Holiday Gift Guide: Aromatherapy Favorites

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

I love my essential oils. I regularly use my oils. I have blended with them for years--having been certified in Aromatherapy for 10+ years now. I buy synergistic blends to use in the home. I use my diffuser. That said, there seems to be a growing trend on social media: crazy marketing claims concerning the benefits of aromatherapy.

They are not a cure-all, they are not meant to replace Western medicine. They will not cure cancer, Autism, Alzheimer's or RA. You see these claims daily, though. You will be seeing more on this from me soon in an upcoming magazine feature. Aromatherapy, though, does have many benefits and there is real science to back it up. However, it is best used as a complementary therapy.

If you have an essential oil aficionado in your life, I have some gift ideas for you today!

  • Let me help you out if you are choosing a Custom Blend over at (seed) Body Care. I have been freelancing for (seed) for more than three years and I am excited to have a new project helping customers find their ideal essential oil blends. Email me at and I will be more than happy to help you out! The Custom Blends line is stellar -- you will find Body Lotion, Body Oil, Lip Oil, and Body Wash in this collection. The products are all naturally plant-based and are vegan, paraben-free, artificial fragrance free, petrochemical free, cruelty free, gluten free, and use an Ecocert preservative.

  • Looking for an aromatherapy stocking stuffer? I am a huge fan of the pre-diluted synergy blends over at Plant Therapy. I use the Pain Relief Blend to help with my carpal tunnel. The Kid Safe Sniffle Stopper blend rubbed under my boys' noses helps with congestion, and I have also found that my older son does really well focusing on his school work with the Kid Safe A+ Attention blend.  

  • If you are an essential oil you will definitely want to consider an oil diffuser. There are so many lovely options available these days. Mine is from Art Naturals and was found right on Amazon. I am extremely happy with this one and it's more aesthetically pleasing than some others.

  • I only purchase my essential oils from Plant Therapy. Try one of their sets, especially if you are new to oils. I trust Plant Therapy. I love how they do not use any wacky medical claims. I also love that the company employs experts in aromatherapy to answer product questions. This is important. Day in and day out, there are some truly unbelievable -- and possibly dangerous -- claims on social media made by reps of essential oil companies. I am not naming names, but if you look up the two brands to which I am referring, you will find articles about lawsuits concerning both companies.

  • FarfalladelaLuna has an exquisite collection of handmade essential oil storage boxes over on Etsy. Do check them out!

  • You can also experience the benefits of aromatherapy by adding oils to a diffuser locket. There are some great ones for gift giving at Scentered Aromatherapy Lockets.

Decleor Aromessence Neroli Serum & Hydrating Night Balm Review

Monday, December 7, 2015

I think I am in love. Shh. Don't tell my hubby.

Just kidding.

But I am in love enough with these facial care products that I recently "broke up" with the serum and night cream I had been using that I believed were irreplaceable. These products are that good.

I have been using the same facial products since May. They are quite lovely. And they worked pretty well for me. Also back in May,  I received a package from Decleor. It was full of luxurious looking products, but I never opened them until about 5 weeks ago because my skin was just fine. It happens each fall -- when the air temps drop and the humidity falls, my skin becomes dry. That is when I remembered that I had just packed the items from Decleor in a moving box (eek, 10 more days till the big day is FINALLY here). I took out the products and am completely blown away with the quality  and the results.

I have not used the BB Cream or the Rose serum yet, but I will unpack those soon and try them out and get back to you with my thoughts.

What I have been using religiously -- Aromessence Neroli Essential Serum and the Aromessence Neroli Essential Night Balm.

Serum Review -- I have long been a fan of facial oils. My first experience with them was when I was a Clarins Counter Manager right after college. I remember that I was not quite 22 and had fairly oily skin. When our visiting exec recommended I try the Lotus Treatment Oil, I was scared. Using an oil on my skin went against everything I had previously been taught. That oil turned my skin around, though, and I was forever convinced that oils can benefit even the oiliest of skin types.

I used to use oils at night. This one says to use in the morning and even I was skeptical about this. What if my makeup slid off? What if it had my looking like an oil slick?

Here is my AM routine:

*Cleanse skin with Avalon Organics Wrinkle Therapy CoQ10 & Rosehip Cleansing Milk

*Apply Clinique Mild Clarifying Lotion Alcohol Free (It has salicylic acid to gently exfoliate too)

*Apply two drops of Decleor Aromessence Neroli Essential Serum

*Wait 5 minutes and apply Bare Minerals Prime Time primer

*Apply It Cosmetics SPF 50 CC Cream (Radiance formula, shade Light) with a Real Techniques Stippling Brush

This facial oil serum absorbs very quickly into the skin and does not leave an oily film or residue behind. I have never had luck with an oil before my makeup, but this one is different. It really leaves my skin feeling soft and hydrated without any unpleasant greasiness.

Did I mention the ingredients? They are really top-notch and beneficial to the skin.

  • Corylus Avellana (Hazel) Seed Oil, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Neroli Oil, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Oil, Juniperus Communis Fruit Oil, Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Oil, Carum Petroselinum (Parsley) Oil, Linalool, D-Limonene, Geraniol, Farnesol, Citral

Night Balm Review -- This is my most favorite product from Decleor. It was the first one that I tried. Let me share my experience. I started using this when my mother was recovering from hip surgery and I was traveling back and forth. My husband was on a business trip in Dallas and the dog had a tummy bug. At the same time, we accepted an offer on our house and had to find another. I was SO stressed, sleeping less than two hours a night, and felt like I was barely functioning. My skin was DULL and I looked as tired as I felt.

I started using the balm on a Wednesday night. I remember -- it felt so wonderful on the skin, immediately quenching the dryness. The dog got me up every hour to take him out and I remember looking at myself in the bathroom mirror around 3:30. My skin was glowing and looked so refreshed. The results from the balm appeared quickly.

