The Cheap Mask for the Pumpkin Everything Lover

Ahhh fall.  It’s almost that time again.  When I was younger it was noted by the cooling temps and the leaves changing vibrant hues of red, orange and yellow.  Now it’s because well…IT’S PUMPKIN EVERYTHING SEASON!

This mask is sure to make the pumpkin fiends out there as happy as enjoying a pumpkin late with a slice of pumpkin pie.  Andalou Naturals is a bit off the radar as a brand, but has some impressive products.  Their Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask retails for drugstore friendly pricing and works as well as it’s luxury competitors.  Beyond the fact it works, it literally smells like pumpkin pie on your face.  And that, ReadHead readers, is a little slice of heaven.

For those who also like a little granola on the side of your scientific skincare, you’ll like Andalou’s brand promise: “Andalou Naturals, the first Non-GMO Project Verified beauty brand, is the ultimate culmination of their many years developing meaningful policy and healthy products partnered with their deep commitment to uplifting people and the planet.”  Hug your skin and the world while you’re at it.

Ingredients:

Andalou Naturals is full of natural products and little fillers.  That’s why I like this brand.  Sure, you’ll see straightforward ingredients which means you could make something similar at home, but by the time you get the ingredients and the formulations right, whether it be hard costs for ingredients or opportunity cost, I’d pass and go for this little gem that’s ready. set. go.

Pumpkin is a double whammy of goodness, providing vitamin-rich C and glycolic acid, which both help to brighten skin by reversing free radical damage and removing dead skin cells.  It’s the #1 ingredient, and is supported by the stand-alone glycolic acid ingredient, which is what you want to see when you’re judging effectiveness. You’ve also got pineapple juice and sugar cane which aid in the breakdown of old, dull skin.

Ingredients like glycerin, honey and sodium hyaluronate help to calm and moisturize, as well as many other “extracts” that help to aid in exfoliation or soothing of the skin.

This does have cinnamon in it, which can add in that tingle that you’ll feel and is supposed to help invigorate the skin, but being towards the end of the list I think it’s more for the smell to evoke that pumpkin pie feeling, and can be irritating to some.

Here’s the list of ingredients:

Cucurbita Pepo (Pumpkin) Puree*, Aloe Barbadensis Juice*, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Oil*, Vegetable Glycerin, Manuka Honey, Ananas Sativus (Pineapple) Juice*, Pectin, Glycolic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Cyamopsis Tetragonolobus (Guar) Gum*, Fruit Stem Cells (Malus Domestsica, Solar Vitis) and BioActive 8 Berry Complex*, Lecithin, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract*, Calophyllum Tacamahaca (Tamanu) and Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Oils, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Aspalathus Linearis (Rooibos) Extract*^, Phenethyl Alcohol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Cinnamomum Cassia (Cinnamon), Myristica Fragrans (Nutmeg) and Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Powders*.

Non-GMO verified *Organic ^Fair Trade

Application & Consistency:

Right when you open the jar, you get a whiff of pumpkin which smells slightly like pie but a little less sugary.  It looks like an earthy concoction with an orange tinge as anything with pumpkin should.  It comes in a jar, which I prefer a pump top to maintain the ingredients, but for the price is expected.

I put it on my face and immediately felt tingle.  I’m used to acids, but if you are a newbie, know that this will have some kick.  Negative reviews will state this, that it burned or left their face red.  I say that they may not understand the role of acids (they can burn and turn you red).  Pumpkin also contains niacin which can give you a bit of a flush if you’re sensitive to it.  It’s always best to patch test if you are reactive to ingredients or have very sensitive skin.

The consistency was a bit of a gel-like puree.  It spread easily, but felt earthy.  It’s a bit inconsistent in it’s application which is fine by me.  It doesn’t contain silicones that will give this a beautiful slip.  It’s a bit clunky, not like oatmeal, but you get the idea.

I sat with it on my face for 15 min.  The tingle stopped in that time, and it dried down to a nice feel.  It wasn’t overly tight or harsh like a clay mask.  I rinsed it off and voila!  Bright, clear skin that had a slight orange tinge to it that went away quickly.

Final Assessment:

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a mask with this type of quality and is yummy to use.  Especially with fall time coming around when we’re trying to undo all the summer sun damage and get ourselves into the swing of cooler weather and flannel.  For around $15 for a 1.7 oz jar, it’s one I forget I own as I pillage my more pricier options, and continue to kick myself after using it because it’s great and for a great price.

Sit down and slather this one on. It’s time to treat yo’ self without feeling guilty from your wallet or the calories.

Overall: 5/5

Price: $$$$$

Packaging: 3/5

 

Have you tried any Andalou products or want to know more about them? Drop us a line in the comments.

 

 

What Drinking Collagen For 30 Days Changed For Me (Part 2)

I wrote in a previous post about the benefits of collagen and that I was going to put it to the test in a 30 and 90-day recap.  I purchased Vital Protein’s Collagen Protein Peptides because it seemed quick, somewhat affordable, and had the backings of pro athletic teams and Jennifer Anniston – and who doesn’t want to look like her.

I made my teal blue and white plastic tub my BFF at work for the last 30ish days.  It became a bit of a talking point while making my coffee or typing away.  “What cha doing there?” says a co-worker.  “Drinking your lunch again?” says my boss (she’s awesome and acknowledges my beauty quirks without raising too much of an eyebrow).  “Oh ya know, just injecting my triple espresso Americano with protein collagen powder from cows.  It’s totally normal.”

