Mexico Beauty Survival Kit

Good morning! And sorry for my delayed blogging. My husband and I took a trip to Mexico for some fun and relaxation in the sun last week and I’ve been looking forward to writing this post ever since! Today I’m going to share my Mexico beauty kit, from sunscreen to haircare. We had a wonderful trip. Mexico is such a different climate from Colorado. When we came home, it was 25 degrees and we’d just left the beach and almost 90 degrees! Ahhh!

Here’s a picture of most of the speciality beauty products I took (shampoo, makeup etc not included as those are used at home too):


From left to right:

1. Clarins SPF 50+ spray sunscreen, $38

2. Alba Botanica SPF 45 sunscreen, $9

3. Kevin Murphy Young Again hair treatment, $40

4. Alterna hair heat protectant spray, $24

5. Fresh Sugar Acai Age-Delay Body Lotion, $65

6. Shiseido SPF 38 Sunscreen, $32

7. Burt’s Bees After Sun Soother, $10

8. First Aid Beauty Aloe Sun treatment, $18

Yes, I know. I took quite a few things. One of the reasons I took so many sunscreens, lotions and after-sun products is that I was interested to see how a $40 sunscreen compared to a $10 sunscreen or how Burt’s Bees compared to First Aid Beauty. Does the price matter? Well, the definitive answer to that is yes…and no. It depends.

Without a doubt, no contest, the worst sunscreen was the most expensive. The Clarins SPF 50 is not remotely waterproof and it tends to run and spread when you spray it. Moral of the story is that if you spray it on your face, it will run in your eyes. The best sunscreen? Well, for your face, you can’t beat the Shiseido. It’s very runny (even more so than Clarins) and spreads so easily, absorbs into the skin with ZERO greasy feeling and does not remotely clog your pores. And those are the reasons a more expensive sunscreen is worth it’s weight in gold. Plus, it’s extremely water resistant and stood up easily to the Mexican sun.

We also loved the Alba SPF 45. It’s thick, creamy and smells amazing (it has green tea extract) but not girly and my husband really liked the scent, perfect for the tropical beach. It also absorbs easily and spreads easily. The bottle runs out more quickly than Shiseido, even though they are the same size, just because the consistency of the Alba sunscreen is so much thicker. We also found it to be very water resistant (equally to the Shiseido). For the money, Alba is a really fantastic option.

Now onto the after-sun options. It’s such a tie and honestly, it depends on what you like. Scent or no scent? The Burt’s Bees scent is really nice, it’s soothing, natural and herb-like. The First Aid Beauty Aloe has no scent at all. One is a cream (Burt’s Bees) one is a gel (First Aid). Truly, if I could only take one next year, I’d take Burt’s Bees. I love how it can be my full body lotion after a day in the sun. You really should only use the First Aid Aloe gel as a sunburn spot treatment because aloe can be so drying.

What is in your beach beauty kit? Add it to the comments!

Shellac Manicure Maintenance

I was sitting with a few of my girlfriends a few weeks ago and we all had shellac manicures. When one of them mentioned her shellac always chips within a day or two, the whole table chimed in and said they always have the same experience. I asked if they use the oil on their shellac and was immediately met with blank but interested stares that said a clear “No idea what you’re talking about.”

Moral of the story: if you get shellac and you don’t use Solar oil daily, you’re missing out.

Solar oil is a fabulous and natural blend of almond oils that smells great and literally absorbs into your cuticles and shellac (shellac is porous, the new OPI gel manicures are NOT, which is why they tend to weaken your nails much more than shellac) and keeps your shellac from cracking, chipping or just plain drying out. As you wear shellac, it shrinks and dries, which is why Solar oil is absolutely necessary to keep it looking perfect for the full 10-14 days.

How do you use it? Everyday, brush it across the base of each nail, rub it in and you’re done! I like using it right before bed so it has all night to absorb and moisturize.

And at $7-$8 per bottle, it’s one of the cheapest beauty investments you can make! Enjoy!

Back to beauty basics: Face scrub

Last night we had a really bizarre but stressful event at our house. My husband was changing clothes and washing his face to go to a meeting and comes out of the bathroom blinking like crazy. He had been using face scrub, gotten one of the little beads too close to his eye and scratched the cornea. After a really painful night and a very red and runny eye, he’s getting better.

This incident, along with an article about Beauty Basics in Real Simple magazine, prompted me to start a post series on Back to the Basics. For the next few weeks, I’ll be throwing in a weekly post on beauty basics, from face scrub, to eyelash curlers, to shampoo and conditioner.

Let’s start today with the proper way to use a facial scrub.

First, choose the right scrub! I like something creamy with very round beads for polishing. It also has to wash away completely clean without any residue. Too many scrubs are for acne, in my opinion, which just leads you to scrub pimples until they are so dry and irritated they’ll never heal. A scrub should just get down another layer or two from your normal cleanser to remove dirt, and makeup and clear away any dead skin cells, it shouldn’t be used for resurfacing your acne.

My favorite scrub right now is another REN product. It’s gentle enough to use multiple times per week but tough enough to get the job done. REN Jojoba Micro Bead Facial Polish comes in a GIANT bottle that lasts forever for $35.

Once you have the right face scrub, you need the right technique. Never put dry scrub on a dry face and never even put dry scrub on a wet face. In other words: add water. Make sure your face is wet, squeeze about a nickle-sized amount onto your fingers and add a little more water. Rub it between your fingers to spread out the scrub and disperse the water. Always scrub gently in a circular motion all over your face, being sure you get the sides of your face and your jaw line.

But guess which area of your face you should avoid? YOUR EYES! Face scrub should never tough the entire area around your eye, including under your eyes and your eyelids. The skin is too sensitive to handle a scrub.

What face scrubs do you like? Is it part of your normal routine? Let me know in the comments!

This week in beauty

It’s been a big week for random beauty treatments. I went to a wedding last weekend and needed to catch up! All in all, I received my second upper lip laser hair removal treatment, a facial, a shellac manicure with rhinestones and a spray tan. And I’m exhausted. Okay, totally kidding.

Check out my nails…


Love them!

The spray tan was the newest experience in my beauty testing and I’d never actually spray tanned before. I went to Zolarium on Blake St in downtown Denver and here are my thoughts:

1. Thank you to my friend Michelle, a veteran spray tanner, who gave me great advice!

2. I wanted to take a shower sooooo baaaadly but one of the keys is to let it sink in for 24 hours. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a very splotchy tan.

3. After about 4-6 hours, it really begins to absorb and you no longer feel sticky.

4. Don’t wear socks right after your tan or anything tight that could rub off a lot of the tanner.

5. I loved it. I had a perfectly, light golden glow with no orange or streaks.

Alterna Hair Products

I love my Alterna shine spray. It adds so much luster with so little weight and never makes hair look greasy. It’s been so dry in Colorado lately that I thought my hair needed an extra boost (since I was using the shine spray more as a leave-in conditioner than a fishing product…) so I turned to the same brand for an additional conditioning product.

I came away with the Alterna Bamboo Anti-Breakage Spray, which protects against heat styling and is a true leave-in conditioner. So far, I really like it. Of course, I’m adjusting since it definitely has more moisture oomph than the Alterna Shine Spray.

After 3 weeks, I don’t have any cons to report! But here is my list of pros:

1. Nice, subtle smell

2. No added grease or weight

3. Seems like it will last a long time since only 2-3 sprays easily covers all of my hair

4. Adds shine and “seals” hair before you heat style

Want to try Alterna Anti-Breakage for yourself? Click here to buy it and support the reviews on this blog! Love you all.