Monday, December 23, 2013

Music Monday: Holidays!

Music Monday will be out for this week because of the holiday. See you all next week and Merry Christmas!


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Let's Get Personal: Simplified Winter Routine

As I mentioned before in my long and tedious face routine (you can see here and here) it was long and involved so many products! But now that the weather is colder, I've had to switch it up and I've finally gotten it down. It may not be only just be officially winter, but the weather has been no joke. We've already had snow twice up here! So here it is, with less products and less steps. :)


Clease/Exfoliate/Tone:
I use Basis Cleaner Clean face wash with my Clarisonic Mia using the Deep Pore brush. It cleans without stripping and no harsh ingredients. When I have dry spots and dead skin where I couldn't leave well enough alone, I use PIDA gel to get rid of them and smooth things out. My old faithful Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2 is my serious go to toner (even though in the 3 step program Clinique has it under exfoliate) and I will never change from this. Something about it just sets my skin right.

Moisturize:
I've been using Mario Badescu Aloe Moisturizer. It was too heavy for the summer, but I am loving it for the winter. It is so moisturizing without being heavy or greasy. For the extra cold days, or when I know I will be outside for an extended period, I will put some argan oil on top to seal in the moisture and create a barrier. Currently I'm using Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil Light. It sinks right into my skin and doesn't interfere with my makeup.

Treatments:
I've been using Mario Badescu Drying Lotion overnight to treat stubborn acne bumps. It really helps to shrink them after a few days. It also helps with deep painful bumps that don't come to the surface right away. For the little ones that aren't as bothersome, I use Clean & Clear Persa-Gel to get those buggers.

And that's pretty much it. I don't use masks or the peels anymore. It's too time consuming and my skin isn't as oily to warrant doing it the way I did in the summer. Plus my skin seems to be getting along better with me now, so this simple routine does it. No extra steps or products necessary!

Told you I would get my routine in check! My skin's been behaving pretty well and I'm enjoying it.

xoxo
- L

Friday, December 20, 2013

FIT Foodie Fridays

FITNESS:

Nothing has changed. LOL #OperationSlimmaz has been postponed. ::sigh:: I will try again soon. BUT I did pre-register for two 5k marathons in the boroughs. So soon (hopefully) I can get moving. Winter and all this cold weather has been killing me. I know, no excuses, but I seem to be full of them at the moment. Oops.

FOOD:

Today's food and healthy recipe is from Latoyah at Sugar Pink Food from across the waters in the UK. Thank you Latoyah! It was lovely working with you!

I love my food and creating my recipes, but I wanted to create a dish that as equally delicious as it was healthy, and I came up with this.  The beauty of this dish is that you can add as many different vegetables as you like, giving you the opportunity to get your creative juices flowing! As well as being tasty and healthy, this is quick and very simple to make.

chicken noodle soup



You will need: 


900ml chicken or vegetable stock (or Miso soup mix)
2 Chicken Breasts
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
50g rice or wheat noodles
2 tbsp sweet corn, canned or frozen
Red cabbage, chopped
2-3 mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 spring onions, shredded
1 Red Onion, chopped
2 tsp soy sauce, plus extra for serving
mint or basil leaves to serve
Any other veg that you can think of

Pour the stock into a pan and add the chicken and garlic. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, partly cover and simmer for about 20 mins, until the chicken is tender and cooked all the way through. 

Remove the chicken to a board and shred using a couple of forks.

Return the chicken to the stock with the mushrooms, sweet corn, cabbage, onion, spring onions (and any of your added veg) and the soy sauce. Simmer for 10 mins until the veg is soft, then add the noodles and simmer until they are are also soft.

Serve in bowls and sprinkle your basil or mint on top and enjoy!

Thanks again to Latoyah for her guest post! And thanks to my readers. :)

Happy Holidays!
- L

Monday, December 16, 2013

Music Mondays: Best Albums of 2013

2013 was definitely a special year in the music industry. We saw icons return from hiatuses, new artists cement their place on our playlists, and also discovered new ways to experience music. Putting all of this aside, however, I decided that for this post I would list  the six best albums that I listened to this year. I should note that these albums are not in countdown fashion, I'll leave that to the Rolling Stones and the Billboards of the world. This list was made to show the readers which artists pushed the boundaries of their talents and surpassed everyone in their genre.

