Product Review: The Ordinary 30% AHA + 2% BHA Peeling Solution

BOO! Nope, it’s not your friend’s gory Halloween makeup, it’s The Ordinary’s 30% AHA + 2% BHA peeling solution! I posted a picture of myself on Facebook and immediately got questions on PRP (or the vampire facial), getting into a fight with a cheese grater, a chimney sweep and my favorite – my husband proclaiming he did not inflict any damage to his wife. Take a look at my goofy face. For many reasons it’s a little frightening.Ordinary_30

The Ordinary is a great little company that has taken the beauty market by storm. Anything but ordinary, they make really good, straightforward products that are both effective and very affordable. It’s a great way to inexpensively try things you’ve never heard of before like HA spheres and squalene. They’ve also recently been incorporated at Sephora, which is an interesting play for them to bring in lower cost options but goes to show you they’ve been making enough noise in the industry for the big players to notice.

A quick intro to acids

Acids are the absolute most essential part to my skincare routine and I suggest that Readhead readers incorporate them as well.  My skin both loves it, and requires it. I have dehydrated oily skin.  Think of the dehydrated skin as saran wrap over oil.  If you don’t get that layer off, the oil gets trapped in my large pores and breakout city. For drier skins, they may be too delicate for harsh scrubs and a lack of cell turnover can produce dull, crepey skin.

The main thing to know about acids is they fall into basically two camps – AHA (or alpha hydroxy acids) or BHA (beta hydroxy acids). AHAs are great at removing the “glue” that holds the top layers of skin together.  They will brighten and tighten.  Common names are glycolic, lactic and mandelic acids and come in formulations from 7-75%.  They are great for resurfacing, treating sun damage and fine lines. BHAs are generally lower percentages, with most functioning properly at 2%.  They bypass sebum (aka oil) to get into the pore to unclog them and are generally a form of salicylic acid. You can see some peeling at higher percentages, but this is more of a getting down and dirty type of acid vs. the AHA which will show immediate brightening effects.  Rest assured though, they are both acids and require careful use and SPF!

The Ordinary’s 30% AHA + 2% BHA

As mentioned above, it should make sense to you then why formulation in The Ordinary’s 30% AHA + 2% BHA has a much AHA higher percentage than the BHA.  But, it’s great that this formulation includes both. especially for skin types like mine – read anything other than very sensitive or reactive.  I would also like to throw out there that if you don’t plan on a good SPF/hat/shade game, then please skip this.  Not only will you undo any of the benefits, but you’ll also make your skin more photosensitive.

Ingredients:

Here’s the ingredients from The Ordinary’s site: Glycolic Acid, Aqua (Water), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Daucus Carota Sativa Extract, Propanediol, Cocamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Salicylic Acid, Potassium Citrate, Lactic Acid, Tartaric Acid, Citric Acid, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Xanthan gum, Polysorbate 20, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Ethylhexylglycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.

You’ll see the AHAs glycolic, tactic and tartaric and citric acids listed which help get to that 30% formulation. Salicylic acid is the BHA.  Then you’ve got a host of hydrators and soothers like sodium hyaluronate, sodium hydroxide, glycerin and what gives this stuff it’s signature (and frightening) blood-red color is the Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf extract.

Packaging and Application:

This states, and I agree, that this is for seasoned skincare folks who know how to use and can tolerate high percentages of acids. It comes in a bottle with a dropper.  No frills, but looks clean and in line with the Ordinary’s slightly hipster anti-packaging flare. I started with a clean, dry face and put a few drops on my hands and then slathered it on.

The reddish-pink color was a bit shocking but I have to admit that I appreciated that you could easily see where you put the peel on.  I then patted in a few extra goes on my forehead, nose, chin and cheeks which need some extra de-clogging. You’ll see that is the more streaky areas from the picture. I let it sit for 10 minutes; it was very simple to use and didn’t require extra steps or tools. I can dig that.

Result

I am very acclimated to OTC acids and I could feel this one.  It certainly wasn’t unbearable, but I could feel it.  Definitely do not use this with any open cuts, acne, after sun exposure or recent exfoliation.

I rinsed it off and voila! My face was tight, bright and shiny.  Here’s my face again with no filter and no makeup…or hair styling for that matter.  See Readhead readers, there’s nothing but keepin’ it real here.Ordinary_30after

You’ll see I’ve got a nice glow customary of AHA peels.  My pores were temporarily diminished and the majority were clean.  I have two stubborn blackheads that didn’t budge though, unfortunately.

