Gothic Beauties: Morticia Addams (Anjelica Huston)

“What does it mean to be glamorous? Well, it is indefinable, but I think glamour happens when somebody with great personal taste is very much at ease with [him- or herself] and with what they’re wearing, without social pretense. And I would say originality, flavor, panache — it’s a way of living, being, moving. It’s a character thing. What makes someone beautiful? Well, I’m going to be corny, and say it’s what goes on inside their heart. At least the people I find beautiful, I see the beauty in their eyes. Sophia Loren. Ava Gardner. Nastassja Kinski. Maria Callas. It’s about spirit.”

Anjelica Huston, as told to Violet Gray

Few things inspire me like a drop-dead (heh…heh…get it?) gorgeous goth woman. Trad goth, nu-goth, pastel goth, all of it. In this series, I’ll give you any information I can find on each actress’s skincare and beauty routine and create a skincare routine for their most iconic goth character. Check back a few days after each post for a little makeup tutorial on their look!

morticia

I’m going to start with my absolute favorite, Morticia Addams. This woman is all I aspire to be. I’ve chosen Anjelica Huston’s Morticia, as her rendition of the character was more recent and, maybe, easier to research. Model, actress, director, the woman has succeeded in every endeavor. It’s so shocking to learn that Huston, at a young age, overheard her parents discussing the fact that “Anjelica wasn’t going to be a beauty.” Her beauty is unconventional, yes, but I have such a hard time comprehending that anyone could accuse her of being anything less than beautiful. She’s not pretty. Pretty is easy; pretty is conventional, common. There are millions of pretty women. Anjelica Huston is something else altogether: distinctive. Striking. Timeless. Classic. Elegant. And all of those words obviously describe Morticia. What makes me love her even more is the fact that she responded by deciding to MAKE herself beautiful, in her own rite; she is often quoted as saying that she might not have physical perfection, but that she would think herself into being beautiful. And whether or not Huston could be labeled as goth, that is a very goth mindset.

It was hard to find any specific details on Huston’s beauty routine. Either no one deems it worth reporting, or it’s all very closely guarded. Either way, here’s what I was able to piece together:

  • As told to Violet Gray when discussing her iconic 1975 Oscars red carpet photo (with then love interest Jack Nicholson): Huston put together her own look, and her makeup was what she usually did. Pale makeup, red lipstick, “kohl around the eyes.” Not surprising, very Morticia. What is surprising, though, is the fact that at the time, she was taking a small break from her career, and having moved to California from New York, her “only objective was to get a suntan.”
  • Huston has admitted to having collagen injections. Collagen injections are, of course, an anti-aging measure. She has also said that makeup made her late to school frequently in her teenage years, which is incredibly endearing, and telling.
  • In an interview with Yahoo,  Huston spills the tea about Morticia’s makeup. According to her, makeup artist Fern Buckner designed a silk face lift contraption, that was tied behind Huston’s head, to literally lift her face under her makeup. Huston goes on to say that Morticia’s makeup was a pain, because of the silk face lift, the fact that that much white makeup took hours to perfect, and that the nails were constantly popping off and giving her grief.
  • She believes that sometimes, you simply must be okay with leaving the house without looking your best; she even admits to sometimes enjoying looking sloppy. That’s something I can totally get behind. AND she’s a big proponent of treat yo self: she buys herself jewelry after she finishes a film.
  • Huston absolutely adores piercings and tattoos, even though they aren’t things she can commit to herself. (How punk rock of her!)
  • Her sun advice: “bask, but don’t bake. And of course, use sunscreen.”

Since I could find very little on Huston’s skincare habits and routine, I’ll just go ahead and make one for Morticia. Addams and Huston share a penchant for anti-aging; how they differ is that Morticia is content with being pale, while Huston appreciates a subtle tan. Also, Morticia is a mother who still insists on looking her absolute best. Multitasking products are a must. I believe she would strive for a balance between practicality and luxury.

Daytime

Morticia is French, and the French don’t believe in washing their faces in the morning. So I imagine she would skip a morning cleanse, or opt for a micellar water, as it’s super gentle and simple. To keep her skin hydrated and prepped for her iconic makeup look, she would use a toner that contains aloe, hyaluronic acid, cucumber, rosewater, etc. I imagine her favorite brands would be French: Caudalie, La Mer, Vichy. After toner would come an anti-aging eye cream, an anti-aging moisturizer, and OF COURSE, SPF 50+. Morticia doesn’t see the sun very often, but that doesn’t mean she won’t take every precaution against it.

Nighttime

I’m willing to bet Morticia would double-cleanse, to take off all of her makeup. In the movies she wakes up with her makeup on, but I refuse to believe that she would age her skin like that. For her oil cleansing step, I’m thinking either vitamin E oil or hempseed oil. Both are wonderful for all skin types, are hydrating, and are great at removing makeup. Her cleanser would be gentle, perhaps a cleansing milk or balm. Next comes exfoliation; the latest and greatest chemical exfoliant for sure, so as not to be too abrasive. I love to think of Morticia using brightening and anti-aging masks, both sheet and cream, utilizing exotic ingredients from faraway places. A nice firming toner follows, as well as a nicely concentrated serum to lift and firm. She would absolutely finish it off with the classic, $400 La Mer creme.

Let me know in the comments below what goth beauty icon you’d like to see next!

XOXO,

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Bloody Brilliant or Bloody Awful: The Vampire Facial

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I blame Kim Kardashian. For a lot of things, but today we’re talking about a sort of ridiculous facial trend; and I blame her for the hype, because she popularized it by getting it done on camera. I’m talking about the Vampire Facial, which is different from the Vampire Facelift. Both utilize PRP (platelet rich plasma). Although it’s been a few years since the episode aired and the craze started, it’s still highly searched and asked about. (No, I’ve never seen the episode in question.)

PRP is the process of drawing blood, then spinning it through a centrifugal processing system (thank you RealSelf for that string of words) to separate the platelets from the red blood cells. The plasma creates a growth-factor rich serum that is healing and boosts the immune system. This glorious goo is then injected back into the skin.

Being of the gothy/vampy variety, I’m immediately on board with anything that uses blood. Being an educated esthetician, however, I’m skeptical of any fad procedure. So, I took to le internet and did some research to see if it’s really worth the pain and money.

