Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fatigue Covering Secret Weapons

Hello, GCS readers! I hope everyone is enjoying summer!

I don't know about you, but it seems like almost all of my friends are constantly starting a sentence with the words "I'm so worn out..." And I will be honest, they have every right to be. Many of my friends are working full time, going back to school, chairing community projects, have a new baby (or two!) at home, or are traveling for work at a ridiculous and break neck pace. Of course these women are exhausted!

The only problem is, living a hectic lifestyle can wreck havoc on your face. Haven't slept in 2 months thanks to your adorable newborn? Your eyes look it. Just flew from Houston to Raleigh to Denver to set up for a conference? Your skin tone shows it. Stayed up all night studying for a Managerial Accounting final? Yeah, girl, we can tell.

So if you can't control how much is suddenly on your plate, what can you do to fake it 'til your next much deserved vacation? Well, luckily I've compiled a few of my fatigue covering "secret weapons" so that you too can look a bit perkier until you can get a chance to do the only thing that truly helps us all look a bit better... sleep! (For more on the importance of sleep and tips on counteracting stress, check back to a previous blog post of mine- "The Three S's- Stress, Sleep, and Skin").

Fatigue is often seen most prominently around your eyes. Bags, puffiness, dark circles. Here are a few products that I find really help perk up my eyes when I haven't had a good nights sleep or when that well meaning neighbor is about to drop off dinner and your baby hasn't napped all day...

1. Cosmetix Brand Opti Crystal Chirally Correct Eye Serum- I've raved about this stuff before, but it really will give your eyes an instant boost, and it just keeps improving eye skin over time. I've found the best prices for this on Amazon.com and recently snagged a bottle for around $55, instead of the $90 on retail. One small bottle lasts you a pretty long time, so though it might seem like an investment, it's one worth making! You only need a teeny, teeny little bit to get both eyes nice and covered.

2. Curl your eyelashes, and put on some mascara- Ok, so this sounds super simple, and it is. But if you're hopping off a red eye from Denver to Raleigh, curling your eyelashes and giving yourself a mascara boost (whatever your favorite may be) is a great way to perk up your eyes a bit! Eyelash curlers are not expensive, and you can get one at any local drug store for less than $12 or so.

3. Benefit's Watt's Up Stick- I don't normally recommend make up on my site, as I tend to stick to skin care, but a nice sales lady gave me a sample of this once when I was purchasing some benetint (good stuff!) and I have fallen totally in love with it! It's a simple little stick and by swiping just a small bit in the corners of your eyes, you will look instantly more awake and pulled together. It's pretty great! A full size stick is around $40 on Amazon.com, but I'll be honest, this is another product that will last you forever. My small sample tube has lasted me months! You can also swipe a little on your cheekbones for a nice glow.

We all know that forgoing a good night's sleep makes our skin look a little less than rosy and glowing, so here are a few products for an all over improvement.

1. Pevonia Botanica Lumafirm Repair Cream and Freeze Dried Disks- Two little wonder products so fantastic that a while back, I actually did an entire blog post on just these products. I won't repeat myself too much here, but will say that this is by far my all time favorite face lotion and skin care booster set. I have no idea how Pevonia Botanica discovered this, but after using the disk and the lotion, you do look instantly refreshed. It's pretty amazing. Sadly, this stuff isn't cheap, but I'll swear to it's worth and value all day long! If you're a frequent flyer, new mom, or just could use some instant glow, go online and order this stuff immediately! (Thank me later).

2. Water- Yep, drink water. Lots and lots of water. After listing a few expensive fixes, I thought I'd throw in this friendly and cheap reminder. Often when we are tired, we reach for coffee or a trusty Diet Coke. (I'm not saying you can't have a little caffeine, because I am totally not one to take a morning cup of 'joe out of the hands out a new mother who has been up all night!) But caffeine only has a short term effect, and can actually dehydrate you in the long run. So if you're zipping through the airport terminal or nursing a cranky baby at 3:30 am, grab a water bottle as a trusty side kick. Your skin will thank you! Sometimes if I'm trying to really give my skin a boost, I'll do the "gallon of water a day for three days" routine. You feel like you have to tee tee non stop, but by day three, you look like a new woman!

