Toner…a step worth adding to your routine

A few weeks back I posted a pic of Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel alcohol free toner which I picked up in Kansas City, MO while visiting my sister Katy Lou.

Thayers toner picked up in Kansas City, MO but available in most areas or Drugstore.com

Thayers toner picked up in Kansas City, MO but available in most areas or Drugstore.com

I wasn’t sure what to expect. Although it claims to be alcohol free I still wondered if it’d dry out my skin. I’ve always been a fan of toners because they make my skin feel clean and extra fresh after washing. But, it’s taken me some time to realize, I shouldn’t be using something that’s drying…and that “squeeky” clean really isn’t a good thing for your face. You want something that will walk the line of picking up excess residue, cleaning out & minimizing your pores, and also adding some hydration.

After using Thayers for the last couple weeks I’m in love! It comes in a big bottle with a squirt top (warning, not very travel friendly – I recommend picking up a small bottle with a screw cover to pour some toner into for traveling). It makes me skin feel fresh, clears off the remaining make up my face wash doesn’t pick up, and doesn’t leave my skin feeling dry. It also has a nice, light rosey smell. In a couple words: refreshing, hydrating, and just plain lovely.

You can pick up the 12 oz. bottle for less than $10 on Drugstore.com. It’s a good value. Below is how my skincare routine works – both AM and PM:

1. Wash – I rotate between a cleanser and exfoliator. I use the Clarisonic with my regular cleanser once a day

2. Dry my facec with a gentle cloth

3. Use my Thayers toner with a Swissper (one of my fave beauty tools). All over my face and neck. Allow to air dry for a second

4. Apply a hydrating serum, let dry for a moment

5. Moisturize – I’m currently using this by Darphin at night and LOVE it

Hey Labor Day! Read on for Beach Bag Essentials

Ahhh Labor Day weekend. Some folks call it the ‘last weekend of the summer’ but most of us New Englander’s know that we probably have a few more weeks left of summer weather. It is really a toss-up around here. it could be 80 degrees in Oct or blustery cold. Either way, I never give into the ‘last weekend of summer’ mentality. Other than the fact that I try to take advantage of going someplace fun and summery for the long weekend.

Although most of us have already used our beach bag a few times this season – below is a list of beach bag essentials. These are the ‘must have’ items I keep in my beach bag. Don’t get me wrong, there are often a lot of other extras thrown in there – but these are the items I can’t go without. Hopefully, this list will help you pack ya bag this weekend and ensure you don’t forget anything so you can lounge all day long!

ahhh Cape Cod summer, love it. Looks like we have an beach over-packer here

ahhh Cape Cod summer, love it. Looks like we have an beach over-packer here

  • BEACH BAG – rather than use an old purse or dump out your gym bag, it makes sense to have a bag just for the beach. Then, you don’t have to worry about the lingering sand or trying to re-pack your gym bag once the work week rolls around. I go for the durable tote. Screw zippers. Screw backpacks. I want a bag with a wide open top so I can plunge right in and grab my stuff
    • I love the good ole LL Bean Boat and Tote Bag with the open top. It comes in a variety of sizes should you be carrying for a family or just yourself. I like the Medium size tote.
      • There are a few different colors to choose from. I like the traditional navy with the cream colored body, very nautical! And you can get it monogrammed (makes a great gift!)
      • Medium size tote is $26.95 with always free shipping

