How To Maintain Your Summer Tan Long After Beach Season Ends

How To Maintain Your Summer Tan Long After Beach Season Ends

Along with a newfound ability to “tan” comes great responsibility: to keep said tan for as long as possible…

Here’s a fun fact: My skin is virtually incapable of “being tan.” Up until about five years ago, any time I spent more than an hour in the sun, I’d come home crisp and red. Part of it was probably that I was total shit at applying sunscreen properly (stories for another day), but I also just assumed my fair, sensitive skin wasn’t cut out for friendly interactions with the sun and I resigned myself to a life of looking a lot like Snow White if she wore glasses and had ombre hair.

But then a miraculous thing happened: I started taking suncare seriously. I realized that, if I just took my time and did it with care, sunscreen was wonderful…and it worked. If I chose to stand naked in the bathroom while meticulously applying SPF to every inch of my body to make sure I didn’t miss a spot and therefore didn’t fry, who cares if it added 20 minutes to my routine? For the first time in my life, I was TAN. (“Tan” being relative here. I was as bronzed as I was ever going to healthily be and that was A-OK!)

Getting wiser about proper sunscreen and really learning about how my skin interacted with the sun has been nothing short of miraculous. Yeah, I constantly reapply SPF 50 and I have a sixth sense when it comes to finding the part of the beach that also offers shade and I will fight you for the last umbrella, but I have not looked or felt like a cooked lobster in years.

But along with this newfound ability to “tan” comes great responsibility: to keep said tan for as long as possible. There’s nothing worse than going to bed beautifully bronzed only to wake up paler than you remember, as if the color seeped out while you slept. Here’s how I help my color last longer than one glorious day.

Exfoliate.

I know, counterintuitive, right? Why would you scrub away the skin you’re trying to keep color in? But exfoliating is an important pre- and post-glow step. Before you head out, you’ll want to gently scrub away dead or thirsty surface cells to make sure your skin is smooth and ready to receive sunscreen and all that vitamin D. It will also stimulate blood flow to help remove toxins that may interfere with skin cell generation down the line.

Post-tan, you’ll still want to gently scrub your whole body about once a week. Again, you need to remove those dead cells so your skin can breathe and regenerate properly, but this step is also crucial in making sure all the moisturizer I’m about to lay down in the next step is able to sink in and get to work. Don’t go crazy here. A soft sweep of a body brush or an oil-based scrub with very small grains (like sugar) will do the trick.

Take cold showers.

This one might sound odd, but just trust me. Hot baths and showers can dehydrate your skin, which will lead to faster peeling and flaking. You don’t have to stand under a stream of icy water, but try not to turn the temperature past warm. And while you’re at it, opt for a body wash that’s infused with moisturizing oils. Not only will the oils help keep your skin hydrated, they’ll also work to trap the water from the shower in your skin for an extra dose of moisture. If you’re more of a bath person, infuse that water with oil!

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.

Get it? Good.

When you spend time in the sun, even if you don’t burn, your skin dries out. The heat and sunlight do a miraculous job of leaching natural moisture from your skin, so you need to make sure to replace it tenfold in the days after.

Immediately after being in the sun, drench every inch of your body in something hydrating that’s designed for after sun care. Even though you’re not red, when skin tans it technically burns, so you need to make sure you’re depositing healing nutrients into your skin right away. Since after-sun products are specifically designed with this in mind, look for products that will speed up skin recovery and have calming, soothing, hydrating ingredients.

In the following days, make sure to coat yourself in uber-hydrating products at least once a day (twice if you’re really good). A body oil will deposit essential moisture to your thirsty skin and then go a step further by locking it in with a moisturizer or cream. The latter will create a protective barrier that will keep the hydrating ingredients in your skin so they can’t escape.

Fake it.

If you’re a) not into the sun but wish you were, b) too scared of the potential to burn (I hear ya) or c) afraid of a life without a tan, my advice to you is to just fake it. That’s right, you heard me: FAKE IT.

Gone are the days of terrible self-tanner that left you streaky and orange, that smelled like a chemical factory exploded and rubbed off on all your towels and sheets, that you had to frantically wash your hands after applying or else it would get into the cracks in between your fingers and never leave. These days, DIY tans are pretty excellent and, if you take the time to use them properly, no one will be able to tell the difference between something you applied yourself or a glow you spent days working on.

The easiest way to fake a tan is with good old bronzer. Find a shade that’s one to two shades darker than your natural skin so it doesn’t look fake, and be sure to blend the crap out of it with a brush or makeup sponge. (There’s nothing worse than that very obvious line of makeup where your skin changes color in the blink of an eye.) Whether it’s a creamy formula you can apply to the high points of your face where the sun would naturally hit it for just a hint of glow, a stick you can use to contour and give some depth to your “tan,” a powder you can lightly dust in a “3” shape on both sides of your face for buildable color, or a loose, shimmer powder you can mix with face oil for an all-over wash, there’s a foolproof bronzing product out there for you.
And if you really want to commit, self-tan your whole bod. Always make sure to test new products out on a small patch of unseen skin so make sure the color jives with your skin tone and that you have control over the product, and then go to town. If you’re using a straight up self-tanning lotion, think about wearing an application mitt so it goes on smooth and even (and doesn’t leave your hands looking like they belong to an Oompa Loompa). Or go the slow and steady route with a 2-for-1, buildable tanning moisturizer.

