Essences: Huh?

Your First Step to Hydrated, Supple Skin!

If you want to add a step to your skincare routine that will make the biggest difference in hydration and impact the rest of your product’s effectiveness, an essence is where to start.

Did you say “essence”? “Essence” of what? Most people who are only cleansing and moisturizing might have heard of a toner, but the idea of an essence is fairly new. Essences are like watery serums, they have rich ingredients that are easily absorbed into the skin, and allow the products that follow to penetrate deeper for better results.

Think of a dry sponge, when you add soap to a dry sponge, the soap doesn’t absorb or lather well until you saturate the sponge with water. Instantly, the soap soaks in and the sponge becomes more supple.

Our skin is like a sponge, it has the ability to absorb water better than it has the ability to absorb oil – that is why essences are so important.

When I first began incorporating an essence into my routine a few years ago, the biggest difference I noticed was my skin feeling more hydrated, supple and plump. I also noticed my skincare products absorbing more quickly which is fabulous because I know my skin is fully absorbing the beautiful ingredients, instead of just sitting on top of my face.

In the order of applying skincare, an essence is one of the first steps after cleansing your face. Toners help to balance the ph of your skin prior, and essences prep your skin for the rest of your routine. Tip: Make sure your skin is still damp from the essence before applying your serum and remaining skincare products. That moisture is what draws the rest of your products into the skin.

Some of my favorite essences are below:

  • Tata Harper Concentrated Brightening essence $160

Special Mention:

  • Caudalie Beauty Elixir $18-49

Final thoughts:

If you are not using an essence, your skin is not reaching its fullest potential! Especially as we age, it is important to hydrate; do your skin a favor and add an essence today.

Remember, you are appreciated and worthy of self-care and love.

XOXO,

Erika

Comment below! I would love to know what your favorite essence is and the difference it has made in your skin.

Beauty Heroes February 2019 Subscription Box: Tabitha James Kraan

I received this trio in my February subscription from Beauty Heroes. I wanted to give these products a fair review, so I tried them multiple times before posting my thoughts. I should tell you upfront that for my hair type (thin and straight with very little volume) they didn’t quite fit my wish list, but if you are specifically wanting some insight into this brand and products, please continue reading below:

Scented Organic Hair Oil $52

This was my favorite product out of the three items I received, I enjoyed using it as an overnight treatment and the ingredients are clean and organic (there is also an amber crystal inside the bottle – nice touch!). I found the scent to be beautiful and subtle, but the oil unfortunately weighed my hair down too much to use during the day.

Clean Shampoo $35

With an aloe vera base, this shampoo is very light and does what it says in terms of detoxifying your strands. Unfortunately for me, that also resulted in a lack of hydration that my hair desperately needs. I was impressed by the lathering effect (especially considering the clean ingredients) and the Amber Rose scent was beautiful in the bottle. After rinsing my hair, most of the scent had dissipated.

Clean Conditioner $35

Also with an aloe base, I too found this conditioner to be very light. It felt buttery as I applied it to my strands, but after rinsing, my hair lacked hydration once more. Similar to the shampoo, the scent is very faint after rinsing.

Final thoughts: For the price of the subscription box ($42.95 per month), there is definitely a lot of value here ($122). I appreciate the opportunity to be exposed to new products and brands and I was sad these didn’t work for my hair type and wish list (more volume, additional hydration, smoothing, etc.).

Thank you for taking the time to consider my thoughts!

Remember, you are appreciated and worthy of self-care and love.

XOXO,

Erika

Valentine’s Day Beauty Gift Guide

Treat Yourself!

After being together for over 12 years, my husband knows I’d rather receive the gift of skincare than roses and candy, especially when the products include ingredients from flowers, and are boxed like delectable chocolates!

So, in honor of Valentine’s Day I wanted to share with you some of my favorite “treats” when it comes to self-care:

Follain: Pretty in Pink Lip Kit $25

What a fun and beautiful lip kit! This set includes a full-sized French Girl Organics Rose Lip Polish and Kari Gran Peppermint Lip Whip. And with a value of $53, this is a great introduction to clean lip care. I have reviewed both products in a previous post and am a huge fan of these natural brands, and of follain.com. Thank you follain.com for curating such a great kit at a great price!

May Lindstrom: The Chocolate Box $60

Talk about indulgent! This discovery kit includes every ritual in the May Lindstrom collection. Discovery kits are the perfect introduction to a skincare line, allowing you to touch and feel the products before making a larger financial commitment. I have just begun to discover the indulgent, organic, wild-crafted rituals that are May Lindstrom and I’ve been blown away with the experience so far!

