Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Product Review: LeanPops Silicone Popsicle Molds + Giveaway! (US/Can only)

LeanPops are silicone popsicle molds for creating healthy homemade frozen treats. They're simple to make and are a great alternative to unhealthy desserts packed with artificial sweeteners and additives. They are the perfect snack for anyone, especially kids.

LeanPops are extremely durable, flexible, mess free and easy to clean. Because the popsicle molds are reusable, you can make an endless amount of delicious recipe variations, pour them into the popsicle molds, freeze them, and repeat over and over again. We also give away our eBook filled with 20 recipes completely free with every purchase.

Right now, the product is priced at $16 for the 4-pack of popsicles which includes the free recipe eBook.

Here are some of LeanPops features:
  • LeanPops are made of 100% food grade silicone for safety.
  • The popsicle molds are BPA free, latex free and non-toxic.
  • Cleaning up’s simple because LeanPops are dishwasher safe.
  • Functional lids fit snug for no messy drips, spills, or leaks.
  • If you don’t finish, pop the top back on and save the rest.


Man, oh man, I am in absolute LOVE with LeanPops! This set of super convenient popsicle molds allows you to make popsicles—frozen GoGurt-style! I love the squeeze tube aspect of the molds; it's an innovative, less messy take on homemade popsicles. These reusable silicone molds hold a pretty small amount of volume, so not only do they help with portion control, but their slim design also helps speed up the freezing process. It only takes a couple hours for liquids to freeze in them. (One hour gets you a yummy frozen treat in slushy consistency—also amazing!).

The best part about them is the popsicles you can make yourself. The possibilities are endless, which makes it so exciting. For a quick and easy popsicle, just pour in fruit juice, fruit purée (like applesauce or mashed bananas), or fat-free yogurt. To spice things up, add in a tablespoon or so of chopped fresh fruit, cacao nibs, and whatever other mix-ins you desire. I went a little further and wanted to add protein to my first batch of popsicles, so I made AMAZING green Greek yogurt pops. Here's a quick recipe:
  • 1 cup green juice smoothie (I used Trader Joe's all-natural brand, but Naked has a version too)
  • 3/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh fruit (I love pineapple, mango, blueberries, or strawberries for this particular recipe, but you can use anything you want!)
Mix all ingredients together until juice and yogurt are homogeneously combined. You should get a smooth, greenish-gray color—not the prettiest thing I've eaten, but so, so delicious! You can whisk them together with a fork, or you can just add everything into a blender. Carefully pour into LeanPop molds, put lids on, and freeze for at least two hours. Makes 4 servings.
To get the most out your healthy treats, I recommend you use 100% fruit juices, without added sugars or flavorings—those are the healthiest juices out there. Always be sure to read the nutrition facts and ingredients label before consuming; some juices are laden with refined sugars and can be as unhealthy as sugary store-bought popsicles.

For super health freaks like me, a little warning: I know it's common practice to dilute fruit juices with water or club soda to make them last longer, and to cut calories. It doesn't translate well with LeanPops. When you freeze sweet foods, their molecules expand and taste less sweet (that's why frozen fruit never tastes as sweet as fresh or canned, and why melted ice cream is unbearably sweet!). I tried using my usual diluted juice to make popsicles, and the result wasn't terrible, but they did have a rather ice-like texture and taste to them. Not the end of the world, but if you want sweet, yet all-natural popsicles, add in water at your own risk.

Overall LeanPops are a fabulous, money-saving, and waistline-saving alternative to ice cream—perfect for the heat of summer! The best part is that YOU get to control what goes into your own popsicles, so you're always guaranteed to have yummy, natural treats without preservatives or refined sugar.


One lucky Books à la Mode reader will win a full set of LeanPops—that's four food-grade silicone popsicle molds and lids! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
If you had LeanPops, what kind of popsicle would you make first? Tell me what ingredient combinations you would use—there are so many great possibilities!
Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the retailer—a huge thank you to the fabulous folks LeanPops!
Giveaway ends August 13th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open internationally—there are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize after they have been notified, otherwise risk forfeiting their winnings.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

FTC Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using However, I was not paid in any way to write a review—positive or otherwise—and all thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone. I only recommend products or services I have used personally and believe will be good for my beautiful readers!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin Giveaway! (US/Can only)

The Fortune Hunter
Daisy Goodwin
Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Empress Elizabeth of Austria, known as Sisi, is the Princess Diana of nineteenth-century Europe. Famously beautiful, as captured in a portrait with diamond stars in her hair, she is unfulfilled in her marriage to the older Emperor Franz Joseph. Sisi has spent years evading the stifling formality of royal life on her private train or yacht or, whenever she can, on the back of a horse.

