Paula’s Choice


Best of Skincare TAG – Cruelty Free Edition!

Ah skincare! Something I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with. 😄 Since this may be my last post before starting Accutane (not entirely sure, but my next dermatologist appointment is around the corner!), I thought I would do the Best of Skincare TAG that’s been going around the blogging / YouTube world in recent days! It’s a really great tag (if you’re unaware what a “tag” is, it’s really just a bunch of set questions that people answer and ask others to do as well…you know, like the game of tag! 😉) that I believe was created by ttsandra and MakeupTIA on YouTube. These have been so wonderfully interesting to watch lately, so I figured why not take the opportunity to go over some of my favorite skincare products pre-Accutane! 😀 Lord knows I’ve tried a lot of different skincare over the years. So instead of rambling on, let’s just get to the question and answer portion of the post, shall we? 😜

Cruelty Free July Favorites ~ Physician’s Formula, Pixi, ColourPop, Charlotte Tilbury & More!

July has come and gone which means it is time for another Monthly Favorites post! It’s been a really hot and humid July and I’m guessing that August will bring even more of the sweat-drenched sunny days. 😀 I’m all for the sunshine, but I could do without the humid. 😉 Anyway, July’s been a decent month. I can’t say that I’ve really done much, but no complaints from this corner. I haven’t been wearing a ton of makeup, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have some stand outs that I keep reaching for over and over and over again! Without further ado, I bring you my July Favorites for 2016!!!

Looking Back at April Favorites 2015


I think I tried doing a few posts that looked back at my favorite items from prior years sometime last year, but I went back so far that most things I kind of ditched for something newer and shinier. I thought I would dust off the concept and try again with April (I actually wrote a post for March, but never managed to post it so if you’d like to see that, let me know!). Instead of going back to the beginning of my favorites posts, I thought I would just go back to 2015 and stay a bit more relevant. So without further ado, let’s see what I loved in April of 2015 and how I feel about those things today (and check out the 2015 post here)! 🙂

April Favorites 2015 – ColourPop, Nails Inc, Cover FX, RMS Beauty & more!

Another month has come and gone, which means we’re one step closer to Summer!!! There’s something about the rapidly approaching Summer that is always exciting to me. But, first we need to fully experience Spring. J This month has brought some absolutely spectacularfavorites…and potential holy grail status items! With something like that to look forward to, let’s not f-around with this chit chat and get on with the wonder products. J

This is really starting to become a trend to the point that I’m wondering if I can ever do another favorites without one of these suckers! If you haven’t guessed what it is, it is yet another Urban Decay Sheer Revolution Lipstick. This month’s go-to shade is “Streak.” Definitely my favorite color for Spring…so far! It’s a lovely coral that is not too in-your-face thanks to the sheer formula, which makes it wearable for pretty much any occasion. It’s so beautiful! I actually have the original Revolution Lipstick in “Streak” as well, but I never reach for it because I feel like it’s toopigmented. Not so with the “Sheer” version. Clearly I am obsessed with these lipsticks. They’re just so comfortable, easy to wear and can be worn for pretty much any occasion. They’re definitely my go-to these days! J

