Product Review: Murad Environmental Shield Line

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Skin care, skin care, oh how I love thee. I have a nice little Murad collection building up in my bathroom, so what’s the harm of adding three more to the mix?

It seems as though it’s the dead of the Summer for everyone. The heat waves are for real out in these streets! That’s why Murad developed their “Environmental Shield” line, to help restore and renew environmentally damaged skin.

Now let’s get to the nitty gritty of the collection, consisting of the Advanced Active Radiance Serum, Instant Radiance Eye Cream, and Essential-C Sun Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 35. 

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Advanced Active Radiance Serum 

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Benefits:
-Restores skin’s natural radiance.
-Reverses the visible signs of environmental damage while preserving clarity and defending against future damage.
-Has a stable Vitamin C technology that delivers 50 times the collagen-building, skin-brightening and cell-protecting power of ordinary topical Vitamin C. 

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Review:

I’ve been using this serum daily, both in the morning and before I go to sleep at night. It’s important that you apply this serum right after washing your face, and before you apply your moisturizer to really allow the serum to penetrate into your skin without barriers. I love that it feels light and smooth on my skin, and believe it or not, it’s helping to lighten my dark spots left over from popping pimples (smh)! My face does look more radiant, even when I’m not wearing any makeup. Love it!

Price tag: $89 for 1.0 FL. OZ 

Instant Radiance Eye Cream 

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Benefits:
-Light diffusers help reduce the appearance of dark circles by visibly brightening the eye for a more youthful, radiant appearance. 
-Minimizes the appearance of dark circles by 30% in 15 minutes and 48% with continued use.
-Improves smoothness by 48% after one application.

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Review:

Luckily I don’t suffer from severe dark circles, but lately I have been noticing little bags under my eyes from lack of the proper amount of sleep. In the past, my issue with a lot of eye balms is that it gets cakey when applied under my makeup. This eye cream does not! It’s smooth, silky, and I’ve seen an improvement with the smoothness under my eyes during the last couple weeks of use. You gently pat a small amount onto the brow bone, eye lid, and beneath the eye. Trust me, a little goes a long way, so you won’t be running out anytime soon!

Price tag: $68 for 0.5 FL. OZ 

Essential-C Sun Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 35 | PA +++ 

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Benefits:
-Broccoli Extract stimulates skin’s natural defense against UV damage.
-Tangerine Butter locks in moisture and leaves skin silky smooth.
-Antioxidant Vitamins A, C and E defend and protect skin’s health.
-Glides on for easy application

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Review:

I have been looking for an easy, portable solid sunscreen that doesn’t leave your face oily after application, and I think this is the one! Not only is this balm easy to use but it’s perfect especially for areas prone to sun exposure such as your nose, forehead, shoulders, chest and hands. It doesn’t leave your skin feeling greasy, and it doesn’t have that icky “sunscreen smell”. Definitely gets a thumbs up from me and my skin. I’ll be carrying this little balm around in my purse.

Price tag: $25 for 0.33 OZ

Overall, the Murad Environmental Shield line is perfect for the summer! Everyone needs to invest in taking care of their skin, because you can’t replace it once it has been damaged. And if you love to lay out in the sun to perfect your bronzy tan, then protection is a must. It’s all about prevention!

These products are all available at the Murad Inclusive Health Spa, Murad.com, Sephora and Ulta stores.


Product Review: OSEA Oily to Combo Skin Travel Kit & Body Balm

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You ladies may have been wondering where I’ve been for the last week due to the lack of posts. I was on an amazing family vacation and told myself that I needed to take a total break from “work”. So I did. But now I’m back and I have a great product review to update you on!

While on vacay, I took the opportunity to bring along my OSEA skin travel kit and give it a shot. I have an oily/combination skin type so this kit included all of the oily to combo products.

OSEA is a 100% Vegan skin care line made with USDA Certified Organic Seaweed. The anti-aging line was inspired off the coast of Malibu, with the idea of uniting the elements — Ocean, Sun, Earth, and Atmosphere — to refresh, rejuvenate, and restore skin to its highest level of healthy beauty. 