For a little over 30 days consistently I mixed my one scoop of extremely fine milled powder into my kick-me-in-the-ass coffee.  It left a little bit of a sticky, sandy feel that seemed to find my fingers and lingered in the back of my throat that took a few days to get used to.  I don’t even notice it now.  That’s how I went about my every morning except one time when I got fancy and tried it in a cold ultra smoothie (that I was in fact drinking as my lunch).  It turned into a gelatinous blob of what I can only think of wet Plaster of Paris mixed with mucus would consist of.  One unsuspecting gulp of that concoction that barely made it through my straw literally caused my gag reflex to fire. I grossed everyone out around me by fishing it out of my smoothie with the straw and flicking it into garbage can. Plink. Plink. ::shudders::

I give Vital Proteins credit.  I went this route because I loathe every other protein shake that I’ve tried.  They are either gritty, have some sort of fake taste to it, or require a degree in blender college + an investment that would surely dip into my Sephora stash for the fruit just to make it bearable.  Isn’t that just more calories??? Pass.

Other than the sandy stickiness, there was no detectable taste.  It was easy to mix right at my desk.  I thought the portion size was a bit ridiculous when I saw my $40 jug was only 14 servings but I ended up only doing one scoop once a day vs. two multiple times a day and still have plenty left.

The Verdict

I’m only about 30 days in, and I don’t believe in overnight miracles.  The protein powder is said to help with hair, skin, joints and nails.  I take supplements already that address these, so I honestly didn’t see a difference that I could attribute to this powder.  I started walking more and felt like I had rocks in my joints, so although I will chalk that up to age and overdoing it, it certainly didn’t make me feel like a gazelle.

I also didn’t turn into Benjamin Button overnight, so I’m left wondering what this supposed miracle in a bottle is really supposed to do for me.  However, I will say that I no longer had my pangs of needing protein STAT! which was the reason I started the process in the first place.  The fact that I see this difference leads me to believe there’s something there, and since that was a huge annoyance for me (plus it was clearly something my body was telling me I needed to give it) I’ll keep with it.

For those who don’t have such an extensive skincare routine as I do, or maybe don’t take other supplements that address hair, skin and nails (I will attest that the ones I take do work) then you might see a difference.  I’m only 30 days in, and am looking forward to seeing if there is any accelerated change when I check in at the 90 day mark.

So far would I suggest it? If you’re into supplements and you’re a health optimizer, then sure.  It certainly isn’t hurting anything.  If you’re like me and have had trouble finding ways to incorporate protein, I’d also say it’s a nice alternative.  The jury is still out though, on if this really lives up to the hype of being a beauty benefit.  Vital Proteins has full stars from over 120 reviewers, so unless there’s something shady there, they are making believers.  I have yet to be sold.

Check back in for the 90 day review!

 

 

Acne or Rosacea Sufferer? Meet Azelaic Acid

A long time acne and mild rosacea sufferer, I considered myself to be pretty in the know about all things pimple-plastering.  Whether it be due to new beauty contenders like Deciem’s The Ordinary or because old becomes new and people always need something groundbreaking to talk about, my eyes and ears caught wind of a new acid I had never heard of.  Fights acne…acts as an antiseptic…decreases effects of rosacea…and it was like the record scratched and all things came to a halt in my life.  What the what?  I (and now you) MUST KNOW MORE.

What is it?

Azelaic acid is a naturally-occurring acid that comes from yeast, barley and wheat.  Typically found in a white powder, this powerful acid is a triple threat to skin issues due to bacteria-fighting benefits reminiscent of benzoyl peroxide and anti-inflammatory properties similar salicylic acid.  Fellow rosacea suffers often get bumps and redness, so the mix of these two could be quite impressive while also cutting down irritation with a multi-functional product.  It is also said to possess skin lightening properties which could be an alternative to (albeit not as effective) as hydroquinone which is quite the controversial lightening ingredient depending on who you talk to and has been banned in many countries due to its adverse effects. <— check your lightening products for this ingredient if this is important to you.

Unlike alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic and lactic that help to slough off the top layers of the skin by breaking up the “glue” that holds dead skin cells together so that new skin can emerge, azelaic acid does exfoliate, but think of it as a gunk buster that gets into the follicles and pores to clear out and kill the things that cause moderate to severe acne – Finacea is one of it’s more well-known prescription-strength topicals.

As a natural redhead, I have been working for what seems to be a lifetime to gain as much of a clean slate as I can, but my skin just likes to remind me that I am not worthy.  I freckle if I even think of the word sun, my pimples hang around FOREVER and cause PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) after they’ve left for months, and my cheeks have a pink flush to them that is thank goodness mild, but still exacerbated by just about anything.  Many of you ReadHead readers with sensitive or fair skin may be experiencing the same.  Look for products that contain azelaic acid and watch it work wonders.   It may just be the missing piece to your acne-free, glowing complexion.

The Ordinary’s Azelaic 10% Suspension is currently in route to my door and cost me $8 + shipping.  I’ll be tearing into that packaging like a kid on Christmas.

Have you used azelaic acid before?  Drop us a line in the comments.

 

ReadHead 2 Head: Benefit’s Roller Lash vs. Maybelline’s Lash Sensational

In my earlier (and poor college kid days) mascara was something I so wanted to splurge on – I had friends buying Lancome Dificiles by the cha-ching – but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  My mom always bought Lancome and had the little samples that they gave you, so I’d find myself raiding her stash (thanks mom!).  Thoughts of spending $30 or $40 for mascara that you’re supposed to toss (apparently) after 3 months was just unattainable for me. Drugstore whomp whomp it was when my little sample died.

