How safe is your makeup bag?

Melissa Jenna Godsey Beauty CounterSo if you’ve known me for a while, you know that I’ve had a love/hate relationship with skin care and makeup for years. You’ve seen me go through my product-whore phase (back when I was hosting at iFixit), then I went through my no. makeup. EVER. phase (because I was ashamed of my troublesome skin, and I was skeeved out by the ingredients), and now we enter a third (and I think final) phase: the “holy grail” phase. It’s like this: I’ve found Beautycounter, and I love it, and it loves me. (We’re in love, you see.)

If you love the play factor of makeup, but don’t want to slather untested grossness on your face, you’re in a bit if a bind here in the USA (the United States hasn’t passed a law regulating the cosmetics industry since 1938). And if you have difficult skin, you’re probably using a lot of different products to cover it up, and you don’t have skin that you’re proud to walk around barefaced in. I was both of those.

But then an angel appeared to me in a dream and shared Beautycounter with me, and I swooned, and now here I am with peachy keen skin, and a makeup collection I’d feel comfortable sharing with my daughter. (Actually the angel is my friend Susan, and she appeared to me at barre, but whatever, that’s not the point.)

Here’s the point: Beautycounter’s has a list they call the “Never List,” which is full of the untested stuff I didn’t want to put on my skin. They’re committed to putting clean personal care products in everyone’s hands, and I just love that. It makes my heart sing. You CAN have awesome, high-perfoming makeup/skin care/sunscreen without the sketchiness. And it. is. AWESOME.

So here’s what I suggest: replace one thing at a time. Next time you run out of cleanser, swap it for something clean. If you’re feeling iffy, I have a complete set of the skincare line that I will happily give you to try for a few days (if you’re local). Same goes for the makeup. My collection is your collection.

I would love love love to chat with any of you about how you can clean up your skin care routine, create a safe makeup collection, and perhaps even start a little Beautycounter shop of your own. Direct sales companies usually make me very uncomfortable, but what can I say? I love my new skin, and how could I not want to share that with people I love? If you’re interested in trying any products, playing with the makeup, or learning more about how you could be making safer choices in this realm, please don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know! You can reach me here in the comments, or via email at melissagbeautycounter -at- gmail -dot- com.

And if you feel like learning what makes Beautycounter wonderful and different, click through to read more about their mission and their products.


Is Clarisonic Worth It?

I’ve gotten some great questions regarding the makeup fast, and how it effected my skincare routine, so I figured I’d sit down and share my “secret” with you all.

I bought my Clarisonic from Amazon for about $110, and I’ve been using it for about a month. It’s super easy to use, and my only tip to you is this: use it once a day, like it says on the box. It feels great, and you’ll want to use it twice a day. Resist that urge! Over cleansing will make your skin flip-out.

Do you use a Clarisonic? Have any tips or tricks? Share ’em in the comments! And as usual, if you have any questions, I am here to answer them.



(Also, I was not compensated in any way for this post, but I did use my Amazon affiliates account to link the Clarisonic, in case you feel like buying one for yourself.)


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Frugal Beauty Tip: Swap Your Makeup Remover

For full disclosure, I tend not to wear a lot of makeup in my normal day-to-day life. (I find that it makes me look older, and–blemishes excluded–I like how I look naturally.) But when I do “put my face on” I use the serious, heavy duty stuff that’s meant being photographed under intense lighting by HD cameras (for work). And if you’ve ever used that stuff, you know what a nightmare it can be to remove. It is, after all, meant to stick all day long, through sweat and the like.

Some things: I tend to avoid synthetic chemicals whenever possible, especially on my face. Sometimes I have sensitive skin. I dry out easily, but I also get pretty oily as the day wears on. Oh, and me and my family are certified penny-pinchers. And all of those things considered, I’m SO glad I discovered this beauty “trick.”

I say “trick,” because it’s really so simple. Instead of spending dollars on makeup remover, just use oil. Like, literally, olive oil. It works way better than any commercial makeup remover I’ve ever purchased, it’s great on sensitive skin, it’s safe to get near your eyes, and it’s hydrating. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Slather some oil on your face. If I measured it, it’d probably be about a teaspoon’s worth, which is way more than necessary. And like I said, you can use regular old olive oil, or if you want to get real fancy, you can upgrade to almond oil or grapeseed oil for about $4.00 at your local health-food store. (I use sweet almond oil. Example below.)
  2. Massage it all over wherever you’ve applied makeup (including your eyelids and underneath your eyes). Take your time and enjoy it! Pretend you’re getting an awesome, overpriced facial during which the esthetician tells you all about how Nicole Kidman swears by almond oil or whatever.
  3. Wipe the oil off of your face with a cotton-round or a clean washcloth.
  4. Wash your face as normal.