Now, let me be honest, a good nights sleep will help far more than any product or trick, but if it's not in your cards, then hopefully these tricks can help you boost your glow until you have time for some rest. Do you have any favorite fatigue busting tricks? I'd love to hear them, so please list them below, readers!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Maximizing Your Spa Budget

I know what you're thinking.... Did she really just put the words "spa" and "budget" in the same sentence? But yes, gals, I did! Because every once in a while all of us deserve a little spa time, and frankly, there is nothing like a good day at the spa. Too often we resign time at a spa to being "too expensive" and we don't even look into it. I am here to tell you that you deserve it and you can afford it!

So how does a budget-conscious spa-loving lady (like me!) make the most of her time at the spa? Here are some suggestions:

1. Pick a spa with the works and perks!

If you can find a spa that also offers complementary steam room and sauna features, you'll find yourself in heaven (without a fee!). This way, you can stretch out a $80 facial all afternoon by preparing for your treatment in the whirlpool or steam room. You may be paying a tad more for the treatment (massage, facial, what have you) but you're enjoying a lot of the perks (lounging in the robe, drinking the spa water, sitting in the whirlpool, etc) as a complementary bonus. How delightful! Another tip- arrive early to your appointment at these places and enjoy these features for a nice long while before your appointment time.

2. Opt for a polish change rather than a full manicure.

I know it's delightful to have someone give you a hand and arm massage, but a quicker polish change can be almost half as expensive with much of the same results. Your cuticles will still be pushed, your nails still trimmed/filed, and a fresh coat of color put on. You just won't get all the soaking/massaging benefits. The same, of course, goes for a pedicure. And you can always soak your hands and feet at home!

3. Make your own "package" deal.

A lot of spas offer specialty packages and may seem like you're getting a discount- but is it really a discount if you didn't need the service? Think about what your body needs and only book treatments that will work best for you. Need to shed that winter dull skin in preparation for summer? Book a body scrub and regular pedicure. Face broken out? Book a signature facial and skip the other treatments. By booking only the services you need most, you'll get a little more bang for your buck and control your spending. Let's face it, it would be lovely to have manicures, pedicures, facials, and lunch brought in- but do you really need all that?

4. Make it a girls weekend, at home.

Resort spas (aka where you go for the entire weekend) may not be interested in giving a discount to your party of five (after all, that's pretty typical for them), but a local beauty spot might be. So, before you opt to go away for the weekend, schedule a girlfriends "stay-cation" and call up your favorite local spa. When you're making your reservation for you and your friends, ask if you can get a group discount. They may say no, but hey, does it hurt to ask?

5. Schedule an appointment for extractions rather than a whole facial.

If your skin is broken out (hello PMS/stress/hangover/exhaustion) and you want some help from the pros, try making an appointment for extractions instead of for an entire facial. You won't get the relaxing rubbing and resting, but you will get a professionally cleaned face and professional extractions (which is far better than squeezing at home!) for a fraction of the cost. I find extractions typically only run about $15-$25 per appointment, which is far less expensive than paying for an entire facial.

6. Skip the "mani-pedi" in the upscale spas.

Often we fall back on a trusted "mani-pedi" when we go to a resort type spa, when in reality, you can get a great mani-pedi at your little nail salon next to the grocery store back home for half the price. It is delightful to have a real spa manicure and pedicure, and if you've never done it, then far be it from me to stop you, but save your real "spa" dollars for treatments you can't get anywhere else.

Now pick up the phone and make yourself that well-deserved appointment!

Thursday, February 21, 2013


First and foremost, I've got to admit a little failure on my part. I got about 4 days into my New Year's detox and caught the most terrible cold. I was so sick! I broke down and had chicken noodle soup from a can and other cold-comforting foods. So, I apologize for my lack of update as far as the detox goes, but I didn't finish out the full 7 days. I'm promising myself another detox (I'm thinking I may do a pre-holidays detox, this year? To prepare for the puff?) later this year, so hopefully I can keep you posted on that. However, I will say, just 4 days of detox did help me shed a bit of weight and my skin looked quite good- so if you are motivated to try a detox, let me recommend Mark Hyman's The Detox Box to you!