Let's begin.

                     ************************************************************
The Weeknd - Kiss Land

First we have Kissland from Canadian crooner The Weeknd. In his previous albums (which can be found on the compilation Trilogy) The Weeknd (real name Abel Tesfaye) discussed his many exploits with drugs and sex. While those albums were amazing, I felt that he hit a rut by the time he released the third album in the compilation. Thankfully, Kiss Land proved me wrong. This album steers away from the drug and sex themes of his previous albums and instead gives us a more "traditional" R&B album that focuses on love, life on the road, and love lost because of life on the road. Simply put, The Weeknd is this generation's Maxwell.






Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience (Part 1)
)

The uproar over the fact that this album wasn't nominated for neither Record of the Year, Album of the Year, or Song Of The Year for the 2014 Grammys should prove how good this album is. Simply put, the organizers of the 2014 Grammy Awards failed...badly. However, I digress.

I have been waiting for this album since Justin released FutureSex/LoveSounds in 2006. For a bit of perspective, I was still in college when that album was released. After that album, Justin set his sights on Hollywood and we all feared that this talented performer would never release another album. Fast forward to this year and Justin releases a cryptic video where he all but says that he will release an album. Needless to say, the expectations were very high for this album...and he delivered.

The 20/20 Experience is an album that you can listen to from front to back without skipping any song and you won't want to. The way one song seamlessly flows into another is a work of art. What Justin and his go to producer Timbaland created is nothing short of a masterpiece and you can be sure that this will be considered one of their best work.





Miley Cyrus - Bangerz

Surprised to see this album here? Believe me, I am too. I'm a firm believer that good music should get recognized as such, no matter who the artist is. In this case, that artist is Miley Cyrus. I think that the problem that Miley has is that her antics on stage distract people from her music. Think about it, when was the last time you had a conversation about Miley Cyrus where you didn't speak about her, but her music? 

It's such a shame that Miley's antics take away from the music because the music is so damn good! As implied, Bangerz  has several party songs  but the album really shines when Miley steps away from the party and lets her voice show. Such songs are Adore You, Wrecking Ball, and Rooting for my Baby.





Phoenix - Bankrupt!

You can file this under Forgotten Albums. Phoenix released Bankrupt! in April but apparently, nobody noticed. This isn't new territory for the french band, however. In 2009, the band had a semi hit with their single 1901 but despite this, the band isn't really well known in the states. Hopefully my writing will bring them more attention because they deserve as much attention as they can get.

Bankrupt! is an essential feel good album. Often times nearing the edge of experimental, Phoenix made an infectious album that you can't help but bob your head to. Before you know it, you'll catch yourself singing one of the songs long after you finish listening to the album. 

No song proves this more than Trying To Be Cool.

 




Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

If anyone wants to learn how to announce an album, they take a lesson from Daft Punk. After being out of the music scene for about 8 years (we won't count the score that the duo did for the Tron: Legacy film), Daft Punk returned to the music scene in 2013. How did they announce their comeback? With a 15 second commercial spot during Saturday Night Live. The commercial was simple. The words Daft Punk appear on screen while a guitar riff played underneath it. You then saw the now iconic helmets before the commercial suddenly ended. The effect that this 15 second ad had on people is unbelievable. Blogs began speculating on the album and online users took this 15 seconds ad and turned it into a 3 minute "song". I'm sure that Daft Punk were pleased with the reaction.



After releasing several more ads, Daft Punk released Random Access Memories in May. However, this was a different Daft Punk. Instead of giving us the electronic sounds that we have grown to expect from them, the duo through a curve ball and gave us an album that was more funk driven than anything they have ever done. Upon listening to Random Access Memories, you get the feeling that the duo is rebelling against the robotic EDM sound that is so popular in music today (how's that for ironic). In fact, when asked to comment on the album, Giorgio Moroder (who contributed on the album) said "still dance, still electronic, but they gave that human touch back"





Beyoncé - Beyoncé

I know what you're thinking. How can an album that was released three days ago already be considered one of the best albums released this year? The short answer is that this album (self titled Beyoncé) is just that damn good.

