Moisturized Skin Helps Provide Protection Against Pathogens

Courtney Smith BSN
Repeat hand washing resulting in dry skin? We bring the science as to why moisturized skin helps to provide protection from pathogens.

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3 Home Hair Color Subscription Boxes

Shannon Smyth
There's no need for your hair color to fade or roots to grow out when you can choose from these 3 home hair color subscription boxes.

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Fresh Chemistry Wrinkle Release Serum Review

Shannon Smyth

Have you seen those commercials where wrinkly clothes simply need a spritz of Wrinkle Release and suddenly they're smooth without a single crease to be found?

Fresh Chemistry's Wrinkle Release Peptide Serum follows the same theme, targeting fine lines and wrinkles with a potent mix of hyaluronic acid, olive oil, Cacay nut oil, peptides, lavender oil and marine elixir.

I was sent Fresh Chemistry's Wrinkle Release with Marine Plus ($75). Wrinkle Release is also sold without the Marine Plus ($62.)

The larger bottle contains the serum base, which is a blend of 3 kinds of olive oil, hyaluronic acid and mica. It's definitely sparkly, and as someone with combination skin, I was worried that the shimmer would add to my shine.

Step 2, 3 and 4 all come separated in their own glass vials. You add them to the base, shake it up and then it's ready for use. Once mixed, it's best to use this serum up within 4 weeks.

I personally love lavender, and this serum is lightly scented. The scent fades once the serum is applied to your face. But this lavender oil is present for more than just scent and stress-relief.

Lavender oil has known benefits of reducing wrinkles, fighting acne, and soothing skin.

This serum applies so smooth, I swore it had dimethicone in it. But it doesn't. I've never had a serum feel so amazing on my skin like this.

This serum is not greasy either, despite the cacay and olive oils. It quickly absorbed into my skin, making it feel supple and soft almost immediately.

My worries about the shimmer quickly went away, as the mica creates a blurring effect when applied versus looking like glitter. Flaws appear minimized upon application because of the magic of this blurring effect.

So is it just an optical illusion? Did my wrinkles really go away?

Wrinkles never go away friends. However this serum packs an ultra moisturizing punch that all skin needs. There were days I even went without adding a moisturizer because this serum did the work of two products.

Healthy, hydrated skin + hyaluronic acid lessens how deep wrinkles look, while the blurring from the mica makes you look refreshed and youthful.

I personally loved this serum and found myself saving it for use when I knew I'd be taking pictures or social gatherings - basically when I wanted people to remark on how great I looked. :)

You can find this serum, and their Glow Getter serum, at

Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Or check out our natural bath and body line!

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Prince Charcoal Mask Review

Shannon Smyth
Prince Charcoal is a naturally detoxing charcoal mask from Fleur & Bee. Clean ingredients, botanically based, and cruelty free.

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Behind the Scenes: Known Rollerball Perfume

Shannon Smyth
Known Roll On Perfume

A Girl's Gotta Spa! roll on perfumes have become increasingly popular since we expanded our bath and body line two years ago to include them.

Our latest fragrance, Known, is coming at a time when things really feel mostly... unknown.

We began crowdsourcing last Fall to find out which scents people were loving lately, and rose overwhelmingly topped the list.

If you're a customer of our lovely products, you know we usually like to keep the citrus tie-in throughout each product. However, as with our Synergy Himalayan Salt Scrub, we decided to forgo that with this perfume.

Known Rollerball Perfume

Top note: Wild Rose
Heart notes: Black Currant, Tea Rose
Base notes: Green Angelica, Papyrus

A Girl’s Gotta Spa! uses only pure essential oils, phthalate-free oils and grapeseed oil to bring you a roll on perfume that is vegan, clean and Leaping Bunny certified cruelty free. No parabens, no alcohol, no petrochemicals.

Naming the Perfume

It's always fun to explain to you my stream of thought when naming A Girl's Gotta Spa! products. This one stumped me for a while, though!

First, if you are familiar with Arise and Soar roll on perfumes, then you know that they are complementary words - you have to first arise in order to soar.

Second, I like to choose names that inspire, encourage and uplift. So as you may have guessed, the names don't typically describe the notes in the scent.

It took me about 2 months to finally land on Known.

What Does Known Mean?

Since our launch point is a rose fragrance, I thought about all aspects of this flower. I finally asked myself - what does a rose represent to most people?


What does it mean to be loved? To me, it means to care for someone so deeply and unconditionally, irregardless of their flaws.