The best part is that all of the steps I mentioned above (exfoliating, cool showers, moisturizing) are major parts of successful application and care of DIY tans, so do ‘em!

Photo by Jana Kirn.

Free People Blog

Meet the Green Beauty Brand that Started A Revolution

Meet the Green Beauty Brand that Started A Revolution

Oh hey, Juice Beauty…

To call the green beauty movement a revolution is not an understatement. In the last five years, a sophisticated fleet of botanical brands has emerged, made with clean ingredients, sustainable methods and recycled packaging. But Juice Beauty was one of the first companies to lead the way toward greener pastures and practices. Founded by Cali wellness guru Karen Behnke, the San Francisco-based company launched in 2005 — more than a decade ago, long before parabens were on everyone’s radar and going organic was as basic as breathing. Karen firmly believed in the natural, beauty-enhancing power of plants and other farm-fresh essentials, which she extracted into a potent juice that fueled her passion and original skin collection.

Now the cult-classic brand is a go-to for earth-loving notables, including Gwyneth Paltrow, who is a shareholder and creative director. Juice Beauty is also still on the forefront of new green technologies, as proven by its pretty stellar lineup of innovative skincare and SPF. Here, we take a quick look at what makes this antioxidant-infused brand so iconic, and why you’ll want all their creations:

 

At age 22, Karen Behnke started her wellness career by launching “Get Fit Aerobics,” a fitness class that she taught to members of the army and military near San Francisco.

 

Karen became pregnant with her first child; motivated to find healthy, safe beauty products, she began scrutinizing ingredient labels for the first time.

 

Karen purchased the rights to use the “Juice Beauty” name from a small brand based in Mill Valley, California, with a handful of conventional (not-so-natural) products. Alongside her husband, Karen began researching how they could create a new line using organic, botanical juices (aloe, grape) as a base, instead of water or petroleum glycol fillers.

 

Karen contacted many laboratories to find a partner. Almost all of them turned her down — no one wanted to formulate with organic juices at the time. Finally, she tracked own one laboratory that was on board with the company’s innovative mission and concept.

 

Juice Beauty officially launched! The Juice Beauty Daily Essential Collection made its debut — containing the Cleansing Milk, Green Apple Peel Full Strength, Hydrating Mist and Nutrient Moisturizer. The line was first carried in Whole Foods and Pharmaca among other boutiques.

 

JuiceBeauty.com went live!

 

Kate Hudson casually mentions that Juice Beauty is one of her favorite beauty lines in a cover story for Harper’s Bazaar, which instantly puts the up-and-coming green brand on the map.

 

The Blemish Clearing collection launches, becoming one of the first acne skincare ranges with benzoyl peroxide and a revolutionary new method to clear skin with organic fruit acids, salicylic acid, willow bark, CoQ10 and vitamin C.

 

 

A U.S. Patent is awarded to the Green Apple Peel for its unique ability to brighten and even out skin.

 

Juice Beauty enhanced all formulations under a new product development team. It’s a turning point for the brand, as an outside clinical lab confirms that the products outperform typical conventional chemical brands.

 

Growth spurt! The rapidly-expanding brand opened a new distribution center to get its botanical goods into the hands of more fans. Juice Beauty’s products get the stamp of approval from PETA and Leaping Bunny Cruelty-Free.

 

Juice Beauty turned on the lights at their new sustainable headquarters in San Rafael, California, utilizing all recycled and reused materials and furniture.

 

Gwyneth Paltrow joined Juice Beauty as a shareholder, business partner and creative director, praising the brand for being at the forefront of “making organic beauty products that work.”

 

Juice Beauty launched in Free People, spreading the feel-good message that healthy is beautiful!

Free People Blog

1, 2, 3, 4… Your Step-by-Step Skincare Layering Guide

1, 2, 3, 4… Your Step-by-Step Skincare Layering Guide

Once you know, you know…

There are certain beauty-centric questions that I hear nearly every day — the easy ones, like “what is dry shampoo ?” or “does a waterproof mascara that won’t leak onto my eyelids when I sweat even exist?” And then there are the more complex ones, like “when do I put on a serum?” and “what’s the point of double cleansing?” that really give my life meaning.

The tricky part of layering skincare is that with every expert and derm you ask, you’ll get a different answer. Instead of losing time over details that won’t wreck your face, we’ve put together a list of the can’t-miss steps to help nourish healthy skin — and the easiest order to execute them.

STEP 1: MAKE UP REMOVER

Start by removing the stickiest layers of makeup with a super-slick blend of oils (like the organic sweet almond and blue chamomile options in this one), which will keep you from tugging and scrubbing at your eyes, not to mention the rest of your features. It seems like “hey, no big deal! It’s just for a second!” until you add up all of the times you’ve done it in a week, a year, a lifetime — and subsequently lost lashes or worse, stretched delicate skin that may not just snap back like a rubber band, eventually.

STEP 2: CLEANSE

Cleansing wipes are the easiest way to get into the crevices of your face that need to be swept clean with a bit more oomph than just the soft palms of your hands. Glide one around in gentle, circular motions to get the blood flowing to the surface, which is its own mini-step toward a brighter complexion. The bamboo water and argan oil in these won’t rid your skin of essential moisture as you prepare to double cleanse.

