Josie Maran Argan Summer Hydrating Skin Savers

I get a ton of stuff from companies to try out almost every day so it’s understandable that something rarely blows me away, but this Josie Maran kit is one of the more impressive things I’ve tried in a while. I can see why she has built her entire line around her iconic Argan Oil, it’s really that good.  It softens my skin and makes it so glowy and healthy looking. I’m using the light argan oil with her Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47 over it during the day. It’s the weirdest thing how the oil affects your skin, but it  has been nothing short of a miracle as far as I’m concerned. I’m normal/combo in the summer and the light oil is the right amount of hydration- anything more would be too heavy. I was half expecting to break out for some reason, but all of it has been so well received by my skin. I don’t know how and I can’t really articulate why, but my skin just looks a lot better when I use it.

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Argan Oil Light

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SPF 47

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Argan Color Stick

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They also sent me her Argan Self Tanning Cream which I was hoarding for over a year when I couldn’t find it any longer in stores. It’s one of the very best self tanners I’ve ever used hands down. I just slap it on like using a regular lotion giving no thought to rubbing it in evenly and it comes out perfect every time. It doesn’t give a super dark tan which I like because the color is more believable that way. I’m still not seeing it online so I’ll have to check it out next time I’m in Sephora, I’m hoping it’s just sold out.

Best Beauty Buys at Trader Joe’s

When Trader Joe’s opened three (!) stores here in Colorado everyone was buzzing- even those who had never stepped foot into one were excited to see what all the hype was about. I knew what I was in for having lived in Arizona and California where I enjoyed all that TJ’s has to offer, but the things I was most excited about weren’t food (or wine..) related at all. It’s the cheap face washes, soaps, lotions, and oils in their concise beauty aisle. Here’s a rundown of a few along with their can’t-beat prices.

Top to bottom, left to right:

Spa Face Wash with Tea Tree Oil: This light castile-like soap cleanses skin and leaves a tingly fresh feeling behind from the tea tree. It’s a great basic cleanser for day and night and all skin types.

Moisturizing Shave Cream: This is one of my favorite shave creams. It’s so rich that a tiny amount goes a long way, this tube will last me several months.

Nourish Spray Sunscreen SPF 50: You can’t do much better than $6 for a big can of SPF 50. You can spray down the whole family all summer long.

100% Pure Jojoba Oil: I LOVE this oil so much that I used to buy several of and bring them back to Colorado whenever we’d visit CA. I don’t know what it is about this body oil but it’s a perfect balance of hydration and slip. You can even rub it on your eyes to pre-cleanse to remove eye makeup or use it on your face. It’s that good.

All-In-One Facial Cleanser: I haven’t used this cleanser but at $6, another great deal.

Coconut Body Butter: I bought this and I’m obsessed. The smell of coconut is intoxicating to me and this has a balanced scent that’s sweet and tropical.  It’s the best bargain I saw, $5 for a body butter that’s normally sold for $20 at other stores. A must-have for sure.

Nourish Oil-Free Antioxidant Moisturizer: A good, lightweight all-purpose moisturizer for those who are looking for something basic and effective.

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Supergoop! Gradual Self-Tanning Sunscreen Mousse

Supergoop! has been a mainstay in our house since I first reviewed it 5 years ago. Since then we’ve bought countless bottles, it’s the only sunscreen Mike will wear because it doesn’t burn his eyes when he runs and it’s hard for me to find a safe SPF that gives broad spectrum protection. It’s really as close to a perfect sunscreen perfect as it gets.

Their SPF 20 Gradual Self-Tanning Sunscreen Mousse combines their signature SPF formula with a gradual self-tanner to use daily which I have been ever since I noticed how crazy pale I looked in barre class compared to everyone else. Being tan hasn’t been a priority of mine for about 10 years now, but a healthy glow always looks good. If I’m using a moisturizer and an SPF every morning anyway, it might as well bronze me up too. Not only is the color seamless (even around knees and ankles) but it has zero scent and is so natural looking that I’ve recommended it to my fair friends when they can’t find a tanner that looks natural. Just an FYI though, it won’t get you super dark so those with fair skin wanting some casual color will love it best.

supergoop tanner

Prevent Sun Damage All Year Round

Remember this big story from last spring about the truck driver with extreme sun damage on the left side of his face where the sun would hit while he drove?

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After that I was especially diligent about daily sunscreen on my face and body. Even in the dead of winter I use an SPF body hydrator on my arms and chest to make sure that even the slightest daily sun doesn’t accumulate and create damage on me. Coola is what I use daily – half hydrator, half unscented SPF 30 using a safe mineral formulation free of the nasty chemicals some sunscreens use. It’s one of the best sunscreen lines around for organic suncare that doesn’t leave your skin zinc white and feels just like a great moisturizer.

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Just replacing your body moisturizer with one that has SPF is the easiest way to keep sun damage (and skin cancer..) away.

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.

vivant toner

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.

vivant spin trap

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.

My New Daily Sunscreen: Obagi Sun Shield SPF 50

I used Obagi Healthy Skin moisturizer for years. It was my go-to daily moisturizer with an SPF 35 and the right amount of hydration for year round protection. But then it was discontinued. Since I couldn’t scrounge up a bottle anywhere, I bought an EltaMD daily sunscreen from my derm which I like, but I’m finding isn’t enough moisture at times.

Enter Sun Shield, Obagi’s SPF 50 moisturizer that took the place of Healthy Skin. I never thought I needed an SPF that high, but seeing what the sun does to skin over time with my clients (not to mention horror stories of melanoma) has me pretty cautious. It’s worth it, especially here in Colorado where the sun is always out. This sunscreen has the same medium weight as the SPF 35 did, and it’s a matte formula so it isn’t greasy on the skin and makes a great primer for makeup. Obagi’s sunscreens typically get great scores from EWG’s site too, so I like that it’s a safe option from a medical line.

This will be my daily moisturizer from now on, glad it’s around $35 in a big 3 oz tube that typically lasts around 6 months.

sun shield