Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Clear Skin, Clean Face

Ever walk into the facial cleanser aisle at your local drugstore and find yourself utterly confused? Why does Clean & Clear sell so many different types of face wash? What if you want to use the Morning Burst at night, is that ok? Or do I have to buy two different kinds of face wash? If this brand is more expensive...does it mean it's a lot better?! Will this dry my skin out?

That’s what goes through MY mind when I’m there. I used to always end up going home with a different product after each visit, and for that reason, I can share some good insight with you all! I have tried Neutrogena, Clean & Clear, Clearasil, Aveeno and many other drug-store facial cleansers, and here is a rundown:

I have rather sensitive skin, so I always have a bit of trouble finding something that doesn’t dry my skin out. It seems everything is too drying for me these days! My dermatologist recommended Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser (about $9 for an 8 oz pump) to me a few years ago and I was really pleased with it. It did a great job keeping my acne at bay and evening my skin tone. I liked the pump better than I liked the squeeze out tubes, and the cleanser didn't leave my face dry.I have always enjoyed the Johnson & Johnson’s Purpose Gentle Cleansing face wash so much more. And who can resist this $4.74 price tag for a 6 oz bottle?! (taken at the Target in Diamond Bar, CA).

Purpose feels like it is doing a better job cleaning my face. I also feel my face is a lot clearer after I use this product and it certainly doesn’t dry out my skin. What’s great about Purpose is it claims to be fragrance free and free of other drying ingredients. It’s a great face wash! It is soap-free, 100% oil free, hypoallergenic, and claims to not clog your pores like other products might. What this means to you is basically this product won't leave stuff behind on your face that might clog your pores and make you look ugly. Good deal.

If you refuse to use drug store brands, I highly recommend The Body Shop's Vitamin E Cream Cleanser. It is pricier--$14 for a 6.7 oz bottle, but it eliminates the need to moisturize after washing your face. It contains Vitamin E (which is a natural antioxidant) soy oil, shea butter & wheat germ oil. I enjoy this product tremendously but I opt to use The Body Shop's Vitamin E night cream to moisturize my face in combination with Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash.

*photos courtesy Cetaphil & The Body Shop websites

It's All About the Eyes!

Did you know that you’re supposed to change your mascara every 2-3 months? I definitely didn’t know this until a few months ago. The moist tube is a breeding ground for bacteria, ew! You can get a sty from this, and I might go so far as to blame my pink eye a few years back on my mascara (I know, TMI). Why do we spend SO much money on our mascara when we have to throw that tube out every 3 months?

I started asking myself this when I tossed a perfectly useful tube of Dior Show out recently. A $24 tube, might I add. I loved my Dior Show mascara; it went on nice and dark, and was better than the other stuff I’d used before. It really is a great product and I recommended it to everyone. My only complaint is it does get a little stiff sometimes. It plumped like it said it would, it curled like it said it would, but it put on a fight when it came time to removing it at night. I like my mascara to make my eyes pop while making my lashes feel soft.

I visited the Fresh makeup store in New York, and the sales girl knew right off the bat I used Dior Show mascara because of the way my lashes looked. She recommended I try her Fresh Supernova Mascara. I was hooked! This went on softly, and it made my thin lashes appear full and lovely. I felt that it did a bit more curling than my Dior Show. And the tube is super cute!! It runs for about $25, and up until a few months ago, was only available at their boutiques. Now, Fresh Mascara is available at Sephora so I planned on getting my new one there.

Then I heard the awful “change your mascara every 2-3 months or you’ll get some crazy eye disease” story (like pink eye!), and I realized that my expensive mascara habit would cost me $100 a year! (and that’s before LA’s 9.75% sales tax!!).

So of course, I was on a quest for less expensive mascara at my most favorite store, Sephora. (my stories always involve me ending up here!)

Did you know that Sephora sells mini products in their check out stands? They sell mini glosses, creams, and mascara! Fresh sells their mini-mascara duo here for just $10! This comes with the Supernova Mascara and the Firebird Mascara, which the product detail claims:

Lashes are scientifically proven to have 34% more eye-opening curve after applying Supernova and to be 44% fuller and more voluminous after applying Firebird. For your best lashes, apply two coats of Supernova followed by one coat of Firebird.
All that scientific talk is making my head spin and sounds convincing enough to me….so I went for it. If we have to replace our mascara every 2-3 months, why are we buying such huge tubes? I have never finished a mascara tube and I’m not sure most women have. Actually, I used to be a habitual breaker of the 3-month rule and I used my mascara for way more than 3 months. The mini tube saves $15, I am down with the $10 duo pack and I highly recommend it!