Since then, the drugstore brands have seriously stepped up their game.  There’s a billion out there that are just junk.  And the shouty plastic and neon craziness for tubing causes me migraines, but there are those gems out there that rival the good ones.

Drugstore vs. Luxury?

First of all, many of the drugstore brands are owned by premium brands i.e. L’Oreal owns Lancome and Maybelline (and a host of others).  There are times when you can get a cheaper price and very similar technology.  They’re all coming out of the same plant.  Also, do your research on blogs and understand what the brushes are meant to do – fat teddy bear shapes, vs combs, vs tiny short brushes.  The brush itself is integral to the application.  Lastly, primers can certainly help and don’t think one mascara has to do everything on it’s own.  Find a really good lengthening and a really good volumizing.  Put the lengthening mascara on first, then beef it up with that volumizer for beautiful long, full lashes.

There is a reason though, that luxury brands cost more.  Their packaging is usually better, and the quality of the mascara formulation + the brush tends to be better overall.  I find that they are just enough less clumpy, and just enough better at separating and holding curl (not all, but most).

Benefit Roller Lash vs. Maybelline Lash Sensational

Maybe she’s born with it?  Maybe it’s just really amazing mascara on both counts.

Benefit’s Roller Lash has been my lengthening go-to for a while now.  It comes in an adorable black and pink tube with girly details that are still sophisticated.  The formulation goes on a deep black with a more wet/shiny look that dries down fairly quickly.   It is dark and lengthens considerably, but can still be considered a natural look vs. dramatic falsies.  The comb, which in my opinion makes this amazing, beautifully stretches and fans lashes with no clumping while pushing them up with each stroke for up-to-there lashes.  Recently I’ve stopped curling my lashes except for special occasions to give them a break and this mixed with my Dior primer makes it almost undetectable that they aren’t curled.  It holds the curl all day and gives me an enhanced yet not over the top flirty look.  It also provides good volume when mixed with my primer, but for when I’m going out on the town and kicking my heels up, I coat this with Two Face’s Better Than Sex mascara for some super oomph.

For the price, you’re looking at $24 for the full size at .30 oz or $12 for .14 oz for the travel size.  I purchase the travel size which lasts me a good 3+ months.

Maybelline’s Lash Sensational has been blowing up the beauty blogger-sphere since it’s arrival as a dupe for Roller Lash.  It has a mauve frosty colored plastic tube container synonymous with a drugstore mascara brand.  The wand is slightly fatter, and has the similar comb technology.  I use two coats which comes out thick and black whilst pushing those lashes up and out.  For a tube of this you’re looking at $9 for .32 oz, and there’s almost always sales out there.

Final comparison:

When I put these on side by side from afar they both give me striking lashes.  They are dark, fanned and curled.  The lasting power for both of these did well and I didn’t have any problems with flaking or smudging.

Packaging: Roller Lash wins hands down on the packaging.  But, I care more about the function so I’m willing to give that a pass.  Lash Sensational isn’t garish or obnoxious, and I am a-OK with that.

Brush & Application: Although very similar, Roller Lash’s brush is a bit deeper with the combs and is a bit smaller making it easier to use.  Roller Lash seemed to be a bit more silky and wet, while Lash Sensational was thicker and a dryer lending it to provide more volume out the gate.  However, it does start to get borderline clumpy/spidery on my second pass so if you are a multi-coat person you’ll need to work with it a bit with combs to keep that from happening.

Price: Lash Sensational cannot be beat on the price.  For more product for almost 1/3 of the price, it’s definitely a bargain – especially if you believe in tossing your mascaras after 3 months.  And the formulation for that price is really good.  I’m OK with spending $12 on the trial size for Roller Lash, but $24 for this (or any mascara) would be above what I’m willing to spend.

Overall: Lash Sensational is a very strong contender to Roller Lash.  If price is an issue for you, then I highly recommend you go with this mascara.  It’s easy to get at almost any drugstore (vs. Roller Lash from Sephora) and will give you some voluminous, lengthy lashes.

The one stickler for me is that clumpiness.  At a close enough price point ($12 albeit trave size vs $8 for more than double) I’m going to stick with Roller Lash BUT when I need to save up a few pennies Lash Sensational is where I’m headed.

Have you tried either of these? Drop us a line in the comments.

Product Review: CeraVe SA Renewing Cleanser

Of all the beauty products in my arsenal, the one I am happy to pluck from the drugstore shelves and will never be convinced of a need to do otherwise is a facial cleanser.  There are literally thousands out there shouting from the rooftops about this ingredient and that, but the reality is that all you need is to get a good formulation appropriate to your skin type (dry, dehydrated, oily, congested) that can tackle the appropriate amount of dirt and makeup removal from your face while not stripping your skin and causing irritation.  A face wash stays in contact with your skin for less than one minute, so all those fancy ingredients don’t have the time or strength to do much of anything miraculous. Save your money on those pricey cleansers!

CeraVe’s SA Renewing Cleanser has been my go-to and permanent staple to my beauty routine for about two years.  I found out about it as a loyal CeraVe fan (their products contain excellent ingredients and technology for the money and convenience) and because I needed something a bit more heavy duty on makeup removal than their hydrating version.  My skin is also sensitive, so I needed something gentle enough not totally strip my skin and to keep it balanced.

What is it?

This one is going to be targeted to those who are combination/oily and are clog-prone. It is also a good option for a transition cleanser for those who get more oily in the summer time, or when you need a heavier-duty formula to combat that super SPF.

