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


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.


Treating acne for real with Relogy

If you are looking for a unique, cutting-edge solution to acne, you will want to consider RelogyRelogy is an excellent solution for oily, breakout-prone skin.  It is free of harsh, skin-irritating ingredients.  Plus, Relogy has a simple regimen with only a few steps, it’s easy to use and actually pretty fun!  What makes it fun?  One word:  FOAM.

relogy logo

I know I am easily amused, but acne sucks, so if my skin care products are enjoyable I really appreciate it.  Plus I love this – they have a ‘Guaranteed Happiness’ policy.  You love your products after 60 days, or your money back.  Other reasons to love this line?  It’s cruelty free, vegan, and plant-based. 

Relogy isn’t about flashy marketing.  It’s about simple, easy to use and effective natural products.  My skin is finicky, it’s oily one day and dry the next.  I have hormonal acne, and it’s difficult to find something that can handle the daily differences in my skin and the hormone issues without nasty side effects like over-drying the skin.  I really, really like what Relogy (60 day supply is $49.95) did for me, and it’s definitely something I highly recommend to anyone with acne issues.  Here’s the scoop:

step one

Step One

The first product is called Step 1 Dual Action Treatment Foam.  This a rinse-free (and fun!) cleaning foam.  You can remove most makeup with this – and honestly, if this doesn’t remove your makeup then you are probably using products that aren’t right for acne-prone skin.  To cleanse off makeup, use the rinse method: wet your skin, cleanse with the foam, and rinse.  Follow that with some foam on acne-prone areas, and don’t rinse it off.  The foam kills bacteria that causes blemishes and truly leaves your skin super soft and moisturized.  It’s awesome for your chest and back, too.  It’s full of effective natural ingredients that clear blemishes, heal skin, and soothe inflammation. 


love the packaging

It has a great dispenser that pumps out this really cool foam.  You don’t need a full pump – that’s way too much product.  I would say about 1/4 of a pump is perfect for your cleansing your face then rinsing.  You need even less of that for the non-rinse application (smoothing foam on your acne-prone areas, for me on either side of my chin and around my nose).

foamy goodness

foamy goodness

To prevent acne you only need to use it once a day. If you are treating a current case of acne, use it twice a day until you are  acne-free.  The foam has salicylic acid which naturally exfoliates the skin.  Relogy recommends no other sort of exfoliation, as too much can actually irritate acne-prone skin and cause more problems than it cures.  Basically, Relogy says to get great skin you need to be kind to it!

step two

Step Two

The second step is the Skin Balancing Lotion with Coconut Milk.  The name sounds pretty rich for an anti-acne line, but it’s actually a very light lotion that sinks in quickly.  It leaves skin soft and moisturized, and doesn’t clog pores. 


more great packaging

The lotion is 100% natural.  The packaging is perfect.  I love the dispenser, it keeps the lotion protected from oxygen so it keeps the integrity of the ingredients.  You don’t need much, a little bit goes a long way and it feels terrific on.


beautiful creamy white lotion

And then there is the ‘secret weapon’ – the Relogy Targeted Acne Spot Treatment.

Relogy Targeted Acne Spot Treatment

Relogy Targeted Acne Spot Treatment

Really, the Targeted Acne Spot Treatment is step 1.5.  Use this after the foam and before the lotion.  Just apply it directly to any blemishes.  I also use this by itself as a spot treatment and love the results.  It’s extremely effective and super gentle. 

One more quick bit of advice:  don’t pick at those blemishes!!  Relogy recommends placing a warm, damp washcloth over blemishes first, then squeezing, pushing very gently outward.  If you squeeze too hard you will push the infection even deeper into your skin, creating more problems.  After, put some foam on and let it dry, then I also put a little Targeted Acne Spot Treatment on to finish up. 

Relogy is a lovely, effective cruelty-free line.  While they say it can take up to 8 weeks to garner the full results, I had impressive results within one week.  Relogy is without question an excellent line for those of us still fighting acne!  – Lisa

*pr samples

Blemish-free summer skin with Lush

I adore summer.  I look forward to gardening, riding my bike, and taking long hikes – but I don’t look forward to the skin issues that come with summer perspiration.  Lush has several products that help me keep my skin blemish-free even in the hottest weather.

