beauty beauty beat

Beauty Beat - (Feb/March Roundup)

Sunday, March 27, 2016 HALFSTACK MAGAZINE

Hey readers! Happy Spring! Can you feel it in the air? Is it warming up where you live? Chicago tends to have this epic battle with mother nature during February and March. We go back and forth between winter and spring merely hours apart. It's a bit comical now that I think of it. The crazy weather can create havoc with your skin if you're not careful. Lucky for me, my skin has been behaving (knock on wood). Could it be the products I've been using these past two months?!? Perhaps, but regardless, you know what I am here for! Yes,  it is that time - that time of the month where I share my latest Beauty Beat.

I've been testing out quite a few products that I wanted to share.  So, my latest round up focuses on Face/Body/Hair. Many of these items are my attempt at trying something new as we transition into a new season. From natural deodorants to new hair tools, each item has been a fun experiment to add into my routine!


Clarity Rx Vitamin Infused Cleanser - I am absolutely still in love with this cleanser. I know I wrote about it last month, but this has been my go to cleanser for the last 3 moIt leaves my face feeling refreshed, not stripped and the vitamins help to nourish and replenish the skin. The citrus scent is revitalizing and leaves my skin tingling. It's my go to cleanser for my morning face routine. The olive oil, rose hip oil and seaweed all help with conditioning the skin. I'll start my morning with this wash and then lead into a moisturizer before I prime my face for makeup.

My complexion is smooth and has evened out. I haven't had any issues with breakouts and overall, the dry areas I battled this winter have started to level out and I think that is in part due to the oils that are in the cleanser. I also think that my skin detox in Jan/Feb helped quite a bit. You can read more about that HERE. I think I would say this cleanser  is along the lines of the Murad Vitamin C cleanser, only it is a bit more budget friendly at $29 USD vs. $36 USD. Although, I will note that the murad cleanser does leave my skin feeling a bit dry after each use whereas the Clarity RX really does leave my skin feelings nourished vs. stripped.

Hada Labo Tokyo skin plumping gel cream - Where has this gel cream been my whole life?! This is a great dual action product. Over the last 2 years, I have been proactively utilizing products that are supposed to help with aging and fine lines. The oily skin I have battled for most of my young adult life is said to be a godsend the older I get. Yet, that is not to say I don't see a fine line here and there. I notice that my fine lines tend to appear on my forehead. I am a worrier and when I overthink, it shows up on my forehead.

The Hada Labo skin plumping gel cream combines a skin perfecting serum with the intense hydration of a moisturizer. The lightweight feel of this product makes it perfect for day or night use and balances your skin well before you begin your foundation routine. It has a high concentration of Super Hyaluronic Acid which saturates the skin and helps to plump up fine lines and wrinkles instantly.

Even though it is a gel type cream, it does not leave that greasy after feel. In fact, it soaks in beautifully and leaves your skin feeling bouncier. The collagen in the product helps to maintain and improve your skin texture over time. The Ceramides contained in the product are naturally occurring lipids that help to attract and restore moisture to our natural barrier on our skin. As I mentioned above - the detox I put my skin through along with the last month of working in the Hado Labo product into my daily routine has helped my skin tremendously. You can see the current state of my skin in the image below. Forgive the dark circles - I'm going to be testing out an under eye cream this upcoming month, so this is definitely the before for that one.

MaskerAide Face Masks- The last bit in my face round up are the MaskerAide face masks. Ok, I am a sucker for anything with great packaging. But, these masks are more than just meets the eye. MaskerAide is the go to brand for affordable masks that cater to very specific needs. Whether your skin needs a detox, has been battling the exhaustion that stems from pulling those all night study sessions or just needs a little TLC, MaskerAide has you covered.
Paper face masks have been gaining a cult following as of late. There isn't a beauty guru who has not snap chatted a freaky snap of them with one on! What I think people love most about them is the fact that they are so convenient. You don't need a sink to wash off the product - all you do is let is soak in and you are good to go. You can wear one on a flight to add some much needed moisture or just while you are lounging at home.

What makes MaskerAide masks so special is the fact that they use two types of highly concentrated serums in their masks - one is a clear based serum and the other is a cream: The clear serum is lighter in consistency, is great for day or night time use and before makeup application (clear serum masks include All Nighter, Detox Diva, Pre Party Prep). Detox diva and All Nighter are great masks to help refresh and replenish. They leave your skin feeling fresh, plumped and moisturized after a quick 15 minute application.