Captain Bay Middleton is dashing, young, and the finest horseman in England. He is also impoverished, with no hope of buying the horse needed to win the Grand National—until he meets Charlotte Baird. A clever, plainspoken heiress whose money gives her a choice among suitors, Charlotte falls in love with Bay, the first man to really notice her, for his vulnerability as well as his glamour. When Sisi joins the legendary hunt organized by Earl Spencer in England, Bay is asked to guide her on the treacherous course. Their shared passion for riding leads to an infatuation that jeopardizes the growing bond between Bay and Charlotte, and threatens all of their futures.

This brilliant new novel by Daisy Goodwin is a lush, irresistible story of the public lives and private longings of grand historical figures.


Books à la Mode is giving away a print copy of The Fortune Hunter—hooray!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
Who is your favorite grand historical figure? What time period is he or she from?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Daisy and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher—a huge thank you to St. Martin's Press!
Giveaway ends August 12th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada readers only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open internationally. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize after they have been notified, otherwise risk forfeiting their winnings.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Inspiration for The Virtues of Oxygen by Susan Schoenberger + Giveaway! (US/Can only)

The Virtues of Oxygen
Susan Schoenberger

From the award-winning author of A Watershed Year comes a heartrending story of unlikely bonds made under dire straits. Holly is a young widow with two kids living in a ramshackle house in the same small town where she grew up wealthy. Now barely able to make ends meet editing the town’s struggling newspaper, she manages to stay afloat with help from her family. Then her mother suffers a stroke, and Holly’s world begins to completely fall apart.

Vivian has lived an extraordinary life, despite the fact that she has been confined to an iron lung since contracting polio as a child. Her condition means she requires constant monitoring, and the close-knit community joins together to give her care and help keep her alive. As their town buckles under the weight of the Great Recession, Holly and Vivian, two very different women both touched by pain, forge an unlikely alliance that may just offer each an unexpected salvation.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

6 Heart Review: The Sweet Spot by Stephanie Evanovich

The Sweet Spot
Stephanie Evanovich

Page Count: 272

Release Date: July 8th 2014
Publisher: William Morrow (Harper Collins)
Source: Complimentary ARC provided by publisher via tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

A sizzling story of everyone’s favorite couple from amazing Stephanie Evanovich’s New York Times bestseller Big Girl Panties: hunky professional baseball player Chase Walker and his sassy wife Amanda.

When pro baseball player Chase Walker first meets Amanda at her restaurant, it’s love at first sight. While Amanda can’t help noticing the superstar with the Greek-god-build, he doesn’t have a chance of getting to first—or any other—base with her. A successful entrepreneur who’s built her business from scratch, Amanda doesn’t need a Prince Charming to sweep her off her feet. And a curvy girl who likes to cook and eat isn’t interested in being around the catty, stick-thin herd of females chasing Chase and his teammates.

But Chase isn’t about to strike out. A man who isn’t interested in playing the field, he’s a monogamist who wants an independent woman like Amanda. His hopes rally when she discovers that squeaky-clean Chase has a few sexy and very secret pre-game rituals that turn the smart, headstrong businesswoman on—and into his number one fan.

Then a tabloid discovers the truth and turns their spanking good fun into a late-night punchline. Is Amanda ready to let loose and swing for the fences? Or will the pressure of Chase’s stardom force them to call it quits?
"Chase," [Amanda] began steadily, but her voice cracked as soon as she said his name, "you seemed like you really knew what you were doing there."
"I do," he stated, very matter of fact, seemingly engrossed in [his paper], but with the corners of his mouth starting to turn up.
"Like you've done that sort of thing before."
"I have." He grinned, turning the page and scanning it.

"And that if we keep seeing each other, it's something you'll want to do again?"
"I will." He nodded, still grinning.

His two-word, nonchalant answers and perceived lack of interest was starting to completely unnerve her. She hadn't even come out directly to say what she was talking about and he was behaving like they had entered into a pact that only he was privy to.
"What if I don't want you to?"
Chase finally looked up from his paper, his eyes spearing her from across the granite island. "Then you better not be naughty."

