3 Masks to Make Your Face Happy

3 Masks to Make Your Face Happy

A good ol’ face mask session may be the most relaxing home-remedy of them all… read on about 3 of my faves.

I’m talking hair pulled up in a messy bun, stripped down to the basics, and a tiny bit of time set aside. This may be a monthly routine for some, but lately, I’ve been masking at least once a week, and my face is thanking me for it.

The 3 masks I’m currently rotating are all great for combination skin (what I have), but I switch them up based on that day’s diet, activity level, and skin texture. 


This is my go-to when I’m feeling a bit oily — maybe my eating habits have been a little less clean, or my workouts a bit heavier. This mask is great at gently drawing out impurities from my skin while deep-cleaning.

I LOVE: The scent is wonderful. Notes of matcha mixed with bergamot are the key to my heart. The glass jar is beautiful, and my skin truly feels clean when I’m finished.

TIPS: Make sure to set aside at least 15 minutes when using this mask. It takes some time to mix the 1 tsp of mask with 1 tsp of water, apply to a brush, etc. Leave on until dry but not fully hardened! Remove with a wet warm wash cloth so that you don’t splash green stuff everywhere. 🙂 


This is my Saturday morning sidekick. You’ll need at least 30 minutes to let this mask work its wonders. If I have a big night ahead of me, and want plump, glowing-girl skin, this takes the cake.

I LOVE: The feeling of a sheet on my skin. Something about it makes me feel like I’m at a spa, because it forces me to sit back and relax. The greek yogurt makes my face feel super soft and silky.

TIPS: No need to wash off afterwards!


When I’m feeling like I need a little energy boost, or have bad spots on my skin, I pull this super mask out and let it do the work. The white clay removes dead skin cells and the oils protect from dryness. In the seasons ahead, this mask will make your face healthy and happy! It’s antioxidant power helps recharge my skin’s healthy glow.

I LOVE: The ease of it. It’s pre-mixed, so applying and washing off is a breeze. The scent is calming, and I love the little beads it produces to exfoliate!

TIPS: Use the spatula provided to apply, and spread evenly on face and down your neck.

*Always make sure to test each mask on your skin before applying. Stop use immediately  if you experience any reaction.

+ Follow Madisyn on Instagram + take a peek at her blog.

Free People Blog

Matcha for Inner AND Outer Beauty

Matcha for Inner AND Outer Beauty

What’s green, caffeinated and more ubiquitous than that one speedo-clad guy who shows up at everyone’s yoga class? Matcha!

That’s right, the finely ground green tea leaves that have been part of Japanese and Chinese culture for centuries is fully in the mainstream (you can’t walk around New York without passing a dedicated matcha bar or shop every few blocks), and we couldn’t be more excited. Not only is the stuff delicious, the preparation is incredibly soothing if you choose to make your own — it’s a great alternative to yet another cup of coffee and it is loaded with antioxidants, making it one of the most health-supportive things you can sip.

Still not sold on the wonders that is this gorgeously green powder? Here’s a quick overview and a short history lesson: Matcha is finely ground powder made from green tea leaves that have been grown in the shade, conditions which produce more theanine (a relaxing amino acid) and caffeine than typical green tea. This combination of chemicals is what accounts for the “calm energy” effect people get from drinking the stuff as opposed to the shakes you can get from too much coffee. In the twelfth century, matcha came to Japan care of the Chinese, where an elaborate tea ceremony around its preparation was (and still is) practiced. Zen Buddhists were even believed to drink matcha for meditative focus.

Calm energy aside, matcha also boasts an impressive roster of health benefits. It’s particularly high in antioxidants like polyphenols and EGCG that have been linked to everything from slowing the growth of cancer cells, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, anti-aging, fighting inflammation, regulating blood sugar and boosting metabolism. And since you’re actually drinking the ground leaves (instead of steeping them in hot water like other teas), you ingest more of the nutrients.

Not too shabby for something you can pour over ice and sip through a curly straw!

By all means, continue to sip out of that curly straw, but there’s no need to let your tastebuds have all the fun. Yes, drinking and eating your vitamins and minerals is almost always the preferred method of getting them where they need to go — into your body — but your skin can also drink up matcha’s goodness. (See what I did there?)

