The Spot Fighters

Luckily for me, my mid-twenties have meant good things for my skin. I still vividly remember my struggles with cystic acne, starting back in my teens and persisting well into my early twenties. It was likely a combination of prescription acne medications and hormonal changes as I aged that eventually put an end to that stage of my life...for the most part, anyway. 

Nowadays, my skin tends to remain breakout-free the majority of the time, with my trouble period being around that time of the month and my trouble area being my chin. Having tried more than my fair share of acne products over the past decade, I've finally narrowed it down to a small team of three products worthy of remaining in my pimple-fighting arsenal.

The gentle one // If you've been following my blog for a while now, you might remember back in the day when I used to use La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo religiously. I'd apply it all over my skin, under my moisturizer, once to twice daily, depending on the severity of my acne. I don't use this one very often anymore, but it still holds a special place in my heart. It's light and gentle and doesn't tend to cause much dryness, even when used twice daily, as I did. In my opinion, however, it's not potent enough to be used as a spot treatment for pimples that have already surfaced, but the next two are.

The natural one // It's weird, because Osmia Organics Spot Treatment doesn't contain any ingredients I'd normally associate with fighting acne, as its key ingredients are evening primrose oil and a slew of essential oils. It's an oil housed in a tiny rollerball that is meant to be used only on spots, as its name would suggest, and not all over the face for preventative measures. Due to its slightly greasier consistency, I apply it only at night, and oftentimes, new pimples that could be felt brewing under the surface the night before are diminished and less painful by morning, often never surfacing at all. Although it has quite a strong herbal-scent, it's incredibly gentle and the evening primrose oil actually nourishes the skin, never allowing healing pimples to turn horribly dry and peely.

The strong one // Benzoyl peroxide has always been my spot-fighting weapon of choice, as salicylic acid tends not to be strong enough for me. With that said, one of my main qualms with benzoyl peroxide in the past has been its drying qualities...and the fact that it dyes my pillow cases and towels. Now, of course, there's nothing to be done about the bleaching thing, other than to switch to white linens, but Kate Somerville Anti Bac Acne Treatment Lotion manages to combine the potent acne-killing properties of benzoyl peroxide into a lotion that is very minimally drying. Although it can be applied all over, I use this as a nighttime spot treatment, similarly to how I use Osmia's. It's slightly more drying than Osmia's, but still considerably less drying than other benzoyl peroxide products I've tried in the past.

When I really need to bust out the big guns, I first apply Osmia Organics Spot Treatment, then layer Kate Somerville Anti Bac on top. Seriously. I wouldn't recommend doing this all the time, but sometimes you have no other choice, ya know? Although the combination of a lotion over an oil seems and looks odd, it seems to have additive spot-fighting effects that can't be ignored.

Here's to hoping that one day, I won't need a spot-fighting team in my skincare routine anymore, but until that day comes, at least I'll have these three products.


The Current Edit

Considering the nice California summers had been good to my skin in the past, I was surprised by how finicky my skin has been lately. After using up my DDF Glycolic Toning Complex prior to making the move back to California, I refrained from repurchasing or replacing it with another chemical exfoliant, simply in the interest of saving money. Let's just say my skin has been paying the price - it's been unusually congested and dull. Luckily, I can always rely on Osmia Organics Detox Exfoliating Mask to work double duty (full review here). It removes impurities from my pores, unclogs my skin and creates a dreamily smooth canvas in a matter of 20 minutes. Their Honey-Myrrh Lip Repair* is equally as fantastic. After an unfortunate and unusual bout with a dry, itchy patch on my upper right lip (weird, right?), this was the main product that helped whip my lips back into shape. As its name would suggest, it actually repairs and heals chapped and irritated lips.

In other skincare news, most nights, I've been layering the Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil under my night cream. Four drops soothes my skin on contact, and it slowly hydrates and plumps throughout the night. It's good enough to use on its own as well, especially during the summer when my skin isn't necessarily craving vast amounts of hydration. After fairly consistent use over the past several months, I can attest to the fact that it does effectively work at fading scars. No, it's not a miracle product, but I've noticed that marks left over post-breakout heal and fade more quickly and thoroughly when I use this.

After my lackluster experience with this coffee scrub, my appreciation for Splurge Skincare The Rub* has just grown even further (full review here). I'm currently using their Winter scent (Peppermint is my favorite though!), and it's incredible. My skin feels super soft post-scrub sesh, but the best part is that it leaves my skin feeling so moisturized that I can actually skip lotioning up altogether.

