Friday, February 7, 2014

Spring Nail Polish Picks

With the sun finally peaking its head out today in North Carolina, I was in the mood to put something bright on my nails for the weekend. Even though we haven't quite hit warm weather temperatures around these parts, that doesn't mean you can't wear something bright on your fingers and toes. I ended up picking Essie's Castaway, a pretty bubblegum pink. I love Essie nail polish because they offer such a wide range of colors. You can always find the exact shade that you're looking for. I picked out some of my favorite Essie nail polishes for spring, even though we've still got a ways to go before spring is officially here. I'm looking forward to rocking these bright colors straight through summer! 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Skin Care Favorites

My skin type is combination oily, with more dry patches this time of year. My skin is very acne-prone, but that is something that I've been able to control by using the right skin care products. The following products are all ones that I've been using for a long time and I can trust to bring my skin back to normal if a new product ever makes it act up. 

1. Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover - This is how I start out my skin care routine each night. I don't usually wear heavy eye makeup, but this dual-phase remover takes off every last bit when applied with a cotton pad. It doesn't sting or leave my eye area feeling greasy, which is also a plus. I use it before washing my face, so the face wash removes any leftover residue. 

2. Up & Up Three-Step Acne Care System (available at Target) - For a long time my skin was in a bad cycle of breaking out, being dried out from blemish creams, then breaking out again from over-moisturizing. My skin has naturally cleared some as I've gotten older, but I still had at least a few blemishes at any given time. I had tried Proactive before but never had much luck with it. In fact, it seemed to make my skin worse. I started using this three-step system (basically Target's version of Proactive) almost a year ago, and I haven't looked back. I saw my skin clearing up within a couple of weeks, and it just continued to get better and better. I was shocked when the makeup artist for my wedding told me that my skin was flawless. After dealing with severe acne during college, I didn't think I could ever have perfectly clear skin. This system contains an exfoliating face wash with 2.5% benzoyl peroxide, a repairing treatment that is also 2.5% BP, and a toner with glycolic acid. Almost every time that I've tried to switch up my skin care routine with a new cleanser or toner over the past year, my skin has slowly started to break out again. As soon as I go back to this system, it's back under control in just a few days. I could go on for days about how much I love this system, but if you have mild acne, run to Target (because who really needs an excuse) and pick it up for yourself. 

3. Yes to Tomatoes Daily Balancing Moisturizer - This has been my go-to moisturizer for a couple of years now, and it's great for combination skin. At the end of the day, my skin isn't oily in my t-zone, and it takes care of my dry patches pretty well. On days when my skin is particularly dry, usually around my mouth or eyes, I will use a little bit of the Burt's Bees Intense Hydration Day Cream for daytime or the Intense Hydration Night Cream at nighttime. 

4. Tea Tree Oil (any brand works, just make sure it's 100% tea tree oil and doesn't contain any other ingredients) - When I do have a stubborn breakout, I dip a cotton ball into this tea tree oil and dab it directly on the blemish before applying my moisturizer at night. I can tell a significant difference in the blemish's size and redness by the next morning. If you like to steam your face before applying a mask, you can also put a few drops into the water for an extra boost. The smell isn't bad, but it is very strong, so that's why I only use it at night. Don't be scared off by the fact that this is an oil if you have blemish-prone skin. Tea tree oil is a natural bacteria buster, so it will help treat acne without drying your skin out. Fun fact: it is toxic if taken by mouth, so don't drink it and keep out of reach of children and animals! 

5. Clean & Clear Persa-Gel 10 - I only use this 10% benzoyl peroxide cream when I have a blemish popping up and it does a great job of making them go away fast. It's important to stop using this as soon as the blemish starts to dry up because it can make your skin dry and flaky, and that's never pretty. I've also noticed that it usually takes longer for hyperpigmentation from a blemish to fade if I keep using this on it, so I try to limit the use to just a couple of days. 

6. ROC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream - This is really the only eye cream that I've ever used, and it seems to do the job just fine. It doesn't cause any stinging or irritation around my eyes, and it makes dark circles and puffiness less noticeable. Since I haven't used any other eye creams, I don't have much to compare it to, but I don't have any reason to switch either. I have heard some people complain that the retinol in this product is too strong for their eye area, so I would recommend the sensitive formula if you do have sensitive eyes. I'm open to trying out different eye creams or serums, so leave a comment below if you have a different favorite!

7.  The Body Shop Squeaky Clean Srub - Speaking of tea tree oil, The Body Shop has an entire line of tea tree oil products, and all of the products that I have tried are awesome. This scrub does just what it says and makes your skin squeaky clean. It can be a bit drying, so I don't use it when I feel like my skin is on the dry side. I do love to use it when I want to give myself a deep clean, maybe after sleeping in my makeup (oops!) or after a special event when I'm wearing more makeup than normal. It has exfoliating beads and turns into a nice foam when you use it. I wouldn't recommend the tea tree oil from The Body Shop line because it contains a number of unnecessary ingredients. 

8. St. Ives Blemish Control Apricot Scrub - This product has probably been in my skin care arsenal longer than anything else I use. It has been my go to exfoliator for years, and I still use it every few days. It leaves my skin silky smooth and even has a small amount of salicylic acid to help clear pores. Not much to say about this one, but it must be good if I keep coming back! 

I've been searching for a great pore-clearing mask, but haven't been able to find one that I love yet. I would love to try out the GlamGlow Supermud mask that has been raved about by beauty bloggers, but I'm not quite ready to lay down the cash for that one. Comment below if you have any suggestions for great masks! 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Valentines Day Gift Guide

While my other half and I have never been big Valentine's day gift givers, I love all of the pink and hearts that you see in stores this time of year. I've picked out some of my favorite items that would make great V-Day gifts.

1. Initial and dainty heart ring set, Etsy
2. Heart jacquard tunic sweater. Express
3. Bobbi Brown blush in Apricot, Bobbi Brown
4. Lulu candle, Anthropoligie
5. Valentine mug cosy, Etsy
6. Dot pillow, Target
7. Secret Garden Studs, Kate Spade
8. Essie My Better Half, Essie

Monday, February 3, 2014

DIY Valentine Tutorial


With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I thought I'd share a tutorial for these DIY valentines that you can give to your loved ones. Here's what you'll need: 

Cardstock in a variety of valentines-ey colors 
Heart punch, I got mine at a craft store 

Modge Podge craft glue

Small paintbrush
Tissue paper in both bright and light colors

I started out by cutting my paper in half width-wise, so that the folded card would be a quarter-size sheet of paper

Next I cut out several squares of tissue paper in different colors. There's no need to make the squares perfect because you're going to be overlapping the edges later. 

Using a different piece of cardstock, cut out hearts using your punch or scissors. I made a few different designs, including a large heart in the middle that turned out to be my favorite because you can see the most of the tissue paper design. 

Back to your original piece of cardstock, it's time to use the craft glue to stick your tissue paper to the front of the card. It's important to brush the glue both on top of and below the tissue paper to make it stick. Don't worry, it will dry clear. You can use one color of paper under each heart, or overlap them for a stained glass effect. 

Glue your second piece of cardstock on top of the tissue paper, write a sweet note inside, and you're all set!