• How I Left My Dairy Life Behind (And How Doing So Did Wonders for My Skin)

    Hi, everyone. I’m Eliza and I used to be a self-proclaimed dairy addict. In fact, I always took my coffee, extra light, with cream. Whenever I could, I would season my meals with an overabundance of cheese. And, truth be told, I had this special bond with full-fat dairy yogurt. But, one day, I decided to leave that life behind in pursuit of a dairy-free diet. This is my story.

    Read More

  • Everything You Need to Know About Glycolic Acid!

    A little late in the game, I recently discovered the beauty of glycolic acid pads (or peels). I’ve seen them around, but always had the misconception that my skin was going to literally peel off if I used them, so I’ve always stayed away. Ya feel?

    After a friend explained to me what glycolic acid pads are really all about, I decided to give them a try. The glycolic acid ingredient is an active compound that contains many benefits for the skin. It can treat everything from dullness to dry skin! While some products have a higher percentage of glycolic acid, I tend to go for ones that have a lower percentage, so that I can use them consistently for better results. After using glycolic pads, I find that my skin is  more smooth and bright! These products are great for all skin types from sensitive (me) to acne-prone skin.

    Keep reading to check out some of the products I recommend—all are great anti-aging products!

    MALIN + GOETZ RESURFACING GLYCOLIC PADS

    The Malin + Goetz glycolic pads come pre-moistened in a jar, which is great for the home. Swipe your face with these in the evening, and you’ll take up with a radiant glow—trust me!

    MURAD RAPID RESURFACING PEEL

    I love that these glycolic pads are individually packaged. These are great for travel, a time when skin tends to act up—with glycolic acid and vitamin C ingredients, the dullness in the skin will instantly go bye-bye!

    PHILOSOPHY THE MICRODELIVERY TRIPLE-ACID BRIGHTENING PEEL

    These are individually packaged as well! These Philosophy peels contain three acids and are great for brightening, tackling the appearance of dark spots, no matter what your skin type or skin tone.

    Let me know what you think of glycolic pads. Which ones do you use and do they work for you?  

    xx,
    Courtney Xu

  • Why Organic Skincare is Good for Your Skin ...and Your Soul

    The skin is our largest organ and in order for it to function at its best, we must feed it with truly wholesome ingredients. My philosophy: If I refuse to put something in my body, I don’t want to put it on my body either.” —Rachel Winard, Soapwalla Chef.

    I don’t know about you, but that statement hit home for me. That being said, I indulged in a #TreatYourself moment where I decided to feed my skin with wholesome ingredients. Organic skincare lines smell and feel so natural. I can tell that a whole lot of heart and love went into creating these skincare gems. After testing them out, I can honestly say that I feel better about my skin when slathering it with organic ingredients. 

    Here are three organic skincare brands I definitely recommend:

    FIG + YARROW

    Fig + Yarrow has the most unique and interesting line up of products. Handcrafted and organic, they’ll give your skin much pleasure. I’m a fan of multi-tasking products like their Hair + Scalp Tonic which acts as a deep-conditioning treatment, moisture enhancement, smoothing serum, and aftershave oil. Their Complexion Water is great for hydrating  and soothing dry skin. It also acts as a light fragrance for both your hair and your body. Their Clay Masks are great for combining. I love using the Rose one for just the cheeks when they’re feeling a little dehydrated!

    MEOW MEOW TWEET

    I love cats, which translates to me loving this brand. I first heard about the brand through YouTuber, Ingrid Nilsen. She was raving about Meow Meow Tweet’s Deodorant Cream. I remember trying their Deodorant Cream exactly a year ago—it was quite the experience—my pits smelled very botanical. I’m glad they finally came out with a Stick version because it’s obviously more convenient! Their deodorants are made for the most sensitive pits ever, rest assured you’ll never suffer from irritation. And of course, ya girl needs to buy Lip Balm from everywhere. This will be right up your alley if you’re vegan!

    SOAPWALLA

    Soapwalla started in a Brooklyn kitchen (high five, New York City!), and has since made its way around the world. When looking for a skincare brand, trust is important. I mean, skincare really makes or breaks the skin, amirite? Well, Soapwalla knows how to build a trustworthy relationship. The company cares for both yours and our planet’s respective well-beings. Their Citrus Deodorant Cream, Restorative Face Serum, and The Spray, are among some of my favorite products. I mean, the Spray…who wouldn’t want a magical spray that does it all? Literally a hand sanitize, refresher for clothing and shoes, and insect repellent all in one! Love!

    What are your thoughts about going organic? 

  • It’s Time to Rejuvenate Your Skin

     

    Tick Tock, Tick Tock

    I hope your skincare routine is off to a great start—new year, new you? If the regimen’s not up to par, don’t sweat! I’ve got a few products that will help you rejuvenate your body’s largest organ.