Over time, I have seen a softening of those coupe pesky fine lines that have crept in. My skin tone is even. It is healthy looking.

The trick with this gem of a product? Only add a TINY amount to your fingertip -- I mean less than a size of a pea. Then massage between your finger tips and gently massage into the skin.

Ingredients --

  • Corylus Avellana (Hazel) Seed Oil, Beeswax (Cera Alba), Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax , Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Neroli Oil, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil, Dipteryx Odorata Seed Extract, Tocopherol, Coumarin, Farnesol, Geraniol, D-Limonene, Benzyl Benzoate, Eugenol, Linalool.

The Skin Benefits of Corylus Avellana Seed Oil 

You do not often see this one in skincare. What is Corylus avellana? It's common name is European hazel or hazelnut oil and it really is splendid for the skin. It is the #1 ingredient in both of these products. So what are the benefits, exactly?
  • Astringent oil delivers non-greasy hydration to the skin 
  • Quick to absorb
  • Ideal for normal, combination and oily skin types
  • Rich and Vitamins B and E
  • Abundant in flavonoids
  • Gentle enough for sensitive skin
  • Hydrating and skin balancing

The Skin Benefits of Neroli Essential Oil

Neroli is very special. This essential oil is also very expensive. Why? To yield just one pound of the oil, you need at least one thousand pounds of orange blossoms!

Neroli comes is distilled from the flowers of the bitter orange tree. It has myriad skincare benefits.

  • May help improve the appearance of acne scars
  • May help improve skin elasticity
  • Calming and relaxing to sensitive skin

Thoughts on Decleor  

Decleor is a luxurious brand of HIGH QUALITY, effective skincare. It reminds me of a combination of three lines: Tata Harper, Clarins and Suki. In many ways, it marries those three into one ideal collection.

I didn't think I would find myself changing things up so much, but I am so grateful that I gave the products a chance, as they are truly exquisite.

For more details, visit

Holiday Gift Guide: Blueberry Edition

Friday, December 4, 2015

If you love the scent of blueberries, you absolutely will want to try the Whish Body Blueberry On the Go Travel Set. This adorable set includes TSA-friendly sizes fof their body wash, butter and shaving cream, all in a cute travel bag. $20

Blueberries are potent antioxidants, and you will get your fill in Catastrophe Cosmetic Fresh Face Mask. This facial mask from Lush features blueberries, orange, almond, Irish moss, calamine and chamomile to soothe uber sensitive or irritated skin. $7.95

Blueberries & Cream Rooibos from Tealightful (my consultant is Jarrod Parsons) is a berry-licious drink. It is creamy and sweet without being too sweet and is just delicious on a cold night. $16.50

Blueberry Ale Beer Soap from the Brown Bag Soap Company on Etsy combines Sweet Water Blueberry Wheat Aloe, coconut oil, olive oil and more. I love blueberry beer and you could make a gift basket with blueberry beer, blueberry soap and blueberry candles. Wouldn't that be a fun gift? $5.95

If you are looking for an indulgent gift for the blueberry lover, the Trish McEvoy Home Collection Blueberry Vanilla Scented Candle would make a special gift. $20.50

Holiday Gift Guide: Palette Edition

Thursday, December 3, 2015

There are so many gorgeous eye shadow palettes out there in every price range. it can be hard to know which ones are worth it, though. Some look beautiful, but the actual product is choppy when applying or you may even experience the dreaded eyeshadow fallout.

I am sharing my TEN FAVORITE EYE SHADOW PALETTES -- all are ideal for giving!

Bonus: All of my favorites are paraben free.

If you are looking for the BEST assortment of truly matte shadows, the It Cosmetics Naturally Pretty Vol. 1 Matte Luxe Transforming Eyeshadow Palette is a must have. This is my most favorite collection of matte colors in any price range and it is a staple. It Cosmetics is in my top 3 favorite brands of cosmetics because the ingredients are great, the packaging is beautiful, and the products actually live up to their claims.  Something unexpected? These can ALL be transformed into a pearl finish if desired. $42

The Venice Enchantment Eye Shadow Palette from Cargo is made of rich golds and wines and comes with an eye pencil in a coordinating shade. $34

Jane Iredale is one of The Beauty Blogger's longtime favorite brands. The ingredients are really stellar, as is the quality -- plus the packaging is truly gift worthy. In the Blink of a Smoky Eye Kit  features a blend of neutrals and colors of the highly pigmented Pure Pressed shadows. $50

Another favorite is the Urban Decay Gwen Stefani Eyeshadow Palette. Oh, this one is gorgeous. It is a really wonderful palette and the colors, especially the bold sapphire, are simply stunning. I confess-- I am not a big UD shadow fan. I have the Naked Basics palette and do like it, but the larger Naked palettes just aren't the best in terms of quality. I am happy with this one, though. Get it before it is gone! $58

Looking for a kit that includes a bit more AND has absolutely fantabulous ingredients? Then check out the Au Naturale Julie Henderson Glam Eye Palette. It is an incredible value -- regularly $130 for $48.

The Too Faced Chocolate Bar Eyeshadow Collection is a lovely blend of matte and shimmer shades. I love the fact that there is natural cocoa fruit powder in the shadows, which delivers a rich and chocolatey scent. $49

I've had this one for years and it continues to be a night-out favorite. It's from Honeybee Gardens and is the Rock the Smokey Eye Palette. A friendly tip -- this is $29.99 nearly everywhere, except Ulta's website, where you will find it for just $16.99.

The PRO Palette 2  from LORAC is one of the most reached for palettes in my makeup collection. I used it on the brides and bridesmaids for the weddings I did over the summer and it is just one I will always want in my personal stash. Like the other brands features here, this is not the only eye palette from LORAC, but it is by far my favorite from the brand.  $42

What drugstore palette is far superior to the Urban Decay Naked palettes in terms of quality of ingredients AND no fallout (which the Nakeds are notorious for)? Yep, it's the $11 Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips Classic Nude Palette. No parabens. No gluten. No artificial fragrance. It's fabulous!

