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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Hair Musts

Since I gave my skincare musts, I thought I might as well give my hair care musts. Now, I have naturally curly hair and I accept it as is. I never straighten it- so this list is geared to someone with a similar hair profile.

I only wash my hair 2 or 3 times a week. People sometimes think that is gross, but the curlier the hair, the less frequently it should be washed. When I do wash it, I choose a super moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. I have tried lots of brands, some more natural than others. My current long-time favorite is Carol's Daughter Monoi- both the shampoo and conditioner.

Carol's Daughter also makes a great hair masque, split end treatment, and hair oil for deep moisturization.

If I treat my hair well enough and get the best haircut I can afford, I don't need to go to the salon more than 2 times a year, 3 at the most.

At home, I use only Ouidad for styling. It is not at all natural, but it provides the best hold and shine of anything I have tried, without leaving hair stiff or sticky. I start off with Botanical Boost as a light leave-in conditioner that won't weigh hair down.  Their Tress Effects gel provides the strongest hold, Climate Control is less strong but provides good frizz control. The one with the weakest hold is Moisture Lock gel-creme.

I usually air dry, but if I am in a hurry or want to look a little better than usual, I use a hood dryer. It doesn't blow my hair around, so there is much less frizz than if I were to use a hand held dryer.

If my hair is a little too stiff (if I used a bit too much gel...) I use Ouidad Pomade. It literally only takes a dime-sized drop, and it leaves your whole head soft and shiny. Use anymore than necessary and you will be greasy, though.

What is your hair type? How do you cleanse, treat and style it? What are your favorite products? Do you sacrifice when it comes to natural ingredients versus efficacy?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My Skincare Musts

Since college, I have kind of developed an obsession with skincare. I've read about the different types of skin and identified which one I am (combination oily in spring, summer and fall, dry, tight and itchy in the dregs of winter, starting to show signs of aging. Gah.) However, I know my skin issues and how to address them. I have made mistakes and learned from them. (Benzoyl Peroxide is not my friend. Evidence- in sixth grade my entire face was a dry itchy red mess for a week, more uncomfortable than sunburn. And that was only from one application.)

I just want to take the best care of my skin I can so that it looks its youngest. I have come up with key factors to accomplish that, but the most obvious way, in my opinion, to affect the state of one's skin is through diet. I aim to make the bulk of what I eat fresh, raw fruits and vegetables- smoothies, salads, juices, and whole fruit.

My facial cleanser products vary depending on my mood, time, the weather, and the time of year. The one thing that is constant is actually a device- the Clarisonic. Yes, it IS pricey. But as I tell every person who asks about it when they see it in my bathroom, it IS worth it. It minimizes pores, sloughs away dead skin, cleans the skin better than any cleanser alone will, and allows serums and moisturizers to penetrate the skin rather than sit on top of it and clog pores. I also use the body brush head- it is great for dry patches on knees, elbows, back, etc, and for exfoliating prior to shaving. I have had mine for over three years now- it was a Christmas gift- and I still love it. If it broke, I would replace it, without a doubt. It is constantly recommended by dermatologists, makeup artists and celebrities whose job it is to look flawless.

Now the cleansers that are sold with the system or in addition to it, on the other hand, I do not use. I tried them when I first got the Clarisonic, but since then, I have found cleansers I prefer. Note- since the brush is doing so much exfoliation, when using the brush I do not use cleansers with beads, salts, etc- only smooth cleansers.

Lush- I am a true Lushie. I have tried every single one of the facial cleansers. I know which are best for which skin issues I am having at the moment, and I also have favorites when it comes to regular maintenance.  The Ocean Salt Cleanser is great for body, but too harsh for the face in my opinion. Ultrabland is the best for removing makeup gently, and is also a great nighttime cleanser in the winter if you get dry, tight, itchy skin when the temperature and humidity drop. Aqua Marina is wonderful if skin is sensitive or reacting to something you have applied to it. I like Coalface in the summer if it is really humid and my skin gets too oily. Angels on Bare Skin is a great all-around cleanser. This is where you can order their cleansers online, or find a location near you.