The highly anticipated prequel to Stephanie Evanovich's Big Girl Panties, The Sweet Spot is the story of how Chase and Amanda Walker met, fell in love, fell out, and ended up together—detailedly following the fiery couple with very singular tastes that we all know and love from the first book. I was a huge fan of the pair in Big Girl Panties, but was disappointed with them in The Sweet Spot. In BGP, we only had short, sporadic moments with both Chase and Amanda, but whenever we did, they were always funny, always charming, and always erotic. In The Sweet Spot, all of that fades to the background and what we're left with is a rather forceful and obsessed alpha hero, lots of unnecessary angst, and mediocre sex. Evanovich proves in this flashback novel that sometimes, using your imagination to know what goes on behind the scenes is better than actually going behind the scenes yourself.

It wasn't a terrible read, by any means. It isn't outstanding or anywhere near as funny as Big Girl Panties, but it is a simple, predictable boy-meets-girl romance with entertaining banter and a light flavor of kink. Featuring two characters who are feisty in their own way—a dominant, all-American celebrity athlete and a beautiful, fiercely independent restaurant owner—it's rather amusing and a light, airy read, but along those lines, it isn't complex or suspenseful either. The plot progresses very straightforwardly, and there's really no building action or climax; things just happen. Chase and Amanda just do things. There's no real action or development, and that's one of the biggest issues I had with the book.

Obviously, a complication in reviewing this novel is that my opinions are not absolute, but wholly relative. While reading The Sweet Spot, I couldn't help but compare it to Big Girl Panties the entire time—and by compare, I mean bitch to myself about how it wasn't as good as the prior. It just isn't. Evanovich's style is flatter, with lots of telling over showing, and her trademark humor (that I loved in Holly, the protagonist of BGP) just isn't there. I thought the aspect of Chase and Amanda's little bedroom hobby—a little light spanking, nothing explicit—would be sexy at least, but it wasn't. Whatever sexual chemistry that was supposed to be formed between them was completely rushed, and if anything, the "kink" is more of a tongue-in-cheek twist on eroticism; I found it more ridiculous than hot.

Lastly... the one character I couldn't take seriously was the ever-serious Mr. Chase Walker baseball-extraordinaire himself. I know his relentless pursuit of Amanda and over-the-top romantic affections are supposed to show he's the ultimate "alpha male," but they really made him seem corny, pathetic, and REALY CREEPY. –Spoiler alert!– When Amanda initially snubs him, he pretty much stalks her, showing up at her work every day for a few weeks straight, and even getting his security guys to find out where she lives. For a fictional Babe Ruth, he certainly has a lot of time on his hands!! –Spoiler end!– He also has the urge to consistently validate his masculinity by saying things like (verbatim!):
"My ego does not require I have a girlfriend half my size to make me a bigger man. I am already a monster. I do not want or need a woman I can bench-press. I prefer a woman of substance, with softness and curves. One I know is able to handle my passion, one that can nurture my babies."
Babies??????? He's about to bone a girl for the first time and he talks about babies???????!!!


Quickly paced, easy to get absorbed in // Entertaining banter between Chase and Amanda // Amanda is fun, likable


Rather disappointing; Chase and Amanda's relationship sounded better in Big Girl Panties than it actually was in The Sweet Spot // Very little character or relationship development // Overall pretty bland; very little excitement, no surprises, no twists // Chase sounds hot, but really annoying; I didn't think very highly of him // Logan is only mentioned once. What the hell is this a prequel for?!?!


The Sweet Spot, an account of the coming-together of the fun, flirty couple we first fell in love with in Big Girl Panties, overall was disappointing; it doesn't go in-depth with the relationship that I perceived as sizzling and complicated, and in fact, is rather watery and lacks any plot-forward action. While there are some amusing anecdotes about the celebrity lifestyle, true-to-life struggles with control and trust, and some good 'n' clean spanking (yes, I just said clean! Who knew S&M could be made so proper?), I think I was mainly let down because I expected so much after reading the first book. Stephanie Evanovich's sophomore novel isn't anything grand, but it does serve as a mushy romance between a hunky baseball player and a nice-girl business woman with the tendency to misbehave Americanflag

6 hearts: Decent for a first read, but I'm not going back; this book is decidedly average (whatever that means!) (x)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Page Girls Launch Week Giveaway! (Open internationally!)

