Category: Beauty

Product review: Julep One Step Polish Remover Pads

These little sealed polish remover pads have arrived as extras in a couple of my Julep Maven boxes, and somehow I just never got around to using them. I guess since I’m happy with my Zoya Remove Plus, I just didn’t feel the need. But like the good little beauty blogger that I am, I finally opened up one of the pads to try it out just for the sake of review.

The product: Julep One Step Polish Remover Pads; $9.99 for a pack of ten; at

The claim: No-mess, lint-free pad is infused with aloe vera to moisturize and condition your nails.

I tried it: These pads are neither dry nor dripping in polish remover, and the scent isn’t harsh, so the “mess-free” part is true. That said, I feel like these aren’t the sturdiest cloths. They do seem to shed and shred just like cotton balls if you’ve got rough edges or hangnails.

I didn’t feel like one pad was enough to fully clean all ten nails. It’s true that I usually have three coats of polish on each nail, plus base and a coat or two of topcoat; but even so one cotton ball soaked in Remove Plus is usually enough to do the trick; I’ll use two if I was using dark polish. This pad just seems to dry out before I’m really done with it.

My verdict: Unless I was going on vacation and really wanted to bring along polish and polish remover for a mid-vacay manicure change, I probably wouldn’t buy these. That said, if you’re traveling, they’d be a great alternative to a leak-prone bottle of remover and a baggie of cotton balls. They’re just not worth the price for every day use, especially if you have a much nicer bottle of removal and a sink at hand.

Product review: Alba Botanica Natural Acne Dote Invisible Treatment Gel

Today I’m finishing off a three-part series of reviews on a trio of Alba Botanica acne products I used up this month. Friday I reviewed the regular wash, yesterday I showed you the scrub, and today I’m posting a review on the treatment gel.(Apologies for the crappy old picture, and shame on me for tossing the carton before checking my camera card to see if the picture turned out okay. You can tell I took this picture several months ago, when I was still learning.)

The product: Alba Botanica Natural Acne Dote Deep Pore Wash; $10

The claim: 2% salycylic acid derived from willow bark deep cleans pores. 65% of testers saw clearer skin in the morning when used overnight. (From their website)

I tried it: Since I loved the Acne Dote pore wash and scrub so much, I thought this spot treatment would be perfect for me. Despite trying to stick to a healthy diet and regular skincare regimen, I do get the occasional spot, and they always show up at the worst times, so I was really hoping to score a spot treatment that could kill a zit overnight.

Instead, I got a minor skin disaster. Surprised? You might be if you read my glowing reviews of the wash and scrub! Before I go on, I do feel the need to tell you that I’ve looked up reviews for this product on the Alba Botanica website, on, and on Makeup Alley; and while there are a couple of bad reviews, most people seem to love this product. So you need to take what I say below with a grain of salt and realize that this is merely my personal experience, and this product may work very differently for another person! :)

Here’s the deal: this stuff will suck the life out of a zit overnight like nothing I’ve ever tried. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. If you’ve ever used a spot treatment gel you know how they work; you dab a tiny bit on zits and other trouble spots. When I get up in the AM, I can see exactly where I’ve dabbed the gel, because I have red, dry, flaking spots! Did I mention they’re flaky? I don’t have words to describe how lizard-y and icky I feel. Makeup makes the flaky spots even more visible; even a thick coat of creamy moisturizer can’t help them. They’re more like scabs.

And of course, if you know anything about skincare, you know that when the skin gets super-dry, it ramps up oil production to compensate…which means that a few days later, by the time the scab is finally gone and the surrounding dryness is healing up, I tend to get a new breakout in the same spot.

This product goes on clear, which is awesome, but it stings like crazy. I’ve tried using it in conjunction with my other Acne Dote products, with gentle cleansers, and finally with nothing more than a splash of warm water, thinking perhaps it was just the layering of so many acne products that was drying out my skin. It doesn’t matter. From the first dab to the last, this stuff dries out my skin instantly and terribly.

I’m honestly scratching my head at the number of positive reviews I’ve read, because it wasn’t like I was using this on a part of my face that tends to be dry. This is my T-zone, site of the world’s largest oil slick come a warm summer afternoon if I haven’t taken precautionary measures. I used to use the Clean & Clear spot treatment without ever experiencing this sort of drying issue, so I’m not really sure why this doesn’t work for me, especially considering how well the other Acne Dote products have performed for me.

One last note: this product is 100% vegetarian and is Leaping Bunny certified.

My verdict: Fail! I hate to say it, because I do love Alba Botanica, but they really let me down with this product. Perhaps it just works poorly for me and other people would love it, but I certainly won’t repurchase it in the future.

Product review: Alba Botanica Natural Acne Dote Face & Body Scrub

Today I’m continuing my three-part series of reviews on a trio of Alba Botanica acne products I used up this month. Yesterday I reviewed the regular wash, today I’ll show you the scrub, and tomorrow I’ll be posting a review on the treatment gel.