        the tried & true LL Bean beach tote

        the tried & true LL Bean beach tote

  • BEACH TOWEL – I’ve been known to grab one of my own bath towels for the beach. But let’s be honest, that’s a no no. Invest in an actual beach towel. One that’s long and colorful and just for the beach. And seriously, you don’t want to forget a towel…be it for drying off after a swim, to wipe the extra sunscreen off your hands, or to have something to lay out on, it’s an essential
    • You can buy one anywhere and certainly don’t need to go the fancy route. But, if you’re looking for a good quality towel – I’d point you towards LL Bean, once again!
      • The LL Bean Seaside beach towel is large, dries fast, and comes in some cute designs
      • For $29.50 it will last you years. It’s a great towel that you can just keep in your beach bag all year
  • SUNCREEN FOR FACE & BODY – this is a must have. I always feel bad borrowing other people’s sunscreen – no matter where you get it, it’s expensive and you need a good amount to cover your body. So, invest in your own tube and keep it in your bag. I use one kind for my face and one kind for my body
    • My favorite brand is Coola. It is a little bit of a splurge but I got a sample of this sunscreen and I love it. To me, I don’t mind spending the extra dough to protect my skin. Coola products are free of parabens, phthalates, and petroleum. Work great on sensitive skin. My two faves:
      • For body: The Coola SPF 45 Sport Classic Sunscreen – Mango scent. Comes in a convenient, snap-top tube. Love that I can squeeze every last bit out
      • For face: The Coola SPF 30 Face Classic Sunscreen – Unscented. Comes in a convenient, pump top tube with a cover
  • LIP BALM/SUNCREEN – I’m separating this from the above because it’s important to call out on its own. A regular balm might not do the trick. A sticky lip gloss isn’t the right fit for the beach either. You want something that’s moisturizing to keep your mouth comfortable in the sun, salt, and sand. You also want a sunscreen to protect this tender area
    • My favorite brand is Coola (surprise!). I love this balm-like stick! It’s a twist up stick with a solid cover. Super moisturizing
      • For lips: The Coola Liplux SPF 15 – vanilla peppermint scent. I also like this because it doesn’t have color and my husband can borrow it. He usually forgets this beach bag staple!
      • $12 @ Dermstore
  • BEACH COVER UP – If it’s walking back to the car or walking to get a snack, I want a cover up I can quickly throw on. Something that goes on easy and isn’t tight.  It also has to be something that really covers me up – not something with large holes or only touches the top of my thighs. I want to be able to walk into 7/11 without getting kicked out
    • One of my favorite cover ups is by Splendid. It’s terry cloth so a great fabric for the beach. Flattering cut but not too form fitting/tight. One piece, so easy to split on.  Light weight but also covers what you need to cover. The last one I got has lasted 2 summers
    • Splendid Circus Terry Cover Up $95 @ Piperlime 
  • CUTE HAT – everyone looks better with a tan. Lets face it. But wrinkles suck. Especially on your face. So I always use sunscreen on my face now and keep a hat in my bag if I’m going to be out in the sun for hours at a time. This ensures my face doesn’t get too much sun. Hey, that’s what bronzer is for!
    • A hat is a hat…I like a looser fitting baseball hat or, if you want something more girly – I wore the below on my honeymoon (my husband kept calling me his ‘great aunt pearl’) – but I thought it was fashionable
      • White (beachy!), floppy, durable, and comfortable: by Helen Kaminski Istria Canvas Sun hat
      • On sale right now @ Nordstrom for $65.66

        me in my Helen Kaminski Canvas Sun hat on our honeymoon last October <3

        me in my Helen Kaminski Canvas Sun hat on our honeymoon last October ❤

Couple other good to haves:

  • Small brush to quickly/easily brush out knots. love this one available at Drugstore
  • Big bottle of water. If you don’t have your own re-usable travel bottle (this is one of my faves by Lifefactory) – I’m a big fan of the Smart Water 1 liter size for the beach. Literally, a torpedo that fits well into your bag and is a good amount of water!
  • Couple snacks – I prefer grapes (because they’re good warm or cold) and nuts (ya, protein!). Pack a couple healthy snacks so you have something to munch on. Never a good idea to be hungry in the sun or rely totally on the beach snack bar 😉
  • Hair elastics – any kind will do. Although my all time favorite is The Twistband…won’t pull or rip hair
  • Last but not least, but definitely an essential – a good READ! There is only so much talking, beach volleyball, snacking, swimming, and lounging you can do! I always love to have a good read on hand. May I suggest this book by Ann Patchett called, State of Wonder
    • A fun read. adventurous story. great writing. click the link to get the synopsis. I read this book in 1 weekend, it was hard to put down!

      State of Wonder By Ann Patchett - Excellent beach read...or anytime read!

      State of Wonder By Ann Patchett – Excellent beach read…or anytime read!

Tried & True: Remedy for a dry, itchy scalp

This time of year my scalp gets itchy…I have eczema on my scalp that is often flared up in the humid weather (lovely, right?) I know I’m not alone when it comes to an itchy and/or dry scalp…that’s why I want to share this tried & true remedy. I wrote a post over a year ago about another shampoo that also works for these same ‘ailments.’ But the one I’m sharing today is a more natural product and works WONDERS. I use it a couple times a week in the summer and it does the trick.

