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Beauty

The Highest-Rated and Most Effective Face Masks on Amazon, According to Real Women

By | Beauty

Amazon Prime has taken over. From competing with Netflix to buying out Whole Foods, we can go to Amazon for basically anything, even beauty. With endless reviews on products from real women, Amazon has surprisingly become the ultimate destination for finding out if a product really works or not. Complete with verified purchases, before-and-after photos, and no-nonsense critiques, Amazon is doing what Sephora and Ulta stores can’t—reaching the everyday consumer.

And when a product has thousands of five-star reviews, we know the product is actually affective because there are thousands of women who are living proof of the results. So if you’re looking to jump start your beauty routine this year, check out these (affordable) Amazon face masks that really work.

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay

With 12,000+ reviews, the vast majority being five stars, this product seems to be the miracle worker we’ve been looking for. With its 100% natural ingredients and clay from Death Valley, CA, this mask will dry out the most oily of skin. Our advice, make sure to mix it with apple cider vinegar instead of water. Make sure to use lots of moisturizer afterwards.

“I have never used a product that has achieved such noticeable results after the first time using the product. My blemishes and the overall feeling and appearance of my skin greatly improved after only one use. That is definitely something I have never experienced. You can feel it working when it is on your skin. I also think using apple cider vinegar plays a huge part in why this product works so well.” –Kimberly Ann, Amazon User

Art Naturals Dead Sea Mud Mask

Famous for its detoxing and revitalizing abilities, this mask will stimulate blood circulation to heal your skin. With naturally soothing ingredients like dead sea mud, kaolin clay, shea butter, sunflower oil, and aloe vera juice, you can be sure this mask won’t irritate your skin.

“I couldn’t believe how great my skin felt! I could tell the 1st layer of dead, dull skin had been removed. My face was soft and smooth to the touch. My skin had a nice glow. The next day a few blackheads and zits appear but that’s a good thing. This was acne that was trapped below the surface. Now that it had surfaced, I was able to treat it on a topical level.” –Brandice, Amazon User

Dermal Korea Collagen Essence Sheet Mask

For those of you who love variety and experimenting with different masks, then this purchase is perfect you. For eleven dollars you get a pack of 16 different face masks, each infused with Vitamin E and collagen. With ingredients like olive oil, strawberry, honey grapefruit, acai berry, and more these easy to apply sheet masks are ideal for a girls night.

“They are all very hydrating and leave my skin feeling soft and smooth. I use these masks around 1-2 times a week, and I feel that they are worth the price. You also get a lot for your money! Overall, these are wonderful masks that I would definitely recommend and repurchase. –Tea, Amazon User

Majestic Pure Indian Healing Clay

Bentonite clay is known for many things but it’s most notable attribute is it’s healing powers. Made from volcanic ash in Wyoming, this mask pulls toxins from your skin nourishing it with calcium and silica which also helps those with oily skin. This clay is very powerful! If you have sensitive skin make sure to only use the mask according to the exact time they tell you. As a warning, if you don’t regularly exfoliate or use detoxifying masks, it may cause you to break out after using since it pulls toxins that are deep in your skin to the surface.

“I just bought this product with the apple cider vinegar and I have only used this twice in the past week and my face has done a complete 180. The first time I kept the clay on for the recommended 20 mins and was so amazed at how you can actually see the dirt being sucked out of your pores.” –Mary, Amazon User

The Romantic Hair Color Every Cool Girl Is Trying This Year

By | Beauty

The new-year haircut and dye may have become a bit cliche, but every girl deserves a refresh! As the eccentric pastel hair colors of the past couple years phase out, women have been turning to more subtle tones to reinvent themselves. This year, it’s cream soda.

Celebrity hair stylist Sunnie Brook explains the color as being warm and rich, which is perfect for both blondes and brunettes. Not quite blond, not quite brunette, not quite red, the cream soda hair color is luminescent and full of dimension. Brook also recommends the cream soda color to anyone who’s transitioning their hair from light to dark or dark to light. It’s the perfect in-between tone if you’re looking to soften bleached blond or brighten up dark brown. Models such as Gigi Hadid, Karlie Kloss, and Julia Stegner have recently brought a lot of attention to this unique color, but Jennifer Aniston has been rocking variations of cream soda hair since the nineties, so it’s no surprise we love it.

The best thing about trying this effervescent hue is that it’s low-risk and easy to cater to your natural color. If you’re ready to take the plunge and head to the salon, Brook further explains on her website that the color can be described as beige-brown with warm gold tones and lighter accents to achieve the creamy look.

Now, is anybody else craving a certain bubbly beverage?

