Yes, brown girls can get dark circles too. So instead of just covering up dark circles, I decided I need to, ya know, fix them!  I found myself recently on the hunt for an eye cream that not only reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles but also brightens dark circles and provides the eye area with an overall boost.  Oh, and did I mention I also wanted to be able to wear it under make up?

Turns out, I was in daytime eye cream territory, looking for something that wouldn’t interfere with my normal moisturizer and wouldn’t appear greasy or feel heavy for day to day use.  Lo and behold, there’s a lot out there!

As usual with eye creams, the price range is wide, and there’s a lot of fancy pants pricey products that I was reluctant to invest in without a little more info.  So, I hit the beauty blogosphere and came up with two great creams that do exactly what I want: brighten dark circles, fight fine lines AND are gentle enough to wear under make up!

Splurge: Origins Gin-zeng Eye Cream, at $29.50, feels like a light soufflé.  Origins takes a plant-based approach to cosmetics, so the product is infused with ginseng, coffee bean, magnolia, and other good stuff. It goes on light and immediately brightens the area, plus, although it’s not cheap, you only need a teeny little droplet to slide under each eye.  Really love it!

Steal: Neutrogena’s Healthy Skin Under Eye Cream, at $11.99, is a drug-store steal from a reliable producer.  Some of the website reviews indicate that it’s tough for sensitive skin, and I don’t have sensitive skin so I can’t comment on that aspect, but I think it’s a good product and I’ve used it before.

If you’re South Asian, you may already be familiar with Parachute’s products.  They come in a little blue bottle, and these are the folks who make coconut oil for your hair.  Well, what you may not know is that they have a whole line of body and skin care products, infused with traditional ingredients like saffron, turmeric and coconut.  Upon reader’s request, I checked out Parachute Body Lotion and was pretty pleased. Simple, non-greasy and light, it glides over skin and infuses moisture with a coconut scent that reminds you of being on vacation.

Pros: Very moisturizing, lightweight, non-greasy and hypo-allergenic.  It doesn’t feel too creamy or heavy to the touch. The packaging is sleek too!

Cons: Because Parachute is an Indian brand, it’s not available in drug stores in the US.  Look for it online at the Parachute Hair Care site (not a very smart name for a site featuring body lotion) , because its a body care product rather than the traditional hair products. So, while it’s a pretty good product, it’s not the easiest to get ahold of if you’re stateside, and there are other products that are equally solid that you can probably find at your local CVS.  Either way, happy moisturizing!

Hey beauty lovers, remember when I posted this, about tangerine and its sister colors being “IT” for 2012? Well, Sephora has officially announced tangerine-mango-orangey-citrus fruit of your choice to be its Color of the Year (actually it’s called Tangerine Tango, but hey)  To celebrate their color of the year, they’re selling several limited edition kits of lip gloss, nail polish, blush and eyeshadow.  The blushes and eyeshadows are particularly interesting, as they feature both the “color of the year” and some interesting accent colors to create a blended look, colors like apricot, or sparkly taupe.  If you visit your local Sephora, they’ve flagged colors in every major beauty line that fit the profile, so even if you don’t want to get a whole kit of lipsticks, you can visit your favorite beauty brand and pick out one or two things you like.

These colors are excellent for dark skin if you’d like to make a dramatic splash, but can feel a little intimidating if you’re used to going simpler. Have fun with it, but don’t do anything that makes you feel clownish. I personally like to mute my tangerine, and am using Nars Lip Gloss in Wonder.  You might want to test the waters with tangerine toe nail polish, which is easy to hide in pumps at work and isn’t as dramatic an effect as a bright orange lipstick. Get in on the color of the year soon, and you’ll be set till December!

If you follow the beauty industry even casually, you’ve probably noticed all kinds of products boasting the inclusion of “Moroccan

they carry an Ancient beauty secret...

Argan Oil”.  Drug store brands like Organix are selling Argan Oil Shampoo, as are high-end salon brands such as Moroccon Oil, whose entire product line centers around the stuff.

We know many cultures outside of Western have used natural oils in beauty products or for hair care, including olive oil, almond oil and coconut oil.  So, is this argan oil stuff really something special?  This NYTimes Article from a few years ago discusses the labor-intensive extraction process, and gives us a glimpse as to how this age-old beauty tradition has gripped the modern beauty industry.

