Blemish Blasters

Over the past few months, something unpleasant has happened to me. You see, for as long as I can remember, I’ve had pretty great skin. Sure, I’d get the occasional teenage breakout, the random hormonal pimple, but by and large I had clear, even-toned skin. I could even get lazy and not wash my face for a few nights without many consequences. But since my last birthday, I’ve been battling breakouts that I’ve never had to contend with before. Tiny little bumps showed up on my forehead; blemishes and pimples dotted my cheeks and chin.

Naturally, being a beauty blogger and wanting my pretty skin back, I’ve been testing and trying every possible solution I can get my hands on: face washes, face masks, moisturizers, serums. And I am very happy to report that I have stumbled upon a skincare regimen that has eradicated the bumps and demolished the blemishes. I may no longer be able to skip a nightly cleansing, but at least I’ve got my face back.

The products:

Murad Energizing Pomegranate Cleanser is great for cleansing combination skin.

Murad Energizing Pomegranate Cleanser is great for cleansing combination skin.


Murad Energizing Pomegranate Cleanser: This foamy face wash cleanses and tones skin and is ideal for gals with combination skin, because it isn’t overly drying. Simply washing with this cleanser noticeably reduced my forehead bumps almost instantly. Tip: I find I get a better result when I use two pumps of the cleanser rather than just one.
Osmia Organics Spot Treatment is made with eight different organic oils and zaps zits almost overnight.

Osmia Organics Spot Treatment is made with eight different organic oils and zaps zits almost overnight.


Osmia Organics Spot Treatment: I credit this tiny little power player with the most drastic improvement in my skin. Made from eight different organic oils, including lavender, lemon and evening primrose, it erases blemishes and zaps zits basically overnight. I dab it on all my trouble spots before bed – I’ve used it nightly since it arrived at my house. After my second use the size and redness of my blemishes were both drastically reduced. After one week my skin was virtually blemish-free! I still use it nightly on any new little spots that pop up, and as a preventative measure on my forehead. So far, so good!
Clean & Clear Dual Action Moisturizer keeps oil at bay and helps minimize pores.

Clean & Clear Dual Action Moisturizer keeps oil at bay and helps minimize pores.


Clean & Clear Dual Action Moisturizer: This is an old favorite that I’ve blogged about before. I returned to it recently when I realized that all of my nighttime moisturizers were too thick and heavy for my new, oiler complexion, especially now that summer has arrived. This is such a great summertime moisturizer – it provides nice light moisture, but it’s oil-free and contains salicylic acid which helps keep oil at bay and treat pimples. Another bonus: since switching to this my pores are basically invisible.

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Complexion Perfection: Beauty Resolutions Part II

First and foremost, please allow me to apologize for the tardiness of this post. Due to unforeseen technical difficulties I was unable to complete it last weekend, and before I knew it the workweek had come and gone. I know a poor complexion is no laughing matter, and we all want to look our best when we face (pun intended) each day. In my opinion, having great skin – and by that I mean truly great, not just great-looking when made up – is a huge confidence booster and one of the biggest ways you can transform your appearance for the better (right up there with tweezing your eyebrows and getting a flattering haircut). So, in the spirit of not giving up on our resolutions this year, let’s get started.
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There are many different types of skin concerns that we tend to obsess over. In fact, ask any female over the age of 9 and she probably has some sort of grievance with her skin. Too oily. Too dry. A little too much of both. Acne. Wrinkles. Dark spots. Dark circles. Not enough glow. The good news is, there are products out there that address each of these problems. The bad news is that I have not tried them all. However, while I will provide a list of skincare products that I recommend for some of these issues, the majority of this post will be about techniques and best practices that can help us all improve our complexions, while also helping maximize the results from whatever products and treatments we do decide to use. No matter what our skin concerns are, we all have to start in the same place:

