I’m a sucker for a serum that promises to turn back the clock on my skin. Billed as a “dark spot and free radical warrior,” the Ester-C Serum from IQ Natural Skincare hits right in my sweet spot. IQ says if you feel your “skin looks aged and dull, and you’re concerned about damage from free radicals and UV radiation, you should try this serum immediately.” The company also stated their Ester-C Serum has been “proven to get rid of fine lines, reduce the appearance of new wrinkles, even out your complexion, lighten age spots and reduce hyper-pigmentation, and it protects against the effects of daily exposure to UV rays and free radicals.” Pretty impressive claims!
They state this serum’s star ingredient, Ester-C (AKA Ascorbyl Palmitate), “has all of the benefits of Vitamin C, but it actually works better and faster, as the skin absorbs it faster and more efficiently than normal Vitamin C.” Ascorbyl palmitate is the most widely used fat-soluble derivative of Vitamin C in skin care. It is non-irritating and more stable than vitamin C. Keep in mind that fats (in the form of lipids) are found in multiple layers of the skin – in the stratum corner and granular layers of the epidermis; in the composition of cellular membranes and in the skin’s own sebum (Source). So theoretically a fat-soluble topical vitamin/antioxidant cocktail (like this one) should not only be more stable on your bathroom counter but also should be better absorbed and utilized by your skin than a water-based one. Furthermore, ascorbyl palmitate is a fat-soluble antioxidant. Scientists tell us that it is at least as effective as Vitamin E in protecting the skin from lipid peroxidation – a really bad kind of free radical damage you don’t want to happen to your skin (Source).
And the IQ Natural folks included a relatively high amount of Ester-C in this serum. It’s listed as the 5th ingredient which is pretty impressive when compared to most serums on the market (where the featured antioxidants are often listed further down the lists). In more good news, IQ Natural includes both Ester-C AND Vitamin E in this serum so you’re doubly covered! But they didn’t stop there! They added the traditional form of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), multiple antioxidants from organic fruit extracts and mixed it all up in a creamy aloe+glycerin+wax base along with a couple skin-beneficial oils (such as rosehip and neem) that have been shown to have a positive impact on the skin. Wow!
Price: $36 / 1 fluid ounce (30 ml)
What Happened when I Used This Serum for 30 Days: I was super excited when an IQ Natural rep contacted me and asked me to try this serum, especially after I read the company’s product description and promises (above). I quickly decided the best place to test this serum was my neck and décolletage areas where I have some pretty noticeable sun damage. I took a few before pics. Here’s the best one to show the sun damage and wrinkling around my neck:
Based on IQ Natural’s product description, I was hoping to see some slight improvement in the sun spots and hyper-pigmentation, understanding that it usually takes several months to see a big change in these issues. I figured any results would be minimal since I’d only be testing the serum for 30 days. I certainly wasn’t expecting much (if any) results in the way of wrinkle improvement. But that’s exactly what I got!
As you’ll see from my AFTER picture, the depth in the wrinkles (especially those around my neck area) were noticeably decreased. There was some improvement in the hyper pigmentation on my décolletage area as well. However, the damage there is pretty severe, and the sun spots actually have a raised texture. So dramatic improvements (i.e. complete fading or removal of the dark spots) would likely take about 6 months. Still I see a decrease in the severity of those spots and and improved overall tone of the area at day #30.
In case you’re wondering if I used any other products to boost this serum’s results the answer is yes but with a caveat. I used the same products I’d been using for the last 6 months on my neck and upper chest area which included the following:
CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser
Followed by IQ Natural Skincare Ester-C Serum (the only change in my regimen) day & night
Then Olay Regenerist Regenerating Lotion with Broad Spectrum SPF50 (daytime) OR
Paula’s Choice RESIST Retinol Skin-Smoothing Body Treatment (nighttime)
So, yes, technically, this serum did have the benefit of other ingredients like niacinamide (in the case of the Olay SPF lotion) and other antioxidants and retinol (from the PC moisturizer), but I’d been applying those products to the same area for several months prior to using this serum (and prior to the BEFORE pics) so it’s really a wash. Just for comparison’s sake, here’s a more zoomed in, side-by-side pic of my neck area that I think really shows the impact of the serum.
These are completely un-retouched, #nofilter photos taken in the exact same light/location, at almost exactly the same time of day. Even Hubs was impressed by the results!
Packaging: The clear glass bottle is not ideal for preserving the integrity of some of the light-sensitive ingredients (Vitamins C and E), but recall Ester C is more stable than the traditional form so it’s less susceptible to air/light degradation. To be on the safe side, just store this serum in a cabinet or drawer away from the sunlight. Dispensing this serum from eye dropper-style bottle means that the ingredients are exposed to light and air with each use. However, I found that when applying this serum twice/day (as directed), I used almost the entire bottle within 30 days meaning there was little time for the fragile ingredients to oxidize. FYI, most companies using similar packaging and eye-dropper style dispensers guarantee their Vitamin C products’ efficacy for at least 90 days after purchase (Example Paula’s Choice guarantees their RESIST C15 Super Booster for 6 months after date of purchase (read more here) and Timeless Skin Care guarantees their 20% Vitamin C+E Ferulic Acid Serum fresh and effective for 90 days after purchase (read more here).
So the packaging is not really an issue until you get near the bottom of the bottle. At that point, it’s very difficult to get the last 10-20% of the serum out with the dropper because this serum is thicker than most other serums (those mentioned above are almost water-like in consistency whereas this one is more lotion-y). I tried various un-scientific techniques – tilting and shaking the bottle, trying to scrape the last bits of serum up into a corner so I could readily retrieve the product into the dropper. But I finally resorted to just dumping the bottle upside down and dumping some product into my hand. This worked pretty well and allowed me to avoid feeling like I was wasting any.
Application: I was pleasantly surprised that upon my first application of this serum my face showed immediate improvement in radiance and seemed more plump and hydrated. Because this serum is so creamy and includes several hydrating ingredients, it may not be ideal for oily skin types, but my drier skin loves it! As clearly depicted in the BEFORE/AFTER pictures, the emollient ingredients do a terrific job of plumping up and diminishing the depth of fine (and even some deeper) lines and wrinkles in a relatively short period of time.
Skin Beneficial Ingredients: This serum almost contains too many antioxidants, vitamins and skin-beneficial extracts to list. I’ve included the full ingredient list below. The base is a mix of aloe, glycerin, Rosehip oil (which itself has antioxidant properties) and wax which is best for normal to dry skin types. As stated above, Ester C is the 5th ingredient along with smaller amounts of proven antioxidants Vitamins C and E. Several fruit extracts – cranberry, raspberry, wild blueberry, etc. are also present boosting this serum’s antioxidant capacity.