It does not contain dyes or fragrance (yay for sensitive skin), foams up which is an indicator that it’s going to break through oil and grease, and includes salicylic acid which lightly exfoliates and penetrates pores to clean them out and also gives it it’s namesake.  The description on Ulta’s website does a nice job of summing it up:

CeraVe’s SA Renewing Cleanser exfoliates and detoxifies to remove dirt and oil while softening and smoothing skin. Unlike some exfoliating cleansers, CeraVe’s SA Renewing Cleanser does not contain harsh beads or grains and is gentle on skin. It better prepares skin for essential hydration by helping to slough off dead skin cells while cleansing. And, like all CeraVe products, it hydrates and helps restore skin’s protective barrier.

Benefits:

  • Developed with dermatologists
  • Detoxifies and exfoliates to remove dirt and oil
  • Salicylic acid softens and smooths skin
  • Three essential ceramides help repair the skin barrier
  • Enriched with antioxidant vitamin D
  • Gentle and non-drying
  • Non-comedogenic and non-irritating
  • Fragrance free

Ingredients:

What I like about CeraVe products is that they include an impressive array of ingredients that benefit the skin barrier – glycerin, niacinamide, ceramides and hyaluronic acid.  Together these help to nourish and protect the top layer of your skin that keeps moisture in and bad things out. I guarantee you won’t find a better-priced option with all the goodies in there like this one.

Purified Water, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Glycerin, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Niacinamide, Gluconolactone, Sodium Methylcocoyl Taurate, PEG-150 Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate, Salicylic Acid, Ceramide 6-11, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 1, Hyaluronic Acid, Cholesterol Sodium Benzoate, Zea Mays (Corn) Oil, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Cholecalciferol, Phytosphingosine, Xanthan Gum, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide

Application:

I found that one whole squirt was too much, so I do about a half.  It comes out in a clear watery-gel like consistency with no smell and no gritty particles. I rub it in the palms of my hands with some water and it begins to suds up into a rich soapy lather.  I then rub it around in circles on my face making sure to spend extra time in my trouble areas – on and around my nose, forehead, and chin.  I do rub this on my eye makeup and luckily don’t have to tug much for it to be effective.  I do double-cleanse because I’m so clog-prone and get oily throughout the day, but those of you who don’t have those problems or don’t wear heavy makeup should be OK with one pass.

I wash my face and it feels clean but not squeaky clean.  Just a pleasant clean with a good foundation for my serums and moisturizers.  There’s not leftover residue, however this stuff does get pretty sudsy so if you do too much you can feel like you have to keep rinsing to get it all off.

Packaging:

This is a nice frosted clear plastic pump bottle.  It closes easily for travel, and I’ve never had a problem with it leaking.  It always pumps out what I expect it to, and stands up sturdily in the shower.  No frills, but nice for the category.

Overall:

Overall I love this cleanser because it does what it’s meant to do, at an affordable price, and conveniently available at almost any drugstore.  It has better ingredients than what you’ll find in most, and it’s a reliable formulation that helps keep my pores clean while being appropriate for my aging (cry face) skin. Whether or not the ceramides, SA and HAs actually can get deep down to do what they’re meant to do, I really don’t care.  Even if it’s a little bit, it helps.  And if it doesn’t, the product still works appropriately and I’m not counting the dollar signs after each wash watching the formula go down the drain.

It’s sensitive enough for me to use after peels, and I use it on my face, neck, chest and upper shoulder/back area with no issues.  All places I can break out (blegh).

If you’re in the market for a new cleanser because you find yourself seeing a lot of leftovers when you tone, or were oily and need something that will help with acne that doesn’t feel like a tingling nightmare on your face, this is one I highly recommend.  I’m going to take off .5 stars though, because I do have to double cleanse.

Overall: 4.5/5

Packaging: 5/5

Price: $$$$$

Have a CeraVe product you love? Drop us a line in the comments.

Product Review: belif’s The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb

As ReadHead readers and friends will know, I am pretty upfront about the struggles of my skin both as an early teen and continues in adulthood.  While I’ve thankfully never struggled with the extremes of the worst, I’ve experienced, and continue to experience, the bits of bad things that add up to being detractors of beautiful skin.

One of the hardest products for me to find is a suitable moisturizer.  I am guessing there are a lot of you out there like me, the Goldie Locks of moisturizers – too oily, not enough moisture, ingredients break me out, causes skin irritation, not enough skin-beneficial ingredients….on and on.  I definitely don’t turn my nose up to drugstore finds which have some excellent products with good technology for the money (I’ll review a few of those) but I’m also willing to drop some coin on the thing that will work for me because most just do not.

The Introduction:

I ran into the JC Penny Sephora since it was closer to where I was running errands to pick up what I was currently using that I used up the last drop.  They don’t offer all the same products as a true Sephora store and didn’t have the Drunk Elephant La La Retro I was currently using, so I went on the hunt to see if there was a new relationship to be made.  La La Retro is pretty good, but we were transitioning from winter to spring which changes my skin, and it wasn’t HG (holy grail) status for performance or price.

I was also doing some research for a client looking at packaging and in a sea of overdone sameness this one caught my eye as a Korean brand and therefore worthy of a closer look.  It has about ten lines of ingredients ranging from every botanical and antioxidant you could think of on the box, so I pulled out my phone to look up reviews on my trusted sites and into my bin it went.

THIS, the True Cream Moisturizing Bomb from belif, IS my holy grail.  For a skincare expert to say HG status, well, that’s a league all in its own and its also a Certified ReadHead best.  Read on!

What it is:

Belif is a Korean skincare brand that touts itself as the most truthful skincare company that focuses on superior botanical ingredients, safety, honesty and efficacy originating from Europe hundreds of years ago.  They are definitely on the natural and botanical side and approach skincare as a natural benefit vs. the scientific cutting-edge new innovation to hit the interwebs.