Another makeup favorite that may indeed reach holy grail status is from Cover FX. If you’ve seen my review (linked here), you know that I absolutely love the Custom Cover Drops. I was really a bit skeptical about how much use I would get out of these, but I actually find I use them even more than traditional coverage products. They are totally customizable and, depending what I mix them with, make my skin look better texture-wise than anything else I have tried! I won’t ramble on since I just reviewed them, but seriously they are amazing…and unlike so many other reviewers lately, I have absolutely no affiliation with Cover FX.
As I said in my review, I love mixing the Custom Cover Drops with the Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield. This stuff is also spectacular. The combination blends so quickly, easily and seamlessly. The texture of my chemo-ravaged skin looks better than with any other foundation because the Invisiblur really does help to blur enlarged pores and general imperfections. It does have that silicone-y slip to it, so if you’re not a fan of that feeling, you may want to steer clear. I don’t mind it and find that it feels completely weightless and it lasts all day without any trouble. Oil is no better or worse than with most other foundations (I need to blot once or twice perhaps, but nothing excessive). If you’re drier, I find that it glides right over dry, flaky areas without settling in. This stuff is pricey in my eyes, but it’s also worth it!
Moving on to cheeks, I’ve been reaching for a lot of different blushes in April. However, my favorite and most frequently repeated choice is “Fox” from ColourPop. I really love the ColourPop Super Shock Cheeks. They’re so unusual, but they look really pretty and wear like iron. The $8 price tag is pretty sweet too! JA gentle flush of “Fox” stippled on with my Real Techniques Stippling Brush just livens up my dull, pale complexion. Love!
Sticking on the ColourPopband wagon, I have been loving their Super Shock Shadow in “Dare” this month. It is an absolutely spectacular purple shade. It’s kind of duo-chromey and glittery and just unusual, beautiful and striking. I have gotten so many compliments every time I’ve worn this shadow this month. Rather a rare occurrence for me. I just apply it with my finger and gently blend the edges out a bit with a different clean finger. Quick, easy and eye catching. J
I have a different highlighter favorite this month! I never used to be even remotely interested in highlighters, but lately I feel almost undone without one. Anyway, for April I seem to have switched to a cream highlighter. It is the Living Luminizer from RMS Beauty. I’m not big on the glittery, sparkly, in-your-face kind of highlighters and this is definitely not one of those. It is very much a subtle burst of illumination wherever you place it. It looks like nothing in the super cool frosted glass pot, but definitely perfect for that oh-so-pretty luminous glow. Again, my fingers seem to be my tool of choice here. I can build it up a bit for more impact, or blend it out a bit more for a subtle hint of illumination. There’s a lot of hype over this product, and I think I see why. J
For skin care favorites, I’ll just direct you to my Skin Care Game Changers post, because the Paula’s Choice Resist Daily Smoothing Treatment with 5% AHA, the Resist Vitamin C Spot Treatment, and the Shea Terra Organics Rose Hips & Carrot Perfecting Serum are definitely stand outs from the past few months.
Moving on to something I’ve had for a while, but stopped using for no apparent reason. I use it as a detangler for my hair, though it’s really much more than that. It is the Perfect 4 Platinum Miracle Filler Treatment from Pureology. I actually really like the entire Perfect 4 Platinum line (well, that I’ve tried) from Pureology, but this is perfect for making my Tangle Teezer glide through my hair like a hot knife through butter without weighing my hair down. That’s my main reason for using it, but it has so many benefits as well! It has some sort of protein-filler type technology that helps with strength and breakage too, though I can’t say I see a definite difference in much other than the manageability of my hair. This makes such an amazing difference and detangles so beautifully that I’m kicking myself for forgetting about it!
One last favorite for April and it’s a nail color. Well, technically a collection of colors. I have been really in love with The White Collection from Nails Inc. I think I’ve worn one of the three shades that I have pretty much every day this month. I can’t really pick a favorite…and I’m really annoyed that they took Lily Road off the shelves before I had a chance to add it to my stockpile. The most neutral shade that I have is “Whitehall” and I’ve probably been sporting it the most. It’s a not-quite-white with a subtle tint of peach, though it looks pinkish on my skin tone. I cannot find fault with these polishes. The brush is absolutely prefect – flat and somewhat wide – and the formula, despite being quite light in tone, is not at all streaky and covers pretty well in only two coats. Love, love, love Nails Inc.’s The White Collection!
Swan Street, Whitehall & White Horse Street

I guess that was April! I have made some really fantastic discoveries this month. Have you found anything worth raving about in April? Leave it in a comment so that everyone can check it out! J I hope you’re enjoying the milder weather…well, I guess that depends on where you live, but it’s such a welcome change around here! And I hope you’ve had a lovely April. Here’s to an even better May and hopes for more sunshine, slightly warmer temperatures and just plain old good times! JThanks so much for stopping by and I hope to see all of you again soon.

One of my favorite signs of Spring!
Another favorite Springtime treat 🙂

Skin Care Game Changers – Shea Terra Organics & Paula’s Choice

I had planned to post another Spring-themed something today, but clearly I’ve gone a different direction. JInstead, I thought I would tell you about some Skin Care Game Changers that I’ve discovered! These products have made a significant, and quick, difference in the texture and condition of my skin. I do not have anywhere near good skin, so any improvement is highly welcome. These little miracle workers are the Resist Daily Smoothing Treatment with 5% AHA and the Resist 25% Vitamin C Spot Treatment, as well as the Shea Terra Organics Rose Hips & Carrot Perfecting Serum. Of course these are all cruelty free, but I believe they are also all vegan! I’ve been using these together for at least a few months now, so I feel I can share – no, need to share – my experience with you!

