Outsmarting those breakouts! Murad Outsmart Acne Clarifying Treatment

If there is one thing I want my skin care to be, it’s smart – particularly my skin care that tackles blemishes. I was fascinated with the concept of Murad’s new Outsmart Acne Clarifying Treatment ($44), a medicated serum that purports to reduce acne in just a week by tackling it in five different ways.

Murad Outsmart Acne Clarifying Treatment

sample, affiliate links

There are five ingredients in this serum that make up the five different avenues that are traveled in the fight against acne. My usual favorite ingredient, salicylic acid, is here and is the star – salicylic acid is also known as beta hydroxy acid or BHA. Basically what it does is exfoliate skin so the medicine penetrates right into the pore lining which means it treats the surface of the skin as well as deep into the pores. It treats all forms of acne including blackheads. It’s combined with four other acids that treat the blemishes you have while also preventing new blemishes by controlling oil and exfoliating skin. 

  • Salicylic Acid – Treats and prevents acne
  • Hydroxydecanoic Acid – Helps control oil
  • Lysophosphatidic Acid – Reduces appearance of pores
  • Sebacic acid – Helps control oil
  • Glycolic Acid – Exfoliates the skin

Murad Outsmart Acne Clarifying Treatment

Murad Outsmart Acne Clarifying Treatment

Besides the superhero five acids, the ingredients also include some very nice things to make sure skin doesn’t get dry and irritated:  honey extract to hydrate, boswellia to calm and rice extract to soothe.

This summer has been an exceptionally hot one as well as an exceptionally stressful one for me, which has meant more breakouts than normal. I can tell you that Murad Outsmart Acne Clarifying Treatment does indeed do the trick, clearing up my breakouts in less than a week in fact. I had a particularly stubborn area on my chin that had been giving me problems for over a month and in just three days of applying this in the morning before my makeup and at night after cleansing my skin my skin was clear.

My advice? Get smart and get Murad Outsmart Acne Clarifying Treatment.  – Lisa

Got spots? Check out Vitabrid C12 Spot Powder and Spot Essence!

Spots. Zits. Blemishes. Acne. Whatever you call them, they aren’t pleasant. What if I told you that you can have completely clear skin in two weeks? It’s true…and I tested this on my very hormonal teenager. The Vitabrid C12 SPOT Powder mixed with the SPOT Essence is a major knock out punch to any spots you aren’t happy to have on your skin.
 Vitabrid C¹² SPOT Powder ($25) is an acne treatment powder sold only at Barney’s. Vitamin C is an incredible ingredient, but it is notoriously difficult because it’s tough to keep stable. By putting it in a powder form, Vitabrid came up with a genius way of stabilizing the Vitamin C, keeping the efficacy intact. The Vitamin C acts as an anti-inflammatory antioxidant and an antibacterial, getting rid of acne quickly and reducing red areas.  So it not only helps decongest pores, it also helps skin recover and assists pigmentation so the area returns to normal.
 The powder needs to be mixed with a liquid for application and the perfect vehicle is the Spot Essence ($32). This is a light fluid that helps control oil production and mixed with the Spot Powder it becomes an amazing acne treatment.
  • The amount of essence used depends on the size of the area and of course the amount of powder depends on this as well.
  • For an idea, a dime sized amount of the SPOT powder should be used if you need to treat the entire face when mixed with enough of the Essence.
  • For a true spot treatment, shake a few times into the Essence, mix and dab it on the troubled area. You do not need to rub it in too much.
 The mixture of Spot Powder and Spot Essence works on the skin for 12 straight hours, specifically breaking down keratin plugs (that hardened sebum that clogs pores) and doing the job of antibiotics without the side effects. This dramatically reduces the possibility of scarring from acne. I have a teenager and she loves this stuff – it’s saved her skin which was becoming a disaster, especially around her hair-line.
  • Safely solves acne problems with no side effects
  • Stabilized active Vitamin C powder delivered deep into the skin for 12 continuous hours
  • Eliminates acne bacteria and inflammation
  • Cleanses keratin plugs
  • Aids in pigmentation and damaged skin recovery

I am really impressed with this acne spot treatment – the The Vitabrid C12 SPOT Powder mixed with the SPOT Essence is most definitely the one-two punch you need to knock any spot off your skin! – Lisa


Lisa’s Top Five Favorites from Paula’s Choice Cosmetics

Top Five Paula's Choice Cosmetics Favorites

There are many, many reasons why I am such a huge fan of the Paula’s Choice line, but really what it comes down to is this:  Paula’s Choice is full of no BS, workhorse products that are the foundation of an excellent skin care and color cosmetics arsenal. Is every single product my favorite? No, there are some products (hello foundations and concealer!) that have never worked for me. Is this a perfect line? No, there are too many skin care products with similar functions and the names are way too complicated and confusing. That said, this is the line I recommend for anyone new to beauty products, for anyone looking for effective yet gentle skin care, and especially for any teenagers who want the perfect products to treat their crazy skin care needs.


