Apr20th

L’Oreal Telescopic Explosion Mascara

Categories: Makeup
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l'oreal telescopic explosion mascaraI was going through my stash of makeup and came across L’Oreal Telescopic Explosion Mascara. It’s supposed to be the poor woman’s version of Givenchy Phenomen’Eyes Mascara, which gets mostly rave reviews (I haven’t tried it). They both feature the super cute round wand applicator that looks like a mini princess fairy wand – I’m sure that’s why I bought the mascara. I also assumed that since the wand is really tiny compared to most mascara wands that it would help reach the lashes in the outer corner of my eyes better than a traditional bulky wand.

L’Oreal Telescopic Explosion Mascara review
I have the Black version and the little ball-shaped wand really is adorable –  at least for something as boring as a mascara wand! The product retails for about $8 (compared to the Givenchy mascara, which is $29). The first time I used the mascara, it looked pretty good and I was happy enough with it. Then I read the reviews online (normally I check them before I buy something), and noticed most people give this mascara a scathing review (although some like it). The next few times I used it, the results were hit or miss. On some days it went on pretty well, and other days (like today) it got all clumpy and made my eyelashes stick together.

Mascara application
I know eyelashes are small so it only takes a few seconds to apply mascara, but with this little brush it takes longer to coat each lash. And while you would think it would be easier to reach the outer eyelashes, that’s not the case. Since the ball is round, it’s not tapered on the end like some mascaras, so there’s no advantage to this wand over regular ones as far as coating hard-to-reach eyelashes. Most of the times I used L’Oreal Telescopic Explosion, I ended up getting lashes that stuck to each other and that left little clumps on the tips of my eyelashes. I am not a master when it comes to mascara application, so for the average person like me, it’s annoying to use mascara that will most likely clump unless you apply it just right. I’m sure if I experimented with it more I could get it right, but who has time to do that, and who wants to go around with clumpy lashes, or take off all their eye makeup and start over if they mess up?

One thing I haven’t tried is wiping off the wand to remove some of the excess product – maybe that would help. If you read online reviews, most people encounter the same clumping problems I do with this mascara, but other people love it, so if you are some sort of mascara guru, maybe it would work great for you. It does a decent job of adding length and volume to my lashes, and it doesn’t flake. I haven’t tried it on my lower lashes so I don’t know how it would work for them.

Pros: As far as mascara goes, the wand is adorable! A small percentage of people love this unique mascara and think it works great.

Cons: Most people report it clumps, and it doesn’t get nearly the rave reviews that its more expensive look-a-like Givenchy Phenomen’Eyes Mascara receives.

Bottom line: L’Oreal Telescopic Explosion Mascara is not the worst mascara I’ve ever used, and it’s definitely not the best. If the unique ball-shaped applicator peaks your interest, give the product a shot – you can return makeup at most retailers these days. If you’re not an expert at applying mascara and are afraid of clumping, then it’s probably best to pass on this product.

Have you tried L’Oreal Telescopic Explosion Mascara? Do you love it or hate it? If you want to try it for yourself:
* Buy L’Oreal Telescopic Explosion Mascara here *

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Apr10th

Australian Gold Tanning Lotion – Friend or Foe?

Categories: Sunscreen
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australian gold tanning lotionDid you see Australian Gold featured on The Celebrity Apprentice? At first I was so excited that a sunscreen brand was being featured for two hours on national TV, but then I realized Australian Gold doesn’t sell many sunscreen products – they mostly sell tanning lotion, which is the opposite of sunscreen because it increases your sun exposure and sun damage:( On the show, the Australian Gold executives were describing their sun care brand with phrases like: live the gold life, have fun in the sun, enjoy the tan of your life, and share treasured vacation moments. Then they expressed how cute their surfing koala Sydney was (I assume to appeal to kids).

Australian Gold is not your friend
After looking at the Australian Gold website, I see they sell tanning intensifier oils, tanning lotions, and Moisture Lock Tan Extender – an after tanning products meant to boost your tan. They also sell low SPF 4 and SPF 8 products that will hurt your skin because they contain oils that intensify the sun, but don’t provide enough sun protection. These lotions and gels are pretending to be sun protection products, which will trick people that don’t understand the ins and outs of sunscreen. Finally their worse offense is that they have a line of indoor tanning products (products to use in tanning booths). UGH. Given that Australia has (or had) the highest rate of skin cancer, you would think a company with Australia in its name would be more conscientious about sun protection. 

