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Murad Overnight Soothing Gel Review
Complexion, Reviews, Skin Care, Splurge Worthy - Comments (1) - December 18th, 2012

The timing on this couldn’t have been more perfect. This tube of Murad Overnight Soothing Gel arrived just as I was in the midst of the December Plague of 2012, and my face was really unhappy. My nose was all red and irritated (even with the best Kleenex), AND little tiny pimples kept popping up through the irritation. The rest of my face wasn’t very happy either, since my skin kind of freaks out when I’m sick. Overnight Soothing Gel to the rescue!!

Overnight Soothing Gel is a night-time treatment meant to soothe on contact and continue to help improve redness and irritation throughout the night. It’s for acne-prone skin specifically. Murad says:

Murad Overnight Soothing Gel is an acne treatment mask that works overnight to reduce the appearance of breakout-related redness and flushing. In addition to diminishing redness and irritation from acne breakouts, Murad Overnight Soothing Gel also works as a solution for redness caused by sunburn and irritation from skin care products or treatments.

It contains botanical ingredients chosen for their anti-inflammatory properties, as well as some minty extracts that provide a cooling effect. You apply a thin layer over your face after cleansing, and leave it on overnight, washing it off in the morning. It’s used in place of a moisturizer. I was worried that it might sting my irritated skin, but it really didn’t. If your skin is REALLY raw, it might be a little sting-y. The cooling effect felt really good, and overall I did notice an improvement after two treatments. (You can use it 2-3 times a week.) In addition, it really seems to help with healing up blemishes. Those tiny little pimples I get on my nose are crazy painful for how small they are (also ones between my lips and my nose, MAN THOSE HURT), and the pain and redness was both quite diminished the next morning after using this.

I’m totally sold on this stuff. It’s splurge-worthy, in my book. I use a generous pea-sized amount for my whole face, and it seems like the tube will last for probably 3-4 months using it twice a week at that rate. That’s not too shabby, really. It definitely gets two thumbs up!

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St. Ives Scrub-Free Exfoliating Pads Review
Cheap Thrills, Complexion, Reviews, Skin Care - Be the first to comment! - November 20th, 2012

I’m a little late to this party, but I finally picked up a tub of the St. Ives Scrub-Free Exfoliating Pads to try out. I’ve been interested in these for a while, since I always love AHA-based exfoliants, and these are really inexpensive. I’m really pleased with them!

The Scrub-Free Exfoliating pads are a small cloth disk, pre-moistened with an alpha hydroxy complex to gently exfoliate the skin. The scrub-free part is because they don’t use physical exfoliators, but rather the chemical peel action of the AHAs. They are meant to be used as a second step after cleansing your skin – I use them instead of a toner. St. Ives says they release dull skin and impurities while leaving healthy, fresh skin intact. They contain fruit extracts and moisturizing vitamin E help skin feel soft and smooth.

The first thing I like is the pads don’t contain alcohol. So many of the exfoliating pads that I’ve tried contain alcohol, which is just too harsh and drying for my skin. The third ingredient is actually glycerin, which is a humectant that will draw moisture to your skin. The lack of alcohol does mean that your face remains damp for a minute or two, rather than drying within seconds. I don’t find this problematic, but it’s worth mentioning. Once they are dry, your face feels clean, no film or stickiness or weirdness like that. You can go on to the next step in your skin care routine.

I was suffering from some lingering hormonal breakouts when I started using these which cleared up very quickly, and healed with less redness than usual. Score! My face feels smooth and soft. They are quite mild, so I’m guessing they won’t be too much for sensitive skin. They do have a fragrance, but it’s not overpowering. They don’t sting my skin at all, like other AHA products I’ve tried, so I think they’re pretty mild. The directions indicate you can use them twice a day. I’ve just been using them once a day, but that’s because I’m lazy. I bet I’d see even better results if I actually used them twice a day.

They are under $5 for 60 pads, so reasonably inexpensive. I think they’re a great alternative to toner in a skincare routine!

