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First Day of School Prep: High School Edition

Our school days are long behind us, but we still get nostalgic around this time of year. That was the impetus behind Head of the Class, our latest limited edition box, and our Back to School shop category. And with the start of classes right around the corner, we asked a real teen—Birchbox Blog star Becca Zimmerman—to clue us in to how the kids are prepping for school these days.

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The week before school starts can be a little bit stressful: finishing up summer reading, buying school supplies, and, of course, making sure that you come in to classes looking and feeling amazing. Here are a couple ways I’m kickstarting my routine before the first day:

One of the most important things about first day prep is having clear, healthy skin.  An exfoliator is great because it gets rid of dead skin cells and buildup on top of your skin, and makes it feel smooth and refreshed.  You can use a daily exfoliator in the shower, like Yes To Grapefruit Daily Facial Scrub, or you can use a more powerful exfoliator once or twice a week.  My favorite exfoliator of all time is WEI’s Pomegranate Buffing Beads, which feel kind of like sand from the beach, but make your skin so soft afterwards. If you are new to exfoliators or have sensitive skin, I suggest using a daily scrub every two or three days and then build your way up to something more powerful so that you don’t hurt or dry out your skin.

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We’ve Got the Itch—And We Don’t Like It!

K.O the itch with this lush body scrub from uberchic French brand NUXE. (Photo: neutrogena.com)

Unless you’re lucky enough to live in a tropical paradise, you’ve probably experienced the dry, itchy skin that comes with wintry weather conditions.

Not only is itchy skin uncomfortable, but for us New Yorkers it has major social repercussions—one scratch too many, and you might be suspected of carrying the city’s dreaded scourge: bedbugs.

Rather than let this beauty no-no turn me into a social leper, I’ve turned to NUXE’s Fondant Body Scrub to stave off itchy, flaky, and cracked skin. While I used to think rich body butters alone would do the trick (amassing a lifetime supply in the process as part of my valiant efforts), I recently discovered my reasoning was a bit misguided.

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Cocktails & DIY Spa Treatments = At-Home Retreat

We fell hard for Natalie Alcala last fall, when the LA-based writer and blogger spent a week guest blogging for us. In fact, we loved her posts so much that we asked her to be a contributing editor. In addition to blogging for us once a week, she’ll also be writing for the Birchbox Magazine and keeping us up to speed on all things fashion, beauty, and fun.

Photo: Esperanza Resort

Given my obvious obsession with luxurious spa experiences, you’d think that I’ve seen it all when it comes to over-the-top pampering perks. I thought I was pretty savvy too, until I heard about Auberge Resorts’ ridiculously cool seasonal spa pairing packages. The concept: take spa treatments and match them with handcrafted cocktails that use similar ingredients. Genius much?

Sadly, we can’t all run off to swanky spa retreats. Instead, I’ll be doing the next best thing: pairing these four DIY Beauty Treatments with four tasty cocktails. 

1. Cleopatra’s Beauty Mask and a Pineapple Cherry Amaretto Sour: A fruity face mask matches perfectly with this tropical tippler, a blend of amaretto, cherry and pineapple juice, and seltzer water.

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How to Prep Your Skin for Summer: Guest Blogger

Blair Badge is one multi-talented lady: she’s a social media manager, a beauty editor for fashion site Chictopia, a model, a newlywed and an all-around awesome gal with a penchant for witty banter. Her dreamy blog, love, blair, is a heady mix of all her talents in one and we can’t get enough of her style and beauty advice. This week, she’s sharing her DIY beauty tips, like how to create a pretty custom lip color and how to get perfect beachy waves.

Let’s face it—bikini season is a challenge. It’s often daunting to think of those upcoming summer months knowing our post-hibernation bods will soon be on display. Here are a few tricks for whipping your skin into shape for summer!

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Dollars & Sense: Why This Exfoliating Mitt Beats a New Top

Our pick of the week: Back in our pre-Birchbox days, we thought exfoliation was synonymous with harsh scrubs or grubby washcloths that felt like sandpaper on our skin. Now we know that’s so old school. Thanks to the help of gentle exfoliators like MicrodermaMitt’s Face Mitt, we can get a smooth complexion without stripping away a whole layer of skin—cue happy dance.  