First, let’s talk about the differences between the Vampire Facial and the Vampire Facelift. The Vampire Facial incorporates micro-needling, a wonderful facial procedure in which a multi-needled device is rolled over your face. This causes tiny pinpricks in your skin. The purpose of the pinpricks is to increase the delivery of serums and products used after the needling; also, the process triggers your body’s wound-healing mechanism, which promotes the formation of new collagen and elastin. Micro-needling is a wonderful anti-aging procedure when performed by a licensed professional; I cannot attest to home micro-needling, so I will keep my opinions on that to myself. ANYWAY. Micro-needling, in itself, could be considered a sort of vampire facial, because the pinpricks obviously produce some amount of bleeding. But, the Vampire Facial (capitalized for differentiation) takes it a step further by then injecting the PRP into your face. The Vampire Facelift varies from the Facial in that it eliminates the micro-needling, and also utilizes hyaluronic acid fillers, Restalyne, or Juvederm in addition to the PRP.

As of 2013, Popular Science claimed there was no scientific proof that the procedure is effective. Several other sources around the same year agree. So, that aspect is for you to research and decide for yourself. From an esthetics standpoint, micro-needling to then inject beneficial serums, treatments, etc. makes sense.

Why would you get a Vampire procedure? For the epic selfie, duh. For anti-aging, mostly. To try a trend and see if you get anything out of it. If you do decide to try it, PLEASE ensure that you are getting it done a medical spa or a plastic surgeon’s office.  For micro-needling and other similar services, you can try somewhere like TLATA (Texas Laser and Aesthetics Training Academy), which supervises their students as they perform the services. PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT PURCHASE AN AT-HOME MICRO-NEEDLING DEVICE! I’m sure there are great ones out there, but there is always a risk of contamination and infection when you’re BRINGING BLOOD TO THE SURFACE OF YOUR FACE THROUGH MICRO ABRASIONS. So, from a hygiene standpoint alone, you should see a licensed professional for anything utilizing a needle.

Why WOULDN’T you get a Vampire procedure? If you’re a masochist, because apparently, the procedure is no more painful than Botox. If you’re afraid of needles or blood. If you’re skeptical about the results-these procedures can get up into the thousands. That’s a lot of money to shell out for something you’re not 100% sold on. I’m sure there are other factors that would eliminate you as a candidate, but that’s why you consult with someone licensed to perform the procedures beforehand.

Until there’s concrete, in-your-face, easy-to-Google scientific evidence that the procedures are worth the price tag, I personally would stick to just micro-needling. It’s vampire-adjacent enough for me. What are your thoughts? Would you ever try something like this? Let me know in the comments below!

XOXO,

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Additional sources:

FutureDerm

RealSelf

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Quit Putting Glue on Your F***ing Face

The biggest Pinterest skincare trend right now is a DIY activated charcoal mask. I can’t open the app without seeing it in my suggestions; I can’t go into a makeup and beauty group on Facebook without being bombarded by pictures of women masking it up with this concoction. We all know that I am pro DIY skincare, when it’s safe and makes sense. So this is not me bashing the DIY aspect of this particular trend. I actually love activated charcoal masks for their cleansing and exfoliating abilities. What I take issue with is the other ingredient used: glue. Yes, glue. Good ol Elmer’s school glue.

Yall, this trend gets me HEATED. Like, heated to the point that I yell angrily at my screen, “ARE YOU F***IN STUPID?!” So heated, in fact, that I am writing this post now, and even Googled “why is glue bad for your skin,” because it seems like no one else is capable of doing so.

The theory behind this fuckery is that since Elmer’s glue is the same texture as pore strips and pulls out blackheads, and is nontoxic, you can use it in place of “pricey” pore strips and masks. Because why pay for something that’s been formulated for your skin when you can use something that’s been formulated for paper at a literal fraction of the cost? (Is my sarcasm just spewing out of your screen? Good.)

Here’s why this is a bad idea: glue contains ingredients that are skin irritants and cause allergic reactions (although the glue is nontoxic). Elmer’s doesn’t even list all of the ingredients used, as it is a proprietary blend, so who knows what else is in there that is not skin friendly. You may be pulling out the blackheads in your skin, but you’re irritating the rest of your skin in the process. Glue is also comedogenic; if the purpose of the mask is to clear your pores, why the HELL would you use something that is going to clog your pores? Not only that, glue was not formulated to be used on the skin; the list of things that are not formulated for the skin, but are safe for the skin, is short. Glue is not pH balanced for your skin, which leads to a whole other set of skin problems. You need to be very careful when using things that you have to rip off of your face. The act of ripping causes the borders of your pores to expand. Obviously, this leads to more noticeable pores, something literally everyone is trying to avoid. Not only that, you’re damaging your collagen and elastin. You are literally causing sagging, wrinkles, and early aging. All for the low, low price of school glue.

So please: avoid this trend at all costs. Pore strips and DIY peel-off masks may seem like inexpensive treatment options but the damage done to your skin is irreversible and will cost you a ton of money to temporarily repair. Here are my Target suggestions for charcoal based masks that will do what you’re wanting without damaging your skin:

You can find better options in several other places, but since this trend is so popular because it’s dirt cheap, I stuck with Target. One of my favorite blogs, FutureDerm, provides further but simplified information here. Even Refinery 29 advises against the trend here.

Thank you for reading through my rant! Seeing a professional for your skin concerns is always advised, but I get it, it’s not always doable. But please, for the love of your skin, DON’T PUT GLUE ON YOUR F***ING FACE!

XOXO,

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Good Skin For All: Sephora Edition

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I LOVE Sephora. Even before I was an esthetician or had any interest in skin care, even before I was as obsessed with makeup as I am now, I loved Sephora. And I know that automatically makes a lot of estheticians hate me. Because I know when I was working in the school’s spa and making their product recommendations, a lot of clients would say, “what can I find that’s comparable at Sephora?” And most estheticians argue that for the same price you can buy their products that are professional, have a higher concentration of active ingredients (which is NOT always true), etc. But I have to ask these other estheticians: would you hate Sephora so much if you didn’t retail a skincare line you were recommending? Probably not. Although I am a practicing esthetician, I do not retail any product line, so I can remain a bit more objective. I make non-professional skincare recommendations much like a parent giving their teenager a condom: if you’re gonna do it, do it safely. Once again, I’ve left out Clinique and others whose ingredients are not listed online. So with that, let’s get into it!

oily

Goals for oily skin: to keep everything hydrated and balanced without drying out the skin and causing even more oil.

