Tips for layering products

These days there are so many products out there.  Add in getting older or troubled skin and you end up having a bed time routine that rivals painting the Sistine Chapel.

I believe that effective multi-taskers which give you everything you need in one or two steps is like a unicorn that will never be found.  Buy really good products that target what you’re solving for, and layer ’em up.

What actually seems like a straightforward idea is the cause for much confusion.  How do you know what to put on first? Readhead to the rescue!

Getting Started

There are two really great ways that can help you remember how, and which products, layer well and in which order.  One, determining what the individual products are supposed to do and two, the consistency or viscosity of those products.  Read on for more.

Step 1: Determine what the individual products are supposed to do

You’ve got targeted serums high in actives?  Those should go closest to your skin so they can get in there and do their job.  As you layer, the ones closest to your skin are generally more concentrated.  You’ll want your acids, retinoids and peptide powerhouses to be slathered on before your heavier products.

Concentrated serums —> moisturizers —> protectants

Make sure to check out ingredients that play well together and during certain times of the day, and those that don’t.  For instance, vitamin C helps with photoaging and is best used during the day.  Retinoids can make skin photosensitive and may have negative effects if used during the day, especially without a proven form of SPF.  Others, like glycolic acids and salicylic acid work beautifully together to remove and declog layers of the skin but can be irritating to those with a compromised skin barrier or sensitive skin.

It can seem like your local beauty associate is selling you up the creek by suggesting different products for a day and night routine, but if you’ve got the resources (read time and money) you should tailor those routines as much as possible for the most efficacy.  Be aware of products that are high in ‘ones (i.e. silicones) that have a silky or waxy slip as they create a barrier that may be harder for other actives products to break through.  Use those towards the end.

Step 2: Feel the viscosity to know what goes first to last

This trick rings tried and true for me if I get a new product and I’m not quite sure where it fits in the continuum.  The more watery (and usually clear) your product is, the closer to the front of the line it should go.  As products get more occlusive (meaning thicker and sealing down) less and less of the goodies will be able to penetrate it.  For example, my Skinceuticals C E Ferulic is straight like water.  That goes on first.  My retinoid is a slightly thicker watery gel consistency.  The SkinMedica TNS product I use is slightly thicker and my moisturizer the thickest.  Easy!

How long do you wait between steps?

Ideally, you’d want to give each layer 5-10 minutes of dry-time if you can spare.  With busy schedules I say as long as you give time between the different viscosities, you’re OK to speed up using a few products together.

What about oils?

This one is up for debate and tricks even the savviest of skincare connoisseurs, however if you think about the science of oil, it makes sense that oils should be the LAST piece to the puzzle (except for SPF).  If you think of the old term “oil and water” you know that they don’t really mix.  Moisturizers, although made of oils, are meant to hydrate the skin and generally contain water-friendly ingredients, including hyaluronic acid which helps to draw water into the skin.

If you put oil on first, then a moisturizer, your oil is working to keep anything water-friendly out.  By using oil afterwards, it seals the moisturizer in by repelling it until it’s absorbed, and then the oil continues to hydrate. And there you have it, Readhead readers.  Moisturizer first, oil last.

How many steps do you have in your routine? Drop us a line in the comments.

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.

 

The Perturbing Pimple Puzzle

Ah.  The formidable adversary.  The smallest thing that can ruin your day.  The tiny spot in just the right nook or cranny that causes you mental and physical pain.  It shouts at everyone you come in contact with.  “LOOK AT ME!” I’m talking about….the pimple.

If I know about one thing, it’s the pimple, or pimples to be more accurate.  I have spent enough money to feed a small country on trying to solve for them and is largely the reason why I have such a passion for skin care.  I am not a dermatologist, but I am a life-long acne sufferer so I hope that my trials and tribulations over the years help to save you some dough and heartache.

To the pimple popper.