Have a Plan: A skincare plan, that is. Basically, the number one most important thing you must do in order to have nice, clear, glowing skin is stick to a regular skincare routine (I’ve written about this before, and if you want a more in-depth look at my plan you may want to refer to Fresh Faced). Those with oily skin do well with a twice-daily cleanse-tone-moisturize routine, such as the Clinique 3-Step program. In fact, step three, the Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, is one of the all-around best moisturizers available for any skin type. If you have skin that’s on the dry side, like I do, you may find toner to be too drying for your skin – I usually skip it during the winter. I also only use a cleanser at nighttime – I simply splash my face with warm water in the morning – I find that over-cleansing my skin makes it look worse. If your current once-or-twice daily washing routine doesn’t seem to be working for you, try adding or subtracting a daily cleansing and see if your skin balances out. If you don’t currently have a regular routine, start one! And let’s face it, even with the best of intentions there will be a night or two when you just cannot bring yourself to walk into the bathroom and properly wash your face. Do your skin a favor and buy yourself some cleansing cloths to stash beside your bed. There are many good ones available now that are packed with good-skin extras and leave your skin soft instead of stripped. I love the pomegranate wipes by Korres and the drugstore line Simple.

Be a Quitter: This should go without saying but I know it often doesn’t. If you are looking for an easy way to drastically improve the health and appearance of your skin, and are currently a smoker, quit smoking. Even though we all know it’s bad for us, vanity can be the biggest motivator when it comes to stopping smoking. And it’s easy to convince yourself that smoking doesn’t make that much of a difference in something like your skin, but it really, really does. I have seen first hand how much better a person’s complexion looks after successfully quitting cigarettes. Did you know that smoking is one of the biggest contributing factors in whether or not you have dark circles under your eyes? Speaking of eyes, would you like the fine lines around yours to diminish? Or perhaps you’d like to look five to ten years younger in general. I promise you, quitting smoking will make your skin look so much better you will hate yourself for not quitting sooner.

Treat Yourself: As I mentioned above, there is a treatment for any and every skin concern you may have. Once you find one that works for you, it is incredibly important that you use it regularly. Just having a miracle potion in your medicine cabinet will not make your skin glow – you must actually put it on your face! It’s like going to the salon, buying the serum your stylist uses to make you look amazing, and then forgetting to ever use it yourself and wondering why your hair never looks as good when you style it at home. I know lots of ladies with potent products sitting on their bathroom shelves who never take the time to kick back and relax for the duration of a 15-minute purifying mask. I recommend picking a day and making your treatment a part of your regular routine. Maybe you’ll have more than one! For example, I often use an at-home peel on Friday nights and do a face mask on Sundays. Make your specific skin treatment part of your regular skincare plan so that you can see consistent results. The goal is to have great skin all the time, not just when on vacation or when we happen to remember. (Not sure what treatment to use? See my list of recommended products, below, for a few suggestions.)

Clari-fy: It’s time to bring out the big guns. Even if you’re already doing all the things listed above, there’s still room for improvement. You can clean your face cleaner. Your treatments can treat better. How? By investing in a Clarisonic.

Money well spent.

Money well spent.

These oscillating skin cleansing brushes are expensive, yes, but they really do live up to the hype. I’m not sure how it’s possible, but my skin feels softer every single time I use it. The brush uses sonic technology to gently clean skin and remove impurities that are trapped in pores. Not only does this lead to cleaner skin, which means fewer breakouts and blemishes, but it also allows any products that are applied after cleansing to be better absorbed by the skin, making our moisturizers and treatments more effective. The Clarisonic comes in a variety of colors and sizes; I personally own a Mia, which is a slightly less expensive travel-sized version. Again, these babies aren’t cheap, but they come with a warranty and are worth every penny.

