Monday, December 15, 2014

A true introduction & favorite products :3

Hello! My name is Amberlyn, I'm 23, and I am an absolute beginner when it comes to makeup and beauty. Due to this fact, for the past two-three years I've been getting into 'Beauty Boxes' to help me find products that work for me on every end of the spectrum. Skin care, makeup, hair care, you name it. I've needed - and found, thankfully - a LOT of help.

All in all, I value skin care the most. This I think is due to the fact I have Rosacea and Eczema. And I'm honestly extremely pale, so SPF is a big deal for me. As is finding the right shades for my skin color. When I got started with my first Beauty Box, I felt pretty limited not only in my skin care products, but also on that odd occasion I wanted to look nice I had NO idea what products were both gentle enough to use on my skin and also strong enough to cover up my vast flaws. I think right now would be a good time to mention that I'm sorry in advance if I'm at all biased towards or against certain products. I do have a very specific skin type, hair type, and I'm very very fair skinned. Not all products will work as well for me as they do anyone else, and vice versa. I guess now I should get into a skin/hair/etc profile to kind've give people an understanding of where I'm coming from with my reviews.

We'll start from highest importance/what I'll be most biased with and work our way down. Number one? My skin. As I mentioned before, I have Rosacea. Which for those who don't really know, is a skin condition centered around the nose and cheeks. It occurs all over the face, but mine is absolutely at it's worst around my cheeks. I have oily skin naturally, but on my forehead, cheeks and nose I get the driest patches ever. They flake constantly. It's so bad most days that literally the second I step out of the shower the patches start to heal over and flake. No amount of moisturizer has helped, thus far. The best I can control it is when I use natural oils such as Grapeseed Oil or Coconut Oil with a nice moisturizer. The more chemicals in anything I use, the redder and most irritated my skin gets. I use mostly Vegan products for this reason. This goes for my body, too. I have Eczema all over my arms, and my skin in general is very sensitive all over. I'll leave all the products I'm using currently at the end of this post, and keep it updated so I can really show if any of the products I receive at any point make enough of a difference to change my rituals.

As for my skin's pigmentation - it's honestly so fair that even the foundations I've found marked 'porcelain'/the lightest shade within a spectrum has been too yellow/tan for me. I find more success mixing light foundations with BB/CC cream. They also help control the flaking - I NEED moisturizing foundations or I just look like a flaky pasty mess. So foundations will be a majorly hard thing to win me over with. And anything that can hide redness offers an extreme bonus, due to the redness on my cheeks and forehead caused by Rosacea.

My hair is my second most paid attention to feature. I had fairly bad chemical damage, I won't go into why right now though. The front of my hair has the most damage and feels very fried/kinky. It's always been naturally curly but the damage to the roots - not sure of the exact science - somehow made it a frizzy curly mess. I pretty much had an afro for most of my youth. We couldn't even brush the hair without me ending up a screaming, crying mess and having major breakage for years. So now, I look for products that tame the frizz and repair the texture of the hair. I've DEFINITELY found that through Birchbox and Ipsy alike, thus far. They have to be all natural, or mostly natural though, as I stated earlier. I have allergic reactions to mostly everything. And they're always red, puffy face, itchy all over allergic reactions. Head to toe needs to be super natural.

Aside from my skin and hair, I have no real preferences. I like nude/earth based colors when it comes to makeup, and I love nail polishes more than I ever will makeup - once again, nude and earth colors but I love having glittery polishes, or really intense polishes for those days I want to be colorful and wild. So now you know. Sorry in advance for any bias, and I've said. I'll try to find redeeming factors for products regardless of how I feel about them, for people with different skin types/pigmentation/hair types than me. And now, for my full list of currently used products.


Head & Shoulders Itchy Scalp Care w/Eucalyptus - Dandruff Shampoo, has an amazing tingling sensation like all the shampoos from Paul Mitchell/etc that your local Salons usually have. Keeps hair super clean without stripping it of essential oils. Smells of a nice deep mint/Eucalyptus.


Aussie Moist 3 Minute Miracle Deep Conditioner - I haven't found many conditioners that tackle frizz and help lock in moisture nearly as well as this has. I absolutely adore this, and even though it's supposed to be used as a deep conditioner, I use is as my primary conditioner. I'm sure there's better conditioners out there I just haven't tried yet, but for now I'm fine with this one. It does exactly what I want it to. Helps with frizz, locks in moisture, and adds shine and silkiness. Nice light smell, I can't quite place it but it's not at all overwhelming.

Styling Products

Aubrey Organics Sea Buckthorn Leave-In Conditioner & Curl Activator - I use this daily after a shower. My fiance's mother gave it to me for Christmas one year, and I absolutely fell in love with it. It leaves my hair feeling baby soft, and my curls feel a little more defined. Overall though I use it for how soft it makes my hair feel, and how it keeps in moisture even during harsh Winter months. It smells lightly spiced, somehow. Almost like nutmeg. It goes on a bit harsh but clears quickly and smells amazing on the hair.