I decided to wait a couple of days to review this to see what happened.  My skin felt somewhat dry, but did not visibly flake. That ultra bright glow did fade but as the days went by my skin was still brighter than previous.  My one caveat to that was that I broke out in tiny white heads in a few places.  Since you’ve read my pimple puzzle post I knew that this was caused by some irritation from this peel.  They weren’t ragers, but they popped up and came to a head very quickly. I had read some reviews from others that this happened to. I don’t believe in purging, especially my skin since I’m not starting a skincare routine from scratch, so I chalked this up to irritation. For those who have sensitive skin, you may want to patch test first. I would also caution using this on your neck or your chest area without patch testing as these areas are typically more sensitive and delicate than your facial skin.

Final assessment

This did what a mask of this type should do.  It was kind of fun to use in the process as well!  The ingredients are good and YOU CANNOT BEAT THE PRICE.  It’s a whopping $7.20 compared to the $80 that my beloved Drunk Elephant Sukari Babyfacial retails for.

It’s got a lot going for it, and now that I’m basically back to being a poor college student (more on that in another post) I think this is a great option for budget-seekers. Where it does fall down for me though, is the irritation. For someone of my skin type it is missing that extra blend of luxuriousness like the Babyfacial which left me with similar results, no irritation and missing that feeling of dry “if you rubbed your finger over my skin it would sound like Tupperware” skin afterwards.

When you’re talking $8 vs. $80 though, you’re willing to forego some things.  I’d recommend this one, but with a cautionary note.  It’s high powered and makes no excuses. It lacks overall availability like a drugstore product, but you can easily order it online or stop by Sephora or another Ordinary shop.

Overall: 4/5

Price: $$$$$

Packaging:  5/5

 

Have you used The Ordinary products? Drop us a line in the comments.

Blondes have more fun with purple shampoo

If you’ll notice on my blog, my reviews skew heavily towards skincare products.  There’s minimal mentions of haircare.  Why is that?  Well because I’ve been blessed with hair that doesn’t need a ton of attention – until I started lightening it. And then my mind was blown.  And I’m still getting acclimated. There is a whole other world (and routine) for blondes. And when you’re a redhead, getting there and that routine is not so straightforward.

Balayage, ombre, babylights and platinum blonde tones are all the rage.  The process alone of a cut and color can cost you $150-$300+ for one visit, plus the cost of upkeep. Not to mention the dreaded “it’s going to take a few visits to get you there” which in all fairness can be true, but feels like buying new Jordans and then not getting picked for the basketball team.

You have dreams of becoming a blonde bombshell but here’s the other bombshell –  to do it right, it’s going to cost you. 

And that’s what ReadHead is here for, to show you how you can love your blonde and know what you’re getting into.

Post-blonde care – banishing the brass

Ever since balayaging my hair a few years ago I have been on the hunt for products that don’t let me down.  Different than brunettes or black-haired beauties, red hair immediately starts to pull brassy.  Any regrowth looks brassy.  It’s like we’re born with sass – and brass.  Nothing is as disheartening as giving up a whole day in the salon, gifting a kidney and then SASSBRASSIFRASS  starts to creep in. I loathe it as much as those who watch one of my favorite TV shows – Antiques Roadshow (nerd alert) – and think they have something plated gold and OH NO! It’s brass.

I know my dark-haired friends will attest to this.  That yellow has got. to. go.

Why the brass?

I won’t even begin to pretend like an expert on coloring.  But, I’ve appreciated going to the smaller salons and seeing the work in progress.  There’s letters and numbers galore.  It reminds me of my recent chemistry course.  Ladies and gents, hair styling expertise is no joke.  And it’s easy to see how it goes wrong all too often.

Lifting hair, whether using a high-lift color or bleach, uses ammonia and other chemicals to open up the hair cuticle and remove the color.  It’s a precise and potentially very damaging process left in the hands of someone untrained, or not familiar with lifting your type and color of hair. *Pro tip – I suggest when you call to make an appointment with someone new that you mention/ask for someone who has experience in your hair type and ask for an in-person consultation.

When the hair is lifted, it is then toned with other colors or glazes, to give it that fresh-out-of-the-salon look.  Over time, washing, mineral deposits, sun damage and environmental free radicals can strip, dull and even turn hair in shades of yellow or orange.  Before you go running to the salon for another touch-up, here’s some tips to help you keep that blonde, or silver for you mature foxes, bright.

Prolonging your investment

Use a purple shampoo.  Purple is on the opposite end of the color wheel from yellow, and will help to cancel out those brassy tones.  It won’t effect other colors, for example if you darken your roots.  It does, however only target blonde so your blonde pieces will get brighter, not your whole head.  Some of my favorites are:

  • Kevin Murphy Blonde Angel (higher end) – smells great, works well, is gentle and what a cool package.  However, it is prone to leaking. But it just looks sleek in your shower. You’ll need to find a salon that carries this unless you trust Amazon.
  • Pravana’s The Perfect Blonde (mid range) – smells divine, salt/sulfate/paraben free and highly pigmented.  Check out my review on their line here. Available at Ulta and other retailers.
  • Clairol Shimmer Lights (economical) – this stuff is a powerhouse worker and an OG to blondes and stylists.  It doesn’t have the best smell (almost like old lady perfume) and it does tend to really dry you out, but if you’ve made a terrible oops and need something that will whip you into shape without spending all your money, this one’s it!