Here are a few matcha-infused beauty products to let the tea leaves work their magic on your face. Throw in a little matcha-fuelfed meditation every once in awhile and you’ll positively glow.

Pangea Organics Facial Mask

When it comes to antioxidants, you’d be hard-pressed to find three more potent purveyors than matcha, acai and goji berries. Lucky for you, all of ‘em can be found in this mask from always-reliable Pangea Organics. Not only does the mask deeply cleanse and detoxify the skin thanks to the inclusion of white clay, it also leaves tired, dull skin rejuvenated thanks to a hefty dose of moisture. The matcha, goji and acai work together to pack skin cells with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and proteins to restore and brighten the skin on your face. And the 10-20 minutes you wear it present a pretty perfect time to practice your matcha whisking skills if the mood strikes.

Flora Remedia Matcha Green Tea Skin Treatment Scrub

Matcha is a whiz when it comes to reducing inflammation in your organs thanks to its status as being chock full of antioxidants. So let it work that same magic on your tired, inflamed skin with a matcha-infused body scrub. Flora Remedia’s version combines matcha powder with raw sugar and sea salt to treat redness, inflammation and body acne, while the eucalyptus oil offers not only moisture but also a gorgeous scent to help you de-stress, refresh and revitalize your shower routine. 

Cocokind MYMATCHA All-Over Moisture Stick

What do you get when you blend organic matcha, organic virgin coconut oil and organic beeswax together? If you answered lip balm, under eye balm, dark circle corrector and spot treatment, get yourself a prize. This stick from Captain Blankenship may be tiny in stature, but it more than makes up for its small size by being a veritable Swiss Army Knife of skincare benefits — and all with only three ingredients. The antioxidants in the matcha help fight off baddies that have taken up residence in the skin and de-puff while the coconut oil offers up deep moisture and nourishment. Then beeswax swoops in the seal the deal, locking hydrating in and protecting the skin from the elements.

Sun Potion White Dragon Matcha

If you want to keep things simple, you can always whip up a good old fashioned DIY face mask with a spoonful of matcha powder and some manuka honey. You’ll look like a swamp creature for a few minutes, but the combination of soothing, anti-inflammatory matcha and acne-and-bacteria-fighting honey can’t be beat, especially if you’re dealing with a pimple situation. What’s more, this type of mask is super gentle while also being incredibly effective, so you should be ok to use it every couple of days if the mood strikes.

One thing to note: This Sun Potion White Dragon Matcha is high grade and of excellent quality, so if you want to save if for sipping, no hard feelings.

Free People Blog

How to Layer Skincare for Optimal Results: Morning Routine

How to Layer Skincare for Optimal Results: Morning Routine

It’s time to focus on sun-in-the-sky skincare…

Back in my uninformed youth, before I started to take skincare seriously (so like, three years ago?), I assumed there was no difference between what I put on my face in the morning and what I put on my face at night. Skincare was skincare…it didn’t matter what I applied when or in what order, right?

But then I learned that your skin does the bulk of its healing at night while you sleep, and so then I assumed my nighttime routine was more important than my morning one. I dutifully spent upwards of 20 minutes over the sink every night, double cleansing and facial massaging and serum pressing and eye cream dabbing. It was quite a bit of work (and quite a few products), but I noticed a difference in my skin almost immediately and so have kept at it all this time, much to chagrin of my very patient, very sleepy S.O.

I was spending so much time focused on my evening skin that I failed to recognize the importance of what I was using in the morning. And while I wouldn’t say my skin suffered for it — those 20 minutes really did work wonders — when I finally did start paying attention, things on and around my face got way better than I ever could have dreamed.

I’ve already walked you through how to layer your nighttime products for optimal results, so now it’s time to focus on sun-in-the-sky skincare. Without further ado, this is how to approach your AM routine:

Step 1: Cleanser

Truth be told, a morning cleanse is totally your call. Since all you’ve done since the last time you washed your face was apply restorative, soothing products and sleep, there’s no need to wash your face in the morning. It’s a personal preference, one you’ll have to figure out for yourself.