The Best Ingredients for Soothing Irritated Skin

By | Beauty

Regardless of skin type, tone, or texture, everyone’s skin grows irritated or inflamed from time to time. Irritation commonly comes in the form of redness, burning, bumps or blisters, dryness, and flakiness, though it varies from person to person. There are a number of causes for this—even products made to help skin can cause issues. If your skin is red and irritated, here is what you need to know about the possible causes and solutions.

Dehydration

A typical cause of irritation is dryness. You might not be drinking enough water, or your beauty routine isn’t giving your skin the moisture it needs. Try a more intense moisturizer or face oil (especially during the drier, colder months), and be sure to consume a healthy amount of water each day. Foaming cleansers and toners containing alcohol can also strip the skin, so it could be useful to switch cleansers or toners to see if it makes a difference.

Exfoliators

Another common source of irritation is the overuse of products like exfoliators and retinols. Physical exfoliants like scrubs and clay masks can be harsh and drying; chemical exfoliants, which will include AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids, eg. glycolic or lactic acids) or BHAs (beta hydroxy/salicylic acids), can cause irritation even in the most resilient of skin. Retinol, a beloved anti-aging ingredient, can have similar results to a chemical exfoliant. While all of these products are meant to slough off dead skin and create a brighter, clearer complexion, the overuse of any can potentially be dangerous for skin. If you’ve noticed irritation after introducing an exfoliator or retinol, try reducing the use of the product in your routine and slowly building back up to a regularity that you’re comfortable with.

Consult a Dermatologist

Before seeking out yet another step for your skin care routine, it’s important to analyze your existing routine and daily habits to make sure the skin aggravation isn’t an easily-solved problem. Some issues can begin internally, spurning from illnesses, pregnancy, allergies or the side-effects of certain drugs. If the problem appears to be chronic inflammation, common with conditions such as eczema, it’s important to speak to a dermatologist.

If these reasons don’t seem to be the source of the problem, or you just want a skin-soothing solution to keep on hand should any irritation occur, then try products with any of the following ingredients.

01. Aloe Vera

Perhaps the most commonly-known ingredient for alleviating skin irritation, aloe vera—also frequently listed as aloe barbadenis—is soothing and hydrating due to its polysaccharide and sterol content and possession of antioxidants. Its benefits can be somewhat exaggerated, but it remains useful for soothing the skin. Aloe vera–based products are available nearly everywhere at various price ranges, but a quick fix is available in Tony Moly’s I’m Real Moisturizing Aloe Sheet Mask.

02. Calendula

A subspecies of marigold that has stood the test of time, calendula extract works as an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial solution for dryness and acne. Researchers have found that the compounds narcissin and rutin, both present in the plant, are regenerative and help calm inflammation. It can also help calm burns as effectively as aloe vera. Calendula oils are available at numerous retailers, but Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal Toner and Soothing Hydration Mask are popular options.

03. Chamomile & Blue Tansy Oil

An antioxidant-rich plant used most often in tea, chamomile serves as a skin-soothing agent when applied topically. Blue tansy, on the other hand, has gained fame in recent years for its use against bacteria and inflammation—not to mention its gorgeous, blue color. Being genetically similar, the plants offer comparable calming effects. For a quick boost, try Mario Badescu’s Face Mist with Aloe, Chamomile and Lavender. An all-natural option for blue tansy can be found in Herbivore’s True Blue Skin Clarifying Set, which includes their Blue Tansy Mask and Lapis Balancing Facial Oil (both of which contain the fragrant plant oil).

04. Colloidal Oats

An ingredient used exclusively in skin care for calming irritation, colloidal oats possess antioxidants called avenathramides which actively soothe the skin while certain sugars and starches help give the oats water-binding properties. Even the FDA has allowed colloidal oats to be listed as an active ingredient due to its effectiveness as a skin protectant. Brands like Aveeno offer various products with oats, like their Daily Moisturizing Lotion, but First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Instant Oatmeal Mask is a quick fix for irritated skin.

05. Evening Primrose Oil

This beautifully-named oil is a particular favorite amongst those suffering from inflamed or painful acne. Its richness in antioxidants make it essential for smoothing roughness and reducing fine lines, but its gamma-linolenic acids (GLAs) have been proven in numerous studies to reduce sebum production while effectively hydrating the skin, making it perfect for oily and acne-prone skin. Its astringency is also helpful in soothing irritation from acne and even eczema or pruritis. Yes To offers primrose oil in its oil form and as an easy, calming mud mask.

06. Niacinamide

Niacinamide aids in a number of skin ailments including uneven or dull skin tone, enlarged pores and fine lines. Its effectiveness against inflammation makes it useful for people with acne or rosacea, and it helps increase production of collagen and ceramides to ensure a stronger moisture barrier and firmer, more youthful skin. Try The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum for an affordable, simple addition to your routine.

