Monday, April 4, 2011

Week 2: Ardell Brow & Lash Growth Accelerator Treatment Gel! + Photos!

Last week, I mentioned that I started using Ardell's Brow & Lash Growth Accelerator Treatment Gel as a part of my daily routine. (View Week 1 by clicking here). Today marks week two, and here are my results...

At the end of week 1, I mentioned that my eyelashes feel slightly stronger and slightly longer.

Now, at week 2, I still feel that my lashes are slightly stronger.. but I honestly can't tell if they feel stronger than week 1. What I definitely have noticed is that I have more lashes than I did before. I have lots of new growth, which can be seen in the photo above where my eye is open. You can see that there are several smaller lashes peeking from my lash line. Usually, when I'm not wearing mascara, you can barely see my lashes. Now when I'm not wearing mascara, there are slightly darker (because there are more) and more visible. My results with mascara are amazing and I don't feel I need a base as much I use to. I am thrilled with my progress so far.

Did you know, your nails need moisture too?

 Did you know one of the main factors in maintaining healthy nails is moisture? This may not sound like rocket science, and it may possibly be obvious to many, but It never really crossed my mind.

Although my nails can grow fast, long, and are very strong, I had very dry nails. And when I say had, I'm only talking about a week ago. I started researching the problems I had with my nails. 1) Some of my nails would curve and 2) Several of my nails were (minor) peeling.

So with a little research, I realized my nails need moisture. So, I started applying unrefined shea butter to my hands and nails and night and then going to bed, letting my nails absorb the moisture. I've had this problem with my nails for a couple of years now (curving and peeling) and within a week, my nails have minimal, if any curving and minimal, if any peeling. I was staring at my nails the other day in confusion. None of my nails were curving. They looked the beautiful way they look after I've taken a long shower. Then I quickly realized that what I've been doing has been working.

How to recognize if your nails lack moisture:
1) Your nails break easily/they seem brittle.
2) "Splitting"or "Peeling" of the nail - separation and breaking of the protein layers due to depletion of natural oils and moisture content.
3) Your nails look dull and dry 
4) Your nails curve inward at long/medium lengths

There are many reasons why your nails can be dry. If you use an acetone nail polish remover, although it takes your nail polish off faster than any other remover, it can dry out your nails. If you do a lot of housecleaning, wash your hands often and expose your hands to lots of chemicals, it can be damaging to your nails. If you do none of these things, and your nails are brittle, it could be a vitamin deficiency.

Nails are made up of keratin, a protein, which is produced by the skin cells too. As proper nutrition is an important part of skin care, nails too need adequate nutrition for its healthy growth. Vitamin deficiency can lead to brittle nails, along with many other conditions. A deficiency of the following vitamins, like, vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin D, may result in brittle nails.
  • Vitamin A deficiency can adversely affect the health of the nails, as this vitamin aids the body to process proteins. As protein is one of the main constituents of nails, a deficiency of vitamin A affects the nails and makes it brittle and dry. It is also said that retinoid (a derivative of vitamin A) deficiency may also cause brittle nails.
  • B vitamins are also essential for the nails, especially biotin or vitamin B7 and vitamin B12. B vitamins strengthen the nails and prevent dryness of nails, darkening and the occurrence of curved ends.
  • Vitamin C deficiency can lead to hangnails, swelling of nail tissues and brittle nails. These conditions may be painful and cause infections too.
  • Vitamin D and calcium are also needed for healthy and strong nails. Vitamin D deficiency affects the absorption of calcium ion in the body, which in turn results in brittle nails.
Start out by making a goal for yourself to take in more vitamins a day. Try drinking a full glass of juice a day that contains all of the major vitamins. If you would like to limit your sugar intake, there are lower calorie/sugar options available. If you don't care for juice, try out Vitamin water! It contains most, if not all of the same vitamins as juice. There are also low calorie options available. If you want to ditch both, take a daily multi-vitamin (if you are not eating a well balanced diet).   

As always, drink lots of water. This goes not only for your nails, but your overall health.

If your hands are dry, most likely your nails are too. Apply a moisturizing lotion to your hands a few times a day. If you're too busy throughout the day, apply lotion to your hands in the morning and at night - as a part of your skincare routine.

Moisturizing Treatments for your nails:
There are so many different treatments you can use, and they will all be effective. Try using a heavier, emollient cream at night on your hands and nails. Make sure to rub the cream with small circular motions on your nails. A favorite of many is Petroleum jelly, Aquaphor (jar), Pure Cocoa Butter, Unrefined Shea Butter, etc. After you have applied the cream to your nails, go to sleep and let your nails absorb the moisture. If you'd like, you can wear thin, cotton gloves so it won't rub off on your bed sheets.