STEP 3: DOUBLE CLEANSE

Double cleansing is easily one of the most confusing topics for beauty babes that don’t quite get what the point of an extra step is in an already tedious routine — “it looks pretty spotless already!” you’d think. But the fact is, there’s still a thin film of dirt and pollution lurking that can mysteriously end up on your pillowcase, or just creeping inside of your pores. Taking the time to double cleanse with a vitamin-rich, moisturizing wash will bring you one step further away from those tiny, pesky surface bumps that you see in a brightly lit mirror and wonder “why?”

STEP 4: EXFOLIATE

Very light-handed, consistent exfoliation is key for smooth, glowing skin, but it’s important to find a product that isn’t going to strip the natural barrier that your complexion needs for protection. The pineapple fruit extract and kaolin clay in this water-activated, superfine scrub help gently remove dead cells without drying, and can even be used as a luminizing mask when you have extra time in the tub or shower.

STEP 5: TONE

Toner is one of those products that seems so neutral, you think you can skip it — but without it, you may lose the value of each superstar product you subsequently apply to your face. Toner’s role is to balance the pH of your skin so that it’s able to properly absorb, instead of clash with, the ingredients in your skincare. Plus, the easy spray bottle packaging of this one means you don’t even need to worry about stocking up on cotton balls to use it.

STEP 6: SERUM

After all of the necessary cleansing and exfoliating, your complexion is thirsty for a drink of restorative, soothing moisture. The rose otto and geranium oils in this serum create a healing elixir for even the most sensitive skin, along with a lit-from-within glow without the grease. Tap a few drops onto your face, neck, and even eyelids while you breathe in the soft floral scent and make your next moves.

STEP 7: EYE CREAM

As we discussed in Step 1, the delicate skin around your eyes needs tender love and care, which means giving your lids their own specialized form of protection. The certified vegan, all-natural blend of botanicals in this eye cream go on in an imperceptible veil that won’t pill away when you start to apply your makeup. Tap a small pump onto top and bottom lids, basically over any area that your pool goggles would cover.

STEP 8: MOISTURIZE

Seal in your hard work with a no-brainer, multitasking moisturizer. If we’ve learned anything in the last few years, it’s that it seems that (nearly) everything fermented is packed with some kind of beauty benefit. The naturally-fermented ceremides in this cream help repair damaged skin without breaking you out. Follow with a mineral sunscreen if you’re about to head out into the bright light of day.

BONUS ROUND: SLEEP WITH A SILK EYE MASK 

I could go on and on about my love for silk, especially when it’s woven into anything that’s touching my face. Polished, pure silk fibers won’t tug on your eyes like even the smoothest cotton could, plus sleeping with an eye mask keeps you from squinting yourself to sleep, preventing crows feet and fine lines in the long run. Tinted soft pinks and caramels with non-toxic dyes, these have just enough give in their elastic to stay on through the night (plus block out the light when you want to sleep in) without feeling uncomfortably tight.

 

+Skincare 101 starts here

Free People Blog

Shiny Summer Skin: A Pro’s Guide to Mastering Oils, Glosses & Balms

Shiny Summer Skin: A Pro’s Guide to Mastering Oils, Glosses & Balms

Capturing the light-catching trend that’s good for your skin…

The beauty tides have visibly shifted from matte, heavy handed makeup looks to the kind of dewy, touched-by-an-angel skin that seems to glow without a light source — making mastering that ethereal, gleaming complexion more enticing than ever. For a lesson in luster, I tapped one of my favorite makeup artists, Erin Green, for her take on the hypermodern trend. The Brooklyn-based pro has nailed down that enviable sheen equation for editorial shoots and celebrity red carpets alike, and her affinity for natural skin care makes it all the easier to get behind. “I love to shoot beauty, and I especially love to shoot shiny skin beauty,” says Erin as she chats on her way to a shoot in London. Below, she takes us through the products and techniques that will keep you on the right side of the ultrafine line between gleaming and greasy:

Create A Clean Sweep:

“For shiny summer skin, the most important part is the base,” says Erin, who likes to start by cleansing using a mild exfoliator to remove any dead skin.

Erin’s DIY Recipe: “You can make your own using raw sugar and coconut oil. I like to add a bit of rosewater and activated charcoal to really get into my pores.”

Calm and Hydrate:

After exfoliating, Erin recommends applying a calming and hydrating serum like Pai’s Instant Calm Sea Aster & Wild Oat Redness Serum “Allow a few minutes for it to fully absorb, then grab some rosehip seed oil. Warm it up between your hands and press it into the skin concentrating on dryer areas (non-t-zone), down your neck and décolletage.”

Blur Imperfections:

Apply a bit of your favorite tinted moisturizer for sheer coverage, and spot check any redness or blemishes. “Cover any imperfections with concealer using your finger, and then maybe even going the extra mile and blending the remaining out with a fluffy brush so you really don’t see it.”

Kiss The Sun:

“If your summer tan isn’t kicking yet, I suggest using RMS Buriti Bronzer along your cheekbones, bridge of your nose and just above the high points of your eyebrows,” Erin explains. “I like to use as little as possible in the summer,” she admits, offering up a multitasker like RMS Lip2Cheek for adding sheer color to the apples of cheeks.

Erin’s Tried-and-True Bronzer Cue: “Use a larger fluffy brush so the product is diluted, and always test a stroke on the back of your hand before you put it on your face. It’s much easier to put it on than it is to take it off.”

