I Switched to Paula’s Choice Skincare for 3 Weeks. Here’s What Happened.

paulas choice skincare

Like you, I believe that it’s better to invest in great skincare, than to spend a ton of money on cosmetics to cover things up. Over the years though, I’ve learned that you don’t necessarily have to spend a ton of money to have great skin. A few great basics, paired with some active treatment products will do the job, so I turned my skin over to Paula’s Choice for a few weeks and journaled about the changes that took place — here’s what happened!

I’ve known Paula Begoun to be a heralded industry expert for ages, but recently I realized she was the brains behind so many great products some of my friends are raving about. Paula is a cosmetics ingredient expert to the nth degree, and she’s a strong advocate for consumers burned by products in the past (often marketed with outrageous promises of extreme, seemingly overnight results). I’m sure you’ve seen her book, Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me. She takes this stuff very seriously, meticulously breaking down products by the efficacy of their ingredients like no one else I’ve ever known. It’s serious business to Paula, so I had to try her products to see what would best treat one of my biggest skincare concerns.

Paulas choice earth sourced perfectly natural hydralight shine free daily mineral complex

A few days before my product test drive began, I had a brief telephone consultation with one of Paula’s skin experts to help find out which products would be best for me. (I highly recommend doing this! There’s no additional fee, and you can even ask product questions on via live chat on the Paula’s Choice website.) Since I wanted to see quick results for this trial, I narrowed it down to just one specific targeted skincare concern. I told her that my pores easily become congested, and I’d like to whip those blackheads into shape — STAT! I also told her that my skin doesn’t love Vitamin C, and tends to become irritated by it. Taking this into consideration, she came back to me with a regimen that was 100% ready to fight that battle!

Let’s start off with the daily basics…

Earth Sourced Perfectly Natural Cleansing Gel — I used this both am/pm for gentle cleansing. It’s a gel cleanser, that lathers nicely without stripping my skin. Since I went pretty gentle on the cleanser, I was able to really amp up the active ingredients my treatment products without experiencing irritation. (You’ll see those in the second part below!)  [Read more…]

The Best Summer Acne Busters

summer acne busters

For some reason, this is the time of year that I struggle the most with those pesky pimples. Even though I feel like I’ve reached an age where they should be a non-issue, summer always seems to bring out the worst in my skin, and I know I’m not alone. I can’t tell you how many frantic texts and email messages I’ve received from my good girlfriends recently, basically screaming, “HELP!”

Blame it on the heat, the climate you live in, excessive perspiration, perhaps even the sunscreen that doesn’t 100% get washed off (even when we think it has been). It can be hormones (Oh, don’t we just LOVE those?), and also—the carefree days of summer. We’re camping, we’re vacationing, we’re swimming. Maybe we’re just not being as diligent about our skincare routines as we normally are during other times of the year. And then—once all the acne is cleared, sometimes we head into fall with reminders of the acne we had in the form of discoloration—which makes it even more frustrating. Acne—the gift that keeps on giving!

I hope you find it comforting to know, that a few friends and I have suffered just the way you may be right now, and we’ve put products to the test! Here’s what we discovered to help minimize our summer acne frustrations.

best acne facial cleansers

Cleansers are the first line of defense to get the gunk off that initially clogs our pores. We MUST wash our faces, twice a day! Try incorporating one of these facial cleansers into your skincare regimen:  [Read more…]

What’s the Future of Your Face?

neutrogena unseen acne 1

You’re probably wondering just what in the world is this photograph. It’s of my own face, and it’s not exactly flattering, is it? A few weeks ago, I had the unique opportunity as a Neutrogena ambassador to visit their headquarters for a peek behind the scenes, and to experience their new technology that can show you the future of your unseen acne. The pimple you see tomorrow actually started brewing several weeks ago! The photo above is indicative of that for me, and it’s all exactly where I normally experience blackheads. Eww!

Neutrogena unseen acne 2

Believe it or not, it can take 6-8 weeks for a pimple to appear…

During my visit, I sat down with a dermatologist and had my skin photographed with Neutrogena’s Clinical Skin Imager. It’s a special camera that has the ability to spot acne causing bacteria, deep within the skin’s surface. I was amazed! While I’m pretty fortunate not to suffer from a lot of raised pimples on a regular basis, I do struggle with a lot of clogged pores in my t-zone—which is a direct result of the excess oil that is generated by my combination skin type.  [Read more…]

Beauty Quickies: Boscia Clear Complexion Blotting Linens

boscia clear complexion blotting linens

For years, I’ve carried around a pack of Boscia Blotting Linens in my purse to touch up without really “touching up”. It’s not so much that I need to add more powder to my face, but I just need to remove some of the oil in my T-zone. Sound familiar?

boscia linens

Boscia recently released a new pack of naturally antiseptic blotting linens to their existing line-up, the Clear Complexion Blotting Linens with Bamboo and Willow Bark Extract. These babies allow you to mop up excess oil without disturbing your pretty face when you gently press them where excess oil has gathered throughout the day. For me, they are a God-send. The willow bark extract is actually a form of salicylic acid, which can help prevent future breakouts. I’m not saying this will take the place of your acne-fighting skincare products, but every little bit helps! These sheets are made from finely-woven leaf fibers of the exotic Abaca Tree Plant and infused with complexion-clearing bamboo, which naturally smells incredible. I can’t stop sniffing them. Need proof? I tweeted about it a few days ago!

Find these at Sephora & sephora.com at $10 a pack for 100 sheets.

