+ Makeup

Quick Beauty Queries Vol. I, No. Eight


You posted about those Peter Thomas Roth acne treatment dots some weeks ago.  Do they really work?

Thanks! Jo

They do work.  Perhaps not as quickly as I would like, but I use them on deep cystic blemishes, and they help.  The best part is how much they reduce the redness and swelling, it makes acne much easier to cover-up acne with concealer.

If you’re looking for something cheaper, SmartMed has a similar product.

Hi Belle,

As we enter this tough weather season, my nails break from their usual “short” to “looking like I bite them” (which I don’t). Do you have suggestions for anything I can apply to my nails to strengthen them during the dry winter? LOVE your blog!!!


First, keep your hands well moisturized.  I like Okeeffe’s Working Hands Cream.  Second, if your health will allow, add a pre-natal vitamin to your daily routine.  The folic acid, biotin, and B-vitamins will strengthen your hair and nails.  Lastly, try a nail strengthener like the reader-recommended Nailtiques Formula 2.

Further, ditch the alcohol-based hand sanitizers.  I adore this foaming, mandarin-scented sanitizer from Babyganics.

Hi Belle,

I’ve never thought about the type of hairbrush I use, but I’ve heard about the wonders of the Mason Pearson brushes

Do you own one/do you think it’s worth the splurge? What type of hairbrush do you use? I don’t blow-dry my hair and am very low-maintenace, but if simply brushing your hair with a decent brush can make it look better, then I’m all for it.

Thanks, AB

Different hair brushes have different uses.  Different hair types also benefit from different kinds of brushes.  For a helpful guide, check out this post from The Beauty Department.

I love this Aveda paddle brush.  I’ve been using this type of brush for 17 years.  For blow-drying, I like these ceramic round brushes from Spornette.  If I’m just doing a quick blow-dry, and I want the volume without the curl, this Conair brush does the trick.

Hi Belle,

My makeup-removing wipes are tearing up my skin (stupid dry winter air!).  Do you have suggestions for a gentler wipe?  Or an alternative product to wash the day away?

Stripped and Dried

I find Simple’s Micellar wipes to be much easier on my skin than other wipes I’ve used.  You can also use Simple’s Micellar cleansing water with a reusable muslin cloth.

For alternative suggestion, try the Makeup Eraser.  Add warm water to the cloth and it will remove all of your makeup, no soap needed.  For an all-natural makeup remover, S.W. Basics makes simple products with ingredient-labels you can read.



  1. Elizabeth says:

    AB, if you have curly or wavy hair, a brush probably isn’t your friend. I never blow-dry my hair and have fairly straight hair and I almost exclusively use a wide-tooth, seamless comb that I bought from an Etsy seller called Eternally in Amber. I occasionally go over my hair with a boar bristle brush (which you can find pretty cheap at beauty supply stores) if I feeling like my scalp oils need distributing. I used to have a Mason Pearson brush and never found it worth the hype.

    Stripped and Dried, I have to remove stage makeup when I perform and find that most makeup wipes make my skin sting. I’ve started using Acure Organic’s Unscented Argan Cleansing Towelettes. They’re oil-based, so they don’t dry out my skin, but they remove all my tough makeup.

    December 8, 2015/Reply
    • AB says:

      Good to know, thank you! My hair ranges from wavy to curly, so I’ll skip out on this purchase. I’ll try out the wide-tooth comb and the Aveda brush (both will be wayyy cheaper than the Mason Pearson brush). I’m so hopeless when it comes to hair care haha

      December 8, 2015/Reply
  2. heatherskib says:

    I have the Aveda brush and have found that it works wonders on multiple hair types. My niece lived with us for a while and it’s the only hair brush that didn’t make her cry drying her thick straight hair that was VERY tangle prone from romping on playgrounds at school all day. Personally, like the OP, I’m a low maintenance girl myself. My daily routine is washing with a shampoo for damaged hair, no conditioner because the shampoo has enough oils to keep my hair pretty healthy. I brush my towel dried hair with this brush and have no breakage issues. For the record I have short, straight, fine hair.

