The search for perfect-looking skin has our constant attention — we invest in fancy foundationsskin-smoothing primers and magical blending sponges. But little did we know that creating a flawless makeup base has less to do with these methods and a whole lot more to do with what we mix our foundation with. Ahead, we broke down exactly how to achieve the look by mixing highlighter with our favorite foundation formula, and we can guarantee that the results are better than any other method out there. 

STEP 1: Pick the Right Liquid-Based Highlighter

Picking the right illuminating product is key to making this makeup mix a success. First and foremost, choose a highlighter that has more of a sheer finish, as opposed to a glittery, shimmery one. You’ll need a lightweight formula like the Dermablend Glow Creator Highlighting Drops that will blend seamlessly with your foundation to leave a natural, subtle glow.

STEP 2: Mix It Up

Mix equal parts foundation (our current favorite is the YSL All Hours Longwear Foundation) and highlighter on the back of your hand. The total combination should equal a dime-sized amount. If needed, add more to make sure you have the right amount of coverage. Just be careful that you don’t end up with thick, cakey makeup.

STEP 3: Blend, Blend, Blend

Dot the mixture on your forehead, cheeks, nose and chin and smooth it all over the face (we recommend working from the center and blending outward) with a blending sponge or foundation brush, until your makeup is evenly distributed around your face and neck. Make sure to blend well, so that there are no streaks or splotching. Your makeup should look like second skin. For a next-level glow, feel free to add more strategically placed highlighter on the high points of your face when you’re finished with the rest of your makeup.

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If year-after-year you find yourself taking part in the last-minute shopping scramble (guilty!), we’re happy to report that scooping up amazing beauty gifts on a time crunch — and on a budget — is easier than ever. Enter, the drugstore, an around-the-corner destination with a well-stocked beauty section to boot. So, stop panicking and check out our favorite, affordable holiday gift sets below.   

NYX Professional Makeup Holiday Love Lust Disco Suede Matte Lipstick

Red lips and the holidays go together like milk and cookies — it’s an automatic crowd-pleaser. Take it from us, this lipstick and liner duo is a guaranteed win for just about anyone. Plus, the gold packaging is so festive, you can even skip the wrapping paper. The combo is available in Munchies, a soft gray; Spicy, a true red; and Cherry Skies, a deep berry. All the shades are perfect for a holiday party beat or warm, winter makeup look. 

Essie Gel Couture Holiday Set Diamond in the Cuff 

Give the gift of a long-lasting manicure with this Essie polish set. The bundle comes with Essie Daring Damsel, a gold champagne shade, and the Essie long wear Top Coat. Metallic nails are definitely having a moment, so whoever receives this gift will be turning heads through the new year. 

Maybelline New York Winter Wonder Glam Total Look Kit 

If you’re anything like us, over packing for holiday travels is a hallmark of your personality. Who doesn’t pack three bags for a weekend trip? To help scale back the baggage, throw in this all-in-one gift set that has everything you need for a holiday-approved face beat. It includes the Color Sensational Made for All, a universal red lipstick, Master Precise All Day Liquid Liner, Lash Sensational Mascara and Lasting Fix Setting Spray

E.l.f. Cosmetics Eye Candy Eyeshadow Duo Set 

E.l.f.’s candy-themed holiday collection has us drooling  — literally and figuratively. We’re especially loving this eyeshadow set and not just because of the creative play-on-words. With three different eyeshadow duos, this gift has it all to create a festive holiday eye or muted, natural everyday look. Not to mention, they’re super-pigmented shades and easy to blend. 

L’Oréal Paradise Lash Paradise Gift Set 

There may be snow on the ground (depending on where you live, of course), but this Lash Paradise mascara set will transport anyone to happy thoughts of warmer weather. Scoop up the iconic mascara and primer at your drugstore for a quick, save-the-day present. Whether you’re treating yourself to holiday glam or gifting this iconic duo, you can’t go wrong. A quick swipe and you’ll have crazy long lashes

Maybelline New York Countdown Holiday Mini Mascara Kit 

TBH we don’t know why, but for some reason travel-sized beauty products are just so adorable, right? This Maybelline mascara sampler is an automatic add to cart because how cute? The set contains Total Temptation, Lash Sensational, The Colossal and Great Lash in mini-versions. We love this gift set for the friend that’s always on-the-go because the minis are great to toss in a carry-on bag.  

Kristin Ess Style Reviving Dry Shampoo and Pin

We’d prefer if greasy hair didn’t make an appearance at our family holiday reunion, please and thanks. So, if you’re stuck at the office and need a little refresh before running to an after-hours party, look no further than this dry shampoo and accessory set. There’s no need for a blowout, just spray a little dry shampoo, fasten the rose gold pin in the front of your hair and voilà, a total hair makeover. 

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Makeup Remover 

Whether you broke out a new red lip or a sparkly eye, chances are you may be wearing more makeup than usual this time of year. Make sure your face is makeup-free post-party with the Garnier SkinActive Micellar Makeup Remover Set. It has cleansing water (in full-size and travel-size) and on-the-go makeup removing wipes. 


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Spotlight on: Citric Acid

Citric acid is in just about everything from skincare products, to food, to floor cleaner. While lemons aren’t really something you want to be rubbing all over your face, citric acid is something very different and is actually quite beneficial!

Here is what you need to know about citric acid and how to incorporate it into your routine.

What is Citric Acid?

Citric acid is found in, you guessed it, citrus fruits, and is what gives them their acidic flavor. Citric acid was first isolated in 1784 by the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele, who was able to crystallize it from lemon juice.