Full Ingredient List: Aloe barbadensis (Organic Aloe Vera) Juice, Vegetable Glycerin, Rosa mosqueta (Rosehip) Seed Oil, Emulsifying Wax, Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C Ester), Vaccinium macrocarpon (Organic Cranberry) Extract, Rubus idaeus (Organic Red Raspberry) Extract, Vanccinum angustifoilium (Organic Wild Blueberry) Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Salix nigra (Black Willowbark) Extract, Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) Oleoresin (rosemary oil extract), Azadirachta indica (Neem) Oil, Tetrasodium EDTA (chelating agent), Citric Acid.
Scent / Fragrance: This serum has little to no fragrance (always a good thing in skin care and is especially important for sensitive skins).
Skin Unfriendly Ingredient(s): This is where this serum really excels! It contains virtually ZERO problematic ingredients making it a slam-dunk option for the most sensitive skin types, or anyone (like me) combining this serum with heavy-hitter topical like Retin-A, retinol or chemical exfoliants (e.g. alpha or beta hydroxy acids). There is some evidence that rosemary extract may have a sensitizing effect on the skin. However, researchers also state that the amounts of rosemary extract/oil typically used in skin care products are almost always too small to be a risk (Source). And the minuscule amount contained in this serum (it’s the 4th ingredient from the bottom) is so tiny that is almost guaranteed NOT to cause a reaction.
Unlike many all natural (or so-called “natural”) serums, this one is not formulated in a Witch Hazel base. That may seem insignificant, but stick with me. Despite its reputation as a natural skin care ingredient, witch hazel is not skin-friendly because it typically contains 14% – 15% alcohol. Note that some brands of witch hazel contain as much as 30% alcohol (source1 and source2)
Texture + Feel: This feels more like a lotion than a serum. It comes out thick and feels moisturizing immediately upon application. Unlike many C serums (especially those claiming to lighten age spots or improve skin tone) this one causes no burning or stinging on application. After only 5 minutes or so, the serum has completely absorbed allowing you to proceed with your skin care and makeup routine.
Wear under Makeup: If you notice, this product contains no silicones so it doesn’t ball up or compete with the silicones in your foundation or BB cream of choice. The one caveat to that is that this serum contains several oils and moisturizing ingredients so it could theoretically interfere with ultra oil-free foundations (e.g. Milani’s Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation+Concealer) which really doesn’t perform well when applied over oil-containing moisturizers (as I discussed in step-by-step Making Milani’s Conceal+Perfect Work for All Skin Types tutorial). So if you’re planning on wearing an oil-free, all water+silicone foundation over this serum, be sure to allow several minutes for the serum to absorb. Then lightly blot the skin before following with an oil-free moisturizer and/or sunscreen. Then wait 5 more minutes, blot again and apply a good silicone-based primer. Carefully following this process I had no trouble using this serum under any of foundations and I didn’t notice any disruption in wear-time and had no problems with application.
Summary and Daily Beauty Wisdom Rating: This is definitely a wise beauty purchase for anyone with aging skin looking to combat lines, wrinkles and sun damage. The price point is very reasonable and the company has obviously spent a great deal of time and effort in ensuring this serum is well-formulated and the ingredients are effective, yet gentle. I highly recommend it! And based on this experience I’m looking forward to testing some other IQ Natural skin care products and their intriguing mineral makeup line!
Company Home Page: IQ Natural
Wisdom for the Day:
“Always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~Ephesians 5:20 (CEB)
Read more here.
Ever since I posted this article about how I rarely I actually empty beauty products, I’ve started paying closer attention to those cosmetics I deem worthy of finishing. One thing I’ve noticed during my observations is I tend to consistently use (and use up) skin and hair care products; whereas I rarely empty makeup products. I’m more likely to toss those for lack of use or expiration than “hitting pan” as it were. This month is no exception. Here are my product empties and brief reviews for October (2016)…
Claims – Neutrogena states this product has an “ultra-gentle dual phase formula (that) activates when shaken to remove all eye makeup — even waterproof mascara — without any greasy residue.” The company also promises “it is ophthalmologist tested, safe for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers and oil free.”
My Results – I use this first, before dual-cleansing. I shake it well (it basically doesn’t work if you don’t) then apply it onto 2 cotton pads which I then apply to my eyes. I allow the saturated pads to sit on my eyes for about a minute to start to break down the makeup. Then I lightly rub the pads around my eyes to remove additional traces of makeup. Then I followup with a makeup removing oil cleanser to my whole face and a cream cleanser (usually CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser). One of the best things about this product is that it never causes burning or stinging to the eyes. Neutrogena also delivers on their promise that this product leaves no oily or greasy residue behind. Then again I follow it with double cleansing so any residue gets pretty well taken care of in that process.
Price – $5.99 – $7.99 (per Neutrogena’s website). This one is available almost everywhere. From Walmart and other major discount stores to national drugstore chains (Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, etc.) and even many grocery stores. ULTA sells 2 sizes (3.8 oz. and 5.5 oz.) priced at $5.99 and $7.99, respectively along with a Buy One / Get One 40% deal (at time of this writing).
One note about finding this product in stores – almost every retailer stocks this product along side Neutrogena’s makeup products, not with their skincare products. So if you’re having trouble locating it, check the makeup area.
Draw-backs – The primary complaint I have with this product is the same one I have with every other eye makeup remover I’ve tried – that is, it doesn’t immediately remove all eye makeup without rubbing and tugging. I rarely wear waterproof mascara but do you use waterproof liner on a regular. Though I don’t consider my eyes very sensitive, I notice some redness and swelling the next day if I don’t get all my eye makeup removed at night.
Ingredients – Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Leaf Juice, Benzyl Alcohol, Sodium Chloride, Dipropylene Glycol, Poloxamer 182, Allantoin, Tripotassium EDTA, Benzalkonium Chloride Solution, Glycerin, Cucumber (Cucumis Sativus) Extract (Cucumis Sativus), Potassium Phosphate, Dipotassium Phosphate
Claims – L’ORÉAL promises this shampoo and conditioner will “boost your blond for fresh pure lustrous color,” and claims using both products together will “neutralize brassiness in just 1 use while deeply nourishing hair to restore hydration…and (help) you keep the color you love for up to 32 washes.”
My Results – Since going blond, I’ve tried SO many lavender, purple anti-brass toning shampoos and conditioners, and I really like these. First of all, the shampoo is sulfate-free so it doesn’t strip out my color which is important because getting my hair professionally foiled is NOT cheap! So obviously, I want to do everything I can to preserve it. There are other stronger purple toning shampoos on the market, Clairol Shimmer Lights comes to mind (works great but turns my hair into perfectly-toned brass-free straw). This one is gentle enough to avoid that overly dried out crispy result but it’s effective enough keep that dreaded yellow-orange tinge out of my hair.
Price – Price varies by vender. $5.97 each from Walmart. ULTA sells the shampoo and conditioner for $6.99 each and currently (at time of this writing) offers a Buy Two, Get One Free offer. Amazon sells the shampoo from $5.97 each. The conditioner is also available for various prices.