07. Panthenol

A gentle ingredient good for sensitive skin, panthenol is a deeply-penetrating vitamin and humectant that attracts moisture to the skin and keeps it there. Beyond that, it becomes anti-inflammatory when used regularly so as to relieve itchiness and soothe dryness. Panthenol is available in a wide range of products, particularly moisturizers, but the Derma E Hydrating Night Cream is a great option.

08. Sea Buckthorn Oil

Rich in fatty acids and vitamins A, C and E, sea buckthorn is meant to have various skin benefits. The antioxidants and omega oils help the skin retain moisture, which will be a definite boost for those suffering from dry or scaly skin. As an added benefit, sea buckthorn oil also aids in the healing of scarring and sun damage and boost collagen production for a clearer, more youthful appearance. The brand Fresh offers a popular oil blend, the Seaberry Skin Nutrition Booster; however, regular sea buckthorn oil can be found at a myriad of retailers.

This Haircut Helped Me Stop Worrying About Being ‘Pretty,’ and It Was So Liberating

By | Beauty

As I settle in the chair, hands clasped in my lap over the polyester gown, a sudden shiver of excitement rushes through my body.

“I’d like to go short,” I tell the stylist.

As he runs his fingers through my hair, he talks me through the various options and tells me which ones he thinks will suit me best: do I want a longer bob that skims my collar bone, a shorter chin-length bob, or something in between? But I’m not listening particularly hard. I feel a strange, unfamiliar detachment from the fate of my hair today.

“I trust you,” I say. Then, after a pause, “Let’s go shorter.”

There was something different about this haircut; for one thing, it’s the shortest that my hair has ever been in my life since I was about four years old. Once, the day after my father died, I got a spur of the moment shoulder length cut, but that’s as short as I’ve ever gone. Even then, when I was undone with grief and felt like doing something really radical to my appearance to reflect the change I felt inside of me, I lost my nerve at the last minute.

It’s not that this haircut was bad or deliberately unflattering in any way: quite the opposite. The stylist was incredibly skilled, and did a great job. It’s just that for most of my life, I’ve been pretty convinced that looking my absolute best involves perfectly coiffed, long, golden curls. In my dreams, I’d have someone do a Kate Middleton-style blowout on my hair every morning. My first semester at college after high school, I’d spend time each morning curling my locks before breakfast; one day when I didn’t go through this ritual, someone asked if I had used straighteners.

I’ll never forget the haircut I got after a particularly painful and confusing breakup, the haircut I got to make him see what he was missing; I told the stylist all about the heartbreak, and she spent ages blow-drying my long locks with a curling brush and then carefully coiffing it with curling irons. In my mind, that haircut was the pinnacle of perfect hair for me, the most flattering and knock-out it can possibly get, and I remember feeling like a million bucks that evening. If only I could look like this every single day, I thought.

What differentiated my recent haircut from all the rest, though, wasn’t just the length or style; it felt different because for the first time in my life I wanted to get a haircut just to see what it would look like, motivated purely by a sense of curiosity and fun, rather than to necessarily look my best. I wanted to feel less weight on my shoulders, to spend less time in front of the mirror in the mornings. I wanted to feel good in a deep-down my-hair-doesn’t-define-me kind of a way. I wanted to free myself from something, although at the time I wasn’t exactly sure what that was.

My husband loved my long hair, as did my daughter, who said “Oh, mommy, you’ve cut your hair!” with dismay when she saw my shorter style for the first time. I felt a little bit like Jo inLittle Women when she cuts her glorious mane to make some much-needed money for her family—although in my case the length of hair I had cut off went to charity. I no longer had something to hide behind, to fuss about.

This Easy (and Affordable) Beauty Trend Will Help You Get Your Dream Hair

By | Beauty

As someone with difficult combination skin, I’ve always been a big fan of a good facial—I even went as far as getting a series of facials in the weeks leading up to my wedding day to get my skin looking its absolute best. I’m a total skin-product junkie, and as a consequence have my cleansing, toning, moisturizing, masking, and scrubbing routine down to a fine art.

My hair is a different story, though. I’ve never paid too much attention to the products I use to wash it, I usually try to avoid going to the salon for haircuts until it’s in desperate need of a cut, and my daily approach to it usually goes something along the lines of: Does it look passably clean? Is it dry? Have I brushed it? Good, let’s go.