Let’s start with the basics – my skin type, texture, issues, etc. Most recently (since stopping dermatologist recommended “treatments” – that alone improved things, but I plan to discuss that more in a different post) my skin has been pretty normal or even normal to dry, but congested, blotchy and with a lot of residual redness from past acne and the above “treatments” (yes, the quotes are necessary!). Oh, and who can forget the giant pores mainly on my cheeks (not to mention the new scarring from the aesthetician)? Hoping to cure these ills myself, mainly for lack of time to seek out a new dermatologist, plus a bit of fear in their methods, I have been trying some new products on my own. The following are the things with which I have found the most success!

Didn’t wanna include this, but I think it shows the difference. Look at the pore size!
My skin is by no means perfect (who’s is?), but I feel like it’s greatly improved.
So depressing finding these photos!

Let’s start with the first product I added to my routine. It is the Paula’s Choice Resist 25% Vitamin C Spot Treatment. This is a highlyconcentrated topical Vitamin C that is intended to be used only on specific areas that need help. It targets brown spots and prior redness from acne. It claims to help with deep wrinkles as well, but I don’t have those yet, so I cannot comment on its efficacy in that field. What I can tell you is that this is mother-freakin’ spectacular for red spots! I’m not referring to a condition like rosacea, but definitely post-acne scarring is tremendously improved by this treatment! The difference was noticeable within a day or two. I had been using a Vitamin C serum for a while and felt it helped with redness, which is actually why I had some hope for this, but I was actually so surprised by how effective this treatment was / is! Granted, I still have redness, but it has faded so dramatically and so much faster than with just a standard Vitamin C serum.
I only apply this to red spots, not to my entire face (though the redness makes up a decent span of skin on my face). Also, this is something you need to use a good SPF 25 or higher while using. I pat this on redness twice a day, every day (not sure that’s recommended, but it’s working for me). It is by far the best product I have tried for reducing post acne-scarring. If you are worried about anything of the sort, you need to try the Paula’s Choice Resist 25% Vitamin C Treatment!
The next product I decided to try is also from Paula’s Choice. It is the Resist Daily Smoothing Treatment with 5%AHA. AHA is also known as Glycolic Acid and is an anti-aging exfoliating treatment typically used for drier skin types. In contrast, BHA (or Salicylic Acid), is typically used for oilier and acne-prone skin. I had been using a prescription Salicylic Acid treatment for a long time and came to realize that my skin actually became oilier and more red while using it. Plus it wasn’t helping much at all with the congestion of my skin. I had tried everything imaginable with little success, and thought why not give AHA a go? It’s a chemical exfoliant as well, but different ingredients work with different skin, so I tried the AHA version of the Daily Smoothing Treatment. Again, somewhere between 1-3 days, the bumps in my skin lessened. They are by no means gone even months later – not sure how to solve that entirely – but they are significantly improved and I’m not collecting more. My acne hasn’t returned outside the occasional spot, nor are the existing bumps getting worse. Plus, without the Salicylic Acid (this does have 0.5% BHA, but no where near the doses I had been using before), my skin has resumed its prior state of being relatively normal in terms of oil-production.
Again, I use this twice a day, every day and it is another product that you’re going to want to follow with a good sunscreen. It has a light texture that glides smoothly over the skin and will definitely make a noticeable difference in the softness of your skin…well, it has mine! I also feel that my crater pores began to shrink a bit after starting the Resist Daily Smoothing Treatment with 5% AHA! Seriously impressed with this as well.
The newest, and most shocking, addition to my skin care arsenal has been the Shea Terra Organics Rose Hips & Carrot Perfecting Serum. I added this in place of Argan Oil. It is essentially 100% pure Rose Hips Oil blended with cold-pressed Carrot Seed Oil and Seabuckthorn Seed Oil. No need to double oil! Rose Hips oil is thought to regenerate skin, reverse sun damage, decrease scarring, and improve acne and rosacea according to the Shea Terra Organics website. Also according to their description, the Egyptian Carrot Seed oil is high in Vitamin E and beta-carotene, which helps prevent moisture loss, improves smoothness, and soothes irritated skin. The Seabuckthorn oil is thought to heal skin and improve inflammation. Check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check and check! It literally does seem to do all these things for my skin and, most shocking of all, my pores have definitelyshrunk since adding this serum! I’ve gone from craters to pin-points. At various points during the day, or with certain foundations, my pores can look somewhat larger again, but nowhere near the size they used to be. I really don’t know how that’s possible, but it seems to be the case and I’m not complaining! J
I can’t say with certainty that this serum repairs damaged skin, enhances healthy cellular growth, improves acne and improves and balances the skin’s moisture levels as the description touts, but I definitely have noticed a positive difference in the condition of my skin! If there is just one of these products that I think everyone needs to try right now, the Shea Terra Organics Rose Hips & Carrot Perfecting Serum would be first on the list. It seriously is a true game changer.
Obviously everyone’s skin is different and reacts differently to products, but for me, the Paula’s Choice Resist Daily Smoothing Face Treatment with 5% AHA, the Resist 25% Vitamin C Spot Treatment and the Shea Terra Organics Rose Hips & Carrot Perfecting Serum have been total game changers. I do not know how I was living without these products on my face! If you have similar issues to mine, or even if you don’t, I think you could greatly benefit from adding at least one or two of these products to your routine. I don’t think I have ever been so impressed with the results from any other skin care products before. Definitely game changers! J