With all that said, in theory Australian Gold does have some acceptable products. They carry sunscreen products with SPF 30, which is adequate protection if you apply the product every two hours. However, after tracking down the ingredients of their sunscreens, they have oxybenzone in them, which is an ingredient to avoid because it can actually make your skin more photo sensitive, and it poses other health problems. Their sunscreens also don’t contain zinc oxide (which is what I look for in a sunscreen), nor do they contain titanium dioxide, or mexoryl, which are the other best active sunscreen ingredients.

One good product
Australian Gold has a self tanning lotion with bronzer, which is probably a good fake tan product to use if you make sure to wear a good sunscreen (not Australian Gold) when you go outside. I’m trying to find something positive to say about the brand so that Donald Trump doesn’t try to sue me;) After seeing The Celebrity Apprentice, if you actually want to buy Australian gold tanning lotion products, they are sold at Wal-Mart, Ulta, and on the AustralianGold.com website.

After watching The Celebrity Apprentice were you tricked into thinking you were watching a show about a line of sun protection products, rather than tanning lotion products? Have you used Australian Gold tanning lotion or any of their products? ps. It appears Mark McGrath has laid off the Botox again, and I’m sad he was fired.

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Apr1st

An Insider’s Guide to Medical Spas

Medical SpasI originally wrote this post a few years ago about the Las Vegas Medical Spa I worked at, and I’m putting it back on my blog’s front page since the information is still relevant today. Since I wrote this, the Medical Spa I worked at went out of business, and the entire company folded – I think it was partly due to the bad economy, but mostly because the business was being run so poorly. 

I have only worked at one Medical Spa, so I obviously don’t know how all Medical Spas are run, but I am sure they are all similar in a lot of ways. I am mostly basing my information on my actual Medical Spa, and how it is run. For a variety of reasons, I recently quit my job at the Medical Spa, although once my free Botox wears off, I’m sure I’ll be in search of a new Med Spa job! The Medical Spa I worked for owns a chain of spas throughout the country, and the environment is very retail oriented. I will write separate posts about specific treatments, but for now, here are some tips to keep in mind before you purchase treatments from a Medical Spa:

The purpose of a Medical Spa is to make money
Like any retail business, sales and the bottom line are the number one priority for a Medical Spa. Medical Spas want to sell you services and products. While many Dermatologists offer a lot of the same services, I have never had any Dermatologist office push their various services on me. I don’t know if they just don’t need the money or just don’t care, but I’ve always found this odd.

Many Medical Spa workers are paid on commission
Whether it’s a straight percentage of sales, or bonuses on selling specific treatments, it’s in the spa associate’s best interest to sell you something! If you are unfamiliar with the services being offered to you, go home and research them before committing to purchasing treatments. You want to be informed about what you’re really getting. Many Medical Spa associates are very helpful and honest (well I’d like to think I was), but a lot of associates also have a vested interest in selling you something, even if it’s not a service from which you could greatly benefit.

Prices are negotiable
While there may be “suggested” prices for various treatments, those prices are not set in stone. Certain treatments have a built-in cost to them (Botox and Restylane, for example, are not cheap to purchase from the manufacturer) so the markup on the actual product is maybe only 30%. Other treatments, like LipoSolution, have a very high markup value since the product itself is extremely inexpensive to purchase. Each Laser Hair Removal treatment or Photo Facial costs the Med Spa nothing, but of couse what you are paying for is the the lease on the $100k laser machine, the technician’s salary, and the costs of keeping the spa up and running.

Given this information, know that you can probably get a discount on most services, and my particular spa has given up to 60% off on most treatments, especially the ones that have high markup value. If the spa doesn’t want to haggle much on the price, ask for extra free services like a Microdermabrasion package if you purchase a Laser Hair Removal package. If you can’t get a good deal on a particular day, wait a week or a month. There are always new specials going on. Also, try going to the spa towards the end of the month to see if suddenly you can get a better deal. Like a car salesman with a quota, spas also have quotas, and if it’s a slow month, you could get a really good deal!