The kit is a 4 step process consisting of cleansing, toning, moisturizing, and protecting the skin for clear, balanced results. I put the products to the test and here is my review:

1. CLEANSE- Ocean Cleansing Mudd: This cleanser is meant to cleanse and absorb excess oil.

PROS: I really liked the smell of the cleansing mudd. It was more effective when used in the morning to freshen up my skin prior to applying makeup.
CONS: I wouldn’t recommend using this cleanser to remove your makeup. It doesn’t have a sudsy consistency, so for oily/combo skin types, use only in the morning.

2. TONE- Sea Minerals: This toner is meant to tone and re-balance the skin.

PROS: I LOVE misting this toner all over my face! It feels very refreshing and hydrating, especially during these hot summer days.
CONS: None

3. TREAT- Essential Corrective Complex: This oil treatment is to be used on blemish-prone areas or as spot treatment directly on blemishes.

PROS: Low and behold, I had about four pimples pop up on my chin during vacation. This corrector did help to sooth my blemishes, and over a little time I’ll see if it helps lighten the dark spots as well.
CONS: None

4. HYDRATE- Atmosphere Protection Cream: A lightweight moisturizer used by patting onto moist skin.

PROS: Again, I love the seaweed smell from this moisturizer. It wasn’t too heavy, and left my skin feeling smooth and smelling great.
CONS: There is no SPF in this moisturizer and I personally don’t like to apply a separate sunscreen to my face. So I would recommend using this product at night unless you don’t mind mixing a dab of sunscreen into the moisturizer. 

5. Anti-Aging Body Balm: This is my first body balm and let me say it gave me a very “spa-like” experience. After exfoliating with this AMAZING exfoliator I just bought, I slathered on the OSEA body balm for a smooth, silky finish. Although it says you can use this balm daily, I only use it at night because it’s a little heavy. So it’s great to use on your skin after a fresh shower or bath in the evening to give your skin time to rehydrate over night. 

**Benefits:
-Rejuvenates dry and flaky skin and helps to firm and tighten skin on arms and legs.
-Helps heal psoriasis and eczema.
-Helps heal sum damaged skin and prevent wrinkles. 

You can check out more OSEA products here. The Oily to Combo Skin Travel Kit retails at $44 and the Anti-Aging Body Balm retails at $38.


Natural Hair, Skin, & Style Questions Answered From Readers

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Hey guys! Thanks for tuning in and asking for advice! I’m more than happy to help and I thought it would be easier to answer some of your questions from this week all together. So, here it goes!

"Hi doll! Do you use heat rollers?"

No maam.

"Hi I totally love your hair it’s so beautiful I been natural for 5 years now but would straighten it often, which resulted it to have heat damage since then I haven’t applied any heat to my hair. I’ve been getting so bored of my natural hair colour that I really want to get it highlighted similar to your hair colour or have my entire hair dyed black which one would be the best decision for my hair?" 

Thank youuu! Well I don’t know what you or your hair looks like to give you a proper suggestion lol, but I say if you prefer to wear your hair straight, then dye it black. I did a black rinse on my hair for years and it gave my hair a lot of recovery time to be nice, shiny, and healthy. I’m also totally down for color (obviously lol), so start with some subtle highlights and say no to heat for a while. It’s also really important to go to a stylist that takes extra good care of your hair whether colored or not! Deep conditioners and leave-in conditioners should be your best friend when wearing it natural (one my favorites lines for conditions is Mixed Chicks). Good luck! 

"You are so gorgeous I love your haircut so beautiful ! I want to know what products do you use for your beautiful flawless skin ?" 

Why thank ya lovely :) See this post and this post and this post for what I faithfully use to take my makeup off err day. 

"Hi!! What’s your ethnicity?" 

Hi! I’m African American :) 

"What would you suggest wearing to your bestfriend’s college graduation? The ceremony will be outdoors, in low 70 to high 80 degree weather." 

