December Favorites 2014 – Nails Inc, Out of Africa, Dr. Dennis Gross, Paula’s Choice, Josie Maran, Living Proof & Alterna

Since I didn’t manage to get my November Favorites posted, I thought I’d do my best to do a December Favorites instead. To be completely honest, I haven’t been wearing much makeup at all in December, but I still managed to come up with quite a few other favorite products to share with you. A few may be rather controversial, but I have seriously been in love with them so they’re included. With that said, let’s start this final round of Favorites for 2014!!! (PS: I’m trying to get together my 2014 Favorites as well, so hopefully that will be up shortly.)

I’m going to start with the potentially controversial items. The first two are from Alterna. That’s where the potential problem lies. I’m not certain that Alterna is cruelty free, though their packaging states that, “Alterna never tests on animals.” I have tried to contact them a few times, but have yet to receive a response and can’t get much of any definitive answer online…not that I would assume one to be true anyway. But these are products that I have absolutely fallen in love with and really hope are still cruelty free. The first is a hair conditioner…well I use it in place of a conditioner whenever I wash my hair. It is the Alterna Rehab Deep Hydration Masque from their Bamboo Color Hold + line. It is absolutely the most incredible hair mask I have ever used! I tend to avoid hair masks because my hair is rather limp and lifeless to begin with and masks just make the whole problem worse. Not with this mask! After shampooing, I slather this on focusing on the ends, twist my hair into a bun, and throw a shower cap over it for whatever time it takes to shave my legs. Then I rinse it out as usual and my hair is so much softer, more manageable, strangely cleaner feeling and just all around looks in better condition. It smells amazing too! Kind of melon-y, but not quite as fruity. Makes sense because it includes Kalahari melon (whatever that it!). I love that it not only strengthens and conditions my hair, but it also helps seal in the color and protects from UVA/UVB rays! It’s rare that I notice much of a positive difference in my hair from a conditioner, but the Alterna Rehab Deep Hydration Masque has quickly reached potential holy grail status for me! J

My next hair product from Alterna is also from their Bamboo line. It is their Cleanse Extend Translucent Dry Shampooin the Mango Coconut scent. Need I say more? J I am very picky about dry shampoo and usually hate them all. Until this one, I hadn’t found one that I actually liked the smell of. Not only does this dry shampoo actually smell freakin’ fantastic, it also works incredibly well. I can use this on three-day hair and still get away with another 1-3 days without washing orhaving to apply more dry shampoo! No nasty white cast or powdery residue either! It is truly incredible. My only complaint is the price, but at least this can seems to be lasting quite a while. Absolutely love the Alterna Cleanse Extend Translucent Dry Shampoo!!!

Finally on the hair front, we have a styling product from Living Proof…yet another brand that is kind of in a grey area for animal testing. Their response to my questions makes me believe that they don’t test, but their suppliers might (and yes, I do ask if their suppliers test, but they don’t really answer that question). So, potential problem there, but for now I have yet another holy grail caliber favorite. It is the Perfect Hair Day 5-in-1 Styling Treatment. This is one of those styling creams that claims to do everything. I have actually been using this as a general make-my-hair-look-better type of product, but also in place of a detangler. It works really well for helping the knots just brush right out and it seems to help my curls last longer…on the days I manage to actually style it! J I can go at least 2-3 days without much change in my curls. It’s fantastic when you’re lazy like me. J Definitely can’t live without the Living Proof Perfect Hair Day 5-in-1 Styling Treatment lately!

Moving on from hair, let’s get to some skin care! I’m not sure if I mentioned it, but a few months ago I stopped using all of my prescription creams for acne. My face looked much better without them and the crazy oiliness that I never used to have has disappeared as well. Because of all the changes, I’ve been doing whatever I think will help keep acne at bay, while better hydrating my skin. I went back to using the Josie Maran Argan Oil as my evening moisturizer and I really love it! It is hydrating and soothing without being heavy or greasy. My skin is by no means perfect and this past week I did add one of the creams back to help unblock some congestion on my cheeks, but in terms of keeping my skin relatively clear, moisturized and just comfortable in this weird winter weather, the Josie Maran Argan Oilhas been doing a wonderful job!

Also on the skincare front, I have been using Paula’s Choice Clear Daily Skin Clearing Treatment as a spot treatment for pimples. It has 5% Benzoyl Peroxide so it is quite strong, but not so strong that it zaps all the moisture out of your skin. I find that it treats pimples quickly…maybe not overnight, but definitely seems to lessen the length of time a spot hangs around. But best of all, it treats the pimples without turning my skin into a cracking, flaky mess like many other zit creams. If you suffer from dryness with most pimple creams, definitely give the Paula’s Choice Treatment a go!

For my eyes, I’ve been using a new eye cream from Dr. Dennis Gross at night. It is the Ferulic + Retinol Eye Cream, which claims to hydrate, firm and strengthen. It is a nice rich cream that is really thick and kind of cushiony. The texture is quite interesting because it is almost gel-like, but in the form of a cream. I was worried that it might aggravate the little white bumps under my eyes (aka millia), but if anything, it has helped eliminate them! I feel like the fine lines starting to show under my eyes have lessened a bit and my eye area feels and looks a bit plumper in the morning – in a good way! J I figure it’s about time I start using a Retinol eye cream and the Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Eye Cream is working wonderfully for me! J

Moving away from the face, I have a favorite hand cream this month. My hands have been so dry lately. I turned to the Out of Africa Shea Butter Hand Cream in Verbena. I have actually lost the cap to this tube and completely finished it, so I have another one waiting (I’ve been using a mini tube in Vanilla the last few days and strangely I don’t like it as much). Anyway, this stuff is quite thick and on the heavy side, but once it is rubbed in, I don’t find it to be greasy. It smells nice – kind of fresh and a bit zesty – but the scent doesn’t last very long, which I prefer with a hand cream. It has kept my hands soft, smooth and comfortable despite the frequent hand washing I’ve been doing the past few months. If you need a dry, cracked hand fixer, I would recommend trying the Out of Africa Shea Butter Hand Cream. It’s been a lifesaver in December! J

Finally, I have a nail polish favorite. Granted, I’ve only worn it once so far, but I absolutely adoreit! It is from Nails Inc. and it is one of their limited edition Snowflake polishes in Whitechapel. Aside from the gorgeous new packaging and the perfectly sized and shaped brush, this it just a stunning topper! It is full of tiny iridescent glitter with larger white glitter and some smallish white bar glitter. I think there is probably some gold in there somewhere too. It is so pretty! I wore it over Zoya’s Kristen and they are quite possibly the most perfect combination ever! J It looks like a beautiful snowfall on your nails. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of it before I removed it, but trust me it was stunning. I absolutely love the newly packaged Nails Inc. polishes and Whitechapel is no exception! J

That’s going to do it for December Favorites. As though that was a short one, right? I need to work on not rambling so much in every post. I hope you enjoyed my final Monthly Favorites post for 2014 because these are always some of my favorites to write! JAs I said, I’m working on my favorites for 2014 as well so I hope you look forward to that one too! I hope you’ve had a fantastic year and I look forward to seeing you again for whatever 2015 has in store!!!

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