Orofluido Beauty Elixir - An organic mix of 3 hair oils (Argan, Cyprus and Linseed) all in one, which I received from Birchbox as a sample. I noticed a major difference in my hair's texture - it began softening immediately - and my curls were coming together on their own in a very healthy way. It didn't reduce all frizz, but it made me actually feel okay about wearing my hair down. I've since re-purchased 3 times. Remember to those trying though - a little goes a LONG way. My first try I put FAR too much on and my hair looked and felt very oily. Now I put on a little after a shower on days I want to wear my hair down, along with some styling cream. I dry my hair a teensy bit first though, towel dry only. Be sure to work from the ends upwards. I found I need NO heat protectant while using this or my other hair oil(s), but I would suggest using one anyway unless you're comfortable risking heat damage. My hair is extremely thick/coarse and can withstand a LOT of heat. Moderately strong smell. Bit like a perfume. I find I don't need to wear ANY body sprays/perfume when using this. Goes perfect with my body chemistry though. Once it heats up I find the smell divine. I don't use this daily, however. The only daily product is the one mentioned above.

Macadamia Healing Oil Treatment - Took me a LONG time to try this one, despite all the raving about it I saw on Youtube/Blogs. I received it in an Ipsy Bag not long ago in a nice size sampler I'm still working on finishing, and I've already re-purchased due to the largest size being on sale currently on Amazon. It's a rich, dense oil that has almost completely won me over from using Orofluido. The two are battling it out right now, but honestly the Macadamia Oil has improved texture even more in a month or two than Orofluido has over the past year. It's VERY nourishing, and my hair actually soaks a lot of it up very easily. It doesn't leave an oily residue even if I sometimes use a little more than I should unlike the Orofluido. And best of all? It's an amazing heat protectant somehow. I was in a rush and decided one day to take my curling iron after it had dried into my hair a good deal and re-define my curls. I brushed my hair out until it was a puffy ball and began in 10 second bursts re-curling my hair. Within minutes I was done and the curls were bouncy, had major movement, and felt like silk. It didn't feel like I had ANYTHING in my hair and my hair looked naturally shiny and healthy. I've been AMAZED with this product so far. Smells like you'd think it would, very nutty.

Miss Jessie's Quick Curls - I've had equal experience with both this and Miss Jessie's Multicultural Curls, and both work equally well. I'm currently just using the first because I received a full size sample through Birchbox one month. And I only received a packet of Multicultural Curls. I liked the latter a little better, because it didn't leave my hair feeling greasy and felt more soft, but overall they both do the one thing I need them to - define my curls. I wear one of my oils with this and the mixture of the two leaves me with soft (instead of crunchy like most products cause) curls that are defined and not frizzing out. It decreases my frizz by I'd say roughly half, there's still a lot of body/poof going on but it looks intentional most days unless humidity is high. I use it when I'm going out for dinner with my hair down, for short periods. It smells light, slightly citrusy. VERY easy to handle smell.

Face Products

Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream - I was sent this product in a sample from Birchbox a year ago, and I instantly fell in love with it. I took it with me to Connecticut when visiting my fiance's family, and I was truly scared of how bad my Rosacea looked, especially the redness. I used this every day when there, and by the end of the 2 week trip I had 0 redness, and my flakiness was controllable for an ENTIRE day. Previous moisturizers still left me feeling bumpy and flaky and needed reapplying multiple times through the day. I apply this once in the morning after washing my face, and it lasts all day. Even if other products have helped my flakiness more, NOTHING beats this in controlling hyper-pigmentation. A little truly goes a long way, too, so despite the higher cost I end up needing to only buy it once a year, maybe twice if I overuse during the dry Winter months. It smells so soft and natural, very green. Like plant extracts.

Real Chemistry Luminous 3-Minute Peel - This is one that I TRULY didn't expect to fall in love with. I received this from Birchbox in I believe September, and held off using it until mid-November. I'm always afraid of chemicals and anything that 'peels' sounds dangerous for my skin. But I decided one time couldn't hurt, and I'd deal with the repercussions afterwards in hopes for results. I was stunned. I thought it'd be much like the whole ear candling fad, and be fake. Like perhaps the formula would clump up to act as if it was dead skin peeling off, making you think something was happening when it wasn't. But I found the TINIEST amount of product worked in sloughing off all my dead skin. All the way down PAST the scaliness level to fresh new skin. After getting out, my face felt baby smooth which I honestly haven't experienced in almost a decade. My problems started at 14, and have only gotten worse. So I call this a true miracle worker. I use is 2 times a week, on average, and since once again a little goes a long way I feel I'll only need to repurchase this around 2 times yearly as well. I'll give an update on how long a tube lasts once I buy a fresh one. Smells of absolutely nothing.