What to avoid:

  • drying, stripping ingredients
  • heavy, occlusive ingredients that will lead to breakouts

The routine:

dry

Goals for dry skin: to hydrate and treat signs of aging while avoiding drying ingredients.

What to avoid:

  • drying alcohols commonly found in moisturizers
  • anything TOO occlusive, as breakouts and troubled skin are issues

The routine:

combo

Goals for combo skin: to balance and treat the face as needed-dry spots as dry, oily as oily.

What to avoid: 

  • anything drying
  • one size fits all skincare

The routine:

acne

Goals for acneic skin: to clear up breakouts while keeping the skin hydrated and healthy.

What to avoid:

  • drying ingredients
  • harsh ingredients

The routine:

antiaging

Goals for anti-aging: to keep things hydrated, and utilize collagen.

Things to avoid:

  • drying ingredients
  • miracle-in-a-bottle products
  • anything harsh

The routine:

Eye Cream

Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum ($85); Origins Eye Doctor Moisture Care ($38); Ole Henriksen Ultimate Lift Eye Gel ($42); Clarins Extra-Firming Eye Wrinkle Soothing Cream ($63); Tata Harper Restorative Eye Creme ($95); Fresh Lotus Eye Gel ($48); or Origins Plantscription Anti-Aging Eye Treatment ($45). That’s just half of the first page. The main thing to look for in a good eye cream is hyaluronic acid, arnica extract, vitamins A, C, E, and K; and collagen. Always avoid alcohols.

What have been your best Sephora scores? Let me know in the comments below!

XOXO,

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Good Skin For All: Ulta Edition

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I have such a love-hate relationship with Ulta. They have awesome deals and coupons…with a dozen limitations. It’s cool that they have a drugstore side and high-end side…until you wander over to the high-end side with a drugstore product in hand and the sales people shame you for your choices. I could just go visit family if I wanted to be shamed for my choices. But, it is a popular destination, and carries an assortment of brands. I’ll be including both drugstore and high-end options. I’m also going to include eye creams and treatments in the Ulta and Sephora editions. While I do think eye creams are necessary, I think they’re a waste of money if they aren’t concentrated, just like serums. So I left them out of the more drugstore editions, and have given them their own category at the end of the post. I’ve left out Dermalogica, because there are plenty of professionals retailing the line who you should be buying from.

oily

Goals for oily skin: to balance and keep clear without stripping.

What to avoid:

  • drying, irritating ingredients
  • skipping moisturizer
  • avoiding sun care since oily skin ages slower

The routine:

dry

Goals for dry skin: to hydrate and repair compromised protective barrier.

What to avoid:

  • drying alcohols in moisturizers
  • harsh cleansers
  • comedogenic ingredients

The routine:

combo

Goals for combo skin: to balance the skin and treat each zone as needed.

What to avoid: one size fits all skincare.

The routine:

acne

Goals for acneic skin: to treat the acne without damaging the healthy skin.

What to avoid:

  • menthol and other drying ingredients
  • harsh abrasives

The routine:

  • Cleanser: Choose from the oily options; there are no denatured alcohol-free cleansers when you select “acne” under cleansers on their website.
  • Toner: Once again, choose from the oily options. The search specifications only brought up Clinique, and the Ulta website does not list Clinique ingredients.
  • Exfoliant: Hey…so…guess what. Yeah.
  • Masks: I’m just gonna end this here and refer you to the oily routine because ULTA’S WEBSITE SUGGESTS SHIT FOR ACNE.

antiaging

Goals for anti-aging: deep but gentle exfoliation, intense hydration, and proper usage of anti-aging ingredients.

What to avoid:

  • products that claim to have surgical results
  • sun exposure
  • harsh, drying ingredients

The routine:

Eye Creams

Eye creams are pretty universal in the sense that everyone really needs the same thing: hydration, ingredients that address dark circles and sluggish circulation, and DON’T contain “cheap” (i.e. drying) alcohols. So regardless of your skin type, you should choose from the following:

Algenist Complete Eye Renewal Balm ($68); SheaMoisture SuperFruit Renewal Eye Cream ($12); Clarins Extra-Firming Eye Cream ($63); Juice Beauty Green Apple Brightening Eye Cream ($38); Skyn Iceland Icelandic Relief Eye Cream ($45); Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM Eye Cream ($55; I hesitated to include this one because of the ambiguous “alcohol” towards the bottom of the ingredient deck, but given its low concentration, I included it anyway); or the Andalou Naturals Luminous Eye Serum that I cannot seem to find on the site. That’s the one I use, and I bought it for around $20.

What are your thoughts on shopping at Ulta? Let me know in the comments below!

XOXO,

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Good Skin for All: Target Edition

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Target is one of my favorite places to shop because I like to be a basic bitch and get a chai latte to sip on while I shop. As far as skincare goes, you have to dig! But, Target carries Andalou Naturals, which is my most recommended non-professional line, as well as Derma E and SW Basics. While I’m on the subject, I’m not a “naturals only” esthetician. I believe there is a time and a place for everything, and products need things like preservatives to give them shelf life. However, most drugstore/OTC lines that are not “natural” do not have a good concentration of active ingredients, whereas drugstore “natural” lines do. As with CVS, I’ve left out higher end lines that can be bought elsewhere. Unlike CVS, Target’s website doesn’t include the price-per-ounce, and I failed every math class I ever took, so if you’re looking for the best price using those parameters, you may need to do some in-store comparing for yourself. (If you’re just now coming in, please see my disclaimer from the Good Skin For All: CVS Edition post.)

oily

Goals for oily skin: balance without drying out.

What to avoid:

  • drying, irritating ingredients that will only cause your skin to produce more oil to compensate
  • anything too thick and suffocating that may clog your already acne-prone pores

The routine:

dry

Goals for dry skin: hydrating, gentle exfoliation, and acid mantle repair.

Things to avoid:

  • anything drying (obvs)
  • anything irritating
  • anything too terribly thick (dry skin is still prone to breakouts!)

The routine:

combo

Goals for combo skin: to balance everything out.

What to avoid: one-size-fits-all skincare.