    Even with the weather constantly fluctuating (like how is it 53 degrees Fahrenheit in New York today?!), it is still SUPER important to keep your skin hydrated. I, for example, am “masking” as we speak!

    Curious what my other winter must-haves are? Keep reading!

    Cosmedicine – Eye Specialist Perfected Under-Eye Cream

    You can never have “too many” eye-care products. I received this bad boy during the holidays and am quite in love! I was, admittedly, drawn to the dusty pink packaging, but the formula was what won my heart. It really does help to brighten up my super dark under-eye circles. It’s also hydrating all around! After using this product for a week, I noticed that my under-eye area was generally softer and not as puffy. Win!

    Philosophy – Time in a Bottle 100% In-Contol Serum 

    Where do I start with this amazing breakthrough serum? First, I love its “fresh-pour system” where you get to pour in the “activator” when you’re ready to use the product—so fun! Second, it is ah-ma-zing for ALL skin types—normal, oily, combo, dry, and sensitive. Third, starting off the new year with anti-aging skincare products is the way to go because it’s never too early to do so. Trust me, when it’s too late, it’s really too late. Cast away the dullness, uneven skin tones, and fine lines and wrinkles with this Time in a Bottle serum!

    Amore Pacific – Time Response Skin Renewal Sleeping Masque

    I tend to gravitate towards products that have a little something extra like this mini brush. I’m pretty sure I’m drawn to these products in particular because I think that a lot of care and thought went into making them! Anywhoo, I’m all about the overnight magic and I always trust Amore Pacific to thoroughly hydrate my skin. Even though I’m usually a devout user of their Moisture Bound line, I’m liking this Skin Renewal Sleeping Masque from their Time Response line. Whenever I use it, I wake up with a glow! This product definitely does hydrate, lift, and tone my skin when I’m sleeping.

    Murad – Matte Effect Blotting Perfector 

    Last but not least, something for the makeup lovers! This compact is literally a life changer. While I have normal skin, I tend to get oily around my t-zone (forehead and nose area). This product is perfect for touching up my face and it really helps it go from greasy-looking to matte. All you have to do is use to applicator puff to lightly dab into the cushion (which smells oh-so-good) and use the puff to pat the oily areas of your face. This can be used alone without makeup, before makeup, or even as a touch-up on top of your makeup. It’s also formulated with ingredients that hydrate! Thank you, Murad!

    Don’t forget to treat your skin, everyone! 

  • Visit the Mario Badescu Skincare Salon!

    Why? Because it’s facial time!

    If you’ve been reading my skincare articles, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Mario Badescu products. I love this brand because they give customers (yes, you!) a free “skin analysis” before recommending a range of relatively inexpensive products that target your skincare needs.

    I decided to check out the Mario Badescu Skincare Salon, located at 320 East 52nd Street, for one of their European Facials.

    Main Lobby (Photo: Mario Badescu)

    The waiting area, chic and spotless, is decorated with framed pictures of celebrities who have visited before. The wait time for my appointment was not very long. I was brought into a facial room where I changed before meeting my esthetician who explained everything she was doing throughout the entire facial process. The European Facial includes a detoxifying steam, extractions, a light facial massage, and a mask that is customized to the client’s skin type. The facial was definitely enjoyable and my skin definitely felt cleaner and looked more radiant afterwards!

    Consultation Room (Photo: Mario Badescu)

    After my facial, I had a one-on-one consultation with my esthetician. She informed me of my skin needs and recommended both products and a regimen for maintenance and upkeep. The products were displayed conveniently behind the esthetician on glass shelves. I was then allowed to choose which items I wanted to purchase.

    Totally love how Mario Badescu products come in various beautiful colors! 😍

    Here is a mini haul of what I picked up! I went home with the Orange Cleansing Soap, Papaya Body Lotion, Botanical Exfoliating Scrub, Rose Hips Nourishing Oil, and Vitamin C Serum.

    If you’re in the NYC area, definitely check this place out! This skincare salon provides more of an in-and-out treatment that gets the job done. I definitely recommend it! 

  • Clear Out Your Pores with Activated Charcoal

    Hey, what’s up? Charcoal!

    Like fashion and beauty, skincare also has its fair share of trends. I’ve recently noticed a rise in charcoal-infused products and was curious about them right off the bat!

    After gathering a good amount of skincare products chock-full of activated charcoal and using them consistently for a couple of weeks, I can honestly say that they have been clearing out the gunk from well within my pores! Best of all, by ridding my skin of all the impurities—the dirt and dead skin cells—the charcoal products have also minimized the size of my pores.