And not long after, it started to appear in just about everything but particularly in cosmetics and skincare products. In 2016 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program (VCRP) stated that citric acid was used in almost every category of cosmetic products and had over 10,000 reported uses.

It is also used as a popular flavor and preservative agent in foods, soft drinks, and candies.

What Are AHAs?

Citric acid is what’s known as an alpha hydroxy acid (or AHA) in the skincare world. The most basic definition of an HA is a carboxylic acid, which is an organic acid that has at least one carboxyl (carbon double-bonded to oxygen) group. However, that general definition includes unrelated compounds like retinoic acid, L-ascorbic acid, and azelaic acid. Therefore, further qualifications (like alpha, beta, etc) need to be identified.

AHAs are non-abrasive, leave-on exfoliators that are traditionally more effective and gentle than traditional scrubs. Sun damage and overly dry or oily skin can hinder your body’s ability to properly shed dead skin cells. These obstructions can cause skin concerns like dullness, clogged pores, milia, texture, and breakouts. Using an exfoliant can help your skin clear out the dead cells to make room for the new, healthy ones. Chemical exfoliants help to prevent breakouts and premature aging and reduce the appearance of pores.

How Can Citric Acid Benefit Your Skin?

AHAs like glycolic acid and lactic acid can be incredibly potent, and sometimes a little too much for those with sensitive skin. That is where citric acid can be helpful! It is like the training bra of AHAs: It doesn’t really do as much as its fellow acids, but it’s made for people who don’t need the support older girls do.

But what exactly are the benefits of citric acid for the skin? Citric acid (like most all AHAs) can help to brighten skin, shrink pores, treat acne, and correct dark spots and fine lines.

Before it started being added to formulas for its exfoliating abilities, citric acid used to be used to keep the pH range of skincare products in check. The pH of cosmetics and skincare products is important because the skin’s normal pH is slightly acidic. A low acidic pH can cause ingredients to be more irritating for those with sensitive skin.

Is It Safe?

The terms “citric” and “acid” are intimidating on their own but can be downright scary when used together. Especially when it comes to something that you’re putting on your face! But according to The Derm Review, it is perfectly safe to use on the skin! “The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel reviewed scientific literature and data on the safety of citric acid and its salts and ester in 2014. This data revealed that at concentrations used in cosmetics and personal care products, citric acid and its salts and esters were not eye irritants, nor did they cause skin irritation or allergic skin reactions. Thus, CIR concluded that the available scientific data showed that citric acid, its salts, and esters were safe under current conditions of use in cosmetics and personal care products.”

Some people get freaked out by citric acid because they know that lemons are highly irritating for the skin. And while, yes, you can absolutely go overboard with citric acid, it’s safe to use.

Just be cautious, especially if you have sensitive skin. The thing with citric acid is that it can be intense. Let’s put it this way: How will you know if you’re using too much? Side effects of overuse include stinging, burning, and irritation.

If you’re still unsure, always do a patch test first to see how your skin reacts. If you don’t see any irritation or redness, start to slowly introduce it into your routine. Don’t use AHAs the same night you use retinoids or physical exfoliants because that can lead to serious damage to your skin’s barrier!

Bottom Line

Citric acid can be an effective chemical exfoliant for those with sensitive skin. I don’t find it as effective as glycolic or lactic acid, however, but if you have tried those and found them to be too irritating, citric acid could be a great alternative!

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The purpose of this blog is for skin care, makeup, and wellness + health-related reviews and tips only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. Information posted should not be construed as personal medical advice. Posts are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure disease.

You’ll Want To Buy A New Pillow After Reading This

Here’s a gross fact: your body sheds around 600,000 particles of skin every hour (give or take) and over the course of your life you’ll lose around half your weight in skin cells. What does this have to do with your pillow? Well, every night you shed millions of skin particles onto your pillow, along with sweat, dead hair, saliva, and oil, which all get absorbed into your pillow. Here’s where it gets really gross… Some studies have estimated that up to a third of the weight of old pillows are made up of dead skin, dust and dust mites.

What does that mean? You really need to be washing your pillow as well as your pillowcase a lot more regularly. The longer your pillow goes unwashed (every few months is recommended) the more dead skin and dust build-up there is to attract more dust mites to feast on your dead skin.

Besides all this being super nausea-inducing, using the same pillow for years without washing (guilty) is especially bad for allergy sufferers, but it also essentially ‘dirties’ your outer pillowcase more quickly, and that’s not good for your skin. So even if you’re washing your pillowcase every week (which we recommend), that pillowcase is still coming into contact with your nasty old pillow and all the lingering dust mites that go along with it.

How often do you wash your pillows?

So, what should you do? If you’ve had a pillow for more than three years and never washed it, start by washing it in the machine (if it’s feather you can have it dry cleaned) and then perhaps consider buying yourself a new pillow. In general, try to wash your pillows every three months and consider buying a new one every three years. You can also leave pillows out on a hot sunny day when you change your sheets, as pillows build up moisture, which becomes the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and bugs. After a day in the sun, you’ll notice your pillows will have ‘fluffed up’ considerably thanks to moisture evaporating in the sun.

You can also buy pillow protectors, like this zippered 100% Cotton Bed Bug, Dust Mite & Allergy Control Pillow Protector, $11, which will act as a second barrier against dust mites and will extend the life of your pillow – just wash it every month.

Moral of the story? Unless you want to be sleeping on a pillow packed with thousands of dust mites, dead skin and sweat, we suggest you get washing those pillows asap… We’re just about to buy ourselves a new set!