5 Common Reasons Your Skin is Breaking Out

SBOAlright, you’re tired of it. You are way past puberty, you wash your face regularly and you even splurged on that overly expensive miracle acne face wash! So what gives?! Unfortunately no matter how many precautions you may think you’re taking, you may still be missing some everyday habits that are causing your vicious breakouts. Here are 5 of the most common reasons you’re still breaking out:

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Is Your Sunburn Cause for Concern?

SCFCThe sun’s effects on our skin can range from some seemingly innocent freckles and a healthy glow to blisters and pain. It can be difficult to know when to let it go and when to freak out. Although all exposure to the sun is damaging and can cause skin cancer later in life, there are some warning signs to look out for when you get sunburn. Continue reading

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HydraFacial MD Review: This Facial is Worth It!


When it comes to skincare, I’m a big believer in prevention: monthly facials for anti-aging, SPF to avoid sun damage, and lots of water to stay hydrated (and to possibly stave off wrinkles).  

But, every now and again, I live my life a little too Patsy Stone. Speaking of, is anyone else as excited for the AbFab movie as I am? Anyways, because I graduated college in the last decade, as in before Britney Spears’ infamous 2007 breakdown, I just don’t have the kind of time that I once did to make such debaucherous rookie mistakes without taking action.

After one insane week in particular, I took a long, hard, squinty look at myself in the mirror, and I had to admit, I looked kind of like Gollum from Lord of the Rings. Quelle horreur! And! To top it off, my skin was freaking out because I went off birth control.  Mind you, I never really broke out, even as a teenager.  Yet, here I was looking like a disaster.  And I, being fairly vain (not conceited or narcissistic, just vain), had to do something.  IMMEDIATELY!

After much frantic Googling, I stumbled upon the HydraFacial MD. According to the website, the HydraFacial is a multi-step treatment that “cleanses, evenly exfoliates and extracts to remove impurities and dead skin cells while at the same time replenishing vital nutrients including Antioxidants, Peptides and Hyaluronic Acid.”  Super! It works through some futuristic-y sounding process called the “Vortex technology system,” and involves a machine that looks just as futuristic.

Upon further research, it seemed the HydraFacial addressed all my skincare issues: fine lines, skin tone, and congested skin. Brilliant. I consulted the handy HydraFacial MD locator and I was in with a same-day appointment. Once I arrived, I had a brief consultation, where I moaned about my skincare woes to a very no-nonsense aesthetician. Who incidentally, and completely irrelevantly, looked very much like Red from Orange is the New Black.  She agreed that the HydraFacial was a good choice for me and gave me a few facts as she ushered me into the treatment room.  

First, a HydraFacial isn’t like a traditional facial. Meaning, there are no masks (boo!), but my face would not be poked and prodded by those painful extraction tools (yay!). Instead, the machine would do everything, from deep cleaning to diffusing serums into my skin. Also, HydraFacials aren’t meant to take the place of conventional facials, but rather they serve as a sort of supplement to them.

The procedure takes about a half-hour, so it can definitely be a lunchtime treatment. However, some clients may experience redness, so for your first treatment it’s better to come when you don’t have any post-facial obligations. Some people may also notice that their skin will be sensitive to the sun after the HydraFacial, so be sure to apply a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, which we should all really be doing anyway.  Lastly, for some clients to see full results, a series of three weekly HydraFacials is recommended, with monthly appointments thereafter.  But many people look glowy and have clearer skin after the first treatment, so they just opt for monthly appointments for maintenance.  The smoother, plumped-up effects can last up to a week.

Then we got down to business. I braced myself and asked whether the treatment would be painful. I was assured that no, I may only feel a little suction on my face or a sensation comparable to microdermabrasion, which I’ve also had. And that was exactly right. I felt virtually nothing, except the coolness of the tool, which looks like this, gently brushing across my face.  

The treatment consists of four steps, and an optional Vortex-Boost serum:  

Step 1: Exfoliation

The Activ-4 serum sweeps away dead skin cells and makeup debris, revealing healthy skin.

Step 2: Acid Peel

I was slightly intimidated, as I’ve had fairly strong peels and I know they can burn. But I was pleasantly surprised that this glycolic/salicylic acid peel barely even tingled. And I had no redness, peeling, or flakiness post-facial.

Step 3: Extraction

This was a welcome, pain free-change. Standard facial extractions leave me awkwardly mouth-breathing and teary-eyed as an aesthetician seems to endlessly stab at my nose. However, here, all I felt was a slight sucking sensation while my pores were de-clogged.  