Cruelty Free March Favs 2015 – ColourPop, Shea Terra, Urban Decay, Acure, Wet n Wild, Waxelene & Paula’s Choice

I cannot believe it’s the end of March! (Obligatory blogger opening sentence completed. Hehe!) It is finally starting to look a bit like Spring, which makes me so so happy – Spring is probably my favorite season. J It’s been an odd month all around, so I think I’m glad to see it pass…then again, every time I say something like that, the following month is even stranger. J Vague update completed and blogger favorites requirement list all checked off. J Seriously though, the sun is shining, daylight is lasting longer, it’s almost getting warmer…just barely, and my mood is improving. Spring is officially on it’s way!!! Well, it’s technically here, but it’s finallystarting to feel like it. And clearly I am having trouble staying on topic, which is another sure sign that spring fever is setting in! J So, getting back to the topic at hand, let’s talk about my favorite products from the month of March!!!

I’m going to start with nails. I am seriously surprised by this one! I know that I mentioned them in another favorites…probably last month, but I have really been lovingthe new Wild Shine Polishes from Wet n Wild! I love the colors that I have, the formula is great and opaque in one to two coats – even the baby pink shade currently on my nails! – and it seems to be pretty durable. Best of all, they’re only 99¢!!! I did something that I rarely do with the shade Be More Pacific. I took it off when it chipped and immediately repainted it! It’s just a gorgeous ocean-y green kind of shade. I am just truly impressed with Wet n Wild’s new formula…and you can’t beat the price. J

Be More Pacific

One of my other top favorites this month is a lipstick. More specifically it is the ColourPop Lippie Stixin the shade Chi Chi! Absolutely love it! I actually tried a few of the ColourPop shadows shortly after they released last year, but it took me until this month to finally order some of the newer Lippie Stix and I am so glad that I did! Chi Chi is a straight up orange in a matte finish. It is shockingly comfortable and I find that just one pass creates a nicely pigmented, but not overly opaque looking lip color. Perfect for Chi Chi. Obviously it can be built up for a more opaque look, but I love the look of just a quick swipe. It’s definitely orange and not at all sheer, but it’s not too in-your-face. It also lasts an insanely long time! Even after eating, there is a nice even stain remaining. I absolutely love the ColourPop Lippie Stix (although the glossy finish was not the prettiest) and Chi Chi is so so perfect for Spring and Summer (plus all shades are vegan)!

I guess I will stick on the ColourPop train and express my love for the new Super Shock Cheek Blush! I have been grabbing for the shade “Between the Sheets” pretty much non-stop. It’s a beautiful neutral shade that I guess would be considered a cream formula. It’s such an unusual texture. If you’re familiar with the eye shadows, the blushes feel exactly the same. Basically they’re a really unusual dryish-gel-cream-bouncy kind of consistency. It lasts for ages on the skin, though it takes some practice to figure out the best application. It’s not that difficult, but it’s just not like any other consistency I’ve ever felt. So far, I find it easiest to dab a bit on with my fingers and then blend it out with a duo-fiber stippling brush (I prefer the Real Techniques). It is quite pigmented, blends nicely and looks quite natural on the skin. If you’re on the fence about trying one of the ColourPop Blushes, definitely give “Between the Sheets” a go…it’s only $8, which is totally reasonable for a fantastic cruelty-free (and Vegan!!!) blush! J

