Review: Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay Mask

 

aztec mask

I’m back, it’s a new year and I have a new favorite face mask.  And this product couldn’t have come at a better time.  I won’t bore you with the gory details but I’ve been sick for roughly the last month (but am finally almost better, yay!) and when my body isn’t feeling well, my skin likes to go absolutely insane.  Not fun.

But there are perks to spending hours in bed feeling like garbage. The universe smiled upon me and I fell down the Amazon beauty reviews rabbit hole and discovered the immensely popular Aztec Indian Healing Clay.  With 4.5/5 stars and over 7,000 reviews I knew this stuff had to be good, but now I’m convinced this one pound tub of dirt has actual magical properties.

So what’s so great about this stuff?  Here are the basics, per Amazon:

  • World’s most powerful facial
  • Deep pore cleaning
  • 100% natural calcium bentonite clay
  • Does not contain: additives, fragrances, animal products

 

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                 Photo credit: inhautepursuit.com

They forgot to mention that it’s cheap!  A one pound tub will set you back $9, and when you only need one tablespoon per mask, it’s going to last you a loooong time.

Now let’s get down to business.  Here’s how to make the mask:

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        Photo credit: labmuffin.com

You’ll need the clay, a non-metal bowl and spoon and apple cider vinegar.  All of the Amazon faithful suggested Bragg’s Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar so that’s what I’ve got.  It smells a bit like rotting apples but hey, it works.

A couple tips before you mix your mask:

  1. Put your hair up or out of your face because, duh.
  2. Eat or drink something if you want because once this baby is on your face, you can’t eat/talk/drink/smile for a good 20-30 minutes. That’s how intensely this mask dries and pulls the junk out of your face.

Once that’s out of the way it’s time to get started. Mix clay with equal part of raw apple cider vinegar (I use 1 tablespoon of each) in a non-metal bowl. Stir the mixture into a smooth paste.  Apply all over the face.  You should look something like this:

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    Photo credit: uk.pintrest.com

Now the fun part begins.  As this mask dries, you will feel your face pulsate like crazy.  This is good.  Don’t be scared.

The mask will become very tight while it dries and hardens.  If you have oily skin like me, keep the mask on for 30 minutes.  Normal and more sensitive skin can get away with 10-20 minutes.

Pro Tip: While your mask dries, take advantage of your green face and channel your inner Jim Carrey.  I suggest dancing around to this song:

Once enough time has gone by and your mask is dry, soak a washcloth in warm water and lay it over your face for a minute or two to begin loosening everything up.  You don’t want to try to start washing it off right away or the chips of mud will clog your drain and no one wants that.

Apply a nice, heavy moisturizer post-facial.  I usually do my masks at night in the bathtub with a glass of wine I drink through a straw and follow up with the Olay Classic Night Cream.
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Photo credit: amazon.com

You’ll notice that your face is very red after the mask is off but this is normal and will go away in 30-ish minutes.  You’ll probably also notice that your face is beyond smooth and soft, and that’s just one of the benefits.  The others include:

  • Smaller pores and cleaned-out blackheads
  • Reduction in excess oil production
  • Elimination of acne. Honestly, I have not had a spot since using this mask 2-3x per week for the past month and a half.  And that, my friends, is a goddamn miracle.
  • Softening of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Skin tone is more even, rough patches are smoothed
  • Glowing skin like the light of a thousand suns

In short, this tub of clay is the real deal.  It’s definitely worth the money and I’m excited to try other uses for it – hair masks, foot soaks, you name it.  If you’re a fan of face masks or just want to give your skin a detox to start 2016 off right, I very highly recommend picking up some Aztec Healing Clay.

Self-Tanning Routine and Favorite Products

As I type this post, I see that my lovely little corner of the world is expecting 4-7 inches of snow this weekend. Combine that with the fact that the sun now goes down at 4:30pm and I’m in dire need of a dose of summer.  Enter one of my most treasured beauty rituals: Self-Tanning.

A golden tan can give you a healthy glow and, let’s be real, the whole “If you can’t tone it, tan it!” sentiment is very true.  A good tan helps you look and feel better. Thankfully, self-tanning products have come a LONG way in the past few years, and when these products are combined with a solid pre and post application routine, you can be tan and glowing every day of the year – all without being exposed to damaging UV rays.