Optional Step: Vortex-Boost Serum

After the extraction you can add a Vortex-Boost serum, which includes “DermaBuilder” (for fine lines, skin tone evenness and texture), “CTGF/Connective Tissue Growth Factor” (for fine lines and wrinkles), or “Britenol” (for brightness and to diminish the appearance of dark spots and discoloration).  I did the DermaBuilder because it sounded like the most inclusive option.

Step 4: Serum

The vortex-fusion tool infuses an “Antiox+ serum” into the skin. Rich with antioxidants, peptides, and hyaluronic acid, Antiox+ reduces the production of melanin, which prevents the appearance of brown spots and discoloration, instantly firms and tightens, deeply hydrates, and promotes collagen and elastin production.

And that’s it!  

So how did I look afterward? Well, I wasn’t red at all, which was obviously good. And while my skin was definitely more hydrated, it didn’t look vastly different than it normally does after a traditional facial… Until the next day. I don’t know what happened, but when I woke up the next morning, my face looked incredible. As in, my skin was brighter and glowing, and my breakouts were gone, and those spots of discoloration that I always get after breakouts go away had greatly faded. Honestly, I didn’t need to wear any makeup at all, and I almost always like to wear a little bit.  Bottom line: I’m a convert! Because anything that makes me feel beautiful when I’m completely natural is a must-do in my book.

Bright Skin (Image Credit: Flickr User Eflon)

Tips for Brighter, Clearer Skin!

Bright Skin (Image Credit: Flickr User Eflon)

Bright Skin (Image Credit: Flickr User Eflon)

Few things can ruin a day like dull, dry or broken out skin. A majority of confidence comes from having clear skin, so it’s hard to feel 100% pretty when your skin isn’t up to par. Luckily, you can have some control over your skin! Read below for ways to get your skin bright and clear and keep it that way. Continue reading

The 6 Natural Beauty Products You Need to Try!

Natural Beauty

Women want the world to believe that we are effortlessly, naturally, organically gorgeous.

From the once-ubiquitous “I woke up like this” to at least one woman claiming to subsist on light and air alone, we want to appear as though we do nothing more than flutter our eyelids open, splash our faces with morning dew, and bathe in water flown in by birds.


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Your First Time…Getting Your Legs Waxed

(Image Credit: Maegan Tintari)

(Image Credit: Maegan Tintari)

Brace yourself. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth and, like they always say, don’t look down!

As the hot wax begins to coat your legs, you’re probably beginning to think either a. This can’t be too bad, right? Or b. This is absolutely the dumbest idea I have ever had (besides that one night during spring break…)

But do not chicken out because the benefits of waxing will rid you of all of your lingering hesitations. Summer will be here faster than you think and if you can tolerate just a little excruciating pain you can have Venus commercial-ready legs that would make Victoria’s Secret models jealous.

Hair removal from waxing typically will last up to three weeks. That is three whole weeks of razor-free showering. The time saved by taking shaving out of your morning routine is bound to give you an extra five minutes of beauty sleep, and we all know what wonders those five minutes can do.

Not to mention, you are stubble free for three whole weeks. No more embarrassing razor burn, in-grown hairs and thick, coarse hairs that could sand wood. Hair continues to grow back finer and sparser after each waxing.

Okay, so before you just waltz into the salon there are a few things to know first.

You will want to grow your hair out for at least two weeks, minimum. You will need your hair to be about as long as your pinky nail, which is around a quarter of an inch. So, you might want to postpone any leg-revealing skirts or dresses and cancel any dates you may have planned. Most men aren’t into the bushman look.

During the hair growth process, exfoliate your legs daily by taking a loofah to those gams. This will prevent in-grown hairs that could potentially pop up. It also will leave your legs flake free and smooth.

Waxing will be unpleasant the first few times since your skin is not used to the ripping sensation that occurs when you pull the wax off.  To avoid pulling a 40 Year-Old Virgin and screaming Kelly Clarkson’s name at the top of your lungs, you might want to invest in some pain relievers. Numbing creams and Advil can help ease the pain somewhat. Even if you think you have a high pain tolerance, keep in mind that waxing can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

Ankles and shins always hurt a little more so you might squint a little tighter and let loose a little “ooh!” The knee is also another point of pain.  It may seem like they are trying to wax the skin off of them with the number of times they go over it, but the hair on the knee is very fine and requires a lot of wax.

(Image Credit: Crestock)

(Image Credit: Crestock)

Expect some redness and a little swelling; I mean you did just yank your hair right out of its root. It should subside in a few hours depending on the sensitivity of your skin.

If you have any kind of sunburn, rash or cut, wait until it goes away before getting waxed. It will not only be oh so painful, but it could cause some potentially dangerous infections.

While it is important to exfoliate and moisturize beforehand it is recommended to leave your skin alone for at least 48 hours after waxing. If bumps do happen to appear, avoid the urge to squeeze or tweeze. It will only make them worse! Try antiseptic ointment first.

