Topic: Skin Care

Must-Have Moisturizing Products

Published in: Guest Post, Kiehl's, Murad, Skin Care

must have moisturizing products

I have combination skin, and I LOVE pampering it with all kinds of moisturizing serums, potions and masks. I’ve found that keeping my skin moisturized is the best way to keep it happy and avoid minor irritations and redness (my skin is also pretty sensitive, lucky me!).

Even though we don’t really experience severe winter weather in the Bay Area, thanks to indoor heating and cooler temperatures, I still load up on moisturizers, and these are my current favorites for keeping my skin moisturized and soft:

moisturizing products

My nighttime skincare routine is sort of long, but I love it. I turn it into a mini pampering session, and I’ll double-cleanse, tone, add a serum, then a moisturizer, then a facial oil…and this is on my “low key” nights!

Lately, I’ve been using Murad Hydro-Dynamic Ultimate Moisture at night (you can check out my nighttime skincare routine here). It’s packed with avocado, sunflower and olive oils, and even though it also has shea butter, it somehow manages to feel light. I’ve only been using it for a couple of weeks, but my skin feels really soft and plump in the morning after I use it. I’ve noticed no irritation, either, so this is a definite winner. It’s available now at Sephora for $72.

murad hydro dynamic cream
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Get Clearer Skin in 5 Steps With Pixi

Published in: Elizabeth Arden, Guest Post, Pixi, Product Reviews, Skin Care


I chase clear skin like I chase the donut food truck. Having the best skin possible is super important to me, as I’m sure it is for you too!

Weirdly enough, I’ve had way more skin issues in my 20s than I did in my high school years. Maybe that’s a blessing, because now I have the patience to experiment with different concoctions to find the best products and routines for my skin, and as of this moment, I think I’ve found it.

I’ve been using this routine now for several weeks and have been so happy with how my skin has been acting. In case you haven’t noticed yet, I use mostly Pixi, along with a lovely little Elizabeth Arden serum.

Let me take you through my skin care routine, which I follow morning and night…

Step 1: Cleanse

Keeping your skin clean is so important. Removing your makeup and the nastiness of the day from your pores will help keep the breakouts away.

First, splash your skin with warm water to open up those pores, and then work Pixi Glow Mud Cleanser into your skin. It’s a delicious recipe for clear skin packed with yummy ingredients like glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, and aloe vera.


Step 2: Mud mask

This step, you only want to do two or three times a week. Shmear the Pixi Glow Mud Mask all over you face, and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. The rich mask is loaded with minerals to draw out excess oil and impurities from your skin. You can see all of the crud it pulled out of my pores!

So satisfying…



Step 3: Toner

Toner is a step that a lot of people feel is unnecessary, but I don’t think so at all. You need a toner, and let me tell you why. Toner helps to balance the PH level of your skin, meaning that, depending on your skin type, it’ll prompt your skin to produce either more or less oil on its own, whatever it needs.

Pixi Glow Tonic is the best toner I have EV-AR used. I don’t know how it does what it does, but it has reduced redness and breakouts in my skin more than any other product ever has. You have to try this one.


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Beauty Affordability: Learning to Handle the Guilt of the Price Tag

Published in: Guest Post, Just For Fun, Skin Care

$325 well spent.

Last year I wrote a brief essay on what it feels like when “budget beauty” starts to actually hurt your bank account. In short, I explored why I thought it was no longer fruitful for me to have seven of the same lipsticks in varying shades of red that were all dupes for a higher priced lipstick when for the total of all seven, I probably could have bought the higher priced thing by now.

A lot of my opinions in that essay still ring true. I do believe that investing in yourself is worth the time and waiting if you can’t afford it at this very moment, but as a person who grew up in the far reaches of the Adirondacks with little money, I can’t say that I will ever necessarily feel good about spending money on anything, especially myself, or my beauty products.

When I look at my makeup collection, the highest priced item on it at the moment is my Clinique Even Better Makeup. I purchased it on the recommendation of a Sephora employee, and I do love it as far as liquid makeup goes. I was looking for something that wouldn’t clog my pores, and that would cover up my acne and redness. At $27, it’s not that expensive compared to some items I’ve seen, but it’s more than I had been used to spending.

When my skin began revolting due to adult acne, I started rethinking my skincare routine. I knew that I would have to spend more money on creams, ointments, and moisturizers because my skin demanded quality and care. But this was the only area on which I relented. I still tried to find the best deals, the cheapest brands for the best quality (which, don’t we all, at times?)

Currently, my skincare prices look something like this:

  • Aczone Gel Prescription: Around $45
  • Tretinoin Prescription: Around $5
  • Retin-A Prescription: Around $10
  • Moisturizer: $9
  • Cleanser $7

Total: $76 (Give or take a few dollars.)

Not bad, considering my prescriptions last me almost 6 months, and the giant bottle of Neutrogena Cleanser I bought a few months ago is still going strong. These are prices I can deal with, because I feel that investing in my skincare is almost a part of my health. I’m very cautious when it comes to sun care and putting on SPF. As a super pale girl, I slather on as much as I can, even when it’s cloudy out.