This week marks the official launch of The Page Girls, a new online mag with an emphasis on books, cocktails, and female friendships. Each week, they publish a themed issue containing short stories, book reviews, personal and funny essays, videos, cocktail recipes, and more.

In celebration of this exciting website "birthday," The Page Girls is hosting a variety of fun giveaways and exclusive content all around the blogosphere.

Books à la Mode is hosting one of the giveaways today, so once you enter this one, head on over the The Page Girls's Birthday Week page and check out the others!


One lucky winner will take home one of the following books in digital format:
Another winner will be selected to win a fabulous set of The Page Girls coasters—a perfect complement to your cocktail glasses. Look how cute they are!

To enter, here's what you have to do:
Check out The Page Girls's past and current issues and tell me which article of theirs you like best! What's it on, and why did it catch your eye?
Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the author—a huge thank you to Cecily Gates!
Giveaway ends August 6th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open internationally—woohoo! That means anyone in the world can enter, provided you have a verifiable email address. However, the coaster set is limited to US residents only. Anyone outside of the US will only be eligible for the eBook giveaway.
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize after they have been notified, otherwise risk forfeiting their winnings.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Christmas in July Giveaway Hop! (Open internationally)

The Christmas in July Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Laurie Here, works like this: each participating blog hosts a giveaway and then we link up together allowing our followers to hop easily from one giveaway to another. For followers, it means lots of chances to win free books. For blogs hosting giveaways, it means lots of new visitors and followers. It's a win-win! The Christmas in July Giveaway Hop is scheduled from July 22nd at 12.01 AM until July 31st at 11:59 PM (EST).

The Prizes

One lucky follower will win their choice of ANY book from their wishlist. Any book you want!

The catch? Your choice of book MUST be Christmas or holiday-themed!

As always, winner gets to choose between eBook or print. 

What would you choose if you won?

And yes, we'll have ANOTHER winner for this amazing set of eBooks:

That's two winners total! Woohoo!!!!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Letter from Paris by Thérèse Giveaway! (US only)

Letter from Paris

Page Count: 240
Release Date: June 10th, 2014
Publisher: The Story Plant
Genre: Women's Fiction, Travel, France

India Butler's journey to America put her life on a new track. Now a trip to Paris threatens to derail her—or to to make things all they are supposed to be. With a new friend, a new job, a new lover... and an old lover, India is dealing with nearly as much as she can handle. But that's only the beginning.

The infectious sequel to India's Summer, Letter from Paris is witty, glamorous, incisive, and refreshingly real.

About the Author

Thérèse taught English and Drama at Grade school in the UK before establishing her publicity and events consultancy.

Events ranged from receptions for HRH Prince Charles at St. James's Palace to international high profile telethons.

She managed her husband'ss career and received the title "Lady" from Queen Elizabeth when they were honored for his work in education.

She has two grown children and lives in Los Angeles in a house, and in Paris in her imagination.


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Letter from Paris to one lucky reader—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What city in the world do you have a "dream home" in?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Thérèse and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher—a huge thank you to The Story Plant!
Giveaway ends August 4th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US residents only. Sorry, rest of the world! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently-running giveaways that are open worldwide.
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize after they have been notified, otherwise risk forfeiting their winnings.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Vitamin C Diaries #4: Skin Care Routine for Oily, Combination, and Acne-Prone Skin + La Deessa Giveaway! (US only)

Hello, pretty blog babes! I'm here with some recent updates with my Vitamin C serum experience, but first I wanted to share with you my regular daytime and night time skin care routine.

I use a LOT of different products—like makeup application, skin care is definitely a multi-step process—and a lot of them are higher end brands. I normally do not purchase super expensive "designer" makeup or clothing products but if it's going on my face, I'm going to want the best of the best. (I use drugstore mascaras, no-name brand lipsticks, and looooove Target... but for skin care, I don't care how much money I put in!).

My current routine is in no way perfect, and even I can say I'm not completely satisfied with it. I have skin trouble just like everyone else. However, it is what I am currently using, so this comprehensive list will give you guys general idea of what I do on a daily basis, and my thoughts on each product.


