Monday, September 24, 2012

Behind The Scenes Beauty

I'm a firm believer than makeup can work miracles. It can make a woman feel good about herself. A little lipstick can brighten even the most dreary of days.  However, in order for that makeup to look good, it needs a clean, smooth surface to adhere to. One of the ways you can achieve this is through a proper skin care routine. With the plethora of beauty products on the market it is nearly impossible to know what works and what doesn't. In this post, I'll show you just a few tried and true behind the scenes beauty products that help me look and feel my best.  All of the products listed here are cruelty-free, meaning that none of them were tested on animals. If the product doesn't say it directly on the label, I got this information from the company's website, or through contacting the company directly. Looking and feeling your best is important, but no animal has to suffer for it, I am living proof of that.

In no particular order, let's get started:

Pictured above is my Ahava Time To Clear Purifying Mud Mask. This light green facial mask takes only two minutes to work it's magic, and the results are instant. It's made from dead sea minerals, and is safe for even the most sensitive of skin. I apply a thin layer to clean dry skin once a week and let it dry for about two minutes. After rinsing thoroughly, I'm left with clear glowing skin.  The above picture is a deluxe sample size that I received in my monthly sample box from The full size retails for $31.00 for 4.3 oz.  A little goes a long way, and the product itself helps me achieve the radiant complexion I strive for.

Next up, is Mogador Argan Oil (pictured below). This particular brand of oil is certified organic by Ecocert and is made of 100% virgin cold pressed argan oil bottled in the U.S.A.  While many brands of argan oil exist on the market, this brand is not only Eco-friendly, but also budget friendly compared to it's more expensive counterparts. Argan oil has many uses.  You can use it in your hair to add extra shine, at night to rejuvenate skin, or under makeup to create a dewy look on your cheekbones. The cobalt blue glass bottle comes with a medicine dropper like applicator, so you can dispense the perfect amount. You only need a tiny bit, to get the results you want. While I realize the concept of putting oil on your face seems counter-intuitive to everything we've been taught, this oil is meant for the face, skin and hair and some women have even claimed it helps with acne problems. I purchased this bottle of 2.1oz on for only $18.95 and trust me, it works just as well, if not better than some of the more expensive versions on the market I've tried.

The next product, I discovered after a very bad sunburn. I do wear sunscreen everyday, but sadly, I forgot to reapply quickly enough leaving me with a bad sunburn on my face one day. My obsession with skin care made me worried about how I would continue with my nightly skin care regimen without hurting my already damaged skin. Luckily, The Body Shop* makes a whole skin care line fortified with calming aloe. While my sunburn is now long gone, I continue to use The Body Shop's Aloe Calming Toner because it's comforting to my sensitive skin (pictured below). The bottle pictured below is a travel size that came with an aloe based cleanser, day and night cream as well. If you have sensitive skin, this is a great toner for you, because it's one of the few toners on the market that will truly purify your skin without irritating it. and recently started carrying The Body Shop products, but you can also purchase it, as I did, on  The full size retails for $12.00 for 6.75oz. and as previously mentioned, is also available in the Aloe Bundle for $30.00.

*Please note that while The Body Shop is cruelty-free, they are owned by L'Oreal which is not.

While my skincare routine is quite thorough, sometimes I find that I need extra hydration during the day or if I am traveling. I don't always want to apply more moisturizer on top of my makeup, so sometimes I'll spray a quick spritz of  Melvita Eau Florale De Rose Rose Floral Water (below) on my face for instant hydration. This product is also one I discovered in one of my monthly subscription sample boxes, and I'm sure glad I did!  This can also be used to thin out liquid foundation. After I apply foundation, I'll spray a couple of light sprays all over my face and blend with a foundation brush to help blend out my foundation. This brand of rose floral water is also organic and certified by Ecocert. For more information visit where you can find the 6.76 fl oz. size for $22.00.

 Sticking with the Rose theme, I've also included my Nuance By Salma Hayek Rose Petal Hydrating Balm (below). You may have seen me mention this product in a previous post (proof of how much I love it). This is my holy grail lip product. It's part of my nightly routine to help keep my lips supple and moist. I also rub it on my cuticles and even dry elbows sometimes. It comes in an adorable little jar with a screw top lid and is available exclusively at CVS pharmacy and This balm smells amazing and is made with good-for-you ingredients like evening primrose oil, jojoba oil and sunflower seed oil to name a few. It retails for $7.29, but is currently on sale for only $5.83 for 0.265oz. It leaves lips with a lovely sheen, perfect for no makeup days. If you have long nails, and don't like the idea of sticking your finger in a jar, simply apply with a q-tip or mini spatula.

Another product that you have probably seen me mention in a previous post is 100% Pure Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream (pictured below).  This is my secret weapon against dark circles and puffiness. I apply this both at night before bed, and each morning after my moisturizer. I don't always get a good night's rest, but this eye cream sure helps me look like I do!  There are a million different eye creams on the market, and trust me I have tried them all. I have wasted so much money on products that don't work.  This product is amazing. First of all it smells delicious. It kind of smells like coffee cake to me!  This miracle-worker of a product has anti-inflammatory properties and is jam packed with anti-aging vitamins and antioxidants to help your eye area look youthful and radiant. This product is made in the U.S.A. and is 100% natural, organic, vegan and gluten free!  You get 1oz for $19.00, and this tube will last you a long time. The pump makes it easy to dispense a thin strip of product, or a larger amount depending on how hard you press it. This is a steal when compared against some of the other eye cream products on the market, and the biggest difference is that this one actually works. When I turned 25, I started seeing lines under my eyes which sent me into a full on panic. I seriously considered getting corrective plastic surgery. Luckily I wised up and at the suggestion of my dermatologist, bought a good eye cream instead. I actually bought  a ton of bad eye creams first, but finally I found this one and I'm never trying another. This one really works, it has good, pure ingredients and it's vegan. What more could I really ask for? Visit for more details.