Continue to wax every 4-6 weeks; the more consistent you are the less you have to go in. Hair grows on three different layers of skin, so the consistency will keep you smoother for longer. Once all the “cycles” of hair growth finally sync together, waxing will be a breeze.

One piece of advice: You may think you can be an in-home esthetician, but it can get messy. Ripping your hair off with hot wax is way easier when someone else is doing it. This is not something you want to learn the hard way!

Originally posted April 20, 2014.

Save Face: Learn When to Toss Your Makeup

(Image Credit: Luca Fabbian)

(Image Credit: Luca Fabbian)

I love trying out new makeup. I can sometimes have three mascaras and ten lipsticks circulating at the same time. There’s no doubt that this makes for a more fun time getting ready, but it can also result in a product I’ve used only once or twice sitting around for a few years because I think that maybe I’ll really need that blue eyeshadow for a future occasion, or even just because I feel like I’m being wasteful if I get rid of it. If you’re anything like me in this regard, you probably have unnecessary clutter around your vanity, but even worse? You’re likely to have expired makeup lying around.

Didn’t know cosmetics have expiration dates? Many people don’t, but unfortunately it’s the truth. If you look on the bottom of a product, often times there will be an indication of how long it is okay to use. For example, you might see “2Y,” meaning two years, or “6M,” indicating that you need to toss it after six months. If your cosmetics don’t have clear expiration dates on them, check out this list as a general guideline to when you need to say goodbye to your beauty products.

Mascara: I’ve always heard that mascara should be used no more than about three months. You don’t want to mess with bacteria that might find its way in, and it tends to get dried out and clumpy after that point, anyway.

Lipstick and lip gloss: From a quick glance at my most-used lip products, the general suggestion seems to be to toss after one year.

Foundation and concealer: These are typically fine to use for a year, but sometimes the advised expiration date is after only six months.

Eyeshadow: Mine range from one to two years, which is pretty painful since I’ll never make it through an entire eyeshadow palette in that time.

Face powders: Like eyeshadows, the rule of thumb is one to two years. This means setting powder, blush, bronzer, and the like all need to be used up in 24 months.

Liners and pommades: Six months to a year is the time frame you should stick to. Not only are they also more prone to bacteria since they are used around the eyes, but they are some of the quickest to dry out and stop working properly.

I know it hurts to throw away that beautiful, ridiculously overpriced Chanel foundation, but expired products just don’t work like they should—I can’t be the only one who’s shaken up a separated foundation in hopes of giving it new life. On a more positive note, this gives you every reason to make a Sephora trip without an ounce of guilt! It’s time to toss that forgotten makeup pile and get shopping.

How to Combat Dry, Dull Winter Skin

(Image Credit: Triocean)

(Image Credit: Triocean)

With winter upon us, it’s only natural to start feeling those winter blues—and boy are we feeling it.  From the shorter hours of daylight to the dropping temperatures, it’s easy to fall into a slump.  The worst part – our body starts to look as dull as we feel. I’m talking about the dreaded WINTER SKIN.  You know, the dry, flaky, sometimes bumpy skin we desperately try to bring the life back into with endless amounts lotions and creams.  We all hate it but it can’t be avoided, right?  Wrong!  I’m sharing some simple beauty tips to bring the glow back into your skin and to warm up your look this holiday season.

The main reason for “winter skin” is the lack of sun, lack of moisture in the air, and cold, dry temperatures.  Here’s a few ways we can reverse the effects:


Don’t take HOT showers

I know the feeling—you just wake up and it’s so cold getting out of bed.  You step into an even colder bathroom.  You hop into the shower and now you’re freezing!  A super hot shower will certainly warm you right up.  DON’T DO IT!  Hotter temperatures on dry skin will only dry out your skin even more!  I’m talking dry to the point of flakiness!  Save your skin and stick with a warm shower.


Scrub Scrub Scrub

While you’re in that warm shower, make sure you exfoliate!  Exfoliating helps remove dead, dry skin and regenerate new skin cells.  Use a sugar scrub to buff away dull skin.  Salt scrubs tend to be a little rougher and can dry out your skin.  Try to stick to a sugar based scrub.  There are homemade remedies you can make, or I like Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish, available at Nordstrom.



This is the most important and probably the most obvious.  Winter skin is mainly caused by lack of moisture, so we need to put that moisture back.  Find the right moisturizers that cater to what you want to target.  Whether you have itchiness, redness, dry and flaky skin, or combination skin, read the labels to see what ingredients work best for you.  I’ve even had great success with organic coconut oil.  It absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave you feeling greasy.  This is a step you’ll have to do at least once a day – on your WHOLE BODY.  After your shower is the best time.  I use Aveeno Active Naturals Daily Moisturizer, available at your local drug store.