Fall in love with dry shampoo. Typically as you go blonde, your hair gets roughed up and is drier.  The more you wash it, the more you’re also apt to dull your blonde color.  Dry shampoo will allow you to extend time between washes, thus protecting your locks. Some that I’ve liked:

  • Suave (economical) – this is my go-to.  Smells nice, does the job, and doesn’t break the bank.  You can get this anywhere!
  • Not Your Mother’s (economical) – this one has a cult following and is cheap to boot.  While I liked this one, it isn’t as easy to find as my Suave favorite, so it doesn’t make the top of my list. It also has no scent for those who prefer something more natural.
  • Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo (higher end) – you can get this one from Sephora.  Smells great, gives fantastic volume, and works really well.  More expensive than the others, and does have a powerful smell which may be too much for those with sensitive noses.  It can also look a little powdery if you spray it too targeted/close to your head.

Protect your locks with hats and sunscreen – although the sun can naturally lighten hair, it doesn’t do so with your perfect golden hue customized just for you in mind.  You have to keep in mind that your hair has been altered from what it was when you were a young kid running care free around the neighborhood.  Blonde is an investment, protect it.

Fortify it with strengtheners – options like Olaplex Hair Perfector #3 is a life-saver for blondes and those with hair that is prone to breakage.  Not a conditioner, these strengthening treatments use proteins and other amino acids to strengthen the hair cuticle which protects it from damage, fallout and breakage.  As a side effect, it does make hair softer, but shouldn’t replace conditioners.

Invest in a deep conditioning mask and leave-in conditioning products – the lighter you go, the more you need to quench your hair’s thirst. Use a deep conditioning mask once a week to keep your hair silky, and finish it off with a great leave-in which can act as a heat protectant to do double duty.

Use a cool rinse when leaving the shower – just like your pores, heat and steam open up the hair cuticle.  Using a cool rinse to seal down your hair cuticle before leaving the shower will keep your products in (including any toners on your hair) and give it some extra shine in the process.

ReadHead’s thoughts on going blonde

So is going blonde worth it?  Yes! I happen to love it because it is versatile for my wardrobe, and cuts down on the pinkness of the slight rosacea in my skin. I love the lift it gives my hair and that it air-dries wonderfully into a faux “I spent time on this” Cali-vibe wave.

But before you walk in with that toe-head bright blonde picture of yourself when you were four, talk to your stylist about what the cost to get you there AND KEEP IT will be.

Taking a few of these steps, even by interjecting a little purple shampoo into your routine, will bring new life to your blonde and leave you feeling like that beachy beauty or ring-the-alarm Aphrodite that you are.

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

 

Product Review: Jergens Wet Skin Body Moisturizer

Does this describe you?

Hate the effort of putting on lotion but loathe dry skin?

Easily get cold when getting out of the shower so you rush to the finish line sans adding back needed moisture?

Use lotion but just never feel like you have enough moisture afterwards?

Although embarrassed by your snaky scaly self, you somehow do nothing about it?

Hate the feel or smell of lotion?

Think lotion is just for women?

Introducing your new best friend and my favorite product I’ve stumbled upon in 2018 – Jergens Wet Skin Body Moisturizer

What it is

Jergens Wet Skin Body Moisturizer is a silky, non-sticky feeling lotion (boom! #5) jam packed with additional emollient moisturizers and oils (bang! #3) that you use IN the shower (ca-chow! #2) that allows you to quickly slather it on (bye Felicia! #1 and #4) and makes your skin soft like a well-oiled cabana girl (or boy) plus smell like a tropical coconut paradise that is both appropriate for men and women (I got 99 problems but #5 or #6 ain’t one).  The technology in this is slightly different than the other in-shower lotions I’ve tried which instruct you to use during your shower and wash off, like an extra-moisturizing body wash.

This in-shower moisturizer is used after you turn your shower off and while you’re still wet.  Then, you just simply pat dry.  It works by entering your pores while they are open from the steam, and the oils trapping moisture into the skin.

Not having to stand in my bathroom freezing your coconuts off while slathering lotion on? Now THIS I can get on board with.