Draw-backs – My one complaint with the otherwise excellent pair of lavender toners is the difficulty I have getting the lids closed. For some reason, it’s nearly impossible for me to get the lids fully closed especially when the tubes are wet, I’m wet and my hands are covered in suds. So what ends up happening is that lavender-colored shampoo and conditioner leaks out onto my shower shelf, creating a mess and wasting product. While this is not an expensive product (especially when compared to salon brands) it’s still frustrating to waste product and it’s really annoying to discover a trail of purple soap dripping down the wall of my shower.
Ingredients (shampoo) – Water, disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, sodium lauryl sulfoacetate, sodium lauroyl sarcosinate, cocamidopropyl betaine, glycol distearate, glycereth-26, decyl glucoside, fragrance, hydrogenated coconut acid, ppg-5-ceteth-20, dimethicone copolymer, polyquaternium-7, amodimethicone, polyquaternium-10, sodium isethionate, propylene glycol, peg- 55 propylene glycol oleate, carbomer, c11-15 pareth-7, benzoic acid, benzophenone-4, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, benzyl salicylate, laureth-9, glycerin, hexyl cinnamal, benzyl alcohol, linalool, trideceth-12, limonene, sodium benzoate, c12-13 pareth-23, c12-13 pareth-3, iris florentina root extract, calendula officinalis flower extract, ext. violet 2, red 33, sodium hydroxide.
Ingredients (conditioner) – Water, cetearyl alcohol, behentrimonium chloride, isopropyl myristate, cetyl esters, fragrance, isopropyl alcohol, hicone, polyquaternium-37, mineral oil, sodium benzoate, amodimethicone, tocopherol, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, peppermint leaf extract, chlorhexidine dihydrochloride, citric acid, limonene, ppg-1 trideceth-6, linalool, butylphenyl methylpropional, rosemary leaf oil, citronellol, benzophenone-4, iris florentina root extract, calendula officinalis flower extract, ci 60730 / ext. violet 2, ci 17200 / red 33. f.i.l. # d168573/1.
3. Nature’s Bounty® OPTIMAL SOLUTIONS® Hair, Skin, & Nails Gummies with Biotin:
Claims – Nature’s Bounty® states these sugar+corn syrup-based gummies “provide you with the vital nutrients your body needs to support your natural beauty from within. Vitamin E and Vitamin C are antioxidants. Vitamin E contributes to skin health, and Vitamin C is involved in collagen production and formation, which forms the basis for vibrant skin.” 2 Gummies provide 15 mg. Vitamin C (as Ascorbic Acid); 15 IU Vitamin E (as dl-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate); 2,500 mcg. Biotin (as d-Biotin); along with 15 calories, 4 grams carbohydrate and 2 grams of sugar.
My Results – Like most women, I noticed increased lost of hair starting about 3 months postpartum. Sadly, I never experienced the increased thickness and luster I started taking this supplement in May as a replacement for my previous Biotin supplement. I wanted something that provided both Vitamin C and Biotin to complement my existing Collagen drink regimen (read more about the anti-aging power of collagen here) and these dummies seemed like a tasty option to try. Because I was pretty panicked about the amount of hair loss I was experiencing, I started taking these (2 dummies) twice per day. After about 2 months (roughly 3 jars of dummies) I started to notice a significant improvement in the thickness and condition of my hair. Now, during that same time I continued taking 1-2 collagen drinks each day so I’m certain the results were attributable to the combination of all the supplements more than any one on its own. But I definitely think these dummies have an impact so I continue taking them.
Price – These supplements are widely available sold everywhere from grocery stores to major discount retailers (Walmart, Target, etc.) to drugstore chains and online retailers. Price varies by vender. Vitacost offers the lowest online price (as of this writing) at $7.19 / 80 Gummie jar. CVS and Walgreens vary from around $8-$8.50 for the same sized jar with local stores often offering in-store coupons and discounts. You can usually find Nature’s Bounty® coupons in your local Sunday paper or coupon mailer.
Draw-backs – As I noted above, these gummies are designed to mimic gummy candies so the good-for-you vitamins and nutrients are contained in a sugar and corn syrup base. If that’s a problem for you – i.e. if you’re sensitive to sugar; if you need to avoid all sugar for health reasons or you’re actively doing the #Whole30 or similar sugar-free diet – then these supplements won’t work for you. I had to switch back to Vitamin C and Biotin tabs during our recent #SeptemberWhole30 but eagerly switched back to these on October 1st. They taste good and make taking vitamins a lot more enjoyable!
Ingredients (according to Nature’s Bounty website): Corn Syrup, Sugar, Dicalcium Phosphate, Grape Juice Color Concentrate, Gelatin, Modified Food Starch, Citric Acid, Lactic Acid, Natural Strawberry Flavor, Black Carrot Juice Color Concentrate, Maltodextrin, Fractionated Coconut Oil (Contains one or more of the following: Carnauba Wax, Beeswax), Silica.
Wisdom for the Day:
“In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity.” ~Richard Baxter
Read more about the importance of unity here.
There was a time, not so long ago, when I shied away from setting powders because I believed powder of any kind emphasized my fine lines and wrinkles. Over the last 6-12 months I’ve had the opportunity to test some powders and application techniques. And I’ve discovered that finely milled, well-formulated powders applied and set properly can actually help to diminish the look of fine lines and age-related texture on my skin. These 2-shade powder palettes from Wet n Wild have become one of my favorites.
Price: $4.99 / for 0.44 oz. (12.5 grams) palette
Color Range: 2 shades are offered, both named after desserts – the lighter combo is “Dulce de Leche” and the darker is “Caramel Toffee.” The lighter combo provides a matte ivory highlight powder and a cool-toned contour shade. The deeper combo features a vanilla-toned highlight shade that’s also matte and akin to a pressed version of Ben Nye’s Banana Powder (made famous by Kim Kardashian and her MUA). The darker combo also includes a deeper shade intended for contouring that is a more neutral in tone, containing a nice balance of cool and warm tones. Experts tell us cool tones (with more blue/gray undertones) are more appropriate for contouring because they most closely mimic actual shadows.
Application, Texture and Finish: These powders, especially the lighter shade, can easily be applied with a puff, makeup sponge or brush of any size. These palettes do kick up a good bit of powder when you dip your brush into them, so plan for some fall-out. I find that the lighter shades very similar to a loose powder. It’s very finely milled and incredibly soft, but it’s a talc base so the texture differs from MAKE UP FOR EVER’s HD Finishing Powder (that one’s 100% silica). I find that any excess powder is easily removed with a brush or damp beautyblender® type sponge. And any overly powdered look is easily remedied with a good setting spray.
Coverage: Because the lighter shades are intended as highlight, they don’t provide a lot of coverage. They’re somewhat sheer. However, they do offer sufficient coverage and brightening to perform the intended effect.
I’m not that big into full-on contouring because I’ve never figured out how to pull off that look without looking muddy. I do enjoy using the darker shade for a little light bronzing around the perimeter of my face. And it works incredibly well as a transitional eye shadow shade because it blends like a dream!