Hit The High Notes:

“I sometimes use lip balm as a highlighter to finish if I’m feeling lazy,” Erin divulges, who dabs it onto eyelids, high points of cheekbones, and across lips for a hydrated (rather than glittering) glow. A paraben-free option like Lano’s Multipurpose  Superbalm won’t spark breakouts, and will help cure any chapped, sun-scorched skin.

Turn Up The Lights:

 For an evening look that doesn’t scream “made up,” Erin turns to an old-school favorite that’s made a noticeable comeback as of late: “An easy way to transition from day to night but still keep the ‘no makeup’ look is every girl’s new (old) best friend: Lipgloss. Putting a gloss on the lips is an easy and subtle way to bring attention to the shape, as the texture will attract the eyes attention,” says Erin. For the final step in the gleaming game, she suggests applying a swipe of gloss to eyelids for a light-catching, ultra-modern alternative to traditional powdered shadow.

+Ready for your summer glow? Shop all beauty and wellness here

Photo by Jana Kirn

Free People Blog

Skincare A-Z

Skincare A-Z

Your go-to reference guide for all things FP beauty…

Figuring out what beauty products to use on your unique skin can be hard enough without trying to decode a label or ingredient deck. To make your life a little easier, we pulled together some of the most common (and most misunderstood) terms you may come across in your green beauty quest, along with a bit of explanation as to what the heck they are and why you should (or shouldn’t) be smearing them all over your skin.

ACID

Scary name, powerhouse ingredient family. The main function of acids in skincare is as a chemical exfoliant that dissolves away the top layer of skin cells to reveal fresh, new, glowy skin underneath. Though some are harsher than others, most natural products that contain acid have low enough levels of the stuff that you won’t end up with a red, raw face. And acids are gentler than scrubs (physical exfoliants) because they don’t damage the skin or create small tears in the surface. Some of the more common acids to look for are alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) like glycolic acid and lactic acid, salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid and citric acid.

BALM

A multipurpose blend of botanicals, oils and butters meant to soften, soothe, heal and even act as a makeup remover. Balms are semi-solid in the jar but melt smoothly with the natural heat from your body, making them nice and slippery and easy to apply without tugging at your skin. For makeup removing purposes, balm are great for double cleansing as they don’t require water/lathering and therefore won’t dry out your skin.

CLAY

An uber-popular ingredient, especially in products for acne-prone or oily skin, clay works to absorb excess oil, unclog pores and generally suck anything unwanted out of your body. There are several types of clay — bentonite, rhassoul, kaolin — and it’s typically found in face masks, bath soaks and dry shampoo.

EMOLLIENT

A fancy way of saying “moisturizer,” an emollient is a product that makes the top layers of skin soft and pliable by reducing water loss. They act as humectants, enhancing skin’s capacity to hold onto water, and as barriers so that moisture doesn’t sneak away. Look for plant and mineral oils, shea and cocoa butters, and fatty acids on an ingredient list.

FRAGRANCE

A catch-all ‘ingredient’ for any ingredients that add a scent to a product, fragrance is definitely something to avoid if you can. Because there’s almost no regulation around the definition of ‘fragrance,’ manufacturers can hide a lot of harmful, hormone-disrupting chemicals under the term without having to list them out on an ingredient deck. The anonymous chemical blends can also cause skin irritation because: chemicals. If you can’t bring yourself to give up scented products, opt for ones that smell because they include natural, plant-based essential oils and clearly state the ingredient behind the smell.

GLUTEN

Not just something to avoid if you’re celiac or have a gluten allergy! Trace amounts of the stuff can be found in some beauty products and, while the proteins are too large to really absorb through the skin, there’s always the risk of licking your lips while wearing a lipstick that contains gluten or poking yourself in the eye with a glutenous mascara wand.

HUMECTANT

Another fancy word, this time for a substance that helps skin hold onto moisture by attracting moisture in the air and then holding onto that water for dear life for the sake of your skin’s health. Aloe vera and hyaluronic acid are both natural humectants. 

JOJOBA OIL

Lightweight so it won’t clog pores and plant-based so it’s good for you, jojoba oil is one of the easiest, most effective ways to treat dry skin without making it greasy thanks to its fatty acids and the fact that it’s similar in structure to the skin’s sebum.

LANOLIN

Best friend of dry, chapped skin, lanolin is found on the wool of sheep (it’s what keeps their coat dry and protected against the elements) and mimics the molecular structure of human skin lipids, so your skin soaks it up without a problem. It can also hold up to 400% of its weight in moisture so it’s a super humectant.

MANUKA HONEY

A favorite of green beauty junkies everywhere, manuka honey comes from the pollinated manuka bush of New Zealand. As with all honey, manuka is naturally antimicrobial (good for acneic skin) but it also boasts nearly four time the nutritional content of other honeys. Eat it, slather it on your face, use it as a hair mask — it’s packed with skin-friendly vitamin B, amino acids, iron, magnesium and zinc.

NATURAL

A designation that means virtually nothing as there’s no regulation when it comes to this kind of claim. Companies who claim their products are “natural” are likely just jumping on the marketing bandwagon and may have a couple of natural ingredients thrown into the mix. Take a close look at the ingredient list: if the ones you recognize as from nature are few and far between or buried at the bottom beneath dozens of others that came from a lab, it’s not natural in the sense you’re looking for.

