Murad Essential-C Daily Renewal Complex

Without exaggeration, Murad Essential-C Daily Renewal Complex is the best skin care product I have ever used. In one week of use, my skin is visibly clearer and smoother, and my skin tone is more even. I received a full size jar of this in a swag bag at a beauty conference I went to a few months ago, so I didn't know it was $92 an ounce until I looked it up online. I'm not surprised, it is a freaking miracle. I wish I had tried it the day I brought it home. I will happily pay $92 for this when then the jar I have runs out. I will also check out the rest of this line because, if it works as well as the Renewal Complex, I will have the skin of a newborn baby.

I love the texture, too. It feels almost dry, and disappears instantly into my skin. I have been using it at night (you only use it once a day), and following it with Clinique Moisturesurge, which is my favorite moisturizer of all time. I think you are supposed to use it in the morning, though, because the directions recommend following it with moisturizer and sunblock.

I seriously love this stuff.

Call for Opinions: Do you give a hair stylist a second chance?

For the past couple years, I have been going to Anna Vidito at Lukaro Salon in Beverly Hills for my haircuts. She is awesome. I've loved every haircut I've had from her. The problem is that the salon is in Beverly Hills and I am not. It takes half a Saturday and costs me $90, plus tip, for a haircut.

I didn't get my hair cut for a long time because I was growing it out. Then, I decided to try someone closer. I followed a recommendation from a friend and ended up with a haircut that was little better than a Supercuts trim. A month later, I still needed a haircut, so I followed a recommendation from another friend. I ended up with shelf hair. See that shelf between my chin and my shoulders? I don't like it. I need shorter layers.


After that, I was fed up with haircuts and I let my hair go a little wild. One too many days of wearing the oh so attractive headband/ponytail combo and I decided I would get another haircut, but I wanted it THAT DAY.


Unfortunately, Anna wasn't in that day, so I followed yet another recommendation from a friend. This one actually owned the salon where they stylist work. I explained my shelf issue to the stylist. She gave me a shorter shelf.


Now, I have an appointment on Saturday to go back to the most recent stylist so she can fix it. I am not sure I trust her to do it, but paying Anna $90 to fix it is really going to smart after paying the first stylist $65 to botch it. Why don't I listen to myself when I know better? I always say that you get what you pay for when it comes to hair cuts.

Would you go back to the most recent stylist and let her try to fix it?

The Goody Spin Pin Makes a Perfect Bun

I've seen the Goody Simple Styles Spin Pin in stores for awhile, but I was always skeptical about its effectiveness until @Shopafrolic tweeted about it last month. I finally bought it at Target yesterday. You guys, it is amazing. Seriously. It's ridiculous that I waited so long to buy it.

I have thick (less thick now that I have lost a lot of hair due to the weight loss surgery) shoulder-length hair that is layered. I twisted it into a bun, tucked the ends in the best I could, twisted these two pins in, and had a perfect bun. It took me about as long to do as it did to type the previous sentence. That was five hours ago. I just now readjusted one of the pins. If I'd had my hair up in a bun the way I usually do, with a clip or a ponytail holder, I would have adjusted it three times by now.

This video give a tutorial about how to use the Goody Spin Pins.

A Counterintuitive Way to Get Rid of Adult Acne

Growing up, it was all about "hypoallergenic" and "oil-free." I cleansed my face within an inch of its life and I continued to have break-outs well into adulthood. Within the past year, I have finally figured out the key to keeping my oily/combination skin clear: consistent and copious exfoliation and moisturizing.

I posted about my skin-care routine awhile back, but I have changed it a little bit and my skin is looking even better.

Cleanse Your Skin

You cannot have clear skin if you don't keep it clean. Do not use a cleanser that contains acne-fighting ingredients. Even if the label claims that the cleanser is "non-drying," it is lying! Use a super gentle cleanser.

Most of the time I use Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser For Normal to Oily Skin to cleanse my skin, morning and night.


About four times a week, I use BeautiControl Spa Warming Trend Green Tea Mask to cleanse my skin. It has an exfoliating effect and makes my skin feel so smooth. You rub it on like a cream cleanser and rinse it off a minute later.


I follow up cleansing with a liquid toner. I currently use BeautiControl Skinlogics Sensitive Rinse & Restore Tonic because my mom had a couple bottles left in her stash.


Exfoliate Your Skin

I use some form of exfoliation every day. You cannot have clear skin without consistent exfoliation. You need to exfoliate to keep stuff out of your pores.

I like Clinique 7 Day Scrub Cream for every day. It is cream-based, rinses off easily, and has a fine grit.


A couple times a week, I use Trader Joe's Lavendar Salt Scrub instead. I hate the scent of lavendar, but it contains all natural ingredients and it's super scrubby. Yes, you are putting oil on your face, but once you wipe it off, it doesn't leave an oily residue, just soft, smooth skin. If you have very sensitive skin, use with caution. I learned about this product from Hollywood Housewife, in her post about making her own salt scrub.

