Friday, February 10, 2012

Got a Costco membership? Got dry lips? Get these

I always read e-mails from Costco. You never know what great deal is lurking at the bottom of that crowded e-blast. Like today, for example:



If you live in Regular America, shipping is free. If you live in a Freak State, there's a shipping charge, but because it's Costco, it's super minimal. I dropped these in my cart and signed in just to see what they would charge, and the answer turned out to be $1.79. So even with the shipping charge, these work out to be significantly under their usual retail price of about $3.50 each. 

These eos lip balms, if you haven't tried them, are pretty great. I have Summer Fruit and Sweet Mint (both included in the Costco deal), and the flavor is really nice. They're also phthalate-, paraben- and petrolatum-free and packed with nice natural moisturizing ingredients. Plus the cute little round shape is fun. They're almost egg-shaped, so you could hold on to them until Easter and dress them up for gifts. Or you could do what I would do and just hog them all for yourself.

It's a good thing I didn't go looking for these on Costco.com, because I never would have thought to check in "non-prescription remedies," which is where they're categorized (rather than under "cosmetics," which is where I would have gone). I did find something else interesting under "cosmetics," though: a Dior palette for $49.99.

Oh, Costco. You never fail to surprise me.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Reader Q&A: DIY home skincare

Dear Below Freezing Beauty,
My skin is *so* bad. I've been terrible about taking off my makeup before sleep lately. My diet has been not at all nutritious and stress abounds. I used my tried and true Yes to Tomatoes mud mask last night with none of the usual results. The market for beauty products is limited where I live. Is there something I can whip up the kitchen to repair this mess?
Sincerely, Desperately Researching A Breakthrough

Hey, DRAB, you just described my skincare routine for large chunks of last year. Despite the fact that one of my 2011 beauty resolutions was to get my skin under control, I was also stressed out and planning a wedding and... well, this isn't about me. (I also didn't yet master false lashes. That's a 2012 task.)

YES, there are ingredients in your kitchen right now that can help out your skin. The hard thing is figuring out which ones work for you. The Internet is packed with recipes and video tutorials for DIY facials and masks. Some of them seem like pure nonsense. And even the ones that are based on actual science will also be more or less effective depending on your skin type. But here are a few I've tried and can recommend.

Aspirin



Here's something you maybe didn't know (I know I didn't): Salicylic acid, which is used in many acne treatments, is the chemical basis for aspirin. I'm not a scientist, so this is by no means a precise description, but basically, aspirin is synthesized from salicylic acid. Anyway, regardless of what the science is exactly,  lots of people swear by aspirin masks for acne-prone skin. You can mix it with tea tree oil, honey or aloe, depending on your specific needs, or you can just use water, which is what I tried. There's a great long thread about aspirin treatments on Makeupalley. (You may have to register to read it. Go for it. It's free, it's a great resource, and they never bug you with spam.) Some people also use Excedrin because it contains caffeine (good for under the eyes) in addition to aspirin.

I picked up a bottle of uncoated generic aspirin at my local drugstore for a couple of bucks, and then finely ground a small handful of pills with the chopper attachment of my hand blender. You could also just whack them with a rolling pin or mortar and pestle, I suppose, but I'm lazy and happened to have the perfect appliance on hand, so I used it. (I also didn't want a lot of big chunks left over.) I mixed the powder with a little bit of water to make a paste, rubbed it all over my face, and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Then I rinsed it off with some warm water, rubbing gently as I went to exfoliate.

I wouldn't say I saw immediate results with my aspirin mask, but my face felt clean, and it didn't irritate my skin. Since it's cheap and easy, I'll definitely try it again, although I think I'll wait a few days, since I could see it being overly drying if used too often.

Baking soda



I've seen some videos on YouTube about using baking soda for skincare, but I've always held off because baking soda has just seemed too harsh to put on my face. It's cheap and readily available, though, so I figured I'd give it a go as a spot treatment. I mixed a few drops of water into about a half teaspoon of baking soda, dabbed it on a couple of zits and let it sit for about 30 minutes.

This? Actually worked really nicely for me. They didn't disappear or anything, but I could tell it definitely sucked some moisture out of them, and the next day the spots were smaller and less red. I still don't think I'll be rubbing baking soda all over my face, but I could see using it to stand in for my usual overnight spot treatment, Mario Badescu Drying Lotion. There's a great Makeupalley thread on baking soda as well.

Apple cider vinegar mask and toner



I've shared this video before, but this mask did really work nicely for me. Plus the girl in the video has such a cute Belfast accent. This tutorial also uses green tea, sugar and honey.