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?

Inspiration Saturdays: tribal nails

I find inspiration in the oddest of places. Case in point: I’ve seen tons of cool tribal nail art, but I didn’t really get around to doing any myself until I looked down at my Mukluks this morning…

…and realized that I was already wearing a nail polish that matched the blue stripe, setting me up for a perfect piece of tribal nail art.

I’m no nail art pro but it was fun trying to mimic a pattern from a piece of clothing in a nail art design. (And yes, I realized as I was posting this that the orange and copper stripes should have been switched. Oops! Points for originality.)

[CLOSED] GIVEAWAY: Wet n Wild Fergie Centerstage collection giveaway!

Who’s up for a giveaway?! I liked the new Wet n Wild Fergie Centerstage Collection so much, I wanted to share some of the beauty goodness with you via a giveaway. This giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY and will run through March 31 2013.

Here’s what’s up for grabs:

  • One To Reflect Shimmer Palette in Rose Golden Goddess (approximate retail value $6)
  • One Photo Op Eyeshadow in Maldives Sky (approximate retail value $5)
  • Two Perfect Pout Lip Colors, in Penthouse Sweet and Old School Glam (approximate retail value $3.50 each)

These bright colors are perfect for spring and summer!

You must answer the mandatory question entry; I’ve temporarily set the comments to “anonymous” so you do not have to be a registered user to leave a comment! If you choose to comment anonymously though you must leave a valid e-mail with your comment so I can contact you if you win.

After that you can earn extra entries by following me via GFC, Twitter and Facebook, and by tweeting daily about the giveaway. And because I love ya: everyone gets one bonus entry! Please read through the full terms and conditions of the giveaway before entering. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Product review: Giovanni Refreshing Facial Cleansing Towelettes

Are these the best makeup removing wipes ever? I think I’ve mentioned these from time to time but have never really gotten around to doing a proper review of them, so…here you go!

The product: Giovanni Refreshing Facial Cleansing Towelettes; $6.99 for 30-count package; at drugstores or

The claim: Alcohol-free & oil-free; citrus extracts aid in refining skin’s texture; cucumber extract soothes and hydrates; antioxidants help combat skin-damaging free radicals; ultra-soft to comfortably remove makeup & mascara.

I tried them: As you can see from the clearance sticker on the package, this was one of those lovely surprise finds that came out of a quick browse through Target’s clearance beauty goodies. I grabbed these because I was unhappy with my liquid makeup remover (all I’m saying is, oil-free my foot).

These cloths are very strong–they remind me of those paper towel advertisements where the towel is being scrubbed and stretched to demonstrate how tough it is–yet they’re quite soft. They’re also nice and large; one towelette is more than sufficient for even the most made-up face. They’re neither sopping wet nor too dry and not scratchy in the least, and they don’t tear very easily. I actually thought I might tear one in half since I was just wiping off a swipe of lipstick and didn’t need the whole wipe, but they’re tougher than they appear!

I really love the scent. I’ve tried three different varieties of the Giovanni face wipes now and this is my favorite; the citrus is refreshing and the cucumber is relaxing. It’s a very fresh scent and not artificial at all.

Now obviously all of these little elements really add up to make or break a product, but the most essential question is this: do these wipes really remove makeup as promised? They do. They pull off every last trace of foundation, waterproof eye makeup and long-wearing lip color, and they do it without tugging, scratching, or drying out my skin. Of great importance to me is the face that they don’t irritate my eyes; I have a lot of trouble with products making my eyes itch and water, and this one doesn’t bother them in the least. These wipes also don’t leave behind an oily residue; I can swatch a lipstick, wipe it off, swatch another, wipe again, and keep on going without any slick buildup on my lips.

Which brings me to my next point: I was a little dubious of the phrase “facial on the go”. I’m very picky about my skincare and I don’t like the feeling of any residue left on my face, and in my experience, makeup removers almost always leave residue behind that needs to be washed away. If they don’t leave residue, it’s almost always because they sucked all the moisture out of your face!

However, these towelettes really do leave my skin feeling fresh, clean, and hydrated. I don’t feel the need to rinse my face or apply a moisturizer after using them. I do feel like they make my skin look better with regular use, much as an antioxidant-packed cleanser might do. Whether you’re traveling, tossing them in a gym bag, or just too tired to properly wash your face at night (guilty), these wipes are really a big miracle in a tiny package.

And now for the cherry on top: they’re vegan; free of phthalates, artificial fragrances, dyes, sulfates and parabens; and they’re Leaping Bunny-certified. (Big dance of happiness!)

My verdict: A must-have. Target keeps changing up their beauty counter and right now it doesn’t look like they’re carrying these wipes, but they’re available through the Giovanni website and, and I do believe my local health food store stocks them as well. Wherever you find them, I highly recommend grabbing a package, because they’re winning my nomination for the best makeup removing wipes available.

If you don’t like fragranced products, try the unscented version (available here)–they come in second place only on account of my love for citrus-scented products. :)