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Murad Pore & Line Minimizing Hydrator Review
Complexion, Reviews, Skin Care, Splurge Worthy - Be the first to comment! - October 8th, 2012

Murad is increasingly becoming my go-to skincare line. I’m just about out of the Anti-Aging Moisturizer SPF 20, which is still my favorite moisturizer with sunscreen. Since I am less concerned with sunscreen in the winter (I have it in my foundation), I wanted to try out the new Pore & Line Minimizing Hydrator to see how it compares. I really love that Murad offers anti-aging products for people who are still dealing with breakouts!

The Pore & Line Minimizing Hydrator is a lightweight lotion. Murad says it refines pores, plumps skin to reduce the appearance of fine lines and provides essential hydration to soothe and help repair skin breakouts. It contains their Kombucha Collagen Defense to stimulate collagen production and inhibit its breakdown to smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also has lentil seed extract and witch hazel to tighten pores and help control excess oil, and cinnamon extract to restore skin surface by reducing inflammation and optimizing oil production.

I REALLY like this moisturizer. It leaves my skin soft and smooth, with less visible oiliness, and fewer blemishes. If I do get a blemish, it heals faster and with less lingering redness. The moisturizer plays nicely under makeup as well. At $49.50 it’s a bit of a splurge, but I think it’s worth it considering how well it works for me. Overall, I give it two thumbs up!

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St. Ives Naturally Clear Green Tea Scrub Review
Cheap Thrills, Complexion, Reviews, Skin Care - Comments (2) - September 30th, 2012

I’ve been devotedly using this for several weeks now, and totally realized I needed to actually write a review of it! DOH! Beauty blogger FAIL time. ANYWAY. “This” is St. Ives Naturally Clear Green Tea Scrub, and it is pretty fab, especially for a budget-friendly drugstore product.

St. Ives Naturally Clear Green Tea Scrub is supposed to help to clear and soothe the skin as well as reduce redness. It contains salicylic acid, a blemish-fighting ingredient, to fight the flare-ups, while 100% natural exfoliants encourage healthier, clearer skin. There is also green tea extract, olive leaf extract, and a few other botanical extracts in there to soothe your skin. Nice!

You might be wondering what the dealio is with the “100% natural exfoliants.” A lot of scrubs on the market actually use little bits of plastic to do the scrubbing. As you can imagine, that’s not so great for the environment for more than a few reasons. The scrubby bits in St. Ives’ Green Tea Scrub are silica – basically, sand. In addition to being more environmentally friendly, I just love the texture of silica-based scrubs. It’s gentle, but the fine bits feel just like you’re polishing your skin, so it feels so soft when you’re done.

The scrub is a little bit of lather to it, but not a lot. It rinses easily, and leaves the skin soft and clean. I’m not a big fan of the scent – it has a strong fruity smell that is a little incongruous. I was expecting something less fruity and sweet and more tea-like and clean. It’s not a deal-breaker though, and doesn’t linger.

Overall, I’m a big fan of this scrub. I use it 2-3 times a week, and my skin likes it. St. Ives Naturally Clear Green Tea Scrub gets two thumbs up! If you are looking for an inexpensive scrub that’s widely available, you should check it out.

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Murad Skin Perfecting Primer Acne and Shine Control
Complexion, Makeup Fun, Reviews, Skin Care - Be the first to comment! - July 18th, 2012

I love products that multi-task. LOVE THEM. Murad created a new line of products called “Hybrids” that combine skin care with makeup. They are called primers, but do give some sheer coverage so you can wear it alone. It’s not exactly a tinted moisturizer, or a bb cream, but a unique and interesting product that multi-tasks like a champ.

The product I tried is the Skin Perfecting Primer Acne and Shine Control formula. There are also Matte Finish and Dewy Finish formulas. The Acne and Shine Control formula contains a probiotic complex which helps promote resistance to harmful bacteria and salicylic acid to reduce blemishes and prevent future breakouts. It also contains ingredients to minimize pores and balance oil production. Lastly, it has what Murad calls Adaptive Shade Technology that’s supposed to create a perfect skin tone match.

Let’s get into the nitty gritty here. In the skincare department, it’s supposed to treat blemishes and prevent future breakouts. I had a pretty good run of clear skin while I was using this product daily. That’s good enough for me! It’s not a miracle-worker, however. When I got lax about my nightly skincare routine, I got blemishes anyway. The product is meant to be used in conjunction with a skin care regimen, so it’s to be expected that it can’t beat back the blemishes all on its own.

