beauty concerns, and thus need different things from our products. It makes sense, then, that from time to time we need to throw out our old faithfuls and find our new secret weapons. My advice? Start using up the myriad shampoo samples you’ve got lying around. If your bathroom looks anything like mine (and if you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance it does), you have baskets filled with enough foil packets and travel-sized bottles of hair products to shampoo and style yourself for months, if not the full year. Start trying them until you find one that catches your attention. Then go buy it, even if it’s pricier than your previous go-to. I mean, you probably just saved yourself a couple of months worth of shampoo costs. Plus, if you find a product that noticeably improves the way your hair looks and/or feels, it’s worth the extra money.

Believe in Miracles: I’ll keep this one short and sweet. Aussie 3-Minute Miracle really does miraculous things to your hair. If you have dry, course hair, you might want to use it daily. If you have fine hair, try it once a week. If you have normal hair, twice a week, especially in the winter, helps keep hair silky and snarl-free, keeps fly-a-ways at bay, and prevents split ends.

This wonder duo has taken my hair from dull and lifeless to lush and shiny in a matter of days.

This wonder duo has taken my hair from dull and lifeless to lush and shiny in a matter of days.

Combined with my new favorite hair cream, this drug-store savior has made an enormous difference in the look and feel of my hair. Which brings me to the final step in my plan:

Pick Your Potion: Personally, Bumble and Bumble Straight Blow Dry is the product for me. As I mentioned above, conditioning with 3-Minute Miracle and following up with this styling cream has produced amazing results. My hair smells great, feels unbelievably soft, and has such incredible shine. It has gone from disappointingly dull to soft and lush in a matter of days. I strongly believe in the importance of using hair serums/oils/creams. Everybody can improve their locks by using the proper product. For me, Blow Dry is the way to go. My sister swears by Argan Oil. Some people won’t leave home without Frizz-Ease. Whatever your hair concern, there’s a product out there for you. Remember that basket of samples I mentioned earlier? I’m sure there are a few hair potions in there as well.

Thanks to my wonder duo of hair products and a commitment to wearing my hair down more often, my hair has become much more silky and shiny in 2013.

Thanks to my wonder duo of hair products and a commitment to wearing my hair down more often, my hair has become much more silky and shiny in 2013.

Once you find the one for you, you’ll know it. Your hair will bounce. It’ll shine. It will blow gloriously in your wake as you walk down the street. You, too, will have a year of good hair days.

Happy 2013!

Good Ones

As always, I’ve been buying and trying a variety of new products in my never-ending quest to find the one: the one makeup that will perfectly match my skin tone while hydrating, keeping shine at bay and hiding every blemish; the one hair product that will turn my locks to frizzless, voluminous, shiny silk; the one lip gloss that will flatter my face, plump my pout and protect against the elements while remaining totally kissable. While I’m still searching for all of these wonder-products, I have discovered a few fabulous finds lately that I thought I’d share. Best yet, each of these costs less than $10 and can be picked up at your local drugstore. Treat yourself – you may just find your one.

Aussie 3 Minute Miracle: This miracle worker has been around for ages but somehow I hadn’t tried it until a few weeks ago. One use and I’m hooked – this deep conditioning treatment really conditions hair, leaving strands detangled and super soft and my scalp flake-free. My hair was shiny and bouncy, never oily, and my hair retained its smooth, frizz-free appearance for days. Use this at least once a week to give your hair some TLC, especially while we are still dealing with cold outside temperatures and drying indoor heat.

Rimmel London Lash Accelerator Mascara: This is a quality mascara, plain and simple. It is supposed to create fuller lashes with regular use, and while the change isn’t drastic I do think I’m sporting a thicker fringe these days. This mascara stays put all day and doesn’t irritate my ultra-sensitive eyes. If you are looking for a good, inexpensive mascara, this one’s for you.

Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes: You’ve probably seen the commercials touting Simple as Britain’s top skin care brand – I’ve seen them tons of times. Intrigued, I decided to give these cleansing wipes a try. They have quickly become a regular part of my skin care routine. I am frequently too lazy to properly wash my face at night, and these wipes remove all traces of makeup and grime without over-drying my skin. They are formulated for sensitive skin and are fragrance-free. I recommend stashing a pack of these in your gym bag and your bedside table, or any other place you’re likely to want to freshen up.