Packaging

The packaging comes in a soft blue plastic bottle, similar to what you’d experience with any body wash.  The bottle tapers to a wider bottom which also has the flip-top lid.  This provides a sturdy base to keep it from tipping over and eliminates any need for shaking to get the product out.  It looks appropriate for a man or woman’s shower.  The blue although pale, does not come across as overly masculine and there’s no flowery imagery which shouts girl-power.  It’s edges are rounded and although no frills packaging, it was well-thought out and is nice for the category. It’s a utility product which easily blends in with all your shower basics.

Application

When I squeezed the lotion out, it was a consistency you’d expect.  It’s a lotion, but much more oil-based.  It’s thinner, but not runny.  The creamy color also has some transparency to it. I put about a silver dollar-sized dollop in my left hand, and then scooped a little here and there to place on my arms, legs, stomach, chest, and back area so that it was evenly spread.  Next, I got to work rubbing it in everywhere.  My hands slid around like I was putting oil on, but there was no sticky/oily/tacky feel.  It was almost as if it dissipated into water.

I lathered myself up for about 30 seconds, making sure to pay special attention to my knees, elbows and decollete area which tend to get dry.  It too so little time that I hadn’t begun to freeze in the shower yet and ta-dah!  I was finished.

I purchased the coconut which caused some apprehension on my end.  I do not like overly sweet or sugary smells.  This was great.  It smelled like coconut oil without the sugar and reminded me of being at the beach getting a tan (without the fake Banana Boat waft).  It also wasn’t overpowering that it would interfere with other stronger scents.

The first time I tried it, I wiped myself down after the shower.  I then tried it again with patting, and this seemed to work better, allowing the moisturizer to remain a bit longer and penetrate deeper.

Overall

If you can’t tell by my review, I absolutely love this product.  I find myself touching my shoulders and my decollete which have been blasted by the sun over the years and they are soft as a baby’s behind.  It’s not going to solve all the dry skin problems (please don’t use this on your face), but if you’re like me who’s shower water is may be heated by nuclear reactors and ANYTHING better will be an improvement, this is a great option.  If you’re already using great products, this will also help kick it up a notch.

For 10 oz. at $5.59 on Amazon or availability in just about any drugstore which always carry sales, you can’t beat the price and convenience on this product. Ulta typically has buy one get one half off sales, so I plan to stock up.

I highly recommend that men and women alike give this one a try! I’m rating this one as a Certified ReadHead Best!

Overall: 5/5 

*Certified ReadHead Best 

Price: $$$$$

Packaging: 5/5

Have an in-shower moisturizer or lotion you love? Drop us a line in the comments.

 

New year, new items: What’s in my beauty bag

Happy new year to all the ReadHead readers!  I can’t believe it’s been almost a year to the day that I’ve written my first post.  A big thank you to all who have supported my passion project.  If you’ve learned something new or tried something you liked, I’d love to hear it through the comments!

As a skincare fanatic, I try a lot of different items.  My goal is to give it to you straight, and to show you that more money doesn’t always mean better – but sometimes it does.

I took a look at the things that continue to be my staples over time, whether it be my other items didn’t continue to work for me anymore, or I found something to replace it.

If the new year means new you, here my go-to items to give you some inspo for your own makeup and skincare routine.  Happy reading!

Skincare items I can’t live without (everyday routine):

Cerave SA Renewing Face Wash – has ceramides, niacinamide and hydrators, plus removes all my makeup and has a kick of BHA to keep my pores clean and has a friendly drugstore price.

L’Oreal Hydrafresh Toner – while there may be options with better ingredients (i.e. sans denatured alcohol) this one boasts 99% alcohol free, is hydrating and you can’t beat the drugstore price & availability. It helps to remove any traces of dirt and makeup, is refreshing and has added BHA to help with clog-prone skin.

Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum – is perfect for someone with skin like me – clog and milia prone (ultra rich eye creams are a no-go), anti-aging and reducing puffiness.  Luckily dark circles aren’t a problem for me (yet) but the ferulic acid will help.  This is a gel serum so it won’t be ultra hydrating if that is important to you. Pro tip: If puffiness is something you struggle with, put this in the fridge to get some extra benefit!

Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Treatment – much like the above, it has fantastic ingredients that help to brighten, protect and refine skin, and is gentle yet effective.  I have other retinol products that pack a bigger punch (Peter Thomas Roth 3% for example), but I can use this consistently and layer with other acids with no irritation, and notice brighter, clearer skin.

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic Serum – I did a ReadHead 2 Head on this vs. Drunk Elephant’s C-Firma (which continues to be my most reviewed post on ReadHead).  I recommend reading it if you’re new to vitamin C.  The vitamin C and additional layer of ferulic acid helps to give an extra layer of sun protection (key for someone with fair skin and correcting sun damage) while destroying free radicals and helping the skin function at its healthiest.

