Product review: Queen Helene Grape Seed Extract Peel Off Masque

I have oily/combo skin that’s also sensitive to some products, so I’m always on the lookout for a good (and inexpensive!) face masque. Also, what’s more relaxing than a facial? And a good facial leaves you so glowy, you don’t feel the need for makeup.

(I actually lucked into this particular masque last month while shopping at a local grocery store—go figure, it’s very hard to find Queen Helene products around here, but I’d find it while out for bread and milk.)

Product: Queen Helene Grape Seed Extract Peel Off Masque
Price: $4
Claim: “Clears clogged pores, smooths facial lines, soothes and tones skin.” Contains antioxidants.

Queen Helene Grape  Seed Masque

I tried it: This was one of those products that I threw in my cart on a whim—heck, it’s a steal at $4—but didn’t really think much of while it sat on the bathroom counter. I’ve tried peel-off masques before and haven’t been terribly impressed with them, compared to other types of masques, so I wasn’t expecting anything stellar. (Spoiler alert: was I ever in for a surprise!)

I washed my face first with a salicylic acid scrub to cleanse and open up my pores, then applied the masque. First, be warned: if you don’t like the smell of grapes, you’re not going to enjoy this product. The smell isn’t overpowering, but it’s definitely there.

The masque had a very thick, gummy, almost glue-like consistency that made it a bit difficult to apply, and definitely had me wondering about the quality of the product. The bottle said to wait ten minutes before peeling off, so I waited…

…and wow, did my opinion of this product ever change from the moment I first opened the tube. I’ve tried peel-off masques that shred and have to be sloughed off, but this one lifted off almost as one entire piece, and didn’t leave any sticky residue behind. It’s important to wait until the masque has dried fully, or else it won’t peel off in one piece.

I followed up the masque with another gentle wash with an anti-acne gel cleanser and a warm washcloth, and rinsed very well before patting dry with a towel. (In my experience, a masque can bring a lot of gunk to the surface of your pores; so while I certainly didn’t need to wash away any bits of the masque, it’s a good idea to wash your face afterward anyway to make sure you’re 100% clean.)

The results: WOW, here’s where my expectations were blown away. I wish my camera had a better macro setting to show you the before-and-after difference on my face, because this grape seed masque left me looking practically poreless. In fact, my skin looked so smooth and clean, I didn’t even feel the need to apply primer or foundation before leaving the house.

Not only did my pores seem to disappear, my fine lines seemed softened, and my face looked much smoother and quite glowy overall. It felt firm, but not tight—a good sign the skin was thoroughly cleansed, but not left over-dry.

I’ve used this product multiple times since and every time, I’m impressed by just how wonderful this leaves my skin looking and feeling. I especially like using it before applying self-tanner, to make sure my skin is super-smooth and clean and I won’t have to worry about looking “dirty” or breaking out after a couple of days of using the tanning creme.

My conclusion: Some facial masques are only so-so, but this one completely exceeded my expectations and is an incredible bargain to boot. It’s definitely earned itself a place at the top of my “favorite products” list. If you’re a big fan of at-home facials or are on the lookout for something to tighten up those pores, then I can’t recommend this grape seed masque highly enough!

Black and gold glitter mani

Here’s a very simple, but totally fun manicure idea: a black and gold glitter mani.

Black and gold glitter mani

I used a base coat, two coats of black polish for an opaque base, two coats of Wet n Wild Fergie Nail Polish in Glamorous, and a couple of coats of clear top coat for shine and durability.

I love the rock-n-roll glamour feel of this manicure. As a bonus, all of the topcoat makes it nigh on indestructible for a full week, so your hard work won’t chip away too quickly!

Wet n Wild Fergie nail polishes!

I finally spotted the new Wet n Wild Fergie nail polishes at Walgreens—but let me warn you, if you’re hunting for the display, snap up any colors while you can: the displays are emptying out FAST and there’s no word on whether these polishes will move to a permanent fixture anytime soon!

I managed to scoop up three bottles of the limited edition polish, shown here. There are a couple dozen shades on the rack, from brights to glitters to metallics, but these are the three that really caught my eye: Grammy Gold, Glamorous, and Tonight’s Gonna Be A Good Night.

Wet n Wild Fergie nail polishes, left to right: Grammy Gold, Glamorous, and Tonight's Gonna Be A Good Night

If you can find them, the WNW Fergie nail polishes retail for about $3.49. (Check out the Walgreens website to find a store near you.)

How-to: American flag nail art for the Fourth of July!

Since today is Independence Day, I thought I’d experiment with some American flag nail art.

First, I started with a layer of base coat and three thin coats of white nail polish. This gave me a nice, solid background for the flag. Make sure you let each coat dry thoroughly before applying the next one; if your nails still feel tacky when you touch them together, give them more time.

