acne beauty

Beauty Beat - October Roundup

Thursday, November 12, 2015 HALFSTACK MAGAZINE

It's that time again! Time for my monthly roundup of items that I tested over the last month or so. This month features a focus on skincare with a bit of health, grooming and hair mixed in. The ups and downs in the weather here in Chicago has had my skin acting like a teenager in the midst of puberty. Breakouts, dry patches and oily spots have been the bane of my existence. Yet, it seems that my daily routine over the last 5 weeks has gotten the madness under control.



The focus has been on exfoliation, hydration and maintenance. I am nearing 30 and I feel that it would make sense for my skin to finally be under control. Yet, depending on how I maintain my skin it can still feel like I'm battling the skin woes I faced as a teenager and 20-something. I can't complain, though, the acne isn't what it was - the occasional blemish here and there vs. major breakouts I faced as a teen. If I'm overly stressed or close to my monthly cycle, I find I do face the occasional hormonal type cystic acne on my jawline. Yet, I found that by maintaining a workout routine (yoga or jogging), daily vitamin intake and finding ways to decompress (art, reading or meditation) I am able to maintain level hormones. This, in turn, keeps the hormonal breakouts at bay. Good moisturizers and medicated night creams help to ensure I don't have any of those icky dark patches that can remain after a hormonal breakout.

So, below you will find a few tips to maintaining your skin in your late twenties along with some go-to products that have helped me this month.

Face Essentials

If you are not washing your face at night, get on it! I find that the one night I don't wash my face is the one night that ruins it for me. I'll wake up with a blemish - especially if I fall asleep with makeup on. I know it's a pain, but no pain no gain. The reality is that the mask of makeup we wear ends up clogging our pores. Those clogged pores lead the breakouts. A clean face, free of makeup can breathe and rejuvenate.

I've been using my Clarisonic in combination with Murad  Essential-C Cleanser - it leaves my skin feeling clean, the citrus is a perfect pick me up in the morning and vitamins A, C and E neutralize and rehydrate environmentally damaged skin by removing impurities. The Clarisonic almost acts like a resurfacing tool when it comes to exfoliating. It deep cleans and I've found that it helps remove the dead skin leaving me with a more even skin tone. Exfoliation helps get rid of the layer of old skin cells that dull your complexion.

Kensington Saki Skin Detox Tonic is another amazing option to detoxing your skin. Excessive sugar intake and an overactive lifestyle can leave your skin looking puffy and tired. This can lead to dark circles, sallowness and sagging. Kensington Apothecary's fights the effects of glycation (too much sugar too little sleep). The tonic's antiseptic and antibacterial properties help fight against bacteria and restores the skins outer acid mantle restoring your glowing complexion. The olive leaf extract helps to soothe redness and mimosa bark extract helps combat dark circles and puffy eyes.




7th Heaven's Black Seaweed peel off mask is such a fun product. Do you remember when you were in grade school and you would spread glue all over your hand, wait for it to dry and peel it off? No, just me? Well, this mask is like 4th grade all over again. Except, I can peel a nourishing mask off my face! 7th Heaven is the recent rebrand of the iconic Montagne Jeunesse (French for Mountain Youth) brand known for eco-minded vegetarian products. The Black Seaweed Peel off Mask contains chopped black Laver Seaweed (from the Welsh seaside) and crushed Sea Buckthorn berries. The ingredients are pressed together to make the black peel off mask. This mask is great for a simple weekly detox and to cleanse deeply and essentially peel off dirt and grease.

Body Essentials

Jack Black Loves Lips is hands down one of my favorite lip balms. The brand is already a cult favorite, but they recently released  a new flavor shea butter and vitamin e. It's no surprise that so many people swear by this product. It's enriched with lip conditions and antioxidants  that calm, protect and relieve dry, chapped and irritated lips. A must have to add to your beauty arsenal as we enter into the frigid and dry months. The intense therapy lip balm also guards against windburn and extreme temps and has SPF 25 - So, if you're enjoying the slopes this winter or live in Chicago and have to brave cold walks to work downtown, this is the product for you!

