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!

Skincare Showdown: Battle of the Cult Classic Creams

creamsFor as long as I can remember, my mother has always known how to cure what ails me. Bad dreams were soon forgotten by climbing into bed beside her. A scraped knee healed quickly with Neosporin, Band-aids and a kiss to make it better. Upset stomachs called for ginger ale and popsicles. And myriad skin woes, from sunburns to painfully dry skin, were soothed with her secret weapon: Mary Kay Extra Emollient Night Cream.

This cure-all cream has a cult-like following, amongst those who know of its existence. I’m shocked that it’s not mentioned more often in beauty magazines and by skin care gurus listing off their favorite products. Growing up I came to respect the bizarre, almost gelatinous pink “cream” as a gift from the heavens. The very worst sunburns of my life were nearly eradicated overnight thanks to a generous slathering of this heavily perfumed cream. And when I whimpered to my mother about my “dinosaur elbows,” which were so dry they turned an odd greenish color and looked semi-reptilian, she wisely suggested I smooth them with “the cream.” Worked like a charm. Oh, and you know those mid-winter days when it seems that the entire season’s worth of cold, wind and dehydration descend upon your poor fragile lips to the point where your entire face feels chapped? Nothing a little EENC can’t handle.

Yes, I’ve spent most of my life believing in the unparalleled power of Mary Kay’s night cream. Which is why I rolled my eyes whenever I saw that some socialite or beauty editor raved about the seemingly similar virtues of Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream. If they only knew, I thought to myself. I was sure this one was all hype.

To give you a little background, legend has it that Eight Hour Cream got its name after a mom (much like mine) smoothed some of it onto the scraped knee of her child and found, eight hours later, that the knee was good as new. So when I spotted a tube of the stuff while perusing the clearance rack at my local TJ Maxx last week, I decided to give it a try. I figured, if nothing else, it would probably serve as a decent hand cream.

When I got it home and checked it out, I noticed that, like the Mary Kay cream, Eight Hour Cream is actually more of a gel. Where Mary Kay is pink and perfumed, Elizabeth Arden is yellowish and medicinal; it definitely didn’t win in the category of scent. It also isn’t quite as thick as the Extra Emollient Night Cream, having more of a slippery feel to it. While I was sure it would pale in comparison to my family favorite, I decided I wanted to give the new cream a fair shot, so I concocted a little experiment to test the effectiveness of the two creams against each other.

Spring may have finally arrived, but up until last week my end-of-winter cold was hanging on for dear life. Weeks of constant nose-blowing had left the skin around my nose red, raw and flaky. Not a good look. However, this gave me a perfect platform for testing the two classic creams. I smoothed one onto each nostril (and surrounding skin) and went to bed.

When I woke up I found that both sides were vastly improved, with one noticeably better than the other. In fact, that side was nearly 100 percent healed! Other than a little residual redness, it was completely back to normal: no raw, chapped, flaky skin in sight! The other side, while much better, still had a rough patch or two, and a little redness. There was a clear winner.

Can you guess which cream was which? As it turns out, Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream truly did heal my skin within eight hours. I was shocked! I was certainly not expecting it to outperform my trusted Mary Kay night cream.

Eight Hour Cream may have won a place in my medicine cabinet, but that doesn’t mean I’m ready to turn my back on the Extra Emollient Night Cream. After all, my mother has sworn by it for years, and it has served her very well. And I have no idea how Eight Hour Cream works on a sunburn; the battle of the cult classic creams just might see a round two come summertime.

What I do know is that someday in the not-too-distant future, should I have a daughter of my own, I’ll have just the thing to cure what ails her. It’s something I got from my mother.

(Happy Birthday Mom!)

Man-Handled

Winter. Whether you’re a snow-loving, outdoor sports-playing fan of the season or more of the I’d-rather-hibernate-until-spring type, we can all agree that this time of year comes with its own special set of beauty problems. Take, for example, your skin. The combination of icy outdoor temps and dry indoor heat can leave your skin parched, chapped, flaky and red. Your cuticles crack. Your face gets patchy and dry. Not only is the look less than desirable, it feels awful.