Personally, I like to cleanse in the morning as I feel like it starts my day off right and offers a clean slate for what I apply to my face next. But if you have dry skin and can’t risk the extra cleanse, by all means skip it.

If you do choose to cleanse, pick a product that’s gentle and non-foaming. You don’t need something with suds at this point in the day (like I said, you don’t really have anything on your skin that needs washing off), so opt for a cleansing milk or gel that will be soft on the skin. You can also use an oil cleanser here if you’re really intent on removing all traces of the previous night’s products, but be sure to remove all traces of the cleanser thoroughly or any makeup you apply later will slide right off your face.

Step 2: Exfoliate-ish

Proceed with caution here. Again, if you’re prone to irritation or dryness, skip the AM exfoliation and stick to doing it a few nights a week to keep dead skin cells at bay. If not, consider incorporating some very gentle exfoliation with a warm, damp cotton washcloth into your morning routine. Starting at your nose and working out toward your temples, forehead and chin in small circles will help slough away dead skin and massage the skin, stimulating blood flow and reducing facial swelling and post-sleep puffiness. When you’re done, splash some cold water over your face.

Step 3: Toner/Essence

No matter your skin type, this is a step you don’t want to skip. Not only does a facial mist deposit much-needed moisture into your skin, it also helps keep skin balanced throughout the day so you don’t have to deal with the dreaded 3 pm oil slick so many of us are familiar with.

If you are oily, opt for a pH-balancing toner. All other skin types would benefit from either a hydrating toner or facial mist to soothe skin and get skin nice and hydrated for what’s next. Be sure to spray liberally all over your face, neck and chest — this is one thing that you can really never use too much of.

Step 4: Serum

If you’re not using a daytime serum, it may be time to consider adding one to your routine. Since they’re packed with such powerful, skin-changing ingredients, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t want them sinking in throughout the day as well. Just be careful about what you choose to apply during the day vs. the nighttime: certain ingredients like vitamin C and retinoids can increase your skin’s photosensitivity, so wearing them during the day can leave your skin more vulnerable than usual to the sun’s rays.

Save photosensitive serums for your nighttime routine and instead look for ingredients that play nice with the elements, like rose, vitamin E and caffeine. That mist you helpfully spritzed in the last step is crucial for serum absorption: the serum will latch onto the water molecules of the mist and ride them deep into your skin.

Step 5: Moisturizer

Unless you have very dry skin, you shouldn’t need more than a light, daily moisturizer in the morning. That said, pay attention to the formula you pick as it 1) needs to last all day 2) stand up to what your face faces all day long and 3) get along well with your skin type. Prone to irritation? Choose a product with calming ingredients chamomile and rosehip. Oily? You’ll definitely want an oil-free moisturizer. Spend a lot of time outside? Double up with SPF moisturizer. Not big on makeup but want a little coverage? Tinted moisturizer for the win!

Applying moisturizer is another great excuse to massage your face in case there’s any residual puffiness lingering.

Step 6: SPF

As if I have to tell you again, but if you insist: WEAR SPF EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I’m not kidding. Serums and toners aside, this is the single most important thing you can do for the health of your skin in both the short and long term. Since your face tends to get more play in the sun on a regular day and it’s also thinner skin, you’ll definitely want an everyday SPF that’s formulated specifically for your face. It’ll be less likely to clog pores and more likely to rub in without a trace. If you don’t want to add another product to your arsenal, find a daytime moisturizer that contains SPF.

Regardless of what formula you use, though, make sure it’s the last thing you apply before makeup. SPF forms a film on top of the skin to shield it and putting anything other than makeup on top of it can disrupt that coverage, opening it up to let the sun through.

+ Now that you got your morning routine, check out how to layer your nighttime routine

Photo by Jana Kirn

Free People Blog

Natural vs. Organic vs. Non-Toxic: What Do They Mean?

Natural vs. Organic vs. Non-Toxic: What Do They Mean?