The Medical Spa may be here today and gone tomorrow
I’ve had customers come into my store. and after hearing about the prices of treatments, say “Ohhhh, I should open a Medical Spa and I’ll be so rich.” What they don’t know is that there are many fly-by-night spas out there, because like most businesses, it’s hard to make money and stay in business! The spa I worked for had bought out a previous company that went bankrupt, and that company had taken over another company before that! All within 3 years! Luckily my spa still honored the packages the customers of the previous spa bought, even though legally they didn’t have to. So before buying a long-term package (like a year’s worth of Laser Hair Removal), research the company and ask how long it’s been in business, and check its rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Get a money-back guarantee in writing
My spa doesn’t offer refunds. If I was purchasing a $7k full-body hair removal package, I would be more than a little nervous paying that kind of money, with no sort of guarantee or refund policy. First, I would make the purchase on my credit card, because at least you have some protection if the spa goes out of business tomorrow, or if something terrible happens and you need to charge back the purchase. If possible, I would also make monthly payments to the spa, rather than pay in one lump sum, because you won’t be out of as much money if something bad does happen. However, I would also try to find a spa that guarantees their work – if you aren’t happy, you don’t have to pay. If you don’t see the results you were promised, then you should either get another treatment for free, or a refund. Shop around for a spa that offers a guarantee, and get this in writing!

The Estheticians working on you may have a week of training
Where I live, in the state of Nevada, to run a laser machine, you only need to be a licensed Esthetician, and to inject Botox you only need to be a Medical Assistant. In other states, like California, you must be a nurse to perform either of these services. While many Estheticians are highly skilled and have been performing treatments for years, others might be right out of school, and as far as I know, Estheticians are not even taught Laser Hair Removal in school, nor are Medical Assistants taught Botox or Restylane injections. At my spa, Estheticians sometimes have only a week of training before they are performing all their own treatments. While this maybe normally be fine, know that Lasers have the potential to severely burn you. Ask how long the Esthetican has been doing treatments, and don’t hesitate to ask to be treated by the Esthetician with the most experience. When you are getting Botox or Restylane, you also want an injector with A LOT of experience. Even though dentists or various doctors can inject Botox, you still want to go with someone that has been doing it a while, rather than someone who took a weekend course and has no actual experience injecting. I’ll expand on this more in a separate post.

Also note that while Medical Spas must be under the direction of a doctor, that doesn’t mean there’s one on site. In my year at the Medical Spa, nothing bad really happened, so accidents are not that common, but consider whether or not you’d feel safer knowing there’s a doctor there at all times in case something does go wrong.

Check with your insurance to see if they will cover any treatments
While most treatments at a Medical Spa are solely cosmetic, a few treatments could possibly be covered by insurance. I know Botox for sweating is sometimes covered by insurance. Check with your insurance to see if you can send in a claim, or you may want to go straight to a Dermatologist to get it done there. Medical Spas don’t normally accept insurance. A lot of acne treatments can also be covered by insurance, so check on that too.

Some Medical Spas are better than others
Shop around to several Medical Spas before picking one. Ask questions, check out how clean the place is, see how friendly and knowledgeable the staff is, ask how soon you can get an appointment, and then of course research the spa as best you can. Even though I harped on getting great deals, you also get what you pay for, so if someone is practically giving away Botox or other treatments, that could signify a problem. It’s not cheap to run a Medical Spa, so you will definitely need to pay a lot more than $99 to get Botox, or $50 per session to get a Laser Hair Treatment. I’ll go over individual prices and treatments in the future.

If you’ve had any treatments done at a Medical Spa, feel free to share your experience!

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Mar25th

Celebrities With Bad Plastic Surgery

Categories: Plastic Surgery
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rose mcgowan plastic surgery
I find it tragic when celebrities ruin their faces with bad plastic surgery. One of my favorite actresses, Rose McGowan, was on a recent episode of “Law and Order: SVU” and when she appeared on the screen, I screamed, “what the f*ck did she do to her face?” My boyfriend jumped out of his seat in shock. Apparently she was in a car accident a few years ago and had facial injuries, but I don’t know if that explains her new big pursed lips and eye lift. The before and after photos show her obvious plastic surgery. I’m not against plastic surgery at all, but I would be scared to death of having bad plastic surgery, and if celebrities with tons of money can’t get it right, what about the rest of us?