    Boscia’s Charcoal MakeUp Melter and First Aid Beauty’s Cleansing Body Polish are the perfect product duo (face and body) for melting and buffing away impurities lodged in the skin. Boscia’s Charcoal MakeUp Melter is a cleansing oil-balm that melts way makeup (including the toughest mascara!) while keeping the skin hydrated. First Aid Beauty’s Cleansing Body Polish works to buff away the dry spots, while also keeping the skin hydrated as well.

    These products are so good for the pores! If you like nose strips (ahem, the part where you exam their aftermath), you’ll love both Sephora’s Charcoal Nose Strip and Caolion’s Original Pore Pack. The former helps remove blackheads while the latter is phenomenal for tightening and cooling your pores. Herbivore’s Bamboo Charcoal Soap Bar exfoliates and detoxifies the body, and is perfect for those with blemish-prone skin!

     

    What are your thoughts on charcoal-infused skincare products? Let us know in the comments down below!

  • Eye’ve Got to Talk to You…

    …About Some Eye-ssentials You Should Own

    If you’ve read up on Rise & Shine With Me! and Get Unready With Me!, you’ll know that I’m a hoarder on all things skincare.

    Today, I’ll be professing my love for eye products.

    Forget those sleepless nights, those long hours staring at phone screens, and those days you wish you could just hide at home. Eye bag blues are, in my very humble opinion, sooo yesterday with these eye-ssentials.

    If your eyes feel tired, opt for eye products that have cooling effects. Not only does the minty addition help improve your skin’s elasticity, but it also gives the eye area a nice, refreshing kick. Kenzoki’s Ice-Cold Eye Cream, Fresh’s Black Tea Age-Delay Eye Concentrate, and Philosophy’s Uplifting Miracle Worker Eye Cream (complete with a cold-tip applicator!) all work wonders. Pop these babies into the fridge for double the coolness!

    If you’re a victim of dark under-eye circlesNo7’s Early Defence Eye Cream, First Aid Beauty’s Eye Duty Triple Remedy (also comes with a cold-tip applicator), and Philosophy’s Dark Circle Transforming Eye Cream can help alleviate your woes. These three products are also great for fine lines and wrinkles. Slowly but surely, your under-eye complexion will brighten over time.

    Curious to learn more about your dark circles? Read the “lodown” on Everything You Should Know About Dark Under-Eye Circles!

    If you’re starting to see deep wrinkles, Murad’s Renewing Eye Cream, Drunk Elephant’s Shaba Complex Eye Serum, and No7’s Youthful Eye Serum can help you turn back time. Hop to it and gently massage these products into areas that need more love.

    If you need a little bit more moisture, try products with hydrating benefits. Mario Badescu’s Hyaluronic Eye Cream, Fresh’s Rose Hydrating Eye Gel Cream, and First Aid Beauty’s Eye Duty Triple Remedy AM Gel Cream are all great places to start. Because we slather on serum after serum, moisturizer after moisturizer, it’s important we also give our eye areas their much needed one-on-one attention.

    Isn’t this eye-ssentials gift set amazing? Tatcha, one of my favorite skincare brands has this incredible set with several products made just for the eyesTheir Luminous Deep Hydration Revitalizing Eye Mask, Luminous Deep Hydration Firming Eye Serum, and Ageless Revitalizing Eye Cream are quite literally as dreamy as they sound. Best of all, they’re great for all the concerns (dark circles, anti-aging, etc.) I addressed above.

    Let me know if you’ve ever tried any of these products!

  • Get Unready with Me!

    Good night, Moon ?

    As promised, here’s the “evening edition” of my advanced skincare routine!

    “What’s the difference between my morning and evening skincare routines?” you ask.

    Well, truth be told, not much. Just a whole range of different products selected specifically for a more in-depth and attentive cleansing and moisturizing process. I mean, the magic does happen overnight.

    If you haven’t already checked out Rise & Shine With Me, I highly advise you do that first. Otherwise, let’s get ready to take it all off and count some sheep!

    Mario Badescu Enzyme Gel Cleanser
    Mario Badescu Seaweed Cleansing Lotion
    Kleenex Cotton Soft Pads

    Behold my favorite cleanser and toner duo! Mario Badescu always comes through, never upsets, and solves practically all skin concerns. I love using Kleenex’s Cotton Soft Pads to apply my toner. Betcha didn’t know they also have superb facial cleansing wipes!

    SK-II Facial Treatment Essence

    I like to pat some treatment essence on before applying my serums and moisturizers. Doing so rejuvenates my skin!

    La Mer The Regenerating Serum
    La Mer The Eye Balm Intense

    You know you’re an adult when you hoard anti-aging products. Better sooner than later. Or, like, better sooner than never! La Mer’s The Regenerating Serum and The Eye Balm Intense are, in my very humble opinion, the best products to use. A little goes a long way, and I’ve noticed a difference in my skin after just a few weeks. My complexion looks more revived and less dead. Best of all, the cold tip of the eye cream applicator is super soothing and helps to reduce puffiness.