Jack Black Hand Healer is the hardest working hand cream on the market. As a writer, designer and artist - my hands take a beating throughout the year. I often look at my hands and feel a bit ashamed at the fact that they are not as feminine as I feel they should be. Then again, I am reminded that success and achievement come from hardworking hands. This is the kind of lotion that is perfect for someone like me as well as someone who works hard with their hands day in and day out in a labor type job. The mechanics, farmers, kitchen workers and anyone who works with their hands will find this is a soothing and healing hand cream. It helps heal dry, chapped and cracked hands. the Vitamin A & E repair rough skin and the Allantoin and Glycerin proved deeply penetrating moisture for parched skin.

Jack Black Beard Lube Conditioning Shave (Review courtesy of Dwight Bejec - men's columnist ) - Finding a good shaving cream is like searching for a needle in a haystack. You have to search and try and try and search. Some products are pretty good, some are mediocre and some products just burn you. Not many products leave you writing rave reviews, but that's exactly what I am doing for the Jack Black Beard Lube Conditioning Shave. What's so great about this product is the fact that it is like a conditioner. If any of you have used that old school trick of using hair conditioner to shave, step up your man game and invest in Jack Black. The conditioning balm over moisturizes and softens the hair on your face prepping and priming it to be shaved. If you use a safety razor, this conditioning shave has the added benefit of not requiring you to push hard to get a clean shave. This helps if you suffer from nicks and razor burn. The macadamia, jojoba and glycerin provides optimum lubrication and protection and the peppermint, eucalyptus and menthol leaves you feeling refreshed and revitalized. 



Pura Naturals sponge soap - is probably one of the coolest bath and body products I have used in a while. It's a new and really convenient way to cleanse your body. Pura Naturals is a soap infused sponge. Pretty much a 3-1 soap, washcloth and loofah. The nourishing soap doesn't dry your skin out and it's incredibly soothing. Ingredients range from coconut oil to jojoba oil to vitamin E and chamomile extract. For the germaphobe in us all, Pura Naturals repels water and that means that it inhibits the bacteria growth, odor and other problems we tend to see with regular cellulose sponges. The sponges are created from renewable plant materials and avoids the use of petroleum-based and wood-based materials. So, it's good for you and for the Earth.

Trilipiderm is bringing the moisture to SPF.  Typically, we see moisturizing and sun block as two different things and two different products to apply at different times. The company has created a line of hydrating, all-body moisturizing products that promote both the repair and reconstruction of damaged, dry skin. The Broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen with Vitamin D offers a really effective defense again UVA and UVB, but also promotes healthy skin. The Vitamin D helps to heal inflamed skin and accelerates the production of new collage and the Vitamin E also leaves the skin soft and smooth.





Hair Essentials

Alright, so I am just starting to jump on this whole don't wash your hair every day bandwagon. I have really finely textured hair. So, the idea of not washing my hair leaves me feeling like I am going to look like an oily nightmare. This is where dry shampoo comes into play. Umberto Beverly Hills has one of the few dry texture sprays that doesn't leave my hair looking like a silver fox and adds dimension. It's really light weight and the non-greasy hold ensures that my oily nightmares don't come true. I still can't go longer than 2 days with unwashed hair, but this definitely has helped lengthen my styles between washes. The spray is also great for taming flyaways (you know with winter comes static) and can add volume to a style if used prior to blow drying.

Makeup Essentials 

Since my skin was acting up like crazy last month, I made it a point to go light on the makeup. It was almost like a detox for my skin. I attempted to forgo all over foundation and just focus on lips and eyes. I utilized a sheer concealer for my under eyes and sides of my nose to help with dark circles and reduce redness. I applied it with the Merle Norman face #8 brush. This brush is designed for cream and liquid concealers and the angled design makes it great for hard to reach spots like the side of the nose and inner eye area. The soft bristles were gentle on the sensitive eye area and provided a flawless finish.



