Aloe Vera Gel

If you've watched any of my skincare routines on my YouTube channel (here) you will know that I use aloe vera gel morning and night as a treatment for my skin. I find that when I use aloe gel my skin is more clear, more calm, and altogether more happy. There are several other ways I use aloe gel, and recently I've adopted a if it's broke, aloe can fix it mentality, so I thought I would share them with you.

As a mask- I use a thick layer of aloe gel once or twice a week to soothe and hydrate my skin. I smooth it on, let it set for 10 to 15 minutes, and wipe away.

As after-shave- I use this after shaving and find that it hydrates and makes my skin smooth more than any other moisturizer ever. And since a bottle of this stuff comes in around $3, it's one of the least expensive as well.

As a bug-bite helper- using aloe on any bug bites I get helps take the sting and itch away in a natural and safe way.

As a bruise-fader- I am a clumsy person and because of this I pretty much am always bruised in one place or another, and using aloe on the bruises helps them fade much faster.

As a scalp soother- I often end up burning my scalp in the summertime, and using aloe helps the flakes go away. I take a palmful and spread it onto my scalp pre-shower, and after I wash my hair I am flaky no more.

Any other ways you use aloe?

John Freida Luxurious Volume Building Mousse

I'll just be completely honest and say it- I have flat hair. My hair is pretty long and very thick, which means that getting volume can sometimes be a bit of an issue. However, since using this John Freida Luxurious Volume Building Mousse, I've found that it has gotten a bit easier. I bought this from Walgreens for around $7, and I find it gives me reasonable volume very easily. I take about a palmful and massage into the roots, then blow dry my hair as usual and voila! Easy volume. This wont make your hair Texas-sized, but then again I'm not from Texas so that isn't really my end goal. If you're new to mousse like I am, I would definitely recommend this one!

1 Minute Eye

Lately, I've been feeling extra lazy when it comes to my makeup. I think its a combination of the warmer weather, finals week, and just plain laziness. When I wake up in the morning, I've been wanting something that is quick and easy, but still makes me look polished when I run out the door. In comes my two hero products- Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad To The Bronze and Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Liner in Brown. I apply the Color Tattoo all over my lids with my finger and then thinly line my upper lash line with the Rimmel eyeliner to create a quick, easy look that takes two products and one minute. Score.

Peter Thomas Roth FirmX Peeling Gel

First of all, can we just talk for a minute about how hard it is to photograph reflective surfaces? Majorly struggled with this one. My poor photography skills aside, this product is something I've been meaning to write a post about for awhile. I mentioned this exfoliator in my April Favorites Video as something that has been really helping my skin. As I've gone back on my Retin-A, I've been needing some exfoliants that don't irritate my skin to help me deal with all the peeling and flaking my skin has been doing. This product is amazing as it makes my skin baby soft and doesn't burn or irritate my sensitive skin.

Take a generous amount of this thick gel product and apply it to damp skin, then watch as it literally takes a layer of skin away. That may sound disgusting, but I promise it is totally worth it when you reveal fresh, smooth skin. This product is one of the only ways I can deal with my skin right now, and I find that manual exfoliants only exacerbate my skin and cause more peeling.

At $48 for the full size, this product is pricey....but I've already used this travel size around 6 or 7 times and still have plenty left, so I think it is well worth it. You can pick the full size up at Sephora or the trial size at Ulta for around $9. If you have flaky, dry or dull skin I would recommend giving this a shot!

Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask

Origins is a brand I rate very highly as I think their products are high quality and very effective, and this product in particular is no exception. This overnight mask has been a major skincare savior as I've gone back on my Retin-A and my skin has been exceptionally dry and flaky. I smooth this peach/mango scented product on about a half hour before bedtime and I wake up to smooth skin that is noticeably brighter. When my skin is looking particularly dull, flaky, or feeling tight I turn to this mask and I find it really sorts out a multitude of issues. This mask is also reasonably priced, at $24 for the full sized product, or $17 for the size I have. I would highly recommend checking this product out if you have dull or dry skin- it's a holy grail for me!

Aussie 3 Minute Miracle

Aussie 3 Minute Miracle: a long-time love of mine that I like to call a "good hair day in a bottle." Big claim? Maybe, but I fully think this product deserves it. This deep conditioner will only set you back about $4 and is well worth every penny. This smells coconut-y and very tropical, leaves your hair feeling incredibly smooth and soft, and hydrates beautifully. I also love the packaging of this product as it is mess free and travels really well. I had completely forgotten about this product, but purchased it on a whim in Target and I don't think I will be able to be without it again! I'm really interested in trying more Aussie products after my success with this one...Anything else from Aussie that you think I should try?

Pacifica Take Me There Set: Tuscan Blood Orange

As you may have seen in my recent Ulta Haul post, I recently picked up the Pacifica "Take Me There" Set in Tuscan Blood Orange. This is a gorgeous scent that's perfect for summer- blood orange combined with raspberry, strawberry and mandarin orange. This smells very fruity with a hint of something deeper- definitely not a typical citrus scent in my opinion.

The Tuscan Blood Orange Rollerball is great to keep in a purse or travel bag- and I find that a small amount of this perfume lasts hours on me. In fact, this fragrance lasts much longer on me than any of my high-end perfumes, which is especially impressive considering the entire set cost me $13. As the top note of blood orange fades, I'm left with a fruity, warm scent that is perfect for spring and summer.

The Body Butter is another product I absolutely love. It is incredibly hydrating, and leaves a lovely sheen on the skin that is great if you're planning on showing some skin. If you're someone who likes their lotions to sink in and disappear though, this is probably one to pass on. I personally love this body butter because I feel like it keeps my hydrated throughout the day, which is especially useful when I'm using self-tanning products that can be drying.

The Lip Tint is the only product I'm not completely in love with from this set. While it is fairly hydrating and smooth on the lips, I find this gives off little to no color, so it's not my favorite. I would definitely still buy the set as it's a much better deal, but maybe hold off on purchasing the Lip Tint separately until you test it out.

Overall, this set is a great buy for summer, and I will definitely be trying other sets by Pacifica in the near future!

Ulta Haul

I recently went to Ulta (my happy place) and thought I would share what I got!

First, I got yet another NYX Butter Gloss (is anyone surprised?). I absolutely love the formula of these, and picked this one up in Vanilla Creme Pie, a pink-y nude shade that is very natural and right up my alley. I also picked up the NYX Invincible Foundation, which has its own post coming up very soon.

Next, I picked up the Pacifica Tuscan Blood Orange Take Me There Set, which includes a rollerball perfume, lip tint, and body butter. I absolutely love this scent- it smells of oranges, but is more complex than a typical citrus scent. Definitely doesn't smell like a household cleaner!

I also grabbed the Essence Superfine Liner Pen, which was a whopping $2. I'm constantly trying to perfect the cat-eye, but I like to have liners that easily can be wiped away if I make a mistake. I use this liner to draw the outline of the wing, and then fill it in with a liner with more lasting power.

Aussie 3 Minute Miracle was another thing I grabbed, a deep conditioner that is super cheap and very effective. I love this on days when my hair just hasn't been cooperating- this gives a hefty dose of moisture without weighing my hair down.

Finally, I picked up the ELF Jumbo Lip Gloss Stick in Pink Umbrellas- I got this from Target instead of Ulta, but thought I would include it as I bought it on the same day. I love lip crayons, and this one is a sheer glossy pink that help perk up the face.

Well, that's it! Not too many things, and all are budget so I don't think I did too shabby. Anything you think I should pick up on my next trip?

The Video: What's In My Makeup Bag (With My Best Friend)

I sat down with my gorgeous best friend and had a little chat about what's in our makeup bags for this week's video. Hope you enjoy!

The Hall of Fame: Nuxe Reve de Miel

As someone with perpetually dry lips, I'm a bit of a lip balm addict. Nuxe Reve de Miel is my all-time favorite for super hydration. This honey lip balm is pretty expensive when compared to Chap-Stik (its around $14), but is so very worth it. This has a strange texture...very thick with particles in it that help exfoliate. It almost feels like sand suspended in a thick balm. I apply this at night, and I can still feel it on my lips in the morning- the mark of a quality product, in my opinion. If you have dry lips, I would reccommend giving this a shot... Mine is almost gone, and I've already got another one on its way to me. One of my holy grail, can't live without products!

The Love: Egyptian Magic

As you can probably tell from the condition of my pot, I love me some Egyptian Magic. I tried this using my Birchbox points after hearing about its celebrity cult status in several of my favorite magazines. This product has just a few ingredients: olive oil, bees wax, honey, bee pollen, royal jelly, bee propolis. You can use this cream for so many different things- here's how I use mine.

As a lip balm: This stuff takes care of chapped lips quickly, and is unscented and gentle which makes it perfect for sore lips.

As a face moisturizer: As I've gone back on my retinol, my skin is seriously lacking moisture. This balm's creamy oil consistency works great to glide over my dry skin and really help soften it without making me break out. This is one of the few skincare products I can use without worrying about breakouts with, making it a major holy grail for me.

As a body moisturizer: I also use this on dry patches on my body- knees, elbows, etc. This is especially great if I know I'm going to be self tanning soon- the night before I tan, I put this on dry patches and wake up with softened skin- and no chance of getting streaky or patchy color.

As a hair tamer: While I would probably never use this as my leave-in conditioner permanently, it is good in a pinch if I have flyaways or frayed ends. A tiny bit of this and my hair is left looking sleek- and I find that this product helps repair my ends as well.

As a cuticle and hand cream: This is great if my hands are super chapped, or if my cuticles are looking particularly rough. A little bit of this and my hands and cuticles look and feel nourished.

As a highlighter: While this may not be a typical use of this product, I find that the sheen this leaves on my skin is great as a highlighter. A minuscule amount on the tops of my cheekbones, browbones and cupids bow and I look radiant-but never shiny.

If I've got a problem, chances are Egyptian Magic can fix it. Another thing worth mentioning with this product is that a little goes a seriously long way...half of a pea size and my entire face is moisturized. I've had this product for a few months and am only halfway through my tub, even when using it daily.

Have you tried Egyptian Magic? Any other ways you use it that I haven't mentioned?

Spot Treatments: Love, Like, Leave

As someone who has had acne since age 12, I've been through many spot treatments. Today, I thought I'd round up the ones that I've got in my stash and tell you what's worked for me. As a disclaimer, while some of these work for me, they may not work for you. Likewise, the ones that I didn't like may be miracle products for you. Obviously you know your skin best, so go with what works for you.

The Loves
One of the first spot treatments I ever tried was the Mark Get Treatment Anti-Acne Overnight Fix, and I've had it in my stash ever since. This comes out as a thick white cream and dries to almost look like toothpaste on the skin. You may look ridiculous, but it does an amazing job of drying out large, painful spots. This doesn't work as well on little spots, but if you've got cystic acne this one works wonders.

Another spot treatment I always have is a salicylic acid gel- my favorite is the CVS Acne Spot Treatment. This is a thin, clear gel that I put on spots of all sizes and find that they are greatly reduced by morning. It's also thin enough that I can use it on spots before makeup without it peeling or looking obvious.

The final love is one that isn't necessarily a spot treatment- but works as one for me. Organic Rose Hip Seed Oil , which I bought from Amazon, is great at putting sore spots in their place. I like to really massage this into my skin well, and find that with continued use my spots disappear and my hyperpigmentation fades.

The Likes
Another spot treatment reserved for overnight is the Formula 10.0.6 Overnight Spot Minimizing Patches. These clear stickers have tea tree oil on them, and you are meant to put them on spots overnight and wake up to smooth skin. While these aren't the most effective spot treatment I've tried (I prefer pure tea tree oil, which isn't pictured as I've just run out), these do work on smaller spots and are convenient for travel.

Origins Super Spot Remover is something I tried on a whim. I apply this clear gel with a q-tip and it forms a protective layer over the spot. While this one isn't bad, it's nothing to write home about, and for the price I prefer my CVS Acne Spot Treatment.

The Leaves
Evologie Stay Clear Cream is one that just didn't work for me. I got this as a sample in my Birchbox a few months back, and eagerly tried it, only to have it cause a giant breakout. While I know this product has worked for many, for whatever reason my skin didn't like it.

Boots Expert Anti-Blemish Serum is one that I'd put firmly in the leave category. While this isn't necessarily bad, and I know that this product has good reviews on the internet, I just didn't think it did anything. It didn't make me break out, but it also didn't help clear up my acne...and it dried my skin out, which I was not a fan of.

So there you have it... 7 spot treatments that I've tried. Let me know if you love any of these products as well, if there's anything I should try, or if I'm using one of the likes/leaves products wrong...I'd love your input!

May Wish List

Let's get real here for a minute... I have way too many beauty products. But like a true addict, I just can't help but want more. Here are the products I'm after this month...

1. Caudalie Vinosource S.O.S. Thirst-Quenching Serum . This stuff has been raved about by several bloggers, including EssieButton. I've recently started using a retinol again, meaning my skin has turned flaky and dry. Hopefully this will fix that if I can get my hands on it...

2. Caudalie Make-Up Remover Cleansing Water . I've recently used up my sample of this, and I love it! It removes makeup like a dream and doesn't irritate my sensitive eyes. As soon as I use up some other makeup removers in my stash, I am all over it.

3. Ren Clear Calm 3 Acne Treatment Mask. Because of going back on the aforementioned retinol, my skin has been breaking out major as a result. I've heard great things about this mask, so I'm hoping it can help clear up my skin's issues.

4. Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-hour Full Coverage Foundation . It seems like everyone and their mom loves this foundation, and as a lover of full-coverage foundations, I'm eager to give this one a try.

Well, those are the four products I'm majorly lusting after this month. What are yours?

The Weekend Video: AM Skincare Routine

My morning skincare routine is up on my Youtube Channel now!

Boscia Black Mask

I'm a sucker for when I got a sample of Boscia's Luminizing Black Mask, I knew I had to try it immediately.... There is just something so satisfying about using a peel-off mask! This mineral-rich mask goes on an opaque black, leaving you in serious swamp-people territory. Leave it on for 20 minutes, peel off, and marvel that you're still the same person.

This mask packs some serious punch- I found this mask really cleaned out my pores, reduced inflammation took care of any flaky patches on my skin, left it looking luminous and with continued use it is even helping fade my hyperpigmentation.

Formulated without parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances/dyes, petrochemicals, phthalates and GMOS, I found it didn't irritate my sensitive skin and seriously delivered on its claims. Have you tried this mask before?