tarte Maracuja Bronzing Serum

This serum is flat out amazing. Revolutionary. A must-have gradual self tanner to achieve the most convincing  tanned look for your face. Below is me before and after just one application. I used a few drops before bed in place of my usual skincare and I woke up with subtle but noticeable color. Maracuja Bronzing Serum is a light oil that absorbs right away and leaves no scent behind,  it’s also streak-free (and has been every time I’ve used it since) and didn’t leave any color behind on my white pillowcase. It’s a self-tanning serum disguised as skincare that’s so gentle you can use it nightly. It didn’t break out my sensitive skin and the color becomes more rich with each application but not overly bronzed or unnatural. It really is amazing stuff.

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I will of course review other self-tanning products for the face in the future, but this is the one I will continue to buy and tell all my friends to do the same.

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Before & After: Just the Basics

Liz, a  bride with an upcoming wedding I got to work with last week has pretty much the ideal face; big eyes, full cheeks, and pouty lips.  I can see why she isn’t a fan of the overly made-up look since she really doesn’t need to wear much day-to-day, so I created a timeless look that she (thankfully) loved using the basics that I reach for over and again in my kit.

What I used:

Face:

Primer: Hourglass no 28
Foundation: Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Moisture Foundation
Concealer: Smashbox High Definition
Setting Spray: Caudalîe Beauty Elixir
Powder: Koh gen Do Maifanshi Face Powder

Eyes:

Primer: Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Makeup Color Base Lavender Pink
Eye Shadow: Urban Decay Naked 2
Liner: NYX Super Skinny Eye Maker
Mascara: NYX Doll Eye
Lashes: Ardell #110
Brows: Anastasia Brow Duo

Cheeks:

Smashbox Blush Rush

Lips:

Liner: Philosophy The Supernaural (discontinued)
Gloss: NYX Mega Shine Lip Gloss 104 Sweet Heart

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A few things:

I’m finding that my go-to concealer these days is Smashbox High Definition. It’s creamy and covers everything so well but also blends into the skin with minimal creasing.

I start with the face first, once you get the skin right the color is easy. I spray the Caudalîe Beauty Elixir on the skin as I blend the foundation which helps it to melt into the face leaving the foundation looking invisible.

Koh Gen Do has pretty much the best everything when it comes to primers, foundations, and powder. I buy it, I use it on myself and in my kit, I love it. Seriously, this line is hard to beat. Yes, it’s pricey but it’s worth it because of how it conceals while leaving the skin so natural and almost dewey looking. Their products do what’s promised.

Everyone in the world should own that NYX gloss. It’s the prettiest shimmery nude ever.

Sibu Beauty Sea Buckthorn Oil

You must check out Sebu Beauty and their skincare made with the nutrient rich sea buckthorn berry. I just bought my second bottle of Sea Buckthorn oil from Sprouts today along with their cleanser. I bought my first bottle of the oil a few months back along with the cleansing bar (which is almost gone) and I use them both daily. The oil regulates my skin’s moisture levels and leaves it really glowy- a huge help since the cold weather is sucking the life out of my skin and I don’t always have time to slap on foundation.

Next I’ll order their supplements (I couldn’t find them at Sprouts) which I read are good for hair growth. Mine is still falling out in clumps thanks to my thyroid so anything right now is worth a shot.

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Post-Baby Skin Care: What I’ll Be Using to Get Rid of My Melasma (Round 2)

Well here we are, today is the day I’m giving birth to my daughter (Note: of course I’m not writing this in the delivery room, it’s actually the night before) and I’m once again planning my new skincare routine to banish the melasma that reared its ugly head from pretty much day 1 of this pregnancy. I actually think it never went away from the first pregnancy and just kept on building throughout this one. Either way, I’m ready to attack. I’ve done a ton of research and have come up with what I think is the best of the best as far as attacking pigment and restoring my skin without using hydroquinone or Botox.

Cleanser:

I was thinking about getting this Pigment Bar from PCA Skin, a medical line that I really like but I nixed the idea and will stick with my cleanser that I love. I’m just not sure how much help a cleanser is in fading dark spotting since it’s only on the skin for a few seconds and the ingredients are washed away. If you’re curious though, check it out- it’s a cool concept and people seem to really like it.

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Toner:

Hands down, one of the most effective things I’ve ever used on my skin has been Mandelic acid from Vivant, a line sold through skin pros and doctors that is really picking up steam in the industry for its skin-changing ways. Mandelic acid is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid extracted from bitter almonds, so it’s a safe alternative to hydroquinone (a skin lightener that really works well, but has safety concerns.) This 9% solution will help to lighten while also making my skin soft enough to allow the serums and creams to penetrate and work that much better.