We all know that at it’s most basic term, a zit (formal term is comedone) is when dirt, skin cells, oil and bacteria get trapped inside the pore.  Your body’s reaction is to get it out of there, so it inflames, causes a zit which may or may not turn into a white head, and heals itself. That sentence right there is very important.  That is how zits work.  Notice I didn’t say “Your body’s reaction is to get it out of there, so it inflames, causes a zit which may or may not turn into a white head, you scrub at it like hell with a facial brush, pick at it for days before you just can’t take it anymore and dig your nails in to pop it, then slather on tooth paste to dry it out, cover it up with 10 lbs of concealer and heals itself.” The #1 hardest rules of pimples is that you should never pop them.  Ohhhhh but it’s just so satisfying to do.  TRUST ME I know.  But you can’t.  Sit on those hands darlings because doing so will cause way more harm than good.

Here’s 5 reasons to fight the urge to pop those pesky pimples:

  1. Our hands or instruments are full of bacteria.  An open comedome can get severely infected.
  2. Causing irritation can prolong the healing process, not to mention make that pimple look angry and worse.
  3. Your skin can become scarred, which can be permanent.
  4. Popping a pimple can occur both on top and/or under the skin, causing the infection to spread to healthy skin.
  5. You can cause other harm like bruising or the dreaded squiggly red or purple broken capillaries that never go away. <— hate.

What your pimples are trying to tell you.

There are all sorts of pimple types.  Since I’ve been at this for quite a while I have learned how to tell what’s going on by what my pimples look like, and pick the appropriate treatment.

  • Scenario #1: Red pimples that crop up suddenly and quickly become a white head, usually after a heavy makeup day or wearing something I got out of the closet (i.e. a scarf).
    • Assessment: Likely bacteria that got trapped in the pore.
    • Fix: something with bacteria-fighting properties like benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil, sulfur and salicylic acid to get into the pore.  Also a reminder on why it’s important to wash your face every night, and to be sure to wash the pillowcase and makeup brushes which are all very likely culprits.
  • Scenario #2: Small pimples that look more like a rash and make the skin texture look rough, or lumps.
    • Assessment: Likely a skin care or makeup product that caused irritation or clogged my pores.
    • Fix: Discontinue the product and go back to basics while my skin calms down. Less is more here, and the trick is to let your skin heal itself.  Patch testing and not introducing more than one new product at a time, and checking the product’s ingredient labels for known acne triggers with this website will help.
  • Scenario #3: Break-out city that take a long time to become a white head, if ever, especially around my chin.
    • Assessment: Hormonal acne usually manifests itself in the chin area and can show up with your hormone levels change.
    • Fix: This can be helped with birth control pills, or other hormone regulators.  Talk to your doctor.
  • Scenario #4: Consistent acne not caused by products or bacteria and does not respond to topical acne medications
    • Assessment: Could be related to something going on internally like a vitamin deficiency, diet high in fats/dairy, too much biotin, or internal infection
    • Fix: This one is best handled by a dermatologist.  If you have changed your diet and you’re still breaking out, you may need prescription-strength acne medication like Accutane or antibiotics.
  • Scenario #5: Blackheads or whiteheads + dull-looking skin
    • Assessment: Likely caused by congestion due to slow skin cell turnover, trapping debris in the pore
    • Fix: Exfoliators – AHA or BHA acids, physical scrubs – to remove the top layers of the skin to help skin breathe and acne-fighters reach deep into the skin.

For the occasional bumps or lumps, these assessments and fixes ring true time and time again. To ReadHead readers, I hope you found some helpful tips that will bring you confidence and believe in SkinLove again.

Have a product you swear by or scenario you’ve come across?  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!

How to get those mega lashes.

Some consider the eyes the window to the soul.  To me, eyes are my most favorite feature on any living thing I encounter; it also happens to be my favorite feature of my own self.

eyelashesRivaled only by expert brows, eyelashes can enhance your face and, if your eyes are a favorite feature like me, can draw people in. I receive lots of compliments on my eyelashes (that’s me to the right with mascara only, no eyeliner and not much mascara on lower lashes), and lots of skepticism that they’re actually real.  For the record, yes, they’re real and I’ll give you some insight on how to get them yourself. Keep reading to see my lash routine and how I got this look.

Genetics.