Lush Herbalism

Lush Herbalism ($11.50 for 3.5 oz) is an exfoliant that ‘decongests’ pores.  If you have very oily, blemish-prone skin it’s like a miracle.  I absolutely love this for my back, which reacts horribly to any sort of sweating that I can’t shower off immediately.

Just look at that gorgeousness!!

You take a small bit of this and dampen it, kind of working it into a paste.  Then you apply it to your skin in circular motions, and then rinse.  I have this in my shower because it’s kind of messy, which works perfectly.  A jar is good for up to 3 months.

The ingredients that attack those blemishes include rosemary, nettle, and chamomile.  The exfoliating ingredients are ground rice bran and ground almonds, plus there’s kaolin (China clay) to clean the pores.  It has a very odd scent.  It smells like…vinegar, I guess.  If you don’t mind smelling like a salad for a few minutes, you will be just fine because the scent doesn’t linger.  I really like this, it’s a wonderful exfoliant especially if you want to get rid of the dreaded ‘bacne’.

Lush Fresh Farmacy

And for those days when I don’t want so much exfoliation, there’s Fresh Farmacy ($9.75).  This beautiful bar is especially terrific for those with more sensitive skin.

Looks good enough to eat!

This is such a gorgeous bar I had to take several pictures.  The bar has calamine in it, the same stuff that you use to soothe your skin from bug bites or irritations.  It also has chamomile, rose, lavender, and tea tree oil.  It gives a wonderful lather and it’s very gentle.

Isn’t it beautiful??  It’s so nice for combination skin that isn’t overly oily.  It also seems to brighten the skin and eliminate redness.  It smells slightly of peppermint, nothing very strong or overpowering.  I keep this in my shower too, although on a dish that’s away from the water so it doesn’t melt.  I use it every morning when I shower and it does a great job of cleaning my face and keeping the blemishes away.

Lush Grease Lightning

My final summer skin savior is Grease Lightning ($12.95).  Sometimes, despite all my efforts a blemish will appear.  I break out the Grease Lightning, which is a tea tree oil blemish treatment.  It’s actually a combination of thyme, tea tree oil, and rosemary, and it does a great job of zapping zits.  I also use this as a mattify my t-zone when it’s super hot out.  It smells slightly medicinal, like most tea tree oil products do, but it does dissipate quickly.

These three products are my ‘holy trinity’ for summer blemishes.  Try them out to banish your blemishes and have great summer skin!  – Lisa

Dr. Perricone Super Acne Serum review

Dr. Perricone Super Acne Treatment

As a forty-something woman, I thought I would be done with acne.  I mean, come on…I put up with the wrinkles, do I really have to battle acne too???  Apparently someone up there has a great sense of humor, because the answer is YES – once or twice a month I get to do battle with blemishes that pop up amongst the wrinkles.  I recently tested Dr. Perricone’s Super Acne Treatment ($50), which promises to exfoliate, brighten, and balance the skin.

This serum has Quercetin, an antioxident found in apples, plus Salicylic Acid to fight blemishes and blackheads.  You can use it as an all-over serum or as a spot treatment.  It’s very gentle and can be used every day.

Super Acne Treatment swatch

It’s a thin, creamy serum that you apply after cleansing and toning.  I absolutely love it as a spot treatment, I find that blemishes are greatly diminished in one day, and usually completely gone in two days.  I also like to use it as an all over preventative serum when I can tell my skin is about to get wonky.  It does not irritate or dry out the skin at all, and I think even the most sensitive skins would be fine with this.  It does have a scent, it smells like fresh apples when first applied and the scent dissipates quickly.

I am quite impressed with this serum.  I love how I can use it for emergencies as well as for every day brightening and exfoliating.  If you are looking for a safe, gentle, and effective acne treatment – this one is for you!  – Lisa

* pr sample