Now, most of ladies are well-versed in the seasonal skincare switch-up. We know that when the days get shorter, our night creams get thicker and the frequency with which we apply hand lotion is greatly increased. But the men in our lives are not always so eager to change up their routines, assuming they have one in the first place. Sadly, I know a lot of guys who think that anything more than a basic shave-shower-shampoo routine is unmanly. As a result, they suffer the winter months with dry, cracked, itchy hands and faces. It can’t feel good. But I have good news: there’s an easy solution.
lubriderm2
A couple months ago I picked up a bottle of Lubriderm Men’s 3-in-1 Lotion for my fiancé to try. I was intrigued by its claim to be suitable as a body, face and post-shave lotion, and encouraged him to give it a try. It sat on the bathroom counter for a while, but eventually he started using it. At first he smoothed some on after shaving. We both were surprised at how smooth his face felt, and for how long – a good 24 hours later his skin was still silky smooth. Then he started using it on his hands whenever they felt particularly dry. It absorbed quickly and instantly cured the dry skin. With regular use, the cracked cuticles and dried up hangnails disappeared. This lotion isn’t the least bit greasy, and it has a light, masculine fragrance that is unbelievably sexy. My man says it’s the best lotion he’s ever used.

So, to all the men who are reading this, please don’t be afraid to take care of your skin. More and more companies are creating products formulated especially for you, and this Lubriderm lotion is an excellent example. And ladies, if your man is sporting a flaky face and chapped hands this winter, buy him a bottle of this multi-tasking wonder. You’ll love how soft his skin feels – and how good he smells – I promise.

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.

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.

Cheap Thrills

Hello loyal readers, my apologies for the gap between posts! I’ve been a very busy girl, having just moved into a new house! After lots of planning, weeks of packing, and days of moving, I am sore, exhausted, and sublimely happy to be moved in.

That being said, let’s get down to beauty. I am always on the lookout for great beauty products at every price range. And this time of year, when the Holidays are creeping up on us, I find myself both drawn to the holiday beauty displays (there are so many!) and overwhelmed with guilt if I purchase something for myself. After all, I’m supposed to be doing my holiday shopping! So this week I’ve decided to share a few of my favorite cheapies, so you, too, can buy yourself a little pretty, without a lot of cash (or guilt).

Aquaphor Healing Ointment: This miracle cure-all is as good as everyone says it is. Especially in colder winter months, I keep a tube in my purse, one in my desk, and one on my nightstand. It’s super moisturizing and protective. I use it on chapped lips, dry elbows, and my sore nose after a cold. My boyfriend puts it on his face to avoid windburn before cold weather outdoor activities. It’s a wonder-product, and you can get a two pack of the mini tubes for around five or six bucks. Worth it.

Suave Tropical Coconut Shampoo and Conditioner: Ringing in at about two dollars and fifty cents a bottle, Suave Tropical Coconut Shampoo and Tropical Coconut Conditioner both smell amazing. Imagine the way your hair would smell if you were on a tropical getaway and smothered yourself in sun tan lotion and tropical perfumes, while sipping exotic beverages out of a coconut shell. That is how good this shampoo smells. As an added bonus, it makes hair super soft without becoming greasy.

Wet N Wild Idol Eyes Creme Shadow: For a whopping one dollar and ninety-nine cents, go buy yourself one (or several) of these creamy eyeshadow crayons. They glide on easily, look gorgeous on, and wash or wipe off easy too. My favorite shade is Pixie, and shimmery beige.

Pretty Hands, Part Two

Okay, so I’m still working on my goals of great skin and nice looking nails. It’s going pretty well. My hangnails are, for the most part, gone, and I only rarely catch myself gnawing on a nail. And my Clarins face wash is just delightful! It smells great, is extremely easy to use, and, unlike every other one-step cleanser I’ve tried, it doesn’t dry out my skin at all!

Now that my hands and nails are (mostly) mended, it’s time to step it up a notch and get them looking really good instead of not that bad. So I’ll be starting a weekly practice of performing the following at-home manicure, which I adapted from a version I read about in Allure Magazine about a decade ago.

1. Trim or file nails to desired length and shape.

2. Fill a sink/tub/bowl with warm water and a few drops of olive oil. Soak hands for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove hands and pat dry.

3. Massage a generous amount of hand cream all over hands, paying special attention to cuticles. Gently push back cuticles once they have been thoroughly moisturized.

4. Swipe nail polish remover over each nail.

5. Paint nails with desired polish!

Easy and effective. Slathering a gob of lotion on right after soaking your hands in the warm water/olive oil mixture helps seal in moisture. The nail polish remover will remove any excess lotion and oil from your nails so your polish will actually stick to your nails. And in a 10 to 15 minute period you can have soft and pretty hands!