ORGANIC

A designation that actually does mean something as “organic” status is regulated by the USDA. This means all or most of the ingredients in the product are organic, having been grown and processed under a strict code of guidelines.

PARABENS

In short, parabens are a group of preservatives that keep products shelf-stable, lengthening their lifespan. They’re often criticized for containing a dangerous amount of estrogen, thereby messing with hormone levels, but the research has been inconclusive.

RETINOIDS

Also known as vitamin A (it’s the entire molecule), retinoids are best known for their anti-aging properties by enhancing collagen production, thereby smoothing skin and evening out pigmentation. Be patient, though: it takes around 12 weeks for the effects of retinoids to be noticeable.

SULFATES

A group of cleansing agents, this is the stuff that makes things foamy (soap, toothpaste, laundry detergent). The most well-known version, sodium laureth sulfate, can be terribly drying and irritating if left on the skin too long. Studies have shown SLS (and other sulfates) are typically safe to use regularly, but be wary if you have super-sensitive skin or an inflammatory condition like dermatitis or eczema.

VITAMIN C

You know citrus fruits are packed with the stuff, but vitamin C is also one of the most skin-friendly ingredients you can incorporate into your routine. It fights aging, brightens and smooths skin, and is a potent all-around antioxidant. Just remember that vitamin C is very sensitive to light and air, so pick products with opaque packaging (like dark violet Miron or amber glass) or air-restrictive pumps to keep everything stable.

ZINC OXIDE

When you think of an old timey lifeguard, this is the white stuff on their noses to protect against sunburn. The mineral is a natural, physical sunscreen (meaning it sits on top of the skin as opposed to sinking in like a chemical sunscreen), and protects against both UVA and UVB radiation.

+Looking for more tips and tricks on skincare? Be sure to check out these articles here

Photo by Jana Kirn

Free People Blog

The Only 4 Makeup Tools You Need

The Only 4 Makeup Tools You Need

There is one area where less can sometimes be more when it comes to cosmetics, and that’s tools…

If collecting makeup were a sport, I have a feeling most of us would consider ourselves gold medalists. And while we may be running out of space in our bathrooms and vanities and dressers and closets and shoeboxes shoved under the bed and kitchen cabinets better suited to beauty products than cooking appliances, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a more-than-ample stash of beauty supplies.

After all, you looked for months for that perfect shade of plum-but-not-too-purple-and-also-not-too-pink lipstick and then you found it and thought, “this must be mine!” And even though you had three similar shades back at home, this one was different because it was matte and moisturizing…and also, why the hell not?

So yeah, I feel you on the makeup front. It’s fun to experiment and play around and try out new formulas and colors. I will be the first to support the section of your nail polish collection that’s made up of 17 slightly different shades of red.

But there is one area where less can sometimes be more when it comes to cosmetics, and that’s tools. Yes, applicators and brushes come in dozens of shapes, sizes and materials, but with a little practice and a bit of innovation, you’ll find that all you really need are these four beauty bag staples.

The Master Multi-Tasker

Before we get the brushes, let’s start with the tool that can do almost anything you ask it to: the sponge. Sometimes known as a beauty blender, this little guy should form the thing that forms the foundation of your kit as its main job is the skin.

Applying full-coverage foundation? Reach for the sponge. Tinted moisturizer? Sponge. Spot concealer? Sponge. The beauty of a beauty sponge is that the right one will be shaped in such a way that it’s really like five tools in one: use the broad side for larger areas of skin, the pointed tip to get into angles like your inner eye and around your nose, the slightly-rounded end for concave areas like under your chin and cheekbones. It can apply, blend, soften, smooth…basically, it’s super versatile and cuts down the need for a bunch of other brushes.

That said, there are a couple of downsides. The first is that since it’s a sponge and sponges, by nature, absorb stuff, you may end up using more product than usual because the sponge may suck some of it up. (But in my experience, just get it damp before you use in on makeup. Not only will the damp sponge help to blend hard lines of makeup, but the sponge will already be saturated and won’t have room to slurp makeup.) The second is that you will need to replace a sponge every couple of months for sanitation purposes. You can (and should) clean it with mild soap and water between uses, but after a while, you’ll want a new one.

If you’re not into the idea of replacing your tools that often, opt for a foundation brush instead. It won’t be quite the multitasker a sponge is as it’s really just meant to apply and buff in liquid foundation, but you won’t need to replace it nearly as often and it’ll do a good job applying makeup without sucking it up off your skin.

The Angled Fluff Brush

If you use any sort of powder makeup (except eyeshadow), make friends with a plush, angled brush. Because the brush’s fibers aren’t packed tightly together, whatever product you pick up on the brush releases easily onto your skin with a light, gentle swirl. No fighting the brush to give up hold on that bronzer — it goes willingly.

What’s more, this type of brush give you a lot of control over the amount of product you pick up (just make sure to gently tap off any excess) and makes it easy to use a light hand when sweeping the stuff all over your face. Because of the slight angle, it fits into the contours of your face perfectly so natural-looking bronzer application is easy, as is applying blush in the area and shape you want it. (Still not sure what that means for you? Read this!) The angle also helps when it comes to blending so there are no sharp, distinct lines of makeup anywhere.

