Thursday, November 10, 2011

Product Review: Cleansing Brush

Everyone's been talking about the new cleansing brush systems. If you look at Sephora they can run up to $200, or at CVS they are as cheap as $19.99. Since they seem to be all the rage right now I decided to try one out and tell you what I think. Of course I went for he CVS $19.99 option, I'm not going to spend a fortune on trying something out.

Features: Two speed rotating head, water resistant for use in the shower, comes with an extra brush head and a set of AA batteries. The only thing I was disappointed with is that it doesn't come with any sort of case or holder. 

To use the brush you simply wet your face and apply cleanser, then wet the head of the brush and turn it on! I used the faster setting because I felt like it would do more exfoliating, but the slower setting is good for sensitive skin. The bristles are very soft, not scratchy, and easily glide over the curves and creases of your face. I found that going slow, even holding it still in some areas, and applying light pressure worked best. Think of it like an electric toothbrush. And don't forget to do your neck ladies!

Overall I am very impressed. My skin feels smooth and polished but not at all raw or irritated. 

Tip: for soft hydrated lips, lightly go over your lips while brushing your face in the shower. After the shower apply Aquaphor to your lips. So smooth!

I give this product an A! Totally worth the 20 bucks.

Monday, October 24, 2011

DIY Skin Care: Facials at Home

I've been meaning to give my husband a facial forever. He has dry/sensitive skin with some rosacea so he really needed it. I finally got around to it yesterday and his skin looked great. This made me think- I should tell people how easy it is to do an at-home facial! This can be done both on yourself or on someone else. It's definitely not the same as a facial at a spa, but still really great for giving the skin a boost.

If giving a facial to someone else, a space is needed. I prefer the end of the bed because it's the right height and you can pull a chair up. Don't forget to put a towel down so the bed doesn't get wet. I also find that a desk lamp is helpful for providing a bright light during extractions.

You'll also need some towels for removing product and steaming. Going in and out of the bathroom is a pain but it's the best way to rinse out each towel thoroughly and add fresh warm water. Fold some face cloths or hand towels in half length-wise, then roll them before adding warm water- this helps keep the heat in. 

Once you're all set up, here are the basic steps of a facial:

1. Analyze- Determining skin type.
Take a good look at the skin. Is it mostly dry or mostly oily? Where are the problem areas? Are there blackheads or pustules (pimples)? This will determine how to treat the skin. 

2. Cleanse- Removing all dirt, oil, and makeup.
Cleanse face and neck. Remember- everything that's done to the face must also be done to the neck.

3. Exfoliate- Removing dead skin cells from the surface of the face and neck.
You can either do this manually with a scrub or chemically with a mask. If using a scrub- make sure there are round beads that roll over the skin, other types of crushed scrubs (such as apricot) can leave little tears in the skin. I recommend Murad's AHA/ABA Exfoliating Cleanser. 
For more sensitive skin an exfoliating enzyme mask is preferable. Enzymes eat away the dead skin cells without the use of scrubbing. Try Murad's Energizing Pomegranate Exfoliating Mask.

4. Steam- Opening pores to allow deep cleansing.
In a spa this is done with a steamer but chances are you don't have one at home. The next best thing is hot towels. Get towels as hot as you can stand and press them on the face, keep switching towels so they don't cool down. Do this for 10 minutes. 

5. Extract- Removing blackheads and pustules. 
Cover fingers with cotton pads. Press around the outside of the blackhead or pimple- pushing up. Don't try too hard, if it's not ready to come out leave it alone so you don't leave a scar. Do not extract for more than 10 minutes, after that pores will close back up. Also, leave milia (white pearl-like bumps) to the professionals and do not extract around the eye area. 

6. Massage- Stress reduction and improving muscle tone. 
Massage can be done in so many ways. Include scalp, neck, shoulders, ears, face. I also like to massage the hands while my client has a mask on. Stress causes many of our skins problems (90% of adult acne is caused by stress) so relaxing massage is an important part of skin care. Remember- you can massage yourself!

7. Treatment Mask- a finishing mask to treat the skin.
Usually a hydrating mask or a clarifying clay mask, depending on whether the skin is dry or oily. I love Aveda's Intensive Hydrating Mask. Leave on for 5-10 minutes.

8. Treat, Moisturize, Protect.
Apply any special treatment first, like an acne spot treatment for blemishes or a serum for extra hydration. Next apply an oil-free moisturizer. Then eye cream- the skin around the eyes is different from the rest of the face and needs it's own moisturizer. Last, if your moisturizer doesn't have an SPF, apply sunblock unless doing this before bed. 