Do you want natural? Organic? Non-toxic? Is there a difference?…

Once upon a time, in days of yore, finding plant-based skincare and beauty products that actually did what they promised they would was about as difficult as pretending to like a kale-celery-jalapeno juice. But times have changed and not only are gorgeous plant-based products as effective as ever, they’re easy to come by.

As great as it is that these better-for-you formulas are easily accessible, there’s still quite a bit of confusion around the language used to describe them. Do you want natural? Organic? Non-toxic? Is there a difference?

You know reading the ingredient portion of a label is important, but it’s equally crucial that you read — and understand — other parts of a product label as well, namely the adjectives it touts. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by insider-seeming jargon but a little information can be extremely powerful in your quest to decipher the real stuff from the imposters. Ready to get your learning on? Keep reading.


Highly-regulated by the the USDA, “organic” is one of the only claims you can really be 100% sure about when it comes to skincare and beauty products. (Caveat: While a label can claim a product is organic, if it also doesn’t feature this symbol, that label is LYING TO YOU and the maker is likely in for a world of trouble when the USDA gets wind of their false advertising.) For makers to claim a product as organic, they need to apply for organic certification with the USDA, have an agent come check their ingredients and facilities, and only after all this are they awarded the distinction.

So what does organic mean? Simply put, all or almost all of the ingredients have been grown and processed under very strict conditions. If the product is “100% organic,” everything in that product was grown the good old (old) fashioned way: no pesticides, no fertilizers, no herbicides, no antibiotics, no growth hormones, no GMOs.

An “organic” product means that 95% of the ingredients meet the criteria. One thing to note, however, is that the percentage of ingredients that need to be produced in these conditions to qualify something as organic varies from state to state. In California, for example, only 70% of ingredients are needed for something to qualify.


At the complete opposite end of the spectrum is the “natural” claim — there are virtually zero regulations around this claim, meaning you should proceed with caution when considering a product that claims to be “natural” or “all-natural.”

Yes, some “natural” formulas are just that: they may contain plant-based natural ingredients that just aren’t organic and so can’t sport that nifty USDA seal of approval. But there are also plenty of products touted as natural that contain highly processed, potentially harmful plant-derived ingredients.

Coconut oil and its labeling is a great example of this issue. You know the product in your hands comes from coconuts, but unless that jar says “organic,” you have no way of knowing if you’re getting the real, raw stuff or if what they’re claiming as “natural” is actually rotten, dried, chemically-treated, dyed and deodorized coconut byproduct.

The best way to figure out if a “natural” claim is legit is to read the ingredient list very, very carefully. Remember that ingredient decks list ingredients in order of highest percentage to least, so if the first 10 ingredients in something “natural” are organic or plants you recognize, you’re probably safe if you’re not overly concerned about something being 100% organic. Many green products contain a boatload of  organic ingredients without the whole thing being certified as organic, so do your research.


Though “non-toxic” is another claim with almost no regulation — aka it’s mostly a marketing tool — it’s not necessarily a harmful claim. You see, “non-toxic” just means the product doesn’t contain ingredients that have been linked to toxic responses (like hormone disruption, cancer, etc.) in humans.

So while you should absolutely still be reading the ingredient list on “non-toxic” products, know that ingredients like phthalates, parabens, lead acetate, formaldehyde, petroleum and coal tar likely won’t be listed…and that’s never a bad thing.

If you want to take classifications one step further, you can also consider whether something is vegan, cruelty-free and plant-based.

For a primer on all things vegan beauty, check out this post. It covers everything from the non-vegan ingredients that might be hiding in your jars and bottles to the symbols you should know to look for.

As far as plant-based beauty goes, you’ll want to check to make sure your product is “synthetic-free,” which quite literally means it contains zero man-made ingredients; 100% of what you’re slathering on your face occurs naturally in the world. “Plant-based” means roughly the same thing — the ingredients are botanical — but it’s important to remember that just because something is plant-based or synthetic-free does not mean it’s organic, and vice-versa. If you want to your products to be uber-clean, make sure all the right boxes are checked.

+ Want to learn more about organic beauty? Read more here

Free People Blog

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.


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.


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.


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.


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?”


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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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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