Versed, can you save my desert skin? Cocokind, will you live up to the hype?

PERSONAL SKIN CONCERNS: Sooo long story short short, winter hit and every ounce of moisture in my skin’s water well was sucked completely dry. Every attempt to replenish it was an absolute fail…which lead me on the search for a savior product that could provide a swift resurrection. I don’t usually buy an overabundance of products from the same brand, but the price-point brought my guard down (alllll the way down); I just kept adding to my cart. And here we are, six products later, sharing what happened next.

SKIN IN A NUTSHELL: #sothirsty

FRESH ON THE SCENE: A new class of luxurious + affordable + clean skincare has finally arrived to save my thirsty winter skin. To be expected, I am not spellbound with every product. Here are my loves, so so’s, and wouldn’t-buy-again. Also note that I waited 2-3 weeks before formulating my final opinions. 


  1. Versed: “Photos, Please” mask
  2. Versed: “Rich Moisture” moisturizer cream
  3. Versed: “Zero-G” eye cream
  4. Cocokind: “Oil to Milk” cleanser (MVP)


  1. Versed: “Day Maker” exfoliator
  2. Versed: clarifying serum


  1. Versed: “Baby Cheeks” hydrating milk 

*Drop your MVP winter skincare products in the comments. My skin thanks you in advance!

Servin’ Face

“I definitely owe myself an apology for all the s*** that I let slide in my 20’s” (SZA). Being a twenty-something-year-old was flat out hard (for lack of a cuter word). There was a ton of doubt, first-time sorrows, ego-bruising, and to top it off…I grew an entire human in my uterus. Talk about the ultimate growing pains. 30 is definitely the new black. Not because it makes me feel better when I say it (ok, maybe a little bit), but all the acquired knowledge, experiences, and perspective I have now makes life a little more enjoyable and carefree. Time out. No stage in life is without trials (let’s be super clear). My 30’s have also had their peaks and valleys. But, one thing is new…age is all of a sudden a ‘thing’. And the beauty regimen…it definitely takes a lot longer as I’m deliberately fighting back against ALL signs of aging with a lot more tools in my designer fanny pack. So, what do I serve my couture skin these days? Pull up a seat, and let’s get into it!

Petit Déjeuner (Breakfast): In this order

  • Drunk Elephant Jelly Cleanser – A non-irritating, light, and satisfactory cleaner for all skin types. However, if you prefer something heavier + with a lather, this is not the one for you. ($32.00)
  • The Ordinary Glycolic Acid Toning Solution – A concentrated toner that nicely exfoliates and blends uneven textures. ($8.70)
  • The Ordinary Caffein Solution – Who knew I could get a double serving of caffeine every morning! If you need to wipe away dark circles or reduce puffiness under your eyes, please give this baby a try. The science behind it is: the combination of caffeine and highly-purified Epigallocatechin Gallatyl Glucoside (for a quicker read, EGCG) work together beautifully to put those raccoon eyes to bed for good or while the bottle lasts. ($6.70)
  • The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid – This magical liquid delivers a multi-depth hydration with a boost of Vitamin B5, visible plumping, and an all-day glow. Filler without the filler? I’ll take it. ($6.80)
  • Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer – Addressing the elephant in the room…YES, this bad boy is expensive, but the last time I checked…we only get one face. A cream that improves tone and texture while aiding with firmness. The Protini is like having a shot of protein for collagen support, maintenance, and loss prevention. ($68.00)
  • Glossier Super Glow – Who doesn’t want to grow and glow all year ‘round! If you’re in search of a brightening serum…give this one a try. However, I do have something to confess. After finally realizing that any excess moisturizer or serums for your face should be shared with your hands, I started using this one for my hands only. Even more so because the super glow effect was a miss on my face. ($28.00)
  • Sunscreen – This is a tricky one depending on personal preference, so I endorse the one that works best for you….just please do me a favor and APPLY IT. Sunscreen prevents acne scaring and wrinkles; it’s the cherry on top for any morning routine. 
  • Lip Balm – Recommendations: Bite Beauty vegan lip balm ($14.00), Ohii Lip Jelly ($8.00)

Le Déjeuner (Lunch): Keep it lite

  • Trader Joe’s Rose Water Facial Toner – For a refreshing pick me up, this bottle is at your service. Contains real Damask rose water, Damask rose oil to bedew and moisturize, Witch Hazel for balancing and toning, and a tiny bit of Soapbark extract to soften and condition. Most importantly, it smells like roses. So, when you find a moment to reset and smell the roses, you will actually do just that. ($3.99)