Side Note: My Chocolate Box is already ordered and on the way! I couldn’t resist purchasing this discovery kit.

Mintd Box: Love Struck $98

Mintd Box is a monthly subscription box out of the UK. Every month includes deluxe and full-sized prestige-brand products, comprising of many clean brands. This is a great way to get $200+ worth of product for less, and I have been in love with receiving this box for over 6 months now. This month’s “Love Struck” edition can be purchased as a one-time gift from their store, or you can sign-up to receive their subscription box monthly (for less). I am already obsessed with the exquisite brands in this box, including Neom, Aromatherapy Associates, ila and African Botanics and believe this box is the ultimate treat when it comes to Valentine’s Day-themed beauty!

February is the perfect month to show yourself some love and participate in self-care and beauty. My hope is that you find something special to treat yourself to this Valentine’s Day.

Remember, you are appreciated and worthy of self-care and love.

XOXO,

Erika

Comment below! I would love to know what you purchased to honor yourself for Valentine’s Day.

Product Highlight: Go-To Exfoliating Swipeys

When I first turned to clean beauty and discovered I was pregnant, my prestige-brand exfoliating pads were among the first to go. The salicylic acid, retinol and chemical preservatives determined my decision to ditch them temporarily. I was devastated, and promised to return to them the moment I was done with pregnancy and breastfeeding. I slowly watched the texture of my skin become more rough, and breakouts ensued (I’m sure mostly due to the pregnancy, but that’s not the point!). As if there aren’t already enough sacrifices during pregnancy, I was wrecked to watch my skin become another one.

Wrecked, until the fabulous day I discovered Go-To’s Exfoliating Swipeys at sephora.com. The ingredients were simple, clean and I ran to pick them up.

Initial thoughts:

These are such a good deal! At $35 per jar for 50 pads, they will last me forever, or 3 months. And – the new brand out of Australia, Go-To Skincare, is fun, spunky and focused on making skincare easy to understand.

Ingredient Highlights:

  • Lactic Acid – these pads are extremely potent due to the fact that lactic acid is the second ingredient listed after water. So strong, that the pads are only to be used every other day, and washed off after 60 seconds.
  • Aloe Vera – obviously helping to soothe skin, enough said.

Product Experience:

These exfoliating pads are thin, and perfectly saturated with a citrusy, acidic smelling formula. One side is smooth, and the other side is slightly rough to help with any dry-skin, patches, flakes, etc. I am able to swipe my entire face thoroughly, along with my neck and chest before the pad dries out. Without fail, the pad is always dirty when I am done with it, which for me, is a great sign of success in my quest for ultimate exfoliation (lol)! I use these every other night on a clean face, and after rinsing off, I follow with my normal routine. After just several uses, the texture of my skin went back to a place I could be proud of and I still continue to see improvement. Tip: Their site does not recommend this, but if your skin can handle it, you may be able to start off using these pads three nights in a row to jump start your exfoliation before switching to every-other night.

Final Thoughts:

These pads are another product that make me such a strong advocate of clean beauty. Their strength and effectiveness cause me to question ever returning to products that contain harsh ingredients and chemical preservatives. I have been using these pads for over two months now and give them to friends and family to try whenever I have the chance. If I ever have a day of dry, flaky skin, after just one use, I wake up to smoother skin. These pads have become a staple in my routine and I don’t see that changing.

If you are looking for a great, natural exfoliator that works quickly to help improve the texture of your skin, this product is for you!

Remember, you are appreciated and worthy of self-care and love.

XOXO,

Erika

Ingredients:
Water, lactic acid, aloe vera, ethanol, propanediol, polysorbate 20, fragrance (natural mandarin and lemon), dehydroacetic acid, benzyl alcohol, sodium citrate, potassium sorbate. 

https://www.gotoskincare.com/products/face/exfoliating-swipeys

Clean Lip Care

Love Your Lips!

Clean Lip Care

Neglecting any part of my body as I start my 30’s is not an option, knowing that everything I do now will make an impact in the future motivates me to care for my whole-self daily. Finding clean brands to care for my lips is vital, especially considering I ingest (even in small amounts) what I place on them; avoiding synthetic ingredients and chemical preservatives is critical to lip care and beyond (we will dive deeper into the rest of the body later).