I’m typically the science-buyer focused around results and clinical studies, so this one is a bit off the radar for me. Truthfully their brand positioning pangs me in a way that my day-job background just won’t let me let go, but their product is so good that I’ll give them a pass. ::Belif – call me!::  This one definitely got consideration due to reviews and ingredients.

There are two belif products that have entered cult status – the Aqua Bomb and the True Cream Moisturizing Bomb.  The Aqua Bomb is a lighter formulation geared towards those with oily skin and may be a better option for some in the summer and in humid climates.  The True Cream is for those who are on the dryer side.  I use a lot of anti-acne and aging ingredients which can dry my skin, so while I’m oily/combo by nature, I went for the option that would help keep my skin barrier in tact and hydrated.

Ingredients:

Remember me mentioning the ten lines of ingredients on the package?  They are impressive.  There’s no fillers in there.  Where I will say that it’s not always the case that more is better, if your skin likes natural products it will love this.  It does have traces of alcohol and ‘cones in it as well as a slight fragrance that occurs naturally, which could be problematic if you’re very sensitive to these ingredients.

In happy excess are hydrators like glycerin and traces of oils (traces being the optimal word here to someone who gets clogged pores), and botanicals/extracts. Noticeably absent is SPF and targeted anti-aging ingredients like retinoids or AHA/BHA acids.  This means you’ll need to apply them separately.

Derivatives of vitamin C like L-ascorbic acid that you’re typically used to seeing will not be listed.  You’ll have to do more digging into the benefits of botanicals to really understand what they’re bringing to the table and quite honestly is one of the frustrations I have with natural products over the more straightforward scientific approach.

belif – and other natural brands that fall into this camp – should better educate their consumer about why they are choosing what they are and the benefits of those ingredients.

From Sephora’s website:

-Comfrey Leaf: Detoxifies skin, leaving it smooth, soft, and clear.

Water, Glycerin, Cyclohexasiloxane, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Dipropylene Glycol, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, 1,2-Hexanediol, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Triethylhexanoin, Stearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, PEG-40 Stearate, Saccharomyces/Viscum Album (Mistletoe) Ferment Extract, Lactobacillus/Soybean Ferment Extract, Saccharomyces/Imperata Cylindrica Root Ferment Extract, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteayl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Sorbitan Stearate, Stearic Acid, PEG-100 Stearate, Dimethicone, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Poncirus Trifoliata Fruit Extract, Panthenol, *Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, *Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, *Nepeta Cataria Extract, *Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Leaf Extract, *Baptisia Tinctoria Root Extract, *Stellaria Media (Chickweed) Extract, **Alchemilla Vulgaris Leaf Extract, **Viola Tricolor Extract, **Rosa Damascena Flower Extract, **Spiraea Ulmaria Flower Extract, **Althaea Officinalis Root Extract, Symphytum Officinale Leaf Extract, Trifolium Pratense (Clover) Flower Extract, Achillea Millefolium Flower Extract, Euphrasia Officinalis Extract, Thuja Occidentalis Leaf Extract, Menyanthes Trifoliata Leaf Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Chelidonium Majus Extract, Urea, Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid, Glycosyl Trehalose, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Trisodium EDTA, Tromethamine, ***Fragrance, Citronnellol, Limonene. *Napiers Original Formula. **Napiers Moisture Formula. ***Fragrances of Natural Origin.

Packaging:

The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb comes in an understated box with a texturized cardboard feel, light blues, black and white.  It’s appropriate for it’s earthy vibe and it’s price tag.  The jar itself is a sturdy and white plastic jar with a black plastic top.  It feels sleek, does the job, but I always prefer a pump for sanitary and product stability reasons.

Application & Consistency:

I opened the jar to find an opaque white cream that was heading more towards a typical moisturizer with a bit of a gel-like consistency and some slip, rather than anything super heavy or whipped.  It had a very slight clean, citrus smell to it which didn’t scream chemical, and wasn’t overpoweringly flowery or earthy as some botanicals can be.  These are both deal-breakers for those with very sensitive skin (or noses).

I use a Q-tip to apply my moisturizers from a jar to save any contamination from my fingers.  I scooped some up, dabbed it across my face, and here’s where the magic comes in – smoothed it on.

This spread on like a dream.  Thin yet substantial, moisturizing but not oily, calming but not tingling.  It sank right in to my skin and left a matte yet hydrated look in impressively appropriate timing – meaning not instantly which means watery and alcohol-filled, and not forever and risking too heavy or emollient.  I didn’t glow like a disco ball, but when I touched my skin you felt that moisture was there.  Wow!  Did I just stumble upon the 8th Wonder of the World? This porridge was JUST. RIGHT.

As we all know with skin care and skin like ours that is finicky and reactive, the true test is the days afterwards.  This stuff continued to power through and provide me unparalleled moisture and if anything, helped to clear up some of my pimples likely caused by the stress of products on my skin.  I’ve been around the block and don’t overhype products for that reason, but my skin has never – even after peels and scrubs – felt so soft.

I’ve noticed my skin elasticity on my neck getting a little firmer because it’s being more properly hydrated and bouncy (and not breaking out praise the Lord) and my decollete, which is prone to wrinkling due to being blasted by the sun over the years mixed with how I sleep and that I have to wear substantial over the shoulder boulder holders to function everyday, is soft and hydrated more than it ever has been.

I actually look forward to and enjoy putting this on each time.  I haven’t said that about a moisturizer in well…maybe ever.