In the past I’ve written about anti-aging skin care and how to do all you can to prevent the need for surgery, but unfortunately nothing can prevent aging completely:( In Hollywood you can’t win – if you don’t get surgery and age normally you get ridiculed for looking old, but if you get work done, you risk looking like a clown or blow-up doll. There are hundreds of actresses that have had work done successfully, so you need to be vigilant about picking the right doctor. Finding a doctor that does great reconstruction surgery is even more challenging, but most botched jobs can be fixed – Lisa Rinna, for example, looks so much better now that she’s had her lip implant removed.

Here are more before and after pictures of female celebrities whose faces have fallen victim to bad plastic surgery:
nikki cox plastic surgery
Actress Nikki Cox has also inflated her lips like Rose McGowan, and it looks like she’s done something to her eyes too. These women are only in their 30s – they don’t need eye lifts!

daryl hannah plastic surgery
Actress Daryl Hannah has reportedly dropped out of Hollywood and has blasted celebs that get plastic surgery and look like Muppets. Okay…! She claims she’s afraid of cosmetic surgery. Obviously, and unfortunately, she’s gotten over her fear!

lara flynn boyle plastic surgery
What’s up with celebs and their fish lips and unnecessary eye lifts? Here’s actress Lara Flynn Boyle looking like all the other celebs with mutant lips and squinty eyes.

tori amos plastic surgery
Singer Tori Amos has the face pulled too tight look from an over-zealous facelift:( I’ve written about Tori Amos’ hair loss on my other blog, and at least her new hair looks great.

meg ryan plastic surgery
Actress Meg Ryan went from all-American cutie to this… Plumping up your face can make it appear younger, but this is much too extreme.

ally walker plastic surgery
Actress Ally Walker doesn’t look that weird here, but she’s definitely had something done that makes her look different, but not in a good way.

joan van ark plastic surgery
I don’t know what to say about the surgery of Joan Van Ark, former “Knot’s Landing” actress. And I’m all for chemical peels, but she looks like she’s had a really deep peel that’s given her an unnatural skin tone.

priscilla presley plastic surgery
Priscilla Presley has admitted that she had botched silicone injections from using an unscrupulous doctor.

There are tons of other female stars that people think have had bad surgery – Heidi Montag, Janice Dickinson, Heidi Fleiss, Melanie Griffith, Tara Reid, and Joan Rivers, for example, but I think the stars shown here look worse because they started out beautiful and then turned into caricatures of themselves. My goal is to never have someone say “OMG – what happened to her face?” On the other hand, I already feel like I’ve hit the wall and I’m only in my mid-30s, so I understand the temptation to have a little work done.

What celebrities do you think have had bad plastic surgery? Would you ever get plastic surgery?

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Mar19th

Addicted To Lip Balm?

Categories: Beauty Books
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lip balm addictI’ve been addicted to lip balm for years, so when I was offered the chance to review the new book Can You Get Hooked On Lip Balm? by the creators of The Beauty Brains.com, I jumped at the chance. Obviously (in my case at least) the answer is yes you can get addicted to lip balm, and the book offers the scientific explanation for this wacky phenomenon. The Beauty Brains are cosmetic chemists who give you no-nonsense info about false claims in the beauty industry, they bust beauty myths, and answer you most pressing beauty questions.

Can You Get Hooked On Lip Balm? Review
The book is broken down into four sections: hair, skin, makeup, and the beauty industry, and there is a contents section that lets you quicky scan for topics of interest. Can You Get Hooked On Lip Balm? is a relatively quick read, or you can flip to a section to instantly find the answers to crazy questions like: does the moon cause bad hair days? or: can perfume make you thinner? If you’re ever stumped for fun facts while making small talk at a party, this book has plenty of gems to offer.

I learned several useful things I didn’t know before:

-If you’re buying a salon brand like Paul Mitchell and you see the same exact product at Target or Wal-Mart, it really is the same thing, despite the warning that it’s “not authentic.”

-Coconut oil and olive oil are able to penetrate hair shafts to make hair appear stronger and healthier (but the oils won’t help with hair loss). I will definitely be doing a coconut/olive oil hair mask soon to see what happens – my hair is fried from continually dyeing it.