ORIGINS Plantscription Anti-Aging Serum - This is another Birchbox sample favorite, which I haven't repurchased yet but I'm going to immediately. It's AMAZING for light weight days, I feel I'll be using it during the Summer months a lot more than Dr. Jarts Ceremidin Cream - simply because when you sweat it can feel a little greasy on your skin. This soaks right in in RECORD time and makes my skin feel smooth, and soft with a dry silky finish. It really feels like it adds a deep level of moisture to my skin, and feels very fresh going on and not at all like any products I've used in the past. I couldn't recommend it more. I don't know about it's anti-aging claims, but as a base serum it's wonderful. It smells very much like my Ceramidin Cream, very green and natural.

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser - I'm a firm believer in the products we cleanse our faces with don't do nearly what they promise, I tried countless ones through my youth that promises clearer skin and reduced pigmentation but unless you leave products on for long periods of time, such promises can't be fulfilled. So I opt for this gentle cream cleanser from Cetaphil. Especially since I've been using my Peel, it's been exactly what I've needed. It smells of absolutely nothing, so there's no irritants and it gently lathers the smallest bit but more so feels like you're applying a cold cream to your face and washing it with it. It's very moisturizing and softening. I love it.

ORIGINS Drink-Up 10 Minute Mask - This is a favorite for the Winter months. It's super hydrating and keeps your skin soft and fresh on the driest days. I use it nightly or several times a week depending on how dry it is week to week during the Winter.

S.W. Basics Lip Balm Flights - Another Birchbox purchase. My go to, absolute favorite Lip Balm. Comes in a delicious quad of excellent 'flavors'. They're all moderate in smell/taste, except for the Pepperment. Peppermint is extremely powerful. I love it though. By far Cocoa is my favorite, though. Very true taste/smell of Cocoa Butter. I'm looking into making my own right now, just going to take some investing. It's all organic and fair trade, and is just composed of Peppermint Oil, Coconut Oil as it's main base, Cocoa Butter and a little Beeswax I believe. It's not at ALL waxy or sticky, and if you've ever used Coconut Oil it glides on and rests JUST as Coconut Oil would. It's very melty and just feels amazing on the lips. For those who HATE sticky lip balms, they're perfect. Otherwise, I use Body Drench Lip Drench in Pomegranate - smells and tastes exactly like Wonka Sweet Tarts to me and is nice and hydrating, no stickiness but a little thick. Consistency is like EOS lip balms. Which are my go to when my favorites aren't in stock or available nearby. For EOS I go for Pomegranate Raspberry or Sweet Mint. Their Coconut Milk is nice too.

Body/Bath Products

Aveeno Active Naturals Creamy Moisturizing Oil - My all over, full body lotion. It's exceptional paired with a little Coconut Oil if I need an extra quench of moisture. It's not at all greasy, and has the Aveeno staple of Colloidal Oatmeal and Pure Oat Oil. As such, it's an EXCELLENT product for those who suffer from Eczema. Not gonna lie though - despite being scent free, I think because of the Oat Oil, it does smell a bit like play-dough. It's odd. But you get used to it. Especially if pairing it with Coconut Oil.

Yes to Blueberries Hydrating Body Wash - I've also used the entire collection of Yes to body washes and shower gels, but by far this is my favorite. The others all offer their own benefits, like if you have body acne the Yes to Tomatoes brand might be really good for you. But for me, suffering from Eczema, the Blueberries is perfect. It does the job a body wash should, getting me squeaky clean but also making my skin supple, soft and very hydrated feeling. And because the Yes to brand is so good about using natural products, I never have breakouts or Eczema patches after using it like I do other body washes. The first scent you get when using it surprisingly isn't Blueberries, but Lavender which is added for a calming effect. The longer you bathe/shower however the more the nice slightly sweet scent of the Blueberries arises. It's so relaxing in baths.

Freeman Peppermint + Plum Warming Foot Scrub - I use this on the weekends to repair my dry, icky feet. I start by washing them in depth and if I need to before hand I use a file on my feet to make them nice and smooth and get rid of dead skin. Then while they're nice and warm I use the scrub and it's like a spa day. Give myself a nice massage while exfoliating all the gunk that's left, and then I follow it up right after with some of my Aveeno Creamy Moisturizing Oil and some thick warm socks. It's a savior during the winter, but nice any day of the year you're feeling dry. Nice way to pamper yourself. Smells very light and more like Plum than anything. Nice Peppermint kick though.

Dr. Teals Epsom Salts & Dr. Teals Relax and Relief Foaming Bath - If you're not in Texas Dr. Teals might not be available to you, but there's plenty of other products out there. It just so happens these are my personal favorites, and I use them at least twice a week. They reduce swelling, water retention, aid in pain relief from sore muscles or aching joints especially during the Winter. They make me feel refreshed, relaxed and at peace. I accompany a bath with a Freeman's Mask once a week or so, and a nice foot scrub when I want to pamper myself a little more. The best gift you can give yourself is a relaxing Epsom bath, imo.

That about sums it up I think. May clean up this post/add more in the morning. But until then, welcome and thanks for coming around. I hope these products can help someone else out there <3
- Amberlyn

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