Overall:

I went into this purchase with no expectation given it was a brand I had never heard of, and was in a category which has let me down in the past.  This is absolutely, hands down the best moisturizer that I have ever purchased.  And, the fact that it has out-performed and cut my cost in half to replace my other go-to, puts a smile on my face and some dough in my pocket.

For you to love this you’ll need to really understand it’s purpose because it’s going to do only that – hydrate and calm your skin so that it functions in an optimal way.  It’s not a super anti-ager, nor is it a multi-tasker to get you out the door in one step.  This is designed for the no-frills simple-yet-effective type of person who is ingredient-conscious, or those like me that already have targeted products to take care of the heavy lifting.

For $38 for 1.68 oz, it’s not outrageously priced, either, and is approachable for the average skin-conscious consumer.  I’ve had it for about two months and use it twice a day.  I see it lasting for another month or so.  As I mentioned I’m using the heavier/more moisturizing option and that seems to be OK for me in the summer, albeit right at the line on the most humid days.

Anytime a product does what it says, is affordable, improves my skin complexion and function AND doesn’t break me out in pimples or a rash, it’s miracle-status.

This is one I highly suggest you run out and try (or get a sample of) yourself.  I’m looking forward to using this for years to come.

Overall: 5/5

*Certified ReadHead Best

Packaging: 4/5

Price: $$$$$

 

Have you tried the belif brand?  Drop us a line in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

ReadHead 2 Head: Skinceuticals C E Ferulic vs. Drunk Elephant C-Firma

If you’ve been around the cosmeceutical (that’s cosmetics/skincare with a pharmaceutical mentality) world for the past few years, you’ve likely heard of Skinceuticals’ C E Ferulic serum. Newer to the game is Drunk Elephant’s C-Firma serum, which leaves a girl to ask – who does it better?

A little background.

Skinceuticals, a subsidiary under the L’Oréal parent company, was one of the first to bring skincare + science to the masses and in ’94 brought their revolutionary skincare technology closer to the consumer by partnering with physicians to bring medical-grade ingredients to those like you and me. Launched around 2012, the Skinceuticals C E Ferulic was a serum ahead of it’s time, incorporating proven and new ingredients with promising results.  It boasts winning 24 beauty awards and quickly grew to beauty care cult status…for those who could afford it.

New to the skin care game and bringing with it a loud voice and a big stick, Drunk Elephant has exploded in the industry and quickly gained loyal followers.  Created by Tiffany Masterson and based off the promise of effective products that leave behind the known irritation triggers, Drunk Elephant’s unique ingredients (including it’s signature Marula oil) are both high-grade and effective while leaving those who are a bit more cause or source-conscious like a happy pachyderm.

The products

A lone star for many years, Skinceuticals C E Ferulic continues to grow in popularity but people can’t help but wonder if the Drunk Elephant C-Firma is a true dupe (meaning duplicate) for the high-end serum and half the cost.

Skinceuticals C E Ferulic

  • Cost: $165 USD
  • Size: 1 oz.
  • Packaging: No frills dark glass bottle with a dropper.  It’s straight forward and looks clean + clinical
  • Application: 3-4 drops to face and neck.  Smells like typical vitamin C and ferulic acid – like hotdogs.
  • Consistency: very watery and clear
Key Benefits & Ingredients:
  • 15% pure vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) provides visible anti-aging benefits, brightens skin and helps protect against oxidative stress
  • 1% vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) neutralizes free radicals and replenishes lipids
  • 0.5% ferulic acid enhances the antioxidant benefits of vitamins C
  • Shows improvement in the appearance of lines and wrinkles, loss of firmness and brightening your complexion
  • This vitamin C serum remains effective for a minimum of 72 hours
  • Evens skin tone and diminishes discoloration
  • The pH of the SkinCeuticals is patented, so no other product on the market has a pH between 2.5 and 3.0.  This is what keeps other companies from copying their serum verbatim.

Water, Ethoxydiglycol, Ascorbic Acid, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Laureth-23, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopherol, Triethanolamine, Ferulic Acid, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate

Drunk Elephant C-Firma

  • Cost: $80 USD
  • Size: 1 oz
  • Packaging: Opaque plastic pump with a twist top.  It’s bright and fun with a pop of orange on top of it’s oatmeal-colored earthy beige, and highlights it’s signature elephant logo
  • Application: 3-4 pumps for face and neck.  Newer versions have toned down the smell to be more earthy vs. hotdogs
  • Consistency: orange and a watery, viscous gel-like formulation.
Key Benefits & Ingredients:
  • Potent Antioxidant Complex (L-Ascorbic Acid 15%, Ferulic Acid, Vitamin E 1%): Works to firm and brighten the look and feel of skin while defending against the signs of photo aging, pollution, and other environmental stressors
  • Chronocyclin: An antiaging chronopeptide that provides the antioxidant benefits of vitamin D to skin.
  • Pumpkin Ferment Extract and Pomegranate Enzyme: Work to enzymatically digest surface dead skin cells.
  • Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer: Hydrates and plumps the appearance of fine lines while acting as a free-radical scavenger.
  • Has a pH level of 3.3 to 3.5, which Drunk Elephant believes is the key to a non-irritating, clinically-effective formulation that delivers real results

*Duplicated ingredients from Skinceuticals are in orange

Water, Ethoxydiglycol, Ascorbic Acid, Glycerin, Laureth-23, Lactobacillus/Pumpkin Ferment Extract, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Ferulic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Chondrus Crispus Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Lactobacillus/Punica Granatum Fruit Ferment Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Juice Extract, Phyllanthus Emblica Fruit Extract, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Tocopherol, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Acetyl Glucosamine, Hydrolyzed Quinoa, Glutamylamidoethyl Imidazole, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Tetrahydrodiferuloylmethane, Tetrahydrodemethoxydiferuloylmethane, Tetrahydrobisdemethoxydiferuloylmethane, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Glycine, Sucrose, Maltodextrin, Propanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Xanthan Gum, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Isohexadecane, Polysorbate 60.