Well, I did some digging.  First, you should know that argan oil comes from fruit kernels of the Argan Tree (big surprise there), which is indigenous to Morocco.  Berber women learned to use its properties to combat desert-dryness and found that argan oil was relatively light and was easily absorbed by skin, hair and nails.  The tree itself is rare and grows in a very specific region of Morocco, and exportation of the argan kernels is till controlled by a Berber Women’s Cooperative (pretty cool, huh?).

...and put it in some modern beauty packaging...

What makes it unique is that due to its lightness and low viscosity, it’s fairly non-comodagenic (that means it doesn’t clog pores) and is rich in vitamin E, essential lipids and antioxidants, which are useful for skin health and protection against signs of aging.

However, the cosmeceutical research suggests that more does not equal better–argan oil may have an extra helping of lipids andvitamin E, but when products were tested on real consumers, it didn’t prove that much better than any other natural oil.  Perhaps it just happens to be en vogue now, and given the fickleness of the beauty industry, another trend will slide in to take its place shortly.

In the mean time, if you’d like to try an argan oil product for yourself, check out the Organix Shampoo, or splurge on Josie Maran’s Argan Serum as a standalone moisturizer.  Report back with your comments, I’d love to know how it turns out!

 

Greetings, beauty lovers, from Sedona, AZ! I’m on vacation in one of the greatest spa cities in the entire world, hiking like crazy all day followed by much needed hot tubbing and body pampering.  One thing I’ve been thinking about here is that the desert climate has a really unique impact on skin.  Summer & warm weather in general require something extra in the way of skin care, but being in a dry, arid climate year round means its VERY easy for skin to become leathery and thirsty.

The obvious solution is to drink tons and tons and tons of water.  Seriously, no joke, it has a dramatic impact on skin by hydrating everything (duh) and releasing toxins.  The next thing you should do is MOISTURIZE.  It should be clear that in a bright, sunny climate your moisturizer needs to include SPF protection, but beyond that, you’re looking for something that’s super emollient.  These are not necessarily “medicated” creams, but creams that are both hydrating and soothing, which usually means they are infused with natural ingredients such as colloidal oatmeal, jojoba, shea, etc and have lower concentrations of parabens and chemicals.  They also tend to be thicker in consistency and absorb faster.

Here are my recommendations for emollient creams to nourish your skin in desert climates:

Aveeno Skin Relief Moisturize Repair Cream: easily found in drug stores everywhere and a trusted name in high quality affordable skin care, Aveeno makes both a cream and a lotion in this category that is designed to provide light itch relief and all-over deep moisturizer.

Mario Badescu Hydro-Emollient Cream: a bit of a splurge, and NOT a certified organic product, but I like it because they market it as “flight cream” that’s designed to deliver moisture when one is stuck in a “dehydrating climate”, such as an airplane or, ya know…the desert.

Nivea’s Essentially Enriched Lotion: infused with almond oil, this product absorbs almost immediately to immediately pump up the hydration.  The original Nivea was chock full of miscellaneous mineral oils and their lotions have never failed to deliver on combating dry, rough skin.  Drawback as you can imagine is that it can feel a bit greasy, which a lot of people are really put off by, but if absorbs so fast you won’t know it.

Alba Botanical’s Very Emollient Body Lotion: lightweight, non-greasy and super moisturizing, this unscented body lotion is excellent in the driest of climates.  Alba is a trustworthy name for organic and natural products, and this lotion is no exception.  It’s formula isn’t especially unique; chamomile & aloe are longtime lotion ingredients, but with the addition of green tea and anti-oxidants, its not only moisturizing but soothing and therapeutic–hence the term: emollient!


As I’m out in the desert this week, I am moisturizing like crazy with the resort’s very own jojoba moisturizing lotion.  But, when it gets too hot or dry, I just jump in the pool with the dramatic red rock backdrop and count my blessings :) Life can be good.

 

We’ve all heard about the dangers of heat styling: dries out your hair, creates frizz, and promotes breakage.  While a lot of this is true, a big problem is user error–many people dont know how to use heat styling products and devices.  They either over do it or under do it, and fail to use heat protection sprays and products that counteract some of the effects of heat damage.  Today, I’m going to give you some much needed blow-drying tips!