You have to understand that I'm not a Beyoncé fan. Don't get me wrong, I respect her. I acknowledge everything she's done, either solo or with Destiny's Child (every incarnation). I know she's a phenomenal performer. Despite all of that, I just never really connected with her music. However, this  past week I felt compelled to buy this album and I don't regret the purchase.

This album is twofold. First and foremost, it is about love. Self love, emotional love, sexual love and motherly love are all aspects that Beyoncé addresses. When she sings about these things you can almost feel the emotion in her voice. Secondly, and surprisingly, this album is about having a visual experience. Beyoncé calls this a visual album and with 17 music videos, it's hard to disagree. I'll say this, Beyoncè made us care about music videos in an age where music videos are damn near irrelevant. That's saying something.

The stand outs in the album are Haunted, Jealous, Superpower, Rocket, and the surprisingly sexual Partition. Partition will definitely have people talking negatively about her and Beyoncé, seeing this coming, put in this excerpt from a speech by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in the song ***Flawless

We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much...We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.

How's that for addressing the naysayers?

************************************************************

So there you have it, these were my favorite albums of 2013. These were the albums that I spent most of the time either listening to, reading about, or analyzing. Now I turn it over to you reader, what was your favorite album(s) of 2013?

-JSR





Monday, December 9, 2013

Music Monday - Akil

Special shoutout to the homie Akil for this edition of Music Mondays with a mini feature! I've always loved this track right here and it's on my playlist:



Don't forget to check his new stuff too.



xoxo
- L

Monday, December 2, 2013

Music Monday: Christmas Time

For this post, I felt like shaking things up a bit. Instead of my usual "Forgotten Albums" theme, I will make this post about some of my favorite Christmas songs. My reason for doing this is twofold. One, it's the middle of Thanksgiving Weekend and I haven't had time to revisit old albums. Two, with December fast approaching, it just feels appropriate. Let's begin.

First we have Last Christmas by Wham. Truth be told, I never cared for this song until my brother pointed out how great this song is. Originally released in 1984 on the album Music From The Edge of Heaven, this song tells the story of a man who encounters an old love after a year of not seeing her.


Second, John Lennon's Happy XMas (War Is Over). This song has a special place in my heart because John Lennon is my favorite artist of all time. This song simply embodies what John Lennon was all about. It calls for an end of war while at the same time offering the skeptical question, "What have you done this past year."



Finally, we have A New York City Christmas. Released in 2004 by Rob Thomas, this song was a single without an album. The song was released at the height of the Iraq invasion and not surprisingly, it calls for "A prayer for peace on Earth within our time".




So there you have it, these are three of my favorite Christmas songs. My actual list of Christmas favorites is pretty extensive but these are the ones that stand out. So reader, tell me, what's your favorite Christmas song?

-JSR

Friday, November 29, 2013

FIT Foodie Friday (Kinda)

Hi guys I know I've been slacking off big time, but I'm trying!

FOOD:

I've been eating pretty crappy lately, especially this weekend for Thanksgiving. But I have also been eating less. So win win there? I have been more busy at work with ongoing projects and deadlines, so I've been distracted. Distraction means less mindless snacking at work and eating just to eat. But I also haven't had much of an appetite. It comes and goes.

FITNESS:

I quit my gym. Sad, I know. It was a nice gym too, but the price per month was killing me. I'm trying to save up for a new apartment and I had to cut costs. I was barely going anyway. So I made the cut, and I don't miss it. BUT I'm considering signing up for a couple of 5ks in the NYC area. I was so bummed I missed Color Me Rad this summer, I've made up my mind to do it this year. Along with a couple other ones. Maybe I can attempt a 13.1 while I'm at it. Nah let me not fool myself. I'll do the 5ks to start and see where it takes me. I for sure need to get my act together. Besides the fact that the Mister comments on it all the time, I'm disappointed in myself. Why am I struggling to put my (tall) UGGS on?!? Ummm nope. Nipping this in the bud right now. There is plenty I can do at home with better time management and motivation.

