Posts filed under Beauty

Mario Badescu and Clarisonic -- A Match Made in Skincare Heaven

Mario Badescu is one of my favorite skincare brands. I have reviewed and recommended several products over the years.  Pair that with Clarisonic, the sonic care cleansing brush that started it all, and it's a match made in skincare heaven.  This match seems like a no brainer so my only question is why did Mario Badescu and Clarisonic take so look to hook up? (I need answers!)

Now that the Mario Badescu and Clarisonic celebrity hook up is official, let's look at what we get out of this union: (Of course it's about us. Duh.)

Clarisonic Mia 2 Sonic Skin Cleansing Brush

Clarisonic Mia 2 Sonic Skin Cleansing Brush has two speeds, and like all other Clarisonics, it gently oscillates back and forth over 300 times per second providing a clean that is clinically proven to be 6 times better than cleaning with hands alone.  When you use the Clarisonic, all your lotions and potions absorb better into the skin so you get more from your skincare products. The Mia 2 is waterproof,  so feel free to get your cleanse on in the shower. It also features a proprietary T-Timer to help you to not over cleanse -- it goes for a minute:  20 seconds on the forehead, 20 seconds on the nose/chin and 10 seconds on each cheek. I know plenty of people who think longer is better, so, a timer is a genius move.  The brush comes with the Clarisonic pLink Charger, Sensitive Brush Head and White Protective Travel Case.

Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel

Not only is this one of my favorite cleansers of all time, it just so happens to be Mario Badescu's best selling cleanser.  This non-foaming gel cleanser thoroughly removes dirt, grime and makeup without drying out the skin. It contains papaya and grapefruit extracts that provide very gently exfoliation that lead to more radiant skin.  [Kit will include a 2 ounce bottle.]

Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum

If you use this Vitamin C serum on its own you'll more than likely notice a change in your skin in two to three weeks.  It contains 7.5% Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) to help protect the skin from pesky free radicals and it also reduces discoloration to reveal brighter skin.  The Hyaluronic Acid in the formula helps the skin to hold on to its moisture. (This is great when used before sunscreen -- especially as the weather warms up.) [Kit will include .3 ounce bottle]

Mario Badescu A.H.A. & Ceramide Moisturizer

Is described as "a gentle, AHA-based moisturizer formulated with Lemon Extract and soothing Aloe Vera Gel helps rejuvenate dull, congested and pigmented skin." (I haven't tried this yet but it sounds promising.) [Kit will include a 1 ounce bottle.]

Some celebrity hookups seem to be about hype and tend to fizzle out leaving losers on both sides. Not this one. The Mia 2 Mario Badescu Skin Favorites Set is the start of something special, I can feel it! The set has everything you need to be super hydrated and radiant this spring!  It is available at Clarisonic.com and retails for $149.

Posted on April 19, 2016 and filed under Skincare, Beauty.

Destination Beauty: Vivrant Beauty - Harlem's Newest Gem

I admire dream chasers and even more so, dream catchers. Desiree Verdejo, founder of Vivrant Beauty is a dream catcher. After working as a lawyer for 7 years, Desiree hopped off the corporate ladder and decided she wanted to become an entrepreneur. Her passion for beauty was so much that no law degree and career could hold it down and thus, Vivrant Beauty was born. 

 Vivrant Beauty Interior

Vivrant Beauty Interior

Vivrant Beauty is Harlem's newest beauty gem and the first boutique beauty shop.  It stocks beauty goodies from dozens of retailers and provides consumers with carefully curated list of items from well known labels such as Mario Badescu to newer more niche brands like Girl + Hair. Desiree also seeks out products and brands that are "ingredient-conscious, women-owned, person-of-color owned and local beauty brands."

 Desiree Verdejo

Desiree Verdejo

Desiree is more than a beauty junkie -- she's is putting her money where her mouth is, literally. I recently caught up with her for a quick chat:

What was your biggest challenge in starting Vivrant Beauty and how did you overcome it?

One of the biggest challenges to launching Vivrant Beauty was to get products on the shelves. It’s a bit of a process figuring out how to connect with brands and an added hurdle was that I needed to convince some brands that Vivrant Beauty would be a good retail home for them. I was new to the beauty industry, and Harlem until now had not been a destination for premium beauty brands so it was an uphill battle. 