Wear: Applied and set these powders don’t budge. My favorite way application is using the lighter shade to set under-eye concealer. It works extremely well for baking – decreasing any creasing you may experience with your favorite concealer and improving the longevity and wear time. I find that I may need the occasional powder up after 5-6 hours of wear, usually only in my oiliest areas or if I’m wearing particularly oily moisturizer underneath these powders that day. On a positive note, I have never experienced any oxidizing or color-changing with these powders even when applied over heavy-duty moisturizers or when set with my DIY Glowy Setting Spray (which includes a bit of oil from the added antioxidants). That’s good news for oily-skinned gals who’ve experienced the dreaded oxidation “orange face” that happens mid-day with some powders.
Packaging: This is where you’ll recognize this as an inexpensive product. These palettes are enclosed in cheap plastic with a basic opaque black base and a thin, clear plastic lid that scratches easily. The palettes have a basic snap-type closure that can break after a while or when dropped. The packaging is obviously not great, and if you plan to carry one of these in your makeup or travel bag, be mindful that the packaging means they’re more fragile. All things considered, I’d rather save money and get a great makeup bargain than spend an $15-20 extra for fancy packaging. But if you prefer beautiful packaging, Wet n Wild is probably not a brand that speaks to you anyway.
Skin Beneficial Ingredients: Minimal. This is not a skin care product so don’t expect it to provide a bunch of antioxidants or skin-beneficial ingredients. These powders are composed primarily of talc, nylon, boron nitride and aluminum starch. Then again these palettes cost less than $5 and for the money you get a ton of product.
Full Ingredient List (per company website): Talc, Nylon-12, Boron Nitride, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Ethyl Macadamiate, Dimethicone, Magnesium Myristate, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Phenoxyethanol, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Lauroyl Lysine, Caprylyl Glycol, Polybutene, Hexylene Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tocopherol, o-Cymen-5-ol, Methicone (in shade 749A), [+/- (MAY CONTAIN/PEUT CONTENIR): Mica, Iron Oxides/CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499, Titanium Dioxide/CI 77891, Red 40 Lake/CI 16035, Yellow 5 Lake/CI 19140, Ultramarines/CI 77007].
Summary and Daily Beauty Wisdom Rating: These palettes are terrific beauty bargains for anyone looking to experiment with contour and highlighting. And they’re great on-the-go options for anyone who, like me, rushes out the door with their makeup half done (intending to finish in the car or upon arrival at their destination) or anyone needing a fantastic touch-up powder combo. I should add that this is currently my second favorite setting powder, second only to the far more expensive Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder ($38 / 1 ounce) which is also talc-based and considered among the best setting powders in the industry. Yes, it’s that good! Give these palettes strong consideration. They’re worth the $5.
One final comment, Wet n Wild claims on the front side packaging for these products that they are cruelty free. However, the back side packaging clearly states they are made in China, which some would say negates the “cruelty-free” claims. If that’s an issue for you, be advised.
Makeup Alley ratings https://www.makeupalley.com/product/showreview.asp/ItemId=177909/Coloricon-Contouring-Palette/Wet–n–Wild/Contour (4.3 / 5 lipsticks; 83% of Reviewers said they would repurchase).
Stacy Makeup’s Review (spoiler – she recommends these palettes as an all-around beauty bargain).
* It’s interesting to note that many of the more well-known makeup review sites don’t yet have reviews for these palettes. So they’re kind of under-the-radar beauty products that seem to garner positive ratings among those who have tried them.
For more information, check out the full product info and Wet n Wild company page here.
Wisdom for the Day:
“Now we see a reflection in a mirror; then we will see face-to-face. Now I know partially, but then I will know completely in the same way that I have been completely known.” I Corinthians 13:12 (Common English Bible)
Read more here.
Our daughter just turned the Big 1 year! Hubs and I confidently carried our little one into her 1-year follow-up expecting, for the first time in our brief parenting tenure, to get a great report along with the standard marching orders “just keep doing what you’re doing.” We’d been receiving those same instructions at every previous check-up along with high praise for our daughter’s diverse food intake and her preference for spinach and love of scrambled eggs.
But this time, we were hit hard by our pediatrician’s orders to transition our daughter to all solid food within 60 days. Most alarming to me, I was told to stop pureeing or mashing her foods starting right away…I was appalled! I thought we were doing so well. I’d been cruising along using our trusty NutriBullet to puree everything from broccoli and carrots to salmon and chicken, and she was doing so well eating that stuff…just as long as it was smooth with no lumps. She’d basically refused to eat anything with lumps or texture except her beloved eggs. I had created these yummy Veggie Puffs which she liked, but they’re pretty labor-intensive so I rarely make them and don’t relish the idea of making them several times per week.
Now my head was spinning as I pondered all the changes I’d have to make and worried how baby girl would respond to the transition. On the other hand, I can’t stand the idea of giving our little girl the highly-processed chemical-laden transitional toddler foods sold in stores.
Hubs – recognizing the look of consternation on my face – said, “Baby, it’ll be okay. We’ll just start by giving her those foods she already likes. What about sweet potatoes? We know she loves those.”
Of course! That’s what I’ll do! She loves sweet potatoes. I’ll start there, I thought to myself. I decided to try to recreate one of our favorite treats – sweet potato fries – without the funky hydrogenated oils and preservatives. Baked with a little extra virgin coconut oil and some pure, unsweetened apple juice, these “fries” take only a few minutes to make and both my daughter and husband love them! Their an easy, inexpensive and delicious treat you can make in less than hour (including cook time). The secret is the combination of coconut oil and apple juice that the “fries” bake in. The result is slightly sweet and just the right combination of soft and crisp to be considered the perfect healthy transitional food by even the most persnickety pediatrician. Score one for Mommy!
• 1 Large or 2 Small Whole Sweet Potatoes, Washed and Peeled
• 1 Tbsp. Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
• 2 Tbsp. Unsweetened Homemade or Organic Apple Juice
• 1/4 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
• Light Sprinkling of Sea Salt, Ground Ginger, and/or Allspice
• Large Chef’s Knife (the sharper the easier this will be)
• Cutting Board
• Parchment Paper
• Medium-sized Cookie Sheet or Baking Pan
1. Preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit (190° Celsius). Cover baking sheet/pan with parchment paper. Then set aside.
2. Slice sweet potato (or potatoes) length-wise into 4-5 slices of roughly equal width (as pictured below).
Then cut slices into match sticks (or french fry shape). When cutting sticks, try to avoid pointy or sharp edges.
3. Pour oil and apple juice onto parchment paper and rotate pan gently to blend the liquids (you can also use a fork or other utensil to swirl the liquids together). Then place the sweet potato sticks in a single layer atop the liquid mixture. Lightly sprinkle with spices, and then gently shake the pan again to distribute the liquids and seasonings.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes. Then remove from oven and test for doneness.