SkinMedica’s TNS Essential Serum – this is my ultra splurge item which utilizes growth hormones and antioxidants to trick older skin into think it’s a younger version of itself. This helps to regenerate new, healthy and less wrinkled skin.  It’s not surgery (nor should you expect the same result), but it’s one of the best topical cosmeceuticals on the market with clinical trials to boot.

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Serum – a nice AHA acid that I alternate at night with my retinoids to keep my dead skin and clogged pores at bay. If I start getting little pimples, this removes the top layer of skin and away they go.

Neutrogena’s 3-in-1 Hydrating Acne Treatment – this is my ride or die BHA serum that I use when I’m needing an extra dose of pore cleaning and Neutrogena discontinued it.  I have absolutely no earthly idea why as this has a cult following that may have some feeling one would need to pry whatever’s left on the market from their cold, dead hands.  I think it’s because it worked so well people didn’t need their products anymore! Anytime I can find this, I snatch it up and use it like it’s as precious as 24 carat gold.

Belif’s the True Cream Moisturizing Bomb – this has become my HG moisturizer.  Calming, hydrating, basic and effective.  It leaves my skin feeling awesomely dewey and minus the clogged pores of overly heavy/silicone feeling.

Dr. Jart Premium BB 45++ – the last step in my skincare routine, this is similar to foundation but has amazing ingredients, helps to cover redness and has an awesome amount of SPF in  it.  Talk about a multi-tasker!

Obagi Professional-C Sunscreen – I use sometimes under my Dr. Jart, or on days when I’m going makeup free.  It has vitamin E and the most stable form of vitamin C, l-ascorbic acid.  I like this formulation, but I received it for free from a promotion.  I like that it leaves me matte, but I wouldn’t say it’s an HG.  Great ingredients, and a good finish for oily-skinned folks who don’t want to layer makeup on as I find that it does pill up.

Rimmel’s Lash Accelerator – great lash conditioner which helps lashes grow by keeping them healthy.  I put this on at night (and not under mascara like it says you can do). It won’t compare to a Latisse or other lash growth items on the market, but it will help keep hairs conditioned and strong – plus you can’t beat the drugstore price!

Nature’s Bounty Hair Skin & Nails + Alive Whole Food Energizer  + Vital Proteins Collagen Peptide Powder – these supplements/powders help to give me the added amino acids, proteins, and goodies I need like B vitamins, biotin, collagen, hyaluronic acid and elastin to boost my beauty routine from the inside and give me a little pep in my step.  The combination of these help my hair grow strong and my nails like a weed.

Just for fun (rev up that routine!):

There’s the steps that I take as an avid skincare connoisseur with skin that changes like the weather.  If you notice there’s a lot of de-clogging, brightening and exfoliating happening here.

If you’re new to the game don’t get overwhelmed – any steps beyond what you’re doing will bring improvements and take these slow.  You don’t need top of the line either, you just need to know helpful ingredients.  But, if you’re in the prime anti-aging years, it may be worth it to give your beauty counter a boost. And, if dry-like-the-Sahara skin is your concern (different than dehydrated) you may need to incorporate some extra moisture here.

I hope you got excited to try something new!  Have a favorite routine? Drop us a line in a comments.

 

 

 

 

 

Product Review: Milani Strobelight Instant Glow Powder

While perusing the makeup aisle at Walgreens looking for some fun additions before a work holiday party, I wandered over to the Milani section which I must admit, I’ve never taken seriously because it’s all the way in the back.  I pass my trusty go-tos long before I reach their products, which is next to the off-brands and hodge podge of nail/tweezers/cotton balls.

I have been hearing more and more about Milani’s quality drugstore items and I was in the mood for a new highlighter, so I snatched this one up.  And I must say, if this product is an indication of Milani products in general, well it’s time I get on the fan-girl bus!

What is Milani Strobelight Instant Glow Powder

Milani’s Strobelight Instant Glow Powder is a finely milled highlighting powder that comes in an impressive array of colors – seven to be exact. There’s a great chance that you can find one that works with your skin tone, and that you can experiment with for different looks. It’s best used to highlight the high points of the face and body (much like bronzer, you use it where light would reflect off your skin) and to give you a soft – or high wattage – sheen. Highlighters provide a “dewiness” effect which can make skin look younger, more awake.  It is also a nice final trick to a contour job to help further emphasize the good – eyes, bridge of the nose, lips – and divert the eyes away from problem areas.

I tend to have dehydrated, oily skin and use a lot of emollient products, so highlighters aren’t something I use everyday.  But, when I’m going glam or feel winter dryness sucking the life from my face, I appreciate the look that a good one can provide. I surprised myself by reaching for a powder because I’m borderline obsessive about not putting anything powdery by my impending crow’s feet so I’ve gone the liquid route in the past.  But for the price and the sheer curiosity, into my basket it went.