The routine:

acne

Goals for acneic skin: to clear up and control breakouts without drying out and damaging the healthy skin underneath. Good exfoliation is key.

What to avoid:

  • anything abrasive or drying (you can’t scrub away your acne)
  • anything that will clog pores, leading to further breakouts

The routine:

 

antiaging

Goals for anti-aging: to avoid further sun damage and dehydration.

What to avoid:

  • magic-in-a-jar claims (nothing will beat Botox and fillers)
  • anything drying
  • anything irritating

The routine:

Follow the product suggestions for dry skin. Target has shit anti-aging skincare.

Have you had better luck with Target skincare than I have? Let me know in the comments below!

XOXO,

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Good Skin For All: CVS Edition

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A huge part of my personal philosophy is making skincare more approachable and accessible. That’s Why I’m Cool With Non-Professional Skincare. I wanted to expand on that and REALLY help you guys put together an effective routine, no matter where you’re shopping. As I’ve stressed so many times before, it comes down to using the right ingredients for your skin type and concerns, so I’m going to put together a full skincare routine for each skin type based off of labels alone. I’m going to leave professional skincare recommendations to the professional who knows your skin best, so I’m going to be working with CVS, Target, Ulta, and Sephora. In the case of CVS, I’m going to leave out brands such as Clarins, Dermalogica, etc. as those can be bought from higher end stores or professionals. These posts are going to be really long just because there’s SO MUCH, but I’ll do my best to condense and label things well for easier scrolling!

disclaimer

I have not personally tried every product I’m going to suggest. 1.) That’s too damn expensive, and 2.) the vast majority of these products are not suited to my skin type. I’m making these recommendations based on ingredients and my ingredient knowledge alone. Be smart and stay away from things you know your skin is allergic or sensitive to; discontinue use immediately of any product that isn’t agreeing with your skin. Professional skincare may produce better or longer-lasting results due to higher concentrations of active ingredients. While I recommend professional lines for things like exfoliants, serums, and treatments, the point of this series is to piece together a comprehensive routine using OTC skincare only.

oily

Goals for oily skin: balancing oil without drying out the skin, and keeping things clean to reduce potential breakouts. Oily skin requires more cleansing and exfoliating than other types.

What to avoid:

  • Things that make your skin tingle-I’m looking at you, Noxema. That tingling feeling is meant to evoke illusions of cleanliness, but really it’s your skin screaming in irritation from drying ingredients like menthol and SD or denatured alcohol. The goal is to BALANCE oily skin, not dry it out to the point that it produces even more oil to compensate.
  • Things that are overly thick or emollient-bar cleansers, stick foundations, occlusive moisturizers, and balms leave ingredients that mix with your skin’s excess oil and add to the greasiness. These things can also clog your already acne-prone skin.

The routine:

Be sure to find a sunscreen you’ll use daily. Just because your skin will age slower to due to your higher oil content, doesn’t mean you don’t need sun protection.

dry

Goals for dry skinto stop damaging the outer layer by avoiding drying, abrasive, and damaging things such as bar soaps and unprotected sun exposure; to use good exfoliation and proper hydrating products to build up the damaged outer layer. Dry skin also tends to age quicker, so products that utilize vitamin A and glycolic acid are vital.

What to Avoid

  • bar soaps
  • water-soluble cleansers
  • irritating ingredients such as menthols and abrasive scrubs (fruit, shell, or nut fragments)

The Routine:

combo

Goals for combo skinbalance. That’s pretty much it. Combo skin is tricky because you need to treat the oily areas with products designed for oily skin, and dry areas with dry products. For the sake of this series, I’ll recommend products based on the “combo” category on the CVS website.

What to avoidone size fits all skincare.

The routine:

acne

Goals for acneic skinclearing the skin and keeping it clear WITHOUT drying it out or causing more damage.

What to avoid

  • anything inflammatory, as acne is an inflammatory disorder
  • anything drying (menthol, harsh detergents, over concentrated acids/peroxides/alcohols)
  • overdoing the cleansing; keeping the skin clean and exfoliated is crucial, however, you CANNOT wash away your acne. All you’ll do is irritate it!
  • unprotected sun exposure (no, sunscreen will not give you acne, and no, sunlight does not “clear up” acne)
  • thick, waxy textures

The routine:

  • Cleanser: nothing harsh, stripping, drying, or abrasive. That’s a tall order for drugstore skincare. Here are some good ones: Yes to Tomatoes Daily Clarifying Cleanser ($9.99, or $2.96/oz); Derma E Very Clear Acne Cleanser ($15.49, or $2.58/oz); or Burt’s Bees Acne Purifying Cleansing Gel ($9.99, or $2/oz).
  • Toner: the major concern with toners for acne-prone skin is avoiding anything that is too astringent. Again, you cannot dry out your acne; you can’t scrub it away, wash it away, sting it away. The only one I found that is worth the money without doing further damage is Andalou Naturals Clarifying Pore Minimizer ($12.99, or $2.16/oz). “Pore minimizer” is a bit of a misnomer, because you can’t minimize your pores once they’ve been stretched out. But it is a lovely toner all the same. Run away from anything that has denatured alcohol (sometimes listed as SD alcohol) anywhere near the beginning of the ingredient deck; this is what dries your skin out and makes it tight, which makes you think it’s working, but it’s just making your skin angry which leads to more breakouts.
  • Exfoliant: a leave-on AHA or BHA is ideal, because exfoliation (GENTLE exfoliation) is key to keeping acneic skin healthy. That can be hard to find outside of professional lines, so the next course of action is to find a good scrub. Acne scrubs are so, so abrasive and irritating. Here are the most gentle acne scrubs I found: Derma E Very Clear Acne Scrub ($13.99, or $3.50/oz); Reviva Labs Microdermabrasion Pomegranate Scrub ($18.99, or $9.50/oz); or Burt’s Bees Acne Pore Refining Scrub ($9.99, or $2.50/oz).
  • Moisturizer: just like with oily skin, you might be tempted to skip the moisturizer in the name of keeping your skin clear. This is a huge mistake! When your skin is stripped of the oil it’s putting out, it puts out more oil, which causes more breakouts. The key is to find a moisturizer that is light but still hydrating. The ONLY one that I can happily recommend is Burt’s Bees Acne Daily Moisturizing Lotion ($17.99, or $9/oz). CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM ($14.49, or $4.83/oz) is an alright choice, especially since it’s SPF 30 and contains niacinamide, but it has a lot of preservatives for the price. I’m not anti-preservative or paraben, but I do believe there should be more active ingredients than preservatives in products.
  • Masks: I stand by my bentonite clay powder recommendation for oily skin. You’re going to want to find something that is purifying without drying, lightly hydrating, and soothing. I’m gonna be real honest, drugstore acne masks are shit. The best options I found are these two: Beauty 360 Detoxifying Perfecting Black Facial Mask ($11.99, this one has a decent ingredient deck AND IT’S BLACK), and Queen Helene The Original Mint Julep Mask ($4.99, or 62 cents/oz). I hesitate to recommend the Queen Helene mask because although it has some great ingredients for the price, it also has two or three possibly irritating ingredients in higher concentrations. So watch out.
  • Serums/treatments: spot treatments are great for minimizing individual spots, but they aren’t a long-term or all-over treatment. They won’t keep spots from coming back. Keep that in mind when shopping for one. Most of the drugstore options are crazy drying and overpriced for how much active ingredient is in the product. Even my good friend Burt’s Bees had denatured alcohol as the first ingredient (damn you Burt). Derma E Very Clear Acne Spot Treatment ($11.49, or $21.28/oz) is the only good option I found. When you look at the price-per-ounce, you might consider another option.