What: Jason Dandruff Relief Treatment Shampoo

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I usually pick up at Whole Foods for ~$12. My first bottle has lasted well over six months. It has a noticeable, menthol smell. I find it cooling but it definitely stays on your hair so I typically follow with a nourishing conditioner to cover up the smell as best as possible and moisturize my hair a bit more because this shampoo doesn’t really do that. Hopefully, someome else can benefit by this dry scalp remedy! Please share any tips, tricks, or products you may have!

Product description on site: This laboratory-tested, gentle cleanser stops dandruff while controlling scalp dermatitis and mild psoriasis. Featuring our unique combination of FDA compliant dandruff-control ingredients plus nourishing essential oils of Rosemary, Olive and Jojoba, this medicated cleanser soothes, heals and moisturizes while it eliminates flakes and itchiness. MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) rebalances and conditions the scalp to prevent future dandruff.

Trader Joes for beauty!

I’ve been meaning to write this post for awhile…I’m a big fan of Trader Joes…the more paycheck friendly natural food store. Food aside, I have found a couple of my favorite beauty products at TJs – read on for details:

Trader Joes Lavendar Salt Scrub (approx. $6) – this body scrub comes in a big tub with a snap cover. I use this almost everyday to scrub off dead skin on my arms and legs. Unlike sugar scrub, it doesn’t dissolve as soon as it hits water. I feel like the salt stays in tact and I can truly exfoliate my skin. I love the lavendar smell! And it’s paraben free. It does leave a bit of an oily film but I typically exfoliate first and then rinse off any residue with body wash.$(KGrHqMOKooE4t5wUsRlBOV-eS,p6!~~60_35

Trader Joes Moisturzing Cream Shave (approx. $3.50) – this creamy shave lotion smells awesome with ‘honey/mango’ scent. And works great. It’s in a tube with a snap top making it easy to use every last bit and travel with. I have sensitive skin and this has never bothered it. For less than $5, it’s much better than any drugstore brand – and it’s paraben free + vegan!1330112424-015779_full

Trader Joes Vitamin E Oil (approx. $4) – I use this periodically on scars or blemishes to help them heal faster and diminish discoloration. It’s also great if you have any really dry patches. mgb1UIedi5oGIG0K-i-D8SA

Do you have any favorite beauty products from Trader Joes?? Share here!

Onto the next one…hello Juice Beauty and Acure Organics

I thought I’d update ya’ll (using ya’ll especially for my beautiful cousin Jilly – who I think of every time I hear this southern saying!) …on my use of the oil cleansing method and new face moisturizer (link to original post here).

I had high hopes for this new skincare regiment. As mentioned in my orignal post, my sister has had excellent luck with it…and by excellent I mean, her skin is like porcelain. Sure, she might get a pimple here or there depending on the time of the month – but her skin overall, it’s lovely! Unfortunately, I didn’t have such luck. Which, let me say, doesn’t mean that YOU won’t! But for me, it became clear that whatever I was doing, my skin wasn’t loving.

I am proud of myself for sticking with it for 5+ weeks (just so you know I gave it the old college try)

I went to get a facial one night because my skin was breaking out bad…I didn’t realize the extent of it until the aesthetician looked at me and said my skin hadn’t looked like that ever, ever. Eek! Well, I told her…“I wanted my skin to look good but a big reason for the change in my regiment was to start using more natural products with less sketchy ingredients.” Well, she was fine with the natural part but told me – whatever I was using wasn’t right for MY skin and I should find something else. I appreciated the truth and I will tell you, that was one of the more painful facials I’ve ever had as she tried to extract all the clogged pores on my face ick/ouch. She had a few suggestions for products at the spa but I passed. Instead, I spent some time researching the next day…extensively. And below are the new products I have been using for over 3 weeks since that fateful night. And honestly, my skin is CLEAR. It looks nice! And these products are fabulously paraben and funky chemical free.