Sorry for letting you all down! I am getting back on my game. #OperationSlimmaz is in effect.

XOXO
- L

Monday, November 25, 2013

Music Monday: Mark Ronson-Version



What is there that can be said about Mark Ronson that hasn't already been said? The English as well as newer artists such as Bruno Mars, Adele, Amy Winehouse  and Christina Aguilera (all of which can be argued will be considered legends some day). The fact that he is sought out by artists of such caliber speaks to the kind of producer that Mark Ronson is. 

However, Mark doesn't only make music for other artists. Ever so often, he takes time to release his own album. The first was Here Comes The Fuzz, which was released in 2003. It would take Mark four years to release his follow up album. The criminally underrated Version.


Released in 2007, Version is a cover album that features three original songs. You have to understand, I'm extremely selective when it comes to cover songs. I've heard many terrible cover songs that do not do any justice to the original. This is why I was hesitant with Mark's album. An entire album dedicated to covers? Scary stuff.

Thankfully, my fears were set aside upon listening to the first track, God Put A Smile On Your Face.



A brass filled cover of Coldplay's 2003 song, Mark Ronson's version set the tone for the entire album. I have a soft spot for the brass filled jazz of the 1950's so Version was right up my alley. Mark chose the right vocalists for the right song when putting this album together, giving modern songs a jazzy feel. From The Smith's Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before to Britney Spears' Toxic, Mark was able to take all of these songs and give them new life. None however, depicts this as well as track number 5, Valerie.

Originally by the indie rock band The Zutons, the cover that Mark Ronson put together for the late, great Amy Winehouse feels like an entirely different song. Check it out for yourself.




So tell me reader, is there a cover version that you love? A cover version that you hate? Sound off on the comments!

-JSR

Monday, November 18, 2013

Music Monday

It's just one of those days where I listen to some old school tings...








Monday, November 11, 2013

Music Mondays: Robin Thicke "Love After War"

If your only knowledge of Robin Thicke is from his controversial yet massive hit Blurred Lines, you can be forgiven for believing that this is the only kind of music he makes. The truth is that Robin spent years out of the mainstream eye writing hits for artists such as Jordan Knight, Marc Anthony and Christina Aguilera.  After writing for other artists, Robin released his first album, A Beautiful World in 2003. While not a massive hit, it would produce a song that would give Robin his first taste at solo success. The song is When I Get You Alone. 


After this semi-hit Robin went back to the studio and reinvented himself. The result would the aptly named The Evolution of Robin Thicke. Evolution would be the album that would bring Robin to the mainstream with hits such as Lost Without U, Can U Believe and Wanna Love You Girl. 

After Evolution, Robin continued his hit parade with his follow up albums. However, one album seems to be lost in the pack. This album is 2011's Love After War


Unlike his most recent effort Blurred Lines (which he has gone on record to say is his least personal album), Love After War follows in the tradition of pure, unadulterated R&B that made his previous albums classics. Written around the theme of couples who make up after an argument, Robin explores what it takes to make a relationship work. This theme can be heard most on the tracks We A Family, I Don't Know How It Feels Like To Be U, and of course, Love After War.


In closing, I hope that this post has helped the reader see that Robin Thicke is much more than just Blurred Lines. Yes, it's his biggest hit to date, but it is far from his best and Love After War shows how great of an artist he is. So tell me, what are your thoughts on Robin Thicke?

-JSR-


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Let's Get Personal: The Routine Part 2


Welcome back and thanks for sticking with me on this long journey that is my face routine. If you missed the backstory or part 1, you can check them here and here. I really will cut down on my routine and simplify it more in a few months. Holidays are coming up and I can't afford to spend any excess money. It's all about the budget! Plus we're looking forward to moving soon, so any little bit I can cut out to save a few bucks I will do away with. Moving on, let's get to it.