Here is my self-tanning routine and favorite products for face and body:

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Here’s my tan, disembodied arm

Pre-Tan Application

I typically do my self-tanning routine at night so when I wake up in the morning my tan has darkened and I’m good to go.

The number one key to a streak-free, long-lasting, even tan is to exfoliate pre-application.  You can shell out money for fancy body scrubs that smell like angel kisses and will take off your top layer of skin, or you can do what I do and buy cheap exfoliating shower gloves at the drugstore:

ex gloves

Hop in the shower, squeeze some body wash on these bad boys and scrub your whole body down – especially focus on knees, elbows and ankles as self-tanning products tend to really stick to those areas and can make them develop darker than the rest of your tan.

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Don’t forget to also exfoliate your face!  My favorite product that I’ve talked about before are the Skin Obsession Microdermabrasion Crystals mixed with whatever cleanser I have in the shower.

Tan Application

Now that you’ve exfoliated the top layer of your skin off (gross but yay!) and you’re out of the shower, it’s time to dry off completely and apply the tan.  I know that your skin is all dry and itchy feeling and you want to dip your entire body in lotion but WAIT, we’ll get there.

If you’re using a mouse or a spray, grab some old/dark-colored towels to lay down on the floor to prevent any stains.  And if you live alone like me or have the house to yourself for an hour, I highly suggest applying your tan in another, cooler temperature room – your bathroom is a humid, hot place after you’ve showered and that environment can double the time it takes your tan to dry.  So if you have the option, spread out some towels in the living room and let’s get down to business:

jergens

I’ve tried quite a few self-tanning products, from very expensive to drugstore, and I can’t recommend this Jergen’s mousse enough.  It’s inexpensive ($10), has a pleasant smell, and gives me natural-looking color that lasts a good 3-5 days.

  • Use gloves and/or a mitt to keep your hands from getting horrifically stained. Apply a few pumps to your mitt, smooth it all over one body part at a time and keep working.  I start at my feet and work upwards but it’s your world, start wherever you want.

gloves and mitt

  • Once you’ve applied the tan all over your body, you may want to use a product specifically made for self-tanning the face. I’ve found in the past that the body tanners do give me great color on my face but they break me out horribly, and tan pimples suck just as much as pale ones.

    Instead, I mix a bit of Olay daily moisturizer with a small amount of Tarte’s Maracuja Face and Body Self Tanner and apply all over my face.  Done.

tarte

Post-Tan Application

The hard part is over!  Now just chill out for a few minutes (Naked! Scandalous!) to let your tan dry.  Once you feel sufficiently dry (10-20 minutes), it’s time to add moisture back into the skin.  I cover myself top to bottom in my favorite lotion of all time – Vaseline Cocoa Radiant.

vaseline

Applying lotion every day will help keep your skin soft and extend the longevity of your tan.  If you want to give your tan an extra boost when it starts to fade several days later, I highly recommend the St. Tropez One Night Only Instant Body Glow Lotion

st tropez

This lotion is pricey but it’s great for giving your tan some extra color, or you if you don’t feel like going through the whole self-tan process described above, apply this for a tan that washes off in your next shower.

And that’s it! Happy Bronzing!

Skin Care 101: My Routine and Favorite Products

I have a confession.  Up until a couple years ago, I had no skin care routine whatsoever. Zero. Maybe I’d splash some water on my face in the morning and use whatever soap in the shower to do a mediocre job of washing off my makeup in the evening, but that was it.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that my skin was dull with an uneven tone, fine lines were starting to form and, due to my naturally oily skin (thanks, Mom!), I had my share of acne.  Thankfully, I’ve learned a lot since then and now I actually get compliments on my skin, which still throws me off from time to time.  Take my advice and don’t wait 28 years to start caring for your face!

me
This is my face. And maybe a filter.