-Expect to lose approximately 0.1% of your hair each day. On average brunettes have 120,000 hairs and redheads have 90,000 hairs on their head. This supports my theory that since half of my hair has fallen out, I should now be shedding half as much each day (even though I’m still shedding the same amount – what gives?)

-Beauty gadgets that supposedly really do work include the HairMax LaserComb for hair growth & Zeno MD for reducing acne. I’ve been wanting to try both of these products – especially the hair laser.

Can You Get Hooked On Lip Balm? also mentions topics I’ve written about here on Savvy Skin. The Beauty Brains talk about doing an aspirin mask (their opinion is that just using a salicylic acid topical product is better) and the use of  derma rollers (it’s better to have derma rolling done professionally if you want to see real collagen-boosting results. oops). They also investigate the use of duct tape to cure warts, the effectiveness of baby shampoo on adults, and they tell you whether SLS-free shampoo is better than regular shampoo.

Further, the book answer popular heated questions like: are natural and organic products better?, what makes a cosmetic product organic?, and are parabens really that bad? The Beauty Brains tell you that expensive products don’t usually work better than cheaper ones – sometimes they are even worse, and a lot of companies make almost the same products and then sell them as different brands with different price points. They also answer my personal favorite question – how the heck does the beauty industry get away with their blatantly misleading and false claims? And finally, whether or not you believe it –  mineral oil and propylene glycol are safe to use! 

* Buy Can You Get Hooked On Lip Balm *

The bottom line
I don’t want my review to give away too many of the secrets of the book, but I agree with just about everything in it because the information is based on science and research. It’s a great book to read to gain fun, informative, and interesting beauty facts. Can You Get Hooked On Lip Balm tells you what you need to know about makeup, hair care, and skin care from a scientific perspective so that you can cut through the beauty industry hype. If you enjoy reading and have $10, definitely buy this book! Otherwise thebeautybrains.com website offers a lot of the same information from the book, and on their site you can do a search for topics you’re interested in.

ps. The book confirms that you can get hooked on lip balm by training your body to rely on it. Just try kicking the habit – it’s impossible! Are you addicted to lip balm? Have you read this book yet?

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Mar4th

Lip Smackers Go Natural

Categories: Skin care
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lip smackers naturalsRemember Bonne Bell Lip Smackers and their awesome flavors like watermelon, bubble gum, Dr. Pepper, pink lemonade, and cookie dough? One of my favorite Christmas presents was a holiday tin of 12 Lip Smackers in peppermint, candy cane, and other magical wintry flavors. Now that “natural” skin care products are so popular, even Bonne Bell has started selling 100% natural lip balms!

Lip Smacker 100% Natural
I saw these $2 lip balms and Target and couldn’t resist because I love Lip Smackers and I was curious to see how their natural version would compare. They are also cheaper than most of the other more natural lip balms brands (like Yes To Carrots and Burt’s Bees). I bought the pink guava goyave rose flavor since I love guavas. Lip Smacker 100% Natural also comes in vanilla bean, acai berry, and honeydew melon. The package touts the lip balm is: paraben free, gluten free, and dye free, and they don’t test on animals.

The pink guava Lip Smacker is a clear lip balm that doesn’t have that much flavor. It doesn’t really taste like guava or rose – it just has a subtle lip balmy scent (it’s probably the castor oil or olive oil I taste). The balm goes on sort of grainy, but it’s soft so you can rub it around to make it smoother. At first it feels hydrating and moisturizing, but inevitably I start longing for my favorite petroleum-based blue Chapstick, which is the only lip balm that has cured my chapped lips. For the average person that doesn’t have severely dry lips, Lip Smacker 100% Natural would probably work fine. It’s not a very exciting lip balm, but it’s cheap and it does appear to be natural, as it claims.

Old-School Lip Smackers
After purchasing the natural guava lip balm, I wanted to see how it compared to the regular Bonne Bell Lip Smackers, since it had been years since I used them. I bought the bubble gum flavor, and unlike the 100% natural version, it was brimming with flavor. The balm has a light pink color (since it contains dye) and it goes on a lot smoother initially than the natural version. It feels really hydrating at first also, but after an hour or two I start missing the blue Chapstick yet again. The regular Lip Smackers contain some of the same main ingredients as the naturals (castor oil, beeswax), but they do also contain mineral oil and non-natural ingredients.