Photo courtesy of Hollywood Housewife

A couple times a week, I use BeautiControl Spa Resurface Microderm Abrasion scrub (like creamy sandpaper) and a brush to super exfoliate. Any similar product probably works just fine.


Moisturize Your Skin

Your oily skin can still be dry. Yes, you produce excess oil, but that doesn't mean that the skin under the oil slick is properly hydrated. Dry skin is cracked skin. You might not see the cracks, but they are there and they are letting in contaminants that will make you break out. Also, dry skin looks old and you want to look as dewy and fresh as you possibly can. I know you do because you are just as vain as I am or you wouldn't still be reading this this post.

I layer three moisturizers on my face every day, twice a day. Four, if you count my eye cream. Somtimes five, if you count the tinted moisturizer I use instead of foundation.

The first layer is serum, which provides intense hydration. I am currently using Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector. I have some spots from sun and old acne scars that I want to clear up.


The second layer is a standard moisturizer, with sunblock for daytime, without sunblock for nighttime. Use whatever you like here. For day, I use Clinique Superdefense SPF 25 Age Defense Moisturizer. I am almost out, though. I have a little sample of Clinique Even Better Skin Tone Correcting Moisturizer SPF 20 and I like it, so I will probably switch to that. For night, I use Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, only because that freaking bottle seems to replenish itself. It comes in a gel as well as a lotion, so I might switch to the gel if I ever run out that damn lotion.

Superdefense   Evenbetterspf   Dramaticallydifferent

The third layer seals it all in. I use Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief. This moisturizer is a gel/cream. It is so light. I love it. Get it. Use it. While I don't think it is THAT important which products you use for the serum and the regular moisturizer, there is no substitute for the Moisture Surge.

For eye cream, I have been using StriVectin-SD EYE Cream lately, and I really like it. I use it morning and night. For foundation, I still really like the Korres Watermelon Lightweight Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30. I only use that a couple times a week, though. I am finding that the more consistent I am with exfoliation and moisturizing, the less I need to wear face make-up.

These are the products I use, but the concepts are the important part. Gently cleanse. Consistently exfoliate. Moisturize well.


Why all the BeautiControl products? My mom sold the stuff. Since she died, my sister and I have been using up her inventory and giving it away as gifts.

Why all the Clinique products? I like them.

Two Things I Love Right Now

Falsies The Falsies Mascara by Maybelline

I never believe a single word or image in a mascara commercial, so I wasn't at all impressed when I first heard of The Falsies. Then, a friend mentioned it and I decided to try it. I LOVE IT. I am an inexpert mascara applier to begin with, add to that the fact that I forgot to curl my straight lashes before applying, and it is truly amazing that my lashes looked fabulous after two quick coats.

Eyecream StriVectin-SD Eye Cream

I received a sample of the StriVectin-SD Eye Cream for completing a ridiculously long marketing survey about StriVectin print ads. It languished in the sample product graveyard that is the third drawer of my bathroom vanity until I ran out of whatever sub-standard eye cream I had been using. I've been using it twice a day for about a month and there is a noticeable difference. My dark circles have diminished and my undereye skin is plumper.

Cleaning My Hair with Baking Soda

A couple months ago, I came across this blog post titled, "How to Clean Your Hair Without Shampoo." I was intrigued by the idea that my hair could be clean and shiny and frizz-free by washing it with only a mixture of water and baking soda, and maybe using a finishing rinse of water and apple cider vinegar.

For the past three weeks, I have been using only water and baking soda to clean my hair and, for the most part, I quit using other styling products. I also added a bit of tea tree oil to my mixture to keep the lice away since lice was found in my daughter's school.

This morning, I washed my hair with good old (chemicals) shampoo and slathered it with (more chemicals) conditioner. I'd had enough! I felt like the mixture wasn't getting my hair clean enough. I know the author of that post said that it could take a month or two before your hair stops being extra oily and gets used to the new regimen, and I could have fiddled with the proportions of my mixture, but I just don't have the patience for it right now. Maybe I will try again in the summer.

How do I fire a client?

My esthetician has a question:

How do I fire a client?

Those were the first words out of my esthetician's mouth this morning when she walked in for my eyebrow waxing appointment. I was honored that she valued my opinion so much because it's not like I have first-hand experience in the matter. My esthetician wants to fire one client because the client is rude. The client's behavior has been escalating for awhile. The client has been rude to the esthetician several times and, most recently, was rude to a stylist to whom the esthetician referred the client. That was the last straw.

The adult thing to do would be to talk to the client face-to-face. At her next appointment, after the client pays, the esthetician should take the client outside for a private conversation. (The front desk area is very busy and the esthetician's room is too intimate.) The esthetician should say something like this:

"I want to thank you for your past business, but I don't think that we're a good match anymore. Here is the name and number of another esthetician who can help you in the future."