This is a true classic. Laura Mercier never disappoints with her powder shadows and the Eye Artist's Palette is like that Little Black Dress -- this will be an essential in your beauty repertoire. Find it at Sephora. $55

Argan Oil Must-Haves

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

I've been writing about the benefits of Argan Oil for years.

Are you using skincare products made with argan oil? If not, you may be missing out. Less known than coconut oil or jojoba oil, argan is truly a special oil. Argan oil itself contains more antioxidant and cell regenerative properties than olive oil, grape seed oil and avocado oil combined.

When applied to the skin, it absorbs quickly, and without an oily film, leaving behind a silky and satiny feel. It also works beautifully to restore shine and lustre to the hair.

Argan oil is commonly referred to as "liquid" gold -- and with good reason. Not just a filler, argan oil provides the skin with many nutrients and a whole list of benefits.

Argan the protector.

Argan oil is rich in phenols, making it a protective oil. It contains 200% more Vitamin E than olive oil. Argan is not just nourishing, it's a potent antioxidant and can effectively fend off free radical damage.

Need moisture? Look no further.

Argan oil is highly moisturizing. It is rich in Omega 6 fatty acids to help plump the skin, boost moisture levels and give a supple and healthy appearance. Choose a facial moisturizer or serum with argan oil to ease dryness (try Beautycounter Lustro Face Oil 1). You will be happy to discover that argan hydrates the skin without leaving a greasy film like other oils often do.

Slower skin aging? Yes, please!

Argan oil may make your skin look younger. Abundant in vitamins to improve skin elasticity, argan also boasts something called Triterpens, which aid in cell restructuring and can slow down the cell aging process. Because of the regenerating properties, your skin will benefit from hydrating products with argan oil. My go-to? Perfectly Posh As Good As Gold Argan Oil Skin Stick. It's the best $13 you will ever spend!

Could this oil help combat acne?

Argan oil may even fight acne, as many believe that it is not only antiseptic, but anti-bacterial as well. It's light and fast-absorbing and will not clog the pores.

Reduce inflammation with argan oil.

Argan oil may help fight inflammation. Evidence suggests that, when applied topically, argan oil may reduce pain, itching and swelling associated with various skin ailments.

We've only begun to hear about the many skincare benefits of argan oil. It seems like new research appears every few months promoting more and more benefits -- but it's not just limited to the skin these days.

What about argan oil in beauty products?

Yes! You will find many cosmetics out there now formulated with argan oil. My new favorite argan beauty item is also my NEW FAVORITE MASCARA! I have been using a new paraben-free mascara the past couple months and I love it so much that I just ordered another. If you have been reading over the years, you will know that this rarely happens. If you have not yet tried it, do yourselves a favor and try the Pur Minerals Big Look Mascara lengthens, thickens, and conditions without irritation, smudging or clumping. It's a winner!

Need a gift idea for the beauty junkie? Head to Sephora for the Josie Maran Whimsical Wonder Argan Oil Color Essentials boxed set.


Guillaume D, Charrouf Z. Argan oil and other argan products: use in dermocosmetology. The European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology. 2011;113(4):403–408.

Rawlings AV, Matts PJ. Stratum corneum moisturization at the molecular level: an update in relation to the dry skin cycle. J Invest Dermatol. 2005;124(6):1099–1110.

Samantha's Bellafill Journey: Part 2

Friday, November 20, 2015

Editor's Note: This is part 2 in a special series featuring a reader's journey with Bellafill -- an acne scar treatment performed by select dermatologists. Thank you to Bellafill for providing this treatment to our blog reader, and thank you to Samantha for sharing your experience!

Hello again! Samantha here for part two of my Bellafill® journey. It has been a crazy couple of months for me with my wedding happening and all my family in town!

Since my last blog post, I went in to Dr. Sabini for my first round of treatment with Bellafill® for my acne scars. My skin test came back negative so I was ready to go! Going into the treatment appointment I was very nervous mostly because I have never had any type of cosmetic injection before. Upon arriving, I was greeted by a very sweet nurse. She put some numbing cream on my face and gave me some ice to place on my face for about ten minutes. I have a feeling they normally don't do this, but she saw how nervous I was and offered it to comfort me. Dr. Sabini was very thorough and injected every scar on my cheeks that she could see as being a fit for Bellafill® treatment. Remember, Bellafill® treatment is only approved for facial rolling acne scars. I do have a few ice pick scars, which look like little holes, but not many. Bellafill® is not for these ice pick scars.

Before she injected each scar, Dr. Sabini would gently break up the existing scar tissue with the needle. This is to help Bellafill® more evenly fill in the scar. It was not as painful as I expected it to be, just a little uncomfortable. The whole process took about an hour, at most. I left the office and drove home just fine. My face did bruise and swell slightly at some of the injection sights, but this only lasted a day or two. Overall, I am extremely happy with this process so far! My wedding date was back in September, and I could see a major difference in my skin just a couple of weeks after the treatment.

I am excited to see how much more my skin will improve throughout the course of my treatment. Dr. Sabini said the appearance of my acne scarring will be less noticeable as time goes on. It should only take one or two more treatments to achieve optimal results, and she is confident they will almost all be gone. Stay tuned for more in my next blog about my second treatment! :)

The Hypoallergenic Myth

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


It's a popular, official sounding term, isn't it? It is meaningless, though -- doing nothing other than providing customers with a false sense of safety. "Hypoallergenic" implies that a product is less likely to cause a skin reaction, but science tells us that, in many cases, these claims are truly false.

