ALL ABOUT THAT FACE (The At Home Spa Series…Part 1)

My name is Tamara and I’m a beauty addict.

There I said it. The first step is admission…right?

You see, for me, the love affair with skincare/cosmetics and make up was born more out of necessity than the actual love of playing dress up or desire to look older for a crush. I was a teenager who was plagued with bad skin. Well not really bad skin…more like sensitive skin that just looked really bad.

The teenage years, the 7 to 9 year period in a young person’s life, that parents the world over dread. Raging hormones cause extreme mood swings and wreak havoc on the body—especially the face. For me, when the breakouts started the real lessons in skincare began. Trial by fire—and almost in a literal sense.

Remember the “Noxzema Girl?” Also known as Rebecca Gayheart (I just found out her name the other day), the Noxzema girl had teens around the country (and maybe even the world) believing that slapping on some cold cream every night was the cure all to acne prone skin. Don’t get me wrong…it did work for some. But this chica soon learned she had sensitive skin. And my using the famed product resulted in mild chemical burns on my cheeks (where the breakouts were the worse) and extreme scarring. Hence sensitive skin that just looked really bad.

Over the years, I would experiment with a variety of products– from all natural soaps, glycerin soaps, high end products (my mom was a huge fan of Chanel and Lancôme) , beauty counter staples (like Clinique) and later cocoa and shea butters (which actually over time helped fade the scars). It took a few years, but my skin finally cleared up– just in time for college. By then, I was already a skin care junkie.

Fast forward to present day.

One of the perks I love the most about being a blogger is getting the chance to test some of the newest beauty products to hit the market. From established brands to those just bursting onto the scene, I love trying them all. Lou (my postman), Alex (my FedEx guy), and John (my UPS guy) are the couriers of my addictions. I literally do a happy dance when I hear the doorbell ring. A new product to test!

After Fashion Week my skin needs a chance to recuperate from the 24/7 make-up, lack of sleep, and all the wine and champagne (water? What water?). Add to all the stress of 7 days of nonstop running around the city and partying– the onset of fall and its blustery winds; all of which do a number on one’s visage. For the past month or so I have been all about the face (get it? Thanks Meghan Trainor for the title idea) — testing a number of products. Some were hits and others…not so much. But after a four week trial period I’ve come up with a list of faves that I think my fellow beauty addicts will be adding to their home spa arsenal.

DERMOLOGICA DAILY MICROFOLIANT

Dermologica Daily Microfoliant

Not a new product by any means (it first hit the market in 2001), Dermologica’s Daily Microfoliant is a definite must have as we transition into the fall and winter. A powder exfoliant, this rice-based formula activated with just a little water to gently but effectively lift dead skin cells for smoother, brighter skin. A half to 1 teaspoon’s worth goes along way– releasing active ingredients papain, salicylic acid and rice enzymes. I guess that’s why it’s been one of the brand’s best sellers worldwide since its debut. Safe for daily use, I use it every morning after cleansing my face. Afterwards I follow with a serum and a moisturizer with an SPF.

MONAT REJUVENIQUE OIL INTENSIVE

Rejuvenique Oil Intensive by Monat

Speaking about serums…I’m in love with Monat’s Rejuvenique Oil Intensive. Actually a dual purpose product (seriously who doesn’t love a product that multitasks?), the Rejuvenique Oil can be used on both your hair and skin. For the purposes of this trial I focused on its benefits for use on my skin. Utilizing its key ingredient Abyssinian Oil (derived from the crambe seed), Rejuvenique Oil does what its name suggests—rejuvenates the skin by replenishing and repairing the skin by providing nutrients, Omega-6 fatty acids and antioxidants that help prevent premature aging. With the late nights (as I write this post at 1am…) and lack of sleep due to stress, work and life in general, why look older than you are? This product is super light and absorbs quickly into the skin. I use it twice a day (in the morning after cleansing and before moisturizing and in the evening as a treatment). A little goes a long way. For those of us who are a little wasteful with oils, Monat has conveniently included a dropper which miraculously supplies the perfect amount to cover your face and neck.