What gets me, however, are the items that I don’t have to spend money on, and the pressures that I’m bombarded with daily when I even think about buying any kind of beauty item. That’s why I was sucked into the dupes for so long. Why buy the quality when you can find a cheaper version? (And that’s not to say some drugstore brands aren’t becoming better quality.) But as someone who grew up with a strict budget and started buying most things for herself very early, learning how to budget for things I needed versus things I wanted was one of the lousiest lessons to learn, because it makes you feel awful.
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Sea Results With H2O+ Face Oasis Hydrating Treatment and Oil Infused Renewing Serum

Published in: Guest Post, Skin Care

H2O Face Oasis Hydrating Treatment Oil-Infused Renewing Serum

Feeling hydrated already…

Want to hear a joke about seaweed? (Shore you do)

“What does seaweed say when it’s stuck on the bottom of the ocean…?”


I love a good seaweed pun. I also love a good moisturizer/serum combo.

Enter the H2O+ Face Oasis Hydrating Treatment and their Sea Results Oil Infused Renewing Serum. The H2O+ line is full of influences from the ocean, from their Black Sea Body Line to the Sea Lavender Skin Smoother. Each product boasts different blends of sea elements such as wakame, a seaweed that has been proven to reduce inflammation, to sea lettuce, which “supports skin firming collagen and elastin,” to fennel, which helps with anti-aging.

That’s a lot to absorb, all puns intended.

H2O+ Face Oasis Hydrating Treatment ($36 for a 1.7-oz. jar) and Sea Results Oil Infused Renewing Serum ($58 for a 1.0-oz. bottle)

Starting with a clean face just out of the shower, I dove into the Renewing Serum. The smell wasn’t irritating or overpowering, but there was an unidentifiable scent, which I chalked up to the fennel and sea lettuce.

You’ll either love it or hate it, but I was all over it. As it dried, it left a slightly cooling sensation. While this is the pricier of the two, I only required two short pumps for my entire face.

I’ve always been afraid of putting anything with oil in it anywhere near my body (I was a greasy kid), but this serum was light and delicate, absorbing into my combination skin in just a few seconds. It dried completely matte, leaving me ready for the next step in undersea skincare. 

H2O Face Oasis Hydrating Treatment Oil-Infused Renewing Serum

Feel the marine essence…

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A Brief Essay on Seeing Eye to Eye With My Bare Skin

Published in: Guest Post, Just For Fun, Skin Care

Marcella Yakalis

I catch my reflection in the window of the downtown D train. In my bathroom mirror, as I pass by a shop. While I still struggle everyday to live comfortably in my body (I am a size 22, 5 foot 6), I often find it even harder to live in my skin.

Around six months short of 25, I noticed the blemishes forming on my chin and forehead were not just the occasional stress related zit. They were cyclical, they scarred even when I didn’t pick them, they were incredibly painful. Through my late teens and early twenties, I never had more than the occasional flareup, and never ones that gave me so much shame. I went off my hormonal birth control, thinking that was the issue, but it still persisted. I stopped wearing makeup entirely, afraid to agitate my skin.

Like so many other women, I was struck with sudden adult acne as a result of PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and didn’t know it. It wasn’t until I actually went to a dermatologist, who suggested, from my acne patterns, that I might have the condition. I made a mental note to check on it and asked what could be done about my skin. I was prescribed Aczone Gel, 5%, as well as a retinoid (Adapalene) and a tretinoin (Atralin)

Marcella Yakalis

These medications greatly improved my skin over a short period of time. The combination of all three settled the horrifying red bumps that littered my chin, cheeks, and my forehead. As my face cleared up, I became excited at the prospect of being able to wear makeup without feeling like I was just covering up a disaster. I didn’t realize at the time how badly the marks had scarred me, in more than just a physical sense.

When I looked in the mirror, this is what I saw: sunken eyes and horrible skin, broken capillaries around my nose, bags under my eyes that I’ve had since I was four, that weird chicken pox scar above my right brow. When my skin began to clear up, I saw my face, my bare face, and I didn’t like what I was seeing. When I was wrapped up in the acne covering my face, I didn’t have to deal with the fact that I didn’t particularly like my face.

Despite the myriad of treatments I now use, I am still reluctant to wear makeup and try new products. I’m afraid that my skin will react poorly or that it will burn. This fear, however, has made me more comfortable in showing my bare face. When I used to go out with a bare face (and I mean bare, not even concealer) I was ashamed to look in the mirror. I still had the allergy eyes and the scars, but as I learned to deal with my bare face as it was, I realized that while I had been ashamed of the acne, I had often used it as a blanket for my insecurities when it came to my natural looks. Now that my skin was on the road to recovery, I had nothing to hide behind.

Living with my acne, and learning to actually like my own face again, is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. I always used to think scars were really cool until I started seeing them on my face…and feeling them far deeper.
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