The cream based serum is slightly heavier and is recommended for use in the evening and when relaxing before bed (cream serum masks include Beauty Restore, I Don't Wanna Grow Up, Weather Warrior). And as much as they like to fill their serums with amazing ingredients, they also focus on eliminating ingredients could negatively effect their customers' health. As a brand they also care about their impact on the world as well. The masks are eco-friendly! The outer package of the mask is recyclable while the sheet mask is biodegradable (certified 100% biodegradable by the International Forest Stewardship Council).

Lately, we hear more and more about the many chemicals that are hidden in our cosmetics that shouldn't even be on our skin or that have even been linked to cancer. The beauty industry has had a handful of socially conciousl beauty brands pop up that are filling the need to provide beauty mavens with products that you can trust and love. Hynt Beauty is one of those brands.

Hynt Beauty is a line of luxurious color and skincare cosmetics that is free of all ingredients known to be, or are questioned to be, harmful and irritable for the skin and body. The line is formulated for the health conscious woman who is seeking a beauty brand that she can fully trust and rely on for honest information and guidance on her beauty and lifestyle choices. The line consists of a beautifully curated collection of products that are held to the highest standards of ingredient purity, safety and efficacy. 

Hynt was launched and inspired by Co-Founder Meryl Marshall's need and passion to find makeup and skincare products that offered her the assurance and confidence that whatever she was putting on her skin was safe, non-irritable and carcinogen-free. Having recently conquered breast cancer, she took great care in educating herself on the product labels and on each of the ingredients formulated into her everyday beauty products. From this Hynt was born.

The brand definitely goes above and beyond when it comes to the quality of the makeup. The eye shadows and blushes have beautiful pigmentation and coverage and come in a range of colors that work with so many different skin tones. The lip glosses are packed with organic ingredients that do more than just add a touch of color, but moisturize to treat the lips. But, I would have to say my favorite of all the products is the and mascara. 

Hynt's NOCTURNE mascara is an organics-based, multi-tasking true-black mascara that lengthens, curls, volumizes and lifts lashes to bring eyes center stage. I am a mascara maven - my lashes are my secret weapon. When I find a mascara that helps to define my eye area and doesn't irritate, I am hooked! The product is infused with a lash-revitalizing blend of vitamins, antioxidants and natural plant extracts, NOCTURNE conditions and softens eye lashes while helping to prevent eyelash breakage. It doesn't clump and leaves you with a glam feathery finish. Yet, the chamomile ingredient is what truly makes this product as it is anti-inflammatory and smells amazing! 

Hynt recently launched their latest limited edition set: The Tribal Heart Collection. The packaging is gorgeous and provides you with an array of products that are perfect for testing out the brand. The collection includes earthy romantic colors with a bit of edge. Their limited edition zebra print cosmetics bag includes a sophisticated selection of pink shades and statement neutrals that create a look that is a combination of romance meets vixen.


I am a firm believer that a hot shower or long bubble bath can truly destress the body. When you add in aroma therapy from your favorite body washes, it can create such a soothing and calming experience. This month I was testing out some new body washes from Vermont Soap, a socially responsible brand that has been offering safe, non-toxic and natural solutions since 1992. Not only do they offer body products, they also offer home products as well.

Vermont Soap is in the business of making organic soaps and they do a mighty fine job of it. Most Vermont Soap products are certified to USDA organic food standards. Their newest product in the line are the 100% Natural Moisturizing Shower Gels made with organic oils. The lemon grass scent is bright and packs a citrus punch. I just love the scent for my morning showers. They have no detergents, foaming boosters, anti-microbials, artificial colors or fragrances and are amazing for those of your with sensitive skin like me. The scents are absolutely delightful and are not over powering.

Yet, I am a traditional girl through and through and I am a huge fan of their classic bar soaps. The shea butter bar and the oatmeal lavender bar are by far my favorite. The oatmeal mixed with lavender is calming and does wonders for the skin. Vermont Soap has been making supermild handmade bar soaps for people with sensitive skin for over 20 years. They work with their own hypoallergenic vegan soap base of Organic Coconut, Palm, Olive and Palm Kernel oils and add aromatherapy essential oils and botanical extracts to modify astringency for different skin and pore types. All of the bars are facial quality and work great for shaving too. 

Keeping on with my journey towards finding more natural body items, I have been testing out Schmidt's Natural Deodorant. I've tested natural deodorants in the past and I haven't had the best results. I work on keeping hydrated, but I typically have to use an extra strength anti-perspirant that keeps me dry and not smelling funky throughout the day. Schmidt's is one of the very few natural deodorants that I have used that actually gets the job done. What started in the kitchen of founder Jamie Schmidt's kitchen in Oregon, has grown into a mini natural empire in just 6 short years. Jaime had always had a passion for natural body care products and studied their benefits, and she became motivated to make natural products for her family's health. Knowing that natural deodorant had a reputation for being ineffective, Jaime made it her mission to change the way people think about deodorant, refusing to compromise any effectiveness when formulating her deodorant. 