“The FDA does not regulate or define the term hypoallergenic,” says Dr. Rajani Katta, professor of dermatology at Baylor and director of Baylor’s Contact Dermatitis Clinic.

There is NO regulation, nor are there any federal definitions or standards when it comes to hypoallergenic. In fact, hypoallergenic can essentially mean whatever a company wants it to mean.

When a company claims that their product is hypoallergenic, they do not have to submit any research or documentation to substantiate that their product is hypoallergenic.

MYTH: Here is a quote from a "hypoallergenic" skincare brand's website: "Hypoallergenic products do not contain allergens." 

TRUTH: This is nonsense.

 Here is what Co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, Stacy Malkan, says about this-- "People think 'hypoallergenic' means there are no allergens. That is just not the case." 

If you have ever had an adverse reaction to a product, you know all too well the redness, itching and irritation associated with that experience. Unfortunately, companies use that as an angle to market their products and provide a false sense of trust that their product is safer for you.

Do not fall for this. Anything can cause an allergic response. There is no regulation of this marketing buzzword and it is just a gimmick leading consumers to spend more money on their products.

Let's talk "hypoallergenic" skincare.

Many of the products on store shelves labeled as hypoallergenic contain the most well-known irritants there are.

Researchers at Loma Linda University School of Medicine confirmed that products bearing the hypoallergenic label, especially those marketed at children, actually contain common allergens. In fact, of the products they studied, 89% contained one or more chemical known to cause contact dermatitis.

When one examines the ingredients found in "hypoallergenic" skincare, it is troubling. For example, Methyisothiasolinone, a common preservative, was found in more than ten percent of the "hypoallergenic" products tested by Loma Linda researchers. For those unfamiliar with this preservative, it is one of the most irritating ingredients used in skincare and was named "Allergen of the Year" in 2013 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society.

Another ingredient known to cause an allergic response: fragrance -- both synthetic and those which are natural, such as essential oils. Fragrance can be highly allergenic, yet there are companies hawking their "hypoallergenic" products formulated with large amounts of fragrance.

One such product with this claim is Musti Eau de Soin Spray. It is a "hypoallergenic" perfume with the following ingredients:


The third ingredient is parfum. It also contains chamomile. While I am in no way suggesting chamomile is bad - it's not - it is actually a common allergen. I find it quite disturbing, though, that this brand markets the product as hypoallergenic and with instructions that say, "Musti can be used from the day your baby is born." Babies do not need perfume. Babies don't need the above ingredients sprayed on them from day one. Why on earth risk baby's extremely delicate skin?

Mustela, which makes Musti, isn't the only brand marketing so-called hypoallergenic products to parents of young children. 

Johnson's Baby Lotion claims to by "hypoallergenic" as well. While this formula is now paraben free, Johnson's should really know better than to say that their lotion (silicone + petrochemicals) is hypoallergenic. FYI, here are the ingredients:

Water, Isopropyl Palmitate, Glycerin, Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Mineral Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Polysorbate 20, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Fragrance, Carbomer, P-Anisic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Xanthan Gum, Ethylhexylglycerin, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-di-t-butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Red 33

It's just not those two brands. Burt's Bees is also guilty of making this claim. They market their Baby Bee products as hypoallergenic, when they very clearly contain ingredients more likely to cause a response. 

Here is a look at their Baby Bee Shampoo & Body Wash:

Aqua (water, eau), decyl glucoside, coco-betaine, lauryl glucoside, sucrose laurate, glycerin, parfum (fragrance), betaine, sodium cocoyl hydrolyzed soy protein, coco-glucoside, glyceryl oleate, sodium chloridexanthan gum, glucose, citric acid, glucose oxidase, lactoperoxidase, limonene

Again, understand that I am not calling these products unsafe, bad, or that you should not ever use them. I am saying that these contain artificial fragrance and other ingredients known to cause contact dermatitis.

Be an informed consumer. Do not fall for meaningless marketing gimmicks. Much like "chemical free", "dermatologist tested", "non-comedogenic" and other popular buzzwords, you need to be an ingredients detective!

Here are some of the most common allergens in skincare. Some may surprise you!

Sodium Laureth/Laureth Sulfate
Essential Oils 
Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives: Quaternium-15, diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl urea, bronopol
Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate
Kathon CG (the preservatives methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone)


    Zirwas, M. J., & Stechschulte, S. A. (2008). Moisturizer Allergy: Diagnosis and Management. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology1(4), 38–44.

    Kenneth A. Arndt, Jeffrey T. S. Hsu. Manual of Dermatologic Therapeutics

    University of Gothenburg. "Even Natural Perfumes May Cause Allergies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 February 2009.

    Wallace DV. Pet dander and perennial allergic rhinitis: Therapeutic options. Allergy Asthma Proc 30:573–583, 2009.

    European Commission. 2013. Cosing, the European Commission database with information on cosmetic substances and ingredients. Accessed on March 1, 2013 at .

    Löffler H, Pirker C, Aramaki J, Frosch P, Happle R, I. E. Evaluation of skin susceptibility to irritancy by routine patch testing with sodium lauryl sulfate. Eur J Dermatol. 2001;11(5):416-9.

    Foti C, Bonamonte D, Mascolo G, Corcelli A, Lobasso S, Rigano L, et al. 2003. The role of 3-dimethylaminopropylamine and amidoamine in contact allergy to cocamidopropylbetaine. Contact Dermatitis 48(4): 194-8.

    Friday Favorites!

    Friday, October 2, 2015

    Hello, beauties!

    What's new here in New York? Let's see. It's windy, gray and in the upper 40s right now. The perfect weather for a cozy sweater and boots. I am sitting here as we speak with my Tealightful Toasted Almond Spice Cake tea, purchased by my AMAZING consultant, Jarrod.