Pour a little olive oil into two small (or one medium) sized bowl and let your nails rest in the oil for 10 minutes. Then, rinse. (You aren't only limited to olive oil!)

Continue moisturizing your nails as much needed. You can see improvements in as little as a few days to a week.

The most important thing to remember is to ALWAYS replenish the moisture in your nails once you have removed moisture.

For other nail tips, check out my Nail Routine post here!


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Follow-up/Update: Brazilian Peel by AHA!

(Image Credit:
 In my previous Sephora Haul post, I mentioned that I got two vials of the Brazilian Peel, which are good for two applications. 

What the Brazilian Peel is, is a Glycolic Acid in a higher percentage than Glycolic AHA's you may find at the drugstore without a prescription. The Brazilian Peel contains 30% Glycolic Acid, as opposed to the typical 10% you may find in select stores. The Brazilian Peel Kit contains four vials, which is to be used once a week for four weeks. So it is basically, a one month Glycolic treatment.

Ingredients: Gel- Water, Glycolic Acid (and) L-Arginine, Propylene Glycol, Euterpe Oleracea (Açai) Pulp Oil, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance Q-Mag Neutralizer- Water, Magaldrate, Glycerin, Methyl Ethylcellulose, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate.

Glycolic Acid — An alpha hydroxy acid derived from natural sugar cane.
Acai (Euterpe Oleracea Pulp Oil) — Grown wild in the Amazon jungle, the acai berry is rich in vitamins B1, B2, B3, C and E – as well as Omegas 3, 6 and 9; it’s an exceptional natural anti-oxidant that helps to reduce the effects of free radicals as it promotes healthy skin.
Magaldrate — a blend of aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide that neutralizes acid and draws out impurities.

Still Confused?
A Glycolic Acid is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) derived from sugar. It is one of the main AHA's found in skincare. Other main AHA's include: Lactic Acid, Citric Acid, Etc.

What does an AHA do for your skin? An AHA.. well, is an acid. It will gently peel/exfoliate your uppermost layer of skin, exposing your fresher skin underneath. Using a product with an AHA won't give you a new complexion overnight. It takes commitment, and it means using the product daily for however long you may need it based on your skin. Not everybody needs an AHA, and if you have good radiant skin, it may not be necessary. AHA's best treat rough skin, sundamaged skin, dull/lifeless skin, scarring and mild discoloration. You will find that the AHA will peel away your impurities and reveal a more even, radiant complexion.

Products you may find at the drugstore contain AHA in low to mild concentrations. I own AmLactin (Lactic Acid 12%) and Alpha Hydroxy 10% Enhanced Cream (10% Glycolic Acid) which are suitable to daily use. Like I said, the Brazilian Peel contains 30%, which is why it is meant to be used once a week for four weeks. It is three times as strong as the current products I'm using, so I should be seeing visible results after one use.

My main concern with my skin right now is that I have some scars on my cheeks and forehead from past blemishes. I use an AHA daily, and it does fade them - but it doesn't fade scars very quickly. I'd say it takes almost a month to adequately fade a scar 100%. 

REVIEW: I was very excited to try this product out, and I tried it for the first time on Friday as a part of my daily skincare routine. I cleansed my face as usual, applied my BHA and then applied the Brazilian Peel.

Inside the vial is two side by side gels (one side is white, the other is clear). The directions are to remove the cap and dispense the product into your palm. When the product is extracted, you take your finger and mix the two gels together. Once you start mixing the gels together, you'll almost instantly feel a very warm, heated sensation on your palm. The consistency of the gel isn't very runny or watery like you may think - It's actually somewhat thick and goopy. One the product is mixed, you'll end up with a palm full of a clear, cloudy gel. You must act quickly now and apply it to your face in even strokes. It dries very quickly once it hits your skin, so it's important to get it all on your face before it dries in your hand. After it has been applied, you can't really work with the product much - as it has dried, so don't worry about having it perfectly blended. I only used 1/2 of the vial, as I wanted to get double the use from it. It says on the label to use it all - but I've read that others have saved half and used it at a later time, and it worked fine for them. After a minute or so, I feel a slight burn and throughout the ten minutes you're supposed to leave it on, my skin feels a little tight. After ten minutes, you rinse your face with cool water. After I rinsed my face, my face felt very fresh and clean - just as it would after I would use a cleanser. I applied my Argan Oil as a moisturizer soon after, and had no irritations/burning or sensitivity. 

