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.

Beauty resolutions: wear sunscreen every day, even in winter

You need to wear sunscreen in the winter, too!
Photo © Copyright RichTea and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Since January is here, I thought it would be good to highlight some of the health & beauty resolutions I’m making in 2010! Today’s resolution: “I will wear sunscreen every day!”

Ready for a fact check? Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with over one million new cases diagnosed every year. (Find more facts about skin cancer from The Skin Cancer Foundation.) So, as you’re going through your list of beauty resolutions for 2010, you might want to highlight “wear sunscreen”.

Why? Sunscreen helps to prevent the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays from reaching your skin. The two types of rays—UVA and UVB—affect the skin in different ways, and a good sunscreen will protect you from both. While UVB rays typically cause you to burn, UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply, accelerating the aging process and increasing your risk of developing skin cancer.

That’s where the real kicker lies. While many people are fairly regular, even religious about applying sunscreen in the summer when frolicking outdoors or at the beach, they don’t wear sunscreen on partly cloudy days, or in the wintertime, when the effects of the sun aren’t as noticeable. However, even when the weather turns cool and cloudy, the sun’s UVA rays still reach your skin, even if you don’t show any sign of developing a tan or a sunburn. (Read more about sunscreen here.)

So, gals, now you know why you need to wear sunscreen year-round. But what about the how? The easiest way to ensure daily sunscreen use is to buy a body lotion with SPF 15-30 (or higher!) for daily use. (Check out this one from Alba Botanica.) Remember that sunscreen is generally effective for only two hours, so if you’ll be in the sun for a prolonged period of time, it’s a good idea to pack something a little more heavy-duty, and reapply often (especially if you’re prone to burning, like I am).

Remember also that while cosmetics with built-in SPF are a great help, they’re not enough on their own. Generally, to get the full amount of SPF labeled on the package, you’d have to glop on about a teaspoon of your chosen foundation or powder—yuck! Instead, opt for a facial moisturizer with SPF 30 or higher. A good one will feel weightless under your makeup and won’t leave you greasy.

Finally, while we’re on the subject of sun and sunscreen, why not make a Beauty Resolution to quash the tanning habit for good? Whether outdoors or at an indoor salon, tanning is dangerous and accelerates the aging process, causing wrinkles, sagging, and spots. In fact, studies no suggest that indoor tanning is even more damaging to your skin that regular sun exposure, thanks to increased levels of UVA rays in new tanning lamps. ( has a host of articles and info on tanning and tanning beds here.)

Now that you’re ready to commit to sunscreen, it’s time to go shopping! Because I don’t believe in animal testing, I choose not to recommend products unless they are cruelty-free. I do recommend checking out Caring Consumer, which has a great product guide to help you locate sunscreen, sunless tanning lotion, and other sun-care products, all of which are cruelty-free.

So remember: wear sunscreen daily, even on cloudy winter days! Your future self will thank you!

Keep feet cute and dry in wet autumn weather!

October can bring unpredictable weather—one minute it’s dry, the next minute it’s soaking wet outside. What’s a girl to do, shoe-wise, when the weather turns wet and chilly? Those adorable flats or heels just simply won’t do to keep your feet warm and dry. The solution? Why not pick up a pair of brightly colored rain boots? They’re cute and dry, and won’t make you look like you just walked in from feeding the livestock. Check out these fashion-forward picks from Target:

Cute and dry rain boots from Target, 2009

Left to right from top: Women’s Dots Spots Rain Boots in Light Berry; Citrus City Rain Boots in White; McGibbon Floral Rain Boots in Black; Pinky Plaid Rain Boots in Pink; Zetta Sold Rain Boots in Yellow; Houndstooth Rain Boots in Green; all $24.99 at Target. Shop more cute and dry rain boots at

Cute fall shoes (for under $35)!

One great thing about the change in seasons? All the new cute fall shoes! I found these cute fall shoes at one of my favorite stores, Payless. (The best part? All of these cute styles cost $35 or less.) I’m just mad about the cheetah-print flats; which pair is your favorite?
Cute fall shoes-- cheetah flatsCute fall shoes--peep toesCute fall shoes--plaid flatsCute fall shoes--ankle boots

Top to bottom: Fiona ballet flat (Predictions), $17; Koture ruffle peep-toe (Fioni), $25; American Eagle Brice flat (American Eagle), $20; Sasha ruffle bootie (Fioni), $35. Shop more cute fall shoes at Payless stores or!