(Side note: Yes, unfortunately I am guilty of using petroleum jelly on my lips when I was younger – yuck)

Fortunately, we live in a really fun time right now; clean, organic beauty brands are blossoming! And the idea of self-care is taking off! We take care of ourselves because we want to, not because we have to.

Discovering lush lip care products would have been difficult a few years ago, but today they are in abundance. And with ingredients like rosehip, jojoba, sea buckthorn, prickly pear and raspberry seed oils and with macadamia nut, mango and coconut butters – these lip products sound more like dessert than beauty products. But that’s the point! That we are putting ingredients on our lips that our body can recognize and that taste delicious. Yum!!!

Here are a few of my favorite, most recent discoveries:

French Girl Rose Lip Polish $18

French Girl Rose Lip Polish $18

Lip care should start with a good exfoliator. Treating dry, dead skin is a waste of time. This lip polish smells of minty-fresh, almost chocolatey roses and has no strange after taste. Tip: I place a small amount on a rough cotton round before using it to scrub my lips, and the surrounding skin. I find I can apply more even-pressure and get more scrubbing power this way.

I will use this scrub before applying my Henne Lip Mask on the days I wash my hair, while the shower is heating up. This exfoliator is not meant for consumption but the sugar crystals do taste delicious if I “accidentally” taste some while wiping it off (Lol) with the other side of the cotton round.

Henne Lip Mask $37

Henne Lip Mask $37

I was so excited to be introduced to this brand in my January subscription from The Clean Beauty Box. This slightly-gritty orange mask is full of rich ingredients like rosehip seed oil and sea buckthorn oil and smells of zesty, slightly spicy citrus. It’s delicious ingredients plump and revive lips and the sensory experience of this mask is the ultimate in lip self-care!

Henne Luxury Lip Balm V2 $19

Henne Luxury Lip Balm V2 $19

As a follow-up to the Henne Lip Mask, their lip balm is also a delicious sensory experience. The stick-balm is easy to apply, has an earthy, chocolate-like scent and is extra silky on the lips. Alone, the ingredients seem simple; coconut and avocado oil, shea butter and cacao seed butter; but combined, they make for a fabulous lip balm.

Kari Gran Lip Whip $24

Kari Gran Lip Whip in ‘Radiant’ $24

Kari Gran is a name synonymous with small-batch lip care, and “Lip whip” explains this product perfectly. The texture is like peppermint-flavored whipped butter for your lips and the colors offer a beautiful flush (‘Radiant’ is pictured above). I now own several different colors, including ‘Jolene’ and ‘Suji’ and have one in my purse wherever I go!

Odacite Aventurine Kiss Lip Serum $44

Odacite Aventurine Kiss Lip Serum $44

Serums offer targeted results due to a higher concentrate of active ingredients and I was so excited to bring those same results to my pout! Every ingredient in this product offers something special to the delicate skin of your lips and I use this nightly. Tip: If you use a micro-needle for your lips, you can apply this after for even deeper penetration. The aventurine crystal roller-ball is cooling, and the light formula offers a tingling effect that says it’s working to plump and restore lips with rich hydration.

Ingredients:

Adansonia Digitata [Baobab*] Seed Oil, Moringa Oleifera [Moringa*] Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis [Jojoba*] Seed Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii [Shea Nut Oil] Extract, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Limnanthes Alba [Meadowfoam*] Seed Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii [Shea] Butter, Cocos Nucifera [Coconut*] Oil, Theobroma Cacao [Cocoa*] Seed Butter, Glycine Soja Seed Extract, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate [Vitamin C], Punica Granatum [Pomegranate*] Seed Oil, Sclerocarya Birrea [Marula*] Kernel Oil, Vaccinium Corymbosum [Blueberry*] Seed Oil, Lactobacillus/Capsicum Frutescens Fruit Ferment Extract, Hordeum Distichon [Barley] Extract, Tocopherols [Vitamin E] Oil, Ubiquinone [Coenzyme Q10], Alcohol, Lecithin, Aqua [Water], Aroma, Phellodendron, Santalum Album [Sandalwood] Extract, Yeast Extract, Cucurbita Pepo [Pumpkin] Seed Oil & Papain, Rosmarinus Officinalis [Rosemary] Leaf Extract | *Organic Origin


https://odacite.com/products/aventurine-kiss-lip-serum

Edible Beauty & Goddess on the Go Beauty Balm $21

Edible Beauty & Goddess on the Go Beauty Balm $21

Offering ingredients that are truly edible (although it is not intended for consumption), this balm is sheer and smells of mango, raspberry seed oil and vanilla. It melts effortlessly on contact and is designed to be used anywhere that needs hydration (think cuticles, hair, elbows, etc.). The raspberry seed oil offers some natural sun protection, and as evidenced by the worn product label, I also have one of these on hand in my purse and bedside! This product is simple and appreciated.