I know I’m not the only one to take my hair for granted. In fact, my passive neglect is probably better than a lot of other people’s bad hair habits: excessive use of hair dryers, straighteners, and curlers; rough towel drying; unhealthy chemical products; and dyeing. All of that, plus the unavoidable environmental damage we all experience in our day-to-day lives, has a huge impact on our hair’s condition.

Thankfully, a new trend in the beauty world is changing the way we think about our hair and providing us with an easy way to take better care of it from home. Multi-masking for skin has been a trend for a few years now, the idea being that you create a tailor-made face mask based on what different areas of your face need. Now the same idea but for your hair is gaining traction in the beauty world.

What is multi-masking for hair?

Multi-masking your hair is basically like giving your hair an intensive, highly tailored facial. Just like our skin, our hair has varying needs; the ends are much older than the roots where the hair has recently grown from the scalp, so it makes sense that the different areas would need different treatments to look their best.

If you’re having a multi-masking treatment in a salon, the stylist will ask you questions about your lifestyle, health, diet, and general wellness before carefully assessing the condition of your hair and diagnosing any problem areas and unique needs that your hair may have. They will then apply a series of hair masks to different areas to help restore it to its best condition and can advise you on which masks to invest in and take away to continue using at home.

Jalil told me that I have combination hair (just like my skin), which means that I tend to get greasy roots around my sebaceous glands and tangled, dry ends. She recommended three masks (my hair is pretty short—Davines has five different formulas in total): a purifying mask for my oily scalp, another for adding shine and radiance to my dull mid-lengths, and a third to moisturize and soften the ends.

After thoroughly applying the three masks to different areas of my hair, she covered it to allow my head to generate some heat and further activate and absorb the ingredients. We let the masks work their magic for about twenty minutes.

What are the benefits of multi-masking for your hair?

Once the masking process was finished and my hair was dried and combed, it looked and felt incredibly soft and shiny. I also noticed that the color looked brighter and my natural highlights were more noticeable; Jalil told me this was because as well as improving the overall condition of my hair, the masks removed a buildup of impurities, which helped show off my natural color at its best.

As Jalil put it, “You should think of your hair like a silk garment.” It’s like a fine and delicate fabric that needs careful care and the right kind of washing, at the right temperature, with the right detergent. The multi-masking method acknowledges that your hair is as unique as you are; our hair care should be as different from the next person’s as our skin care regimens.

If I had applied a single hair mask to my hair, it may have helped the dry ends but over-saturated the scalp and roots; using several different masks meant we could tackle the different problems of each area.

Tips for Multi-Masking Your Hair at Home

The great thing about multi-masking for hair is that you don’t have to have the treatment in a salon (although it can help to have the first one in a salon if you want advice on what routine and products to use at home).

01. Test porosity levels.

Jalil recommends testing your hair’s porosity levels (meaning how well your hair retains moisture) by running your finger up a single strand of hair from the tip to the root. Low-porosity hair will feel very smooth as you run your finger along it; this type of hair has very tightly closed cuticles and is extremely resistant to moisture, and it will likely float if you put it in water. High-porosity hair will feel very rough; this type of hair has very open cuticles and should sink if you put it in water. The ideal porosity is somewhere in the middle; you should feel a bit of resistance but not too much. If your hair is too absorbent, it will be prone to being dull and greasy, even lank, and if it’s not absorbent enough, it will be dry and tangle easily, lacking in shine and resistant to products.

02. Divide hair into sections.

Once you’ve diagnosed the overall condition and porosity of your hair, try to think of it in sections: Look at the condition of your scalp, the hair near the roots, the mid-lengths, and the ends. Now you can choose different hair masks for each area of your hair (people usually need anywhere from two to four masks, depending on the length and condition of their hair).

03. Apply mask.

Apply the masks to the appropriate area when your hair is clean and damp (but not sopping wet), and rub each one in carefully with your fingers, making sure that you work it into the hair shafts. It can help to comb it with a wide-toothed comb as you work through it. Wash your hands between each mask so that you don’t mix them, and then cover your hair with plastic wrap to help it generate some heat from your head. Jalil advises leaving the masks on once you’ve applied them all for at least fifteen minutes but preferably longer (if you’re using a natural mask such as The Circle Chronicles range from Davines, you can’t really leave it on too long).

04. Rinse and repeat.

Rinse your hair well, and then gently pat it down before leaving it to air dry, if possible. Depending on how dry your hair is, it can benefit from this repeated routine every ten days or so (more frequently for extremely dry or damaged hair).

Once you start to think of your hair the same way you’d think of your skin, you’ll notice that it looks a lot healthier, shinier, and stronger. It seems like such a common-sense approach that it’s about time it caught on in mainstream hair care, so here’s to working with your hair’s natural condition and texture to help it look its best, every day.