And the winner is

I have been a Drunk Elephant fan-girl since this product came out, and have turned my nose up at purchasing something twice the price.  Especially since Drunk Elephant has produced results and has lots of great ingredients.

It was only after I received a great promotion on Skinceuticals that I decided to give it a go and I have to say that for my acne-prone skin, it is the winner.

Why you ask?

Skinceuticals had the least amount of ingredients, which my finicky skin appreciated.  It was not greasy and sunk in quickly.  The smell, although not my favorite, comes with the territory of medical-grade ingredients.  It seemed to perform the best on me by showing results and keeping my skin clear.

Although Drunk Elephant has a lot of great antioxidants and moisturizers in their product, the reason this doesn’t win overall is that my skin just does not do well with oils.  It performed on me, but it caused me to have clogged pores (which are already craters) continuously due to the Marula oil.  It also had a tendency to oxidize a bit at times and show a bit of an orangeish hue which could cause issues for the very fair skinned. It does excel in engaging packaging and providing additional benefits with more antioxidants.  Also, THAT PRICE.  You can’t argue with that.

So when it comes to the question on if C-Firma is a complete dupe, I have to say no.  However, I can’t say I don’t struggle with the price of Skinceuticals, and if I ran out and there wasn’t a sale, I’d be OK with DE.  Drunk Elephant still performs really well and those that have dry skin or aren’t prone to clogging may really dig this one.

Have you tried either?  Do you agree? Drop us a line in the comments.

 

 

Putting It To the Test: Drinking Collagen (Part 1)

Collagen is a noteworthy buzz word in the world of skincare and biology.  It’s the thing you never think of until you rapidly start losing it.

Let’s nerd out a bit about what collagen is.  We’re going to get slightly scientific here, but stick with me.

Collagen comes from the Greek word “kolla,” meaning glue.  That’s a great way of thinking what collagen’s function is in the body.  Made of up naturally-occurring amino acids in the body, collagen plays a major role in protein function.  We all know protein is important for strong muscles; think of collagen as important for making the protein work as it should.  Collagen also provides a connective network within the skin that provides support, repairs trauma, and outwardly maintains a youthful, glowing and bouncy appearance to the skin.

Over time our collagen levels deteriorate, and at an exponential rate around the age of 40.  This leads to sagging, dull skin that loses the bounce and glow.  I like to think of the pinch test – imagine pinching the cheek of a five year old (it feels firm and bounces right back) and then pinching the cheek of old Granny Glenda (feels malleable and more like loose skin than firm muscle).  Collagen breakdown starts to show up in hallowed eyes (sunken under your eye lids), deflated cheeks and jowls (flaps of skin under your jaw caused by gravity).

OMG.  We are going to be SO SEXY when we’re older….

The rate at which this happens is driven by genetics, but is also further exacerbated by sun exposure, smoking, diet especially high in sugar, free-radical stress and constant strain like running (think of your face constantly being stretched as you bounce upon the pavement).  I knew I had an excuse for not working out…I digress.

Medical News Today has a great write up if you want to further satiate your appetite for science.

Collagen in beauty care

You will hear collagen as a touted ingredient in skin care until you’re blue in the face.  The idea seems promising as it makes sense that if you know you’re going to lose it, why not slather/ingest/inject yourself with it to give yourself what your body needs.

For as many believers in collagen, there are seemingly as many nay-sayers.  The skeptics say that while there are benefits to the moisturizing effect, the molecules that make up collagen are too large to be absorbed into the skin and therefore any skin-building properties would be lost.  Injected collagen from fillers disappears over time, and ingested collagen likely doesn’t make it past the acids in the stomach and digestive process.

Collagen is also usually derived from bovine (cow) sources which prove to be issues for those who live a non-meat lifestyle, and can pose health risks if being derived from speculative sources.

Time to experiment

Admittedly, my skincare routine is on-fleek but my diet is left TBD (to be desired.  It’s definitely determined – lackluster at best).  I have noticed that I don’t get enough protein and was on the hunt for a protein shake.  They basically all suck in my opinion when it comes to drinkability and after five thought all hope was lost.

I had been reading posts about people drinking collagen for my hobby job (this) and found one while doing a brand exercise for my day job.  I ended up purchasing the powdered version from Vital Proteins, which has the backing of Jennifer Anniston and professional athletic teams.  The goal is that I will get more protein in my diet which will alleviate those sudden pangs of BURGER NOW and because I’m a sucker for anything that will make my skin look good I’m willing to give it a go.

I’m going to drink it for 90 days, checking in with ReadHead readers around day 30 and again at 90 to give you the update on before and after pics, and my experience collagen-ing.

What do you think?  Believe the hype or think it’s fluffier than a newborn bovine’s ears?  We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.

 

 

 

 

Summer’s Hottest Makeup Trend In 7 Minutes

In a world of skincare in twelve steps and makeup with five layers, I’m excited about this summer’s hottest makeup trend. My daily messy-bun and sweatpants-self hopes it’s here to stay.

Drum roll: natural yet defined brows, understated eyeshadow, mascara and a swipe or five of bronzer. #Boom.