If you are one of the rare women who actually runs out of mascara, then you can always go for these low cost alternatives.

When I was a little money-strapped, I caved and tried to Maybelline Great Lash Mascara that famously sells for under $5 at stores like Target or Wal-Mart. I actually really liked it. I felt it was more like Dior Show than it was like Fresh Supernova. It’s also the self-proclaimed #1 selling mascara. And at just five bucks, I don’t even feel bad throwing this thing out after 3 months. It does the trick by really lengthening and darkening your lashes, though it does feel a bit dry. This product is widely available and it really is a good alternative to the $100/year Dior or Fresh mascara habit. It only sets you back $20 a year! That’s an 80% savings with little to no compromise. (Well, the bright green bright pink packaging is a little distracting and childlike to me, so I keep this at home when I go out).

For those who prefer a soft finish to their mascara, I recommend trying Sephora Collection Triple Action Mascara for just $14. This sets you back $56 a year, so about a 50% savings over the pricier brands. I do love the Sephora Triple Action Mascara it’s what I’ve been using! I got this as a free sample and I have been hooked! It claims to offer “long lush lashes with full volume thickness, and deep rich pigment.” It certainly delivers!

Happy shopping!

*all photos from

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fun In The Sun!

I am clearly neglecting my blog! I got 200 hits within 2 weeks of launching this thing, so I guess my blog addresses a rather popular subject and I know I should post the posts that I had planned. So, I will post at least once a week about fabulous money-saving tips for you gals!

It's April, and though in some parts of the world it's all about "April Showers," we here in California have only seen rain twice this month and have been otherwise blessed with 70-80 degree weather. We have had weekends where it's been in the mid- to high 80s, which of course allowed for fabulous beach trips.

Because Coachella is this weekend (a 3-day outdoor music festival) and it seems like everyone from LA uproots themselves and travels to the desert, I want you all to be prepared for the extra sun-exposure. I know most girls are super stoked to get their tan on, but can we please just be a bit careful? After all, skin cancer isn't a made up a disease, and if that isn't enough to scare you... you WILL get wrinkles from extra sun exposure.

Now fine, I can hear the complaints now. Who am I to tell you guys NOT to tan? I know, I know I am lucky and I'm all tan and brown and all that fun stuff and that I shouldn't be advising people to slather on the sunscreen when I never have had to worry about looking "pasty" in my life... and who am I to tell you girls to slather on sunscreen and stay pasty? Honestly, I don't like seeing ghosts like Nicole Kidman or Kristen Stewart as much as you girls don't like being super pasty-white in the summer. Those actresses need a bit of color to look un-dead. But there are safer ways to get tan without getting skin cancer à-la Izzie Stevens in Grey's Anatomy. I'll save those tips for another blog post!

For now, I just want to set the record straight that I agree with my melanin-deprived friends who want to look alive in the summer. I just think that girls today have no excuse not to do it in a more healthy way.

So here, for now, I just want to encourage everyone (dark-skinner or not!) to put on sunscreen before you leave your home for prolonged sun exposure.

The brand I am in love with right now is Neutrogena for their Ultra-Sheer Dry-touch line. It is great for your face because it does not leave the skin with an oily or greasy feel like other sunscreens do. I only paid about $10 for mine at Target, and it's a good enough size to last me all summer. I use this on my face and arms, and I'm pretty sure they sell one that is waterproof as well. I tan really easily, and as rare as this is for for someone of Pakistani descent, I actually BURN too. My nose and cheeks are prime areas for sunburns. So, I go the extra mile and actually get the SPF 70. I have no idea what "Helioplex" is so I guess I should ask my Dermatologist cousin what is is for those of you who care.

Since I always feature expensive counterparts (for the style-snobs and for kicks) I will share with you a $34 bottle of sunscreen. I just came across this in a magazine and was a bit intrigued by it. It's La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60. I read one review on it and was unable to find much more info about it. It has some chemical called "Mexoryl" that apparently protects against short UVA rays and thus prevents wrinkles. If anyone is interested (or if anyone has used it) leave me a comment, I'd love to see how this product is and if it indeed is worth the extra $20+. They have a whole line of skin care that I'm interested in trying, since Allure magazine rated their daily moisturizer as one of the best of 2009. I'm a bit intrigued by them and will have to check their stuff out.

For now, be safe in the sun!