    I have been super duper busy lately, but I like it that way. I guess I always have, haven't I? I have been homeschooling Nick -- actually, he is mainly taking college courses online --but we have been enjoying field trips and working on writing and art together. I also have been immersed in writing projects, having more articles published in the latest copy of CosmoBiz Salon. I've had features in the August, September and October issues and am currently working on November. It's been a great addition to my freelance writing!

    I wanted to share some of my latest finds that I am coveting right now. First of all, I need to mention that I received my Au Naturale order yesterday. I am COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY by the powder foundation and my new lip gloss. They will be reviewed next week in a separate post. This order seals it, though. Au Naturale is *the best* brand of natural makeup on the market. No ifs, ands or buts.

    I also have been testing out the two new cleansers for Humboldt Soap Company. If you recall, I gave a rave review of the Egg White Complexion Bar in the spring and was eager to try Arice's newest creations. Humboldt Soap has two new liquid facial cleansers called Cleanseplexion with Argan Oil. One is a basic cleanser and the other is exfoliating with Jojoba Beads. I am super impressed with both formulas. They will not take off your makeup -- use the oil cleansing method or your favorite eye makeup remover for that -- but they do gently cleanse the skin with a simple, non-irritating formula. I am not generally a fan of exfoliating cleansers, as most are laden with plastic beads which are horrible for the ecosystem, but this one naturally and gently helps slough dead skin cells. Arice, I continue to be impressed with your products! 

    Ooh, do you see the pretty autumnal bronze nail polish I am wearing in the above photo? It's from Butter London and is called Trifle. I am wearing it with Jamberry Stardust Top Coat. They go so well together. I adore Butter's creamy, easy to apply formulas. That reminds me, I also tried a NOT so good top coat recently which also will get a full review next week. That was $10 down the drain for sure. This is Friday Favorites, however, so I am only sharing things I am really positive about today.

    I am a big fan of rosewater as a toner. I also love facial mists. I am so happy to have found the perfect rose facial mist and it is from one of my favorite brands on earth, Jane Iredale. The Smell the Roses Hydration Spray is full of fabulous ingredients, such as Aloe, Rosewater (REAL, not rose fragrance oil), radish root, rosehips, white tea and more. My face is so dewy and smooth and perfectly hydrated. I use it after cleansing morning and night. Best of all, 100% of the profits benefit Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

    Seed Custom Blends Body Wash Review

    Wednesday, September 30, 2015

    I really appreciate it when I have a chance to have something created JUST for me. There was the time when I had a beautiful black mod winter coat made especially for me, exactly customized for my measurements and then mailed a week later from eShakti, and then my exquisite custom blended foundation from Prescriptives, where I was able to have the perfect formula blended for me after a webcam conversation. Those experiences were delightful and made me feel pampered.

    Body care is personal. It uses all of your senses. You might have something that is the perfect scent and amount of lather, but not like how it makes your skin feel after showering. Or, you might have the perfect consistency, but not enjoy the fragrance.

    The brand new Custom Blends line from (seed) Body Care is revolutionizing the way we choose skincare. You can have a Lip Oil, Body Oil or Body Wash made especially for you, choosing up to three essential oils, giving you the possibility of over 1000 blend combinations.

    I went on the (seed) website and selected a new Body Wash. I decided to choose Orange, Lemon  and Rosemary Essential Oils in my custom product. I had so much fun choosing my blend. There are just so many options, and I just went with my mood at the time when making my selections.

    A few short days later, my customized product arrived.

    I confess-- I am in love with my new Custom Blend Body Wash from (seed) Body Care! This is the BEST natural body wash ever. If you have ever tried a sulfate free body wash before, you know that it can be really hard to find one that (A) doesn't feel greasy or slimy and (B) that actually lathers.

    Logically, I know that you do NOT need a lather! Lather typically comes from sulfates and have nothing to do with how clean your skin is actually getting. Yet, I still enjoy a bit of a lather. It's just a psychological thing, I suppose. The body wash from (seed) has a light and creamy lather without sulfates. It soothes and hydrates my skin without leaving an unpleasant film.

    It smells cheerful and uplifting without  artificial fragrance and contains no gluten, parabens, phthalates, soy or dairy. Vegan & cruelty free too! You knocked this out of the park, (seed)!

    I love that I can leave this in my shower for my boys to use without worrying about the ingredients. You see, I am that mom who makes sure the kids are using the best, most wholesome and natural (YET PROPERLY PRESERVED-- this one features an Ecocert  preservative) products because I worry about their health more than I do my own. I am anal when it comes to the products I use on them. Plus, Nick has very sensitive dry skin with occasional Eczema and Ben has dry skin with a small patch of Keratosis Pilaris. I know that (seed) is so gentle and effective. This is a product the whole family can enjoy with good for you ingredients that FEEL amazing and SMELL lovely!

    Are you unsure which oils to pick? You have to take this super fun & quick personality quiz from (seed) that tells you your ideal oil. My quiz revealed that my ideal oil is Palmarosa. How about you?

    Samantha's Bellafill Journey: Part 1

    Tuesday, September 22, 2015

    My name is Samantha Behiry. I’m guest blogging for Karley regarding an exciting journey I’m taking to improve my skin. For background, I am 29 years old and have been battling skin and acne issues for as long as I can remember. My acne breakouts have subsided for the most part, but I now find myself plagued by the marks left behind from having troubled skin for so many years. I have literally been praying to God for a solution to this problem that has significantly lowered my self-esteem on a daily basis. 

    A couple months ago my prayer was answered when I came across a blog post here on The Beauty Blogger from Karley  asking if any of her readers were interested in trying a new, long-lasting dermal filler called Bellafill®, which was recently approved by the FDA to treat acne scars. I was literally jumping for joy when I heard of this new innovation.