Figuring out the process just involved a commitment of time and research. Regarding the brands, I was persistent (read: annoying) and gave them updates on the boutique at different stages. I was ultimately able to convince folks that the boutique would be something different that they would want to be a part of.

How has Harlem responded to Vivrant Beauty?

Our customers are in the know beauty lovers from throughout NYC but our Harlem customers are super supportive. The Harlem girls don’t just text their friends to spread the word about us, they literally drag them in. Most of the customers that I’ve talked to love supporting uptown establishments and seem happy that they don’t always have to go downtown to update their beauty arsenal.

What differentiates Vivrant Beauty from other beauty supply stores/boutiques?

There are a lot of things that differentiates Vivrant from the rest but one bit of feedback I always get is that our inviting setting, thoughtful curated mix and product organization makes the shopping experience with us very calm and approachable. A lot of other beauty retail shops can be more overwhelming.

How do you decide which products to stock? 

It’s important to have a balanced selection of products regarding price points, organic versus technologically enhanced, and products for all skin tones and hair textures. I am always thinking about whether an item adds something new to our selection. Also, I always think about the other stores where my customers shop- if something is too readily available in those stores than it makes no sense at Vivrant.

Who is your ideal consumer?

My ideal customer is committed to hair, skin and overall health, is knowledgeable about products and ingredients, and has a balance of a desire to try new things and loyalty to what works.

Do you offer any personalized in store service like makeup tutorials or skin analysis? (if yes, please explain how it works. If no, is it something you have planned for future?)

Most of our customers come in with specific skin and hair concerns so part of our typical customer service involves product and regimen recommendations. We also have a make-up artist on board for those customers that want a glam look before their shower, birthday dinner, press event, etc.

I couldn't wrap this without asking, what are your favorite skincare products of the moment and why? 

A few of my favorite items right now are:

Shea Terra Organics Rose Hips Rose Plenishing Face Cream. I adore this brand because they manage to offer organic products at a very approachable price. This face cream is rich with rose water and rose hip oil and feels so luxe and creamy going on. It’s a great winter moisturizer.

Indie Lee’s Clearing Mask because I have breakout prone skin and this mask keeps things under control.

Ren’s Micropolish Cleanser My skin is noticeably duller in the wintertime and this glycolic-based gentle scrub keeps my face bright.

Desiree  Verdejo is proof positive that it's always worth it to chase your dreams -- even after making great strides down another path. 

Visit Vivrant Beauty at 220 Saint Nicholas Avenue New York, NY 10027.  You may also find and shop Vivrant Beauty online at www.vivrantbeauty.com as well as on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Posted on January 4, 2016 and filed under Beauty, New Beauty.

Get the Glow with Olay Regenerist Luminous

I have always had a fondness for Olay and I have to thank my mom for that.  While I can’t speak to the overall state of the skincare market in Jamaica back in the 80s to early 90s, I know my mom always had Olay products -- which means it was readily available and accessible to the masses. It’s the same today, Olay is widely available and has a line of products to address your skincare issues no matter your age or skin care concern. Olay recently launched  Regenerist Luminous -- a line of products specifically formulated to reduce the appearance of dark spots revealing pearlescent, glowing skin.

The Olay Regenerist Luminous line consists of cleansers, moisturizers and treatments all formulated to work together to give clear and even toned complexion.  

Products include:

I have a thing for bright, even toned skin (who doesn’t) and so I dove face first into the line and have found a couple of favorites.

I love the Regenerist Luminous Brightening Cream Cleanser, especially now that it is colder and my skin tends to get drier.  It is a granular (from the micro beads), oil rich cleanser that easily breaks up dirt and makeup on the face to reveal clean skin that has not been stripped of moisture. (Target.com, $7.59)

The Regenerist Luminous Overnight Mask is perfect to use after a long day out in the elements. You hear “mask” and you might be thinking heavy, sticky, messy -- don’t.  This mask goes on smoothy, feels a bit cool and does great job of restoring moisture while you sleep -- you’ll wake up with skin that looks and feels refreshed. (Target.com, $24.99)

If you haven’t looked at Olay in a while, look again. I can all but guarantee there is a product or four that will work wonders on your skin.  If you have problems with hyperpigmentation, dull and/or uneven skin tone, be sure to check out the Olay Regenerist Luminous line.

Do you use Olay products?  If yes, what’s your favorite?