Even if I don't put anything on my face, I hardly ever go out without a swipe of mascara on my lashes. I would have to say that the feature I love the most about my face are my lashes. I was blessed with long and thick lashes. People will comment asking me if I am wearing falsies. I always say Thanks, but nope just mascara! So, to say I love a good black mascara is an understatement. I've been going back and forth between the Merle Norman Wicked Lash Mascara  and the Advanced Mineral Makeup Luxury Lash Mascara recently. The Advanced Mineral Makeup brand is all about the HD finish and because of it's history with the wedding industry it focuses on makeup that really stays put and offers fuller lashes without flaking, clumping, or smudging. The Merle Norman brand  provides beautiful coverage! The formula has arch fibers, which add a tremendous amount of volume and is  designed to build up to create pretty fluttery lashes!

A simple bronzer is a great way to add some color to your skin without going full blown Kardashian contour. Jennifer Bradley Bronzer gives a beautiful sun kissed glow to your skin. It's just the right shade for every skin tone and doesn't leave you with that fake bake orange glow. It's perfect for sensitive skin. Best part is that it doesn't have that sparkly after affect that so many bronzer leave! The Jennifer Bradley line is know for its medical grade skincare and professional cosmetics. Her own skin issues led her to develop a line of products specially formulated and design for those of us with sensitive skin.

I don't know why drug stores get such a bad rep for cosmetics. Drug store brands are some of my favorite. Great prices and good formulations make for good products. A brand that I have been a fan of since high school is Wet n Wild. While I don't use much of their face type products,  I am a fan of their eye products. Their shadows are great and more recently I have become a fan of their Fergie On the Edge Gel Liner in Little Black Dress. When used in combination with an angled liner brush, it offers a long lasting and beautiful cat eye and at just $5 bucks it's totally a must have!

Health from the inside out

So, I'm a proponent of Vitamins. Despite my hate of swallowing pills, as someone who has been anemic since childhood, vitamins and daily supplements have been a requirement for my overall health. I do everything I can to find chewable vitamins that taste good and aren't hard to stomach. I'm often disappointed, but I gave the NEOCELL Biotin Bursts a try and I'm a huge fan! Seriously, they taste like Starbursts. These are easy to take soft shows that are low in sugar and free of gluten, soy and artificial flavors. You can take 2-4 chews daily and it takes about a month to experience the benefits of stronger hair, skin and nails.

I also think snacking a bit more healthy is another way to maintain my internal balance and keep my skin in tip top shape. I've been snacking on  Perfect Bars. These are a new fave for post workout! Perfect Bars are handmade and certified organic. The Almond Coconut flavor is the brand's first vegan and paleo-friendly bar made with 100% organic ingredients. These bars are a step up from your typical hard dried granola bar and have a delightful chocolatey, peanut buttery earthy taste. One thing to note, though, is that these do require refrigeration. Personally, I think this is great because rather than putting in chemical preservatives and additives they use natural products that need to be kept cold to prevent spoiling. I'd rather refrigerate a product than put dangerous chemicals into my body. I loved the carob chip, peanut butter and almond coconut recipes. They can last up to 9 months in the fridge. They are stock full of complex carbs like natural honey and dates which will keep your energy levels up after a power workout.



Finally, I think a good detox can be really helpful to clear out your body. I notice when I eat out too much and don't cook enough at home incorporating veggies and good foods, then my body just doesn't feel it's best. In turn, those bad choices show up on my skin. So, after a particular rough patch I may detox. I utilize a detox tea like Teami Tea. Teami's ingredients are meant to boost your metabolism and doesn't have the uncomfortable laxative effect that so many detox teas have. It does help to improve digestive issues, but does so in a gentle way. Since it is a loose tea, using it with the Teami Tea Infuser helps you to brew a cleaner and smoother cup of tea. The infuser is a colorful food safe premium silicone rubber leaf shape that fits any tea cup size and comes with a drip tray to keep the wet mess at bay.

Overall, I found that sticking to a skin routine, maintaining my stress levels and eating a balanced diet took care of my skin issues. As I continue on this month, I noticed as long as I maintain the above, I haven't had many issues. Hope this month's roundup and these tips are helpful to all you readers!!

-
Jen Lezan - EIC

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