antiaging

Goals for anti-agingthis is such a tricky skin concern because everyone expects miracles that will turn back the clock as quickly as the signs of aging appeared. Only surgical procedures and injectables will give you (almost) instantaneous results. You want to incorporate as much of the following ingredients as possible: antioxidants (vitamins A, C, and E; superoxide dismutase; beta carotene; glutathione; selenium; green tea; soy extract; grape extract; pomegranate extract), skin identical/skin repairing (ceramides; lecithin; glycerin; hyaluronic acid; sodium PCA; collagen; elastin; proteins; triglycerides), cell-communicating (niacinamide; retinol; synthetic peptides; lecithin; ceramides). Sun protection is an absolute most because the most visible signs of aging are due to sun exposure and damage.

What to avoid:

  • “miracle” products that claim to mimic the effects of Botox and other medical procedures. Nothing can fully replicate the effects of those measures.
  • irritating products. As your skin ages, it doesn’t recover quite as quickly. It’s very important to avoid anything that could prolong that.

The Routine:

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Review: Peter Thomas Roth

ptr

Here’s what’s up with my product reviews. Mostly, I’m reviewing things I get samples of, or things I’ve gotten in exchange for my points at Sephora. No one is paying me to run this blog, and it’s been hell finding a spa job that meets my needs, so until companies start sending me stuff (which, btw, if anyone knows how to make that happen, get at me, seriously), we’re working with samples. I like doing this is because I know a lot of people are in the same boat, using samples and travel sizes to construct their skincare routine until they find something they like or they’re able to afford larger sizes.

Last year’s birthday gift at Sephora was a Peter Thomas Roth cleanser and mask duo. I avoided using it until recently because they are gel products, and gel cleansers tend to dry me out. Gel products are generally best for those with oily, combo, or normal skin. But lately my skin has been breaking out more than usual, so I read through the ingredients and gave them a try. Here are my “in a nutshell” thoughts. If you’d like a thorough analysis of the ingredients used, that will be below.

Anti-Aging Cleansing Gel (Sephora, $38/8.5 fl oz, same price and size at Ulta): As I suspected, this cleanser did dry me out a bit. HOWEVER! I really like using this cleanser in the same way I’d use a clarifying shampoo; not regularly, but every now and then to get a really thorough clean. It lives up to its claims and I was so pleasantly surprised by it. This cleanser contains glycolic acid (an AHA) and salicylic acid (a BHA), which is a fantastic combo for both anti-aging and acne. Some of the fruit acids may irritate more sensitive skin, so be cautious of that. The ingredient deck is great. I do not think pricey cleansers are necessary since you’re going to wash it right off of your face, but I really like this cleanser as a “treatment cleanser” of sorts, and definitely recommend it. Especially for those struggling with adult breakouts and anti-aging concerns simultaneously. I also recommend this to my gothy, glam, and other heavy makeup wearing readers, since it’s so deeply cleansing.

Cucumber Gel Mask (Sephora, $52/5 fl oz, same price and size at Ulta): Would I buy this at the $52 price tag? I’d hesitate. At the same price as the cleanser? Definitely. It is described as being “refreshing, calming, cooling, moisturizing.” Any gel mask is going to be refreshing. I used it after having a severe allergic reaction to another product, to test the calming claim, and honestly? Straight aloe gel is more calming, but it did calm my skin, to a degree. It does have a cooling effect without the use of menthol (this is a big plus for this mask), and is lightly hydrating, so good for skin types needing some, but not excessive, moisture. The ingredient deck is great. Using it for ten minutes twice per week didn’t give me AMAZING results. I just personally have trouble spending more than $30 on a mask, since it’s meant to be washed off.

Ingredient-by-Ingredient Analysis

Now that you know my basic thoughts, let’s look at the claims made on the bottles and the ingredients to figure out WHY these products are effective or ineffective.

Cleanser

Claims: “Oil-Free anti-wrinkle technology rejuvenates clarifies brightens with glycolic acid salicylic acid and fruit extracts for all skin types.” There is no punctuation on the bottle, do you know hard it was for a grammar nerd like me to type all that out?! Anyway. Let’s look at the back of the bottle now: “Luxurious facial cleansing gel helps produce a beautiful, fresh, youthful-looking complexion. Advanced deep skin renewing action increases cell turnover to help diminish the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging. Detoxifies the pores, dissolves makeup, emulsifies oil, and improves skin texture as it gently sweeps away dead skin cells and impurities that can dull the complexion.” WOW those are some big claims. Almost “miracle in a bottle” type claims.