However, I couldn't go another day without letting you all know about this awesome Christmas present from my sweet hubby! He, creative man that he is, got me a year-long subscription to Birchbox, which is this neat, monthly little gift package that comes in the mail with little beauty samples for you to try! January's package had some awesome Shi Umera Hair Oil and this fun Harvey Prince "Skinny Chic" fragrance sample, which were both lovely. February's package just arrived with some fun nail enamel and some great eye make-up remover from Lancome.

The Birchbox is a fun way to try new things without going to the expense of purchasing an entire bottle (you know I never shy away from asking for a sample!) and has some brands that you may not be discovering on your own! So, if you're looking for a great gift for a friend/mom/sister/bestie or just enjoy a little treat in your mailbox once a month, I recommend trying it!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Preparing for Detox

Ho, Ho, Ho GCS lovers! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, and family time holiday! We had a great time with our family and friends, and it's been absolutely DIVINE to have a real vacation from work and school.

As I mentioned in my last post, I have set out to use Mark Hyman's "The Detox Box" for a 7-day detox beginning the first week of January. (I'm actually still debating on beginning on January 1 or 2, because I have a feeling tomorrow will bring a bit of a headache that may need a greasy sausage biscuit... if you catch my drift!)

Either way, I have begun preparing both my kitchen and myself for detox. Here are a few of the easy steps I have taken, that you can also begin today!

1. While I have stuck with my morning cup of coffee, I have eliminated Diet Cokes from my diet (save for that one I had at the movies the other night... but one in a week is a huge improvement for me!).

I'm pretty sure that the caffeine detox is going to be the toughest part for me. Actually, I'd put money on the fact that this may be the cause of a few recent breakouts, honestly. However, I am working part-time this week and don't have class, so I may be taking a few cat naps. Mark Hyman's plan suggests napping!

2. I've stocked up on my supplies from our local Trader Joes.

For those of you with a Trader Joes nearby, I STRONGLY suggest going there first, before Whole Foods. While I do love my WF, Trader Joes had several of the supplies I needed for a good price AND in a convenient, ready-to-cook fashion. Their frozen organic brown rice is going to be a life-saver--- who has 2 hours to cook brown rice? Mark Hyman may not appreciate this method, but I'm a working gal with time to budget, so I deemed this ok! I also picked up a few of my supplements there for a great price. I've still got to get one or two supplements from WF, but I saved a bundle by hitting up TJ's first!

3. I've set aside space in my fridge, freezer, and on my counter for "my" supplies.

While my husband will inevitably be subject to a few vegan/gluten free/alcohol free/dairy free dinners, I can't subject the poor guy to the entire detox without him being willing (and let me tell you, nothing is going to get that man to give up Bud Light and a good turkey sandwich). So, I have made two shelves in the fridge and a corner on our counter for me to keep my food items, supplements, herbal teas, etc. That way I don't even have to open our pantry or rifle through our fridge and be tempted by the Doritos, grits, Triscuits, cheese, wine, etc. By keeping tunnel vision on my three little spaces, I eliminate a bit of temptation.

4. I've begun to lightly incorporate a few detox-esque changes to my diet already.

Nothing huge, but just to get my body used to, ahem, a vegetable after a 2-week bender of sausage cheese balls, wine, beer, vodka, bourbon, fried fish, cupcakes, biscuits, cheese straws, casseroles, grits, bacon, and fried oysters (Don't give me that face- I'm from the South). I have begun taking some of the supplements and am currently sipping on my breakfast smoothie of strawberries, ground flax seed, flax oil, chia seeds (not on Mark Hyman's plan, but they are great!), spinach, coconut milk, Vitamin C Powder, and Greek yogurt. This isn't technically the detox smoothie, but it's a heck of a lot better than Frosted Mini Wheats and gets my body used to what's ahead.

5. I've dusted off the ole yoga mat.

I've also created a space in my house where I can literally have an entire room to myself, with great natural light (the sunlight kind, not the beer!), to have my DVD and yoga area. I've got a few other workout videos (thanks to a co-worker) and an exercise ball and resistance band. This creates a space in our house entirely dedicated to me and my relaxation which is amazing!