Another staple in my night time routine is the Urban Decay Lush Lash System (below). Say that 3 times fast! After only 1 week of nightly use, people started asking me almost daily if I was wearing false eyelashes when I had on nothing more than regular mascara.  My eye doctor even asked me if I had been using Lastisse. Why go through the hassle of a prescription with possible side effects, when this cruelty-free product delivers amazing results in a short amount of time? When I bought this, I honestly did not expect it to work. I saw visable results quickly, and you will too. I even read a review online by a woman who had lost her eyelashes due to chemotherapy and she claimed this product helped bring them back. This product is not only cruelty-free, but it is also vegan (no animal products use in it) as indicated by the paw print symbol on  This miracle product retails for $42.00 and I will continue to buy it for as long as they make it. Urban Decay claims, "25% longer, thicker lashes in just 2 weeks", but I saw results more quickly, though I would imagine individual results may vary.

 This double ended tube has one side (pictured above) that applies like a liquid liner. You simply paint the clear liquid along your lash line before bed, then move on to the other end which is a mascara-like wand used to comb the white product through your lashes.

I love how narrow the mascara-like wand is because it really makes it easy to coat my bottom lashes as well.

With all the waterproof makeup I wear and use on others, I need a good way to take it off without damaging the delicate eye area or tugging and pulling at anyone's skin. I'm not a fan of makeup removers that require too much scrubbing and hard work to remove the product from your face. That's why I use Urban Decay Melt Down Makeup Remover (below).  This product is meant to be used without water. You simply apply it to your face anywhere that you want to remove makeup from, including the eye area, and it literally just melts the makeup right off of your face! It's truly an amazing product. You just need a gentle swipe of a tissue to remove the product and all of your makeup comes right off with it. This is an essential product if you are a fan of long wear formulas or waterproof makeup. In fact, this product is so popular, that it was sold out for weeks at Sephora before I could get my hands on a tube. The product comes out in a white creamy consistency, and feels moisturizing on the skin. It contains nourishing elements such as beta carotene, sea fan extract and gatuline in-tense. Cranberry and raspberry seed oils help moisturize as it removes. The best part is, this non-greasy formula is packaged in a 2.5 oz tube so it's airline approved for those who travel frequently.You can purchase this at for $24.00. I think this is the best all around makeup remover I've seen, and it's safe to use on sensitive skin.

For weeks when my skin feels particularly parched, or those cold winter months in Connecticut, I reach for my Nuance By Salma Hayek Intense Hydration Overnight Rejuvenator (below). This once a week treatment contains high end ingredients like Royal Jelly and blue agave. I apply this once a week when I need it to clean dry skin, massaging it in and allowing it to penetrate for a good 10 minutes or so before following with my night cream. This product was a savior during my sunburn fiasco. It retails for $19.99, but is currently on sale for $15.99 at  This is a high end product at a drugstore price.  You literally feel your skin hydrating after application. It's a creamy gel like consistency similar to a high end moisturizer. The pump dispenses the perfect amount of product.

 The next product was recommended to me by a family member. She raved about this product like I've never heard her rave about anything before. I'm sure you've seen the infomercials on TV, but I'm happy to report that Wen by Chaz Dean is now available at (pictured below).  I love the almond scent of this cleansing conditioner, but if you don't, the company makes it in many different scents and you are sure to find one that will please your senses. This product is like no other on the market. It's not a shampoo or a conditioner, but a cleansing conditioner.  I'm not a woman who has ever had good hair. I started coloring my hair at a pretty young age, so after years of damage, it takes a lot to get these locks in healthy shape. This product completely changed my hair. I apply 10 pumps to my wet hair in the shower and work it through, massaging it into my scalp and combing through the rest of my hair. I leave it in to soak into my hair while I complete the rest of my shower before rinsing it out.  I then take half a pump and use it as a leave in conditioner. I didn't see any bunny pictured on the back of this bottle, so I contacted the company directly and was assured that Wen is NOT tested on animals. This thick rich cleansing conditioner retails for $32.00 for 16 oz. and is the only product that has been able to tame my frizz.  When used properly, it's lightweight and won't weigh your hair down regardless of your hair type.  Even my hairdresser commented on how soft my hair was after a couple months of use. This product is free of sulfates, synthetic dyes and petrochemicals.

Last, but not least, is a product I use every single day of my life called Dew Me by Urban Decay (below). This is a moisturizing makeup setting spray, and is the final step in my makeup routine. Think of it as hairspray for the face. It's oil free, paraben free and is essential in helping me create the dewy glow that I desire. This fine mist feels like nothing after sprayed on the face, yet it helps your makeup last all day while leaving behind a dewy glow. I would recommend this product for someone who has dry or combination skin.  Urban Decay makes another product called De-Slick for those with oily skin and one called All Nighter for normal skin types.  This product retails for $29.00 at for 4 oz. It's hypoallergenic and trust me, it's worth every penny.

If you want to know why I am against animal testing, just look at the picture below! This is one of my rescue dogs and he is my true beauty secret. My dogs make me smile like no one else and happiness is truly beautiful!

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