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Guest Blogger: Life & Times Of A Sun Baby

Brace yourselves for Brooklyn’s beauty bombshell, Janell Hickman! While taking a brief vacay from a few facials and manicures, she will be talking about all things beautiful with us this week. Hickman formerly had an affair with fashion, but is now officially going steady with her current love, beauty. Aside from her newly launched blog, Chipped Manicure, she has also written for Refinery29.com, BeautyEtc.com, ESSENCE.com, and contributed to monthly columns as the beauty & fashion assistant at ESSENCE Magazine.

Many beauty professionals will cringe when I say this, but I love being in the sunshine! As a child, I spent endless hours playing in the rays and tousling in the surf on an assortment of Caribbean isles. Since I am an African-American, I assumed that I was exempt from using sunscreen and I stupidly relied in the extra melatonin in my skin to protect me from the elements. The common phrase, “black don’t crack” was my mantra and I thought that I was far too young to worry about sun damage, wrinkles and all the other scary effects of the sun! I continued to bake and flaunt my tan until one vacation in Antigua when I got burned! As in, incredibly, ridiculously, painfully fried to a crisp. I was in tears!

I learned my lesson and vowed never to go a day without using sunscreen — the higher the SPF the better! I’m not perfectoccasionally I do rush out of the house forgetting to slather myself — but I do try my best. I am absolutely obsessed with Doctor T’s Supergoop. All their products, especially their Save Face Serum, are super light and blend easily into my skin without left over residue. One problem with many sunscreens is that they leave an unnatural chalky or blue sheen on darker complexions, which of course is a major turn-off! I also adore Kiehl’s Super Fluid UV Defense SPF 50+ for my body because it’s moisturizing enough for me to forgo lotion and leaves my skin super soft. I recently discovered Dr. Dennis Gross Powerful Sun Protection SPF 30 Towelettes, which are lifesaving. I stash them in my purse to apply as needed. I haven’t made it to the beach, yet but these spillproof pouches will definitely travel along with me.

This former sun baby is now an official sunscreen convert!

Stash up on other sun-protectors from our Birchbox Shop.

100 Degrees In NYC Today—Beat The Heat With These Products

To be honest, I really have no idea how people survived before air conditioning. On hot days when even lounging on the beach takes effort, hanging in the cool indoors sounds magnificent to me. But come on, we have places to go and people to see! Luckily, the beauty gods have created lifesavers to help us beat the heat and humidity.

Humidity causes dry hair to absorb water vapor from the air, causing curly hair to frizz and fine hair to go limp. Heat styling also causes dryness to hair and makes the reaction to humidity worse, so use Amika Obliphica Hair Treatment to prevent frizz and protect hair from harsh temps.

Make Dr.Dennis Gross your right hand man when the sun is beating down. His Powerful Sun Protection SPF 30 Towelettes are super-portable and great to carry around with you wherever you go. Even just a few minutes of exposure can do damage, so it’s always a good idea to practice safe sun.

And lastly, you can’t let the weather interrupt your makeup regimine. Use NARS Makeup Primer with SPF 20 directly before applying your makeup to protect your face and allow your makeup to last longer. As an added bonus, it is moisturizing so it helps things glide on smoothly.

—Shana

For more hot weather beauty savers, visit the Birchbox Shop!

Skin Rx: Which Anti-Aging Products are Right for You?


In this week’s installment of Skin Rx, Rachel, our brand manager/aesthetician takes on a complicated subject: anti-aging. How early is too early for eye cream? What should you be doing in your 40s so that you’ll be wrinkle-free well into your 60s? Read on to find out.

In your 20s…

Begin to incorporate a super emollient eye cream into your regimen. Dr. Dennis Gross’s Lift and Lighten is ideal because it has de-puffing and tightening qualities. Quarterly facials are an important proactive step at this age — they’ll pay off in the long run.

In your 30s…

Choose products that have AHA’s (Alpha Hydroxy Acids - the most well-known is glycolic acid) in the ingredients.Try Juice Beauty’s Green Apple Peel, which uses a slew of natural fruit acids — apple, grape, orange — to erase fine lines and keep skin turning over new cells. Follow with the brand’s Stem Cellular Repair moisturizer. Invest in professional skin care treatments like hydrating facials and microdermabrasion.

In your 40s…

Antioxidants are your best friend. Both vitamin A and vitamin C serums have antioxidants that help reduce the amount of damage that free radicals do to our cells. In addition, using a rich night cream will keep your skin hydrated during the time that it works the hardest! Befine Night Cream is a great choice.