So that's a facial in a nutshell! All of these steps can be done on yourself as well as on someone else and the whole thing takes about an hour. Do this once a month for beautiful skin!

Here are some tips on products:
Both my husband and I have dry, sensitive skin. So this cleanser, serum, and eye cream from Murad work great for us. (TIP: put eye cream in the fridge, the coolness helps combat puffy eyes is the morning) I prefer products from either Murad or Aveda because I've worked with both lines and trust them. Neither line uses any fragrances or tests on animals. 

The two Aveda products I can't live without. Amazing. 

For a cheap pimple-zapper this works great. I got it at Target. It has both 2% Salicylic Acid and Tea Tree Oil, which are anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial to heal those blemishes. (TIP: Also use on ingrown hairs!)

I use this as an at-home massage cream for the face. It's thick, fragrance-free and non-irritating. Cetephil cream also works great. These are both oil-based so remove with a warm, wet towel after the massage. 

And don't forget the cotton rounds! These can be used for applying toner, removing makeup, covering the fingers during extractions, and as eye-pads. Essential for a facial.

Have fun!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Apple Crisp: A Photo Guide

When I was a kid my favorite dessert was my mom's "apple goodie". She always made it in the fall and it was just so delicious.
This year after we went apple picking she emailed me the recipe. I'd tried making other apple crisp recipes in the past but they just weren't the same. So if you're looking to make a delicious (and not at all healthy) apple dessert this year look no further. I made it today and it came out perfect, so here are the instructions for baking that I illustrated with photos.

Here's what you'll need:
apples (I used macintosh because I just picked them)- be sure to use cooking apples
baking powder
butter or margerine

Pre-heat the oven to 350

Peel and chop 3 medium apples (you'll need 3 cups)

Grease a pan. I chose a glass pie pan but any shallow glass or ceramic pan will do.

Mix 3 cups apples, 1 cup of sugar, 1 Tbsp flour, and a dash of cinnamon. Spread in pan.

Next, mix together 3/4 cups butter, sugar, flour, oats, and 1/4 Tsp baking powder.

I actually zapped it in the microwave for 30 seconds to soften the butter then mixed it with my hands. It should be a meal-like consistency. 

Spread this mixture over the top of the apples.

Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.


Monday, October 17, 2011

King Richard's Faire

It's that time of year again! The air is crisp, the trees freckled with yellow and red- time to put our geek hats on and head down to Carver, Ma for King Richard's Faire!

This place is so much fun for those of us who can put away our pride and let ourselves get lost in childhood wonder. The costumes, the Olde English speak, the food, the forest- it's a playground for getting lost in your imagination. 
Our Knight won the joust!

I got a bulls eye! Really!

So yesterday I dragged my husband to Carver and we had a fun time watching the joust, watching a juggling act, doing archery, looking at costumes, and just walking around taking in the sites. It's easy even for the unwilling to get lost in the fun once you're there. I think it's important for everyone to embrace their inner child/geek once in a while. It reminds us that there's more to life than our careers/images/social circles. So go play!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fall Fashion!

I know it's a little late in the season but in my excitement for my favorite month I decided to model some of my favorite fall fashions.

Here's my first favorite. The yellow-gold on my top along with the bustier bust are both really in this season. And I had to pair it with my favorite red cowboy boots!
Bustier-style tops are in this season.

This one has a sort-of french school girl vibe. I love the blush color, it's flattering for almost every skin tone. The printed skirt is flirty and fun. Just because its fall doesn't mean you need to wear only earth tones! The oxfords and knit beret complete the look.
Try lacy beige tights instead of nylons. Flat oxfords are big for fall.

For this outfit I recycled a sun-dress from this summer and gave it a fall makeover by adding tights and a blazer. I really love the cranberry color. 
These tights are so fun and beige heels always look great.

Elbow patches are everywhere this season.

There are lots of shirt and sweater dresses in stores now. Don't know how to wear one? Just throw a blazer over it! Try a brightly colored scarf to add some flare.
Love layering? Try different length sleeves.

These boots can be worn up or folded down. Layer with cozy socks and tights for extra warmth and color.

This outfit has multiple points of style. Motorcycle jackets are still going strong so get yours out of the closet! Wearing high-waisted shorts over tights or leggings is fun and stylish. 
Sailor-style buttons are really popular and super cute!

Booties are big this season. Pair them with fun printed tights!

For fun this weekend we took some nice outdoor fashion photos. Here they are!
I love the animal print on this shirt!

Fitter blazers are a must. Try a fun pattern!