Love her or hate her, Paula Begoun has had a huge impact on the cosmetics industry. Me? I love her.  Way back in the day I bought her books, read them over and over, underlined, highlighted, tabbed…I subscribed to her newsletter and saved every single one, pouring over them and making my wish lists of the best things to purchase. When she started her own cosmetics and skin care line I wondered if she could keep her objectivity. Much to my delight, I think Paula is still the same sort of prickly but totally no-nonsense expert that I can always count on for fantastic advice.

I have way more than five favorites from Paula’s Choice, but here are my top five products that I purchase over and over (and always have several backups waiting the wings just in case!). I have chosen only skin care items so I didn’t even have to wrestle with my favorite color items.

  1. Gentle Makeup Remover ($16)
  2. Professional Blemish Extracting Tool ($14)
  3. Clear Extra Strength Daily Skin Clearing Treatment with 5% Benzoyl Peroxide ($19)
  4. Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment ($56)
  5. 10% Niacinamide Booster($42)
Paula's Choice Gentle Makeup Remover

Paula’s Choice Gentle Makeup Remover

My first favorite is the Gentle Touch Makeup Remover. This is the very best makeup remover I have ever tried and I buy this four bottles at a time whenever there is a sale. I usually wear full coverage foundation and my skin tends to break out especially in my t-zone. So I take cleansing very seriously, and the first step is always makeup remover. This dual-phase liquid makeup remover needs to be shaken first and after squirting some onto a cleansing pad you wipe off makeup prior to cleansing. It removes everything, even waterproof mascara and the most tenacious lipstick. It’s completely safe to use on eyes, and it leaves skin feeling moist and hydrated but not oily or greasy.

One end of the Professional Blemish Extracting Tool

One end of the Professional Blemish Extracting Tool

The other end of the Professional Blemish Extracting Tool

The other end of the Professional Blemish Extracting Tool

My second favorite is the dual-ended Professional Blemish Extracting Tool. Extraction is necessary and correct extraction is essential!! PC has this fantastic stainless steel extractor that safely removes blackheads and whiteheads without tearing the skin and making a bad situation even worse.  You’ve got to get those blackheads out – if you don’t, you risk enlarged pores and serious infection.  Plus, congestion of the pores is painful to have and painful for other people to look at. This baby puts pressure around the congested pore without digging in like your fingernails do, providing even pressure that gently pushes the blackhead or whitehead out of the pore. It is the BOMB.

Clear Extra Strength Daily Skin Clearing Treatment with 5% Benzoyl PeroxideMy third favorite is the Clear Extra Strength Daily Skin Clearing Treatment with 5% Benzoyl Peroxide. This is a fantastic spot treatment that works quickly without stressing already stressed skin. It’s not just triage – it also prevents future breakouts and controls very oily areas. I use it around my nose and on my chin every morning and night, and sometimes I use it as an all-over mask in the evening. This 5% benzoyl peroxide acne treatment is fantastic for teens and it works on every skin type. I find that most benzoyl peroxide treatments have other ingredients that irritate and dry out skin, but this light lotion is super gentle and has nothing irritating in it at all.

Paulas Choice Retinol Treatment 2

My fourth favorite is the Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment. This is an exfoliating skin treatment that is applied after cleansing.  Here are all the skin ailments it treats:

  • Acne Breakouts, Anti-Aging, Brown Spots, Wrinkles
  • Firms skin, smoothing deep wrinkles and fine lines
  • Reduces dark spots and uneven skin tone, refines pore size

This is a retinol product and I know that some people have problems tolerating retinol. However, even if you have a history of difficulty with retinols, I urge you to give this a try. It has licorice, oat extract and other anti-irritants that make it great for sensitive skin. My skin has always reacted well to retinols, and this product in particular gives me beautiful and immediate results. My skin is much smoother, pores smaller, fine lines less noticeable. Retinol actually stimulates collagen production, so the results over time are fantastic.