The following morning, my blemish scars were a less noticeable than the previous day. One scar in particular I was keeping an eye on was a recent scar right above my eyebrow that was a small red blotch. It seemed to have faded to a lighter pink - and I'd say faded by 30-40%. My overall complexion looked great & I had no dry spots. 

I decided to finish the vial that night on my freshly cleansed skin. I mixed the product as usual and felt the same warm sensation on my palm. I smoothed it quickly on my face and this time, I didn't feel the slight burning sensation. I was a bit worried that it wasn't going to be effective. I did though, have the slight tightening feeling throughout the ten minutes. Again, I washed my face with cool water and applied Argan Oil as a moisturizer. 

This morning, I'm very happy with the results. Right away I lifted my bangs and examined the scar above my brow. It's barely noticeable now, and only looks like a slight shadow. I'd say it's 80% gone, and with one more treatment would be 100% gone. Any other minor scars have lightened up a bit. There is one scar on my nose from a past blemish that lightened, but not as much as the scar above my eyebrow. So, it depends on the severity of the scar. My complexion again, is looking good. I don't have any irritations. The only "irritation", if you would even call it an irritation, is I had a small area around my mouth that had either dried up a little or peeled a little. With a quick scrub & a little moisturizer it was gone, with no redness or inflammation.

I'm very happy with the results of this so far. I had expected it to be a little more intense, considering it's called a "peel" and the packaging is a syringe. I'd say this is more like a mask. It does work faster at fading scars, but you shouldn't expect overnight results. It really depends on your individual skin, but for myself, I'm 100% confident in saying that my (minor) scars would be completely gone if I used the full 4 piece set (using each syringe twice). I do think the product is over-priced ($23 for one syringe & $78 for four). I do think it's a good tool to quickly put your skin in better condition if you have a special event coming up.

I have one syringe left, and I will let you know my final opinion about the product once I've used it up!

If you have tried this product, I'd love to know your thoughts in my comments below.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sephora Haul: Guerlain, DDF, Josie Moran, Brazilian Peel!

Earlier this week, I placed two orders (one day apart from eachother) at Both orders look almost exactly the same because I chose the same free samples for both orders.

So, I thought I'd do a quick post to share with you my purchases!

Order #1
Ojon Color Sustain Color Revealing Shampoo & Conditioner (0.27 oz samples)
Dior Capture Totale One Essential Skin Boosting Super Serum (0.03 oz sample)
Brazilian Peel Professional Strength Glycolic Acai Anti-oxidant Facial Treatment (2.4 ml sample)
DDF Advanced Moisture Defense spf 15 (0.5 oz promotional sample - code at checkout: Defense)
Josie Maran Organic Argan Oil Moisturizer

Order #2
Ojon Color Sustain Color Revealing Shampoo & Conditioner (0.27 oz samples)
Dior Capture Totale One Essential Skin Boosting Super Serum (0.03 oz sample)
Brazilian Peel Professional Strength Glycolic Acai Anti-oxidant Facial Treatment (2.4 ml sample)
DDF Advanced Moisture Defense spf 15 (0.5 oz promotional sample - code at checkout: Defense)
DDF Ultra-Lite Oil Free Moisturizing Dew (1 fl oz, 100 point beauty insider reward)
Guerlain Parure Extreme Foundation in the shade 03 Beige Naturel

I'm mostly excited to try out the Brazilian Peel, as I've been using AHA's nightly for the past month and would like to experiment with different brands. I'm not going to lie, seeing the Brazilian Peel as a free sample with any purchase is what persuaded me to place an order (or two). You can read more about it by clicking here.

I'm also pretty excited about the Argan Oil, as I've been meaning to try it for months.. I'm crossing my fingers that my skin will react well to it.

Also, as you can see I purchased another Guerlain Parure Extreme Foundation. I purchased a bottle of Guerlain Parure Extreme a couple of months back and the color (#4) was terrible for my warm skin tone. I love this foundation to pieces, so despite the hefty price tag, I decided to take the plunge and purchase it in a shade lighter (#3). So far, I've only swatched it on my hand.. and it looks much better than #4 in terms of undertone, but I can't tell for sure yet. I'll keep you updated with that. 

I'll be testing out all of these products and I'll have reviews/updates within the next couple of weeks! 

If you've tried any of these products, I'd love to know your thoughts!!