In your 50s and 60s…

Use serums that have peptides in them. Peptides alleviate the signs of aging by increasing collagen production. This helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles and makes the skin thicker. This is also a great time to begin chemical peels and continue with microdermabrasion. The Dr. Gross Alpha Beta Peel is a great at-home treatment in between professional visits!

For all ages: Don’t forget about those good old treatments: sleep and hydration! Both of these help combat signs of aging.

Keep up with our Skin Rx series here.

Read all our skincare-related content here.

Banishing Acne Scars: Dr. Dennis Gross Answers

Via our Dr. Dennis Gross Facebook contest, fans submitted their most fervent skincare questions for the guru. Three lucky contestants not only received answers straight from the M.D. himself (see one fan’s query, and Dr. Gross’ advice, below), but they’re also getting free products from his coveted line!

All-In-One Cleansing Foam, $36, dgskincare.com

Q: How can I prevent and get rid of acne scarring?

—Lydia Goerner

Dr. Denis Gross: It is understandably tempting to pop a pimple to try and minimize its appearance, but this is one temptation I urge you to resist. The pressure from nails can cause broken blood vessels and permanent scarring.

Acne-scarring usually becomes more noticeable with age. The quality and quantity of our collagen diminishes with age, any depressions in our face appear deeper and any elevations look thicker. Any treatments that enhance collagen production, such as peels, vitamin C, lasers, and Retinol, can help thicken skin to make all scars look less visible.

Dry Winter Skin: Dr. Dennis Gross Answers

Via our Dr. Dennis Gross Facebook contest, fans submitted their most fervent skincare questions for the guru. Three lucky contestants not only received answers straight from the M.D. himself (see one fan’s query, and Dr. Gross’ advice, below), but they’re also getting free products from his coveted line!


Hydra-Pure Oil-Free Moisture, $78, dgskincare.com

Q: In the winter time, my skin gets really dry. I drink plenty of water and put on tons of lotion, but my skin still gets very flakey. What else can I do to keep my skin moisturized and protected from the cold dry climate?

Alissa Lofredo McKenzie

Dr. Gross: Skin produces less oil in the winter due to the absence of sunlight and heat. High temperatures (during the spring and summer months) cause our bodies to produce more natural oils. This production slows in the winter, resulting in dry skin.

There is less humidity in winter air and this causes moisture to evaporate off of our skin. Warm baths and hot showers (which we are inclined to take when it’s cold) have a drying effect, plus the chlorination in our tap water is stripping. Skip hot baths and showers and choose cleansers that don’t completely strip the skin of its natural oils. Another great trick is adding bath oils to a bath.

After a shower or bath try this technique for moisturizing—keep the bathroom door closed to preserve the steam. Gently towel dry your body and apply moisturizer to skin that is saturated.

It is still important to exfoliate your skin during the winter because dry skin can clog pores, but stay away from scrub cleansers because they can be too harsh on dry skin. Remember that dry skin is out of balance and it behaves like sensitive skin so it will become easily irritated. To avoid irritation, try chemical exfoliation with products that contain gentle Alpha and Beta Hydroxy acids.

Learn about Dr. Dennis Gross and shop his fantastic skincare products.

Preventing Wrinkles Around The Eyes: Dr. Dennis Gross Answers

Via our Dr. Dennis Gross Facebook contest, fans submitted their most fervent skincare questions for the guru. Three lucky contestants not only received answers straight from the M.D. himself (see one fan’s query, and Dr. Gross’ advice, below), but they’re also getting free products from his coveted line!

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Hydra-Pure Firming Eye Cream, $90, dgskincare.com

Q: What’s your recommendation for preventing wrinkles around the eyes? I already use a moisturizer but feel like I should be doing more (I’m almost 30).

—Rachel Roland

Dr. Gross: Kick off your anti-aging regimen by using a moisturizing undereye cream or gel. Typically, the eye area is the first part of the face to look a little aged because the skin there is especially thin and so much more prone to the lines caused by wear and tear and sun damage. Treat lines around the eyes with a moisturizing eye cream that also contains antioxidants, sunscreen, Vitamin C, and Retinol.

Believe it or not, retraining ourselves not to make some very basic facial expressions, such as scowling, can make all the difference in minimizing the appearance of lines. Whenever we feel tense or angry, if we consciously take a moment to take a few deep breaths, it will not only benefit our psyche and ability to make a clear decision, but also our skin, since it will force us to relax our facial muscles.

Learn about Dr. Dennis Gross and shop his fantastic skincare products.