5 May

Beauty Spotlight: Alba Botanicals is Cruelty-Free!

Today I want to give a little love to a super awesome beauty product company: Alba.  Not only do they make super high quality products, but everything in their line is vegetarian and completely cruelty-free.  Awesome!

Alba has products specifically formulated for hair, skin, and bathtime.  They even have an extensive lip care collection.  My favorite, though, is their sunscreen.

Remember the post I did a couple of weeks ago about sunscreen?  I should officially add Alba to this list of must-haves!  Every sun care product they make has antioxidants and protects skin from both UVA and UVB rays!  And I know from experience that their stuff is not at all greasy or gross.

I was browsing their website and found another cool product that I’d love to try… sunless tanner!  The list of ingredients sounds luxurious, and I’m thinking of picking this up for my graduation party, so I don’t look pasty in my new party dress!  Check it out yourself here.

Even their packaging is totally appealing… I am officially hooked!

Want a (long and amazing) list of other cruelty free cosmetics companies?  Check out this one at mymakeupmirror.com!

Have you used any of Alba’s products?  What is your favorite?  Got any other cruelty-free cosmetic companies that you adore?  (Any good sunless tanners out there?)  Let me know in the comments!

21 Apr

Great hair and skin start in the shower!

Last week, I reviewed the Patene Pro-V Strengthening Mask, and I know a couple of you who bought it and loved it too— yay!  For those of you who don’t feel like shelling out any cash, but still want great hair and skin (don’t we all??), I’ve got some awesome no-cost ways to look your best!

photo courtesy of Jaci Berkopec

For great hair:

1.  Don’t wash your hair every day. I know some people get really freaked out by this, but let me clarify: this doesn’t mean that you can’t shower every day.  Just don’t wash your hair with shampoo more than 4 times per week.  Washing more often strips your hair of its natural oils and leaves it looking dry and limp.

2. Wash your hair the right way.  This means you only use shampoo on your roots and only use conditioner on your ends.  Your scalp produces the oil that you’re trying to wash out of your hair, but shampooing your ends will leave your hair dry (see above.)  Oppositely, conditioning all the way to your scalp will allow greasy buildup to form and will weigh your hair down.  Try this rule: Shampoo 1/4 of the way down your hair, condition 3/4 of the way up.  It works!

3. Seal in moisture. When you’re completely done with your shower, blast your hair with the coldest water you can stand for 15 seconds.  (I would recommend leaning your head under the water— I had my body under there the first time and I learned my lesson!  Brrrrr…)  Running cold water through your hair tightens and seals the cuticles, leaving it sleeker and less frizzy as it dries.

4. Don’t rub your hair with a towel. For years, my post-shower routine involved wrapping my hair in a towel turban, getting dressed, then rubbing out the excess moisture.  Boy, was I wrong!  To keep hair healthy and maintain the shine you worked so hard for in tip #3, try this instead: Ring the water out of your hair as much as possible in the shower.  Use the most absorbent towel you own for your head and wrap it in a turban while you get dressed, do your makeup, eat breakfast, etc.  Giving your hair extra time to dry in the towel will do wonders.  Not dry enough when you unwrap?  Use the towel to squeeze the hair, not to rub it.

For great skin:

1. Exfoliate.   I’ve mentioned before how exfoliating can make skin look tighter and more radiant (plus it just feels so darn soft!)  You can exfoliate for free at home with a body scrub made from ingredients in your kitchen.  Check out how to make it here.

2. Seal in moisture. I have super dry skin, so I’m always looking for ways to retain as much moisture as possible.  I learned this trick on a radio show years ago:  When you get out of the shower, pat your skin dry with a towel— don’t rub.  Your skin will automatically soak up some of the steam and water from the shower, and this way you won’t be undoing it!  Make sure to add lotion, for extra-deweyness!

3. Exfoliate again. This time, on your lips!  I don’t care who you are, how dark your lipstick is, or whether or not you have a significant other to make out with (*wink*).  Having soft and pretty lips is a total confidence booster, and it’s so easy to do!  After you hop out of the shower, while your lips are still dewey and a little wet, run 1/4 teaspoon white sugar over them to get rid of any flakes.  This is especially important if you’re wearing lipstick, but like I said, smooth lips look great on everyone!

Have you tried any of these tips?  Looking forward to your next shower?  And please share any other great tips of your own!

29 Mar

Seven more tips for great skin!

I hope you all had a lovely weekend!  I am currently relaxing in the beautiful Calistoga!  But of course, I have some cool stuff to share with you all.

On Thursday, I answered Nina’s question about stress-related acne, but over the weekend, I had the pleasure of chatting with Santa Cruz-based esthetician, Rachel Pinkerton.  (If you want a great facial in the bay area, book an appointment with her at Simply Skin.)  Rachel is guest-blogging today, and here are the awesome anti-acne tips she shared with me:

photo courtesy of yunguyen666

1. Drink lots and lots of water.

2. Don’t pick, don’t touch!!!  It will spread bacteria and make your skin worse!

3. Double cleanse your skin… first to remove  makeup and anything else that has settled onto your skin throughout the day or night, then to actually cleanse the skin itself.

4. Gently exfoliate 2-3 times per week— but don’t be too agressive. (And always use a clean towel to pat your face dry so you don’t spread bacteria!!)

5. Invest in a spot treatment.  This is especially important if you’re having a stress-related breakout.  Often times, people with stress breakouts dont have classically acneic skin so they don’t necessarily want to use a whole “acne system” because it may not be suited for the rest of their skin. Products with salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide or even tea tree oil are good for zapping problem areas.

