Out of Africa


Best of 2014 – Skin Care, Body Care & Hair Care

Well, 2014 has come to a close and if I’m completely honest, I think I’m really glad about that. It’s been a bit of a rough year. It started strange and ended equally odd, though there were plenty of highlights in the middle. But now is that time where we put all that to the past and look ahead to the fantastic future that must surely be awaiting, right? J However, the year wouldn’t be complete without a roundup of the Best Products of 2014 now, would it?! Because it’s so hard to include everything in a single blog post without it becoming an epic novel, I’m going to break this up a bit. Today I’m going to share my favorite picks for Skin Care, Body Care & Hair Care. I am trying not to repeat things from previous years (all of which are linked at the bottom of this post), but if I do it will be noted and it will only be done because I really haven’t found anything better. I don’t have items to fit into specific categories either – for instance, I don’t have a favorite foundation for 2014 so you won’t see one. I have just stuck to products that truly stood out to me regardless of their categories. So, without further ado, I bring you the Best Skin Care, Body Care & Hair Care of 2014! J

Something that I’ve actually never ever mentioned that has become a definite staple in my routine is up first. It is the Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil from The Body Shop. It is by far the best makeup remover I’ve tried. I use it for my entire face, including my eyes, and it makes everything disappear with the littlest of effort. Of note for quick touch-ups is the Camomile Eye Makeup Remover. Works like a charm as well, but without any oil left behind to ruin further makeup application. The Body Shop is definitely a fantastic choice for removing makeup.

I have discovered an eye cream that I absolutely adore this year as well. It is from Ole Henricksen(which is cruelty free to the best of my knowledge, but I cannot get a response from the company directly). Their Total Truth Vitamin C Eye Cream SPF 15 is everything I needed in a daytime eye cream. I am such a fan of the fact that there’s SPF included because it seems so rare that eye creams include it. I don’t need sun damage and wrinkles around my eyes when they’re already prone to such ailments! If that’s not enough for you, I swear it immediately brightens and lightens the insanely dark circles under my eyes. It’s a fantastic cream – a bit on the thick side, but it blends beautifully. I definitely recommend the Total Truth Vitamin C Eye Cream from Ole Henricksen!

Moving on to body care, my absolute must have, cannot live without find of the year has to be Coconut Oil. Any brand will do, just give me some Coconut Oil if you expect me to have smooth, hair-free legs! I cannotshave my legs without it. That’s really the main reason I use Coconut Oil, though it has about 1 million additional beauty uses. For me, shaving my legs is just a no-go without Coconut Oil (I wrote all about it here).

Another fantastic find this year has been the Hang Ten Sunscreens. I mainly use them in the summer because I’m super lazy in the winter, but Hang Ten makes the best sunscreens I have ever found – and I’ve tried all of their variations, each with fantastic results. They are just so easy to blend, non-greasy, no white cast, great protection, and so on. If you’d like to read more about Hang Ten Sunscreens, I have written more about them here, here and here.

My favorite body moisturizer this year comes from Deep Steep. It’s a product that I wasn’t at all sure I would like using, but it has proven to be the nicest, quickest way to hydrate and soften my skin! What is it? It’s the Dry Oil Body Spritzer! They come in the most amazing scents – my favorite is the Brown Sugar Vanilla – and are so easy to use. Just spray, rub in and go. They actually are dry oils, so no grease here and I can’t say enough great things about the Deep Steep Dry Oil Body Spritzers (for more about them, check out my full review here).

Perhaps the weirdest find of the year comes from a brand called Flexitol and it is the Diabetic Foot Balm for Rough, Dry & Cracked Feet. Yup, you read that correctly. I still have not actually tried this on my feet, but I love it for my insanely dry and flaky elbows. It works wonders. If you want to read my full rave, check it out here and then run out to find the Flexitol Diabetic Foot Balm for all your troublesome dry spots! J

Sticking on the dry skin train, I have a hand cream love of the year. It’s not a new find this year, but I definitely fell in love with it this year. It is from Out of Africaand it is the Pure Shea Butter Hand Cream. I love the Verbena scent because it’s light, fresh and clean with a bit of zest. The cream itself is a nice thick and nourishing texture that manages to melt into the skin nicely without leaving behind a lot of grease. If your hands are dry and even cracking, the Pure Shea Butter Hand Creamwill soften them right up! It’s fantastic stuff!

Lastly, we have a lonely hair care item. I would add a couple more, but check my December Favorites here if you’d like to hear more about them and the reason I didn’t really want to include them just yet. But back to the definite hair go-to for 2014 – Giovanni’s Don’t Be Flaky! Soothing Anti-Dandruff Shampoo. Since I seem to get a touch of the white flakies now and then, I add a bit of this Anti-Dandruff Shampoo in with whatever other shampoo I may be using at the time to nix the white bits. I like to combine it with another shampoo because my hair is heavily bleached and I try to stick with color care type products for the best results (lately it’s with a purple color-correcting shampoo). I find that even without using this full strength, it does a great job at controlling dandruff. Plus it is mighty difficult to find an affordable cruelty free anti-dandruff shampoo! But this fits all bills. JIf you’re suffering from dandruff, or even just a dry or irritated scalp, definitely look into the Giovanni Don’t Be Flaky! Soothing Anti-Dandruff Shampoo.

