beauty buys

beauty buys On occasion, I get asked what kind of hair/face products I use and to be honest, I'm pretty low-key about both. I've had the same makeup regimen for years (pressed powder, blush, eyeliner, mascara, concealer) and on an average day I wash my hair, brush it while it's wet, and how it dries is how it looks that day.

Recently however, I decided to get serious about taking care of my skin and hair. I began to notice my hair looking dried out and dull, and the pores on my face were huge - not to mention I had random acne breakouts (I'm in my mid-twenties - doesn't acne end at 19? apparently not). So I decided to change my diet and investigate my beauty supplies, nixing some bad-for-you products and replacing them with better ones. The past six months have been pretty proactive for me in terms of health, skin and hair care included. Here are several of my favorite products I use during the day.

1. Dr Bronner's Castile Soap. I swear by this stuff for just about everything - hand washing clothes and face/body wash mostly. They say you can use it for brushing your teeth, even. It's all natural and concentrated, so it'll last you forever - while we use the peppermint scented stuff at home, I'm dying to try the new rose scent.

2. Indian Healing Clay. I promise I'm not completely a New Age hippie but this clay mask is the best. I just purchased it in the last couple of months and from what I've used it makes a great pore-shrinking facial. It's a powdery bentonite clay that you mix with apple cider vinegar (do not use water, else it'll be too clumpy) and smooth over your face for deep cleaning - be prepared for a big, awesome mess.

3. Benefit Erase Paste. One of several problems associated with having really pale skin (which I have) is the lack of  a super light concealer. Benefit Erase Paste in Fair matches my skin tone really well and only requires the smallest amount to cover up blemishes and dark eye circles - so a tiny tub lasts me six months.

4. Maybelline Great Lash Mascara. We've all heard about this mascara by now - I swear I've been using it for nearly ten years. It's cheap and it works great, not a lot of mess or clumps.

5. NARS Blush in Orgasm. A couple of years back, I was shopping in Sephora with my friend Lauren and she introduced me to this wonderful friend. I had issues in the past matching my (pale with yellow undertones) skin to a blush, and she said this one worked for lots of skin tones. I'm glad she suggested it because given its color, it wouldn't have been my first choice to try out - but now, it's the only blush I use. No matter what skin shade or undertones you have, there's a good chance this stuff will work for you too - it goes on smooth, stays on well, and the color adapts to your skin tone. And there's just enough sparkle that it works excellently as a highlighter (without making you look like a glitter fairy).

6. Bumble and Bumble Hair Powder. About six months ago, I noticed my roots looked greasy while the rest of my hair looked dry, and I realized that it was time to retire my 'wash hair everyday' system. Everyone kept telling me it was bad for my hair, so I now wash it every other day (and it's improved a lot). For those in-between days, I use this - I spray some hair powder on my roots and wherever my hair looks greasy. It gives my hair volume and looks healthy again. Be aware that you can use too much of this product, however - I must have sprayed too much on one day when I was wearing a white dress, because when I took the dress off I noticed there were brown powder stains around the collar. They washed out fine, but it's important to note - use sparingly.

Other hair info - on days that I do use product in my hair, it's hair spray (I like Dove hair spray a lot) and I use it when I curl my hair with hot rollers. I'm tempted to try hot sticks - has anyone used them? I really want frizzy Gilda hair.

7. Scruples Sulfate-Free Shampoo. When I switched to washing my hair every other day, I also decided it was a good time to see what the sulfate-free fuss was about. We picked up a sulfate-free shampoo from Whole Foods and while it worked for Neil, it did not work for me - the back of my scalp was really oily, even after a good wash. I went out for a haircut and my stylist suggested Scruples Hair Clearifier Shampoo, and it worked wonders. It's still sulfate-free but somehow produces more lather and distributes evenly over my thick hair, and it washes out the extra oil. I want to try the White Tea shampoo next.

8. Chloe perfume. I love, love, love this scent. The first time I bought it was in Paris when Neil and I were on our honeymoon three years back. Maybe it's honeymoon nostalgia, but I buy it religiously now.

Well there's my girly talk for today. What are your favorite beauty products and routines?