The first thing I do in the morning is wash my face. I have oily-combination skin so it is important for me to wash my face when I wake up! My current (and absolute favorite) face wash is Uriage Hyséac Cleansing Gel.
This stuff is absolutely amazing, and it's definitely one of my holy grail products. I've mentioned the Uriage Hyséac line on my blog before, and it is by far my most trusted skin care line. It targets clogged pores and blemishes—perfect for people struggling with acne, oily skin, and large pores—but is also hypoallergenic, which is great for sensitive skin, unlike most drugstore acne-targeted products. I used to have very problematic, acne-prone skin, and this stuff SAVED ME. I have been using it for years continuously and do not see myself stopping in the future.

The only problem with it is that it is a French brand (ooh la la!) so it is not available in the US. I have never seen this line at places like Sephora and Ulta, nor at department stores. I always either order it online, or stock up on it when I visit Korea, as they sell it at some pharmacies and at Olive Young.

I'll also warn you it's a pretty expensive line; the cleanser alone costs around $25 (5 oz.). Amazon has pretty reasonable sellers that may have them for cheaper, so I definitely recommend you check there. Over the years I've attempted to find more affordable cleansers that are still appropriate for my skin. So far, the search has been rather unsuccessful; I've always gone back to Hyséac, and every time I have done so, my skin instantly cleared up and felt smoother and softer. It's a miracle product, I tell you! Close runners up would be Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel and Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser.
I love Mario Badescu as a brand, and these cleansers are gentle and work as nice basic cleansers. Mario Badescu is more expensive than regular drugstore brands, but the Enzyme cleanser is still only $12 for a huge 8 oz. bottle, and the Glycolic cleanser is $15 for 6 oz. You can find these online or at Mario Badescu spas in New York. I wouldn't call either of them an amazing product, but they do make my face really soft, don't break me out, and smell really nice. The Enzyme cleanser is my "down day" cleanser; I use it interchangeably with the Hyséac gel, usually either in the nighttime, or when my skin is behaving really, really well and I don't need Hyséac to save me (as it always does). The Glycolic cleanser, I use as a clarifying cleanser once a week, just to really get deep into my pores and target acne. It is not recommended to use it more than three times a week, just because Glycolic Acid can be irritating for sensitive skin.

My only problem with the Enzyme cleanser is that it contains methylparaben, which doesn't really matter to me, but may bother some people. I don't use the Glycolic cleanser enough to have major beef with it. It foams up nicely and a little goes a loooong way. I'm pretty sure I'll be using this bottle for the next ten years LOL! It does make my face slightly red right after usage, but that's expected due to the high Glycolic Acid content. I use it at night only anyway, so it's not that big of a deal.

As you can see, I have an affinity for gel cleansers, and that's because they are perfect for oily skin. Unlike cream cleansers, which can contain comedogenic oils, gels are great for oily skin types like me. I would suggest staying away from them if you have dry skin, though; oil-free cream-based or liquid-based cleansers are great for dry skin.

Cleanser Alternative

If I have a morning workout, I'll skip the face-washing, just spritz on some facial mist, and blot the excess oil and moisture away. After I hit the gym, I'll jump in the shower and wash my face in there. The facial mist I'm using is Caudalie Organic Grape Water.
This is perfect for mornings where cleansing is unnecessary, or for people who have dry skin types and may not need to wash their face twice a day. It's refreshing, moisturizing, and gentle. It doesn't smell so great because it contains grape extracts, but it's not intolerable, and it doesn't last since the main ingredient is just water. It's pretty pricey as well—$18 for a 200 mL can—but totally worth it.

To blot the excess oil, I use regular oil absorbing sheets. I'm not picky about brand and will really use anything, but a cheap, tried-and-true product I use is Nature Republic Oil Control Film.
Nature Republic is a Korean "drugstore" beauty brand, but I love them because they are affordable and high-quality. As far as I know, these blotting sheets are only available in Korea or online. They only cost around $2.50 for a 50-sheet package. I don't only use these with the grape water; I use them all the time around midday to blot off my face whenever I feel myself getting oily. They instantly mattify your skin without smearing skin makeup (such as foundation or BB cream), so I carry a packet of these with me everywhere... in my schoolbag, my purse, my boyfriend's car... everywhere!


Immediately after cleansing, I dry my face completely and apply toner with a cotton ball. Toning is an important step in any skin care routine because not only does it target your pores and close them up after you wash your face, but the sweeping motion of the wet cotton ball picks up any remaining dirt or makeup from your face. It's like using a clarifying face wipe—I never skip this step!