It does not contain sunscreen and it’s not really a moisturizer, either. I used it on top of Murad’s Anti-Aging Moisturizer SPF 20 and had the Goldilocks effect (“It was just right!”) in terms of moisturizing. You could use it without a moisturizer, I suppose, but for my skin I liked it best paired with one. I had no issues with pilling or other problems using it over a few different moisturizers.

It has a great texture. It’s water-based and while it does have a lot of silicones in it, it does not have that dry, slick texture I’ve come to associate with makeup primers. It’s much more liquidy. It’s easy to smooth onto the skin, and apply evenly with your fingers. I use a little less than one pump for my whole face. By itself, it provides some evening of the skin tone and a very sheer coverage. It’s sufficient for me to feel like I look good all by itself, with a little cream blush and mascara. I feel my skin looks even better if I use a light application of mineral makeup on top. Mineral makeup wears beautifully on top and blends seamlessly. I haven’t tried it with a liquid foundation, since I hardly wear liquid any more.

Oil control is pretty good. My skin is ridiculously oily. I mean, I can see it oozing out of my pores oily. If I use nothing, I can see oil on my skin within 30 minutes after washing. A good oil control moisturizer usually gets me an hour before oil breaks through. Moisturizer and Skin Perfecting Primer gets me two hours, more or less, depending on what I’m doing and humidity. That’s pretty good! All of that plus powder of some kind (like Detrivore’s Pallor Mortis or just regular foundation powder) extends the time another hour or so. While I can see I’m getting oily, it never develops into that full-on reflective shiny nose, either. This makes me happy. I start getting progressively “dewier,” which I can live with. Using blotting tissues regularly pretty much cuts the oil right down, of course.

The shade is a really good match for my skin. This is probably the thing that will be most problematic. The “Adaptive Shade Technology” is supposed to create a perfect match, and it does blend seamlessly into my skin. I suspect that it’ll work for most people except for the very fair and the very dark. If you can check it out in person first, or order from a place that accepts returns, you’re good to go.

Overall, I’m quite happy with the product. It does what it claims to do, so I give it two thumbs up.

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One Hand Washes The Other’s Black Magic Scrub Review
Best Of, Complexion, Reviews, Skin Care - Comments (1) - June 11th, 2012

Last year I tried One Hand Washes The Other’s Black Magic Soap, and really liked it. Now I have the Black Magic Scrub in my hot little hands, and OH MY. It’s packed with WIN!

Here’s the scoop. The scrub is the cream version of Black Magic with bamboo powder added. Bamboo powder, you say? Yes! Bamboo stems are rich in silica, and this silica makes a great exfoliating powder. I like it because it’s definitely scrubby but it isn’t as rough as other scrubs, like those that use walnut shell powder, for example.

The cream soap contains all the stuff that makes Black Magic, well, magic. That would be the essential oil blend including tea tree, grapefruit, and peppermint, French green clay, activated charcoal, and calendula. It’s a great blend for blemish-prone skin. The scrub part provides surface exfoliation to help keep your skin clear.

I bought the 2 oz. jar to start off with, and it’ll probably last for a while – a little goes a long way. I will likely buy the bigger jar next time, just because I love it so much and it’s worth it. I’ve noticed my skin is a lot smoother. I started using it in the midst of an epic hormonal related acne-fest and it cleared up very quickly and with minimal scarring. TWO ENTHUSIASTIC THUMBS UP!!

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Review: L’Occitane Brightening Essence
Complexion, Reviews, Skin Care, Splurge Worthy - Be the first to comment! - May 10th, 2012

L’Occitane introduced their Brightening line a few years ago, and the Brightening Essence has been one of the most popular products in the line. It’s a lightweight serum that is supposed to correct wrinkles, even skin tone and brighten the complexion. I’ve been using it pretty regularly, and the prognosis is I love it!

While I don’t have significant pigmentation issues from sun exposure, I have heard from a good friend of mine that this product works a number on darker spots and unevenness left from acne. I don’t get a lot of breakouts, but probably because of some immune system issues I have, I heal slowly from them when I do. I really hate having the marks on my face for weeks (sometimes months if they’re particularly deep) afterwards. Immortelle essential oil, one of the ingredients in the Brightening Essence is particularly good for healing skin. I wanted to try the serum to see if it would help with the acne marks.