First thing’s first, are genetics. I’m sorry, it’s the thing you don’t want to hear if you have barely there eyelashes already.  But. you have to realistic in what your hair and body will produce (much like me with my hair color). The good news for all ReadHead readers is that before I started taking care of my lashes, I’d give them a 5 out of 10.  There’s lots of room to grow.

Taking care of lashes from the inside.

For as much time as I take to talk about taking care of your skin, my diet leaves something to be desired. I did some reading, because that’s what we do here at ReadHead and found a vitamin with impressive ingredients called Alive! Whole Food Supplement that is packed full of just about any leafy green, fruit, vitamin, you name it.  It tastes like dirt, but wow does it work to give me the things my body is missing.  I also supplement this with my favorite beauty vitamin, Nature’s Bounty Optimal Solutions Extra Strength Hair Skin & Nail which focuses on hair’s building blocks of biotin, collagen, vitamins and argan oil.  These two things together gave my body the boost it needed.

Blogger’s Note: I am not a doctor.  Before taking any vitamins consult your doctor and be sure to follow all directions on labels. Vitamins and supplements are not to be taken lightly nor does more mean better. I do not take the recommended dose for these.  I take one pill of each per day vs. the recommended three.  More on vitamins in another post.

Taking care of your lashes on the outside.

Washing your face does more than get the gunk out of your pores.  It also removes drying mascara that can make your lashes hard and brittle.  Lashes are just like the hair on your head – putting them through curling, harsh chemicals and no rest can cause them to be brittle and break. Ever notice how men seem to have the most beautiful lashes us women envy?  It’s because they don’t put them through the ringer.

Tips:

  • Give your lashes a rest from mascara on the weekends or days that you don’t have to get dolled up.
  • Use a lash conditioner at night.  My favorite is Rimmel’s Lash Accelerator.  Although this clear gel says you can wear it under mascara, I don’t recommend it.  It helps lashes grow by conditioning them and protecting from fall-out.  Using a clean mascara wand with a light dip of castor oil also works.
  • Check into lash-growth serums. If your lashes truly aren’t there, Latisse is an option you can get, but it’s pricey without a prescription.  It won’t replace Latisse, but RapidLash is one I’ve used in the past that worked well and was more budget-friendly.
  • Get rid of the really cheap dollar mascaras that are high in alcohol.  You can find great drugstore brands, but skip the off-brands. Waterproof should also go if you don’t have extremely oily lids.  It puts a strain on your lashes during the day and when you’re removing it.
  • Use a conditioning lash primer before your mascara to help protect lashes day in and day out.
  • Different mascaras can give you different looks.  If you don’t mind a few steps, find good lengthening and volumizing mascaras vs. trying to find a great one that does both.
  • Try using a hair dryer on your lash curler for extra curl staying power.  Use your hair dryer for about 10 seconds, test it on your hand first to make sure it’s not too hot, and voila, it’s like a hair curler for your lashes. Make sure to let them cool down to really set that curl before adding mascara.

What I’m wearing: Diorshow Maximizer 3D eyelash primer, two coats of BENEFIT’s Roller Lash mascara, and one coat of Two Faced’s Better Than Sex mascara (and if that name doesn’t intrigue you I’m not sure what does) for ultimate volume.

Have a favorite lash product? Drop us a line in the comments.

Winter is coming.

Although the snow can be beautiful, living in an area that has harsh winters has it’s special challenges.  Cold, harsh winds, drying heat, showers that are borderline scalding and cold sucking the [life from you] moisture from your skin can wreak havoc on skin.  Mix in sensitive, fair skin that gets irritated from sweaters, scarves or other things to make your day somewhat bearable and can still get fried from the sun, and well, it can be down right depressing.

Cheer up!  It doesn’t have to be so bad.  ReadHead has some suggestions on the things to keep you moisturized, flake and worry free.