On the makeup front, I've been craving a more natural base for daytime, and after rediscovering Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream (I wear shade light/medium), I was quickly reminded of all the reasons why I loved it so much in the first place. It gives just enough coverage to even out my skintone without looking heavy, and the SPF30 makes it an easy choice for summer days. As it's still only the beginning of summer (and I'm an avid SPF wearer now), my complexion is still on the fairer side of the spectrum, so I've been relying heavily on bronzer to warm things up. Rouge Bunny Rouge At Goldcombe Bay is the bronzer for fair skin, and it gives me life without making me look overtly bronzed. In terms of blush choices, my hands seem unable to grab anything besides one of my two Make Up For Ever HD Blushes. Pictured is #315, the perfect warm, muted peach. The HD Blush formula is impeccable - it blends so effortlessly and the texture is undetectable on the skin. I LOVE THESE.

For eyes, I've been on a gel liner kick lately. Bobbi Brown Long-Wearing Gel Eyeliner in Black Mauve Shimmer Ink has been making near-daily appearances in my makeup bag, and the stormy, blackened purple is the perfect, softer alternative to a more dramatic, jet black. On my lips has been Givenchy Le Rouge in Rose Dressing. It's a perky pinky coral that instantly brightens up my complexion and offers just enough color for daytime. 

*PR samples


The Coffee Scrub Named Frank

I've tried scrubs aplenty, so it's not common for a scrub to truly pique my interest anymore (not to say I don't absolutely love them though!). Frank, however, is a coffee scrub. And yes, he (it?) apparently goes by Frank, and the wording on the packaging and website are written as though he's talking to you/hitting on you. It's slightly creepy but also mildly humorous. What I liked right off the bat was that Frank seemed different from your run-of-the-mill scrubs, in both ingredients and marketing strategy. I received the original to try out, but it's also available in coconut & grapeseed or cacao.
Frank is a dry scrub that can be used on your face and body. The ground coffee in all of the Frank scrubs is meant to help improve the look of cellulite, stretch marks, psoriasis, varicose veins, eczema and acne. The original, in particular, has brown sugar and sea salt to smooth the surface of the skin, sweet almond oil to moisturize, and vitamins and minerals to "work wonders from the outside in." One of the things I really admire is their short, sweet and natural ingredient list.

Let's just address the elephant in the room and say that yes, those are some pretty bold claims. It makes total sense to me that a body exfoliant could help with things like acne and skin texture because it removes dead skin cells at the surface, but cellulite? Stretch marks? Varicose veins? I'm not so sure.

After cleansing my skin, I turn the water off and massage Frank all over (sounds creepier than it is). I then follow the instructions and proceed to stand awkwardly in my shower while I wait for the scrub to dry, before rinsing it all off. Frank is a very effective exfoliant. My skin feels smooth and soft post-rinse, and despite the instructions given to use a light body wash on oily/combo skin to get rid of any residue, I don't and I find that the slight film/oil left over after I dry off is minimal and leaves my skin with just enough hydration for the summer months. 

What am I not a fan of? First of all, it's messy. It's a dark brown scrub made up of ground coffee beans. It gets everywhere. Secondly, the waiting period for it to dry down is awkward and time-consuming, but apparently, it's a necessary step in order to allow the caffeine time to work its magic on stretch marks and cellulite (fyi, mine still look the same, but I'll keep you posted if things improve with long-term use). Thirdly, the packaging. It's made of paper but lined on the inside to make it waterproof, but I would've preferred a jar that I could more easily keep inside the shower. And lastly, though the scent of coffee tinged with orange may sound pleasant enough, it smells a bit off on me, and you guessed it - it lingers.

My overall feelings about Frank are lukewarm. I think it performs really quite well for a scrub, but the overzealous claims, the messiness and the lingering, less than pleasant scent keep me from falling in love.

Frank coffee scrubs can be purchased from their website, starting from $14.95 for 7 oz.

Disclosure: Frank was sent to me for consideration for a review. I am not affiliated with the company, nor am I getting paid for this post. The opinions expressed in this post are based solely on my own experience with the product.


My All-Time Favorite Lipstick Formula

There was a time I might have hesitated if pushed to name my favorite lipstick formula, until I tried The One. After all, they say "When you know, you know," right? 