Ingredients:

  • Water
  • Sodium laureth sulfate: emulsifier, surfactant, less irritating than sodium lauryl sulfate. This is the cleansing agent in this cleanser. According to my ingredient dictionary, it “exhibits a mild to moderate skin irritation index in irritation tests.” This confirms the cleansing claim and the emulsifying claim.
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine: surfactant derived from a coconut oil salt. This is what gives the product it’s creamy foam. Again, this confirms the cleansing, luxurious, makeup dissolving, and skin texture claims.
  • Coco-Glucoside: very mild cleansing agent derived from coconut oil and fruit sugar. Meets cleansing, luxurious, makeup dissolving, and skin texture claims.
  • Propylene Glycol: Less greasy than glycerin; humectant, solvent, and preservative. It is one of the most common moisture-carrying vehicles used in cosmetic formulations. It can be irritating in high concentrations. Meets cleansing, luxurious, makeup dissolving, and skin texture claims.
  • Salicylic Acid (Beta Hydroxy Acid): anti-inflammatory, exfoliating, anti-microbial, anti-septic, preservative enhancer, and pH adjuster. This is the wonder ingredient that meets almost every claim on the cleanser’s label: it improves the look and feel of skin by dissolving the top layer of skin cells; reduces sebaceous follicle blockage; and it appears to improve wrinkles, roughness, and tone. It may cause redness and irritation in higher concentrations.
  • Glycolic Acid/Arginine (Alpha Hydroxy Acid): reduces excess buildup of dead skin cells which can be associated with acne, dry skin, and wrinkles. It facilitates sloughing of dead skin cells (it’s an exfoliant). Enhances moisture uptake as well as increases the skin’s ability to bind water. This is the other all-star ingredient that substantiates the label’s claims. It’s beneficial for acne-prone skin, diminishing the signs of age spots, anti-aging, hydrating, moisturizing, and skin normalizing, all of which lead to reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Use of this killer ingredient leads to softer, smoother, healthier, and younger looking skin. In high concentrations, it can be irritating.
  • Peach Fruit Extract: abrasive; adds bulk and moisturizing activity. It’s used in products recommended for dry skin. And as we know, dry skin ages faster. So the use of this ingredient can substantiate the anti-aging claims. Plus it smells yummy.
  • White Oak Bark Extract: reduces inflammation and prevents infection. It is slightly tonic, strongly astringent, and antiseptic. I suspect this is what gives the sort of dry and tight effect due to the astringent.
  • Lemon Fruit Extract: anti-bacterial, anti-septic, astringent, and toner. Also used to perfume products. It’s suggested for treating sunburn, acne problems, and oily skin and it contains citric acid as well as vitamins B and C. It can cause irritation and allergic reactions, which is why I included the disclaimer in the beginning of my review.
  • Lime Fruit Extract: perfuming, emollient, soothing, and anti-septic. It’s a source of vitamin C and can cause photosensitivity.
  • Linden Flower Extract: known for helping problem or blemished skin, and is considered to be refreshing and soothing. Anti-septic, skin-clearing, soothing, sedative, circulation-stimulating, hydrating, and astringent. (After researching this ingredient, I’ll definitely be looking to implement more products that utilize it.) It’s used effectively for irritated skin and the relaxation of muscle tension and cold, and to mask odor and condition skin.
  • Grapefruit Fruit Extract: anti-septic and skin-conditioning. Good for oily skin, contains vitamin C and is very acidic. In high concentrations, it is too caustic to be used on the skin; but as it is lower down on the ingredients, it should not be a problem.
  • Citric Acid: astringent and anti-oxidant. Product stabilizer, pH adjuster, and preservative.
  • Citrus Bioflavonoids: I had to go to Google for this one, because there was no information in my ingredients dictionaries. Basically, citrus bioflavonoids are used for their antioxidant properties.
  • Allantoin: healing, calming, and soothing botanical. It’s an excellent temporary anti-irritant, and it stimulates new tissue growth, helping to heal damaged skin. Derived from comfrey root, it’s good for sensitive, irritated, and acneic skin.
  • Methylparaben: non-comedogenic and very low sensitizing preservative, used to combat bacteria and molds.
  • Quaternium-15: this is a somewhat controversial preservative. When used in leave-on preparations, such as moisturizers, serums, etc, it is considered highly sensitizing. However, used in low concentrations of 0.02 to 0.3 percent, it is safe and effective without the risk sensitization. Also, it’s one of the last ingredients in this product, meaning very small amounts of it are used. This should not present a problem.
  • Red #40, Yellow #5, Fragrance: all unnecessary ingredients that lend to the product’s aesthetic and do nothing for your skin. Again, as these are the last ingredients and therefore the most diluted, they should not present a problem.

Mask

Claims: “Extreme detoxifying hydrator. Refreshing cooling moisturizing calming gel helps soothe dry irritated skin with extracts of cucumber papaya pineapple aloe.” And the back label: “This ultra-gentle gel helps soothe, hydrate, and detoxify dry, irritated skin with botanical extracts of cucumber, papaya, chamomile, pineapple, sugar maple, sugarcane, orange, lemon, bilberry, and aloe. For all skin types.” No huge claims here, just soothing, detoxifying hydration. I’m always a little cautious of detox claims, because they never tell you what’s being detoxified. But as far as mask claims go, this is pretty standard.

Ingredients:

  • Water
  • Propylene Glycol (repeat from cleanser): Less greasy than glycerin; humectant, solvent, and preservative. It is one of the most common moisture-carrying vehicles used in cosmetic formulations. It can be irritating in high concentrations.
  • Cucumber Extract: moisture-binding, moisture-regulating, soothing, tightening, anti-itching, refreshing, softening, healing, and anti-inflammatory. Obviously this ingredient is carrying most of the mask’s claims. And given that the mask has cucumber in the name, it’s fantastic that cucumber extract is the third ingredient. Nothing bothers me more than a product being named after an ingredient that is barely even used. It’s excellent for eye treatments and treatments for oily skin, and effective as a tightening agent for tired, stressed, skin. It’s used in sun preparations as a refresher. The best part of cucumber extract is that it contains amino acids and organic acids that are claimed to strengthen the skin’s acid mantle.
  • Papaya Fruit Extract: cleanser for acne-prone skin. It’s a very gentle exfoliant (and one of my personal favorites). It softens the skin and can help smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This is something you should look for in ALL masks.
  • Pineapple Extract: anti-inflammatory and exfoliant. It can be irritating to the skin.
  • Whole Leaf Aloe Vera: I could gush about aloe for hours. It’s an emollient and a thickener, but has so, so many benefits. It is hydrating, softening, healing, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory. Aloe is most recognized for its moisturizing properties because it supplies moisture directly to the skin tissue. It relaxes the skin, which is why it’s so valuable for sensitive, sunburned, and sun-exposed skin. This is another killer ingredient that you should incorporate whenever possible.
  • Bilberry Fruit Extract: bilberry is the cuter name for huckleberry. Astringent, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, slightly muscle relaxing, and protects against collagen degradation.
  • Sugarcane Extract: I had trouble finding information on this one. It is, essentially, the raw form of glycolic acid.
  • Sugar Maple Extract: natural source of AHA, which is exfoliating.
  • Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Extract: anti-inflammatory and repairer. Bactericidal, anti-itching, soothing, antiseptic, purifying, refreshing, and hypoallergenic, with the ability to neutralize skin irritants. It is non-comedogenic and is excellent for dry skin.
  • Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Oil: another form of chamomile.
  • Lemon Extract (repeat from cleanser): anti-bacterial, anti-septic, astringent, and toner. Also used to perfume products. It’s suggested for treating sunburn, acne problems, and oily skin and it contains citric acid as well as vitamins B and C. It can cause irritation and allergic reactions, which is why I included the disclaimer in the beginning of my review.
  • Orange Extract: perfume, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-spasmodic, and sedative. It’s good for sensitive, delicate skin.
  • Glycerin: one of my personal favorite ingredients! It is a humectant and a moisturizer, and it improves the spreading quality of products.
  • Sodium Pca: a humectant that is a component of the skin’s natural moisturizing factor. It’s recommended for dry, delicate, and sensitive skins.
  • Allantoin (repeat from cleanser): healing, calming, and soothing botanical. It’s an excellent temporary anti-irritant, and it stimulates new tissue growth, helping to heal damaged skin. Derived from comfrey root, it’s good for sensitive, irritated, and acneic skin.
  • Disodium Edta: a low-concentration preservative.
  • Sodium Polyacrylate: suspending agent, stabilizer, and emulsifier.
  • Triethanolamine: emulsifier and pH adjuster.
  • Carbomer: thickening and suspending agent.
  • Polysorbate 20: solubilizer, emulsifier, viscosity modifier, and stabilizer of essential oils in water.
  • Diazolidinyl Urea: antiseptic, deodorizer, and broad-spectrum preservative against bacteria and fungi.
  • Methylparaben (repeat from cleanser): non-comedogenic and very low sensitizing preservative, used to combat bacteria and molds.
  • Propylparaben: one of the most frequently used preservatives against bacteria and mold. It’s considered to be one of the safest preservatives.
  • Yellow 5 (CI 19140), Blue 1 (CI 42090): product colorant.

I’m really happy with the ingredient decks on these products. Although they both contain several ingredients that may cause irritation, they both also contain ingredients that are used to combat those effects. I saw results with the cleanser after just a few uses, which is rare for me. I definitely recommend the cleanser, and the mask as well if you don’t mind the higher price point.

Have you ever used PTR Skincare? If so, which products did you love? Let me know in the comments below!

Love,

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“Men’s Skincare” Is Bullshit (It’s all just skincare people)

gothicstripper:

rapunzelie:

why is it so hard to convince men to wash their faces …..why do they think skincare is for women…..please, your skin cells are suffocating underneath their own dead brethren and you must exfoliate them….free them

!!!!!!!!!?!

SOURCE: rapunzelie

The day we covered Men’s Skincare in school was the day I remember as The Eternal Cringe. Maybe it was the slightly outdated, pandering textbook entry, maybe it was the concept of gendered skincare, maybe it was the annoyed look on everyone’s faces when I voiced my opinion. I don’t know. But something about it bothered me so damn much that I’m still bothered enough to write a blog post about it, one year later.

textbook

Barf. (Milady Esthetics textbook)

“Men’s Skincare” as a concept is rooted mostly in unnecessary gender separation, in my opinion, and has little scientific foundation. While it’s true that men’s skin tends to be thicker and oilier, I don’t think that warrants a whole different genre in the skincare world. I think it’s just another skin type-thicker and more oily, oily, normal, combo, dry, dehydrated. Skin is skin, no matter who wears it, and we all need to take care of it. It is an organ and deserves to be treated as such. Caring for your skin is a component of hygiene and who the hell doesn’t need to be hygienic?

I think by gendering skincare, we complicate things. We make good skincare harder to attain because instead of shopping by our skin’s needs, we’re shopping by gender. For example, the Nivea For Men moisturizer is a SUPER makeup primer and moisturizer. Nikkie Tutorials discovered it because she forgot her own moisturizer and had to use her boyfriend’s. How many people could be benefiting from this product but will never try it because it’s “for men?” How many women could be saving money by using men’s products? How many men are using the wrong ingredients for their skin because those ingredients are in “women’s skincare” products? How many men are letting their skin suffer because they believe skin care is “for women?”

And that right there is where the “Men’s Skincare Market” came from. In an attempt to get men to care for their skin, they made products “for men.” They added “masculine” scents which do no one’s skin any favors, they put it in different packaging, they attach ridiculous descriptions to their products to make men feel more manly by using their products. My husband’s body wash, for example:

frontlabel

“Fresher than limes & life success.”

backlabel

“Like captaining a schooner. Also buy our deodorant if you want to really be a schooner captain.”

What the actual fuck does any of that even mean? It inspires a certain aesthetic, sure, and it’s funny as hell to read when you’re stuck in the bathroom without your phone. But isn’t the point of product labels to describe the product, how to use it, and what it’s supposed to do for your skin?

I’m using a men’s body wash label as an example because my husband doesn’t use men’s skincare. So, although I have plenty of skincare products to use in comparison, I’ll use my body wash to keep things consistent:

aveenofront

“Nourishing, hydrating, moisturizes.”

aveenoback

Lists some of the ingredients and what they achieve-moisturization, hydration, etc.

It doesn’t make much sense, does it? How does the men’s product help them make an informed decision and buy a product that contains the ingredients needed to address their concern? Instead of trying to make “women’s” skincare more “masculine”, why not make skincare universal and without gender? Because that’s what it is.