I think that’s going to do it for my 2014 Skin, Body & Hair Care Favorites! There are a few other mentions I could add (I’m looking at you Trader Joe’s Coconut Body Butter!), but I don’t want to repeat too many prior annual favorites. Should you be interested in what some of my picks were in prior years, they will be linked at the end of this post and should open in a separate window. Anyway, I hope you found this enjoyable, as I always love writing these types of posts. It is so interesting to go back through the year and see what I’ve loved and forgotten and what’s stayed a diehard favorite day in and day out. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for other Annual Favorite Categories because more are headed your way soon! JThank you so much for joining me in 2014, and I hope to see you again throughout 2015!!! J

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!!!

November Favorites – w/ Urban Decay, IT Cosmetics, Bare Minerals, Hugo Naturals, Out of Africa & Face Atelier

It’s been a slightly strange month and I think I’m glad to see that it’s over! However, it was a pretty good month for beauty products, so it’s time for my November favorites! I do not have a ton of products to mention, but I have come across some new products that I really, really love. So let’s get on with it, shall we?! J

My first favorite is an oldie, but a goodie. It is my Urban Decay Brow Box in “Honey Pot.” I imagine there’s nothing particularly special about these brow powders, but I really like the kit and, at least for the older version, I like the layout too! The convenient compact kit contains a light and a darker shade of brow powder, some baby tweezers, a little baby brush and a pan of clear brow wax. I haven’t ever really used the tweezers, but I always use the mini brush. I find it’s actually works pretty well and it’s nice and small, which I find makes it easier to be precise when filling in my brows.
The colors are great for lighter hair, while not being so light that your brows don’t show up. Then there’s the wax, which I just apply with my fingertips after the powder, to keep everything in place. I really prefer the older version’s layout because the brow wax is in a little drawer away from the powder so it stays nice and clean. The newer one has the wax right next to the powders, which I envision getting little bits of powder all over the wax and making a nasty mess.
Other than the couple times I tested out a new brow pencil that didn’t work well for me at all, I have used the Urban Decay Brow Box every time I’ve filled in my brows this month! J
My next favorite is a blush that I’ve used before, but never in this shade…which is gorgeous! It is the IT Cosmetics Vitality Cheek Flush Hydrating Brightening Anti-Aging Powder Blush Stain. Wow! That’s certainly a mouthful! These blushes are really pigmented, last amazingly well, and blend beautifully. This month I started using the shade “Magical in Mauve” and it’s just perfect for this time of year! It give a nice healthy flush to the cheeks and I have also worn this pretty much every day this month! It’s a beautiful plummy-mauve shade that appears to have a slight bit of shimmer in the pan, but I don’t really see it on the cheeks. If anything, it just adds more radiance. So, so pretty!!!
This next product is totally new to me, but now I just might be addicted! It is the Marvelous Moxie Lipstick from Bare Minerals in the shade “Live Large.” I’ve never tried these lipsticks before because whenever I swatch them in stores, they just don’t look like colors I would wear. Then I did a google image search on some of the colors and thought “Live Large” looked really pretty and decided to try it. Aside from being a stunningly beautiful color for fall and winter, the formula is incredible! It is nice and creamy, but stays put. It’s very pigmented, but it doesn’t look like you’re wearing lipstick…well, other than the fact that they’re a different color. It’s incredibly comfortable and not at all drying. It’s just a really impressive formula and I have been obsessed with it this month! J
For lip balm, I’ve been using the Hugo Naturals Pineapple Coconut Lip Balm and it is really great! It’s a bit more on the greasy size, but it is also seriously moisturizing! My only complaint is that it’s become a bit grainy and I’m not sure why. It doesn’t bother me that much, but it’s kind of weird and every time I apply it, I find myself wondering why it’s so lumpy. It’s kept my lips in tip-top shade though, so I can definitely deal with it! JIt is also Vegan and Gluten-Free, which is awesome!
Finally, with the cold weather returning, my hands have been getting pretty dry again. I’ve been reaching for my Out of Africa Organic Shea Butter Hand Cream in “Verbena.” I really love this stuff! I don’t find it to be overly greasy, but it hydrates hands beautifully. The scent is light and doesn’t linger and it’s just the perfect hand cream right now! I broke the cap from using it so much! J
An honorable mention this month is the Face Atelier Ultra Foundation Pro. I’ve been testing it all month, but I’m still on the fence. I like it a lot – it has great coverage, looks beautiful, applies and blends beautifully and is just all around really nice. I’m still trying to find the best way to apply it, but I don’t feel I can call it a favorite yet because I’m still trying to determine how to avoid greasiness because it does tend to make me a bit oilier throughout the day. Other than that, I really love this foundation! I just don’t love blotting my face all day, so it’s still a question mark for me.