    I am not the type of person to use anything on my skin or in my body without doing research first. I spent hours going through all the testimonials and reviews of this product. By the end of my research, I knew nothing would stop me from having the procedure done. I found nothing but positive remarks and results from other people just like me who had suffered from unsightly acne scars and found the solution through Bellafill®. Bellafill® was originally approved by the FDA and used to treat nasolabial folds (smile lines) and was just recently approved for correcting acne scars, and boy am I happy about that!

    I just had a skin test appointment in my hometown of Atlanta with Dr. Gabrielle Sabini, who has been amazing. I needed a skin test to make sure that I have no reaction to the filler. It was quick and painless. My treatment appointment, where my scars will be injected with Bellafill® is right around the corner and I cannot wait to see the results! Stay tuned for more as I will continue to be blogging about my Bellafill® journey.

    Weekend DIY: Acne Home Remedies

    Saturday, September 19, 2015

    I know there are so many people out there who love a good do it yourself (DIY) project. I happen to love whipping up different home remedies in my own kitchen. Some are duds -- like my cocoa face mask that stained my skin so it looked dirty -- but others actually work beautifully. If you are having a spa night with your girlfriends, making your own kitchen-inspired skincare can be fun.

    Did you know that there are some ingredients in your fridge and cabinets that may help mild cases of acne? Today I am here to share two of my personal favorites. Know that these are not long-term acne solutions, nor will they work for difficult cases of of acne.

    Strawberry Apple Cider Vinegar Astringent

    Ingredients to gather up:
    • 2 cups distilled water
    • 1/2 cup of lavender sprigs from your garden
    • 1 cup of aloe vera juice
    • 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
    • Handful of chopped strawberry leaves
    • 20 drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil
    Why use these ingredients?
    Strawberry leaves don't look like much of anything when you're cutting up your berries, but they actually have more than four times the vitamin C -- in the leaves alone -- than a large orange! Strawberries also contain natural salicylins. These are a natural source of salicylic acid (beta hydroxy acid) and are oil-soluble, meaning they can penetrate into the pores and help "de-gunk".
    • Lavender is soothing and helps to keep the skin balanced. It is a gentle humectant. Many believe lavender may also help prevent ingrown hairs and clogged pores.
    • Aloe vera juice is soothing and nourishing to the skin. It helps act as a gentle, protective barrier as well.
    • Tea Tree Essential Oil is native to Australia and it has been used for years and years by aromatherapists to help prevent acne and maintain healthy, clear skin.
    Combine ingredients and strain. Put in a bottle and store no more than a few days in the fridge. Apply with natural cotton pads as needed.

    Tea Tree and Jojoba Spot Treatment

    In a pinch and need to quickly fade a pimple? Try this homemade spot treatment using only two ingredients: Jojoba Oil and Tea Tree Essential Oil.

    We just discussed the benefits of Tea Tree Oil. It can also work effectively as a spot treatment. It's wonderful for oily skin, it's antibacterial and helps to dissolve facial oils.

    You will need a carrier oil to dilute your Tea Tree Oil as most find it too concentrated to apply directly to the skin. Try Jojoba Oil for this recipe, as it's a lovely natural for acne-prone skin. Jojoba Oil is not really an oil in the traditional sense. It is a wax ester. This means that it mimics your skin's own sebum, drawing excess oil out. Be sure to choose only 100% pure jojoba oil.

    Add several drops of Jojoba Oil to the Tea Tree Oil. I recommend a ratio of three parts Jojoba to one part Tea Tree Essential Oil. Gently combine and apply directly to your pimples.

    Do you like making homemade skincare in your kitchen? What are your favorite home remedies? Share them in the comments section below!

    $90 Way Too Tan® Giveaway!

    Thursday, September 17, 2015


    What's up for grabs? -- WayTooTan® Dark HYBRID TANNING SILICONE™

    What is Way Too Tan®?
    Luxe Silicone Emulsion + Organic Antioxidants + Anti-Aging Formula

    Way Too Tan® Dark HYBRID TANNING SILICONE™ is a high-end, one-of-a-kind, multi-purpose sunless tanning lotion that can be used year-round. Any time you want a SAFE, SUNLESS tan without damaging UVA and UVB rays, this is a stellar skincare luxury! Instead of the sun, Way Too Tan is a DHA & Erythrulose bronzer.

    The luxe silicone emulsion delivers an exceptional, non-irritating, non-sticky, non-oily, velvety smooth feel on the skin. After it sinks it, it transforms into a matte appearance for a shine-free natural glow. Excellent water-repellency, resistance & wrinkle correction are additional benefits.

    Skip the harmful aging and burning rays and get a *natural looking* deep tan without the sun. Not only is this a sunless, moisturizing formula, but it also contains anti-aging ingredients. Did I mention that it smells AMAZING? It's a sweet tropical vanilla that smells like heaven.

    Why I love it 

    First of all, it has one of my most favorite skincare ingredients: Grape Seed. Grape Seed Extract provides 20 times more antioxidant power than Vitamin E and 50 times more than Vitamin C. It helps fight free radicals to protect the skin from damage, nourishes and strengthens the skin cells. Rich in Resveratrol, Grape Seed extract also helps to keep the skin firm and youthful in appearance and also improves collagen flexibility & strength.

    Japanese Green Tea and White Tea extracts provides a high concentration of polyphenols to protect skin from harmful free radicals and tighten skin.

    Hyaluronic Acid helps to provide deep moisturization & hydration, and improves skin elasticity, while rreducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Plus it gives skin a more youthful appearance.

    The advanced airless pump system keeps the formula fresh and long lasting and is unlike the delivery and packaging systems of other sunless tanners. Because of the airless pump, it keeps the lotion more stable and preserves product integrity.