CLAYSPRAY MATTIFYING RED CLAY

ClaySpray Mattifying Red Clay Masque

I have declared time and time again that I have the oiliest skin in New York. But after recent weeks, I am about to relinquish this title. Thank you Clayspray! I am singing the praises of the brand’s Mattifying Red Clay because it literally has changed my T-zone from an oil slick mess to a normal forehead, chin, and nose. Though many an aesthetician has told me I should thankful for oily skin (they claim it “keeps you young”), I can’t stand the shine that takes the sexy dewy look (let’s face it you can achieve that with bronzer) to looking like I just slathered Vaseline on my face. Since using the Mattifying Red Clay masque, it’s like I have a whole new face (I’m close to saying “bye Felicia” to my blotting papers). Why does it work? Well, the masque uses enriched mineral clay which helps regulate oil secretion in the skin, helps combats blemishes and purifies by really giving you a deep cleanse. Added benefit…the Mattifying Red Clay has minerals that have anti-aging capabilities including silica to boost collagen, iron to activate circulation and magnesium to heal the skin. It absorbs impurities while helping regulate the oil in your skin. Used in conjunction with ClaySpray’s H2O Spray (mineral rich mountain spring water), twice a week I use the masque on my t-zone. I let it dry and then rinse off followed the remainder of my facial routine.

ILLUMASK ANTI-AGING MASK

illuMask Anti-Aging Phototherapy Mask

Don’t we all wish we had the latest and greatest beauty products and technologies at our disposals like our favorite celebs? Please…many have an aesthetician on call (or better yet on staff) for their skin care emergencies. Since many of us aren’t that fortunate and daily trips to the spa aren’t in our budgets, we have to opt for the next best thing. Introducing illuMask. Now this is a product that brings the daily spa treatment right into your home. IlluMask uses phototherapy (the process of using “good” light to treat the skin) which has been used by dermatologists, spas and skin clinics forever. With illuMask you can get a top quality high end treatment in the comfort of your own home using a similar technology. I admit, it does look a little space-agey. It uses red light to even the skin and reduce roughness and infrared light to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The other thing—invoking the spa experience) you are forced to be still for 15 minutes (the length of the preset treatment). For a month (each mask is set to give you 30 treatments—yes they advise for optimal results to use this everyday) I carved out 15 minutes where I would put on some relaxing music (thank you Songza for your Yoga activity setting) and let the mask do its thing. Because there is no way for you to see (no eye holes) there’s no checking your email or texting to be done. But it is worth it. It works. Mr. Socialite (like most men…doesn’t really notice much) made a comment about my skin looking really nice. So illuMask is Mr. Socialite approved.

SILK’N REVIT MICRODERM

Silk’n ReVit Microderm

After attending a holiday preview event a little while ago, I was introduced to the brand Silk’n. A boutique brand, the company is known for providing professional aesthetic devices for home use. In a contest at the event, I won a ReVit Microderm Kit. It is everything! ReVit is all about creating beautiful skin—ReVitalizing it by removing dead skin cells using a very soft vacuum like process with a gentle “diamond peeling” tip. Sounds fancy right? Let me get down to the nitty gritty… ReVit literally slough off the dead skin cells helping to improve skin tone, texture and elasticity as well as reduce the appearance of age spots, fine lines and acne scarring (yay!). And the best part…it only takes 5 minutes. The other thing I love about it is that you can see the results after each use. What do I mean by that? Well you can literally see the skin flakes (gross but sooo cool—skincare geek) after each treatment. Recommended for use twice a week or as needed, the kit comes with three detachable diamond peeling treatment heads—Precision (for small and hard to reach areas), Fine (for a more gentle treatment) and Coarse for a more powerful exfoliation. Perfect for the face, neck and hands (the places that can show the most damage), the ReVit is definitely another must have for your at home spa. Be careful while letting others in your household try it. They’ll get addicted and you will find out that they are using it twice a week too (yes I’m calling you out Mr. Socialite!).

Alright…now I feel like a pusher (you know, that person who introduces you to the drug—thank you  former First Lady Nancy Reagan and the whole SAY NO TO DRUGS campaign of my youth for instilling that in my head)—talking about how amazing you will look and feel after using these products. You know you want to try ‘em. You know you’ll like ‘em. It’ll be worth it…believe me. You know you can trust me. LOL. Besides it’s the holiday season and between Thanksgiving and the one million parties that will take place between then and New Year’s you skin will need it. Just click on the links in each post…you want regret it!

* To learn more about each featured item, click on each product title to visit the brand’s site.

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WHAT’S IN MY BAG?

Randomly last week, Mr. Socialite filled me in on what he thought was one of the biggest mysteries known to man—what is actually in a woman’s purse.

After giving him a serious side eye, I had to admit that the knowledge of what’s inside a lady’s handbag is really one of the world’s burning questions. Think about it. For 60 years folks pondered what Queen Elizabeth could possibly carry in her purse. It was such a hot topic in the UK that it inspired a book (What’s In the Queen’s Handbag and Other Royal Secrets by Phil Dampier).

Walt Disney went as far as to make it seem like a purse was some kind of magical land of wonderment when he had the beloved character Mary Poppins pull out everything in her seemingly bottomless carpet bag from medicine to magical umbrellas to even a small potted plant in the 1964 musical film. The curiosity is still a big thing today. US Magazine has made discovering what lives in the depths of our favorite celebrities’ bags a regular feature—giving readers a glimpse into what makes them tick.

For those of you who know me offline, I am always carrying a large tote. Because of my life as a publicist and blogger, I need a bag that can carry all my essentials needed to get through my day. Though it changes from season to season or at times based on my whim that day, my handbag has to be able to carry my arsenal necessary to sustain me throughout the day.

For spring 2014, my go-to handbag is my MICHAEL Michael Kors Jet Set Signature Tote in Vanilla. Because I carry a lot of “stuff,” having a bag with a lot of pockets is key to me staying organized. This signature tote has double compartments, slip pockets on the outside, zipped divider, and pockets throughout the interior ideal for all your little knickknacks including your smartphone, and more. The light, airy color reminds me of sunny days making it perfect for the warmer weather.

MICHEAL Micheal Kors Jet Set Signature Tote in Vanilla

So my lovelies, here’s a snippet of what’s in my bag…

I never leave home without my SAMSUNG Galaxy s3 (though I am about to upgrade to the S5). I hate to admit it but I’m lost without it. I keep track of everything on it. Currently my favorite app is the Any.do Calendar App which takes the traditional phone calendar to the next level with Google Maps integration, customizable settings, sync capability with my online calendar as well as it works seamlessly with its sister task app. My smartphone just makes life so much easier. But because Manhattan seems to be an energy black hole, I also carry an old school agenda as backup.  A dead battery or no access to an outlet is no excuse for not knowing what I have on deck.

Samsung Galaxy S3 (Image Courtesy of Phandroid.com)

I am a huge supporter of independent designers. I’ve been a fan of the SK Wilbur brand for years. I am currently using the handmade brown and beige zebra print “mini” as my wallet. Given to me by the designer himself, I carry everything from my train ticket to cash in this super cute accessory.

SK Wilbur Mini in Brown & Beige Zebra

With the schedule I have, sometimes it’s hard to take time for a lunch break. I recently started subscribing to Graze Box, a subscription service which allows you to pick healthy, delicious snacks. Four tasty treats come in a box (delivered at a frequency of your choice) in perfect portions. I carry one of the options with me to stave off hunger and lightheadedness with the long stretch in between meals. I’ll be doing a full review soon. (Wanna try Graze box for yourself? Use my friendcode CKTJKRQ3P to get your first and fifth box free!)

Graze Box sends tasty but healthy snacks that are perfectly sized for a quick bite.

Because I spend at least an hour a day on a commuter train of some sort, I treasure my ASUS Memo Pad 7. This chic seven inch Android tablet is perfect for catching up on client emails, social media or enjoying some downtime listening to Pandora or playing whatever my gaming addiction of the moment.

ASUS Memo Pad 7

Now that the weather is getting warmer, my beauty needs have morphed a bit. The higher temps bring an oily face. I swear by Boscia’s Green Tee Blotting Linens. They quickly suck up the oil without removing your makeup.  Also in my bag beauty wise is Grand Central Beauty’s S.M.A.R.T. Skin Perfecting Serum + Primer. Alone or under makeup, this Serum + Primer works instantly to smooth and moisturize  your skin without any sulfates, parabens, mineral oil or strong fragrances (simply put it looks good and is good for your skin). And because you always want to have healthy, kissable lips, I make sure I have my limited edition Carmex Ultra Hydrating Moisture Plus lip balm in Chic in my bag at all times. The lip balm we have come to love has paired a fashion forward exterior designed to match one’s style and personality with the brand’s patented moisturizing formula and SPF 15 sunscreen to keep lips looking luscious, healthy and protected.

Boscia Green Tea Blotting LinensS.M.A.R.T. SKIN PERFECTING SERUM+PRIMER by Grand Central BeautyCarmex Moisture Plus Limited Edition stick

Now you know what I carry….so what’s in your bag?