Final Thoughts:

Don’t neglect your lips! Our lips are so delicate and need a lot of attention. In addition to sunscreen, it is important we offer them regular exfoliation and deep hydration. With an abundance of beautifully rich, beautifully natural ingredients it is easier and more enjoyable than ever to show our lips some love!

Remember, you are appreciated and worthy of self-care and love.

XOXO,

Erika

Comment below! I would love to know what green beauty products you enjoy using on your pout!

Dry Brushing

Where Has This Been All My Life!?

I’m choosing to do my first post on a dry brush. It doesn’t sound so exciting, but it’s intentional! Dry brushing is something that a lot of women don’t participate in already and it has been the best addition to my self-care routine. I first read in-depth about dry brushing on goop.com and after shopping around and reading reviews, I was excited to purchase this one (pictured) from biossance.com for $10 on sale! It retails for $17, and I would pay that in an instant, especially after falling in love with dry brushing and loving the quality of this brush.

Goop Article: How to Dry Brush -and Why It’s So Potent

Overview:

Now in the world of gimmicky skincare products (and I own several), this is not one of them! I use this product DAILY. It takes only 2 minutes while my shower is heating up and it feels so invigorating! I start at my feet, working my way toward my heart and it awakens all of my senses. I know there are many health benefits to dry brushing (improved circulation, promoting lymph flow/drainage, possible reduction in cellulite, etc.), but above and beyond documented health benefits, it scratches every itch I’ve ever had in my existence. It scratches areas I didn’t know had an itch! Being a married woman, I am used to my husband wanting his back scratched and now I get it, only I can do it myself, quickly, EVERY day. By the time I get to my neck, chest and back, I am in a euphoric state and don’t want to stop!

After dry brushing consistently for 3 days, my skin was undeniably smoother and I’ve been consistently dry brushing my skin now for 3 weeks. The brush is rough and clearly does a great job at sloughing off dead skin and hair. No more exfoliating gloves in the shower that get mildew on them; No more body scrubs that dissolve before you’ve had the chance to thoroughly exfoliate. Dry brushing gets the job done, and I’m only wondering why I didn’t start this years ago.

Review:

For the price, this brush cannot be beat. It is sturdy, and I love the curved brush-head to reach every inch of my body. The handle allows me a longer reach, and the bristles are strong. I have witnessed zero shedding or fallout due to the plastic that the bristles are embedded in, and for these reasons I would recommend this dry brush to all of my friends!

Final Thoughts:

If you are looking to incorporate a new self-care routine to your entire body, and you want the added benefits of smoother skin and better absorption of your body products (among the many health benefits of dry brushing), and if you have $20 to spend, this would be the most loving thing you could purchase for yourself today. When it comes to return-on-investment, this is at the top of the list.

Remember, you are appreciated and worthy of self-care and love.

XOXO,

Erika

Comment below! I would love to know if you have tried dry brushing, and what you love about it.

*$15 off $50 Biossance offer*

Product Highlight: Osea Ocean Cleanser

Feel the Burn!

Personally, the true testament on how healthy my skin is, is when it feels silky and smooth to the touch while cleansing. Even if my skin appears clear, nothing escapes my touch while washing my face and so this is why I am sharing my love of the Osea ocean cleanser with you. I use this cleanser as a second step in my routine (after my first cleanse) and it has made a remarkable difference in the texture of my dry, acne-prone skin. What makes this cleanser so special is the ability to feel its effectiveness on the first try, a.k.a. the burn! And to me, that’s quite impressive.

I received this product initially in my follain.com clean essentials kit ($25), and knew immediately it was a keeper! I am now on my second full-sized bottle and this will be part of my skin-care routine for the next FOREVER.

Follain Clean Essentials Kit

Initial thoughts:

This s*$t burns! That doesn’t sound very pleasant, but like a good workout, I want to feel a cleanser working on my skin. I want to know it’s melting away dead skin, remaining makeup and of course, blemishes.