     Unlike most paraben-filled sunless tanners on the market, Way Too Tan provides an abundance of antioxidants including Grape Seed Extract, White Tea, Green Tea and more. Panthenol (B5) and Hyaluronic Acid will keep your skin looking smooth & supple while tanning. This product is gluten free, and for those with unique allergies, there is no aloe or hemp.

     a Rafflecopter giveaway

    5 Fall Skincare Favorites

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

    Fall is right around the corner. Do you know what that means? Before you know it, furnaces will be turned on and the air will be less humid than the 91 degrees it was today. When it comes to your beauty routine, that means changing things up to compensate for dry skin.


    1. Nix the foaming cleansers and choose a creamy formula.

    A milky cleanser will be gentler on your skin this time of year. Most foaming cleansers contain irritating soaps. Creamy cleansers are best unless you have oily skin. Look for a sulfate free formula for gentle cleansing. Cleansers with green tea and cucumber are especially gentle around the eye area.
    Try the Yes to Cucumbers Gentle Milk Cleanser, $7.99

    2. Spritz on some hydration!

    Facial mists are a fabulous addition to your skin care regime this fall! When you spray on moisturizing ingredients, they help nourish skin cells and will help your facial cream work more effectively. Use a mist prior to moisturizing and again to set makeup. You can even use them throughout the day if you are feeling dry. Try  Jane Iredale Pommist Hydration Spray, $27

    3. Switch from a lightweight, oil free moisturizer to a cream.

    While fluid formulations are ideal when your skin is holding more moisture, a richer cream is often necessary to help keep the skin hydrated. Massage a night-time facial cream into your skin each night so you can wake up with velvety soft skin. Try: Perfectly Posh Never Grow Up Anti-Aging Face Creme is infused with coffee seed, anti-aging peptides, argan oil, meadowfoam seed oil, Vitamin C & more, $24

    4. Exfoliate with fruit enzymes.

    Using harsh, granular scrubs will irritate the skin. Fall’s dry skin craves exfoliation from natural fruit enzymes such as papaya and pineapple. These natural sources work best to lift dead skin cells and help the skin look renewed and refreshed. Try: MyChelle Dermaceuticals Fruit Enzyme Scrub, $18

    5. Use body oils to quench the skin after your shower.

    Hot water can dry out your skin. Very often, you step out of the shower only to find that your skin itches from the dehydration. Unlike traditional body lotions, oils absorb right into your skin instantly and help your skin retain moisture. The new breed of body oils come in spray form, so you won’t have slippery hands -- or bottles to drop! Try: (seed) Relaxing Blend Body Oil, $14

    As seen in...

    I am so fortunate to do what I love.

    The new September 2015 issue of CosmoBiz is out and I have 5 articles in it this time around.

    Click the cover image above to read the digital edition.

    *Curious about the safety of gel polish for your nails? I have an in-depth look at this issue on page 66.

    *What makes you feel beautiful? Asking others this very question led me on a very personal journey. Take a look at page 70.

    *Thinking of coloring your hair? I dish on the latest trends from top colorists. Find it on page 40.

    *Are you in a rut? Is it time for a makeup shake up? No worries! I am here to share tips from the experts on page 68.

    *Pumpkin -- it's not just for lattes! Why is this ingredient so amazing for the skin? Learn more on page 46.


    Tuesday, August 25, 2015

    Here are the top 5 things that I have discovered about myself over the years:

    1. I no longer give a flip what people think of me. I am a recovering people-pleaser. I used to do myself a real disservice by being a "yes" person. Each time I said yes to something that made me cringe on the inside, I would be showing myself disrespect. As I get older, I say "no" more often and do not let any guilt eat at me. Life is too short to say NO to yourself by saying YES to everything else.

    2. I FEEL and look better and am healthier at 40 than at 30. Ten years ago, I turned 30 suffering with pretty severe depression. My dad had just died at age 56 of pancreatic cancer, I had two under age 2 and was EXHAUSTED. I was overweight and eating to make myself feel better. I was not in a good place. I've shed the weight (literally and figuratively) and feel younger at 40 than I did in my twenties. It's all about loving and respecting myself (and my family) enough to be kind to my body.

    3. I have always been my toughest critic. I am really hard on myself. I am working on this. No matter what I do, it is not quite good enough in my eyes. This one is a real work in progress. Stop back when I turn 50 and hopefully this will be a thing of the past.

    4. Gosh darn it, though, I like me. I do. I think I am--as my big brother used to say--pretty SWELL. I like to make others feel good. I like to help people. Sure I am quirky, but like a fine wine or a block of cheddar, I get better with age. I am a much more accepting person, more forgiving. I no longer go through life holding onto things-- like they say in Frozen, you have to "let it go." I am more patient. Being a mom has helped with that.

    5. Nothing is more important in this life than the people you surround yourself with. I know this. If people suck the life out of you, don't associate with them. Simple enough. My children, my husband, my family, my crazy group of friends who have become my other family-- they make my life complete. If you have people you can talk to, laugh with, whose shoulders you can cry on -- if you have people who truly bring you joy, then you are lucky. I am so fortunate. No amount of money, number of bylines or kudos or things of that nature could EVER measure up to what truly makes one rich -- family and friends. I realize that each day. My life is rich.

    I have been enjoying some time off with my family the past couple weeks. I will resume regular posting after Labor Day!

    Myths and Truths About Preservatives

    Tuesday, August 18, 2015

    We've talked about "bad" ingredients in your skincare and beauty products before at length over the past 8 years here at The Beauty Blogger. You know the ones-- DMDM Hydantoin, Parabens, BHT, Formaldehyde, and about a dozen other ingredients I do not like to see in personal care products.

    Today, I am taking a different approach. IS all-natural the BEST way to go in every situation?

    The above product is one I received here for blog review. Upon opening, it had an "off" odor and mold.