Makes about 2-3 Toddler Servings
Notes and Serving Suggestions: If you’re serving a toddler, you want the fries to be softer so stick with the shorter bake time. Check first after 40 minutes. If not quite done, stick the pan back in the oven for 3-5 more minutes. For adults, bake for 45 minutes before checking for doneness for a crisper texture. If not quite done, bake for 5-7 minutes longer, but keep a close eye on them. They go from crispy to burned very quickly.
Wisdom for the Day:
So, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, don’t have stubborn hearts as they did in the rebellion, on the day when they tested me in the desert.”
~Hebrews 3:7-8 (Common English Bible)
Read more here.
Setting sprays have become extremely popular over the last few years. Beauty Bloggers across the internet and YouTube Beauty Vloggers have identified these sprays as essential to creating the perfect makeup look. There are so many sprays on the market promising to do everything from prep and prime the face for makeup to set and perfect a completed makeup look, control oil, provide just the right amount of luminosity and ensure your makeup lasts 12+ hours without fading, caking or creasing.
Those are some big promises! And for the record, no single makeup product can do all that. That being said, a good setting spray can do some great things in terms of finishing your makeup look and providing some nice benefits to your skin, depending on the ingredients included in your spray of choice.
You have be careful because there are a lot of setting sprays that have high alcohol contents (e.g., the very popular L’Oréal Infallible Pro-Spray and Set is extremely high in alcohol and fragrance so it’s basically like spraying hairspray on your face!). The alcohol in some (thankfully not all) of these sprays can not only dry out your face but has been shown to cause death to skin cells in a dose-dependent rate (read more about alcohol types used in skin care and the latest research here). In layman’s terms that means the more you use those sprays, the more you could be killing your skin cells (source). Scary stuff!
The best alcohol-free setting sprays tend to have a few common ingredients (generally a base of water, glycerin, some sort of slip-agent and a few antioxidants thrown in), but they can also be fairly expensive. MAC’s Prep and Prime Fix+ (AKA Fix+) is one of the most enduringly-popular setting sprays with some of the most vocal YouTube devotees (including my favorite YouTube beauty blogger Tati Westbrook AKA . Cost = $23 for 3.4 fluid oz. MAC’s website doesn’t provide the full product ingredient list but states Fix+ is “infused with a blend of green tea, chamomile and cucumber.” According to the Paula’s Choice / Beautypedia Fix+ review here, this spray is composed primarily of water, glycerin, butylene glycol (slip enhancer), along with some chamomile, cucumber and green tea extracts as well as some Vitamin E, panthenol and caffeine thrown in for good measure. But the key ingredients in terms of makeup setting, eliminating a powdery look and helping several layers meld together into a seamless finished look are actually the water and glycerin. The glycerin is especially important for imparting that lovely glow and helps the other ingredients in the spray blend together well so I encourage you not to skip it. Vegans take note – vegetable glycerin available from Amazon, Vitacost, or other Internet sites.
Consider the antioxidants in this spray as an added bonus, not your primary source. You’ll still want to use your regular serum and moisturizers. But this recipe includes some great antioxidants! Green tea is well-established as a potent anti-oxidant and skin soother. Chamomile is a great ingredient to include in your setting spray because it also provides antioxidant and skin-soothing even benefits (source) and some research has shown it may be helpful in fading sun spots (source, and the marks left behind from acne scarring (source).
A Few Notes about Storage: Many of those un-pronounceable (not sure that’s a word) ingredients you see so often in cosmetics are actually preservatives which extend the shelf life of the product, since companies have no idea how long they’ll sit on the shelf before purchase and/or how long it will take you to consume the contents. This spray has no preservatives or funky chemicals. For that reason, once you get the full recipe mixed up, you may consider pouring half into a smaller spray/storage bottle and stashing it in your refrigerator until ready to use.
Since I’m all about reduce and reuse, if I make this spray during the summer (when I’m likely to store it in the refrigerator full-time), I usually pour the full recipe into this dark-colored bottle which previously held One ‘n Only brand Argan Oil Treatment, which I’ve carefully washes a couple of times with hot soapy water. Then I just keep in the fridge so it’s nice a cool when I use it!
Otherwise, I pour half into this 2 oz. bottle which previously held E.L.F. Cosmetic’s Mist and Set which excludes glycerin but includes several great skin-beneficial ingredients and antioxidants including forms of Vitamins C, E and A and some Green Tea. The dark bottles protects the fragile antioxidants in this recipe. If you don’t have any suitably-sized dark bottles available for reuse, keep in mind that Walmart and other discount retailers sell spray bottles for reasonable prices in various sizes and colors.
• 1 pouch each green tea + chamomile tea brewed with 1/2 cup (or 4 oz.) total distilled or filtered water
• 1 Tbsp. glycerin
• 2 Tbsp. rose water
• 1 Evening Primrose Oil gel-tab (optional, oily skin types may skip this as it adds additional oil)
• Measuring Spoon
• Clean 6-8 oz. spray bottle (preferably one made of opaque or dark-colored material to preserve antioxidant ingredients)
• Sewing needle (optional)
• Funnel (optional)
1. Brew chamomile and green tea in 1/2 cup filtered or distilled water if possible. Allow tea to steep at least 5 minutes. For best results, allow tea to steep covered overnight in the refrigerator.
2. Pour cooled tea into a clean 6-8 oz. spray bottle (I find using a small funnel help prevent making a mess or wasting half the tea when pouring). Then add 2 Tbsp. rose water and glycerin.
3. Finally (if desired), using a clean sharp sewing needle very carefully puncture evening primrose gel-tab and squeeze contents into spray or storage bottle. Then tightly secure lid onto the bottle and gently shake bottle before using or pouring into desired storage bottles.
Wisdom for the Day:
“In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword. His face was like the sun when it shines in all its brightness.” ~Revelation 1:16 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.
If you’re interested in discovering an easy and delicious recipe combining the health-benefits of green tea and the proven anti-aging benefits of collagen proteins, check out this link from Daily Beauty Wisdom: The Amazing Anti-Aging Power of Collagen Part 2 – Beautifying Beverage Recipes
An apple a day…we’ve all heard the saying encouraging us to eat an apple everyday to stay healthy, avoid trips to the doctor, etc. Check out this terrific article with current research and info proving that old adage that apples are truly one of the world’s healthiest foods! Apples are remarkable little nutritional powerhouses – providing lots of fiber (including soluble fiber proven to decrease levels of “bad” cholesterol), buffer blood sugar spikes and aid in weight loss by sustaining feelings of fullness; along with several antioxidants likes Vitamins C and E (source).
Apples are also a good source of the flavonoid querticin. Quercitin is interesting because research has shown that topical application of quercetin provides protection against free radical damage and provides skin soothing benefits, especially when combined with silicones and lipid ingredients (for example in a good antioxidant serum, source). Consuming quercetin is thought to provide similar protection, and research is ongoing to determine the extent to which bioflavonoids can help fight the signs of aging. Read more about Quercitin, the nutrients apples provide; and the world’s healthiest (type) of apple here. In the meantime, we should all try to eat more apples and other fresh fruits.