Easy peasy, right? And it’s way cheaper than springing for some commercial makeup remover (that’s probably half oil anyway!)

If you’re thinking that applying oil to your skin is bad or will cause breakouts, you’d be mistaken. Sure, certain oils are comedogenic (clog pores), but olive, almond, grapeseed, castor oil, and many many others are perfectly fine for your skin. In fact, they’re good for your skin. Each oil has it’s own beautifying properties (castor oil, for example, is a great cleansing agent, and is better for naturally oily skin), and if you really want to get fancy, you can make a custom blend of your own, specifically tailored to your skin needs. (Head over to Crunchy Betty and read all about it. Her website is BOMB for natural beauty remedies. Can’t recommend it highly enough.) And let’s not forget that oils are excellent at preventing premature aging, which in itself, is worth it for me.

If the idea of slathering your face with oil still makes you uncomfortable, bear in mind that you’ll still wash your face afterwards. It’s not like you’ll be going to bed with oil-face. (Yuck.)

The fact is that most people over-cleanse their skin and hair, stripping it of it’s natural oils, causing their hair and skin to overproduce oil to make up for it. It’s a vicious cycle. Would it surprise you to know that I wash my hair once or twice a week? (GASP!) That’s because I use an extra mild shampoo, and my hair doesn’t produce nearly as much oil as it used to. (It took a couple of weeks to for my hair to transition.) And would it surprise you to know that I use a facial cleansing oil and not the foamy stuff? “Like dissolves like,” so in order to best remove all of the dirty oil on my face, I should replace it with clean oil, not strip it entirely. It takes some getting used to (I happen to like frothy, foamy face-washes), but I promise you that once you give it a fair chance, you won’t go back.

In case you’re interested in knowing specifically what I use, here are my two favorite oils, with info, pictures and links from the manufacturer’s website:


NOW Sweet Almond Oil (Got mine at New Frontiers, but I’ll bet they carry it at Whole Foods, too.)

Condition: For skin in need of clean and natural nourishment, as a moisturizer or for massage.

Solution: 100% Pure Almond Oil is an all-natural oil that’s perfect for nourishing and reviving any skin type. Almond Oil is easily absorbed and won’t clog pores, promoting clear, soft, healthy skin. This all-natural skin-nourishing oil is ideal for the entire body. Almond Oil is an all-natural oil derived from pressed almonds. Vegetable-derived oils date back to Biblical times, when they were mixed with fragrant herbs to create traditional ointments.


NOW Grapeseed Oil (Got mine at New Frontiers, but I’ll bet they carry it at Whole Foods, too.)

Condition: Sensitive skin in need of an all natural moisturizer and protection from premature aging, without clogging pores and causing breakouts.

Solution: 100% Pure Grapeseed Oil is a light, odorless oil with mild astringent and emollient properties. This versatile oil contains numerous essential fatty acids including Linoleic, Oleic, Stearic, Palmitic, Myristic and Lauric. its rich, silky texture is perfect for soothing away dryness and irritation and is suitable for all skin types since it won’t clog pores or cause break-outs. Grapeseed Oil is perfect as a base for lotions, and it’s mild enough to use as a conditioner for all hair types.

Have questions? Fire away! I’m always happy to share information, especially if it can save you a few bucks. Enjoy the an-home facial!

***And in case you’re wondering, I did not receive any sort of compensation or gift or anything whatsoever for this post. I’m just super excited about skin-care. 🙂 ***

Sephora, Drugstore-Brands & The Proverbs 31 Woman

Whatever your opinion of the “Proverbs 31 Woman” is, I feel as if we can all agree that she is prudent with her money. That she’s a good steward of her family’s finances–with what God has provided to her for the benefit of her family.

There are parts of the Proverbs 31 Woman that I reflect well, but I fall short on most it (don’t we all?). The thing that’s really stuck out to me recently is the bit about ‘using her money to plant a garden, and with the profit, buying a vineyard’ (totally paraphrased). I’m definitely not turning my money into more money. I have a couple of plans for that, but before I get there, I’ll admit something else: I could probably spend less money on makeup. Like, a lot less. Before I worry too much about turning my money into more money, I should probably become a better steward of what I already have.