First Look & Packaging

I went with the color 01 Afterglow because I’m fair-skinned and I believe it was the last one left which hints at its popularity.  The presentation of the product itself was nice; it has a raised swirl pattern to it which picks up light and also provides additional texture to help lift the product from the pan onto the brush. Typical to your average drugstore product the packaging is just fine.  That’s it.  Just fine.  No frills here but it was sturdy enough at the hinge and was easy to hold.  It didn’t come with a mirror or a brush which is not a deal breaker for me.  I don’t do my highlighter on the go and the brushes you get are generally junk but if you’re looking at a convenience factor and those things are important to you, what you see is what you get.

Application

I used a typical blush brush and first lightly swirled it in one circle around the pan.  I do this for all products especially the first time because I had no idea how sparkly or opaque this would be and to make sure I pick up any variance in color throughout the pan. I then started at my upper cheek bones (and cringed while putting powder here…I digress), swiped it back and forth in a diagonal line to follow my cheek bones and then blended by changing that to a C shape –  bit under my eye area and up around my temples and brow.

I was impressed at how buttery this came out.  No glitter, no dusty chalkiness.  Because I was feeling frisky I did one more light pass just the same and came out with an impressive “lit from within” look to my skin.  I then proceeded to do the same down the bridge of my nose, a dot on my chin, a smidge in the middle of my forehead by my nose, and my collar bones.

Pro tip: use a shadow brush, dip it into your highlighter, and trace your Cupid’s bow (where your top lip dips) and bottom lip, and add a dab to the middle of both of your lips.  Make sure to blend it out.  This will help accentuate your lips without using a gloss. Get multiple uses by using it as a brow highlight or inner-corners of your eyes.  You can also give yourself some quick dimension and all-over glow by using a big brush and running it down your shoulders/arm, and front of your legs.  I recommend using a different pan for your face and body, however.

I did use this another time and added more than a light second layer.  It gave me that Instahighlight that really caught the light.  It was more bold than I like to go with my highlighter, but wasn’t garish, still blended nicely and proved you can get some serious color pay-off with this little gem.

Overall Thoughts

For $10 at .3 oz which will last me forever, and the convenience of finding this at any drugstore (if it’s in stock) I think this is a fantastic buy.  The highlight is versatile to fit lots of different looks for different occasions (yes, you’ll light up the floor at your unce unce unce club if you want!).  It’s fun for baby-faced glowsters, and also very age-appropriate for the um shall I say “slightly more matured” woman or man.  It has no glitter or sparkles, and was very buildable.  You will want to be moisturized before using this, but it did not dry me out, settle into fine lines or accentuate texture issues.  This is #1 of importance to me as an aging woman with large pores.

New Year’s is right around the corner and is a perfect opportunity to have some fun with your routine to ring in the new year.  I may grab up one of the golden colors to try something new.  In the meantime, I’m going to keep Milani on my radar as a strong contender for amazing drugstore finds!

Overall: 4/5

Packaging: 3/5

Price: $$$$$

Have you used Milani products or have a highlight tip you love? Drop us a line in the comments.

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.

 

 

Product Review: Neutrogena Beach Defense Sunscreen Lotion

For those of you faithful ReadHead readers (thank you!) you have read about my past abuse to my skin a la the sun.  I went from worshiper to demonizer in as fast as you can say UV.  Thanks to this trusty sunscreen – Neutrogena’s Beach Defense Sunscreen Lotion – I can go back to feeling safe but not like I have to wear a head-to-toe shield from sun Armageddon whilst taking a brisk walk on the sand.

This sunscreen is readily available in drugstores and online, and frequently has sales.  I have become sort of a hoarder of this lotion for that reason and will impose my will of “you NEED to use THIS” to all my friends.

First things are first.  I am not an ingredient purist when it comes to sunscreen.  There are others, like the Honest Company and other organic/vegan/crunchy companies that probably make things a little (or a lot) less chemical-laden than this one.  If that is important to you, understandable.  What’s important to me is that it’s no hassle and WORKS.

That out of the way, this is the BEST sunscreen I have used hands down and is a Certified ReadHead Best.  Read on for more deets:

What it is

Here’s the description from Ulta’s website: The first line of sunscreen by Neutrogena clinically proven to provide multi skin defense from sun + water damage; a full body suncare and outdoor skin protection for the active family.

Ingredients: Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octisalate, Octocrylene, Oxybenzone, Water, Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, Dimethicone, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Benzyl Alcohol, Silica, Diethylhexyl 2,6-Naphthalate, Dimethicone/PEG-10/15 Crosspolymer, Trisiloxane, Cetyl Dimethicone, Beeswax, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Polyacrylate, Xanthan Gum, Ethylhexyl Stearate, Acrylates/C12-22 Alkyl Methacrylate Copolymer, Behenyl Alcohol, Trideceth-6, Disodium EDTA, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Caprylyl Glycol, Fragrance.