Currently, I am using... you guessed it! Another Uriage product: Uriage Hyséac Deep Pore-Cleansing Lotion. "Lotion" apparently means "toner" in Europe; it's just a clear, watery toner liquid like any other.
Ugh, I am SO in love with this stuff! Again, it's pretty expensive; around $30 for 6.8 fl. oz. but it lasts a long time, so it's worth it as always. I have not experimented with other cheaper toners, and have not really wanted to, but I will let you know if I find anything just as good but better priced!

Acne Spot Treatment

Sometimes I skip this step, but if you have any specific pimples you want to target, it's best to spot treat right after toning so that the stuff penetrates your skin immediately. If you do this last like most people do, the acne treatment will have to go through layers of serum and moisturizer before getting to your skin, so I always do this step right after toning. Currently I am using both Kiehl's Blue Herbal Spot Treatment and Burt's Bees Herbal Blemish Stick.
The Blue Herbal Spot Treatment is a clear Salicylic Acid gel and is another one of my miracle products. However, at a whopping $18 for a teeny 0.5 oz. bottle, I knew I needed to explore my other options and found Burt's Bees ($8 for 0.26 oz.). I am not a huge fan of most Burt's Bees products (as I'm allergic to beeswax) but this blemish stick isn't bad. It is a heavily fragrant alcohol that you roll directly onto your blemishes. It's strong, but I feel like the application method isn't that sanitary. I don't find it as wildly effective as Kiehl's, but it does its job and is 100% natural, so I'm still a happy gal.

Burt's Bees is a standard drugstore brand that you can find everywhere (Walmart, Target, CVS, etc.), so I definitely recommend it if you want all-natural skin care products at a reasonable price and wide availability. Kiehl's... not so much. But the Blue Herbal gel is a wonder-product, so I will continue buying it until I go broke.

Vitamin C

So finally, the main point of this post... the ever-important Vitamin C serum! So far I am enjoying my Vitamin C exploration, and have tried dozens of different products. Most recently, I've tried La Deessa Premium Anti-Aging Elixir, which I adore!
As I've mentioned a countless number of times, the main reason I started using Vitamin C serums is for acne scars and sun damage. I do not really have to worry about wrinkles and fine lines yet—I'm only 18... I still have baby fat!—but I do have some dark pigmentation where I used to have acne when I was younger. While the transition was tough—initially, Vitamin C was very irritating to my skin and even caused some unexpected breakouts—serums are now an essential part of my routine. It is never too early to start the anti-aging process, either. I figure it's easier to prevent wrinkles than it will be to treat them in the future, so I am definitely continuing using them.

La Deessa is today's spotlight brand. It is pretty pricey ($19.95 for a 1 oz. bottle) but it's 95% natural, 72% organic, and free of all the bad ingredients like alcohol, parabens, and sulfates, so I think it's a good investment. The Anti-Aging Elixir has 20% Vitamin C content and it has not broken me out, so it's a keeper! I am giving away THREE bottles of this at the end, so be sure to stick around!

Hyaluronic Acid

Another relatively new addition to my daily routine, Hyaluronic Acid serum helps your moisturizer absorb better into your skin. It is said that it holds 100x its weight in water, so it's basically a primer for your moisturizer, allowing every molecule to penetrate your skin more deeply. I am currently using Azure Naturals Ultimate Hyaluronic Anti-Aging Serum.
This stuff really makes my pores smooth and feels slightly tacky upon application, but it really doesn't matter because once I apply moisturizer over it, I don't even notice. Again, this is a moisturizer priming step, NOT an actual moisturizer itself, so make sure you apply lotion or emulsion over this if you are incorporating it into your skin care routine. Azure Naturals's serum is also 98% natural and 72% organic, and it hasn't broken me out or irritated my skin, so I'm really happy with it. It costs $18.95 for a 1 oz. bottle.