    Philosophy Renewed Hope in a Jar Overnight
    Amore Pacific Moisture Bound Sleeping Recovery Masque
    The Estee Edit Pink Peony Overnight Water Pack

    After serum and eye cream, comes moisturizer. I like using a moisturizer (or cream during winters) that is specifically formulated for overnight use. These babies always leave my skin feeling extra smooth and supple when I wake up!

    Fresh Sugar Lip Serum Advanced Therapy
    Drunk Elephant Lippe
    Malin + Goetz Lip Moisturizer
    Herbivore Botanicals Coco Rose Lip Conditioner

    Voilà! More evidence of how much I love lip products. I like to keep my lips super hydrated (all the time), especially overnight. Check out Lip Care 101 for more info on all things lips!

    Altchek MD 5 Minute Clay Renewal Mask
    Philosophy When Hope is not Enough Gel-Oil Mask
    Mario Badescu Flower & Tonic Mask

    Like exfoliating, treating the skin with a facial mask (at least once or twice a week) is important. No excuses, because there is a mask for everyone. Here are some of my favorite masks ordered from least to greatest amount of time needed (to fit everyone’s time and budget needs). Altchek MD’s Clay Renewal Mask takes just 5 minutes, Philosophy’s Gel-Oil Mask suggests 10 minutes, and Mario Badescu’s Flower & Tonic Mask requires 20 minutes. If you’re super-duper lazy and don’t want to smear product all over face, throw on a sheet or gel mask! Your skin will thank you.

    Do you recommend any skincare products? Tell us what your skin-loving favorites are in the comments down below! 

  • Rise & Shine with Me!

    Advanced Skincare Routine: Morning Edition

    As of late, I’ve been obsessed with all things skincare. Better late than never, right?

    Makeup, while a lot more fun to talk about, isn’t really my “essential.” Regardless whether I’m having an extra drowsy morning or super lazy evening, I always make sure to take care of my skin. No exceptions!

    Even though skincare can be an investment, I always think it’s worth it in the long run.

    Step aside face wash and moisturizer, here’s the low down on my morning routine!

    Foreo Luna Mini 2
    Philosophy Purity Made Simple
    Malin+Goetz Grapefruit Face Cleanser

    I have so many favorite cleansers, and it’s hard sticking to just one! Using the Foreo Luna Mini 2, however, makes cleaning my face a lot more fun. I noticed that my skin looks and feels healthier after every Luna use!

    You can’t go wrong with both of these cleansers. They definitely do the job and they work for all skin types! After cleansing, follow up with toner to remove any last traces of makeup and dirt. It’ll leave your skin feeling hydrated.

    Philosophy The Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash
    Mario Badescu Strawberry Face Scrub

    Don’t forget to scrub-a-dub-dub at least twice a week. You want to get rid of all the dead skin that accumulates on a regular basis. You’ll also unclog your pores in the process! DO NOT, however, exfoliate daily (unless the product says that it’s okay to do so) because over-exfoliating can cause irritation and redness. Moderation is key!

    Amore Pacific Moisture Bound Rejuvenating Serum
    The Estee Edit Late Night Eraser

    I think putting on eye treatment and serum is my favorite part of my morning routine because doing so feels like doling out extra brownie points for my skin. If you’re have super tired eyes in the morning, please try Estee Edit’s Late Night Eraser. The cold metal applicator tip wakes me up in a good way (no cranky Courtney here) and my eyes don’t feel and look as tired. I try to use serum before moisturizer as often as possible because serum helps to firm the skin while making it look radiant! I’ve also been a huge fan of Amore Pacific for the longest time so I don’t think I’m ever letting them go.

    Murad Hydro-Dynamic Ultimate Moisture
    Amore Pacific Moisture Bound Refreshing Hydra-Gel
    Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream

    Like face cleansers, I can never stick to just one moisturizer. I choose my moisturizer depending on the season and how I’m feeling in the morning. During the hotter seasons, I tend to go for a lighter moisturizer, like an oil-free gel and on brisk winter mornings, I go for a more light and creamy formula.

    Coola Daydream Mineral Primer SPF 30
    Coola Mineral Liplux SPF 30

    Don’t forget that SPF! I cannot stress how important this step is, even in the dead of winter, when the sun seems to be on a hiatus. Guess what? It’s not. The sun is secretly gleaming its UV rays right at you.

    One of my favorite SPF-infused brands is Coola! They’re good at giving you what you need (moisturizer, primer, setting spray, etc.) while throwing in some SPF!

    In simpler terms: cleanse, tone, scrub (exfoliate at least twice a week), then dab eye product, serum, moisturizer, and SPF.

    Let me know in the comments below what your must-have skin-loving products are! Stay tuned for the Evening Edition 😉

  • TheLoDown