  • Sun protection is still a must everyday.  Even during overcast wintry days you still need to product your glorious porcelain skin with proper SPF of 20+.  There are both physical (think titanium dioxide or zinc oxide) and chemical (think oxybenzone avobenzone) sun blockers, so if you react to one, look for other options. Shiseido’s Urban Environment Oil-Free SPF 42  and Elta MD’s options are a few ReadHead favorites.
  • Balance moisturizing with exfoliation. Too much of a good thing ends up being a bad thing.  Heavy moisturizers can trap oil and not let skin properly slough itself (no snow flakes here) and clog pores. Those who aren’t acne prone may benefit from alpha hydroxy (think lactic and glycolic) acids that gently remove the top layers of dry, dead skin.  Oily and acne-prone skin may benefit from beta hydroxy (think salicylic) acids that penetrate deep into pores and clean out oil.  Neostrata makes an effective and budget friendly option with their 10% AHA enhanced lotion and Paula’s Choice 2% BHA are both ReadHead approved
  • Combat dehydrated skin with good moisturizers rich with ceramides, hyaluronic acid, glycerin and other humectants that repair the skin barrier and draw moisture to the skin. Go-to’s for ReadHead are CeraVe PM and Dr. Jart’s Ceramidin Lotion & Liquid. If you’re like ReadHead and try to end the freezing getting out of the shower as much as possible and forego lotion on your body, try an in-shower lotion.

Other handy dandy ways to moisturize your skin: getting your essential oils like omega 3-6-9, taking hyaluronic acid supplements that also benefit stiff joints, and calming sprays like Avene’s Thermal Water which also doubles as a gentle makeup-setting spritz.

Have a favorite way to beat chapped winter skin?  Drop us a line in the comments.

If at first you don’t succeed, you may be trying to solve the wrong problem.

There are so many products out there today.  Just taking a stroll down the aisle at Target (because who can go there for the three things you told yourself you’d limit yourself to buying…I digress) you will see countless lines of skin care and targeted treatments within those lines.  Non-comedogenic!  Oil-free! Acne-prone! Anti-aging! Exfoliating!  Let’s not even get started on the beauty counters at the mall, and (gasp) the interwebs. Yeesh.  Where do you start?

The answer is that you don’t.  Much like any complex thing (and our skin is a complex thing) the question we need to answer is what type of skin issue you are trying to solve?  Without truly understanding your skin type, you’ll be stuck in that vicious cycle of exciting new product –> relegated to the bin –> tears and frustration ensue.

Common Skin Types:

  • Sensitive – commonly characterized by reactive skin that is finicky with fragrance, harsh chemicals/scrubs and turns red or pink. *Certified ReadHead Problem
  • Dehydrated – not to be confused by dry, dehydrated skin can feel tight after washing or using products but then becomes oily throughout the day.  The skin can be both oily and dry/flaky at the same time. *Certified ReadHead Problem
  • Oily – those who do not have that tight feeling of dehydration and produce excess oil.  Oily-skinned people are generally acne prone due to oil trapping dirt and skin in the pores. *Certified ReadHead Problem
  • Dry – dry skin is exactly that – dry.  Dry-skinned folks don’t produce oil.
  • Acne-prone – can be caused by products, hormones and other reasons.  It may also be caused by what you’re using.  Check your labels against this site for Pore Clogging Ingredients. *Certified ReadHead Problem

*It’s clear I have a few skin problems. ::cry face::

For more in-depth information about skin types, check out beauty guru Paula Begoun’s blog post “What’s My Skintype?”

ReadHead’s Thoughts:

Skin changes throughout your life.  That face wash that stripped your excess oil in the past is not the same thing you should be using in your 30s – unless you really need it.  Watch out for cleansers that foam and have detergents (sulfates and other ‘fates) that strip your skin of much needed moisturizers. Oily skin can also benefit from oil cleansing because fun fact – oil repels oil.

Suggested products for each skin type:

  • Sensitive – Purpose, CeraVe, Cetaphil.  These products are proven to effectively treat skin without harsh scrubs or dyes.
  • Dehydrated & Dry – Fresh, CeraVe Hydrating, oil cleansing, micellar water
  • Oily & Acne-Prone – AlphaHydrox foaming, CeraVe SA, Dermalogica Dermal Clay Cleanser

*This is not an exhaustive list but are products used/tested by ReadHead.

What products do you love?  Drop us a line in the comments section.