Ingredient highlights:

  • Lactic Acid – assuming this is where the burn comes from, Lactic acid is a super-gentle form of AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) and does not bother my skin like salicylic acid does. No eczema flare-up here! Lactic acid is very effective at helping to remove dead skin and improve skin texture. It does increase sensitivity to the sun, so it is imperative to wear sun screen while using an AHA. It is also safe during pregnancy and breast-feeding since it is an ingredient our body makes (think sore muscles after a workout).
  • Algae extract – this is the second ingredient listed so you know there’s a lot of it in there! Osea does a fabulous job at explaining their ingredients, so I’ll let them do the talking:

Benefits of Bioavailable Seaweed
Seaweed (marine algae) is one of the most abundant sources of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants and essential fatty acids. It is ten times richer in trace elements than land plants! Seaweed is unique in that it contains bioavailable ingredients, meaning that its active, nutrient-rich compounds are more readily absorbed by your body. Greater absorption of nutrients, means better results for your skin. Because of its bioavailable nature, seaweed provides a multitude of benefits including reducing the appearance of redness and blemishes, brightening, hydrating, remineralizing, reducing the appearance of sun damage and firming skin.

https://oseamalibu.com/pages/our-ingredients

Product Experience:

This cleanser has a gel-like creamy texture and smells of lime with a hint of cypress and juniper essential oils. It spreads easily on damp skin with zero lather. For me, there is an immediate burning sensation (I’d like to think this is because I exfoliate so regularly) and upon rinsing, any tingling subsides. I like to utilize a muslin-cloth to take my cleanser off, only to ensure any remaining makeup is removed and because I realize my hands are only so-so at getting the job done.

Final thoughts:

This product is one of the most effective cleansers I’ve ever used in keeping my skin’s texture smooth and acne-free. It is gentle enough for every day use and the ingredient list is enviable – check them out below! As if that weren’t enough, the pleasant smell and texture add to the enjoyment of using this product. Osea, thank you for developing this product and for your commitment to effective, beautiful ingredients.

Remember, you are appreciated and worthy of self-care and love.

XOXO,

Erika

Comment below! Have you tried this product? What did you think?

*$20 off $100 Osea offer*


INGREDIENTS
Natural Derived Ingredients: Aqua, *Algae Extract, Decyl
Glucoside, Sodium Lauroyl Oat Amino Acids, Sorbitan Olivate,
*Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, *Simmondsia Chinensis
(Jojoba) Seed Oil, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Tocopherol
(Vitamin E), *Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, *Citrus Aurantium Dulcis
(Orange) Oil, *Juniperus Communis (Juniper) Fruit Oil, *Cupressus
Sempervirens (Cypress) Seed Oil, *Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine)
Oil, Lactic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Glycine, Potassium Sorbate,
Chlorophyll Extract *Organic Ingredient

https://oseamalibu.com/collections/shop/products/ocean-cleanser

Hello!

Hi everyone! I am so excited to introduce myself to you. My name is Erika Arriaga and I live in the beautifully hot, beautifully dry state of Arizona. I have been married to my husband, Carlos, for 5 years and we have a 3 1/2 year old son, also named Carlos and a 5 month old son named Pablo. My boys are the loves of my life and we have another baby on the way! Our third is due in June and we cannot wait to have another baby running around, and coincidentally running our lives (LOL).

I work full-time for a large medical supply company and I am a LOVER of skin care! Did I mention I LOVE skin care? When thinking of starting this blog, the one question I asked myself, with doubt was, “Is there enough room for me?”. In this massive world of influencers and beauty brands and bloggers, do we really need another one? I am not an expert, I won’t pretend to be. I am not an aesthetician. I am not a creator of skin care. But, like most women, I am on a mission to look as beautiful as possible for as long as possible.

I think about skincare obsessively. My phone would tell you that I research skincare 3 hours and 27 minutes on average, daily. I love trying new products, discovering the latest brand launches and researching ingredients. Luckily, I’ve found that I’m not the only one, I am not crazy! I am no expert, I won’t pretend to be. But I think I’ve done a good job so far at 32 of keeping my skin looking good, and if I keep this up, I’m banking on another 32 years. Now, most people say, “32!? How bad should your skin be? You’re a baby!” I know, I know! Trust me, I’ve done enough the past 30-some years to cause massive damage do my skin, and I believe prevention is key!
I still have a chance! But it starts now. Not to mention, the process of self-care and beauty is pretty fabulous, and there are worse addictions. Right?

I hope you find inspiration from my blog! Inspiration to indulge in luxurious, CLEAN! skincare. I hope you find inspiration from all of the beautiful colors, luscious scents, unforgettable textures; all while reducing your toxic load!

XOXO,

Erika