When I tried my first Givenchy Le Rouge lipstick, it was love at first swipe. It was creamy, buttery, and oh so pigmented. And to top it all off, the shade (Fuchsia Irresistible) was stunning. The more I wore it, the more in love I fell. Although creamy with some slip, it never feathers, and my lips feel hydrated and actually nourished the entire time I'm wearing it and for several hours thereafter.
L to R: Fuchsia Irresistible, Rose Dressing and Rouge Egerie
The line includes 24 shades (12 of which were just released this month!), ranging from flattering nudes to bold reds and everything in between. The lipsticks are encased in luxe tubes wrapped in real leather and embossed with the Givenchy logo. The formula boasts intense pigmentation with a semi-matte finish in one stroke, although I would describe the finish as one with soft shine. The color fades slowly and evenly after 4-5 hours (brighter/darker shades leave a nice stain), and the lipsticks never highlight dryness or flakiness. Lips always look smooth and plump.

Fuchsia Irresistible is a vivid fuchsia, Rose Dressing is a medium-toned pinky coral, and Rouge Egerie, one of the newly released shades, is an electric coral-red. All have a cream finish and are without shimmer. Both Fuchsia Irresistible and Rouge Egerie are incredible. They're strikingly bright yet sophisticated, and they make teeth look noticeably whiter. Rouge Egerie, in particular, is unique in that it's such a fresh take on red and manages to separate itself from the usual orangey-reds and pinky-reds, both of which we've seen replicated time and time again from tons of different brands. Rose Dressing is a punchier take on an everyday type of shade. Particularly gorgeous for summer.

Apologies for the dark photos that follow. The swatches in the photo above are color accurate.

Fuchsia Irresistible
Rose Dressing
Rouge Egerie
At $36 a tube, the Givenchy Le Rouges and your wallet definitely won't become best friends anytime soon, but I'm a firm believer in quality over quantity. How often is it that you find a lipstick formula that actually leaves your lips in better condition than they were in before you applied it? Unless I'm in a matte lip mood, the Le Rouges are pretty much everything I could want in a lipstick. 

Do you have a favorite lipstick formula?


Budgeproof Makeup

Whether it's an anticipatory extra long day, scorching temps, or both, when I need my makeup to look flawless from early morning to late in the evening (or even the wee hours of the next morning), I follow these 6 simple steps. 
1 // Use a foundation primer. My combo skin is fairly normal throughout, with the exception of my t-zone, where oil production throughout the day causes makeup to slip, slide and disappear. Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer is a godsend for when I need my makeup to last those extra few hours, and I find it also works to diminish the look of pores to create an overall more flawless-looking base. Tip: If you have issues with disappearing brows, try extending your foundation primer application onto your brows before applying your brow product of choice. This works particularly well on sparse brows!

2 // Choose a long-wearing foundation. It doesn't necessarily have to be matte, but most long-wearing formulas tend to be of the more matte variety. The key here is not to try anything brand new for the very first time on one of these kinds of days. Choose a foundation that you know looks great and lasts well on your skin. Hourglass Immaculate Foundation never disappoints, and the velvety finish blends beautifully over the Smashbox primer.

3 // Powder up! Dry-skinned gals may be able to skip this step, but if your face has any areas at all that are prone to developing shine throughout the day, at the very least, I'd recommend powdering there. For me, I find the finish of the Make Up For Ever Pro Finish Powder to be so seamless that I can apply a light dusting all over to lock in my base, and the final product never looks heavy or cakey. The same cannot be said about all powders, so choose wisely. Also, a bit of coverage is always a added bonus.

4 // Prime yo' lids. I don't wear eyeshadow primer most days, since I find most good eyeshadow formulas don't crease or fade significantly on me without it; but, on long days, I leave nothing up to chance. I'm a fan of both Urban Decay Primer Potion (I have the "vintage" tube) and NARS Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base.

5 // Step away from the pencil liner. If you're going to wear eyeliner, gel or liquid is the only way to go. In general, they're more water-resistant, sweat-resistant and long-wearing than pencil liners, no matter how great the formula. There are a ton of great gel formulas out there (L'Oreal, YSL and Clinique to name a few), but my all-time favorite liquid liner is Physician Formula 2-in-1 Lash Boosting Eyeliner + Serum.

6 // The Bold Lip Blot. Apply one layer, gently blot it off onto a tissue and reapply....and maybe repeat. The thin layers help your lipstick to adhere better by removing any excess product or shine between layers that could cause the pigment to slide around. Makes sense since matte lips tend to last longer, right?

How do you make your makeup budgeproof?

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