DISCLAIMER: This post is sponsored by Olay through Face Flawless Skin.  Opinions are my own and have not been edited by the sponsor.

Posted on December 2, 2015 and filed under Skincare, Beauty.

5 Products to Brighten Skin Tone and Even Texture

Lackluster skin is not attractive.   A glowing complexion is a sign of health, youth and vibrancy -- it is coveted by ladies (and gents) the world over. While lightly applying your favorite facial oil,  or strategic placement of highlighter can give you a temporary lit from within look, achieving a no filter "I woke up like this" glow takes a little time, patience and the right products. Luckily, I'm in your corner and here to share some of my favorite glow getters.

Olay Regenerist Luminous Cleanser

I all but neglected my skin while planning #FaceFlawlessSkin Clinic (of which Olay was sponsor) It's funny that at the time when I should have been taking the best care of my skin (So, I can show up  to the event -- well, flawless) is the time I neglected it because I was too busy 'adulting'. Anyway, Olay Regenerist Luminous Cleansers does a great job cleansing the skin without drying it out.  It is a creamy, granular, low foam cleanser that contains glycerin to help pull moisture to the skin, citric acid that may help brighten skin tone over time and vitamin E to nourish skin.  While the cleanser works well to remove minimal amounts of makeup, I suggest removing heavy makeup first then moving to the cleansing step. ( www.target.com, $7.59)

Juara Turmeric Mask

I love that I can put this mask on and forget I'm wearing it. "Turmeric extract works to brighten and even out skin tone while providing antioxidant protection, kaolin clay purifies skin and refines pores and a touch of candlenut oil is added to soften and nurture skin."  Of all the products on this list, this is the one I have been consistently using the longest. If you want to gently but evenly brighten your skin, this is a very safe bet.  (www.skinstore.com, $37)

RoC Skincare Daily Resurfacing Disks

I have only been using this product for two week and it's already changed the texture of my skin. Not to brag, but my skin was in pretty good condition to begin with but after hearing Danielle (The Style and Beauty Doctor) rave about this product, I had to try it for myself.  RoC Skincare Daily Resurfacing Disks are gentle enough for everyday use and have been clinically proven to reduce the appearance of fine lines after one week, reduce the signs of photoaging and after 4 weeks and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and enlarged pores after 12 weeks.   I don't have fine lines or wrinkles ( thanks, melanin) but these act as a gentle daily exfoliant to give a nice glow and even texture. [RoC Skincare was also a sponsor of Face Flawless Skin Clinic] (www.drugstore.com, $9.99)

Ambi Fade Cream

According to many leading dermatologists, including those at Skin of Color Society, hydroquinone is  the "gold standard' for the treatment of hyperpigmentation. Ambi Fade Cream uses 2% hydroquinone (the max allowed over the counter by the FDA) to fade dark marks and even skin tone. The cream also contains alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) to boost the effectiveness of the hydroquinone and Vitamin E to help nourish the skin. I used this product on stubborn dark marks and it works exceptionally well.  I haven't used Ambi Fade Cream in a while  -- I am taking better care of my skin and doing everything in my power to prevent dark marks in the first place.  If you are battling a serious case of hyperpigmentation, this is definitely worth considering. (www.walgreens.com, $6.99)

Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid

I'm not going to lie, this is one of my favorite products of 2015.  It is everything to me and I keep talking about it -- but that's just how it is when I find a product I love. [I feel like I should have sample sizes to hand out to people in the streets. :)]  Paula's Choice BHA Liquid “rapidly exfoliates both the skin’s surface and inside the pore, reshaping the pore lining, unclogging pores and improving skin cell turnover rate.”   In short, the Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) works below the skin's surface to unclog pores prevent breakouts.  For those pesky hormonal pimples that leave marks behind, it quickly gets rid of the newest marks while slowly working on those that have taken up more permanent residency. The BHA Lotion is very light -- it feels almost like a toner. I use once or twice daily with no irritation at all. (www.dermstore.com, $24) 

It takes a little work to get skin smooth and even toned.  One of the best ways to maintain your ideal tone and texture is to find a sunscreen product to use everyday.  While dermatologist recommend an SPF of at least 30 everyday, it is even more important to wear an SPF while using the products above. 

What are your favorite products to get clear, even toned skin? 

Posted on November 19, 2015 and filed under Skincare, Beauty.