I’ll start with a product rec: Thermal Creations Heat Protection Spray by Tres Semme--this is affordable, simple, non-gunky, mild aerosol that you spritz on towel dried hair before blow drying or on dry hair before heat styling.  There are tons of pricier products on the scene but this one will do the trick.  The difference is subtle, but the main benefit I’ve observed is that my hair feels silky, not dried out, even after a blow dry.  Do not douse your hair–a light spritz is sufficient to bond the hair follicles together and defend against heat induced breakage.

no, it's not just your vacuum cleaner that comes with multi-purpose attachments...

1. Heat: I almost never use my high heat setting.  If you want a stronger blast, consider alternating between cold & hot (most dryers will have a “cold” button).  A majority of drying can be done w/ the low setting, and certainly all of the styling should be done this way, as high air flow settings will chaotically throw your hair around making styling all the more difficult.

2.Attachments: So, what are these things that stick onto my dryer and do I need them?  Well, the diffuser is useful if your hair is fine, thin or curly (yes i know, unexpected range, but read on).  Diffusers redirect heat distribution in an indirect and gentle way.  Drying may take longer, but it also decreases the likelihood of frizz & breakage, as well as destruction of curls.  Here are some tips on how to use a diffuser, via hdryers.com.  My hair does not fall into this category, so I usually use my dryer as is, or with a styling nozzle, like this one.  Nozzles are sometimes called concentrators and they do exactly what you think–concentrate the air at a specific point.  Useful for straightening or focused styling, and allows for more control since your hair isn’t blowing all over the place.  If you’re using these guys, you can point them closer to your hair (but point in the direction of growth!).  Occasionally you may encounter this comb pick thingamabob, which I find really difficult to work with.  These babies are your round brush & hair dryer in one, and they add volume and lift, if you’re willing to operate the entire device, which I find totally tedious.

3.Last and perhaps most important, Movement: Do not point at any one spot for long; shake your wrist, move it around regularly, and NEVER

see how this lovely lady is pointing her hair dryer DOWN?

point it directly at your hair.  Next time you go to the hair salon, notice what your stylist does: he or she will mostly likely direct the blow dryer to spray air parallel to your hair, pointing outward in the direction of growth.  This minimizes breakage by not pressuring hair to go against itself, that is, in the opposite direction it normally grows.  As an analogy, think about when you shave your legs–you always shave against the grain becuase that breaks the flow of growth.  Shaving downward in the direction of growth doesn’t break the hair.  The same applies on your head–while blow drying is not as aggressive as shaving, you still run the risk of going against the grain and breaking the follicles.  Point your blower dryer down or out, and try to direct the blast along the side of your hair, not against it.

Those are some basic blow-drying tips, and hopefully some of those crazy hair dryer attachments de-mystified.  Happy drying, without drying out!

Normally, I am not the biggest fan of fruit-scented products.  As a general rule, I don’t really like smelling like a smoothie.  But recently at a friend’s house I spotted Clean & Clear’s Morning Burst Fruit Infusions, and gave it a try.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Normally, Clean and Clear products, largely because of their salicylic acid and acne combating ingredients, are very drying and leave my skin feeling a little thirsty.  This cleanser has a creamy lotion-y texture and truly leaves you feeling as if you just had a facial peel.

It comes in three different flavors: hydrating, purifying and reviving, with different fruit extracts for various types of skin.  I tried the hydrating and was pleased.  But, Clean & Clear as a brand is great for oily skin that’s prone to blackheads or blemishes, so I’m sure the purifying and reviving are pretty good as well.  Plus, the price is low, so you’ve got nothin’ to lose by trying it!

Yes, these products do smell like smoothies.  But, they also leave your skin feeling soft, and the fruity scent is actually subtle on your own skin–somebody would have to get realll close to pick up on it ;).

Be aware, it doesn’t exactly lather up nice and foamy; as I said, it’s a cream based cleanser, but rest assured it’s doing the job even if you don’t see the suds.  Some users like to leave it on a few minutes before rinsing, like a mask, but I don’t think that’s necessary.  This is a great AM cleanser to get you going and freshen your face, so you can be a fruity cutie :)

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