This is a chemical sunscreen (vs. physical). There are a few ingredients in here that are of concern for the EWG – namely oxybenzone.  However, these ingredients are common in effective sunscreens.  To my earlier point above, you will need to weigh your options and decide for yourself on what you deem more harmful; the occasional sunscreen slathering or the sun’s rays.  I happen to be OK with some chemicals that will help prevent skin cancer and premature aging. Chicken or the egg, perhaps.

Options: There are both aerosol spray and lotion options in 30 and 70 SPF.  I prefer lotions because there is less waste and the coverage is better, but I utilize both.

Application: The spray option is just like any other.  It’s a constant stream of spray, doesn’t clog and goes on clear .  I happen to use the 70 SPF lotion.  Unlike others I’ve used in the past, this stuff goes on like a dream.  It spreads easily and is more of a lotion texture vs. the sticky glue-like consistency of others. Immediately after there may be a slight white cast, but after letting this dry down, you can’t tell you have it on.  It even gives you a slightly dewey look without being greasy.  It does have a slightly different fragrance than a typical sunscreen which I happen to really enjoy but it’s not faint.  Those who are sensitive to fragrance should do a sniff test first.

Performance: For a sunscreen to work as it should, you need to make sure you’re using the proper amount with good coverage, and let it soak in for 30 + min before you go outside.  I use the lotion for this purpose and then bring the spray with me for easier application with sand, etc.  If you use the product in its intended way and use other proper protection methods, the lasting performance of this will exceed expectation.  I spent a week in Jamaica and Costa Rica with 0 base tan (I was as white as I was out of the womb) and did not burn once.  This was while playing volleyball for hours on the sand and ziplining right near the equator. I even (gasp!!!) used this on my face because I didn’t think my 55 zero oil for acne prone weenies would work given my propensity for retinol and peels and did not break out. PERFECTO.  Pale friends rejoice!

Price: For around $12 a bottle, it’s not outrageously priced given it’s performance.  This is also why I like the lotion better to eliminate waste.

Overall:  This is my 100% go-to for sunscreen.  It smells great, spreads easily, is easy for me to get, leaves little-to-no white cast, still allows me to get some color and keeps me from burning.  I really can’t ask for anything more from a sunscreen.  Thanks, Neutrogena!

Overall Rating: 5/5

*Certified ReadHead Best

Price: $$$$$

Packaging: 5/5

Have you used this sunscreen or have one you love? Drop us a line in the comments.

Product Review: Boots No7 Total Renewal Micro-dermabrasion Exfoliator

A few months ago I ran out of my trusty Boots No7 Total Renewal Micro-dermabrasion Exfoliator and although it’s a product near and dear to my heart, I have largely replaced manual exfoliators (those with physical particles that essentially sand the skin) with acids.  It continued to fall off my online basket radar.  I got it back in and realized just why this product is so fantastic and I had to apologize to Boots for leaving it behind like the old toy on Christmas.  Read on!

Physical exfoliators are not all created equal and should be taken seriously.  When looking for one, do your research to see what types of particles they use.  Those like St. Ives Apricot Scrub which was all the rage, use things like pieces of shells that are jagged and can tear the skin.  Please, if you use this product, time to toss it.

Boots No7 Total Renewal Micro-dermabrasion Exfoliator is a Certified ReadHead Best.  With a drugstore price, it is in my opinion, the best bang for your buck out there today.  Fine particles gently scrub your skin, and it’s hypoallergenic formulation is both gentle and effective.

Texture: is like a mixture of a lotion and gel.  Gritty particles feel a bit like sand and are evenly distributed in the lotion.  It has no smell and no other ingredients to cleanse so there’s no foaming or tingling.  It’s a basic formula designed to do all it says it will do. And it does it well.

Application: is easy.  Using it on dry skin will give you more friction and a deeper exfoliation.  Putting water on your skin first will soften the skin and is likely a better option for those with sensitive skin. A dime-sized amount of the white gritty product is all you need.  I squirt it on my two fingertips, rub them together, then distribute some on my forehead, cheeks, nose, chin and neck. I then gently use my fingertips in circles across my face, bringing the little dollops of product together.  Then rinse!

Packaging: is a white, no frills squeezable tube (yay!) with a flip top lid.  The hole in the top is large enough to not gunk up, but small enough that you can easily control the amount you distribute.

Overall: this product is excellent.  It won’t replace a professional microdermabrasion session, but it’s pretty darn effective.  At less than $18 for a tube that can last you a long time, it’s safe for most skin types and is also incredibly economical.  Just be careful to not overuse the product.  Those with acne can benefit from this, if your acne is caused by clogged pores and slow skin turnover.  Hormonal acne will likely not see much difference.  You also must be careful when using this or any physical exfoliator on active acne as scrubbing and breaking open the comedones will distribute all the icky stuff to your skin (which could cause more bumps) and irritate it.