It makes sense that as the humidity kicks in and the heats starts sizzling, we are spending more time outside which means fun in the sun (and water) and sweat.  But interestingly it’s going a step farther this summer because even the best winged eyeliner is starting to fall back into the [eye]shadows.  Today’s magazine covers have replaced dramatic eyes with muted nude that take a back seat to wispy lashes, and dustings of freckles not covered by foundations make an appearance.  Freckles?! My heart can’t be any happier.

Time to put away the smoky charcoals, eyeliner and glittery get up.

How to get the look.

Eyeshadow: Opt for a versatile nude shade with some slight sheen to give you some brightness.  Add a lighter highlighter color in the corners for some extra pop.  Covergirl makes some great nude options in their Eye Enhancers line and bonus they are easy to find and so inexpensive! Have fun with a swipe of color that matches your favorite summer drink.

Lashes: growth serums are all the rage these days.  You can read my post about how to get those mega lashes on ReadHead which will give you that flirty, beachy vibe.  The trick is to be enhanced yet natural.  Put away the super thick falsie look-a-likes and opt for lengthening and fanning.  Do a quick eyelash curl and put on a coat or two of your favorite mascara. I like Benefit’s Roller Lash which has the best brush for lengthening I’ve come across and hear there’s a dupe from Covergirl called Lash Sensational.  Time to make a trip to the drug store!

Finish it off: Follow up with your favorite SPF, swipe some brow color for definition and hit the high points with your favorite bronzer.  That’s your forehead, bridge of your nose, chin, and cheeks.  Just a neutral swipe though, the goal is to look sun-kissed, not sun-mauled.

You can achieve this look in under 7 minutes and I’ll challenge you to skip the BB cream or foundation ::gasp!::.  It’s a little scary at first but dip your toe in.  I promise you’ll be fine.

Your skin will thank you for its own allotted summer break. You can always hide behind your sunglasses and hat, like me!

Have a favorite summertime routine? Drop us a line in the comments.

 

Brighten & Tighten: Eyes Talking To You

I asked my Facebook network if there was a topic they’d like me to write about and the top answer was addressing dark under-eye circles.  I’ll take it a step further to give ReadHead readers some tips to go from oh gosh to posh in no time.

Under-eye Circles & Puffiness

Under-eye circles and puffiness are caused by many culprits – genetics, fatigue, diet, allergies, age, sun and free radical damage, and trauma to the eye area.  For some, genetics will prove that under eye circles are inevitable, but there are some things you can do to stave off those shadows as long as you can.

Getting more sleep, staying out of the sun + using SPF are no brainers.  Making sure not to tug on your lower eyes when applying eyeliner or over-exfoliating the delicate skin around your eyes which can cause skin to look crepey and bring blood vessels closer to the surface of the skin and more visible are causes not usually top of mind.

The body has a lymphatic system that helps filter toxins and pollutants.  Your face retains water and lymphatic juice (ew, but I can’t think of a better word to describe it) which creates puffiness and can build up, putting pressure on blood vessels in one of the most thinly-skinned areas on the body.  Irritants like allergies or the common cold also cause the lymphatic system to work overtime while trying to flush out the toxins.

Facial massage designed to drain the lymphatic build-up will decrease overall puffiness, increase circulation and help to remove the pollution from your skin.  You may see increased skin elasticity, better skin contour, brighter under-eye area, less acne and an overall anti-aging effect of lesser wrinkles due to muscle relaxation – and increased happiness!  Who doesn’t love a good massage.

This video is long, but when I commit the time to do this routine I find that my skin looks great.  I mean, look at this woman.  Who WOULDN’T want her glowing, amazing skin??

Makeup & Other Tricks of the Trade

When you can’t get rid of those pesky circles, makeup and proper skin care is your best bet.

Quick tips to hide those circles:

  • Invest in a skin or eye cream rich in peptides and antioxidants like vitamin E which is proven to decrease the look of dark circles, and vitamin K, a lesser known vitamin that aids in wound healing including bruising.  Ferulic acid and vitamin c also help to clear malasma or skin discolorations caused by the sun.  My milia-prone under eyes love Dr. Dennis Gross’ Ferulic and Retinol Triple Eye Correction serum.  It’s lightweight, doesn’t clog my skin, and keeps them bright and refined.  Those with dry skin may need a heavier moisturizer.  If you’re on a budget, no need to splurge for an eye cream.  A well-formulated face moisturizer will do the trick!
  • A little Visine and a light tight line to your eyes (this is the skin inside your bottom eyelashes) with white or beige liner with brighten the whites of your eyes and give them an instant pop.  Curling your lashes and some lifting mascara (try a navy for a brighter take on the traditional black) makes them appear bright and wide.
  • Eyeshadow a shade or two lighter than your skin tone swept on your upper lid and in the corners of your eyes (and slightly under your lower lashes right by the tear duct) will reflect light and cut down on dullness.
  • A well-formulated highlighting concealer dotted under your eyes and on your lids can create brightness. My favorite happens to be Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer which doesn’t crease, look cakey or break down however covers exceptionally well.  Look for products that contain mica or silica.  These ingredients help reflect light which can hide and brighten.  Mixing some highlighter with moisturizer can also have a great effect while being economical.

A common misconception is that covering dark eye circles requires a foundation or concealer much lighter than your skin color.  This looks unnatural and can give you raccoon eyes in reverse.  Try finding one that matches your skin tone but is formulated to cover well, while boasting highlighting properties.

Lastly, break out the ole cucumbers, tea bags or spoons in the freezer.  Give yourself a good massage and stick these babies on your peepers for a detoxed and refreshed look.  Make some cucumber water and sit back and relax while you’re at it!

Have a go-to that helps with your under eye circles or puffiness?  Drop us a line in the comments.