I try to vary the types of apples our family eats. Hubs likes to dip apple slices into unsweetened almond butter, and My mom likes to sprinkle her slices with sea salt. The baby is found of homemade applesauce (thank you, NutriBullet!). But sometimes, especially as the weather here is turning toward fall, I find myself craving the warm, soothing comfort of sweet baked apples spiked with cinnamon, ginger and cloves and topped with crunchy, crumbly yumminess.
This recipe satisfies those cravings without sacrificing health and nutrition by incorporating apple in various formats including whole organic apples I found from a local vendor. It’s a perfect Thanksgiving or holiday dessert recipe because it’s quick and easy to throw together while you manage other cooking and all the craziness that holidays bring. I think your family will enjoy this recipe as much as mine did!
• 8-10 small apples, preferably organic and/or locally grown, washed and chopped
• 1 Tbsp. Apple cider vinegar
• ½ cup Whole pitted dates, chopped
• ½ tsp. Ground cinnamon
• ¼ tsp. Sea salt
• pinch each Ground Allspice, Ground cloves, and Ground ginger
• 2 Tbsp. Unsweetened apple sauce
(Consider making your own fresh apple juice for highest nutrient profile. Read more here.)
• 1.5 Tbsp. Tapioca starch
• ½ cup Maple Syrup
• 1 cup Gluten-free Rolled Oats (substitute ½ cup each Coconut and almond flours for Grain-free/Paleo version)
• ½ cup Coconut Sugar
• ¼ tsp. Sea Salt
• ½ cup Chopped walnuts
• ½ cup Chopped almonds
• 2 Tbsp. Unsweetened apple sauce
• ¼ cup Coconut Oil, melted
• Measuring spoons + cups
• Glass measuring cup
• Small mixing bowl
• Nonstick coconut oil spray
• 8 X 8” Baking dish
• Aluminum foil
1. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit (177° Celsius) and spray the inside of an 8 X 8” or 9 X 9″ baking dish with nonstick coconut oil spray.
2. Place chopped apples in bottom of prepared baking dish then sprinkle with vinegar. Toss lightly to combine. Add the dates and spices to apple mixture. Then stir well to combine and set aside.
3. In a glass measuring cup, stir together apple juice, apple sauce, and maple syrup. Then mix tapioca starch into syrup mixture and using a wire whisk or fork to beat mixture well until no visible lumps of starch remain. Pour apple juice mixture over chopped apple mixture and toss well to combine.
4. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.
5. While apple mixture cooks, combine next 6 ingredients (rolled oats – chopped walnuts) in a small mixing bowl. Stir to combine. (BTW, you probably want to use a larger bowl than I did here. I made a mess!)
6. Create a small well in the center of oat/nut mixture then pour in the melted coconut oil. Stir well to combine. Mixture should resemble very course crumbs.
7. After baking for 45 minutes, carefully remove apple mixture. Then increase oven temperature to 400° Fahrenheit (204° Celsius).
8. While oven temp increases, carefully remove aluminum foil (be sure to open the side away from you first to allow steam to escape). Then sprinkle oat crumble topping evenly over apple filling and return to oven. Bake uncovered 15-20 more minutes at 400° Fahrenheit or until lightly browned on top.
Serving Suggestions and Notes: You’ll want to keep a close eye on this during the second baking time to avoid burning the oats and nuts. In my oven, it took about 18 minutes at 400° to brown the crust without burning any of the nuts.
I recommend allowing the crumble to cool slightly before serving. This is especially yummy topped with coconut (or dairy-based if you must) ice cream and a few more chopped almonds or walnuts and perhaps drizzled with a little local raw honey if you’re seeking an especially decadent dessert (vegan should stick with a little more maple syrup)!
Final note, this same crumble topping works perfectly for this Sweet Potato Soufflé which is delicious if you’re looking for another phenomenal holiday recipe sure to win raves from friends and family alike!
Wisdom for the Day:
“May the Lord bless their land with crops, the best gift the sun can give, the best produce of each month, the finest fruits from the oldest mountains, the best from the ancient hills, and the most plentiful crops of the earth.” ~Deuteronomy 33:14-16 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.
Recently, I wrote how my excitement to try Milani’s Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation+Concealer quickly turned to disappointment when it didn’t look very pretty on me. After all the buzz around this foundation, I really wanted to make it work for me so I kept playing around with it and discovered some tricks that ensure I achieve a beautiful result every time I reach for this.
I have come to the conclusion that this really is a great foundation that’s worth the hype. But this is not as easy foundation. It’s not one to reach for on lazy (AKA no-makeup look) days. It’s the one to grab when you’re short on time. This process I outline below involves several steps (5 to be exact; though you could conceivably combine Steps #1-2 if you have a favorite water-based daytime moisturizer that gives you broad-spectrum SPF of 30 or more. I’ve just never found one). This may require more time than you may have most mornings. So you may want to save this for special occasions or days when you have extra time because the result is beautiful and worth the effort.
Some basic concepts to help you achieve the best results:
• First and foremost you need to understand the chemical composition of this foundation. It’s oil-free and made up primarily of water and silicones (if you’re interested I’ve included the full ingredient list at the bottom of this post and highlighted all the silicones for reference). So you want to diminish the amount of oil on the surface of your skin and avoid using any products that contains oils to ensure prettiest application and longest wear-time of the foundation. Hint – this is NOT the time to use Wayne Goss’ famous add a drop of oil to your foundation trick. Instead, you want to follow a couple of other Wayne Goss tips, blotting your face of excess oil throughout the application process and carefully avoiding any products that counteract the ingredients in this foundation.
• With each step/trick, I try to give several options for the products I suggest. You almost certainly can get this done with products you have on hand once you get the idea of the types of products that work. Then check out your stash for similar options you could try.
• I’ve done a complete review of the foundation below for anyone who may be curious about this foundation. You can read that review posted separately here.
• Each of the following steps are based on prepping the skin to be in the best condition to receive this foundation, so the makeup applies its best and has every chance to last 10 hours (or longer). In order to make this foundation work, you need to use products that have similar ingredients to Conceal+Perfect….again, reference the ingredient list – avoid oils and stick to water or silicone-based products. When I first tried to use this foundation, my biggest problem (when I had bad results) was trying to apply it over several oil-based moisturizing products which were basically counterproductive.
Application Steps and My Tips:
Step #1 – Prep your skin with a good silicone-based oil-free antioxidant serum followed by a water-based moisturizer. The type of serum and moisturizer you use are important. This is NOT the time to use your trusty Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing+ Lotion (it’s a sesame oil base) or to use Argan Oil (yes, it is good for you, but it won’t work here). My favorite antioxidant serums are from Paula’s Choice, and Paula’s Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum is absolutely brilliant under tricky foundations like this one. It provides an extraordinary cocktail of anti-aging skin goodies in a super-light silicone base with zero oil. Top your serum of choice with a good oil-free moisturizer. CeraVe’s PM Moisturizing Lotion (or CVS’s awesome generic version, pictured above) and Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Gel-Cream Extra-Dry Skin or Hydro Boost Water Gel (for normal/combination skins) are great oil-free moisturizer that absorb quickly while providing excellent hydration and skin-beneficial ingredients like hyaluronic acid. Allow lotion to absorb into skin at least five minutes. Then move on to Step #2.