Got Acne? Here's How to Care For Your Skin During Winter

"OMG -- I love getting pimples" - said no one ever. While we all hate getting pimples, according to the American Academy of Dermatology,  85% of males and females between the ages of 12 and 24 experience at least minor acne, and the cost associated with the treatment of acne exceed 3 billion dollars! No matter what language you speak those are ridiculously high numbers.  Dealing with acne during warmer months is not a walk in the park, however, because of the drying nature of some products used to treat acne, it can be especially difficult during winter months.  With that in mind, I caught up with Bioelements Director of Education, Teresa Stenzel,  to get answers on How to Care for Acne Prone Skin During Winter, as well as some product suggestions to help you get through winter with, healthy, beautiful looking skin.

Some acne medications tend to dry out the skin - what are some tips to help acne sufferers during dry winter months?

Keep up the hydration level by literally saturating your skin with a toner that is designed to not only treat acne and kill bacteria, but has anti-inflammatory benefits. My favorite is our Bioelements Acne  Toner, as it’s a medicated toner that hydrates the skin with calming natural ingredients.  Also, don’t skip the sunscreen and moisturizer!  UV rays dry out the skin even during winter months, so a broad spectrum SPF that also moisturizes will protect the skin with a breathable barrier.  Most acne sufferers will want one that is not greasy; my personal favorite is RayDefense SPF30. This light and non-greasy creme gives the skin broad spectrum protection, and also provides moisturizing and anti-aging benefits. 

At  night, use a moisturizer that also doubles as a breakout fighter. Bioelements Oxygenation is formulated with stabilized hydrogen peroxide, which floods the skin with oxygen and helps kill the p. acne bacteria that leads to breakouts. Bioelements Beyond Hydration is a gel based moisturizer with skin strengthening Chinese herbs and water-binding vitamins and lipids.

Also, drink as much water as you can to hydrate from the inside out, avoid too many caffeine-laden drinks that can irritate the skin further, and wash with warm water, not hot!

Suggested Products

So, the pimples have cleared and now we have dark marks and acne scars — what is the quickest most effective way to rid the skin of hyperpigmentation and acne scars? What specific active ingredient should we seek out?  

Stubborn spots can be significantly and quickly addressed by choosing products that contain ingredients that will lighten and brighten, specifically targeting how pigment is produced within the cells (called melanocytes).  [Try to] avoid hydroquinone or any ingredients that bleach the skin, and instead choose a blend that combines science and nature together.  From nature, I like alpha arbutin (a natural alternative to hydroquinone with no negative side effects), natural melanin-inhibiting alpine plants such as peppermint leaf extract, pimula veris, veronica officinalis; and from science, dimethylmeothy chromanyl palmitate (which induces brightening and fights the signs of photo-aging). 

Suggested Products:

Both contain a Triple-Action Brightening Blend. A recent study showed significant results in just 2 weeks with these products - improving dark spots and evening skin tone. 

Is acne helped or exasperated by sonic powered skin care brushes like the Clarisonic? 

In most cases, skin care brushes are prone to causing more injury to acneic skin, because the tendency is to apply way too much pressure. On a skin that is already compromised, infected with red and swollen breakouts, this is a bad idea. I recommend using your fingers to gently apply and massage in product. Even when the breakouts are under the skin, the bacteria is still present, so by using a rotating brush you run the risk of scratching the skin, and causing injury that can lead to bacteria spreading and potential scarring.

Oil cleansing has been trending for some time — are oil cleansers safe and effective for use on acne prone skin? 

Theoretically, oil attracts oil. So if you have very sensitive skin, occasional breakouts or oilier skin, I do like an oil-based cleanser. However, opt for one that the oil converts into a gentle foam so it doesn’t have a greasy texture, and also contains ingredients that hydrate and heal as they cleanse. Our Sensitive Skin Cleanser has olive oil, lavender, kissi seed and rosemary - all skin-friendly oils. However, if you have chronic, more moderate acne and hormonal breakouts that are inflamed, I prefer a gel-based medicated cleanser designed specifically to treat this condition. Our OTC Spotless Cleanser contains 2% salicylic acid, plus papaya and pineapple fruit enzymes to gently cleanse, kill acne bacteria and exfoliate pore-clogging skin cells.

Suggested Products:

Do you suffer from acne?  How do you care for your skin during colder months?


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Posted on October 8, 2015 and filed under Skincare, Beauty.