The penultimate step of my extremely extensive skin care routine is, of course, moisturizer. I use Uriage Hyséac Mat' Pore Refiner religiously in the daytime, but again, it's not cheap. At around $25 per 1.35 oz. tube, it's a product I need to switch out with another if I want to be able to make rent. That's why I also use Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel every other day, which is only $26 for a humongous 4.2 oz. pump bottle.
Hyséac Mat' is honestly my go-to favorite product. Aside from its steep price tag, it is the most perfectest product in the world (no, I'm not being dramatic). It is a light green gel-like emulsion that moisturizes and smooths pores, making it a perfect makeup base. Clinique's gel is similar in texture, but yellow in color. It is not as mattifying as Mat', but it has a cult-following for a reason; it's super hydrating, smooth in application, and does not clog pores.

In the nighttime, I usually use products that have specific skin-targeting properties. They are typically a bit heavier and will make my face a bit shiny, but it really doesn't matter since I'm going to sleep ;) You won't be surprised that my two current nighttime moisturizers (and all-time favorites) are Uriage Hyséac A.I., which limits emerging and existing blemishes and residual marks, and Uriage Hyséac K18, which unclogs pores and mattifies and refines skin texture.
These two are pretty similar in what they do for my skin and how they appear (a bit oily after application, but I don't bother blotting since they're part of my nighttime routine anyway). They are priced pretty similarly (~$25 per 1.35 oz. tube) and I have not bothered finding cheaper alternatives because I don't think any other products can do what they do. I can't really tell the difference between them, other than ingredients and texture. A.I. is a bit clumpy, but very gentle. You need to wear SPF over this as it may cause sensitivity during sun exposure. K18 contains 18% AHA extracts, which are acne-fighting. Thus, it's a bit stronger but the texture is much creamier and almost gel-like.

Sun Care

Sunscreen is a VERY important step that many people skip (including yours truly....shhh). This is very very bad and will cause wrinkles once you hit 30!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don't know how many women have emphasized how important it is to apply sunscreen whenever you go out, even if you're not going to be outdoors for long periods of time. Even the short walk to your car exposes your face to skin-damaging UV rays from the sun, and you can prevent it all simply by applying SPF. If there is SPF in your regular moisturizer or foundation, it is acceptable to skip this step. Obviously you do not need to apply sunscreen at night. But in the day, make sure you incorporate sunscreen into your skin care process regularly.

There is no specific sunscreen product that I particularly love and recommend. I use Uriage Hyséac's Fluide SPF 50+ just because I purchased it two years ago on a whim, but it was expensive (around $30 for 1.7 oz.) and it makes my face shiny just like other brands' sun care products do. It is very runny rather than creamy, which is better for my face in that it doesn't feel as sticky, but it's also annoying to dispense since it gets everywhere. Overall, it isn't my favorite Uriage product but I use it because I just have it on hand.

I also use Atomy's Sun Cream in Beige, which feels like a tinted moisturizer and also is SPF 50+. I use this on days I don't wear foundation or BB cream, but still want SPF and a little bit of coverage. Atomy is a Korean brand that does have a US site so you can definitely find this stuff easily, and it comes in regular White as well, for those who don't want the tinted version. I received it as a gift so I'm not sure what the price range is, but it runs for $20 for a 2 oz. tube on Amazon.

Most days, however, I use my BB cream which has SPF 30 in it. BB Cream, as you probably already know, are a cross between a tinted moisturizer and foundation that has an amazing range of skin-benefitting qualities such as moisturizing, pore erasing, and concealing, all in one product. I know technically this isn't a skin care product and is more makeup (since I wear it instead of foundation), but I have to share this with you guys—it is definitely a holy grail product that I use on a daily basis and could not live without!! The brand I use is Dr. G Gowoonsaesang Brightening Balm.
This stuff is ah-ma-zing. It doesn't have as full of coverage as a high-end foundation would, but it comes pretty darn close. I almost never wear foundation anymore because this stuff just works so well. It's like a primer, foundation, and concealer all in one—saves time and money! While it is a Korean product, I've seen it everywhere in the US—Amazon carries it for sure. It is around $33 for the 45 mL tube, but it lasts so long—one tube lasted me a year and a half. Unlike foundation, where you need a couple squirts of product to blend out, you really only need a small bead of BB cream to cover your entire face.

I have tried other BB creams, both Korean and American brands, but I always come back to this one. It's one of my favorite products ever—a classic in my beauty repertoire!

Makeup Remover

I skip this step on days I'm not wearing makeup (obviously), but on days that I am—even if it's just a thin layer of BB cream—I always swipe my face down with a makeup remover wipe before washing it in the evening. I would not recommend just using your cleanser to get all that makeup off, even if it claims to have makeup-removing properties. You need to take your makeup off separately, especially eye and lip makeup because you don't want to rub that all into your skin when washing your face.