Get Some Sleep: This tip is two-fold. First of all, like smoking, chronic lack of sleep is terrible for your health and wreaks havoc on your skin. It’s another leading cause of dark circles (obviously) and it also leads to that overall dull and lifeless look that none of us is going for. It really is amazing what a few consecutive eight-hour nights of sleep can do for a person. Especially when you practice part two of this tip: take advantage of this downtime to really ramp up your routine. Nighttime is the right time to slather on those thick creams and heavy treatments that go the extra mile. With a full eight hours to soak in, overnight treatments can do your skin a lot of good. My latest skincare obsession is Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial. This jar of magic contains a super thick cream with a delightfully sweet and rosy scent. I smooth it all over my face and neck, and wake up with skin that is insanely soft and glowing. The kind of glow that renders makeup optional, if not downright unnecessary.

Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial

Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial

Not only that, this stuff leaves you looking well-rested and refreshed, even on days when you are feeling anything but rested. Pairing the sleeping facial with the Clarisonic is such a skincare double whammy that I kind of feel like I’m cheating at life when I do it. I highly recommend it.

Recommended Products: This is in no way an exhaustive list, but I figured I’d share a few of the things that have worked well for me. I’m always testing new things so if you have a question about a specific product or are looking for a certain treatment, feel free to leave a comment here or on the Questions? page.

Anti-Aging – In addition to clearing and brightening skin, minimizing pores, and decreasing excess oil, Dr Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel smooths fine lines and wrinkles and instantly firms skin. I like to follow it up with Philosophy Miracle Worker, a firming, plumping and softening moisturizer that protects the skin against all signs of aging.

ExfoliatorsClinique 7 Day Scrub Cream is a great gentle scrub, even on sensitive skin. Murad Pomegranate Exfoliating Mask uses fruit enzymes to dissolve dull and dry skin and leaves you looking bright.

Eyes – I really like Clinique’s All About Eyes line. I use the de-puffing eye-massage roll-on to cool and brighten on rough mornings, and the rich eye cream at night to help prevent dark circles and crinkles around the eye area.

Pimples and Pores – No surprises here: Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque is still my top recommendation for shrinking pores and eliminating pimples and blackheads.

Eye Spy

It’s no secret that one of my greatest beauty woes is my endlessly tired-looking eyes. Dark purple smudges are a permanent fixture below them, and some unfriendly crinkles are showing themselves around their corners.

I decided it was time to do something about it.

Over the past month or so, I’ve been testing a variety of eye creams that promise to brighten, tighten, de-puff and generally perk-up my peepers. Here, the lowdown on which eye creams really work – and which ones don’t.

Benefit B.Right It’s Potent! Eye Cream: I applied this luxurious cream in the morning with my pinkie finger, dabbing on from the inner corners outward. The result? My eyes looked significantly brighter immediately, and stayed that way for hours. It didn’t irritate my sensitive eyes, nor did it make my makeup run. This one gets top marks from me.

Caudalie The Eye Cream: I applied this lotion with my ring finger (as instructed) from the inner corners out. While the cream felt smooth and did not bother my eyes, I saw absolutely no difference in their appearance.

Ole Henrikson Visual Truth Eye Serum: I applied this serum before bed using my ring finger, from the outer corners working in. While I did notice an increase in brightness, the serum started burning my eyes within three minutes. In my opinion, the pain was not worth the slight improvement in appearance.

Murad Eye Lift Illuminator: I patted this lotion around my eyes in the morning. It felt incredibly silky and softened the lines around my eyes, but I didn’t notice an increase in brightness. Additionally, the cream never absorbed into my skin, causing my makeup to cake up in little pills. Not a good look.

Clinique All About Eyes Rich: This cream is a must-have. I applied it morning and/or night, dabbing in either direction. It made my dark circles brighter, my eye crinkles softer, and had a great, non-irritating feeling. I’ve used the All About Eyes Serum in the past, and it works well to soothe puffy eyes, but this cream is hands down the best bet.

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: Murad

I’ve done it again, folks; I’ve become infatuated with a collection of beauty products. Specifically, my heart has been skipping beats for a brand that makes my skin soft, blemish-free, and glowy. I’ve gone head-over-heels for Murad.

It all started a month or two ago when I tried a sample of Murad’s Pomegranate Exfoliating Mask that came in a Sephora package.  It’s no-nonsense pink and white packaging was appealing. I got the impression that the mask meant business. Intrigued, I did a little online research to see what other beauty enthusiasts thought of the product. Turns out, lots of ladies love it! Craving the energized, youthful glow that others were enjoying, I slathered the fruity slime on my face and let it dry. It had a pleasant tingly feeling on my face, which made me feel like it was working. After about 10 minutes I rinsed it off, and instantly noticed softer skin. The next morning I thought my skin looked a little less dull. Happily, one little packet of the mask contains enough for 3 or 4 applications, so I was able to reapply it every few days. After about two weeks of regular use, my skin was free of some stubborn blemishes and felt incredibly smooth. I promptly bought a full-sized box of the product.

But one great new product isn’t enough to create a full-blown brand crush. The deal was really sealed a couple of weeks ago, when I decided to give some other new samples a try. Murad recently launched a new line called Clean Scene, a fun bunch of skin care products that feature fun, bubbly packaging and alliterative names like Craving for Clean (a smooth face wash) and Begging for Balance (a light moisturizer). I was intrigued by the moisturizer because, having combination skin, I’m always on the lookout for something that can both soften my skin and keep oil in check. Since I had samples of both, I decided to try the face wash too.

I pretty much instantly fell for Craving for Clean. It smells DELICIOUS. Both products feature yumberry, which is apparently great for skin and smells like candy. After cleansing, I slathered on the moisturizer. I found I had to put a little extra on my really dry areas, but other than that, it made my skin super soft and not shiny at all. Success! Not only do these products work fantastically, they actually make me WANT to wash my face each night before bed. Two weeks later, I’ve bought full-sized bottles of both products and have been getting compliments on my complexion. Even without makeup on.

So, there you have it. In the course of a few weeks I have tossed old favorites aside and replaced them with Murad’s incredible skin care line.

I guess you could say we’re getting pretty serious.

ALERT: Sephora Sale!

Hello my pretties! Just writing a quick post to let you all know that Sephora.com is having an awesome sale right now. I just decided to peruse it to see if there were any good finds, and yes, yes there are. Many great brands are represented, with a variety of products, many at less than half price. There are lots of great Stila and Korres products, so if you’ve been wanting to try that fig bodywash I recommended a few weeks ago, now’s a perfect chance!!

If, like me, you’ve been wanting to treat yourself to something new for spring, check out the sale. And here are some current promo codes I’ve collected, so if you do order you can get a little something extra for free!

BODYLIFT: this code gets you a free Clarins High Definition Body Lift

ESSENTIALC: this code gets you a free Murad Skincare Travel Set

SUPERSERUM: this code allows you to choose from two Shiseido skincare serums

Happy shopping!

Hand Help!

The ice and snow that coated the roads today on my morning commute confirmed what I already suspected – winter is on its way. Another clear (and very unfortunate) sign that the dreaded cold season is rolling in is that, no matter what I do to remedy the situation, my hands are painfully dry.

Cold air and dry indoor heating can wreak havoc on would-be pretty hands, and the fact that frequent hand sanitization is a necessary part of my job does not help.

I’ve tried various lotions and creams, but nothing seems to keep my cuticles from cracking and little rough patches from forming on the palms of my hands.

Readers, I implore you, if you have a secret hand-saving weapon, please share it!

I recently tried Fresh Brown Sugar Body Cream, having heard great things about it and the accompanying scrub. I have to say, I was very disappointed. The cream itself wasn’t any more moisturizing than anything else I’ve tried, and the smell was just plain weird. Very lemony, in a cleaning product way.

On a more positive note, I recently received a sample of Murad Energizing Pomegranate Lip Protector, and I am definitely a fan. It’s not waxy or glossy, but a nice, light pink balm that smells fresh and feels nice on the lips.

If only I could find something like that for my hands…