Here are the facts on men’s skin needs:

  • Typically have larger sebaceous glands
  • Typically have oilier skin
  • Irritation from shaving the delicate facial skin is a concern
  • Folliculitis (inflammation of the hair follicle) pseudofolliculitis (razor bumps), and ingrown hairs are issues

That’s it. So judging from this list, men simply need products (in general) that are water-based as opposed to oil-based, and should use less irritating ingredients. Have you read a men’s skincare label? So many irritating ingredients are used in high concentrations in the name of being masculine, rugged, etc. Aftershave, for example, has a high concentration of simple alcohol, which we know dries out the skin. Which is the last thing you want to do after shaving. And don’t get me started on all the men’s 2-in-1 products.

Once again it all comes down to ingredients. Do not assume that men’s skincare is what you need because you have men’s skin. Do not assume that men’s skincare shouldn’t be incorporated into your routine because you have women’s skin. Learn what your skin needs and shop for that. And again, the best skincare routine is the one you’ll use.

If you’re a lady, what gems have you found in men’s skincare? If you’re a man, would you be willing to try “women’s” products if it meant better results? Let me know in the comments below!

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Why I’m Cool With Non-Professional Skincare

Tangled-Flynn-Rider-swords

How I feel as a professional when I say I don’t hate non-professional skincare

I’m about to become real unpopular with most other estheticians. I’m going to tell you why I don’t hate drugstore, OTC skincare. I’m going to tell you why I sometimes even recommend it. The majority of skincare professionals-licensed, educated skincare professionals, not MLM reps-will get offended, maybe even a little aggressive and judgmental, when you ask them to suggest a product that you can get at Target, Sephora, etc. They will be quick to tell you (usually condescendingly, in my experience) that any product other than a professional product is a waste of money and will not get you any results. They will be quick to tell you (usually condescendingly, in my experience) that any product other than the professional product they themselves retail, is a waste.

They’re right, to an extent. Professional products exist because the active ingredients are generally (key word there) more highly concentrated than over-the-counter products. Sometimes they have credibility because they have been researched by a reputable lab, or have been developed by a trusted, verified cosmetic chemist. I don’t want anyone reading this to think I’m bashing pro products. They certainly have their place. What I’m bashing is the belief that pro products are the only worthwhile products out there. What I’m against is the idea that every product you use should be professional grade. In the case of things that are just being washed right off your skin, like cleansers and masks, it simply is a waste of money in most cases.

I love OTC products because they are so accessible, and generally unpretentious. I would rather you ask me for an OTC recommendation and book another facial with me because I am willing to work with you and will not pressure you for sales, than to push a pro product on you and make you feel alienated and a bit uncomfortable, potentially never coming to me for another facial. It really comes down to that. I’d rather you actually implement a skincare routine using OTC products than not do anything at all because you aren’t using pro products.

There are some really great OTC products out there, and I am working on discovering those so I can share them with yall. The main thing about ALL products is learning to read ingredient labels. A pro product that contains ineffective ingredients, no matter how highly concentrated, simply will not provide results. Learn which ingredients are beneficial to your concerns, and shop for those. Learn which ingredients will only exacerbate your concerns, and avoid those. This is essential to buying any product, whether it be pro or OTC, skincare or makeup.

Here’s my opinion on when to go pro, and when to go OTC:

Cleanser: go OTC. There is no need to spend more than $15 on a cleanser, in my humble opinion. Since it’s going to be washed right off your face, you don’t need an impressive ingredient deck. Does it contain gently cleansing ingredients? In the case of acne, does it contain something that is going to help clear everything up? Is it the correct consistency (gel for oily to normal skin, lotion/cream for dry skin)? That’s all you need in a cleanser, and you can find all of that in an inexpensive, over-the-counter cleanser.

Toner: either! I’ve tried some wonderful professional toners, I’ve tried some wonderful OTC toners. Pro and OTC toners contain a lot of the same ingredients with similar concentrations. The point of a toner is to balance the pH of your skin and repair your acid mantle, so avoid astringents.

Exfoliators: I’d go pro on these, or at least high-end OTC. The problem with drugstore exfoliants is that they’re generally produced using walnut and apricot shells. These are HORRIBLE for the skin but provide that deeply scrubby feel at a next to nothing cost. I have yet to find an OTC chemical exfoliator, so I can’t speak to those until I’ve done more research. Exfoliation is so crucial to your skin health, trust it to the pros, and use what they provide/recommend.

Moisturizers: either. Again, it comes down to ingredients used as well as texture and consistency. Do your homework and use what’s right for your skin. I have used a professional line for moisturizers, and hated them. I have used moisturizers from Target, Sephora, and other OTC lines, and been blown away with the results.

Sunscreen: OTC, but research, research, research. There is a lot of hoopla about sunscreen causing cancer. I find this hard to believe, but I do believe that sunscreens contain unnecessary, potentially toxic ingredients. That being said, don’t let yourself get swindled into buying pro only sunscreen. Chances are, it’s not any different than a good quality OTC sunscreen; it probably just contains a soothing “chem-free” label that may or may not have much credibility. Sunscreen is crucial, the most important part of any skincare routine, so if a professional product makes you feel more comfortable, please purchase it. The best sunscreen is the one you’ll use daily!

Masks: either. I’ve used a $3 sheet mask with a better ingredient deck than the professional masks I was provided in school. Bentonite clay, which you can buy by the tub at the grocery store for under $10, works better than most professional masks. HOWEVER. There are some truly terrible OTC masks that contain horrifying ingredients, and there are some truly innovative professional masks that astound me.

Treatments: high-end to professional. Serums, targeted creams, etc. need high concentrations to work. You simply won’t find more than short-term, superficial results in a low-end, OTC treatment. This is where you should spend your money, as these products will be on your skin the longest.

disclaimer

Now, something I do completely agree with: only buying professional products from the professional offering them to you. If you are at a Paul Mitchell salon, buy your Paul Mitchell products from them. If you are at an Aveda spa, buy your Aveda products from them. Do not, I repeat, do not buy professional products from Amazon, Target, Walgreens, etc. These products have been watered down or are expired, and that’s how a retailer obtained access to them. You might as well buy well-formulated OTC products if you are not going to purchase pro products from the pros.

Do you prefer OTC skincare lines or professional? Why or why not? What are your favorite products that you repurchase, time and time again? Let me know in the comments below!

gypsycover

(Flynn Rider Image: http://www.magic4walls.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Tangled-Flynn-Rider-swords.jpg)