The product: Alba Botanica Natural Acne Dote Face & Body Scrub; $10

The claim: 2% salycylic acid derived from willow bark deep cleans pores. 80% of users saw clearer skin throughout the day. (From their website)

I tried it: I don’t know what I expected this stuff to look like, but I didn’t expect a slightly runny chocolate brown scrub! After my initial alarm (hey, it was early and I was tired!) I realized that this was probably caused by the ground-up walnut shells (which provide exfoliation) and took a moment to appreciate the beauty of an actual lathering cleanser. I’m used to thick, scratchy scrubs that exfoliate just fine but don’t feel like an actual cleanser. This is almost like a hybrid cleanser-scrub with very low lather and fine exfoliation.

I’ve used this product both solo and as a follow-up to the Acne Dote pore wash, and it works great either way. On the days I’m feeling super gunky and it seems like the pore wash just wasn’t enough to clean out my pores, particularly if I’m having a blackhead episode, I’ll use this scrub afterward just to seal the deal. However, because of the low lather, it also works great solo. It’s gentle enough that you can use it several times a week if need be, though obviously I don’t recommend going crazy overboard with the scrubbing; even with a gentle formula, your skin does need a break!

I used this stuff during the winter months without any dryness, which kind of surprised me. It doesn’t leave my skin red or stinging, and the smell isn’t harsh at all. Overall this is one of the gentlest acne scrubs I’ve ever picked up, drugstore or otherwise. As with the pore wash, I feel they’ve made a fair claim regarding the product’s effectiveness; I feel like using this scrub does a lot to keep my skin clearer and less oily throughout the day, which makes me very excited to use it this summer (the prime time of oily skin).

I do have to note that I’m a huge fan of the packaging. Many tubes, whether of scrubs or of another product like a hand creme or shampoo, are so rigid that it’s difficult to squeeze all of the product out. This one is super-flexible and very nearly rolls up like a toothpaste tube, so you can squeeze out every last drop of product. That’s a feature that makes this budget-conscious gal extremely happy.

My last notes: this product is 100% vegetarian and is Leaping Bunny certified. Be aware that some people may have an allergic reaction to the walnut shells!

My verdict: Another win! I love this scrub beyond words. Obviously I’ve already repurchased this product and I can’t imagine finding a replacement for it any time soon.

Product review: Alba Botanica Natural Acne Dote Deep Pore Wash

Today I’m kicking off a three-part series of reviews on a trio of Alba Botanica acne products I used up this month. Today I’ll review the regular wash, tomorrow I’ll show you the scrub, and on Sunday I’ll be posting a review on the treatment gel.

The product: Alba Botanica Natural Acne Dote Deep Pore Wash; $10

The claim: 2% salycylic acid derived from willow bark deep cleans pores. 70% of users saw clearer skin within 7 days. (From their website)

I tried it: My skin is combination-oily, with the odd breakout or blackhead, but it’s also sensitive. Finding a wash that addresses all of my concerns is tricky, so I was hoping I’d have good luck with a natural formula.

I’m not sold on the thin formula; it’s very watery, and I feel like it would be easier to work with a gel or cream cleanser. It’s easy to pour out way too much of this product, and if you’re not careful you can get it in your eyes, since it is so runny. However, it does lather up fairly well, despite being sulfate-free. (Sulfates are what cause traditional washes to lather and foam so wonderfully.)

I typically leave this cleanser on my face for 30-60 seconds so it can really work its magic. Most days this won’t cause any redness or burning, though on more sensitive days (if I’ve done a masque that morning, or if my face is wind-chapped) I just lather and rinse to avoid any stinging. This is an issue I’ve always had with acne washes, though, not specifically with this product, so that’s nothing new.

I feel like this cleanser does a good job of deep-cleaning my pores with overdrying my skin. It’s gentle enough that I can use it on a daily basis. A little goes a long way and the smell is not too harsh, which I appreciate, as I’m not big on scented face washes.

It does seem to pull off foundation fairly well but like any acne product, I would not use this to remove makeup around the eyes, since you’ll wind up burning yourself and needing to rinse out your eyes! I’ve used it after using oily makeup removers on my face and it does seem to cut through the oil fairly well to get my skin clean. I feel like I should just throw that out there for anyone who’s wondering.

I would agree with the statement that this wash gives you clearer skin within a week. I’ve switched back and forth from this wash to another a few times this winter and every time I switched back, there was a notable improvement in my skin within several days, with the most notable improvement being visibly cleaner and smaller pores. Long-term, my pores appear to have shrunk, I have to use deep cleansing masques less often, and my breakouts are reduced.

It also does seem that using this product keeps my skin looking and feeling less oily and shiny throughout the day. I have real problems with midday T-zone shine, whether or not I wear makeup of any kind, and I’ve noticed that the amount of oil and shine has decreased quite a bit since I started using this wash on a daily basis.

One last note: this product is 100% vegetarian and is Leaping Bunny certified.

My verdict: We have a winner! My skin has definitely changed for the better since I’ve started using this wash and I will definitely continue to buy it (even if I would prefer a thicker formula). I officially now have a Holy Grail face wash.

Nail Polish of the Month: March 2013

I was really bummed that I didn’t get around to sharing a pick for Nail Polish of the Month in February, but my nails were in such poor shape that I honestly would have been embarrassed to post a picture! Not so this month. I’m picking a minty green-blue called Thistle or That?, from the new Flower Beauty line at Walmart ($5).

What color are you obsessed with this month?