Ok, so Happy New Years Eve to all! Enjoy the evening, and I look forward to detoxing with you come tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Detoxing for Good Clean Skin in the New Year!

Hello, GCS Readers! Please excuse my recent extended absence. A semester of Quantitative Methods and Financial Accounting had me under a bit of an academic rock. Let me tell you something else- it also had me totally stressed, messed up my entire exercise routine, and threw me for a good five pound weight gain. I know, I know- there is no good excuse for not exercising, drinking a Thursday night martini with classmates, and eating mini-twix bars for dinner. But let me tell you, getting up at 5 am to exercise, then working a full day, and then sitting in Financial Accounting until 9 pm without caffeine or chocolate- it's harder than you think!

All this to say, my skin has had it's own reaction to all this imbalance, and it has not been pretty. Blotchy coloring, rashing around the eyes, pimples on the jawline, dry spots and greasy spots. It got bad pretty fast, and unlike me, I let it go for far too long.

If you've read many of my previous posts, you know that I believe strongly in an "inside out" beauty routine. Your skin will mirror your lifestyle, and don't let any dermatologist tell you otherwise. Smokers, heavy drinkers, tanning bed lovers, overweight ladies-- your skin will show this long before you'd like for it to!

So, I've decided to get back to basics and go "Modified Paleo" for a while. I've recently ordered a few books from Amazon to help me- including a few from one of my favorite healthy book authors, Mark Hyman, PhD. I have purchased his "The Detox Box" and am looking forward to starting out my January with a good, healthy, NORMAL detox. No- this is not a "eat lemon rinds and drink strange asparagus juice for 2 weeks to lose 28 pounds" detox. This is a true, yoga-doing, healthy-eating, no alcohol, no caffeine detox and I am DETERMINED to do it right!

So, over the month of January, I'll be periodically discussing the effect this has on my skin. And, if the holiday over-indulgence has you feeling a bit puffy and pimply, perhaps you'll join me?! I'd love to have others try this with me and post about the effect it has on their skin, as well!

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Buzz on BB

Happy October, Good Clean Skin Lovers!

Unless you've been hiding under a rock these last few months, by now you've heard of BB Cream. Actually, this post has been a long time coming, as I had been planning on trying some BB Creams all summer, and then time got away from me.You may not have tried it yet (it took me a while to come around to the idea, myself) but you've at least seen the ads and commercials. So, what's the buzz?

BB Cream (which stands for beauty balm here in the Western part of the world) is a recent import to the beauty market from our Eastern friends and is touted as an "all-in-one" miracle cream claiming to be the replacement for moisturizer, make up primer, sunblock, and foundation. In other words, it's tinted moisturizer on steroids. Now, this may seem like a super new idea, but the concept actually dates back to a 1960s German dermatologist who was seeking a healing balm for her patients after mild surgical procedures. Of course, it's been perfected over the last several decades, and now wham! Thank you 2012, BB Cream has made it to America, and in a big way.

Almost every tried and true skin care and cosmetics brand has got a BB Cream by now, and the drug store brands weren't far behind (though I haven't tried it, I've seen the ads for Garnier's BB Cream, and the price tag is great!).

So- should you put a BB Cream in your make up bag? The answer is yes. For all you 5 am morning gym goers, busy moms on the go, working girls who skip lunch breaks to run errands-- this beauty product is for you. It's the busy woman's make up... and I've yet to meet a woman who isn't busy! I wear it alone on a day-to-day basis, or you can also use it as a primer for other make up if you're getting a bit more dolled up.

Now, which ones to try? Here are my current favorites, but I can't claim to have tried every BB Cream out there, so please post suggestions!

1. boscia's BB Cream SPF 27 PA++- This might be my favorite, but I'm also a tad partial to boscia's products because they paraben, sulfate, dyes and fragrance free, etc. Aka- they leave out all the things I can't pronounce, and that seems to make good clean sense! This BB Cream seems to give me a really nice natural look, which I like. And, for $38, this isn't a bank breaker, either.
2. stila's Stay All Day 10-In-1 HD Beauty Balm- Maybe it's because I came of age in the 90s, but stila has always been a favorite beauty line for me, and I love being able to find them at Sephora. stila's BB cream is great, and it's light weight, and it comes in a pretty tube. Like boscia's cream, this too is free of all things hard to pronounce, and it's $38 a tube. It seems to give me a little more "glow" than the boscia cream, and has a great light reflecting quality on my skin.