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Serum:

I was a little on the fence about this one so I ordered two and then canceled one. I wanted to get Skinceuticals Phyto + which I ordered from Amazon (before canceling) because of its botanical formula and kojic acid, a known skin lightener. In the end the shaky reviews mixed with the fact that I know Mandelic will definitely work were what swayed my decision to stick with a more potent formula. So I ordered Vivant’s Mandelic 3-in-1 Serum 15% which combines Mandelic with Lactic Acid, a combination that will lighten and brighten my skin without question.

vivant mandelic serum

Retinol:

Can I use a retinol while nursing? My derm thought so and she recommended Afirm, a Retin-A alternitive (sidebar: Terntinoin and Retin-A both break me out because they put the vitamin a into a cheap cream that’s all greasy terrible so I can’t use it anyway) that’s easily absorbed into the skin and gives the same results as a prescription retinoid at a fraction of the cost. A good retinol will diminish wrinkles, fade discoloration, and give better clarity and tone to the skin. Another interesting fact: Retinoids are the only FDA approved treatments for wrinkles. I bought the 3X, formula which amounts to a 0.6% retinol which is their strongest treatment. Again, I’m getting the higher percentage treatments for all of the formulations just because my skin is used to really active stuff.. Start with the 1% just a few times a week if you’re just venturing into the world of retinol, but really if you have wrinkles or discoloration to get rid of this is a really good place to start.

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Antioxidant:

I always use an antioxidant serum during the day to combat further damage (and you should too), so I’ll use Vivant’s Spin Trap serum with vitamins C&E. I’ve used this one in the past and for some reason it seems to keep longer than others, it doesn’t turn that dull color vitamin serums turn after just a few months which means its potency is also in tact.

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Moisturizer:

I went out on a limb for this one. I’ve never used Nia 24 but I see it everywhere and am fascinated by it since it’s the only niacin-based product I know of. There’s a bunch of research they have on their site (independent from them) showing how niacin heals sun damaged skin and can even play a role in skin cancer prevention. Their signature treatment cream is this Intensive Recovery Complex, pricey at $118 but something I’ve literally looked at buying for years. Because it’s meant specifically for hyperpigment issues, I thought it would fit in perfectly with my whole skin-lightening regimen.

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SPF:

Good SPF is key when you’re using an active bunch of products like this. Even in the winter when you don’t think you’re getting sun exposure, you are. I’ve been using Coola SPF 30 Unscented Matte Tint as a daily primer and skin perfector. The look and feel is just like a slightly tinted primer that helps to even out skintone pre-foundation. I love Coola’s sunscreens, it’s an organic line that only does suncare so they do it really well. It’s basically a really good SPF disguised as a great makeup primer that will help even out my skin on days when I won’t be wearing foundation (which will be quite often in the coming weeks.)

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Oh- and I’ll be using my Dermaroller to get super maximum penetration and faster results. Read HERE and HERE to catch up on the magical wonders of Dermarolling (aka microneedling) if you missed my past posts on the subject, and keep an eye on Hautelook (get the app) because they often feature them for just $20 or $30.

How to Get Rid of Blackheads with Murad Pore Reform

I’ve been hearing such good reviews on Murad’s Pore Reform line including two friends who swear by it. One started off with buying just the moisturizer and saw such big results that she went back to Sephora for the whole line. They say that their pores have never been clearer and their stubborn blackheads which were once resistent to any sort of treatment were totally gone. After receiving the products from Murad to try, I decided the best thing to do (since my skin is clear right now and being pregnant I can’t do retinol which is in the T-zone Serum) was to hand it over to another friend whose skin is a total roller coaster ride in terms of breakouts and blackheads.

Now all three of them are in love.

They all agree that the cleanser is a good formula, but the foamer reduces its richness and they’d like to see sturdier suds in their cleansing routines. They also loved the T-Zone pore Refining Serum that you use after cleansing day and night to dig out the trapped dirt and keep pores clear. They said that it leaves skin really soft and zaps shine for those who were a bit on the oily side, yet isn’t too drying. But the real heros are the Blackhead & Pore Clearing Duo, a twice weekly treatment starting with the cream that you leave on for 10 minutes before washing it off and applying a lotion to seal the skin to prevent any additional blackheads from forming. I’m sad I gave this one away because they all swear by it and say that it gives their skin an instant fresh looking glow like no other. It’s like an extraction for the skin minus the painful poking and prodding.

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Dr. Oz and The Wonders of Sea Buckthorn Oil

I didn’t know that Dr. Oz recently touted Sea Buckthorn ‘the new miracle berry’ when I ordered it from Amazon a few weeks ago. I was searching for natural skincare to help with my melasma and such during this pregnancy when I fell upon Sibu Buckthorn Oil and 180+ sparkling reviews about how amazing it is. It has a cult following for calming rosacea (a big theme among the reviewers), but it was also said to clear acne, fade dark spots, heal burns, and give skin a glowing new appearance. Really! People are losing their damn minds over it (see the reviews HERE on Amazon where I bought it.) There are a few different brands who sell this type of oil, but Sibu was the best reviewed and under $10. Sold.

I started using it under my moisturizer at night only as recommended because it takes a little while to fully absorb. It isn’t greasy or heavy and doesn’t really have much of a scent at all. I like the added hydration it gives and it hasn’t caused any breakouts – a big concern when using a new product on my skin especially an oil. Right away I noticed how calming it is and how I wake up with a glow. I think it’s too early to see long term benefits, but since it’s 100% natural and safe so I’ll continue to use it. It’s one of those things that you know is just good for your skin long term so I’ll be patient and wait for some great results.

Next I’ll try their Cleansing Bar, another fave among reviewers, as well as check out their supplements since it’s meant to be taken internally as well.

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