    December 8, 2015/Reply
  3. Lindsay says:

    Do you use the makeup remover and then wash your face? I noticed the other day that all of my makeup wasn’t coming off when I just washed it.

    December 8, 2015/Reply
    • LS says:

      Yes! I didn’t figure this out until recently, too.

      When I wear eye makeup, I use eye makeup remover first, then a regular remover (right now I’m using Boscia Makeup Breakup Oil), and then cleanser. Even then sometimes it doesn’t come totally off, but I can’t deal with any more products.

      December 8, 2015/Reply
    • Belle says:


      December 9, 2015/Reply
  4. DW says:

    Stripped and Dried, check out Clinique’s Take the Day Off Balm. It starts as a solid, warms to a liquid in your hands, and rinses off as a milky liquid when combined with warm water. It is strong enough to get off liquid liner and my waterproof eyebrow pomade, and gentle enough that my skin always feels better after using the balm. A little goes a long way!
    Oh, and if you’re on the East Coast and we have another Polar Vortex – slather your face in Aquaphor. Good luck!

    December 8, 2015/Reply
    • CL says:

      Take the Day off is great removing make up but it broke me out :/ Really wanted to like it. But I have found the perfect cleanser thanks to a comment on this blog: Eclos Cleansing Oil. When I use a toner on cotton afterwards theres no sign of any make up residue (and I use hardcore mascaras!) and it gives me baby skin. I’m acne prone so was hesitant at first using an oil cleanser but its amazing.

      December 9, 2015/Reply
  5. JR says:

    I’m a fan of oldie-but-goodie Pond’s Cold Cream when it comes to makeup removal in the winter. I made the switch a few years ago when my more soap-y cleanser was leaving me horribly dry! Just a thin layer, massage it to break up the makeup, then wipe off with a warm damp washcloth. Sometimes I make a second pass to make sure everything is gone. It keeps my skin really well moisturized, even when I use it in conjunction with BHAs.

    (Of course, I realize this is a little less disposable than makeup wipes, but I just buy a cheap pack of wash cloths from target so the nice ones don’t get makeup-stained! Also I’ve found that if the cloths are a little scrubby it really helps get rid of everything.)

    December 8, 2015/Reply
  6. Melissa says:

    I use coconut oil and a small cotton pad to remove makeup, then follow with a gentle face wash with warm water and a washcloth (like JR cheap ones so I don’t worry about staining. It seems less wasteful than wipes too. This works really well for my skin, which is almost 40 and super clear, though a little on the dry side with an occasionally oily T-zone.

    December 8, 2015/Reply
    • Jenn S. says:

      Coconut oil can do a great job cleaning makeup! Some people (myself included, boo) can break out from it (not so much due to a reaction so much as coconut oil can be comedogenic).

      I haven’t tried the Simple Micellar wipes, but I have tried their other varieties. They’re all decent. I like the original Ponds wipes, too. Currently using the Kirkland ones from Costco, though; they get the job done okay, I just wish they weren’t as scented.

      December 8, 2015/Reply
    • Anna says:

      I use coconut oil for eye makeup. My eyes tend to just suck up makeup (I’ll look like in wearing eyeliner two-three days after a night out) and it’s the only thing that gets heavy evening makeup off. I’ve felt like I was going to scrub my eyelids off with old makeup removers but with this, I massage it in then wipe away with a damp cotton pad.

      December 8, 2015/Reply
      • Jenn says:

        If you’re very acne-prone, you can use a high-linoleic oil like grapeseed oil to take off eye makeup. Coconut oil on my face is a no-go for me, but I’ve never had a problem with grapeseed.

        December 9, 2015/Reply
  7. trixie says:

    The British company Kent makes wonderful paddle brushes that are an affordable alternative to the Mason Pearson. I have very wavy and they do tame my waves, without causing frizz.

    December 8, 2015/Reply
  8. Jill says:

    I also have had my Aveda paddle brush for years. Amazing how well it’s help up and how much I like it on both wet and dry hair. Oddly, my smaller Aveda brush comes apart — the rubber part pops out of the frame — but never with the paddle brush.

    December 9, 2015/Reply