I love face masques- I think of them as a little treat. It's ten minutes of "me time" twice a week and they make you look refreshed and more awake. In the winter, the Lush masques I use are all about moisturizing and tightening tired skin- Oatifix, Ayesha, and The Sacred Truth. In the summer, I use masques that are cleansing and will combat impurities- Brazened Honey and Cosmetic Warrior. Find all the Lush face masques here.

Here is another masque I recommend, by Arbonne. It is detoxifying and cleansing and will leave you looking radiant and glowing.

Serums are another way to treat skin and take control of problems or issues- whether they be age/dark/sun spots, uneven color, dullness, wrinkles, or fine lines. I have seen excellent results all around with Lush's Full of Grace serum, which I only use at night. Another serum I highly recommend is by Arbonne. It is pricey, but their products are very concentrated- a little goes a long way and the bottle will last you forever.

Spritzing your face with a toner prior to applying any creams will help them spread and penetrate the skin better, and you will use less product in the long run. Again, Lush makes a great one, Eau Roma Water. Or you can make your own with these recipes.

As far as moisturizers go, Lush's Gorgeous is by far the best, but it is pricey. Enzymion is wonderful in the summer for keeping your skin glowing, but keeping the oil slick at bay. Skin's Shangri La and Imperialis are my favorites for winter dryness. See all their moisturizers here.

Arbonne also makes great moisturizers, both for night and day.


I drink a lot of water. I know a lot of people don't take a sip until they actually feel thirst, but not me. I go almost everywhere with a bottle of water, usually more, and I always have a bottle or two by my bed. I drink 40 ounces upon waking to re-hydrate and flush my system.  I try to avoid plastic at all costs because of the chemicals it leaches. I don't usually drink bottled water because of the cost, but I make exceptions if we are out to eat- I really like Pellegrino once in a great while. My reusable bottle of choice is glass, but remarkably sturdy. I have a few of these Life Factory ones- I think they are worth the price, as high as it is. They never break- and mine get tossed around a lot. The silicone sleeve makes them easy to grip, even if the bottle is sweating. And the ring top make it so that they can hooked onto a backpack while hiking. This model has a flip top, so they are perfect when you are driving, biking, or otherwise on the move.


This is one area I admit I need to work on. Lately I have become a night owl. Once the kids are in bed (around 8pm) I like to take advantage of the house being quiet. I can work on the blog, come up with recipes for my upcoming e-book, read, watch movies and shows on Netflix... But it has kind of gotten out of hand- sometimes I stay up until 2 in the morning, and I have to get up around 7 am. Needless to say, it is starting to take its toll- I have become grumpy, sleepy, and my skin and eyes look dull droopy and dull. (Basically I'm turning into the seven dwarfs.) So, I am resolving to change this and get to bed by 11 pm every night, no exceptions.

Another problem I used to have but I've since improved on is cleaning/treating/moisturizing before bed, without fail. I was noticing the day after going to bed without washing my face, I would break out or at the very least I would have very dull, dry skin. So now I just try to remind myself of that. Plus, I bought some of these Yes to Blueberries facial wipes.

In a pinch, they do a pretty good job of removing makeup, cleansing gently and they very lightly moisturize. If I'm really so tired that I would rather go to bed with a dirty face than  take the time to go through my process, I allow myself to use the wipes, although nothing beats a true cleanser and the Clarisonic in my book.

Body Skincare
I keep my body skincare a bit more simple. I use the body brush on the Clarisonic, as mentioned above. I use bar soap because I feel it is more environmentally friendly (less packaging) but I choose certain brands because they are less harsh than say, Lever 2000 or Irish Spring. A good all around one is Dr. Bronners
If you are feeling indulgent, Lush makes amazing bath bombs, bath melts, body butters, lotions, and massage bars. I also sometimes use some of the face masques listed above if I have some I need to use before it goes bad. And for when I don't have any Lush body lotion or cream, I use Everyday Coconut- it's pretty close to natural, and it leaves skin soft and moisturized but not oily.

What are your skincare musts?