Finishing up the makeup, I actually have some eye shadow favorites this month! I pulled out the Urban Decay Naked Palette and realized that I really have never used it much. Not sure why or how I never realized it, but it literally looked (and still looks) untouched. This month however, I have used “Half Baked” and “Smog” a lot, often with a bit of “Woodstock” warming up the crease. Strangely, I love “Woodstock.” It’s a bright fuchsia that looks totally unwearable, but it’s so pretty just lightly used in the crease! I have the eyeliner version too and love it under the lashline blended into a black or brown liner. It’s a really surprising color that works beautifully! JAnyway, Urban Decay Eye Shadows have been my babies this month.

Also on the Urban Decay front, I am still in love with the Sheer Revolution Lipstick in “Liar.” I mentioned it last month, so I won’t repeat myself on that one. It’s just an amazing nude shade that is insanely comfortable as well. Love, love love!

Since we’re back to lips, I have a lip care favorite as well! It is Waxelene, which is seriously the best lip balm-like product I have ever used! The tiniest little dot will cover your lips and them some. It is simply beeswax and a few oils. It can be used pretty much anywhere you have dry skin, but I’ve only been using it on my lips. As soon as I rub it in, my lips feel soft, smooth, hydrated and repaired. It’s everything I could want in a lip care product and then some. The only thing I would change if the world were perfect, is to make it applicable without my finger. Not a fan of using my fingers to apply lip products, especially on the go, but I can totally live with it for the results! J Thank you so much Waxelene for saving my lips!

My first skin care favorite for the month is the Resist Daily Smoothing Treatment 5% AHAfrom Paula’s Choice. My skin has been chronically congested the last few years…and the microdermabrasion “treatments” the dermatologist insisted on did nothing but scar my face and make it chronically red. Salacylic Acid doesn’t seem to make much difference and may actually make my skin worse, so I finally decided to try AHA, or Glycolic Acid instead. It seems to be helping! Finally! I still have some congestion, but it actually seems to be getting a little better. That aside, I love the texture of this treatment. It spreads really nicely and is not at all sticky or tacky, nor does it make my skin feel greasy, dry or otherwise uncomfortable. Great stuff! If you’re looking for good skin care, definitely look at Paula’s Choice because I have not been disappointed by anything I can think of that I have tried.

Also for the skin, I really enjoy the Acure Brightening Facial Scrub. My skin actually looks clearer, brighter, and just all around better right after I use this. It is definitely on the gritty side, but it’s not overly harsh. It’s that nice balance of effective and gentle. It might not be great for sensitive skin, but it’s probably better than most scrubs. It smells good as well, though it looks a bit horrifying (it’s deep green). JGotta love Acure’s products, and they all have the most amazing organic ingredients. Love!

Last, but certainly not least, I must mention the wondrous powders that are the Shea Terra Masks! There are two that I’ve been alternating between and they are both incredible! The ones I have been using are the Moroccan Lava Rose-Vedic Blemish Relief Face Masque and the Moroccan Lava & Camel’s Milk Nomadic Secret Face Masque. These are intense masks. They’re just powders that you mix with water before applying. They do leave my face a bit red and can kind of itch a bit before I wash them off, but they seriously seem to work miracles! I feel like the Blemish Relief really does help ward off the angry red bumps without drying out my skin, and the Camel’s Milk one seems to brighten (as it claims) and leaves my skin insanely soft. So wonderful! I am reallyinto the Shea Terra skin care lately. Definitely check them out – and check their Twitter feed because they often have amazing discount codes.

So, an hour later, those are my March Favorites! J I feel like this month had a nice blend of skin care and makeup. I hope you’ve enjoyed the trip down memory lane with me…and thanks for sticking through to the end. J I am looking forward to warmer temperatures, sunnier days and the gorgeous flowers of Spring! It was a long, rough Winter and I am thankful that it’s finally over. J I hope to see you again soon. I’m hoping to do a few Spring-themed posts soon…before Spring ends. I hope you’ll come back for those (follow me on Blog Lovin’ if you’re not already), and thanks so much for checking out my March Favorites! See you soon!!! J