6. Don’t be scared to use a moisturizer if you normally do.  It’s all about balance— you want to tackle the area thats breaking out while still going about your normal routine with the rest of your skin. Use the spot treatment under your moisturizer so that it can do its job most effectively.

7. You should always be using an SPF, but this is especially important if you start to use products with the active ingredients mentioned above.  They will make your skin extra sensitive to the sun and without SPF that can lead to hyper-pigmentation (dark spots) and scarring. SkinCeuticals has great sunscreens and a wonderful spot treatment called blemish control gel!  Check them out at SkinCeuticals.com.

Thanks, Rachel, for your awesome advice!

What is your daily skin routine?  Have you used any of these tips?  Do you use SPF on your face everyday?

26 Mar

Travel tips for Spring Break and beyond!

Happy Friday, Lovelies!  I could not be more excited for this weekend to begin!  Here’s my lineup:

Saturday: I’ll be riding the ferry from SF to Sausalito for lunch… I’ve always wanted to ride the ferry, but never have.  Yay!

Sunday-Monday: Travis and I are driving up to Calistoga for a romantic getaway at this awesome B&B!

Tuesday: We’re heading to Seattle for the rest of the week!  I’ve never been, but I can’t wait to check it out!

Needless to say, I could really use the vacation.  For those of you who don’t know, I’m in my last semester of college and life could not be more crazy right now.  But this got me thinking… with all of this traveling, I need to pack!  And I’m guessing that many of you will be vacationing in some capacity in the coming weeks, so I’m compiling all of my best traveling tips.

Here are my favorite travel tips:

1. Roll your clothes! When you’re packing, roll each item of clothing into a tight little tube.  Not only will this make extra space (for more clothes!) but it will keep them from wrinkling!

photo courtesy of lu lu

2. Take a carry on. With the ridiculous amount that airlines charge for checking a bag, challenge yourself to fit your items into a carry on.  If anything, use the money you save to buy yourself a new pair of shoes or a bikini for your trip!

photo courtesy of Lasse C

3. Bring a heavy duty moisturizer. This is important for two reasons.  First, the stale air on a plane can definitely dry out your skin— you’ll be happy you brought it.  Second, if you’re packing a carry on, the amount of moisturizer you bring must be under 3 ounces.  Bringing something heavy duty (like shea butter) will help a little bit go a long way.

photo courtesy of sallyleecandles

4. Wear blended fabrics while you travel. There’s nothing worse than sitting on a plane or in a car for hours, showing up to meet someone you haven’t seen in a year, and looking like a wrinkled mess.  (Okay, maybe there are worse things, but still… wrinkles suck.)  Plus, cotton blends will breathe while you travel, which will keep you super comfy.  Afraid of looking frumpy?  No way!  Here are some great travel outfits that are still totally cute:

This cute cotton blend dress would be super cute with leggings!  Comfy and wrinkle-free!  And get this— it’s only $10.50 at Forever21.com! (It also comes in pink and navy blue.)

If you’re headed somewhere warm, how about these adorable cotton shorts?  They’re also from Forever21.com and they’re just $18.90!

There are few things comfier or cuter than the perfect white tee.  This one is on sale for only $6 from Target.com!  Add a cute scarf and a pair of big sunglasses and you’ll look casual and fabulous like Jessica Alba.

Do you have any travel tips to add to the list?  Any favorite clothing items to wear while you travel?  And are you a heavy packer or are you able to fit everything into a carry on? Discuss below!

25 Mar

Your questions, answered: Stressing out, Breaking out

Today I am answering a question sent in by a reader, just like you!  Nina writes:

Can you write a blog post about how to make your skin clear as the semester comes to a close… you know, because of stress blemishes (which have currently found their way to my face!)?

photo courtesy of BLW Photography

Stress is one of the biggest acne triggers (especially for those who already suffer from breakouts) and whether you’re in the midst of a super demanding semester or dealing with work-related stress, it can affect women of all ages.  The most important thing is to get at the root of the problem: stress.  Once you de-stress, the acne will disappear on its own.

Here are some tips to help combat your breakouts (and the stress that causes them!):

1. Eat anxiety-reducing foods. I found a great article about food that fights stress, and here are some of my favorites: dark chocolate has chemicals that both relax your body and boost your mood— the darker, the better!  Start your day with good carbs (like oatmeal), which produce hormones that fight anxiety… now you know why you crave chips when you’re stressed out! Sprinkle some blueberries on that oatmeal and enjoy the stress-reducing and skin-clearing antioxidants.

photo courtesy of John Loo

2. Exercise. I know that when you’re busy, exercise can be one of the first things you sacrifice (I do it too), but the endorphins you get from moving around will boost your mood in a super noticeable way.  Even if you only get 20 minutes, you’ll be doing your body a whole lot of good!  Just don’t forget to wash your face afterwards— you don’t want the sweat to cause more blemishes!

photo courtesy of lulumon athletica

3. Sleep. If you’re not giving up exercise when you’re busy, you’re likely giving up sleep.  But after a few nights of less sleep, your stress levels will increase, you’ll be less likely to exercise, and you’ll be more likely to eat junky food that is bad for your skin.  So make sure you schedule in the 8 hours you need!

don’t you wish you slept like this? photo courtesy of peasap

4. Use face wipes. I have heard great things about Blum Naturals Daily Towelettes, which contain both tea tree oil and salicylic acid to fight acne.  These wipes are a great way to clean your skin at the end of the day (so fast and easy!), and best of all, they’re only $6.99 at Drugstore.com!

Nina, I hope these tips help!

Do you suffer from stress-related breakouts?  Do you have any great acne-fighting tips to share?  What about tips to reduce stress?  And as always, feel free to email me with any questions of your own: kim@blendingbeautiful.com.