Paula's Choice 10% Niacinamide BoosterPaula's Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster

My fifth favorite is the 10% Niacinamide Booster, one of Paula’s newest products for reducing pore size. My first bottle was sent as a press sample, but I used that all up and have already bought another. This is great stuff that makes the rest of my skin care even better. Here’s why your pores get larger as you age: skin naturally sheds built up oil and dirt. When we are young, this process happens pretty quickly, so our skin looks almost as if it doesn’t even have pores. As we get older, especially after age 30, this process slows down so dirt and oil stays inside our pores longer. The increased collection of dirt and oil causes pores to stretch out and become enlarged. Exfoliating on a regular basis helps your skin’s shedding process, but even with the most diligent skin care maintenance pores become enlarged.  The 10% Naicinamide Booster does four main things: improves uneven skin tone, reduces the appearance of pore size, improves skin texture, and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Niacinamide is a form of Vitamin B3. It’s a very exciting ingredient that has been scientifically proven to seriously shrink enlarged pores as well as wrinkles. What is really cool about this product is that it’s a super lightweight serum that can be used alone or added to another serum or moisturizer. I put a few drops in my treatment serum every morning and every night and I am truly impressed with my results!

If you are a long time Paula’s Choice fan, I hope that my picks give you incentive to try them. If you haven’t tried this line out, I can’t recommend it highly enough.  I know that you will quickly find your five favorites that will become staples of your skin care regimen.

Click on this link for $10 off your first order if you are new to Paula’s Choice  This is part of the Refer-a-Friend program and will give me credit towards a future Paula’s Choice order. Paula always has specials going – right now the special is free shipping and a free full size Clinical Body Butter for all orders over $50.  – Lisa

6 beauty essentials for a summer getaway!

6 Beauty Essentials for a Summer Getaway!In my book summer isn’t over until after Labor Day Weekend, so there is still plenty of time to go on summer weekend getaway! Whether it’s to the city, a cabin, or the beach, there are six beauty products that I always have in my bag.

Red Oxx Gator Carry On BagSpeaking of bags, I truly believe I have found the perfect one:  the Red Oxx Gator Carry On Bag ($125). I bought this in red for a recent trip to Spain and it was PERFECT. I could not believe how many things I could stuff into this rugged little baby and still have room. It’s exactly what you need for a weekend getaway – room for all your clothes and your products, and it is the size of a large purse.

Six summer getaway beauty essentialsAlong with the perfect bag, here are six products I was sent to test that you will want to always have packed so you can just grab and go on any last-minute adventure:Design.Me Puff.Me Volumizing Cloud Mist

  1.  Design.Me Puff.Me ($20): This is a tiny but mighty bottle of hair rescue. The spray powder not only soaks up oil and dirt, it also volumizes and gives hair wonderful texture. Bring this instead of bottles of shampoo and conditioner. Puff.Me is available in Cosmoprof stores nationally. I hear that Design.Me is launching other new professional products soon and I can’t wait.Me Clear Spot Treatment DeviceMe Clear Spot Treatment DeviceMe Clear Spot Treatment Device
  2. Me Clear Spot Treatment Device ($60):  An absolute must for any trip! This small device is exactly what you need when you get that one big zit brewing under your skin. You know how that goes…everything is great until you feel a little pressure, a little soreness, and you realize there is a mega-blemish brewing that is going to totally ruin your weekend. The Me Clear Spot Treatment Device is your savior.  Me Clear Spot Treatment DeviceJust press it against the area and the blue light goes to work, painlessly and quickly – the blue LED light makes eruptions vanish overnight through a combination of blue light, sonic vibration, and gentle warming. Standing there for the full two minutes can seem a little tedious, but I am astounded by the results and will never be without this gem.Saje Pocket PharmacySaje Pocket Pharmacy
  3. Saje Pocket Pharmacy ($59.95):  Despite every effort, getting sick on a vacation happens. This awesome little pharmacy has therapeutic remedy roll-ons:
    Peppermint Halo – headache relief
    Stress Release – promotes relaxation 
    Pain Release – reduce inflammation and muscle pain 
    Immune – helps alleviate cold symptoms 
    Eater’s Digest – helps soothe upset stomachs 

    So go ahead and eat too much, drink too much, stay up too long…there’s a remedy for every symptom of partying too much and having more fun that a person probably should.Soap & Paper Factory Jasmine Perfume Oil

  4. Soap & Paper Factory Jasmine Perfume Oil ($16):  It is impossible to describe how amazing this jasmine scent is. It really is a little bottle of summer and tucks so nicely away in a bag or pocket. One discreet roll onto wrists and behind the ears is all you need to smell beyond amazing.Rimmel Kate Sculpting and Highlighting Kit in Coral GlowRimmel Kate Sculpting and Highlighting Kit
  5. Rimmel Kate Sculpting and Highlighting Kit in Coral Glow ($7):  This beautiful Kate Moss palette has three shades for highlighting, contouring, and defining cheeks. You won’t need a separate eyeshadow palette – just use your fingers and pat onto eyelids for a beautiful glowy look.Rimmel Super Curler Mascara
  6. Rimmel Super Curler Mascara ($6): Even on the most low maintenance vacations I always make sure to put on some mascara. This mascara lifts so I don’t even bring an eyelash curler, and it really lasts in the heat.