American flag nail art how-to

Next, I added a small square of navy blue in the lower left-hand corner of each nail. You might need to apply two coats to get a nice, deep blue.

American flag nail art how-to

Once that was done, it was time to add the stars and stripes. I used a $3 angled eyeliner brush from E.L.F. to add the small white dots for “stars” on each nail. For the stripes, any true red will do. Again, if you need to do so, use two coats to make sure the red is deep and the white “stars” really pop.

American flag nail art how-to

Finish it all off with a couple of coats of clear top coat to protect and add shine, and you’re done! Investing in a good top coat is worth the extra $$$ when you’ve spent so much time creating artwork on your fingertips.

American flag nail art how-to

Happy Fourth of July, everybody! Check out more American flag nail art on Pinterest.

Product review: Hard Candy Lash Ink 4 Day Lash Stain

Product review: Hard Candy Lash InkI tend to feel like I look a lot more put together if I at least have a little mascara on, but I usually don’t have time for applying and removing makeup every day. So the idea of a lash stain that promised multi-day wear had me hooked immediately. Does it live up to its promise? I tried it…

The product: Hard Candy Lash Ink 4 Day Lash Stain ($7 at

The claim: “Mascara that won’t quit until you do…paint Lash Ink on and don’t reapply for up to 4 days. Shower, go in the pool, cry, rub your eyes, or get rained on—your lashes will stay flawless no matter the circumstances!” (from the tube)

I tried it: I applied the lash stain per the directions and let it dry. A word of warning: this stuff isn’t called a stain for nothing, so let your top lashes dry before applying it to the bottom lashes to avoid getting spots on your skin. The spoolie is just a basic brush, nothing big and scary, so it’s easy to wield. The formula does seem to take a while to dry, though.

As promised on the tube, the stain is waterproof and rub-proof. However, I must say that after one shower, the stain on my lower lashes smeared and wore away—not surprising, considering no mascara formula I’ve ever tried has lasted more than a few hours down there, but odd considering how budge-proof my upper lashes remained.

The formula really did stay put through 2-3 days—no flaking, no smearing—but I think stating that it lasts four days is pushing it a bit. Still, three days was enough to make me happy.

My final thoughts: This would be a perfect option for a long weekend, a day at the beach, or for anyone who wants to apply it 2-3 times per week and then forget about it. If you prefer your lashes darkened but don’t want the everyday hassle of applying mascara (and then worrying about smears), then this is the product for you.

However, Hard Candy Lash Ink is not the formula for anyone who likes volumizing/lengthening/curling mascaras, since it doesn’t do any of the above. It merely stains your lashes jet black. My lashes are already long enough, so for me, this is the perfect formula.

In short, I love it, and at $7, it’s actually cheaper than my current favorite mascara, Revlon Grow Luscious, which typically retails for around $9 at drugstores. Considering that summer is just around the corner—that season of smeary makeup and on-the-go, no-time-for-the-mirror schedules—I think this is one product that will find a permanent place in my beauty bag. Visit for more details.

Have you tried Hard Candy Lash Ink, or anything similar? What’s your favorite waterproof mascara?

Have you heard about Lemongrass Spa products?

Lemongrass Spa is all natural and cruelty-free!I’m not usually much into fancy-looking products, but I just had to share about this company. I’m not being compensated for this post, I just really fell in love with their products!

Lemongrass Spa is a Colorado-based company that makes natural, spa-quality bath and beauty products. Like other specialty beauty companies such as Avon, they sell their products through independent consultants, online, and through catalogs.

What makes Lemongrass Spa different? For starters, their products are free of sodium laureth sulfate, lead, parabens, alcohol, petroleum-based ingredients and phthalates. All their fragrances are phthalate-free, the colorants are from natural sources, and the essential oils are organically grown. Backing up that commitment to natural goodness, Lemongrass Spa is a signer of the Compact for Safe Cosmetics (

The packaging for these products places an emphasis on sustainability with eco-friendly and/or recyclable materials. And, last but certainly not least, their products are cruelty-free.

If you have heard about Lemongrass, it was probably the same way I did: by going to a “spa party”, where a consultant gives you the pampering treatment with hand and foot soaks, scrubs, balms, and more, while showing the line of Lemongrass products.

Here’s the thing: I’ve been to parties before, and I’ve been snagged by sales guys and gals at the mall who want to show off their “exclusive” products. But this line actually impressed me.

The products are not only completely chemical-free and cruelty-free, they’re products you’d actually want to use. Yummy offerings like Candy Cane, Grapefruit Lily, and Pomegranate are just a few of the scents featured in these fab products.

Yummy scented bath products from Lemongrass Spa!

Considering that they’re all-natural, the products are comparable price-wise to anything you could find on store shelves, at the department store makeup counter, or in another mail-order beauty catalog. (Total selling point for this budget chick!)