The Eyelash Curler

This may be a controversial choice, but I’m sticking to it. Some people say it isn’t necessary if you’re also using mascara or that it’s too hard to use or that it doesn’t actually do anything but in my experience, there is no other beauty product or tool that can singlehandedly change a face that way an eyelash curler can and so it will always have a place in my desert island makeup kit. (Yes, I understand that on a desert island, the last thing I’d care about is my eyelashes, but you know what I’m getting at.)

If you’re going to add one to your kit, it pays to invest a little more in a high-quality curler. The cheap ones won’t get the job done and may result in you yanking out lashes you were meant to be curling. Be sure to clean it regularly like you would any other makeup application tool.

When using it, get it right up to the lash line and gently squeeze. Hold for five seconds before releasing. Then move it slowly up the lashes and gently squeeze again to get the middle before slowly and carefully removing the tool. And never ever ever try to curl your lashes after applying mascara. You’ll end up in clump city and will probably be down a handful of lashes, too.

The Eye 2-for-1

This one is kind of cheating because you’re really getting four brushes in one, but you’ll definitely want a dual end brush for all things eye makeup. On one end, you’ve got a spoolie, the same kind of brush on a mascara wand which means it’s the perfect tool to de-clump lashes if you went a little crazy on the mascara. It’s also excellent at fluffing up and brushing eyebrows into place. (Please wash the spoolie really well between uses. I’d hate for you to accidentally use leftover mascara as brow tint.)

On the other end is a small, thin, angled brush meant for brow filling purposes. Because it’s small, it limits the amount of brow powder you can pick up so you don’t overfill those bad boys. It also lets you get into tiny spaces between brow hairs, all while helping to blend that powder so it’s not too severe. The fact that it’s small and angled also makes it an excellent tool for getting neat and precise with your eyeliner. (It’s pretty much the same exact shape and size as a more traditional eyeliner brush, but do you really need both?) Whether you’re using the brush to pick up color from an eye pencil for a more precise line, experimenting with a cream-shadow-as-liner look, want to find another use for all that eyeshadow, or have finally given up on mastering liquid liner, this compact brush is key.

And if you’re really in a pinch, you can use it to line your lips by swirling it around in lipstick and painting it on in short strokes. Again, please just wash it thoroughly between each use.

There are, of course, many, many more fun and useful makeup tools out there if you want to keep on experimenting. But for the sake of storage space and not needing to bring an entire extra suitcase for your beauty tools when you travel, these four tools are pretty fool-proof. And when in doubt, just use your hands. They’re pretty much the perfect makeup applicators in the world.

+Looking for more beauty tips and tricks? Read more from Allie here

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Why You Need: Squalane

Why You Need: Squalane

When it comes to serious moisture, there’s no sillier-sounding-but-hyper-effective skincare ingredient than squalane…

The beauty industry has no shortage of ingredients with adorable names. Rosehip, pea flour, calendula, milk thistle, meadowfoam, tocos, camelina, horsetail, baobab, tamanu…can you even?

But just like you’re never supposed to underestimate someone because of their size, don’t discount a skincare product because its label is packed with delightful-sounding botanicals. These ingredients may have names that could double as one of the fairies in a Shakespeare play or a newborn farm animal in a kid’s movie, but every single one of them does an impressive job for your skin and body. And when it comes to serious moisture, there’s no sillier-sounding-but-hyper-effective skincare ingredient than squalane. Here’s the deal.

What is it?

The first thing you need to know is that both squalene and squalane exist. The former is the purer form of the ingredient as the later has been hydrogenated. And while purer is almost always better, it’s important to note here that squalene with an E isn’t stable enough to use on your skin regularly.

Squalene with an E is unsaturated, meaning it oxidizes quickly and doesn’t do much in the way of protecting your skin from free radicals. It’s totally fine when produced naturally by your body (which it is, but more on that later), but it goes bad pretty quickly when bottled, so its shelf-stability is crap. Squalane with an A, on the other hand, is saturated, so it’s stable, oxidizes less quickly and lasts way, way longer in your medicine cabinet.

Plus, squalane is lighter, making it way better for daily use, especially on skin that’s reactive. Lighter products are often less likely to clog sensitive pores, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less effective than their heavier counterparts.

Now let’s back up: What exactly is squalene? In short, it’s a fat-soluble antioxidant that’s naturally produced by our sebaceous glands when your body synthesis cholesterol (science!). It’s found in sebum and its job is to lubricate and protect your skin, making up 10-12% of your skin’s oil. So while your body does product squalene naturally, it doesn’t hurt to add more to your topical routine.

Where does it come from?

Traditionally, squalene was harvested from sharks. These creatures of the deep depend on the stuff for survival: a huge percentage of the oil in many sharks’ livers is made up of squalene and a shark’s liver makes up about 25% of its mass so, you do the math. As fun as it would be to imagine sharks caring about the hydration of their skin, the substance is so vital to deep sea dwellers because it makes sure the body is using its oxygen supply efficiently.

Since hunting sharks for the sake of our skin is no bueno, it’s now more common that the squalene and squalane you find in self-care products come from plant sources like olives, wheat germ oil, amaranth seeds and rice bran.

Why do I need more of it?

Oh let me count the ways!

1.It’s shelf-stable, so unlike a lot of other natural, botanical ingredients, you don’t have to worry about using it all up too quickly as it’ll be good for almost two years.

