Five to Try

One of my favorite things is discovering a love for a new beauty product. I'm trying to cut back on the amount of new things I'm trying at one time, but with so much out there, sometimes it's hard to fight the temptation to try everything. Lately I've found some real gems that are really working well in my routines.

Blithe Tundra Chaga Pressed Serum* | When I first read about this, I knew it was something I wanted to try out. This pressed serum has a gelatinous texture in the tub but instantly melts into a liquid when rubbed between your palms. It has 60% Chaga Mushroom extract, which is full of antioxidants and skin-soothing properties. It also contains fermented argan and olive oils, so it feels intensely nourishing on the skin. I find it really helps to smooth and moisturize my skin without feeling heavy. 

Glossier Lip GlossThe best lip gloss of them all - I wasn't even that into lip gloss until I started using Glossier's. It gives a super glassy sheen that really makes the lips look more plump and full. It contains Vitamin E so it's actually good for your lips, and it's a thick formula that stays put for hours. You can't beat that super cute packaging, too. You can get 20% off your first Glossier order here.

True Moringa Lip Whip, 'Pink Yarrow'* | Another lip product I've been loving is the Lip Whip by True Moringa. It's super nourishing and full of moringa, a powerful natural anti-ager, as well as cocoa butter, castor seed oil, and Vitamin E to moisturize the lips. It has a lovely sheer bright pink tint that really helps to brighten the complexion. It's perfect for my more minimal makeup days and keeps my lips nourished all day long.

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning SolutionI just mentioned this in my rundown of The Ordinary products I've tried so far, but this one is the standout for me. It's quite comparable to the Pixi Glow Tonic, and I've seen even faster results due to the higher percentage of glycolic acid. Using this once per night has really been working wonders for my skin, keeping it smooth and clear.

Hairstory New Wash* | This one is *life-changing* - dramatic, I know, but true. The whole idea behind the Hairstory line is that traditional shampoos are incredibly damaging to the hair, and the only reason we need to use conditioners and hair masks is to fix the problems caused by our shampoo. The New Wash cleans the hair with essential oils and aloe instead, and while there was a bit of a learning curve and adjustment period to it at first, I don't think I could live without it now. You smooth it through the hair like you would with conditioner, and when you rinse it out, it really feels like you've conditioned your hair as well. It cuts down on my shower time since it's one less step I need to do, and my hair dries much faster, too. My hair has much more volume and body, and I'm able to airdry it without it getting incredibly puffy. 

Have you tried any of these? What are your favorite products you've tried recently?

*Products mentioned have been sent to me for consideration, but all opinions are my own. Please see my disclaimer for more information.


Intro to The Ordinary

The Ordinary, a relatively new brand under the Deciem umbrella, has been making lots of waves in the beauty industry lately. Their motto is "clinical formulations with integrity" - they skip all the marketing, fancy packaging, and filler ingredients to present highly effective formulas at crazy affordable prices. I had never before seen such low prices for serums and oils of this quality. The formulas are simple, with only one or two major ingredients in most of them, so it's easy to pick and choose and build a regimen that works for your skin - it's pretty much as close to customized skincare as you can get, without spending an arm and a leg. I've now tried five products from the line, which I figured was a good enough intro to get a good feel for the brand.

The first thing I tried was the Advanced 2% Retinoid. I had heard all about how pretty much everyone could benefit from adding a retinoid to their routine - they're powerful anti-aging ingredients because of their ability to stimulate collagen production and increase cell-turnover. They can help clear up acne, reduce wrinkles, and fade hyperpigmentation. I had previously used the Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil, but I found the results of the Advanced 2% Retinoid to be quite similar. It did dry my skin out at first, which wasn't a reaction I had to the Sunday Riley oil, but my skin has now gotten used to it. I use this a few times per week at night and wake up to smoother, clearer skin.

The other product I tried in my first order was the Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%. I love using chemical exfoliators rather than physical ones, so I was thinking this potent AHA formula would be perfect. It's a thicker, syrup-y texture that I apply as my serum step a few nights per week (when I'm not using the retinoid). AHAs like lactic acid gently exfoliate the skin by breaking down the bonds between skin cells, allowing you to more easily shed your dead skin cells. This formula also contains Tasmanian Pepperberry to reduce irritation that can sometimes be caused by using acids. It's also formulated to have a pH and pKa of 3.8 - an ideal balance between salt and acidity, maximizing effectiveness and minimizing possible irritation. My skin responds really well to this, and after using it just a few times I really noticed a change in how smooth my skin was. It doesn't feel strong/intense at all to me, but if you're concerned about the high percentage they also sell a 5% version.

Speaking of acids, I've also really been loving the Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution. I ordered this after noticing how similar the ingredients were to the Pixi Glow Tonic, but with a higher percentage of glycolic acid. This has been the runaway favorite of the range for me. I use it every night after cleansing, swept over my face with a cotton pad. Glycolic acid is an AHA like lactic acid, but it has smaller molecules, allowing it to get a bit deeper into the skin. Like the Lactic Acid serum, this toner also contains Tasmanian Pepperberry to reduce irritation. I still love the Pixi Glow Tonic, but I think I've found a much more affordable alternative here. My skin has been so clear since starting to use this consistently. If you're new to acid toners I'd still recommend starting with the Glow Tonic as it has a lower percentage of the glycolic acid and is more gentle, but once you've built up a tolerance this is a perfect next step.