It's actually pretty strong stuff, so I would suggest using sparingly and actually doing a skin test on your inner  arm to ensure you don't have any reaction. There is a roll on version and a jar version. Personally, I prefer the jar because you can apply in layers starting with small amounts and building up the product. The deodorant is fast-absorbing, non-greasy, and leaves you with a non-sticky feel.  It is also free of aluminum, propylene glycol, parabens & phthalates. It utilizes plant-based powders that protect against wetness without the use of aluminum. Best of all it is certified Vegan & cruelty-free and is gluten-free.


Last, but not least, I'e been testing out some new hair products.  My hair has grown quite a bit over this last year as you can see by my photo above. It's probably the healthiest it has been in quite some time. I'm still using Nourish Beaute as I feel it's definitely helped in terms of my hair growth along with my biotin supplements.  I have to order the 2-pack shampoo now because Dwight has been using it and loving it.

I've been working hard to get my hair back into shape without having to cut it so often. One thing I have found that has helped my hair health is by extending my hair washes. I have found that my hair is feeling less and less stripped when I don't wash it every single day. I have also been using HairMax Density Activator to continue to help with thickening. This unique peptide complex, designed for thinning hair is loaded with a proprietary blend of nutrients, antioxidants and known DHT blockers. Follicle boosting ingredients that nourish the scalp to create the optimal environment for the growth of naturally stronger, denser, healthy vibrant hair. I spray it on my scalp and comb through at night before bed. I usually leave my hair in a braid and I've noticed that my 3 part strategy (hair wash, activator and vitamins)  for my hair health has made quite a difference over the last 3 months.

UnWash Dry Cleanser - This dry cleanser has been a go to for those in between hair washing days. It actually cleanses without stripping—leaving hair more vibrant, more manageable, and simply more beautiful. The product gently removes dirt and surface build-up while locking in moisture, extending the life of hair color, and upholding your hair’s natural integrity. Unwash washes away dirt and oil build-up without stripping hair of beneficial oils like ordinary shampoo. It also smells great and doesn't leave that white halo of powder in your hair.

What I love most about this brand is that it is all about local support. They are a salon hair care brand, so supporting the livelihood of salons is pretty important to the company as a whole. When you buy any Unwash product online, they ask you to choose your salon or spa at checkout. Your sale is then attributed to the local business you selected and they get 50% of your sale, just as they would if you bought your Unwash product at their salon! How awesome is that?!

I've also changed up my style quite a bit to accommodate my new lengths. I have a bit of a natural wave to my hair, so I have been working that old Hollywood loose wave style over the past few months. For quite some time I was using an old clamp curling iron that was way too small. It left me with too tight curls, but recently I have been working with the Pro Beauty Tools 1” x-long gold curling wand and I am sold on the clamp free style! I usually apply a heat protectant and then blow dry my hair for a smooth finish, then separate my strands into 1-2 inch sections and curl with the wand.

The wands gold barrel is not just for a luxe feel, the gold conducts a high even heat up to 430 degrees for long lasting curls. There are variable heat settings that allow all hair types to work with the wand. The barrel is 2 inches longer than traditional curling irons which is great for those of you with longer hair. The professional 8" swivel cord makes it easy to work with and you don't feel stuck to the outlet. Pro Beauty Brands always does a fantastic job of bringing professional products into the home at retail friendly prices, but are their tools are always incredibly high quality. This retails for just $34.99 at Walmart.

After I complete my styling, I will apply a finishing product. Topganic Argan oil has been my go to product. I've shared the Topganic brand in the past - their conditioners are amazing. Topganic is the first hair care line to effectively combine natural oils, extracts and minerals from the Dead Sea. Providing a truly natural approach to protect and nourish hair, the brand's luxurious range of shampoos, conditioners, masks and more work to prevent further damage from chemicals, heat styling and pollution.

This product adds a shine and helps to smooth out the follicles for a healthy look The argan oil moisturizes the hair in a natural way without leaving it feeling greasy.  The argan oil penetrates into the hair shafts and enhances the elasticity of your hair. This is one of those products that is perfect for protecting your hair from daily hairdryer usage, hot tools, environment pollution and free radicals.

So, that completes this months roundup of products for this edition for the Beauty Beat! Check back next month for another roundup of products that I have been using, testing and loving! Have you used any of the mentioned products? If so, let me know how you have fared in the comments below! 

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