2. It has emollient properties, so it rocks at helping skin hold onto the moisturizing ingredients you apply via other products. And locking in all that moisture means healthier, plumper, smoother skin without any greasy or slick residue.

3. Those same emollient properties make it awesome at gently removing makeup without stripping skin of natural oils. If you’re not already double cleansing, grab some squalane oil and GET ON IT.

4. It absorbs crazy-quick; you can literally apply squalane to your skin and watch it get sink in before your eyes. That absorption speed means you won’t be left with oily residue or need to do any vigorous massaging to get excess oil to penetrate your skin.

5. It’s antibacterial, so fight acne and inflammation with a single product.

6. It promotes cell growth, one of the reasons it also makes your skin look so young and healthy. New, younger cells = better-looking skin.

7. Because it can sink so deeply into the skin, squalane helps lighten skin discoloration and pigmentation by fighting free radicals in the skin caused by UV rays.

8. It’ll help regulate your skin’s oil production.

Ok, how do I use it?

Just like you would with any other oil in your arsenal. Double cleanse with it, moisturize with it, use it as a base layer for your nighttime routine so all the other stuff you apply sinks in and stays put, comb some through the ends of your hair to condition your strands, find a product that incorporates squalane oil so you get the best of all the worlds.

Here are a few product recommendations to get you started on the squalane squad if you’re not ready to just douse yourself in a vat of the stuff:

+Be sure to read more from Allie on beauty and wellness here

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Bite-Sized Beauty Breakthrough: Sakara Life’s Skin-Enhancing Chocolates

Bite-Sized Beauty Breakthrough: Sakara Life’s Skin-Enhancing Chocolates

Upgrading your skin care routine has never tasted better…

Can eating chocolate change your complexion? You’d be hard-pressed to find a skin care fanatic who hasn’t heard the old school stigma of chocolate provoking acne, but a more mindful approach to the confection’s recipe is finally changing its reputation. “It’s not chocolate that’s “bad” for your skin — it’s the additives like dairy, trans fats and processed sugar,” insist Danielle Duboise and Whitney Tingle, co-founders of Sakara Life, the organic meal delivery program beloved by the fast-paced fashion and film set from NYC to LA, which has racked up health-focused fans like Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Hudson along the way. Driven by the demand for nutritious snacks with a holistic focus, Danielle and Whitney recently expanded their Clean Boutique of healthy options to include the ultimate dream indulgence – Beauty Chocolates.

The duo considers their recipe, which is made with raw, dark cacao, “one of the most potent sources of age-defying antioxidants on earth,” and sweetened with coconut sugar that offers a naturally lower glycemic index (to prevent harmful blood sugar spikes and crashes), a healthy addition to any strategic beauty routine. “Skin is very important to us,” they enthuse, citing Whitney’s struggle with cystic acne as one of the main propellants of launching the brand. “We are big believers in the idea that true beauty comes from within — and starts with what you eat! Nutrition is the only way to get to the root cause of your issues, whether that’s dull skin, wrinkles or breakouts (not to mention low energy, mood swings, poor sleep, or digestive problems…). Also, we love chocolate, of course, so we wanted to find a clean, plant-based, functional ingredient that would make this ritual even more beneficial.”

The bite-sized sweets are designed to boost ceramides, the naturally occurring lipids in skin which deplete over time, leading to a myriad of beauty woes from fine lines to a lackluster complexion. “Beauty Chocolates are made with 100% plant-based phytoceramides, clinically proven to improve skin’s texture in two weeks with daily use,” Danielle explains. “You can moisturize the top layer of skin with creams and serums, but the phytoceramides in Beauty Chocolates replenish the cell barrier and stimulate collagen from within, helping to seal in moisture, plump and smooth wrinkles, and boost your glow!” And with just one gem-shaped delight delivering a daily serving of skin-friendly ingredients, it’s primed to be the most indulgent addition to your nightly skin care routine — which isn’t lost on the Sakara girls. “It’s like a facial and dessert in one bite.”

+Loving the idea of Beauty Chocolates? Check out Sakara Life’s Hemp Chocolates here

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How to Choose the Right Facial Mist for Your Skin Type

How to Choose the Right Facial Mist for Your Skin Type

Though many think it’s an unnecessary or superfluous step in skincare routines, facial mists are having a moment right now — and for good reason…

My first experience with facial mist came in the form of a neon blue liquid that smelled like rubbing alcohol. It was supposed to help de-slick my oily face and keep teen breakouts under control, but all it did was sting my nostrils and dry out my skin, leading to even more oil production. I assumed anything that fell into this skincare category would be disastrous for my skin so I abandoned the step altogether.

A few years ago, I read about some celebrity or another with gorgeous skin who swore her secret was a simple misting of rose water and witch hazel. The price was right and I figured anything that contained rose water couldn’t hurt my skin too much, so I tested it out. Lo and behold, my skin held onto more moisture than ever and some pesky jaw-side inflammation calmed down after a couple of uses.

Today, I’m officially back on the mist train. If you aren’t, you’re missing out. Though many think it’s an unnecessary or superfluous step in skincare routines, or worse, that it’s just spritzing some water on your face and calling it a day, facial mists are kind of having a moment right now—and for good reason.