    The ingredients I would like to talk about today:

    • MOLD
    • FUNGI
    • YEAST

    I have been concerned about the ingredients in skincare products for years now. I have been writing about the issue for more than 8. For me, natural beauty is not just eco-friendly beauty products or sustainable packaging, but also SAFER ingredients. I am also the first to admit that my opinions have changed a bit as far as ingredients go. I used to rely wholeheartedly on the EWG's Skin Deep Guide, but years later, I have a different view point.  The EWG, in many ways, presents an alarmist point of view and doesn't get down to the nitty gritty and say that their rankings are all black or white--they do not say that there is a HUGE difference in an ingredient used at 100% concentration vs. 0.05% concentration. And, yes, there is a HUGE difference.

    Admittedly, I have relied too much over the years on the EWG. One cannot rely solely on the EWG, just as people need to accept that effects can be cumulative, so caution and research are needed.

    A couple years back, I was even thinking of changing my mind on using products preserved with phenoxyethanol as part of the ingredient makeup.  I was introduced to a brand with a natural "preservative" derived from a rare tree bark that may have broad spectrum protection. I was skeptical, but kept a truly open mind. I was avidly using these products and then, wham--3 months later, I opened my jar of furry, mold covered face mask. My face cream soon had beige lumps and an odor. 

    I was willing to take a gamble and have an open mind.  And I was wrong.  My original feelings on broad spectrum preservation were only validated after experiencing rancid items, mold, and skin irritation. The real problem is not "parabens may cause cancer" or "propylene glycol is the same thing as anti-freeze" (it is not, by the way).

    The real danger, I believe, is from what we KNOW FOR A FACT to happen: that improperly preserved products cause mold.  They can lead to serious bacterial infections. They may cause staph. We know this for sure. 

    A few months ago, I received skincare products for review from a direct sales company with NON-TOXIC in its name. Within 3 months, half of them had developed visible mold. This line contains a plethora of products lacking effective preservation.

    For the record, I am not in favor of products with parabens. They are too questionable for me.  But if it came down to it and I was offered a completely natural, homemade unpreserved skincare product and a mass produced cream with parabens and could ONLY choose one or the other, I would choose the one with parabens. And I do not say this lightly.

    More research is needed.  I am hoping that we will know with absolute certainty whether parabens will cause cancer (right now, it looks like they do not, based on perr reviewed scientific studies) or whether formaldehyde releasers will make you grow three heads. Until that time, what we DO know, is that there is great risk with improperly preserved products. I have been very critical over the years of certain synthetic ingredients--but have always spoken about the need for preservation and product safety. 

    More and more websites are popping up with stories of the latest "dangerous" or "toxic" beauty ingredient. What worries me, though, is that while everyone is happy to jump on the natural products bandwagon, they are not considering the possibility that they will be, with CERTAINTY, putting themselves at risk of having mold, bacteria, yeast, etc. in their products if they are using preservative-free ones.  This is not a better option than the alternative.

    These are preservatives *I* trust to protect the the products I buy. I am not saying these are guaranteed to be 100% safe. No one can say that. There is not enough conclusive evidence to say that these ingredients will always be deemed safe, but that is the beauty of research & science. The below preservatives WILL protect your products from the nasties, but are healthier alternatives to parabens.

    • Phenoxyethanol when used with more natural preservatve boosters such as Ethylhexylglycerin a
    • Gluconoactone and Sodium Benzoate (Geogard)
    • Glucose Oxidase/Lactoperoxidase
    • Japanese Honeysuckle Extract (although, this is an ingredient not without controversy)

    The biggest threat to your well being is buying products which are NOT properly preserved. I'd like to look at some preservation myths today.

    MYTH #1: Grapefruit Seed Extract is an all natural preservative.

    GSE is not all natural.  People often confuse Grapefruit Essential Oil with Grapefruit Seed Extract. The essential oil is all natural and is great for aromatherapy. Actually, the name Grapefruit Seed Extract is misleading. One would assume that GSE is pulverized grapefruit seeds. It is anything but. What is Grapefruit Seed Extract then? GSE actually comes from chemically-altered grapefruit seeds which have been treated with Ammonium Chloride via a chemical process. 

    Does GSE preserve products in any way? Not really. Some people believe GSE may be mildly preservative, but research has consistently shown that it is ineffective and that it is actually the tainted chemical components used to preserve the GSE itself--including triclosanbenzethonium chloride, and methylparaben-that are doing the tiny bit of preservation.  In other words, a paraben-free business may be using GSE which actually might have parabens in it. Kind of defeats the purpose, no?

    MYTH #2: Vitamin E and Rosemary Oleoresin Extract are all-natural preservatives.

    Wrong again. These 2 ingredients are antioxidants. Antioxidants are good. They help fight free radicals.

    When used in a product, it can help to protect your more sensitive oils from oxidizing and becoming rancid. It is NOT a preservative. I used to use ROE in my eye balm and sleep balm back when I was formulating --not to preserve (as there is no water & oil mixture to require a preservative) -- but to protect the oils.

    MYTH #3: Herbal tinctures and extracts are natural preservatives.

    When you see an ingredients listing and a product description indicating that the product is all-natural and preserved only with herbal blends, extracts, and tinctures, this is very misleading. What is not being revealed on the ingredients list is that it is only a "preservative" because some tinctures and extracts are preserved in butylene and propylene glycol. In other words, that "natural" ingredient used to "preserve" your product actually contains about 50-75% synthetic ingredients. Butylene and propylene glycol aren't evil either, by the way. They still won't preserve effectively.

    MYTH #4: Grain alcohol is a safe, natural preservative.

    No! Grain alcohol (ethyl alcohol) is NOT an effective preservative. While it is antibacterial, it would need to be used at a level of around 70% in the product to be effective. I don't know about you, but if I put a product with mainly alcohol on my skin, it would be drier than the Arizona desert in the summer time. Even if you would venture to try using it on your skin at such a high level, it will not protect against mold, fungus, and yeast.
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