Oils/Moisturizers/Treatments: 
Ok so I use a variety of oils. Again, I had to do trial and error to find the ones that worked the best for me. The only ones that worked really well were argan oil and maracuja oil. Maracuja oil is passion fruit oil that is high in nutrients and skin goodies, similar to most of the other oils out there. I use either one after the Dr. Gross peel, usually after my acne treatment. They both sink in and absorb really well (moderation is key as it is with everything) and in the morning my skin is gorgeous. Currently the only maracuja oil I can find is from Tarte and it is pricey, but worth it in my opinion. I usually alternate between maracuja and argan oil to stretch it out.
 

As much as I wanted it to work out, jojoba oil didn't help my skin when I used it as a moisturizer, so I use it with Jamaican black castor oil in a 1:3 ratio for OCM (Oil Cleansing Method) and sometimes add a few drops of rose hip seed oil for an extra burst of vitamin C. I thought it was crazy at first using oils to wash my face, but after I read this XOvain article on OCM and tried it, I have to say it works. Like dissolves like, so the oils and dirt of the day come right off without stripping your skin of all moisture. Also using OCM melts makeup off my face like nothing else, even waterproof mascara. I don't OCM daily because it is time consuming and I don't have enough wash cloths to keep up. I do it when I have a lot of heavy makeup on (eyes, lips and face) or when I want to really open up my pores and get a deep, deep cleaning. The hot wash cloth is good to let more pores open up and release some of the gunk before I rinse in cold water to close them up. It's therapeutic to massage with the oils and they release an inner glow without being harsh. Take it easy with the castor oil and play around to get your ratios right. Castor oil can over dry your skin, depending on skin type. 

During the summer it was so humid, I didn't want to put anything on my face. While the oils worked great at night, during the day when I was out and about, they weren't cutting it. I went back to the drawing board and came up with rose water + glycerin for a home made moisturizer. I figured why not. Rose water makes a pretty good setting spray for my makeup and it smells so amazing. I played around with different combinations before settling on 1 part glycerin to 4 parts rose water to get the right consistency for me. Too much glycerin made my face sticky, but too little wasn't moisturizing enough. Once I got the combination down, I was in heaven! It absorbed in so well and kept my skin hydrated without making me greasy or being heavy on the skin. I loved it! But now with the weather getting cooler, and my skin getting drier, my rose water + glycerin isn't cutting it anymore, so I have been using traditional moisturizers. I alternate between Mario Badescu's Aloe Moisturizer with SPF 15 and Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing gel. It depends on how dry my skin is, but I am finding the Clinique to be a little too greasy lately. I guess I have to play around more with my routine for the colder months, now that I have it down for the summer. 

Clean and Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment has been saving me for some time. I do see a difference in the size of bumps and redness when I use it regularly. For really bad breakout days, I use it 2x daily - once in the morning and once at night. It doesn't burn my skin or make my face redder, and I feel it working almost immediately. I've also learned through trial and error that only the name brand version works. Though the store brands of this product may be cheaper, I can say that they are not as effective. Most of the time I'm all for cheaper instead of name brands, but with this product, there is a difference.

 
Masks: 
You can never have too many. I love mixing the different types of clay with ACV. The Moroccan red clay was too strong for me when used solo. My skin was red and tight for a few hours. The Aztec Indian Healing clay is green clay and alone it works well, but I mix a tiny bit of red in there and boom. Perfection. It really brings everything to the surface. And sure the ACV is smelly, but it mixes with the clay more evenly than water - no chunks. Just be sure to use plastic or glass bowls/utensils because metal will interact with the clay and you don't want that.

The Queen Helene Mint Julep mask has green clay in it, and is great for leaving on pesky spots over night. Bumps either dry up and disappear or come to a head and then disappear. It's also great for when I want to cut some time and just smear on the mask without worrying about measuring and mixing things. It was actually the first mask I was introduced to years ago, but never bothered to keep up with until my recent journey.

The Origins Clear Improvement activated charcoal mask is pretty good too, but it stung too badly for me to use on an everyday or more frequent basis. It's similar to the sensation I get with an all red clay mask where I can only leave it on for about 2-3 minutes before I'm running to wash it off. On the off chance I decided to leave it on longer, the charcoal mask doesn't leave me red or sting for as long as the red clay does. I have read on the internet that you can buy activated charcoal capsules/powder and just make your own mask, so I may try that and see if it's less harsh than the Origins version. 