First, I use an eye makeup remover—you can use this to remove eyebrow makeup and lip makeup as well. If it is oil based, do not use it on your face since it could clog pores. My all-time favorite is Lancôme Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover ($28 for 4.2 oz.) because it is gentle and removes even waterproof mascara effectively.
Sometimes when I want to use an all-natural product, I just use plain coconut or olive oil. Making sure it's the 100% food-grade kind, all I do is dab some on a cotton ball and rub it over my eyes gently. It's not as Lancôme, but it's a great, natural substitute in a pinch.

My makeup remover wipe of choice is from Mamonde, another Korean brand. I couldn't find a link to this stuff anywhere, but I love it because it is made out of a thin, sift-like tissue rather than a solid cloth, so the texture provides a bit of exfoliation on top of taking off all my skin makeup. It's very reasonably priced (I think $20 for a huge tub of wipes?) but I'm really not that picky with face wipes as long as they don't contain alcohol.

Masks, Treatments, and Exfoliators

I definitely have a collection of products I use every once in a while to pamper my face. My all-time favorite mask treatment is Victoria Lanolin-Ägg-Tvål Soap, which is a bar soap that you lather up, then spread across your face; it's meant to be used in place of a cleanser.
You leave it on for 10-15 minutes, then wash it off, and voilà—perfect, tightened skin! This egg white-based soap definitely dries skin out so I use it twice a week, but its effects are instantaneous and absolutely amazing. I think it's only about $20 for six 50-gram bars of soap, which seems pricey, but six bars of soap! That's bound to last forever. Definitely worth the investment.

I'm also a fan of Korean sheet masks, if you've ever seen these around the beauty blogosphere. They are great to use every once in a while to freshen up and add lots of moisture to your skin. I use all brands from Korea, but my favorites have been from Nature Republic, Innisfree, The Face Shop, and Etude House—all basic Korean "drugstore" brands—that usually cost $1 or $2 each. Not bad for a single treatment. Bioré Deep-Cleansing Pore Strips are also a must for me. Whenever the blackheads on my nose and chin get noticeable, one of these babies will pluck them right off! It is kind of disgusting to see the little blackheads on the sticky sheet, but it's so fulfilling to know that gunk is off your face ;) I use them once or twice a month, because using them too often can be irritating.
You can find Bioré at pretty much any drugstore and online. I believe a box of 8 strips retails for about $8 (may be cheaper at Walmart or

I don't find it necessary to exfoliate every day since I have sensitive skin; usually a makeup remover wipe or washcloth is enough for me, but sometimes you just really need to get rid of pesky blackheads. I definitely notice when my skin starts feeling a little rough, and to smooth it out, my favorite all-natural treatment is facial salts! Every two weeks or so, I use Adovia Dead Sea Exfoliating Facial Salts, which pretty much look and smell like regular salt, but have minerals from the dead sea. I add a spoonful of this stuff to my cleanser and work it in like a scrub.
In my opinion, this stuff is severely overpriced considering it's literally just salt... it's around $19 for a 12.3 oz jar—outrageous! I'm sure you can just use regular sea salt to exfoliate, no need to purchase a spa brand. Just make sure it is SEA salt and not table salt, because that stuff is chemically derived and could be bad for your skin.


Phew! Finally done with this list—I hope it helped you guys understand what products are good for oily and acne-prone skin, and what steps are necessary in skin care routines. To end my huge, extensive, post, I'm giving away three full-size bottles of La Deessa Premium Anti-Aging Elixir to three lucky Books à la Mode readers!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What's your skin care routine like? Tell me the step-by-step process and products/brands you use. Obviously you don't have to go into as much detail as I did, but I want to know your current routine and holy grail products, if you have any!
Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the seller and review coordinator—a huge thank you to La Deessa and Tomoson!
Giveaway ends August 2nd at 11.59 PM (your time).

Open to US readers only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar where I have a list of currently running giveaways, some of which are open worldwide—there are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for shipping and handling, nor for the prizes themselves.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

FTC Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using However, I was not paid in any way to write a review—positive or otherwise—and all thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone. I only recommend products or services I have used personally and believe will be good for my beautiful readers!