Inspired by Turkish spa treatments, this dermatologist-approved mitt is made of 100 percent natural floss silk, which gives it a soft, finely grained texture that’s a far cry from the washcloths of yore. Plus, it’s super fun to use: just slip your hand into the mitt, wet it under a running faucet, and glide it across your skin—no separate cleanser necessary. It gets rid of all the oil, dirt, makeup, and dead cells that clog your pores and lead to breakouts, and our experience proves that it will leave your skin softer with just one use. Incorporate it into your weekly regimen, and over time it will help fade the look of the scars, sun spots, and fine lines that mar your topmost layers of skin (pretty cool, right?). 

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We Dig These Yummy Body Scrubs

I spent this past winter in semi-hibernation mode, bundled up in sweaters and hiding my legs in thick jeans. But when the weather finally warmed up last week, I took one look at my newly exposed arms and legs and realized they were mega-dry after a season’s worth of neglect. In search of a solution, I tested out dirt, an eco-friendly brand that is new to the Birchbox Shop. Each of their all-natural body scrubs is formulated around a single hero ingredient—like salt, sugar, and pumice—and they work to moisturize skin as they exfoliate. Click through to learn more about why they’re exactly what you need this season.

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Slough It Off: You’ve Got Male

birchboxman:

Some guys use whatever soap is in the shower. Others carefully consider the field and select the best option. Eric, our resident grooming god, falls in the latter camp. Once a week, he’ll be sharing his product findings and lifestyle tips.


Although we here in NYC are currently in the midst of winter, it’s both important and encouraging to think toward summer when more skin will be showing. Exfoliation is easy for the guys to forget about, especially when it comes to their bodies, but it’s an important step to help remove dead skin and allow new skin cells to make their way to the surface. In order to have a healthy clear complexion, exfoliating is a necessity.

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Skin Rx: Summer Wedding Season

Opa! Katia’s wedding in Greece last summer.

Once you hit a certain age, summers cease to be about barbeques and pool parties and instead turn into an endless string of weddings. It seems like every week, at least one person on the Birchbox team is headed off to a weekend wedding. Beach weddings, urban weddings, Vineyard weddings — no matter what kind of wedding, you’ll want your skin looking extra great (after all, there are all those photo ops!).

Here’s my foolproof plan to getting a glowing complexion by the day of the event.

Two weeks before: Deep pore cleansing facial — if you’re in NYC go to Mario Badescu. Make sure you stick to your skincare regimen for the next two weeks religiously.

One week before: Give yourself an at-home peel — I like Juice’s Green Apple Peel.

Three days before: At night, exfoliate skin and apply a self tanner like Dr. Dennis Gross’s Glow Pad to face and decollete (bonus - it has built in exfoliators!). Use eye cream religiously for next three days and nights, and drink lots of water.

Night before: Exfoliate and re-Glow Pad. Make sure to drink tons of water and eat a low sodium dinner. Use a a great moisturizer before you go to bed - face and body!

Day of: Again, keep up with the water and low sodium diet! Make sure to moisturize (even if it’s hot!) to avoid dull looking skin. If it’s an outdoor wedding, don’t forget your sunscreen. Nobody wants to be burnt in those pictures!

—Rachel

Catch up on your Skin Rx posts here, and shop all our favorite skincare products in our Shop.

Obsession: Dr. Gross Alpha Beta Peel

When I was in high school I once had a professional peel that took off half my face and left me patchy, tomato red, and very very sad. It was a decade before I tried another peel. I was happy to find that during my peel hiatus the technology had gotten light years better. Though they sound incredibly intense, peels are actually just chemical exfoliation treatments that dissolve the layer of dead skin to uncover the fresh, healthy stuff underneath. My latest obsession is Dr. Dennis Gross’s Extra Strength Alpha Beta Peel.

This two-step at-home treatment is the mother of all peels. You’ll see results, and fast. The combination of powerful glycolic acids and soothing ingredients evens out the texture of your face, lightens any hyper-pigmentation, and generally makes you look brighter and healthier. Best of all, there are no ouchy side effects. Once I tried these I quickly became addicted - I even got into the habit of taking a little work break every afternoon to do my peel at my desk (anything for procrastination, huh). My skin felt a little tingly for a couple minutes but I barely turned red and I never had any peeling or irritation. I even got Lorelei, one of our most sensitive-skinned team members, to try it and she had no problems. Now that I’ve worked my way through my entire 30-day package there’s only one thing to do: get more! There’s no turning back once you’re hooked.

Learn why exfoliation is so unbelievably important (including why your expensive creams can’t do a darn thing if you don’t exfoliate).

Try the Alpha Beta Peel for yourself! Pick it up in the Birchbox Shop.