Overall Rating: 5/5

*Certified ReadHead Best

Price: $$$$$

Packaging: 5/5

Have you tried this exfoliator? Drop us a line in the comments!

 

Case of Melty Makeup Face: An 80-Degree Winter Day Confirmed I’m Not Yet Worthy

It’s currently winter in my midwestern hometown of Cincinnati.  For the past few months I have been slathering moisturizer on like it’s going out of style since my skin was getting blasted by cold winds and dried out by artificial heat warmer than the fires of hell.

Winter was putting my makeup and hair products to the test.  My BB creams were struggling to not look like it was some color of paste too orange covering sandpaper and my volumizing hair products were falling flat. But I was determined – exfoliate and moisturize.  Moisturize, moisturize, exfoliate, moisturize.

Then yesterday happened and I was reminded yet again of why I have 8,000 products in my closet and what happens when I am ill-prepared. It decided that it would be 80 and swampy.  I used the same products as I have the rest of the winter.  My skin’s oil production was kicked into high gear of gross and felt like only a squeegee would do. My air-drying hair took on a volume of lion mane-like proportions.  My eyeshadow creased and melted, mascara left lines by the end of the night, and only a rubber band could save me from my hair. WTF.  More fodder for me to hate you, winter.

So, as crazy winter days transform and spring time approaches, it’s a good reminder to revisit the products we’re using as the seasons change.

Here’s some tips to arm yourself with the best types of products and techniques to save you from feeling like a melty-faced swamp monster.

Proper Skin Prep:

Two of the most important things when humidity and warmer weather kicks into gear are lightweight-yet-effective moisturizers and exfoliants that can penetrate into the pore to remove dead skin and clear out gunk.

Proper Makeup Prep:

Extra oil production, sweat and humid conditions can break down makeup, causing oxidation, unwanted shine, or even an overall disappearing act.

Primers have come a long way – you can find some with acne treatments, moisturizers and brighteners – and can create a sleek canvas and hold your makeup.  Primers are especially important in the t-zone and eyelid area if you have oily skin.

Set it off:

Setting your makeup with powder will take away additional shine. They have come a long way from cakey to translucent and finely milled.  A good powder is worth the investment.

Lastly, spritzing a makeup setting spray will keep you going all night long and hold your makeup in place.

  • ReadHead Favorite: Urban Decay All Nighter does exactly what it says.  It will hold that beautiful handiwork for up to 16 hours!  I use this in limited amounts though, as it is high in alcohol and can irritate my acne-prone skin.  It’s still a Certified ReadHead Best.

Have a technique that works for you? Drop us a line in the comments!

Product Review: NYX Cosmetics Wonder Stick

Contouring, or using lighter and darker shades to highlight and define the features on your face, is all the rage these days.  While I prefer a more natural look for my everyday, contouring can be fun if you’re into makeup and want to take the extra steps.

I picked up NYX’s Wonder Stick at Ulta for just under $12.  I was in a major hurry before a 70’s party that I was going to.  My inspiration was late 60s/early 70’s Twiggy, so I wanted to get that defined and concealer-heavy look for that time period.  This little duo turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

Color: I got the lightest one which proved to be a great match for my fair skin.  The contour (darker) color was a proper shade of brown that blended well without looking orange.

Application: is a breeze.  The dual-sided stick (one side highlight and the other contour) glided on smoothly.  I had moisturizer on so that helped, but I had to put a bit more muscle into the contour for it to really show.  This means it could be a good option with a light hand for fair-skinned people. The concealer glided on in a light-medium coverage. I would suggest setting this with a translucent powder.

The stick idea is great for concealing and for contouring the nose and cheeks – areas you draw to define vs. larger areas to add color to.  It does prove to be a bit awkward if you want to carry that contour up to your hair line to close your forehead in.  It works, but is a bit like coloring and requires some serious blending.

Finish: everything looked creamy on my skin, with a bit of a glow.  I wouldn’t suggest this for oily-skinned people, especially if the t-zone is a problem for you.  The concealer looked natural, but did settle into creases a bit.

End result: I don’t suggest that this will solve all your problems if a heavy duty concealer is important to you or if you want a bangin’ contour look.  But, if you’re traveling or want just a little something to oomph up your look for the night without all the fuss, this is a fool-proof way to do it.  I’m glad I have this in my makeup bag – it’s convenient, the price is very affordable and I didn’t break out. You’ll need to remember to blend, blend blend.

Overall Rating: 3/5

Price: $$$$$

Packaging: 5/5