3. Dr. Jart's Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45 PA++- I haven't tried this one yet, but it's next on my list because I've been reading all good things. It was a totalbeauty.com winner for 2012, and has gotten other great reviews, too. Apparently this is good for those of us drier-skin gals, and I like the added SPF, too! A great plus for those of us with fair skin. (When I do try it, I'll make sure to post!) This is $39, so like the others, right in that $40 range, which isn't too bad!

Have you tried any of these? Good results? Great results from some other BB Cream? Let me know!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wednesday's Deals & Steals

Happy Wednesday, GCS lovers! I've got some great deals for you today, in the hopes that you will forgive me for my spotty posting lately. (I've just started Evening MBA school, so I've been a little nuts!)

However, here is your chance to stock up on four fabulous brands, all at a fabulous price. I've included how to get the discount (in some instances you may have to click a banner to get directly into the site), the coupon code (if there is one) and also products from each brand that you may want to try, if you're new to the brand.

Happy Shopping!

Burt's Bees

The deal: Click on the text link over to the right. I can't seem to make this work in the body of this post, so I apologize. However, this link will take you directly to Burt's Bee's Outlet, where you can get select products up to 60% off retail prices.

Why you'll love Burt's Bees: Burt's Bees was founded in North Carolina, and is a great company based out of Durham. Their products mainly center around bee and honey type ingredients, but also add other fabulous natural and organic ingredients to make healthy, environmentally responsible, and (most importantly) effective products that work great on all skin types. Even better- the prices for this line are very reasonable, and the products are of high quality!

Products to try: Their Radiance Serum ($18), Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream ($6), and Avocado Butter Pre-Shampoo Hair Treatment ($9)


The deal: Click on the link to the right of this screen, you'll see a button that says "Up to 60% off." This is a private sale that can't be entered unless you click this link- so make sure to use it! Also, Clarins also has free shipping on orders over $75.

Why you'll love Clarins: Other than the wonderful feeling of buying a bottle with French all over it (Ok, I can't help it, who doesn't love to feel European!?), Clarins is a good line for those of you who want to specifically target certain issues. Their HydroQuench line is one of the best for Dry Skin that I've ever used- I love the Cream Gel and the Mask. For those of you with very sensitive skin, don't pass up the Skin Beauty Repair Concentrate. It's $60, but I promise you'll thank me after just one use!

Products to try: Their Cleansing Milk with Gentian in Luxury Size is great for you gals with oily or combination skin- and it's on sale for $40- grab it up! It's good stuff and their bigger bottles rarely go on sale. You may also want to try their Restoring Age Control Boosters Set- it's a steal at $144 and contains great products for those of you who are hoping to prevent and reverse the signs of aging.


The deal: Click on the link above, and use code BIRTHDAY to take 27% off in honor of their 27th birthday! The only catch- this link is good for 27 hours, so act fast! If you order over $35 you may also consider getting a free travel-size Purely Bright Radiance Serum when you use code RADIANCE.

Why you'll love Jurlique: This is a new product line favorite for me, and their Calendula Cream is currently in my beauty bag as a great after-sun moisturizer for summer. Jurlique's products are natural, and they are great for sensitive skin. They operate their own 153-acre farm in order to maintain the quality of their ingredients.

Products to try: Calendula Cream, Purely Bright Cleanser, Soothing Herbal Recovery Gel


The deal: A free 27 Wishes Multi Purpose Skin Nurturing Balm when you spend $35 or more with code MYWISH.

Why you'll love Philosophy: A cult favorite with great packaging, Philosophy's body wash products are in glamour girls showers all over the world. Their products smell good, feel good, and work well. While I'm not as versed in their skin care, I have been a long time lover of their signature scent Amazing Grace. A clean, happy scent that will instantly brighten your mood and leave your boyfriend thinking that you "just always smell good"!

Products to try: Their new Hope in a Jar is hot off the press, and I'm curious for a sample. However, my favorites from this line include their fabulous smelling body washes and lotions. Amazing Grace products are also on the list to try!