Overall, if you’re looking for an inexpensive natural lip balm, Bonne Bell 100% Natural is worth trying. Since I haven’t tried the other flavors, I don’t know if they provide more flavor than the guava one. 100% Naturals is also a good choice to give to your kids, if you’re worried about the ingredients in regular lip balms, but want to give them something that looks appealing to kids. Have you tried the natural Lip Smackers, or do you still use the regular ones?

* Buy Bonne Bell Lip Smackers 100% Natural *

Lip Smacker 100% Natural ingredients:
Ricinis Communis (Castor) Oil, Crambe Abyssinica Seed oil, Olea Europea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Beeswax (Apis Mellifera), Flavor, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Psidium Guajava (Guava) Fruit Extract, Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Extract, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Lipid, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Helianthus Annus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E)

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Feb26th

Aspirin Mask

Categories: Acne, Skin care
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aspirin maskThe aspirin mask is an ultra popular do-it-yourself home beauty treatment used to help acne and improve the overall look of your skin. Have you done an aspirin mask? If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s exactly what it sounds like – a facial mask made of crushed up aspirin! The best part about it is that it’s practically free!

The aspirin mask
If you google “aspirin mask” you will find thousands of people talking about it, and everyone makes their mask slightly differently. Why would it do anything? Aspirin is technially acetylsalicylic acid, which is chemically similar to salicylic acid, the common ingredient in many acne treatments. Salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid, exfoliates the skin, and it is able to penetrate into pores to help keep them clean. Because aspirin is an anti-inflammatory it can help with red and inflamed pimples.

How to do an aspirin mask
First off, if you are allergic to aspirin or salicylic acid, do not apply it topically to your skin! The back of the aspirin bottle also says not to use if it you have had an allergic reaction to any pain reliever. Also don’t use it if you are pregnant or breast feeding, or if your doctor has told you not to use aspirin or pain relievers.

Here’s the most basic way to do the aspirin mask:
Buy a bottle of regular strength aspirin tablets (generic is fine), and make sure they don’t say they are coated. Advil or tylenol, etc. won’t work – it has to be aspirin. In a little bowl, put in 3-5 aspirins and a few drops of water and let them dissolve, or crush them up as needed. Add just enough water to create a paste. Then gently spread the paste onto your face. The mixture is gritty and rough, so be gentle, especially if you have sensitive skin, broken capillaries, or active acne – you don’t want to be scratching your zits. If you don’t have active acne or sensitive skin, you can very gently massage the mixture on your skin if you want. You could also use the mixture just as a spot treatment for an individual pimple. Leave the mask on for about 15 minutes, and wash it off. Be careful not to get any in your eyes!

A lot of people add a few drops of honey into the paste, or they add tea tree oil, jojoba oil, a moisturizer, or countless other topicals. Personally I’ve only done the mask with either just water, or with water and jojoba oil. Aspirin is drying to your skin, so if you have dry skin it might help to do the mask with something hydrating like jojoba oil. Or just do the mask with water and when you’re done, put on a moisturizer. I’ve read about some people leaving the mask on all night – I would not do this! Even though you’re just using a topical version of aspirin, it’s still a drug and you need to be careful. 15 minutes seems to be enough time to see good results. I also wouldn’t do the mask more than every other day.

Does the mask work?
After reading about the aspirin mask on popular sites like acne.org and makeupalley.com, I’ve never seen so many rave reviews about a home beauty treatment before. Most people love it and think it’s the best thing ever. I’m apparently never one to follow the crowd, and personally just think it’s okay. It does leave my skin feeling super smooth, so that’s the best thing about it for me. It doesn’t have any positive effect on the omnipresent blackheads on my nose, and my face doesn’t look better after the mask. Some people say the effects of the mask are cumulative, but I normally just do it once and forget about it for months at a time. I only discovered the aspirin mask after I got my acne under control, so I can’t attest to whether it actually helps lessen acne. From the rave reviews online, I assume it does though!

The other best thing about the mask, of course, is the price. I encourage everyone to at least try it to see if it works for you. For just pennies, maybe you’ll discover your new favorite beauty aid, and won’t need to spend as much on other acne or exfoliating products. Do you have any aspirin mask tips?