3 of the new products in my new routine are made by Juice Beauty

I had heard about this line and seen it at Whole Foods – in reading more – I started to really dig it:

  • From the Juice Beauty site: The Juice Beauty team continually searches the West Coast for the purest, most effective organic ingredients, including organic juices, aloe vera, honey, botanicals, plant oils, and raw cane sugar from farms that specialize in sustainable and organic farming.
  • These amazing formulations are made without parabens, petroleum, propylene or butylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfates, pesticides, phthalates, artificial dyes or synthetic fragrances.

I also talked with one of the employees in the Whole Foods beauty section who recommended this line. I ended up with these 3 products:

  • Juice Beauty Exfoliating Cleanser: which goes for about $22; comes in a convenient and sanitary pump bottle. My aesthetician said, I need to exfoliate 1x a day (I use this at night). And I like this because it uses jojoba beads to exfoliate so it’s not harsh. You have to get rid of the dead skin, especially in the winter. Dry or oily skin, we all need to exfoliate!

    Juice Beauty Exfoliating Cleanser

    Juice Beauty Exfoliating Cleanser

  • Juice Beauty Antioxidant Serum: which goes for about $45 – which is pricey BUT Whole Foods will take back any beauty product if you use it and don’t like it. So, that set me at ease when I was making these purchases. This serum is light – I’ve read a bunch of good reviews on it from various sources. I use this 2x a day after I wash and tone my face and before my moisturizer. The serum has a funny smell (at least to me) but I believe it’s the evening primrose oil which is known to be ubber good for your skin (not to mention, women can take it as a vitamin supplement for a variety of things <—read here!)

    Juice Beauty Antioxidant Serum

    Juice Beauty Antioxidant Serum

  • Juice Beauty Nutrient Moisturizer: goes for about $36; This white cream goes on thick but doesn’t leave any grease aftermath. I want to keep using it because my skin likes it – but I wonder if I might need something heavier in the winter months. Overall, it’s doing the trick in combination with the serum

    Juice Beauty Nutrient Moisturizer

    Juice Beauty Nutrient Moisturizer

The other 2 products I’ve worked into my skincare routine are not from the Juice Beauty line – instead, they come from a line I’d never heard of until I visited and spent some serious time with the Whole Foods beauty consultant.

The line is called Acure Organics – very focused on chemical free products – green packaging and products. Read their mission here

What I’ve worked into my routine:

  • Acure Seriously Hydrating Toner: goes for about $16; I was pleasantly shocked by the few ingredients – which are: Water, Fair Trade Certified™ Organic Rooibos, Organic Witch Hazel, Organic Lavender Hydrosol, Organic Glycerin, Organic Chamomile Extract, Organic Calendula Extract
    • Read the back of most toner bottles and the list of ingredients is long and super complicated. After washing my face (AM and PM), this toner wipes off the remaining ‘stuff.’ Toner was what I missed most when I was doing the oil cleansing method. The witch hazel helps keeps pimples at bay – it’s long been known as a natural acne/pimple remedy
Acure Seriously Hydrating Toner

Acure Seriously Hydrating Toner

  • Acure Facial Cleansing Creme Argan Oil + Mint: goes for about $15; my aesthetician suggested I stick with a creme based face wash so the consistency of this is perfect. It removes makeup really well and doesn’t irritate my skin (which is sensitive). Love these ingredients too – argan oil, olive oil, cocoa butter, mint etc.
Acure Facial Cleansing Creme Argan Oil + Mint

Acure Facial Cleansing Creme Argan Oil + Mint

Both Juice Beauty and Acure Organics have many products that address different skin issues – so if these ones don’t seem like they’d be for YOUR skin…check out their sites for the other products they make for various skin types and conditions. 

Overall, so far (3+ weeks in) I’ve seen noticeable and positive results with this new regiment. Everyone’s skin is different so there is no guarantee it’ll work for everyone. But this has been an interesting adventure for me as I look to work more natural products into my routine. Although those products add up $$, the batch of them still cost less than the cream I was slathering on before my wedding!

I should add – it’s usually suggested you work 1 new product into your skincare regiment at a time…that way, you won’t totally freak your skin out. And, if you work more than 1 in, you won’t always know what is causing an issue or not. So, I’m not saying my cold turkey method is a superb idea – but it was the easiest way for me to start something new…when my jar of overpriced face cream ran dry!

Are you willing to try a new skin care routine?? What has work or hasn’t work for YOU?