In addition to immortelle essential oil (which also helps with collagen production), Brightening Essence contains Bellis Perennis (Daisy) extract and a Vitamin C derivative to diminish age spots and give skin a youthful glow, and Garden Nasturtium extract to increase the skin’s natural ability to reflect light. It also has wintergreen leaf to help with natural exfoliation.

The texture of the serum is light. It’s water-based, so it’s not greasy or oily. The bottle lid is a dropper, which I like, as it helps regulate how much product you use. If you’re treating significant pigmentation issues, I would use it morning and night for best results. I only use it once a day, usually at night. Be sure to wear sunscreen, or you’ll negate the brightening effects! There’s no point to using products to correct sun damage if you aren’t wearing sunscreen every day.

Right away, I noticed that the lingering redness from acne marks cleared up much faster than usual. Sweet! Overall, my skin does seem improved over time, with a smoother feel and the blemishes I do get (they are reduced) heal much faster. I also appreciate the anti-wrinkle effects of this product!

It’s a serum, so a little bit goes a long way. Used twice a day, you’ll probably use up a bottle in three months, or six months with once a day use. It’s not cheap, at $56, but I’d call it splurge-worthy since you get firming and anti-wrinkle benefits as well as the brightening effects. I definitely recommend the Brightening Essence if you’re in the market for a good anti-aging serum, that’s not full of harsh chemicals.

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Yes To Tomatoes Value Set Review
Complexion, Reviews, Skin Care - Comments (3) - May 5th, 2012

I found this AWESOME Yes To Tomatoes set at Target, and since I was wanting to try the line anyway, decided to snatch it up! This was a very good decision, as it turns out.

Unfortunately, I can’t find this set anywhere online, so I’m guessing it’s in-store only. It is basically a steal, at $19.99. It contains three full-size products, the Repairing Acne Lotion (regular price $14.99), the Daily Pore Scrub (regularly $9.99), and the Roller Ball Spot Stick (regularly $9.99). So you’re getting $34.97 worth of product for $19.99. A STEAL, RIGHT?!?

Let’s go from least favorite to most favorite. The Daily Pore Scrub doesn’t knock my socks off, but that has more to do with me than it does with the product. Basically, the product is meant to take the place of a daily cleanser (probably what you use to wash your face at night, for example). I already have cleansers I like to use at night (like this one) so I’m not really in the market for a new one. It’s a very gentle scrub, as is appropriate for something you’re meant to use daily. If you want something REALLY SCRUBBY, this isn’t it. It isn’t scrubby enough to work in my twice a week with LOTS OF GRIT exfoliation routine. HOWEVER. If I decided to start using it daily, I’d probably love it. It feels good, it doesn’t smell objectionable, it works well as a cleanser, and it has salicylic acid in it to clear up your pores. Buy it because you want a slightly scrubby daily cleanser, not because you want a really scrubby scrub.

The Acne Roller Ball Spot Stick is pretty cool. I’m usually quite skeptical of spot treatments, due to their propensity to not actually do much to clear up blemishes in a hurry. That’s the point, right? This one seems to actually do something! It contains salicylic acid, ginger root, and bisabolol, which are all supposed to help with shrinking down zits. When I use this on pimples, I do notice they seem to go away much faster than using nothing at all. Large, nasty inflamed ones appear much smaller and much less inflamed in the morning after using it before bed. At $9.99 it’s not cheap, and it’s really small (only 0.5 oz.) but I’ll consider buying it again due to its effectiveness.

The star of the show for me is the Repairing Acne Lotion. Let’s start with the drawbacks. It is more drying than other acne serum-type products I’ve used (Neutrogena and Murad). I am not fond of the vinegar-y scent. Neither of these things are deal breakers. It contains salicylic acid, ginger root, and bisabolol, as well as aloe, witch hazel, and pomegranate juice. Daily use (once per day, usually in the AM) translates to fewer breakouts, for me. This product definitely can replace my beloved Neutrogena product and isn’t as expensive as the Murad. THIS PRODUCT IS FULL OF WIN!!

Overall, I’m quite pleased with the Yes To Tomatoes products for acne! I definitely recommend checking them out, especially if you can find this particularly set.

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