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Feb23rd

Maybelline Lipstain

Categories: Makeup
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maybelline lipstainMaybelline COLOR Sensational lipstain is a lip product I just picked up on a whim for $5 at Target. I bought the Bitten Berry shade, which has a bright pink, almost fuchsia cap, so I was expecting the color of the lipstain to be the same. Maybelline says the product provides a “sheer wash of color” and that it has a “fresh – barely there feel.”

The lipstain is easy to apply – it’s like using a felt marker on your lips, and it does give you a sheer pop of color – similar to a tinted lip balm. I used it over lip balm, and later applied lip balm on top, and my lips didn’t feel like I had anything on. My lips did feel slightly drier than usual, but just barely. Since this is pretty sheer, you could probably apply it without a mirror. The color was nice and even on me, and it looked like I had just eaten a strawberry or raspberry.

The Bitten Berry color has a subtle raspberry flavor – I’m not sure if they all have the same berry flavor. I was slightly surprised by the color because I was expecting bright pink, but instead I got a reddish, raspberry color (I guess I should have gone by the name, not the cap).

Normally I wear lip gloss constantly, so I ended up topping this with a coat of gloss, and it intensifies the color of the gloss, and the gloss helps lock in moisture on my lips. With the gloss, the color lasted several hours.

Maybelline COLOR Sensational lipstain comes in 10 shades – neutrals, pinks, and a cherry pop reddish color. On the Maybelline website they have swatches of the colors, and the Bitten Berry swatch looks the same as the cap, which is totally different than how it looks on me. I am slightly annoyed because I wanted bright pink! Maybelline says “for the perfect everyday shade, choose a lipstain that’s 1 or 2 shades darker than your natural lip color.”

Do you own a Maybelline lipstain? What do you think? Do you have a favorite lipstain?

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Feb20th

Beautypedia

Categories: Paula Begoun
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beautypediaBeautypedia is a skin care and makeup review site from Paula Begoun, made famous by her “Don’t Go To The Cosmetics Counter Without Me” books. Paula Begoun, aka The Cosmetics Cop, has created Beautypedia as on online resource of more than 45,000 beauty reviews. It’s a virtual version of her book, but it gets continually updated with new reviews.

February 2011
Get free access to Beautypedia.com this month – just head over to the website to access all of the reviews. Sorry for the late notice on this! Normally the site costs $15 a year to become a member, but there are usually coupon codes you can use to get 50% off. After February, the coupon code: BP50 should give you the 50% off discount. If not, you can probably find a code on retailmenot.com – just search for Beautypedia.

Beautypedia
On the site you can search for your favorite products, or sort through a large list of brands or categories. You can even use your iPhone or Android phone to view the site, which makes it convenient if you’re out shopping. Paula Begoun and the Cosmetics Cop team review whether or not a product does what it claims, based on the ingredients, packaging, and ph level (when applicable). A lot of products are pure hype that don’t work at all – the site helps you avoid getting ripped off. Paula also warns you about potential irritants and safety issues. The site lists the ingredients of every product, which is helpful since some companies seem to hide their ingredient list at all costs. It also tells you if a product is tested on animals.

One thing Paula doesn’t mention much, though, is whether a product is safe for acne, which is a big concern for me. That’s why I cross-reference ingredients with my cosmetic acne list. The site also doesn’t list reviews on a lot of shampoos – I don’t think any of the SLS free shampoos I have tried are reviewed on Beautypedia. For makeup reviews, Beautypedia is more subjective (Paula hates blue eyeshadow, which I think is awesome, at least on some people), but makeup is judged on application, texture, and color selection.

Finally, Paula Begoun and I both agree that you don’t have to necessarily spend a lot of money on skin care and beauty products, so she also takes price into account with her reviews. She tells you when a product is an over-priced ripoff, and sometimes she mentions a cheaper, better alternative.

Check out Beautypedia. Do you have a membership, or have you taken advantage of the free access? What do you think?

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Feb17th

Microneedle Rollers

Categories: Beauty Products
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microneedle skin rollerMicroneedle rollers, also called derma rollers, are unique beauty products that claim to help diminish wrinkles, soften acne scars and pitted skin, smooth out cellulite and stretch marks, minimize pores, stimulate new collagen, and even help thinning hair! Why have I not heard more about this before, and does it actually work??