Now keep that bag packed with these essentials and you’ll just need to throw in some shorts, a bathing suit, and a cover up (my picks below!!) for an awesome summer getaway.  – Lisa

*samples, affiliate links
True Religion Joey ShortsMisa Dali Cover Up DressStella McCartney Wrap Swimsuit

ZO Correct & Conceal for skin that needs a little extra help

ZO Correct and Conceal

ZO Correct and Conceal

You may not have heard about ZO Skin Health before but it’s possible you’ve heard of its founder: Dr. Zein Obagi. The Obagi system of skincare changed the lives of so many women I knew in a positive way. Using his products turned problem skin into renewed skin and gave many women hope for a revived, more even toned, less diseased skin. He’s since left his original company and began ZO Skin Health and formulated new products that are concerned with skin health restoration.

ZO Offects Correct & Conceal is available in two shades, Light and Medium, and we were sent both shades to try out. Correct & Conceal is a 2 in 1 product that acts as a spot treatment to attack any breakouts you might have while at the same time concealing your blemishes and erasing the visible signs of acne.

ZO Correct & Conceal in Light

ZO Correct & Conceal in Light

At first this looks just like an ordinary concealer but it’s only to be used where you need it. I’d never use it under my eyes for example. I use it to spot treat only. I don’t break out often but as luck (???) would have it I developed an ugly zit shortly after I received this for testing. Per instructions I cleansed my skin well and covered the area with a thin layer of product. Unfortunately the Light shade is too yellow toned for my skin but I was able to blend it pretty well.

ZO Correct & Conceal in Light

ZO Correct & Conceal in Light

ZO Correct & Conceal in Light

ZO Correct & Conceal in Light

I was honestly surprised to say that I only needed to do this for two days. After that my pimple was basically dried out and I could get by with my regular concealer. Now this can be used up to three times a day but I’d be careful about drying out your skin too much. I’d ease into it, see how it works, and cut back if it’s too drying.

Offects® Correct & Conceal benefits include:

  • Soft focus concealer provides an instant, natural, long-lasting matte coverage

  • Maximum strength acne medication treats & prevents acne on the surface of the skin and within the pore

  • Added tea tree oil helps keep skin clean

  • Available for $29 online at http://zoskinhealth.com


ZO Conceal & Correct in Medium

ZO Conceal & Correct in Medium

I’m lucky that I don’t have acne prone skin though I did years ago and this would have come in very handy then. I’ve just had the occasion to use this twice in the months since I received this and both times I found it very effective at both coverage and healing. I only needed a thin layer that I patted onto my skin and only needed to use it a short time. Since it’s tinted I don’t think I’d use this at night unless you had a pillow case that could take some color transfer.

Dr. Obagi has many products on the ZO Skin Health site that would be ideal for you if you have breakouts, whether hormonal or just because that’s the way your skin rolls. I recommend looking into some like ZO Skin Health Exfoliating Cleanser for oily and acne-prone skin, Exfoliating Polish, ZO Skin Health TE pads, and Ommerse Daily Renewal Crème or Ommerse Overnight Recovery from ZO Skin Health.

Here’s to clearer skin that looks great when you correct & conceal.  — Marcia

*sent for editorial consideration


Active Ingredients: Salicylic Acid, 2.0%
Inactive Ingredients: Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Cera, Beeswax, Polyethylene, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Phenyl Trimethicone, Polybutene, Octyldodecanol, Tridecyl Stearate, Neopentyl Glycol, Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Cellulose, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Polyglyceryl-10 Heptahydroxystearate, Silica, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Oleyl Alcohol, Propylene Carbonate, Water, Tridecyl Trimellitate, Triethyl Citrate, Glycerin, Zanthoxylum Bungeanum Fruit Extract, Jojoba Esters, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Ceramide NG, Trihydroxystearin, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Alumina, Marrubium Vulgare Meristem Cell Culture, Leontopodium Alpinum Meristem Cell Culture, Honey, Phenoxyethanol, Lecithin, Sodium Benzoate, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides.