Monthly Archives: July 2011

Natural Deodorants That Don’t Stink

Today at a baby shower the subject of deodorant came up — perfect timing for two reasons. First, it’s going to be over 100 degrees this week in the Los Angeles area (so they say), and second, when you’re pregnant or nursing, the subject of deodorant becomes an important one — if you’re a woman who wants to avoid adding any unnecessary chemicals to your body or exposing your little one to them. My sister is one of these people, which is why when someone asked me if I knew of any great deodorants that don’t contain things like aluminum and parabens, I had an answer.

You see, when my sister was nursing, she didn’t want to wear deodorant because her baby’s head was always so close to her armpits, and she didn’t want any of the ingredients commonly found in traditional deodorants to transfer on to her child’s precious, new-to-the-world skin. But, she also admitted that she smelled rather goat-like without her deodorant, and that it was starting to make her a bit nauseous. Lucky for her, I had just started testing a natural deodorant that I was kinda digging, which was surprising because it was the first of its kind that I thought actually worked well and smelled fabulous. Now, it was no Secret Clinical Strength, but it did perform well through everyday activities. That deodorant is LaVanila Laboratories The Healthy Deodorant in Pure Vanilla, $18 (it comes in five other lovely scents as well). (more…)

“In What Order Should These Products Be Applied?”

Reader Jacalyn recently changed up her skin care regimen and says, “I was using a daytime moisturizer that contained SPF. I’m now using (and loving) Kate Somerville’s Deep Tissue Repair and Quench Hydrating Serum. I will need to add sunscreen to this routine, so in what order should these products be applied?”

I’m sure this is a question we’ve all asked ourselves a thousand times. With the layers upon layers of products we slather on daily — from moisturizers, serums and spot treatments to sunscreen and prescription products, it’s hard to know what goes first, third and last.

Here’s the order I follow based on the info I’ve picked up from skin gurus over the years: First, apply any prescription or treatment products (like retinoids or acne spot treatments). They should be the items closest to your skin so they don’t get diluted by other products, and can work as efficiently as possible.

Next, apply serum-type products. These are lightweight and meant to be absorbed by skin, so they should go on early in the process as well. They also often contain potent active ingredients, and in order to reap the benefits they offer, you’ll want them close to your skin as possible. Follow serum with moisturizer, which is thicker and often contains more oil. It will actually help seal in the products you previously applied while protecting your skin from the elements.

Finally, finish with SPF. You want your SPF to be the last thing that you apply so it protects your skin to the best of its ability. And, if you’ve applied any products that are easily broken down by UV rays, it will help those products remain more stable and active, too.

Oh, and Jacalyn, if you’re in the market for a great SPF product to layer on top of your Kate Somerville products, I recommend these two: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liquid Daily Sunblock SPF 55, $6.24  Chanel UV Essentiel SPF 50, $52. Both are ultra lightweight (almost watery) and never greasy.

Do YOU have a beauty question? Ask it by commenting on this post.

Beauty Problem Solver of the Week #6

The product: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Glow Pad, $18 (for 10 pads)

Why: Um, did you see the video I posted on Monday? I’m seriously fair — pasty even. Now, this doesn’t bother me in the least, but I do have days when I would like to have a little color. I’m not talking Jersey Shore color, but a subtle, believable sun-kissed glow would be nice. I had a day like this last week and my solution was to reach for one of these little pre-soaked, individually-wrapped wipes. They gave me the exact serving of tan I needed.

And, in addition to imparting a golden hue that was so natural, they also gave my skin an dose of alpha and beta hydroxy acids, which exfoliate skin to make pores appear smaller, reduce blackheads and even help fade real sun spots over time. Quite a list of accomplishments for a teeny packet you can easily tote in your purse or carry-on bag (more…)

Alternatives to Traditional Acne-Fighting Ingredients

Reader Question: “What products can people with acne prone, sensitive skin use if they are allergic to salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide?” — Amber

Answer: Amber, you’re a girl with problems that I can so relate to, and thankfully there are hard-working acne solutions out there that don’t contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. The key ingredients you should look for are sulfur and alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic and lactic acid. Sulfur “removes dead skin cells that clog pores and helps remove excess oil,” according to the Mayo Clinic, and the AHAs work in a similar way while also helping to reduce inflammation and “stimulate the growth of new, smoother skin, which helps reduce the appearance of acne scars.” The AHAs may still cause some irritation if you are very sensitive, but the sulfur is quite gentle albeit somewhat drying. I personally have had lots of success with both lactic acid and sulfur though. A few of my go-to acne zappers are: (more…)

How to Create Soft, Beachy Waves

Do you have a beauty question you’d like to have answered by way of a how-to video tutorial? Ask it by commenting on this post.

Which Mascara Are You Wearing?

“Which mascara are you wearing?” This is the question my friend Anna asked me last night, and before I could answer she then blurted out, “Or did you get lash extensions?” I was flattered, thanks Anna.

My answer: No, I didn’t get lash extensions. I’ve seen too many friends try them and then spend months rehabbing their natural lashes from the abuse they took from extensions. I instead prefer to give my natural lashes all the help they can get to look their best without having to punish them by adding extensions.

But back to Anna’s first question — the mascara I was wearing last night was the L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Million Lashes Mascara in Blackest Black, $8.95, which is one of my current faves. I’ve turned many friends and family members on to this mascara which provides the perfect amount of drama (think volume and length) while keeping each and every lash separated — even the teeny ones. The non-clumpy nature is the result of the Clean Sweep Wiping System — according to the company. It removes any excess product from the wand so large deposits of the black stuff won’t end up on your lashes. It totally works. And, the mascara doesn’t budge either. I shed a few tears and worked up a sweat while dancing at a wedding last night — yes, that’s wedding number three since I started this blog — and it didn’t transfer, smudge, you name it — at all.

If you’re looking for a great drugstore alternative to a more expensive department store gem, this should be the tube you reach for — hands down. Oh, and it comes in four shades: Black, Blackest Black, Black Brown and Carbon Black.

How to Get a Kate Middleton-Worthy Bouncy Blowout — Fast

As you’re perusing the hundreds of images from the North American Royal visit, you’re probably asking yourself, “How does Kate Middleton get that perfectly voluminous, yet sleek blowout?” If this isn’t what you’re thinking, you’re probably alone — or at least not as beauty obsessed as the rest of us. Middleton has seriously mastered the “rich-girl blowout,” as I heard designer Zac Posen once put it. Her hair is smooth, frizz-free and shiny — with the perfect amount of bounce at the ends.

But, if you’re a mortal like me, you likely don’t have the time or know-how to blow-dry your hair section by section with a round brush in order to get that princess-worthy finish. That’s why I’m going to let you in on a little trick I use. When I don’t have time to blow-dry my hair to perfection, which is always, I follow these steps:

Step 1: I wash my hair the night before I plan to wear this style and let it air dry. Or, if I need to wash it that day, I’ll quickly blow-dry it with a flat brush to get my hair good and dry.

Step 2: I pull out my trusty, large hot rollers (Conair Extreme Heat Jumbo and Super Jumbo Rollers, $19.77) and roll up two- to three-inch sections of hair all over. (more…)

What’s the Best Way to Create a Natural-Looking Bronzed Face?

Every year when summer rolls around I find myself trying to master a flawless, sun-kissed look — you know, the one you see on celebrities like Jennifer Aniston and Giselle Bundchen? And, almost every year I question whether I’m really “nailing” it. That’s why I decided to consult makeup artist Sonia Kashuk (pictured below) who is known for her flawless, yet natural, application methods in addition to her perfectly-priced line of cosmetics. Here are her tips on how to pick the best bronzer for you — and apply it like a pro:


Tip 1
: Choose the right formula for your skin type.
If you have normal to oily skin, she suggests powder products that “deliver a very delicate shimmering glow.” Try: Sonia Kashuk Bare Minimum Pressed Bronzer, $9.99 or  Sonia Kashuk Shimmering Loose Mineral Bronzer, $8.99.

“For dry/older skin, cream bronzers are a fantastic option as they deliver a healthy glow and adhere beautifully to the skin,” says Kashuk. One to try: Josie Maran Argan Cream Bronzer in Beach No. 1, $15.

Tip 2: Select the color that will look most natural on you.
“Look for something that is two to three shades warmer for your skin,” says Kashuk, and “stay away from anything that looks too orange, you want to go for golden bronzes, not brownish oranges,” she adds. (more…)

Beauty Problem Solver of the Week #5

The Product: Coola Mineral Face Tint SPF 20, $36

Why: Yesterday I ran in a Fourth of July 5K “race” — at 7am. Needless to say that I didn’t put much effort into my hair and makeup. I tossed my hair into a ponytail and threw on a red hat. But because I’m vain (aren’t we all?), I had to do something quickly to even out my skin tone. I have quite a few sun spots — and I’m not talking cute freckles. These are ugly, I’m-aging-and-these-are-proof spots. That’s when I grabbed this skin-protecting, tinted moisturizer. A ton of brands make these now, but I’ve tried many (Laura Mercier, Aveeno, Bobbi Brown, etc., etc.) and because I am fair but not super duper fair, it has been very challenging for me to find a formula that blends perfectly with my skin tone and offers enough coverage to make it worth using one of these over a basic SPF moisturizer sans the tint.

Well, this tube meets both criteria and it contains only chemical-free sunscreen ingredients (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) in addition to cocoa butter, grape seed extract and black tea (the last two both help fend off aging). And, it has a lovely scent (thanks to the “rose essence”) and is free of parabens to boot.

I slathered it on quickly and bolted out the door looking a little more put together.

Do you have a fave beauty product that’s helped solve one of your recent problems? Tell me about it — by commenting on this post.

5 Tricks to Looking Younger

Because today is my birthday, I thought I’d devote this post to sharing a few of my skin care and makeup tricks — the ones I think (hope!) contribute to many people thinking I look younger than I actually am. Let’s hope this continues for another … oh, 40 years or so.

Trick 1: Apply blush high up on the apples of your cheeks. If you have a long, narrow face like mine, this not only gives your cheeks a lifted effect, but it also makes your face appear a bit fuller. I’ve been wearing RAWColor Native Essence Pure Pigment Cheek Color in Horizon, $26.

Trick 2: Use retinoids. I initially started using these to help with regular breakouts (er, maybe it’s the breakouts that make people think I look younger — sure hope not), but in addition to clearing up spots, the overall appearance of my skin became glowy while the texture of my face became very smooth as well. Retinoids are clinically proven to reduce fine lines, build collagen and keep pores clear, so if anti-aging is your MO you should definitely consider using one. The strongest forms can be found in prescription products like Retin-A Micro, Renova, Tazorac, Differin (my fave), but you can also find retinol (the most common over-the-counter form of a retinoid) at the department or drugstore. One to try: SkinCeuticals 1.0, $59.

(more…)