Microneedle Roller Skin Therapy
I first read about a microneedle roller a few years ago in Elle Magazine, but it cost over $100 and I was skeptical. Since then I’ve also seen the tool featured on The Doctors and The Rachael Ray Show. After doing more research, I am now convinced that there might be something to a microneedle roller and I will soon be buying one. Please note I haven’t actually tested one yet, but when I do I will let you know about my experience.

A microneedle roller is a bit scary – it’s a roller that has lots of tiny little needles that you roll over your skin! I hate needles, so you know I am devoted to beautifying myself at all costs when I actually want to poke my skin with over 100 needles! The concept is that the device helps to increase the absorption of topical products, and it also makes micro-channels (tiny little injuries) in the skin to promote new collagen and elastin growth. There are several different manufacturers of microneedle/derma rollers, and the tools come in a variety of needle lengths.

Safety precautions
Even though this is a product you can buy yourself, you should speak to your doctor before using it, especially if you have any medical conditions. You should also use extreme caution and start out very gentle with it, and do a test area on your body before you use it on your face. Do not use a microneedle roller if your skin is irritated, infected, or if you have rosacea, active acne, eczema, psoriasis, raised moles, warts, or open sores. I would also be concerned about causing hypo or hyper pigmentation, so be gentle! Finally, I would worry about using this with prescription topicals (Retin-A, or Rogaine, for example) because they are designed to be used as they are indicated, not with a tool that increases product absorption.

Sterilization is also key to using a microneedle roller safely. Some of the products come with a sterilization kit, and you should sterilize the tool after each use. Wearing sunscreen every day while doing microneedling is also necessary because it can make your skin even more sun-sensitive.

Needle length
0.2mm – this needle length is the most superficial and it helps increase the penetration of your topical skin care products (peptides, antioxidants, moisturizers, retinol, etc.), thus promoting a smoother skin tone and texture.

0.5mm – this helps with light acne scars, wrinkles, and thinning hair (I have my doubts about this but I will definitely be trying it on a test area on my head).

1.0 & 1.5mm – these longer needles are for stretch marks, cellulite, and deeper scars. You don’t want to use longer than 1.5mm on your face, and you shouldn’t buy anything longer than 1.5mm for home use. Medical professionals may use a longer needle. I know some Dermatologists do microneedling, but I haven’t heard of any in my area that do it, so it may not be a widespread treatment yet.

Does it hurt?
The shorter needles (o.2 and 0.5mm) have been described as feeling scratchy, tickling, or like a cat’s tongue, while the longer ones can cause real pain – yikes! Again, be careful and gentle. I’m planning on buying the 0.5mm one, and will be very cautious about it.

Does it work?
I do believe it could help to even-out skin tone, and maybe slightly reduce fine lines and wrinkles, plump of the skin, and reduce pitted acne scars. I have my doubts about it working on stretch marks and cellulite, but anything is possible. Also, as a treatment for hair loss – I understand it could help topical hair loss products absorb better, but again I wouldn’t want to use this with Rogaine, because Rogaine is not meant to be penetrate further. I would worry it could even make hair loss worse, but either way I will give it a shot.

There are several different microneedle rollers on the market, sold in a variety of lengths. Please note that they don’t last long – you will need to replace them frequently because the needles can become dull or bent – instructions should come with the product about when to replace it, and how often to use it (2-4 times a week is the average).

* New Spa Microneedle Skin Care System 0.5 mm * 
This is a budget derma roller, costing only $29, and it’s the roller you see here in the picture. It’s FDA listed, but not FDA approved.

* Dr. Skincare Roller 0.5mm *
This is a popular FDA approved derma roller. The 0.5mm roller is about $59.

* Genosys 540 Microneedle Roller Vibrating Function *
This $120 derma roller has a vibrating feature which is supposed to minimize any discomfort. It comes in a 0.3mm length, with a detachable head, and reusable handle.

Have you tried a microneedle roller? Is it the wondrous beauty tool of the century, or just another over-hyped beauty product? Personally I can’t wait to try one! Actually I am so excited now that I am ordering one right now!

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