Get your girly on - my two favorite beauty routine helpers

BlogHer Original Post

I love to try products, and I love to talk about them - but I thought I'd share two of my favorite beauty items that don't come in a bottle...and will work for everyone.

As I've mentioned before, I'm a big fan of what I've dubbed 'action cosmetics.' Face masques that heat up, exfoliaters that tingle, gels and lotions that firm or create a realistic tan - I've tried endless products. I have different favorites for different seasons, but I've got one constant in my life: my Japanese scrubby cloth.

This $3 wonder has been part of my life since I was 14 years old. I received one in my Christmas stocking from our family's Japanese exchange student, Mio. At first, I tossed the cellophane wrapped rectangle into my dresser, but Mio calmly pulled it out of the package and explained.

With just the tiniest amount of soap or cleanser, this long, ribbed cloth quickly built up a lather. She explained that a daily exfoliation would prevent ingrown hairs (the bane of my exisitence when shaving my legs as a young teen) and would stimulate my skin, improving blood flow and helping keep my skin fresh-looking.

At the time, I had been scrubbing my face raw with those white buffing pads, and then doing the same to my poor, acne-prone back with the use of a long wooden handle with a buffing pad attached. I might as well have been using steel wool, because my skin was raw, torn and inflamed. The Japanese scrubby cloth, which is as long as a scarf, allowed me to gently exfoliate my back, as well as the rest of my body and face, with a minimum of product and no weird contortions or inadvertent whacking of the back of my head with a wooden handle.

Within a week, I noticed a dramatic improvement in my skin's look and feel While I still struggled with acne for most of my teenaged/early adult years (it just dawned on me that I'm not an early adult anymore - scream with me?) the ingrown hairs were gone, and my skin was looking and feeling much healthier.

Over the years, I've tested out exfoliating gels, sugar scrubs, apricot masques, you name it. I always come back to the simple, machine-washable, gentle but effective scrubby cloth. You can pick them up in most drug stores or Asian groceries.

My other favorite beauty helper is my shower cap. In a perfect world, I would shower once a day, and stay perfectly coiffed and fresh as a daisy until my next shower. In my world, a combination of color-treated hair that dislikes being washed daily, plus parenting - a job that sometimes feels like digging ditches, and is certainly filthy work - can add up to the need to leap into the shower frequently for a quick hose-off, without soaking my hair.

Enter the shower cap. I suppose you could stick with the utilitarian clear plastic models, or *gasp* wrap your head in a plastic bag or just pin it up before jumping into the shower, but I recommend getting yourself a glam model. I have the Benefit Bathina Shower Cap - a fun pink cap with retro bathers on it... but I mean seriously - look at these beauties! And these? How fun are these?

I can quickly leap into the shower and protect my hair from any flying water or soap (since you know I'm all gleefully exfoliating with the scrubby cloth) and leap out again. Then the option is there to either yank off the cap and fluff my hair quickly, or to leave it on and sing into my hairbrush like an extra from a 1950s teenybopper flick.  Either way, the shower cap saves the day.

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