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.

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Foot Fetish

It seems like most people either love feet or hate them. I know people who grimace at the mere mention of toes. I know others that live to flaunt their peds and accessorize them with sexy sandals, jewelry, and polish. And we all know that some people really love feet. Scandalous foot fetish videos, hilarious Sex and the City reruns, and creepy rumors keep us all aware of that fact.

Regardless of your personal stance on feet, I think we all can agree that we want ours to look nice. For some reason, being told I have pretty feet is a particularly confidence-boosting compliment.

If your feet are in really bad shape, get thee to a nail salon and get yourself a pedicure. If, like me, you just need a little maintenance to get yourself sandal-ready, here are some tips to keep your feet looking ridiculously pretty:

1. Trim your nails. Having talon-like toenails is sure to perpetuate the feet-are-ugly myth and will turn off even the most hardcore fetishist. Keep your nails trimmed, straight across, and on the short side.

2. Scrub-a-dub-dub. A good foot scrub is key to having soft, delicate-looking soles. I recommend giving yourself a foot soak once a week. After soaking your feet for 5 to 10 minutes in hot water (foot soak or salt optional), pat them dry and scrub them with a generous dollop of foot scrub. Right now I’m using Toe the Line, from the Bath & Body Works True Blue Spa line. Massage the scrub into your feet, paying extra attention to especially dry areas. I find using my fingernails to scrape off dead skin is the most effective way to get my feet soft and smooth – it’s kinda gross, but it really, really works.

3. Lotion up. Feet need extra moisture to keep them smooth. I follow every foot scrub with a healthy dose of foot cream. Bliss Foot Patrol contains aloe and peppermint and leaves freshly scrubbed feet feeling tingly and rejuvenated. To keep my feet soft between scrubs, I slather on a thick foot cream each night before bed. I’m currently obsessed with Ahava Dermud Enriched Intensive Foot Cream. It has a sweet scent and my feet still feel moisturized when I wake up. An alternative: try moisturizing gel socks. My grandmother, who appreciates a pretty foot as much as I do, gave me a pair for my birthday. The insides of these little gems are coated with a softening gel, and while it feels weird to slide your feet into a little gel sleeve, just 20 minutes gets your feet surprisingly smooth.

4. Pick a pretty paint. In the heat of summer I tend to spice up my pedicure with hot pink polish, but when I’m just trying to get pretty feet, I like soft nude shades. They look clean, lovely, and sophisticated. I’m still hooked on Essie nail color in Innocent, a soft nude pink, but I occasionally switch it out for Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Peachy Keen, a one-step light peach (it looks great on hands, too).

Scrub Me the Right Way

So it may not exactly be swimsuit season yet, but the days are getting longer and I’m starting to daydream about warmer weather and, consequently, showing more skin. I don’t know about you, but my skin is not ready to be displayed in its current condition. In fact, it’s downright scary.

Or, should I say, scaly.

In addition to shielding me from the elements, my winter wardrobe has been hiding my unsightly frost-dried hide. Last week I decided it was time to do something about my lackluster skin. I remembered a sample I had received of a body scrub, and set off to my shower with high hopes and low self-esteem.

The sample was Bliss Vanilla & Bergamot Body Buff. It smelled like a dessert. After stepping under the shower’s spray just long enough to dampen my skin, I stepped out of the water and rubbed the scrub all over, head to toe. As far as body scrubs go, this one is fantastic – the granules are big enough so you actual feel like it’s exfoliating you, but are small enough so they don’t hurt you. After a thorough scrubbing, I rinsed off and felt absolutely amazing. My skin was soft and glowy, and those unattractive little bumps that form on my limbs in the winter had vanished.

To complete my skin makeover, I followed my scrub session with a generous slather of my new favorite body lotion, St. Ives Hydrating Vitamin E Advanced Body Moisturizer. It’s lightly scented, long-lasting, and non-greasy. All the things I look for in a body lotion.

The result of this wonder duo? I was left with touchably soft skin, for the first time all year.

Trial Sized

I have a ridiculous love for products in tiny packaging. Maybe it’s because they’re so cute, or perhaps it’s because I’m not great at sharing and thus prefer individually sized portions, of everything ranging from snacks to detergents to, naturally, beauty products.

Of course I’m a sucker for free samples, but I’m also a huge fan of beauty minis and trial sizes. They are good for travel, or for tossing into your purse, but most of all they are great for testing. When a hot new product comes out, or a big brand boasts its quality, I certainly want to see what the fuss is about. But I don’t necessarily want to drop a huge amount of money on a product I’m not sure I’ll love. Which is why you’ll often find me in the 99 cent aisle of the drugstore, stocking up on deodorant and conditioner minis. Or ordering travel sets from my favorite online beauty stores. Sephora has a beauty-to-go section that features pages of hair, body, and skin products, not to mention makeup and perfumes. Sephora also puts together deluxe sample kits that you can purchase for a pretty reasonable price – you usually get around 10 products for between 30 and 40 dollars.

My favorite mini set, also available at Sephora, is the Bliss Sinkside Six Pack, filled with travel sizes of 6 very popular Bliss Lemon  & Sage products. The products work great, the smell is refreshing, and for $25 you get to revamp your whole shower experience.

And those bottles are adorable.

Hail to the Queen

I woke up Friday morning and was greeted by a most unwelcome visitor: there was a brand new pimple, sore and red, gleaming like a beacon on my chin.

Awesome.

I spent most of the day trying to figure out ways to look at and talk to people without them seeing it. Not possible. By Friday afternoon, my self esteem was at an all-time low. By Saturday morning, I needed the Queen. 

If you’ve ever read a fashion or beauty magazine that lists secret weapon beauty products or gives recommendations from pros in the beauty industry, you’ve probably heard of the Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque. Probably the best drugstore beauty find of all time, if you haven’t tried it, go buy one, and if you haven’t heard of it, listen up.

It comes in a pleasantly plain white and green package and costs around three dollars a tube. Even when used regularly, one tube will last you a long time; I’ve been using Queen Helene devotedly for five years and am only on my second one. The pea-green masque is to be applied to freshly washed skin, and is pretty simple to use: smear it all over your face, walk around looking like a swamp creature for about 15 minutes, and wash it off once it dries. Easy. And talk about getting your money’s worth.

Queen Helene clears up black heads, dries up heinous pimples (like my aforementioned atrocity), tightens pores and makes your skin ridiculously soft. (I always follow it up with a nice moisturizer. Right now I’m liking Bliss Best of Skintentions, a daily moisturizer with SPF 15 that smells like oranges.)It can also be used to spot treat really bad zits; a dab left on overnight is often just the thing to rid yourself of a stubborn blemish.

So I spent Saturday afternoon treating myself to a spa day. I tweezed my brows, trimmed my nails, and gave myself a lovely pedicure using my new favorite summer nail color, Essie’s Cute As A Button, a peachy pink shade. And I covered my face with a generous coat of Queen Helene.

By Sunday morning all that remained of the chin volcano was a teeny red dot.

I’ll take it.