As for your face, depending on your skin type, find a product that works best for what you need.  I like anything that contains hyaluronic acid.  Hyaluronic acid holds A THOUSAND TIMES its weight in water—which means it will really lock in the moisture.  I like Eco Beauty’s Good Day Moisturizer.  Don’t forget a good nighttime moisturizer too!  I use Eco Beauty’s Good Night Moisturizer, both available at LAFreshgroup.com/eco-beauty


Add moisture to your air

Get a small humidifier for your living space.  Even if it’s just in your bedroom, this will help add moisture to the air, thus your body will see the effects of it. You can find all sizes available on Amazon.

Now that your skin is feeling pretty normal again, here are some tips to bring the glow back during the dark days of winter:



Brighten up the base

Use a foundation or CC Cream that has some sort of light shimmer or glow to it.  I use IT Cosmetics CC+ Illumination.  Not only does it correct color, it adds a soft glow without being sparkly.  It brings this refreshing warmth out from in your face—people will stop you and tell you you’re glowing and demand to know why.  New job? Proposal? Nope—just a beauty secret!


Highlight your face

Brush a highlighter on the points of your face where natural light hits – your cheekbones, nose, and forehead – and a dab above your top lip and along your chin.  This will add the effect of soft light radiating along your face, creating the look of a sun-kissed glow.  I use Too-Faced Candlelight Glow Duo Highlighting Powder.


Pop of color

Whether it be with a soft blush or a bold lip, winter is great for lush pinks, dark reds, and bold berry tones.  Have fun and brighten up your skin with a pop of color.


Feeling pale?

I personally embrace my skin color change from bronze to porcelain when the seasons change.  It’s fun to rock a new look.  But if you are feeling like you need a touch of color, don’t head to the tanning beds.  Try a sunless tanning lotion that is safer and easy to do right at home.   I like St. Tropez Self Bronzing Mouse for a tan that lasts about a week or St. Tropez One Night Only Instant Glow Body Lotion for those special occasions you need quick results.   I have had the most success with St. Tropez.  No streaking and no terrible odor.  It’s quick and easy to use, but as always, follow the instructions thoroughly.


With these beauty tips, winter skin CAN be beat.  Our winter blues will turn into warm winter hues and we can glow right into spring.

The 5 Best Makeup Primers


Perfecting your makeup means nothing if it doesn’t stay looking fabulous all day long. The way to ensure your makeup stays in place is by using a primer. A primer will help makeup go on smooth and last all day so you look great no matter how long it has been on. We’ve narrowed it down to five must-have primers to help your makeup last longer. Continue reading

The Best Mud-Based Beauty Treatments


Cleaning your skin with mud might seem counterproductive, but mud-based beauty treatments have been used to purify, tone and tighten the skin for centuries. Ancient Egyptians even bathed in mud to keep skin young and supple. Continue reading

Lip Exfoliating Tips for Winter!

(Image Credit: Flickr User Manduhsaurus)

(Image Credit: Flickr User Manduhsaurus)

Exfoliating has been quite a buzzword in beauty the past few years. We all know exfoliating your skin once or twice a week leads to softer, smoother, more radiant skin. Most of us have invested in exfoliating face and body wash and possibly even picked up a Clarisonic. But many women are forgetting about exfoliating one import body part- the lips! Continue reading

5 Ways to Combat Under Eye Circles

(Image Credit: Alexey Mhoyan)

(Image Credit: Alexey Mhoyan)

As much as we may try to avoid them, under eye circles happen to everyone at some point. Unsightly, dark marks aren’t typically the most flattering feature, and the “you look tired” comment isn’t normally a favorite either. However, there are ways to avoid (or at least cover up) your dark circles and trick everyone into thinking that you’ve had a full night’s worth of beauty rest. Continue reading

Four makeup removers you need to try!

Makeup Remover

My time as a professional model has led me on the hunt for one beauty item in particular: a makeup remover that actually works. Nothing is worse than waking up in the morning and looking like a raccoon, even though you spent five minutes taking off your makeup. I’ve tried tons of brands and every kind of formula you could believe: cream, wipes, oil-free, face wash… the list could go on forever. After years of testing, I now have a list of makeup removing champions I want to share with you. Continue reading

Top 5 Beauty Essentials for Fall


If you’re at the dawn of a new school (or work) year, fall can be a stressful and tiring thing. Between figuring out where your classes are, getting used to new coworkers, and trying to find time to hit the gym, how your hair or nails look might be the last thing on your mind. And that’s totally fine! But know this – you don’t always have to sacrifice beauty for brains. Take a look at these must-have beauty essentials to keep looking your best while doing your best (without the stress)! Continue reading