I would go for a nice easy breezy sundress and strappy sandals and take a cardigan or scarf in case it’s a little chilly. Always better to be safe than sorry. I would also do a pair of high waist trousers and a chic blouse and heels. Simple and effortless is always the best way to go. For some affordable options, check out Forever21, Zara, H&M, or TJ Maxx :)

"Hey Gorgeous! I am 23 with oily/acne prone skin. Do you have any suggestions for a good oil free moisturizer to apply under my foundation?"

Hey there gorgeous :) I’ve been using Olay Complete Moisturizer with spf 15 and Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer with spf 15 for years and it’s never done me wrong. Check out this post and this post on how to get maximum usage out of your moisturizer. I have combination/oily skin so they should work for you too! 

"I’m so in love with your hair! It looks so healthy. Which products do you use and how often ? Do you sleep with a cap or something or do you leave it like that ? Xx"

Ahhhh, I use so many products! lol But some products that I’m loyal to is Mixed Chicks leave-in conditioner. I use it all over after I wash my hair and I use it to refresh my hair in the back and on the sides pretty much every day. For the top of my hair I switch it up and do a two-strand twist every other night using either Dark & Lovely Au Naturale 10-in-1 Gelée, Twisted Sista Curl Activator, or Dr. Miracle Curl Care Strong Hold Gel. For moisture I’ve been using Carol’s Daughter Monoi Split End Sealer (after I wash my hair), and I’ll mix in Elasta QP’s Olive Oil & Mango Butter Moisturizer with one of the styling products I mentioned. For shine, I use a little Paul Mitchell Skinny Serum as I take my two strand twist out every day. Yes, that was a lot lol. 

"Hello McKenzie! I’m new to your blog, tried to find your everyday makeup routine/products but no luck. I would say you and I are around the same complextion. I was wondering if you would share with me your products for your daily makeup routine. Thanks in advance! Shakira"

Hi Shakira, I’ll do an updated post on that for you ;) 

"Hi, I would like to know about your professional color. Is the blonde in the front growing out or did you purposely highlight the front? I am taking your blog to the salon with me (ha!) so I can give my stylist some ideas of what I want. Please let me know. Thanks! BrownFace" 

Hi BrownFace :) Because I’ve colored my hair so much, a lot of the look is from the grown out process and I just add to it (that’s why it turns into custom color). Recently I had the tips highlighted a little more to give me more blonde. 

**I’ll do this more often for you guys so I can try to get everyone’s questions answered! Don’t be scurred to send pics so I can see exactly what you’re talking about ;) (I have to do these awkward watermarks now because of picture theft! You understand lol)


Oldie But Goodie: How To Bleach Your Eyebrows

Ok, so I posted this step by step guide a little over a year ago on how to properly bleach your own eyebrows at home. I love to experiment with color in my hair, so naturally when I went blonde two summers ago, that called for lifting the shade of my brows to be a little lighter. Bleach blonde hair paired with jet black brows were entirely too harsh for my face. 

I know some of you ladies have been itching to take your hair color to the next level in time for summer, so I thought it appropriate to make things a little easier for you. If you opt out of getting your brows colored at the salon, here is an easy step by step guide on how to do it yourself at home!

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Because I color my hair, and my eyebrows are naturally very dark, I have to bleach them from time to time to compliment my hair :) (the things girls go through lol) It takes me anywhere from 10-15 minutes to do, because I usually have to bleach them twice for the color to take (as you can see above).

I use the Jolen Creme Bleach Kit available at Walgreens for around $6. It’s gentle, doesn’t break out my skin and most of all, is easy to do at home! Here’s a step by step guide to bleaching your own brows at home:

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**BEFORE ANYTHING: Test out the bleach on a small patch of hair on your arm & wait 24 hours to be sure you don’t have an allergic reaction.

1. Wash the eyebrow area with cold water and a gentle face wash.
2. Take the spatula and measure out about one half teaspoon of creme.

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3. Clean the spatula, and measure about a quarter teaspoon powder and place on the tray. Mix well.