So, bottom line: I’m psyched to discover a new company that sells natural, cruelty-free bath and body products. I think I’ll definitely be bookmarking their website for future perusal.

P.S. If you do get invited to a Lemongrass Spa party, by all means, go. Even if you end up deciding not to buy anything, you’ll get a great hour or two of fun and pampering with your friends, without the price tag of a day at the spa! And if you can’t attend, check out their online catalog and hook up with a consultant so you can try their products out for yourself!

Product review: Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque

Queen Helene Mint Julep MasqueWhen the weather gets cold, my skin tends to get dry, especially my face. But that doesn’t mean that my blemishes disappear completely; I still have to deal with blackheads and oiliness in the T-zone.

Since my usual anti-blemish cleanser is too drying in the winter, I switch to a gentle cleanser and gentle scrub, but that usually doesn’t do the trick for the aforementioned blackheads. The solution? A masque that can be applied just to the oily areas, to keep things balanced. I decided to pick up this Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque and see how it worked. Boy, was I pleased!

The product: Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque ($4/6 oz.; available at drugstores or online)

The claim: “Helps dry up acne pimples, rinse away blackheads and shrink enlarged pores.”

The test: My skin swings from combo/oily in the summer months to combo/dry in the winter, which means I need to choose my products carefully to keep everything balanced. Blackheads and enlarged pores are two worries that don’t change with the seasons, though, so I needed a product that would handle my blemishes without stripping my sensitive skin.

I actually tested the Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque in two separate ways while reviewing. The first way, I spread a thin layer of the masque all over my face as directed, and was pleased to find that it left my skin feeling deep-cleaned but not stripped. This would make it perfect for those times when my skin is more oily all over.

The second way I tested the masque, my skin was feeling drier, so I used the masque only on my T-zone. This turned out to be the perfect solution to my combo skin problem: it really sucks the dirt and oil out of your pores, so you get the deep-cleaning you need without affecting the dry spots on your face.

And, did I mention the smell? The mint seems a little strong at first, but it’s actually really relaxing. A great treat for your skin after a long week! The masque is also really easy to wash off with warm water and a washcloth (unlike some masques that dry and then don’t want to scrub free).

My final thoughts: This masque rivals pricey salon-style products, and is one product I would heartily recommend even at twice the price. As it is, this masque is a steal at only $4.

Have you tried the Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque? What masques or deep treatments do you love? Any recommendations for me?

Long hair 101

Have long hair? Thinking about growing it out? Good news: long hair will be hot for spring this year! With that in mind, there are a few things you need to know about caring for long hair.

1. Watch out for split ends. The upside to a long ‘do? Unlike a short, styled ‘do, long hair doesn’t require a monthly salon visit to keep everything trimmed and tidy. That said, no matter how you style your long hair—straight, curly, layered, blunt—you should still trim your long hair every few months to avoid split ends.Gisele is famous for her long hair

2. Layers add bounce to heavy hair. If long hair is especially thick, it can look flat, so you might want to see a pro on a semi-regular basis to cut and maintain long layers, a la Megan or Gisele. Layers add motion and bounce to a long style and don’t require a ton of upkeep on such a long style.

3. Long hair is fragile, so be gentle! Grab some of those “ouchless” elastics and a nice brush that won’t pull on your hair—you can find natural and synthetic bristle brushes at the drugstore for about $10 that will keep your hair looking soft and shiny. A wide-toothed comb is a must for detangling.Megan Fox women's long hair cut

4. Know how to shampoo. Very long hair can become dry and brittle, so it’s important to use a moisturizing shampoo and a good conditioner. (If hair is very dry, you may wish to shampoo only every other day.) Work conditioner through from ears to ends, applying only sparingly from the shoulders up; conditioner can weigh down hair if it’s glopped onto the roots. Leave in for 1-3 minutes before rinsing out with cool (not hot) water.

5. Pick your styling products carefully. A leave-in conditioner/detangler is a must, and the use of an intensive conditioning mask every week or so will help to keep hair silky, shiny, and soft. Avoid piling on too much hairspray, gel, etc., as overuse of products will weigh down your hair and make it look dull.

6. The same goes for heat tools! Hot rollers, irons, blow dryers—they all damage the hair, and since long hair is already delicate, it’s especially important to use these tools judiciously to avoid damaging the hair. When you do heat-style, use a good thermal spray beforehand.

7. Be cautious with color. Dying your hair can be a great way to kickstart a new look, but it is also a damaging process that can leave hair dry and unruly. Drastic changes—dark to light, red to blonde—involve stripping out your natural color, which will damage your hair no matter the length. If you plan to make a drastic change, have delicate hair, or change your color often—see a pro!

Photo of Gisele Bundchen (C) Tiago Chediak via the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Photo of Megan Fox (C) Megan Fox Rules! on Flickr via the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 license.