There are three basic steps to skin care: Cleansing, Exfoliating and Moisturizing.  Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Here is my current skin care routine and favorite products:

  1. Makeup Removal 

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I’m an evening shower person so we’ll start the routine with makeup removal. Removing all of your makeup before cleansing is a crucial step on the road to great skin. Before getting in the shower, I take off my makeup with a Neutrogena makeup remover wipe. The CVS brand of these wipes is great, too (and cheaper).  If I have some heavy-duty eye makeup on, I’ll soak a cotton ball with Neutrogena eye makeup remover and gently rub everything off.

  1. Cleansing and Exfoliating 

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I keep a rotation of several cleansers in the shower but usually mix together my all-time favorites of Cetaphil and the Garnier Blackhead Eliminating Scrub for Oily Skin.  Cetaphil is super mild and helps remove any remaining bits of makeup the wipe might have missed while the Garnier scrub removes dead skin and is gentle enough to use every day.  Plus, the charcoal in the scrub helps control acne and oily skin because, science.

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Once or twice a week I’ll mix together a pump of Cetaphil with a small amount of my secret weapon: Skin Obsession Microdermabrasion Crystals.  These crystals are incredibly finely milled and a minute or two of rubbing this mixture all over your face will leave your skin baby soft and radiant.   Exfoliating is KEY in keeping skin soft, generating new skin cells and evening out skin tone. A smooth, even canvas gives you a fantastic base for applying makeup.  Exfoliating is also a necessity for keeping “mature” a.k.a over 30 skin, like mine, all glowy and youthful.

  1. Toning & Anti-Aging

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Toner seems to be one of those things that people are on the fence about when it comes to skin care.  Do I think it’s a huge factor? No. Do I think it helps in my fight against oily skin? Yep. Once my skin is all cleansed, exfoliated and I’m out of the shower, I’ll soak a cotton ball in toner and wipe it all over my face.  Done.

Next it’s time for anti-aging. I’ve been using the Avene Retrinal 0.1 Cream ever since my dermatologist recommended it two years ago when I asked her what would help slow time from marching across my face.  The price is a little steep but you only need to use a pea-sized amount each night, so a tube will last months.  I apply this all over my face and neck. It has never made me break out, it doesn’t give that lovely sting that other retinol products can have and I think it’s done wonders for evening out my skin tone and plumping everything up a bit.  I highly recommend it.

While letting the Retrinal sink in and do its thing, I’ll apply a dot of Epiduo to any pimple that might be starting to show up and this stops it in its tracks.  I’m fairly certain that Epiduo is prescription only so ask your dermatologist for a sample.  It’s strong, effective stuff and can be very drying, so use a tiny dot only on the spot itself or you’ll risk the skin around it becoming dry and flaky.

  1. Moisturizing 

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Anti-aging and acne prevention products can dry out the skin, so it’s time to put that moisture back in.  I like to use a combination of the classic Olay Night Cream with a few drops of Tarte Maracuja Oil mixed in. Yes, I have oily skin and yes, I put an oil on my face and I genuinely believe it’s one of the most important steps in my routine.  Maracuja oil has many benefits and is loaded with Vitamin C to give you a brighter, firmer complexion.  This oil is not cheap but when you only use 2-3 drops a day, it’s going to last.  I can’t say enough good things about it (although it smells a bit like french fry grease, but…who doesn’t love fries?).  For daytime moisture, I use the Olay Complete Moisturizer with SPF 15 after cleansing and before applying makeup.

Last, but certainly not least, I pat Olay Eye Lifting Serum underneath and around my eyes.

And that’s it!  This might sound like a ton of products and a lot of steps, but once I got into the habit, I got it down to a science and it only takes me 5-7 minutes, tops.

  1. Optional Step: Face Masks 

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I don’t lead a particularly taxing life, but I still live by the “Treat Yo Self” motto.  Part of that treating is face masks.  I loooove them.  And you should, too, because they’re inexpensive, helpful for a range of skin issues and you’ll feel like a queen (or king, no judgement) waiting to be fed grapes while you lay around with your mask on.