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4. Apply the mixture with the spatula and completely (& carefully) cover the area of hair you want bleached.

5. Leave on for 10 minutes.
6. Gently remove with a cool damp washcloth (one you don’t mind getting stained lol)
7. If the area isn’t as bleached as you would like, reapply the mixture and apply for another 5 to 10 minutes.
8. All done! 

Beauty Tip: Face Scrubs & Peels

You should exfoliate your face one to three times a week depending on your skin type. For those with acne, gently exfoliate once a week and for oily/combination skin you can exfoliate up to three times a week. If you tend to get red, try doing it at night, after you cleanse your face. 

Exfoliators with fruit enzymes dissolve dead skin cells, round microbeads buff them off of the surface, and lactic and salicylic acids work to lighten discoloration. (Enzymes, glycolic acid, and lactic acids are all great ingredients to look for when choosing an exfoliator.)

**Bonus Tip**

What’s the difference between a face scrub and a face peel? A peel helps kill bacteria and dissolves excess oil, while a scrub will remove dead skin cells promoting cell turnover. 

Happy Scrubbing :)

Product Review: SK-II Skin Signature 3D Refining Mask

Last night I decided to give myself a mini facial and totally forgot about these sample SK-II Skin Signature 3D Refining Masks sitting underneath my sink (confessions of a product junkie). 

Now let me go ahead and warn you that NOTHING about these masks are cute. As a matter of fact, when you put them on you look scary lol but the benefits and end results are absolutely amazing!

Each packet comes with a Targeted Moisturizing Lifting Mask with one cloth-like upper mask and one lower mask. Here’s what they look like when you take them out of the packet. 

The upper and lower pieces are saturated heavily in a milky liquid that works to uplift sagging skin and increase firmness and elasticity. You’ll notice a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while experiencing a velvety smooth, radiant, and youthful complexion.”

It smells like a milky lavender scent mixed with the signature pitera scent…which I actually like. Anyway, you apply the top part of the mask which stretches over your eyes and the bridge of your nose.

Next, the bottom piece…

I told you it was scary looking! I didn’t even want to post the picture of me looking directly into the camera lol! 

The lower half stretches over your moth and nose and can be smoothed down underneath your jawline.

I left the mask on for 15 minutes then peeled it off. You can wipe the excess liquid away after you’ve taken the mask off or you can blend it into your skin like I did for extra moisture. 

My skin felt incredibly soft and clean after taking the mask off! Prior to using the mask, I used a light exfoliator, St. Ives Apricot scrub, rinsed, lightly towel dried my face and whipped out the SK-II mask.

If you’re looking for luxury, I would definitely recommend trying this SK-II mask! Your skin will love you and what better way to splurge than on skincare? 

You can find the mask at SK-II counters at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, and Sephora stores for $145 for a box of six masks.

Bonus: Check out my daily skin care routine here

Travel In Style With NARSskin Travel Set

The stress of traveling is awful when it comes to packing my beauty products, mostly hair and skincare. 

NARS just came out with some sleek travel sets for their new skincare line, created by Mr. Nars himself. Check them out below:

The Luminous Aqua Set- $140 (Includes)

 

Optimal Brightening Concentrate (Full Size)
Total Replenishing Eye Cream (Full Size)
Multi-Action Hydrating Toner (Travel Size)
Purifying Foam Cleanser (Travel Size)
Aqua Gel Luminous Oil-Free Moisturizer (Travel Size)
Travel Cosmetics Bag 

The Luminous Moisture Set- $140 (Includes)

Optimal Brightening Concentrate (Full Size)
Total Replenishing Eye Cream (Full Size)
Multi-Action Hydrating Toner (Travel Size)
Gentle Cream Cleanser (Travel Size)
Luminous Moisture Cream (Travel Size)
Travel Cosmetics Bag 

**Both sets will be available January 1, 2013 on narscosmetics.com . 

I wish these sets were available before traveling for the holidays, because I was definitely in desperate need of some travel sized skin care. But hey, it’s never too late right?

photos courtesy of NARS cosmetics