Step #2 – Using a plain tissue (do NOT use the kind with added lotion or emollients), oil-blotting paper or even TP (no shame), lightly blot away any excess moisture from your face. If you’re applying this foundation at night, you can go ahead and skip ahead to Step #3 now.
If you are getting ready to go out during the daytime, you now want to apply a lightweight easily absorbed sunscreen with broad spectrum sun protection of at least SPF30. I like Coppertone Clearly Sheer Faces Broad Spectrum SPF50 (which is an all-chemical sunscreen best for non-sensitive skin types) or Neutrogena pure & free Liquid Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF50 with purescreen® (all-mineral sunscreen best for sensitive skins. Read more about this product and other inexpensive broad-spectrum sunscreens here). Both these products have a thin, almost watery consistency that absorbs quickly. The Coppertone option is a chemical sunscreen so it absorbs more easily leaving no white or gray cast behind, but it’s also more likely to cause an allergic reaction in the most sensitive individuals. Allow sunscreen a few (3-4) minutes to absorb. Then proceed to Step #3.
Step #3 – Blot your face again (oily skin types, do NOT skip this step). Then apply a silicone-based primer to your T-zone and any other areas where your foundation tends to apply unevenly or break up during the day. Allow primer to set at least 3-5 minutes. Then blot again (yes, again!) with a clean tissue or blotting paper.
A few of my favorite primers for this application include: L’Oréal Revitalift Miracle Blur Instant Skin Smoother Finishing Cream SPF30; Garnier Skin Renew 5 Second Blur Instant Smoother; Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer (I have the Green Color-correcting one, but they’re all terrific); Napoleon Perdis Auto Pilot Radiance Boosting Primer (this is the best primer for dry or aging skin). Give your primed skin at least 3 minutes to allow primer and other products to fully absorb and skin to be completely dry before proceeding to actual foundation application (Step #4).
Step #4 – Use a damp makeup sponge apply 1 pump Milani Conceal+Perfect foundation and 1 pump (3-4 drops) of your favorite oil-free BB Cream (my favorite is Dr. Jart’s Premium BB Cream SPF45+ though be careful with this because it contains a teeny amount of soybean oil) or an oil-free highlighter (dry skins or anyone looking for a more sheer more luminous finish). My favorite liquid highlighters for this step include: Revlon PhotoReady Skinlights (which is an excellent inexpensive liquid illuminator but has become increasingly difficult to find in stores though according to Revlon’s website indicates that this product has not been discontinued) and NYX Cosmetics Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator. Stay away from Becca’s Shimmering Skin Enhancer in this case, though. Because even though it’s a terrific liquid highlighter and comes in some really flattering shades, it contains both avocado and mineral oils, so it will cause the foundation to break apart and look patchy.
Build this foundation in thin layers if you’re a makeup novice (like me) and not an expert makeup artist. It’s easier and ensures a prettier result. For the final layer, I like to mix equal parts Conceal+Perfect foundation and concealer (my current favs are Tarte’s Shape Tape and Maybelline’s Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circle Treatment Concealer ) on the back of my hand and dab that mixture in a triangle shape under my eyes and cheek area using my finger. Then I’ll blend this mixture out using my damp beautyblender® sponge. Finally, I’ll use a small amount of foundation to touch up any other blemishes or discolorations needing additional concealing before moving onto finishing touches (Step #5).
Step #5 – Once you are satisfied with the level of coverage you’ve achieved, blend out any creasing and set this product with your favorite setting powder. There are lots of good ones available in all price ranges so don’t get carried away by the hype. I definitely recommend setting this foundation with powder, even for drier skins but especially for those with combo to oily skins not only to avoid creasing but for best longevity and most flawless result. If you have the time, you can also bake the undereye or areas where large pores are an issue. And I like to finish with a few spritzes of setting spray. My current favorite setting spray is E.L.F.’s Makeup Mist and Set but any oil-free setting spray will work.
Additional Notes on Application: Milani states this foundation may be applied, “…with fingertips or a brush beginning at the center of the face, blending outward.” I prefer applying this with a damp beautyblender® type sponge. I had some success using my finger as well, but I just really dislike apply foundation with fingers. For some reason I dislike the feeling of it on my fingers and hands. Has nothing to do with the texture of this particular product. Actually, if you enjoy using your fingers to apply foundation, this may be a good match for you because the warm of your fingers may help you spread this around. Because it’s thicker than your typical liquid foundation (MUF’s Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation for example), I found that applying it with a brush left streaks and wasn’t very pretty. I wouldn’t try brush application unless you’re lucky enough to own an Artis (oval 7) foundation brush. Finally, though Milani suggests applying “a dime-sized amount of product,” all at once, I’d caution against it. I suggest applying thinner layers until achieving desired level of coverage. Trying to apply too much all at once tends to make the product bunch up and look heavy.
Summary: Remember that this foundation is oil-free and composed primarily of water and silicones, so you want to take the time to prep your skin using water and silicone-based products and control any surface oil you may have on your skin. Avoid using any products that contain oil. Dry or combo skin types will want to use a water-based moisturizer and allow sufficient time for it to absorb. Then tissue off excess moisture before applying a light broad-spectrum sunscreen and silicone-based primer. Those with oily skin will want to take extra care to prime skin with an oil-controlling primer and tissue off excess oil between each step. Because this foundation is thick, it is best applied in thin layers with a damp makeup sponge. You can thin it out even more by adding a drop or 2 of highlighter or BB cream. You can also mix it with your favorite (oil-free) concealer to highlight and brighten. Be sure to set this product with your preferred setting powder and finish with your favorite setting spray (if desired).
Ingredient List: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Isononyl Isononanoate (oil-free emollient), Cetyl Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Mica (shine), Glycerin (oil-free emollient), BIS-PEG/PPG Dimethicone, VP/Eicosene Copolymer, Bis-Vinyl Dimethicone, Ozokerite (wax), Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Beeswax (wax), Glycereth-18 Ethylhexanoate (oil-free emollient), Potassium Sorbate, Silica, Caprylyl Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Xanthan Gum, Isododecane, Propylene Carbonate, Prunus Domestica Fruit Extract, Glycereth-18, Aluminum Dimyristate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Disodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Allantoin, C30-45 Alkyl Cetearyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Polyisobutene, C18-21 Alkane. +/- May Contain: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499).
Wisdom for the Day:
All of us, then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces; and that same glory, coming from the Lord, who is the Spirit, transforms us into his likeness in an ever greater degree of glory. ~II Corinthians 3:18 (Good News Translation)
Read more here.
As I’ve written previously, I believe good quality makeup brushes are a wise beauty investment. And like any investment, you need to protect your investments by caring for your brushes and cleaning them regularly.