That’s going to do it for my favorites this month! I hope you enjoyed and thanks, as always, for stopping by! Let me know what some of your favorite products have been over the past month! I need more suggestions for new things to try! Ok, no I don’t, but I still want to know what everyone else is loving! JUntil next month, I hope you all have wonderful holiday season!!! J

Favorite Beauty Stuff in March

****Update: Carmex is now selling in China, so I no longer consider them to be cruelty-free. I was unaware of this change at the time of this post. ****

Well, March is over, which means it’s time for another monthly favorites post! March is always one of those weird months where the sun tries to shine, but it’s still cold. I always end up with a bad case of Spring fever around this time of year because I cannot wait for it to be warm and sunny most of the time. To get to my point, March seemed like it would never end! And with snow included, it was just a rather miserable start to Spring, but it’s getting better! JBut enough about that, here are the products I’ve found myself reaching for the most this month!

I’ve rediscovered my Lush Mint Julips Lip Scrub. Initially when I bought this, I found it to be too abrasive. I just decided to grab it one day even though my lips weren’t particularly dry and I’ve been using it ever since! It is pretty rough, but I’ve found it’s working nicely at keeping my lips soft and smooth…plus, it tastes delicious! JI find it helps a bit to use the Mint Julips when there is still a small amount of lip balm on my lips – like shortly after I wake up. It helps the sugar move around a bit better and protects my lips a bit from the graininess of the sugar.
Once I’ve gotten my lips nice and smooth, I still use my Carmex Moisturizing Lip Balm in Vanilla to keep my lips hydrated. I know I’ve mentioned this in previous favorites, but nothing else I have used ever compares to this lip balm for me. It’s a little towards the greasy size of things, although I wouldn’t actually call it greasy. It’s not at all a waxy lip balm, which I prefer. I can’t find the Lime flavor lately, which would be nice for summer. Where’s the Lime, Carmex? I miss it! The Vanilla is great though, so no complaints.
I guess I will stick with lips – my next favorite is from Lippy Girl. It is their Organic Lipstick in Gob Smacked. This lipstick is amazing! It’s not at all drying, it’s incredibly comfortable, and it has serious lasting power! I absolutely adore it! JThe color is a medium bright pink and it’s easy to make it a bit more neutral by blotting it, or leaving it a bit brighter by just leaving it alone. Amazing, amazing lipstick!

Moving on to face products, I recently tried a sample of the Dr. Jart Water Fuse BB Cream. I received it in a BirchBox ages ago, but kept forgetting to try it. Well, this was its month! I’m not usually a huge BB Cream junkie, but I’ve been using this almost every day in March (I picked up a full size almost right away because the sample was incredibly tiny and not very full). It provides good coverage and is buildable. It’s hydrating, but my skin does not get even a little bit greasy as the day wears on. It just feels very comfortable and balancing on my combination skin. This comes in just the one shade, which takes the guessing out of shade matching, but I would be surprised if it matched all skin tones. As long as it works with your skin tone, this is a great BB Cream for combo skin!
Sticking to face products, I have decided that I love the NARS Light Reflecting Loose Setting Powder! I’m not convinced that it really reflects the light or disguises pores better than others, but on my skin it is amazing! It gives my skin a very silky soft feel after applying it. It blends in beautifully and is never cakey. I think best of all, at least for me, it keeps my skin balanced all day! I don’t need to do any touching up or blotting when I use this powder and I absolutely adore it! I like this much better than the ultra-hyped Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder (I don’t like that one much at all on my skin), and it’s about $10 less in price!
Moving on to brows, I purchased the “Journey to NaturalBeauty” set from Tarte on QVC and it includes what may just be my perfect brow pencil! I believe it’s only available in this set right now, but I suspect it will eventually be released by itself in stores. It is called the Brow Architect Brow Shaper and I loveit! I would buy the entire set just for this pencil! It is the perfect shade for my eyebrows because it shows up nicely, but doesn’t look dark or heavy. The pencil is kind of a triangle shape which sounds like a terrible idea, but it actually works brilliantly! You turn the pencil to the thicker side for thicker areas like the beginning of brows, and then turn to the pointed end for the tails or any more delicate patches. There is a spoolie on the other end that I use to comb through my brows after using the pencil to help soften and blend the color. As if all that were not enough, there is a highlighting powder including inside the pencil as well! I didn’t think I would really use it, but I find that I reach for it every time I do my brows! It’s a very subtle, matte shade that just kind of lightens under the brow making me look just a bit more awake without looking “made up.” I cannot say enough good things about this brow pencil!
Finally, I have a hand cream. It is from Out of Africa and it is their Organic Shea Butter Hand Cream in Verbena. This may have replaced my Nubian Heritage Hand Creams! The Out of Africa Hand Cream feels very silky on the skin and is not at all greasy. It absorbs almost instantly and doesn’t have a lasting scent. The scent is very faint straight from the tube and it has a hint of lemon to it. It’s a great non-offensive unisex kind of scent. The cream itself is very hydrating and feel really luxurious! I love it!!! J
So that’s going to wrap up my March favorites. I hope you enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to April as it warms up and the sun shines even brighter! JLet me know what some of your monthly favorites have been in the comments below! JHope you’ve all had a lovely month and, like me, are eagerly awaiting the beauty of Spring and Summer!!!

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