Diner (Dinner): After cleansing, freestyle the order

  • Eve Lom Cleanser – A rare, multi-function formula packs an exclusive combination of essential oils: Clove oil pinpoints blemishes and stimulates clear skin, Eucalyptus oil to battle toxins, Hops oil to tone, Egyptian chamomile oil softens and soothes, and Cocoa Butter moisturizes. This is cleanser has been the holy grail for my face. It leaves my skin purified from the day’s gunk, but also feeling silky and replenished. ($80.00)
  • Fresh Umbrian Clay Purifying Mask – I use this one 2-3 times a week for a deeper cleanse and to minimize my pores. The Umbrian clay has a high mineral content and it dries pretty fast. 
  • The Ordinary Glycolic Acid Toning Solution – Details above
  • The Ordinary Caffein Solution – Deets up top
  • The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid – Scroll up, please
  • The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% – Reduces signs of aging, like retinol, but without the irritation. ($9.60)
  • Lip Balm – Optional, but who wants to wake up with a dehydrated  pout?

If we could all sleep on our backs….maybe gravity would be enough. But, I can’t take that chance in my 30’s. Ladies, invest in your skincare while you can, because there’s no going back once you cross the threshold of botox and fillers. 

*Note: The Suspicious 6 (essential oils, drying alcohols, silicones, chemical screens, fragrance/dyes, and SLS) are not found in any Drunk Elephant products. They support the International Elephant Foundation and are cruelty-free. 

Pretty Poison

A few months back my nails were practically deceased from using gel nail polish off and on for the past year or so. My nails were literally the strength of cooked noodles. Shocking fact because my nails have always been super strong, which is why I secretly thought they were invincible. Surprise! Jokes on me…Hi, my name is Amber and gel manicures ruined my nails. I’m a recovering pretty poison user. How’d I get here? Gel nails are almost ever-lasting, ridiculously glossy, full of overflowing color options, and all the rage in the nail world. But, even more so, the real beauty and most addicting feature of gel nails is not having to wait for them to dry once your appointment has concluded. We women feel so helpless with wet nails. And since we truly run the world, everything basically stops until we can effectively use our hands again. Gel nails… save lives. So, that’s the backstory on how I became a loyal customer. 

However, this is what I unknowingly signed up for with gel: butylated hydroxyanisol (BHA), a known cancer-causing agent. The National Toxicology Program lists it as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” And, the so-called “Toxic Trio”: dibutyl phthalate, toluene and formaldehyde. Something tells me you already had an inkling there were harsh chemicals in gel polish because literally everything we touch and/or consume, minus water (I think), causes harm to our bodies. Here are a few more fun facts:  1. It’s very difficult to file off the hard gel without touching the nail plate. This means the removal process can significantly thin the natural nail. 2. Soaking the natural nail in acetone temporarily softens the surface making it more susceptible to damage from any implements that separate, push or force the remaining residual UV coating (gel) from the nail plate. 3. Not only does the nail polish absorb into your skin but think of all the ways your fingers come in contact with your mouth (eating, whistling, nail biting, etc). Toxins are damaging, period. So, if I want healthy painted nails, what’s a girl to do?! 

I even gifted my daughter a set of gel nails. #momfail

After pumping my body with vitamins to bring my nails back to life, I recently stumbled upon the holy grail for me and maybe you too. I quote my recent IG post when I say, I’m so hyped about this nail polish! Now that I’m not up against your monster swiping thumb on Instagram, I have a little more time to elaborate. MiniLux is a California based nail franchise with three locations (West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Brentwood…the OG storefront). Their quest is clean self-care. “We stand for self-care and beauty with a clean conscience. It doesn’t take much to give yourself a little love, hit reset, and show up just for you. Together, we celebrate craft, creativity, and self-expression through mini moments that make you feel good.” Whoever wrote that…I respect your word craft! 

MiniLuxe offers two nourishing nail polish options. Pure Polish is free of the eight most toxic elements present in nail color. These stylish bottles with rose gold tops also contain strong pigmented colors. All made in the USofA. However, I tried and fell in love with their Performance Polish (aka Dazzle Dry). It’s vegan, cruelty-free, full of vitamins, strengthens, dries complete in 5 minutes flat, and removes like basic polish. Did you catch that? I’m basically saying it wears like gel, but removes like regular nail polish. No LED lights required, and it stays put for up to two weeks. Not.even.kidding!

If you suspect your nail relationship is toxic to your health, make an appointment at your local MiniLuxe or shop Dazzle DryThank you gel polish for all the memories, but next.