I have found that Sephora’s Solid Clean: Solid Brush Cleaner ($14 for 1 oz.) is excellent for deep cleaning brushes and ULTA’s Makeup Brush and Sponge Cleaner (spray; $10 for 5.1 fluid oz.) is less expensive; works well for quick cleanups; but doesn’t provide the same thorough results and has an odd smell to me.
So I set out to create a simple, inexpensive brush cleaner recipe. This recipe works very well, effectively removing the most tenacious waterproof gels and stains. I store this in a small (6oz. size) spray bottle. Then I make a second batch using slightly less water (described below) to keep in a non-spray bottle to clean my sponges.
I love using Kenra Professional Clarifying Shampoo to clean my makeup brushes! I find that it’s the best thing for remover tough, waterproof gels and creams. The best place to purchase Kenra products is probably ULTA because ULTA always almost offers $3.50 off $10 coupon is available electronically or in their catalogs. (Click here to sign up to automatically receive ULTA emails or here to enroll in ULTA’s text alert program). ULTA also periodically offers 20% off coupons and other deals for Platinum ULTA Members and ULTAMATE Rewards Credit Card holders. Learn more at ULTA.com or the ULTA store nearest you.
If you already have a clarifying shampoo that you love or just want/need an even cheaper option, Johnson’s Baby Shampoo may be substituted for the Kenra Shampoo and works (almost) as well. And you can save some more money by signing up here to receive Johnson and Johnson brand coupons.
• 2 Tbsp. Dawn Original or 1 Tbsp. Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid
• 2 Tbsp. Kenra Professional Clarifying Shampoo or Johnson’s® Original Baby Shampoo
• 5 oz. (10 Tbsp.) filtered or distilled water
• Measuring spoons
• Small spray bottle (6-8 oz. size)
• Small funnel
1. Carefully pour all 3 ingredients into a small spray bottle.
2. Tightly place lid on bottle and shake well to thoroughly combine ingredients.
3. Shake well before each use.
Makes about 5 oz. of cleanser.
NOTE: If you need a liquid brush and sponge cleaner or just don’t want to use a spray, you can easily adjust this recipe as follows – decrease the amount of water from 5oz. to 4oz. (8 Tbsp.) and keep all other measurements the same. Then, pour mixture into desired storage bottle.
Cleanser recipe can also be doubled to product 8-10oz. Use twice the above amounts of shampoo+dish liquid (to 4 Tbsp. of each) and double water to 10oz. (20 Tbsp.) for spray bottle or 8oz. (16 Tbsp.) for non-spray bottle.
Check this related post – $1 Makeup Brush Cleaning Tool – if you want to learn more about this genius and inexpensive little silicone cleaning tool you can pick up for just over $1 at your local Wal-Mart.
Wisdom for the Day:
“That is what some of you used to be! But you were washed clean, you were made holy to God, and you were made right with God in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” ~I Corinthians 6:11 (Common English Bible)
Read more here.
I’ve tried to be honest about the fact that I’m not a makeup artist/expert. I’m a makeup fan/lover (there’s a big difference). My skill level may best be described as amateur, but I’m getting better, primarily because I’ve gradually acquired some nice makeup brushes. Quality makeup brushes are an investment. You really only need 5-10 high quality makeup brushes to take your makeup application technique to the next level.
Of course, you’ll need to properly care for those brushes in order to ensure they last a long time and give you the most bang for your beauty buck. And that means regularly cleaning them. That’s the step that tends to trip up busy moms (like me). We all know cleaning our brushes is important. Dirty brushes = patchy uneven colors; poor distribution of creams and liquids; breeding grounds for acne-causing bacteria; etc.
In recent years, an entire industry has grown around makeup brushes and cleaning led by innovators like the Chapman Sisters of Real Techniques fame along with Rea Ann Silva and the others at beautyblender®. So many companies today now offer cleaning supplies including brush cleaning solutions, wipes, mitts and even electronic brush cleaners like these (for a whopping $120+)!
Don’t worry. You don’t have to spend that much to quickly and effectively clean your brushes. One of my favorite YouTube Beauty vloggers – Emily Noel – raved about these silicone brush-cleaning eggs mitts she discovered at an “everything for $1” subscription shopping website in this video:
Emily is so adorable and enthusiastic. She almost always convinces me, but I’m trying to avoid signing up with any additional shopping sites. Too tempting. Still, those brush cleaners intrigued me, especially at just $1 + $3.95 shipping (roughly $3/each). So when I spotted these Lil’ Scrubbies facial brushes at Wal-Mart priced at just $2.43 (plus tax) for two, I grabbed them immediately hoping they’d work as well as Emily’s egg mitts. I tested my Scrubbies-as-makeup-brush-cleaners theory, and they worked great!
To be clear, the Lil’ Scrubbies are designed to be used as facial exfoliators. But (as I’ve written before) I don’t need that because I’m really satisfied with my Foreo LUNA sonic cleanser. Both my Foreo LUNA and the Lil’ Scrubbies are made of quality silicone and have very similar scrubbing surfaces. So if you don’t currently have a daily facial cleansing tool you love, these little guys can meet that need as well (although Lil’ Scrubbies obviously will not provide the oscillating sonic technology of the Foreo LUNA).
Lil’ Scrubbies’ have 2 different surface textures – tiny bristles and little round nubs which allow you to quickly clean different-sized and shaped brushes. The small nobs are especially effective at cleaning the sides of tapered brushes. The Scrubbies are made of a single piece of silicone with a suction cup feature built into the back. This suction cup piece makes it easier to securely hold the wet soapy Scrubbie securely between two fingers of your non-dominant hand while you scrub the brush with your dominant hand.
You’re also able to keep the Scrubbie and the brush secure while cleaning and also have your thumb free in case you need to apply more pressure to spread out the tip of the brush to get it thoroughly clean (as Emily describes around 6:00 in the video).
I found them exceptionally easy to use and effective in cleaning all types of brushes – from large fluffy powder brushes to flat-topped kabuki brushes to tapered shadow brushes and lash combs. Lil’ Scrubbies cleaned my brushes gently without ripping out the bristles or breaking the hairs. All this for a price of $1.215 each!
Lil’ Scrubbies themselves are easy to clean with warm water and (if necessary a gentle soap). Then simply store on your mirror using the suction cup feature until ready for next use.
One last thing, toward the end of the video Emily talks about the brush drying “Sunflower tree” she uses for drying her brushes. Those trees retail for around $40 plus tax and shipping. Learn more here. But I use this recipe book rack I had sitting around (unused and in the way) in our kitchen. It works perfectly to hold for most (not all) of my brushes as they dry. It keeps them off the bathroom counter and holds them at a slightly downward angle, preventing water from collecting in the metal barrel of the brushes (which can damage the brushes and shorten their lifespans).
Wisdom for the Day:
Purify me from sin with hyssop, and I will be clean. Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. ~Psalm 51:7 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.