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Murad Blackhead & Pore Clearing Duo Review

murad blackhead pore clearing duo

When I see my esthetician, one of my biggest gripes is the congestion in my pores. I feel like, no matter how hard I try, they just get gunked up again a few days after seeing her. I’m using great products, I try to religiously take care of my skin, I exfoliate with alpha hydroxy acids. So what exactly is it that I’m doing wrong? Why does it seem like I always have blackheads?

First—we have to start with the basic anatomy of a blackhead. Blackheads are simply the result of your skin’s natural oils and external free radicals settling in, and oxidizing in your pores. That’s why they seem black when trapped inside the pore, but are actually a gross yellow color when extracted. Oxidized gunk? Eww. No thanks. They can build up and get worse over time, but that oil can actually build up and oxidize really fast, as evidenced by my own personal experience.

So yes, you can take great care of your skin, and still get blackheads. And I’m learning the reason that’s contributing to mine—it’s because I haven’t been using a product to help stop the oxidation. I’ve only been using exfoliators and pore cleansers. Aha! And that’s where this new product from Murad steps in, the Blackhead & Pore Clearing Duo.

murad mask

The Blackhead & Pore Clearing Duo is a one-two punch against blackheads. First, there’s a clay mask (with volcanic clay and shikakai extract) that you apply to the areas that are prone to blackheads for 10 minutes. For me, it’s my T-zone, and I’m guessing that’s where most people have theirs too. But you can still apply it elsewhere. [Read more…]

Out & About: Facial Bungalow in West Hollywood

I’ve had many, many facials in Los Angeles—and I’ve also reviewed several estheticians in the area with whom I’ve been impressed with. Some are great with extractions, some may have used a special technique or two, while others have been very tranquil. I may have even been very enthusiastic about their skill level. But I recently had a facial with Trina Renea at Facial Bungalow in West Hollywood, and I was completely blown away.

Trina Renea is in a word, incredible. She is so deeply passionate about skincare that she does not want to miss a single detail! She sat down with me at a quaint table in the facial room for a complete consultation, which made me feel incredibly comfortable—and the situation less clinical. I can’t remember in recent memory, any esthetician that didn’t plop me on their table, turn on the light, and THEN ask me what was going on. Trina gave an extremely thorough and personal consultation before we even got started. She pays attention to detail unlike anyone in the business I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing.

Not only is it important for a skincare expert to be passionate, but the skill level has to match. Trina is extensively informed; having studied cosmetic chemistry, and she’s even developed her own line of products, Trina Renea Skincare.   [Read more…]

18 Best and Worst Acne Products

18 Best and Worst Acne Products

Fact: almost everyone deals with pimples. The trick to beating them is having a great arsenal of products. See the 8 best zit-zapping items and the 10 worst now

18 Best and Worst Acne Products

This is a TotalBeauty.com acne article

Few things are more annoying that a zit that won’t go away. Because we know blemishes top most gals’ complexion woes, we rounded up the best and worst acne products on the market. Our readers say these top eight helped instantly reduce redness and banish blemishes for good — while the 10 worst left them more irritated than ever. So if you’re looking for flawless skin check out our guide.

See list


TotalBeauty.com average reader rating: 6.8

“This product is such a rip-off. It cost me $20 and lasted 10 days before it ran out.”


TotalBeauty.com average reader rating: 6.6

“This powder is so light that it makes my pimples more obvious.”


TotalBeauty.com average reader rating: 6.5

“This is a dry skin nightmare. It aggravated what was already problematic on my face and it dried out whatever clear skin remained to the point of flakiness.”

Want to see the rest of the list? Click here!

Your Future Called, and it Wants You to Take a SkinShift DNA Test, STAT

What if I told you, there was a crystal ball that you could peer into, and see the future of your skin? This crystal ball would help you give your skin exactly what it needs to look and feel its best at the present, and for decades into the future. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Guess what? It exists.

Texas-based physician, Dr. Ruthie Harper, developed SkinShiftan unprecedented program to get your skin fit for life—based solely on your actual genetic predispositions. That’s right! I actually had a DNA test for my skin, and let’s just say—I’ll be making a few changes in my skincare regimen.

This straight-forward, genetically-based approach to skincare is the way of the future, and Dr. Harper is leading the revolution. It is the first ever true DNA-based skincare system on the consumer market, and it’s absolutely AMAZING. Through a series of questions about your ancestry and skin history, a DNA collector, and a mailbox—she’ll be able to analyze your 16 unique chromosomal variations to pin-point five key areas of concern; collagen formation, sun protection, antioxidant protection, glycation protection, and inflammation control. It’s pretty comprehensive!

The test is completely non-surgical, and done in your own home. You’ll receive your SkinShift Genetic Test Kit, and it contains what’s called a buccal collector. You basically swab the inside of your cheek with it, send it off, and in a few weeks—Dr. Harper will give you a very detailed report regarding what your genes are saying about your skin. She’ll calculate a score in those five key areas of skin health, and put the future of your skin in your hands.  [Read more…]

Review: Jane Iredale Zap & Hide Blemish Concealer

I am SO bummed that my skin has taken a turn to Acneville in the past week, but I’m taking full advantage of it by testing out some of the acne-fighting products that my skin doesn’t usually respond to. Jane Iredale recently released a “new & improved” version of their Zap & Hide Blemish Concealer, although I’m not too sure what’s new and improved, because I don’t have any previous experience with it.

Zap & Hide is pretty simple in concept—it’s a dual-end stick formula with a concealer on one end, and a spot treatment on the other.

More details…

[Read more…]