And this ladies and gents, concludes my routine! Yes I'm terrible with the amount of products I use. Because quite frankly, it shouldn't take so many products to get the results I want. But I'm going to make the changes slowly. I don't want another freak out after everything I've worked so hard for. Because being able to walk out of the house confidently without makeup has been amazing :) Now it's to keep it up where the work comes in.

Hope this was helpful to you.

xoxo
- L








 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Music Monday-Kings Of Leon: Come Around Sundown

Kings of Leon have been around for a while. Forming in 1999, the Followill boys have come a long way from the southern rock sound that defined their early years. While the band was able to find success overseas using this formula, it wasn't until the release of their fourth album, Only by the Night, that the band was finally able to break in the United States. Peaking at number 4 on the Billboard Charts, Only by the Night spawned several hit singles which include Sex on Fire, Notion, and of course the album's biggest hit, Use Somebody.



With the success that was Only by the Night, one would assume that the follow-up album will definitely be a massive hit. And while that is true for the rest of the world, we here in America seem to be missing out once again. Come Around Sundown managed to reach Platinum status in every country that it was released in except for America, where it reached Gold.


In short, Come Around Sundown is exactly what it was meant to be. The Followill boys intended to make an album with a southern summer feel and they delivered. Songs like Radioactive and Back Down South give the listener a longing for those lazy summer days, whether you're originally from the South or not. To me, this is an example of a great album. You can be sitting in your apartment in New York City where the current temperature is 37 degrees but this album will transport you to warm summer day where you are gathered with your friends for a cookout. That's what great albums do. Unfortunately, it seems that we here in America haven't learned to appreciate this fact.


Note: Kings of Leon have announced the Mechanical Bull 2014 Tour. If you are interested in attending, please purchase your tickets here.

-JSR



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Let's Get Personal: The Routine Part 1

Sorry for the long wait! Things have been busy and I've been overwhelmed and really lazy to keep up here. As you may have noticed, I've gotten a guest blogger to take over Music Mondays for me, and it has helped tremendously. I will get better soon! So a few weeks ago I went over my back story, and the reason why I have issues with my skin and hormones. If you missed it, you can read it here. I went into some detail about my history with PCOS, and the difficulties I had with my changing skin over the years. Right now I'm at a really happy place. There are a few breakouts here and there, but nothing near to what I was dealing with before. I was actually super pleased when I went to the MAC store to get color matched and the MUA said my skin was gorgeous. I sang on the inside! Before I get to it, I'm going to let you know this is going to be lengthy and I will break it up into 2 parts. Let's get started!


This is everything I use. Looks like a lot, but it works!

My skin type is oily combination. Oily in the T zone and fairly normal on the rest of my face. A few dry patches around my mouth area and cheeks occasionally, mostly when I haven't exfoliated in a long time or when the weather gets colder. Some days - like the past few weeks (eek!) I've been too lazy to do much so I let my skin do its own thing. And it seems to work. Less stress I guess? But I still put some effort into it. Just not the whole routine. I'm also working on weaning off products so I can minimize the amount of products I use and also spend less money in the same boat.


Cleansers/exfoliants:

I use a variety of cleansers and exfoliants based on my mood, time and skin. I never used to exfoliate at at all.
No one ever showed me or told me how to do skin care, so I had to learn it through trial and error, looking things up on the Internet, and just winging it sometimes. I mean who knew you had to cleanse, exfoliate, tone, AND moisturize? Plus serums and all that? I sure didn't. I was just a basic cleanse and moisturize gal. Then one day I was introduced to St. Ives Apricot Scrub and that baby has stayed with me since. I switched to the Blemish and Blackhead Control formula and never looked back. More recently, I found out about Clarisonic Mia and once I figured out which brush head worked the best for me (deep pore) I jumped on it and have never been happier. 

Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Wash is one of the first cleansers I have ever used, and it is the one I always end up going back to - because it works. I know that a lot of people say it doesn't matter what is in your face wash because it isn't on your skin long enough to be effective, but I think this proves otherwise (at least for me.) I use this with my Clarisonic to get nice and clean. It suds up really well and I find that certain cleansers don't work as well with the Clarisonic if they don't lather and create a lot of soapy suds. Neutrogena + Clarisonic with deep pore brush = squeaky clean and happy face. I do this combo a few times a week, it's too intense to do it everyday and definitely only once a day.

My everyday cleaner when I don't use my Clarisonic is Mario Badescu Botanical Facial Gel. It doesn't do much in terms of the "
deep cleansing and refreshing" it claims, but it removes dirt fairly well. Makeup - not so much. It also doesn't work with my Clarisonic because of the gel formula, so I just use it on its own. Occasionally I'll use some apricot scrub when I want some massage action going on, or some exfoliation without breaking out the Clarisonic. I usually use the apricot scrub on its own once or twice a week. It doesn't remove all the dirt and makeup, but it feels SO good on my face. I don't use it on dry skin because I find that too harsh. I make sure I wet my face first and get to massaging in circles. 

PIDA exfoliating gel I use every so often. Mostly because I'm lazy and don't like washing my face in the sink. It's great for getting off dry skin though, especially areas where I couldn't leave well enough alone and picked at things. It's a good product and my face is silky smooth after using this. Its not drying at all, I just really wish I could use it in the shower and that I didn't have to use it on dry skin! You can read my review on it here.

Raw honey is more of a mask than a cleanser, but it serves the purpose of both. I put some on my skin and massage it in for a few minutes before I let it sit for 15-20 mins. Then I put a hot washcloth on top and let it soak into my skin before wiping off. My skin feels soft and supple, which makes me wonder why I don't do it more than twice a month! Hmm.. I guess I have to stop being lazy and manage my time better!



Toners/peels:

Clinique Clarifying Lotion -
Formula 2 (for Dry Combination skin) mixed with some Neutrogena Clear Pore Astringent. Clinique had recommended Formula 3 for oily combination skin, but it broke me out and didn't feel right on my skin. Formula 2 feels better, it makes my pores tighter and I feel cleaner, plus it calmed my breakouts almost immediately. I saw my acne shrink in days. I use this almost everyday. For the times where my skin is extra sensitive, I use plain ol' witch hazel to sooth any irritation and redness. It still cleans thoroughly, but sometimes if I use too much, it leaves a slight film behind and it makes my face sticky.
Oth
er times when I'm in a rush, or when my skin is behaving extraordinarily well and I don't have any breakouts, I'll use my FAB Facial Radiance Pads. I don't see too much of their claims to "exfoliate, tone and brighten." But they pick up whatever my cleansers don't pick up and don't sting or dry out my skin. I throw them in my gym bag and they're very travel friendly, especially in a carry-on bag since there's no 'liquid' per-say.

Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Extra Strength Formula
towelettes are AMAZING. I know some of you may have seen my Instagram posts of before and after, but within 3 uses I saw a difference in my skin. Acne shrank, red spots cleared up, my skin felt soft, I was glowing! It also really helped my oils and treatments penetrate better. Using the peels after a good exfoliation gave me the best results. I know it's pricey and also not natural, but it works. And for that I can splurge and feel ok with it because c'mon I can see real results here. Not after weeks, but within DAYS. 

I also liked the Murad Intensive-C Radiance Peel. I received it as a sample from Sephora and I was contemplating purchasing the full size before I tried the Dennis Gross pads. It penetrates without irritating my skin, and my inner glow was released. However, I'm all for quick and easy, which the Dennis Gross pads offer. I swipe them across my face and I'm done. The Murad while more cost effective, requires washing off after the allotted time. I don't have time for that!! Plus I'm saving water ;)

And I think I will cut it off here.. Next week's post will be Oils, Moisturizers, and Masks. Whew, that's still a lot! You guys must think I'm crazy, but it works wonders. And eventually I will do an update on the more simplified version of this routine.

One day, one day...
- L