Name-Brand Devotee

I generally consider myself a low-maintainence type of gal, but the fact is, the only two locations I can purchase my preferred brand of makeup are Sephora, and, well, the internet. I really enjoy being well educated on cosmetics–I could easily lecture extemporaneously about the pros and cons of most of the brands carried by Sephora for an hour–but I can’t help but see all of the bargain-priced drugstore brands and feel like an idiot for not saving my family a ton of money by simply switching to something more common. Yes, you get what you pay for (especially with cosmetics), but I have to believe that with everything I know about cosmetics (and the chemicals they’re comprised of), I could find some kind of affordable alternative to Laura Mercier. (The primary ingredient in her setting powder is talc. Talc! That stuff shouldn’t cost me over $30!)

Drugstore-Brand Diva?

That all being said, I need your help. I’d like to become a drugstore-brand diva, but after wandering through Target I was positively overwhelmed. Ask me to compare/contrast Nars/Smashbox/Dior/Laura Mercier, and I’m totally your girl, but I have NO idea what the differences are between Cover Girl, Maybelline, L’Oreal, Revlon, Neutrogena, etc.

I’d like to begin my transition to drugstore brands by switching out both my Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer and loose setting powder. If you know me at all, you know that I SWEAR by this tinted moisturizer. I spread the gospel of this moisturizer freely and with abandon. I truly, with all of my little heart, believe there is nothing on this planet that can rival Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer…but I’m gonna try anyway. I’m far less passionate about the setting powder. I’m pretty sure I can find a drugstore brand to replace this with lickety-split.

My first inclination is to look to Aveeno’s new tinted moisturizer as a replacement, but like I’ve said already–FAT CHANCE. If I come back with anything good at all to say about it, you’ll know that it’s legitimately good. 🙂

Hedging My Bets

And before I embark on this embarrassingly scary and somewhat silly journey, I’d like everyone to know: If I can’t find a replacement for my tinted moisturizer, then, well, WHATEVER. It’s not like we’re eating Hamburger Helper over here (that’ll happen over my cold dead body). I’ll find another way to pinch my pennies. 🙂

Thank you thank you THANK YOU for your wisdom. And for not laughing at me for being such a priss about makeup. (Or for at least keeping your laughter to your darnself.)


(If you help yourself to the ‘Helper, we’re still cool. I just can’t eat it.)

The Benefits of a Cold Shower

I must have showed up late on the day that God assigned me a super-power, because I didn’t get anything cool like the ability to stop time, or the ability to fly. I got a powerful sense of curiosity and a knack at conducting research. Pretty much the nerdiest of all the available super powers. (Geeze louise, three sentences in and I’m already digressing.) The point: when confronted with a topic I know little to nothing about, my instinct is to research it enough to have a reasonably informed conversation about it. The result: a dilettante’s understanding of a variety of subjects. This is one of those subjects.

It was revealed to me through a recent conversation that some people were brought up to take cold showers. This is the first I’ve heard of it, but it also doesn’t particularly surprise me, as every credible source on skin or hair-care instructs to always end one’s cleansing routine with a cold water rinse. A cold water shower isn’t so different. Cold water rinses are great for the face because they close one’s open pores and increase circulation. Similarly, for hair, a cold water rinse seals the cuticle, leaving one with shinier, smoother hair.

After reading as much information as I could find on the subject, there doesn’t seem to be any scientific evidence to prove the health benefits of cold water showers, but there are a great deal of personal testimonies, which weigh almost as much in my opinion. Many people attest that a cold water shower (or even simply a three to five-minute cold water rinse) helps build immunity against viruses like the flu, increases circulation, relieves depression and increases energy. As someone who already embraces the cold water rinse for her face and hair, it’s easy for me to want to test this out. (Although I love a luxurious warm shower, so I’ll most likely go for the three to five-minute cold water rinse instead.)

Were you brought up to take cold water showers? Rinses? Does it sound more like a low-grade torture method than holistic medicine? Tell me all about it in the comments below, because sharing is caring.

How I Got Clear Skin and Turned Back The Clock

My whole life I’ve been told I have oily, problematic skin, and have been given heaps and heaps of advice on how to deal with it. Maybe you can relate. Medicated cleansers, oil-zapping toners, blemish spot-treatments and oil free moisturizers have been piling up in my bathroom for years, none of them ever really remaining effective for very long. Since the blemishes and redness never really went away, I’ve also got a stockpile of foundations, concealers and powders. Predictably enough, none of those products really made up for the shortcomings of my cleansing routine, and this whole skincare thing has become quite a pricey venture.

I decided (in my eighth month of pregnancy) that I needed to revamp my skincare routine yet again, this time choosing not to ask the “professionals” for their advice. Instead, I just followed my gut, and the result has been absolutely delightful.