The other two products I've tried from The Ordinary are facial oils. Rosehip oil is one of my favorites to use, morning and night, so I had to try the 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil. It's comparable to other rosehip oils I've used in the past, so it's one I'll definitely keep repurchasing. My skin drinks this stuff up, giving me a super nourished glow without being too greasy. Rosehip oil contains pro-Vitamin A as well as linoleic and linolenic acids, so it can help with hyperpigmentation over time as well. I also have loved using Marula oil on my skin when I'm feeling really dry, so I wanted to give their 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil a try. It's totally comparable to the much more expensive option from Drunk Elephant - I'd say there's a small difference in how quickly it sinks into the skin (The Ordinary's version takes a bit longer). Marula Oil is rich in antioxidants, so it restores radiance and helps prevent signs of aging. It's a bit more dense than Rosehip oil, so it's one I typically use at night in the colder months or in conjunction with the retinoid. If you have dry skin, it's a must-try for sure.

What have you tried from The Ordinary? I'm dying to try the AHA/BHA Peeling Solution next to see how it compares to the Drunk Elephant Babyfacial!


Skin Focus | Products for Glowing, Luminous Skin

If you've read any posts on the blog before, you'll know what a broken record I am when it comes to how I like my skin to look. My skin is quite dry, dehydrated, and dull naturally, so anything I can do to add a glow, I'm in. Lately I've been taking extra care to really prep my skin to make it look its best when it comes time for makeup, and today I'm rounding up some of my favorite products to get that super luminous, dewy base.

Skin Prep

Prepping the skin for makeup is probably the most important step here. A painter wouldn't paint a masterpiece without properly preparing their canvas, so why should you apply your makeup without preparing your skin first? When I have time in the morning or for a special occasion, I love using the Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask as a pre-makeup step. It has instant results, giving you that just-got-a-facial glow. It gently exfoliates the skin, leaving it super smooth but never red or irritated. Because of my skin type, I love loading up on moisturizers before makeup to ensure my base goes on as smoothly as possible - you would think this would decrease a foundation's longevity, but it actually helps keep my skin from drinking up the foundation, making it last longer. My favorite moisturizers for underneath makeup are both from Glossier - the original Priming Moisturizer and the Priming Moisturizer Rich. I've been using the Rich version all winter to help with my dry skin, but the lighter original version is my go-to in the warmer months. Right now I've actually been loving using both - the Rich version has a bit more of a velvety finish on my skin, so I apply that all over and then apply the original, which has a dewier finish, on the high points of my face. Another way to make skin really glow is to apply a facial oil underneath your makeup - Rosehip Oil is my favorite, as it's lightweight and sinks in quickly. As a finishing touch, a face mist is perfect - it locks everything in and helps amp up that glow. I've been using the Pixi Glow Mist* a lot since I received it last week, and it's already becoming a staple in my routine.

The Base

Once your skin is all prepped and primed, picking the right base product is next. I usually go for really lightweight, glowy bases, like the Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint, for a natural, glossy-skin look. When I want slightly higher coverage I've fallen back in love with the Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder Foundation - it's the glowiest, most beautiful foundation ever and will give you Victoria's-Secret-model skin. On special occasions when I want my makeup to last a long time, or if I just need even more coverage, my holy grail is the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation. This really is worth all the hype it gets - it's absolutely stunning on the skin. To make it a little less "makeup-y" looking for everyday, it is beautiful when mixed with the Glossier Skin Tint. Concealer is also important - I like using a light layer of foundation all over and then going in with concealer where I need more coverage, rather than wearing full coverage all over my face. The NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer is still my number one at the moment, and despite having "matte" in the name, it really lends itself well to this look. It isn't overly matte on me, but rather has more of a skinlike finish. The areas of redness that I usually need to conceal tend to be in oilier areas of my face as well, so something more matte is perfect. A 2-in-1 product like the Wander Beauty Dualist Matte and Illuminating Concealer* is perfect, too - one end is a matte stick concealer, while the other is a brightening, illuminating concealer. It's so convenient to have both products in one, so you're covered whenever.

Finishing Touches

You can't talk about luminous skin without mentioning highlighters, right? I think creams work best for this look, as they're usually more toned down and mesh well with the skin, making it look like you're just glowing from within. I can't go a minute without proclaiming my love for the Glossier Haloscope in Quartz - it's just the best in my opinion. It adds just the perfect amount of dewiness to the skin, but can still look quite intensely glowy. If you're looking for something with no shimmer whatsoever, take a look at the new Ciate London Dewy Stix. This is literally just a skin gloss/balm in a stick. It adds a glossy sheen to the skin that looks like you've been eating right and sleeping well your entire life. I prefer to dab it on with my fingers rather than striping it on straight from the tube, and it looks beautiful dabbed on the eyelids as well. Adding a bit of a flush to the skin is important, too - it adds to the healthy look we've been building here. My favorite is the Glossier Cloud Paints* - they're the most natural-looking blushes I've tried. They blend effortlessly into the skin and look just like a natural flush. My favorites for my skin tone are Puff and Dusk, especially mixed - they make the perfect neutral pink. If you haven't tried at least one of these yet, you need to.

What are your necessities for a glowing skin look?

I mentioned a lot of Glossier products in this post, and you can get 20% off your first Glossier order here. I do make a small commission on orders placed through my rep page, but all that money earned gets invested back into this space on equipment and products to review!

*Products mentioned have been sent to me for consideration, but all opinions are my own. Please see my disclaimer for more information.