If the client asks why, the esthetician should be honest and say something like this:

"You have been rude to me on several occasions and you were rude to my friend so-and-so when you were here last week. Thank you, again, for your past business. I hope that this new esthetician works out for you. Good-bye."

The main thing in a situation like this is for the esthetician to remain calm and detached and not to let the client drag her into an argument about what she has or hasn't done in the past. It is within the right of the esthetician to choose her clientele and her decision is not negotiable.

The esthetician was understandably leery of having this conversation face-to-face with a rude person who she thinks will react negatively. She asked if it would be ok to send a letter. I said yes, but that face-to-face would be best. If she does choose to send a letter, I advised that the contents should be the same as the conversation I outlined.

What do you think? Would you handle the situation differently if you were in the esthetician's place?

My 10-Step Skin Care Routine

I developed quite the extensive skin-care routine during my second pregnancy. That baby sucked all the moisture right out of my face (and left chin hairs in its place). My skin returned almost to its naturally oily state post-pregnancy, but I discovered that my skincare routine still worked and that my skin looked great, so I have kept at it. My routine has a lot of steps, but whenever I have tried eliminating one, my skin has suffered.

My skin:

  • Combination
  • Large pores
  • Prone to breakouts
  • The beginnings of fine lines around my eyes and on my forehead (but no wrinkles!)

Step 1: Remove Eye Make-Up (twice daily)

AM: In the morning, I usually have to remove some more make-up from my eyes. It is impossible to get all the eyeliner off at night and still be gentle on my eyelids.

PM: Always remove your make-up!

Product: I use Clinique Take the Day Off Makeup Remover, primarily because I have three bottles of it from various "free gift with purchase" sucker deals. It's not too oily and it does a good job.

Step 2: Cleanse (twice daily)

AM: After removing my eye make-up, I wash my face with a gentle cleanser. In the morning, I do this step in the shower, after I rinse off the conditioner so that there is no conditioner residue on my face.

PM: After removing my eye make-up, I wash my face once to get off the rest of my make-up, then I wash my face again to make sure it's clean.

Product: I have been using Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser for years. I started using it in 2002 when I was on Accutane to clear up my acne.

Step 3: Lightly Exfoliate (once daily)

AM: I exfoliate in the shower because it makes it easier to rinse off all the grit from the scrub. I have tried every scrub known to skin and I keep coming back to Clinique 7 Day Scrub Cream. It has a fine grit, and lots of it, in a nice cream.

Step 4: Tone (twice daily)

AM: I mostly think that toner is a scam, but I use it to make sure my face is really, really clean.

PM: I usually still see a bit of make-up on the cotton pad, so I know it is at least getting my skin clean even if it doesn't do anything else.

Product: I use Lotus Flower Ginseng Toner, which appears to be a product available for private labeling since I bought it under a salon's label. It doesn't even list the ingredients, so I don't recommend it. I got it because I had a gift certificate I needed to finish off and the bottle had "hydrating system" in the description. True to its word, it does not dry out my skin, like something alcohol-based would. Once it runs out, though, I will probably try something like Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2.

Step 5: Super Exfoliate (twice weekly)

PM: Two, sometimes three, times a week I basically have to sandblast my skin. If I don't do this, my pores start to clog up. I use a battery-powered, circular brush that I run over the surface of my face with a super exfoliating cream.

Product: I use BeautiControl Microderm Abrasion Creme & Brush because my mom sells BeautiControl products and she gave it to me. It works great, though, and I plan to continue buying the cream when I run out. The cream is pricey, but it lasts a long time.

Step 6: Moisturize, the Eyes (once daily)

PM: I try to remember to do this, but this is step I skip the most.

Product: I have yet to find an eye cream I love. I am currently using Kiss My Face Eyewitness Eye Repair Creme because my brother-in-law, who works at a health food store, got a sample for free.

Step 7: Moisturize, the Undercoat (twice daily)

AM/PM: I use three layers of moisturizer twice a day because I want to look 30 when I'm 50. First, I use a serum that contains hyaluronic acid as the main ingredient. (Details here)

Product: I can't find it anywhere online. It's called Moisture Enhance and I got it at Burke-Williams, as suggested by the woman who gave me a facial.

Step 8: Moisturize, the Middle Layer (twice daily)

AM: In the morning, I use a moisturizer with SPF 25.

PM: In the evening, I use a moisturizer without SPF.

Products: I use Clinique Superdefense Age Defense Moisturizer for the morning and Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion - Very Dry to Dry Combination Skin for the evening.

Step 9: Moisturize, the Top Coat (twice daily)

AM/PM: I use a light gel lotion to seal in the other moisturizer all day and night.

Product: I love Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief . LOVE IT. It saved my skin when it was a desert of pregnancy hormones.

Step 10: I Use Even More Products (as needed)

I seriously can't moisturize too much. I use Korres Watermelon Lightweight Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30 instead of foundation.

I love Kiss My Face Break Out Botanical Acne Gel for blemishes, but I haven't had to use it in ages.