My entire skincare routine was based around the belief that I had oily, problematic skin. I thought to myself, what if that isn’t actually true? Isn’t it possible that I’ve been over-treating my skin this whole time? It makes sense: I strip my skin of all of its natural oils, causing it to over-produce oil, causing more breakouts, causing me to need more foundation, further clogging my pores and congesting my skin…it’s a nasty cycle. So, I went rogue and put together an entirely different (and effective) skincare routine. Here are the three (or four) secrets to my success:

Origins Clean Energy Cleanser

  1. Quit Over-Cleansing: After hours of research, I decided to try a very mild, *gasp* oilbased cleanser from Origins. It’s called “Clean Energy,” and basically it’s a blend of non-comedogenic (read: won’t clog your pores), olive, sunflower, sesame and safflower oils. Oil is a natural solvent, so it does as good of a job, if not better, at removing make-up and make-up residue than any cleanser I’ve ever used. Here’s the deal though: it doesn’t foam or froth like any cleanser you might use now. You rub a small amount of the oil all over your face, then create a milky looking emulsion by simply adding a few drops of warm water to your skin and rubbing it around. Then you rinse. That’s all. Simple, gentle, and my skin didn’t feel pillaged of its elasticity and natural moisture. If you can get your head around not having suds (it takes a little getting used to), then you’ll love this cleanser as much as I do. Oh, and it smells citrusy, which is lovely.

    dickinsons witch hazel toner

  2. Back to Basics in Toners: Women have been swearing by plain old witch hazel for decades, so why was I spending a fortune on medicated toners? Why not start with toner in its most simple form, and then work my way up the scale as I need to? I spent a whopping $4.00 on Dickenson’s Original Witch Hazel, and I’m never ever going back to the other stuff. It removes the last traces of make-up, soap residue and excess oil from your skin without over drying. There are no artificial ingredients, just plain old witch hazel, and the 16 ounce bottle will last months.Origins Starting Over Moisturizer
  3. Moisturizer as a Nighttime Fountain of Youth: Fact: Dry skin looks more wrinkly than moist skin. I realized that if I kept stripping my skin of oil, the fine lines that I’ve begun developing are going to become more and more noticeable. So along the same lines as the cleanser, I opted for a moisturizer that contains non-comedogenic oils, in addition to mimosa, argan leaf and green algae. It’s called “Starting Over,” and again, I found this gem at Origins. I splurged on this one– $45.00– but it’s absolutely worth the money. A little goes a long way, and with something as vital as moisturizer, I consider it an investment in my future (i.e. hopefully no chemical peels or botox in my later years). I use this ultra-lush feeling moisturizer at night, as it does make my skin shine a bit, and does not contain SPF.Laura Mercier Oil Free Tinted Moisturizer
  4. Daytime Protection and Polish: Arguably the quickest way to age your face is by not using sunscreen. (Yes, even on rainy days.) So, my for my daytime moisturizer I chose Laura Mercier’s oil free tinted moisturizer with SPF 20. I chose oil free because I think my skin can be a little oily, and I like how matte it looks, especially if I use a setting powder on top of it. This tinted moisturizer is fuller coverage than most, and as a result I cut foundation entirely out of my makeup routine, saving me valuable time, money and leading to fewer blemishes in the long run. I might use a little concealer under my eyes if I’m particularly baggy, or on the light acne scarring I have on my jaw line, but other than that, I don’t use any additional foundation/primer/whatever. I never in a million years thought I could break up with foundation!

So after a few months of dramatically scaling back my skincare routine, I finally have results I can be proud of. No more fighting with my face! There are two critical steps to success that you need to know if you’re going to attempt the same:

  1. Be Consistent. Cleanse, tone and moisturize every morning and every night. I mean every morning, and every night. Even the nights where you roll into your house at 2:00 AM. Especially those nights. Going to sleep in your makeup is just about the worst offense you can commit against your skin and your pillowcase. It wasn’t until I committed to my routine twice a day that I saw results. Just do it at the same time as you brush your teeth and you’ll be golden.
  2. Don’t Skip Steps. This goes hand in hand with consistency, but it needs to be reinforced. Each step has its purpose and each of the other steps suffer when you leave one out. You’re only cheating yourself out of supple, healthy skin, so for heaven’s sake don’t skip the toner.

So that’s that. Have you revamped your skincare routine recently? Have any products that you swear by? I’m all for the tried-and-true, so if you have any old-school remedies, or tricks your grandma used I’d love to hear them!

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