Once or twice a week I’ll use one of the following masks, depending on what my skin’s doing or needing.  Bonus: All Freeman masks are inexpensive and sold at every drugstore:

  • Freeman Oatmeal & Avocado Clay Mask gets all the gunk out of your pores, leaving your skin extra clean and smooth. I like to use this mask at the end of the weekend since I’ve typically been wearing a lot of makeup and acting a fool for the past few days, so I need that deep clean.
  • Freeman Peel-Off Cucumber Mask is an old school, peel-off cucumber mask. Truthfully I just love this one for the Patrick Bateman-esque style of peeling the mask off once it’s all dry, but it does have actual skin smoothing and impurity-removing benefits.
  • Freeman Charcoal & Black Sugar Polishing Mask is a must for my fellow oily skin people because it contains our friend charcoal. This isn’t a mask exactly, but more a yummy-smelling paste.  Spread it all over your face, let it sit for a couple minutes, rub it all around your face for a minute or two, wash it off and voila! Glowing, smooth skin is yours.

My number one skin care tip? Be consistent. A solid routine and great products won’t help much if you’re only using them sporadically.  Carve out a couple minutes in your day to take care of your skin and I promise, your face will thank you for it.

6 Easy Steps to Applying False Lashes

Ah, false lashes.  Aside from winged eyeliner, false lashes may be the most-feared tool/technique in the beauty arsenal.  But fear not!  I’m here to help. Falsies can have a significant effect on your overall look and are a great way to add a little oomph for a big event or night out.

Here is my six step guide to applying false lashes with relative ease:

Step 1: Have a drink

No, seriously.  Have a drink (or if you’re not a booze person, do a little yoga or deep breathing or whatever you people do to loosen up).  I firmly believe that false lashes can smell fear and the more relaxed you are, the better.  Don’t get hammered, but put on some good “I’m going out tonight!!!11” tunes, have a drink and approach the process as fun instead of An Ordeal.  It helps, I promise.

Step 2: Select your false lashes and cut them to size

Eyes come in all different shapes and sizes so you may need to trim your falsies down to fit your peepers.  Simply hold the lash strip up to your eye and decide if you need to trim a few hairs off the end or if you’re good to go.  Having a lash that’s too long and tickling the inside of your eye/nose area is the opposite of fun, so don’t skip this step.

Step 3: Prep your natural lashes

Now we’re getting somewhere.  Take a look at your natural lashes.  Are they fairly straight?  Then curl them with a lash curler and swipe on 1 (one) coat of mascara.  If your lashes are particularly straight, I suggest waterproof mascara to really make sure your lashes stay curled.  If your lashes naturally curl up like mine do (humblebrag), feel free to run a clean mascara wand or spoolie through your lashes to get them all fanned out, separated and ready to go.

Step 4: Glue time

Use a good quality glue!  You want these suckers to stay on and a good glue does just that.  My personal favorite is Duo Lash Adhesive, Clear, 0.25 Ounce, easily found online or at any drugstore.  There are really two options when it comes to glue application: apply to the seam of the false lash strip, or apply the glue directly to your own lash line.  I’m a fan of both ways but tend to use the “apply to the false lash strip” method.  Apply a VERY thin line of glue to the lash strip seam.  The cardinal rule here is to let the glue dry for a good 30 seconds before you attempt to place the lashes on your eye.  The glue must be tacky to get a good, solid hold.  These will probably be the longest 30 seconds of your life, so feel free to use this time to take a swig of the drink mentioned in Step 1.

Step 5: Lash application

This is it.  Here we go.  Pick up your lash strip with either tweezers or those handy little lash-gripper tong things that come with many lash kits.  Look down into a mirror and carefully place the lashes on your eyelid as close to your natural lash line as possible.  Breathe.  Try to secure the middle of the lash strip over the pupil of your eye first.  Once that part is secured, carefully tug the end of the false lashes out to fit the inner and outer corners of your eye.  Breathe again.  Once you feel that the lash strip is well secured, take the flat side of a bobby pin and run it over the lash strip to smooth it down and really get a good hold.  Let the glue dry for a couple minutes.

Step 6: Merge the real with the fake

You’re almost done!  Once the glue has dried, use your favorite mascara to bond your real lashes with the falsies.  A couple swipes on each eye should do it.  Don’t forget to add mascara to your lower lash line to balance things out.  Finally, use eyeliner to draw on the seam of the lash and lash line to help blend everything together.

And you’re done!  You may want to throw the glue and tweezers in to your purse just in case, but if you follow these steps, your false lashes should have no problem staying on for many hours. Enjoy!