Though rose water and witch hazel will work just fine, makers know that misting yourself a few times a day can deliver even more skin-loving ingredients to your face than what you get in other steps. Which means they’re upping the ante, packing those small bottles with botanical combinations that will leave your skin glowing and prepped for whatever you want to layer on top.

So after you’re done cleansing but before you apply moisturizer, oil and serums, make sure to mist. And while you’re at it, mist again after you’ve applied makeup. And again at lunch time. And again mid-afternoon. Basically, mist anytime your dang well please because this stuff is only going to do great things for your face: It stops any leftover cleanser from drying out your skin, it balances the pH of your skin if it’s thrown out of whack, and it helps your skin absorb whatever products you apply after. (This third point is crucial; when mixed with an emollient like oil or serum, the hydrating water molecules in the mist get trapped in your skin and do some serious hydrating.)

If you have oily skin…

…stay away from anything that contains alcohol or other drying ingredients. These will only kick oil production into overdrive. Instead, look for something that will help get your skin nice and balanced, like citrus or that witch hazel I mentioned earlier. Both will help keep sebum in check and create a mattifying effect. Luckily, Dr. Alkaitis’ Organic Herbal Toner contains both and then some to balance oily skin. 

If you have sensitive skin…

…reach for rose water. Not only is the stuff uber-gentle, it’s also antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, so it can help ward off any unwanted intruders on your already-sensitive skin while still being super-hydrating. Soothing, calming ingredients like calendula and camomile will also serve you well in mist form. The Hydrating Facial Mist from Nicole Granato is gentle enough to use frequently without worrying about skin acting up thanks to its stellar lineup of only three ingredients: aloe vera, hibiscus and rose water. When you have sensitive skin, simplicity equals happy skin.

If you have dry skin…

…you’ll want as much moisture as you can get, in any way you can get it, and plain old water won’t do. Your perfect mist needs to contain plant oils for an extra dose of hydration. Not only will these add a base layer of hydration, they’ll bind to whatever oils and oil-based serums you apply after, deepening the latter’s staying power. Sangre de Fruta’s Botanical Tonic is the perfect blend of gentle-yet-effective oils—neroli, orange blossom, rose—to help restore elasticity and moisture to skin cells. 

If you have acne-prone skin…

…soothing and antibacterial are key. Again, avoid alcohol as it’ll only anger the acne gods, and instead opt for ingredients like aloe (anti-inflammatory), witch hazel (antibacterial) and minerals (helps skin cells breathe). The Refresh Face Mist from LINNÉ is an excellent option for anyone dealing with blemishes with its rejuvenating aloe, stimulating zinc, copper and magnesium, hydrating hyaluronic acid, and toning yarrow.

If you have normal skin…

…pretty much any of these will serve you just fine. But really, if your skin isn’t crazy-reactive, use whatever mist your heart desires. So long as it’s got nourishing oils, botanicals, vitamins and antioxidants that serve your skin in a way it likes, you’re good. And if you want to use facial mist as a mood or energy booster, find one that smells amazing like the grapefruit-infused Immortal Mist Face Spray from Biodara, and it’ll pull double duty as aromatherapy.

 

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Quickie Wellness: Alba 1913

Quickie Wellness: Alba 1913

The brand that’s bringing Polish beauty secrets to the millennial generation…

French women might have enviable style but when it comes to a culture that knows skincare, Poland really gets it. Taking care of your complexion is a priority and the country’s pharmacies are often stocked with old-school brands that tap into holistic traditions to cure modern conditions. One such brand that’s now reaching our shores: Alba 1913. As the name suggests, it’s been around for more than a century. Poznań-based chemist and founder Mieczyslaw Rychlicki concocted tonics, creams and cure-alls with native plants and herbs, but then shut down operations after the Second World War. Years later, a new generation of Rychlicki’s found an old wooden chest filled with the original formulas and prescriptions, which they decided to put back into rotation. The results, they discovered, were surprisingly effective for our 21st century complexion needs like cleansing, moisturizing and brightening up dark spots.

Still, science has come a long way since 1913. So Mieczysla’s grandsons, Lukas and Jan Rychlicki, who head up Alba today, thought: Why not combine the best of the past with the latest advances of today? That inspiration is behind their best innovations, including the hero product of the line: The Galenic Cleansing Micellar Water. Based off the formula Mieczysla used more than 100 years ago (!), the elixir contains activated micellar water to gently remove impurities without stripping away the skin’s natural oils. The Galenic Leave-On Mask, meanwhile, puts a Polish spin on the masking trend, with bioactive vitamin A, hyaluronic acid, and potent botanicals, like marigold petal and rhubarb extracts, to even out your tone and seal in dewy moisture.

Other items nod to the brand’s expertise with skin chemistry and have an old-world apothecary vibe. The pH Balancing Toner, for example, can be misted on your face after cleansing to restore your skin’s acidic protective layer — which even mild soaps can alter, inviting dryness — and boost the absorption of any serums or creams you apply next. And while wellness might be a millennial obsession, it’s always been part of the Alba lifestyle; the Tension Relief Spray is spiked with a calming blend of essential oils — rosemary, coriander, lemon, menthol among them — to relieve muscle stiffness after a workout, a long trip or just staring at a small screen in the palm of your hand for hours (guilty of that one). Sure, iPhones and “tech neck” might not have been around in 1913 but this spray — and everything in the range — feels very circa 2017.

+ Want to discover more about Alba 1913? Click here to shop the entire line.

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