To Be Loved is to be Known

Here's the thing - to be loved doesn't always have to mean someone loving you. It can absolutely also include YOU loving YOU. It's a self-love party up in here!

I hope you will love Known as much as I do. Find it on our webstore: Known Rollerball Perfume

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Natural Fragrance Rose Review

Shannon Smyth
Natural Fragrance Rose is a real rose that lasts up to a year without ever having the need to be watered. Is it magic? Nope, it's just science. Review.

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Family Getaway in the Catskills at Pine Ridge Dude Ranch

Shannon Smyth

About an hour north of the Pocono Mountains, are the Catskill Mountains. Similar to the Poconos, the neighboring Catskills offer amazing resorts, hiking, camping, dining and entertainment for all ages, like Pine Ridge Dude Ranch.

My goal of shared experiences with my family continually keeps me looking for unique places for us to spend time together.

So I was thrilled to discover something so novel was within driving distance, yet far enough that it felt like an escape from being home.

Horseback Riding Adventure in the Catskills

As the name suggests, Pine Ridge Dude Ranch is horse-focused. From the various designs throughout the resort, to the trails and trail rides, the love of equines is apparent.

Pine Ridge Dude Ranch's herd consists of a mix of different breeds such as: Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, Appaloosas, Paints, Percherons, Clydesdales, Haflingers, Icelandics, Morgans and Arabians. All well taken care of, and personalities memorized by the wranglers. (I now understand why the jeans have this name.)

The Ranch offers walk only rides, walk & trot rides, and advanced level walk, trot, & canter rides. We're beginners, so we chose the walk only ride, which is 45 minutes (although from the time you are prepped until you are back in the corral, it is about 60 minutes.)

The evening before your trail ride, you are required to take a 1 hour educational class to learn more about the horses, and the specifics of riding a horse.

I'll be honest, it was a lot of info to take in, and I was a bit overwhelmed. I've never ridden a horse before, but 4 of my sons have, so they weren't as nervous as I was.

When you hop on a horse, you learn very quickly just how mighty these animals are. Their strength is intimidating. The trick is to remain relaxed at all times because the horse will feel your anxiety and react to it.

Easier said than done.

Thankfully, the wranglers match you to a horse they feel will best suit you. And my horse was lovely. Mid-way through the ride, I was comfortable enough with her to talk to her and pet her as she walked the trail.

Horseback Riding Programs

Aside from the trail rides, Pine Ridge Dude Ranch also offers pony rides for the littles, specialty experiences, and private lessons.

Resort Amenities

Upon pulling up to the resort, the forward facing part of the building you see, doesn't appear very big. However, looks are deceiving and the resort is actually very big with every inch offering something fun to partake in.

The resort amenities include: a spa, indoor pool, Starbucks, a grill & snackbar, a dining hall (with all inclusive meals), a hall for entertainment (dancing, magic, Dj's, etc.), a pool table in the lobby, a gift shop, arcade, snowtubing, paint ball, ice skating, archery, tractor rides, rock wall, bounce pillow, playground, outdoor pool, over-sized campfire.... I think you get the point.

There is A LOT to do here.

Fun For All Ages

My son's range in age from 4 to 20, and there were things to do that everyone could enjoy.

In the lobby area, my son and I played pool the night we checked in.

There was cornhole in the hallway, and a stack of board games that could be used by the fire, and an arcade for the video game obsessed.

At night they offer a bag of marshmallows for roasting by a huge stone-enclosed campfire.

Challenging my sons at archery was fun, too.

My youngest, enjoyed the tractor ride, playground and the enclosure with a variety of animals you could pet (and plenty of handsanitizer.)

Accomodations for Large Families

If you have a large family like I do, then you know the pain of finding a getaway that is both affordable and has rooms large enough for you and your tribe of children.

We stayed in the newly renovated Dakota Wing, where rooms boast sleeping for 7.

We were pleasantly surprised to walk into the room and find a bunk bed, King and XL full bed (which looked like a Queen.) There are also cots available, should you need them.

Knowing that this wing was intended for large families, we knew it would not be very quiet. (It's not.) But we typically bring a white noise machine whenever we stay at hotels, so it came in handy here, blocking out the noise from the adjoining rooms, hallway and rooms above us.

Pine Ridge Dude Ranch has other rooms that can accomodate a variety of families - adjoining rooms that sleep 8 between them, rooms that sleep 4 or up to 6, suites, and quieter rooms for couples.

All rooms offer celebration accomodations, so if you are there to celebrate a special occasion, call the concierge ahead of time and they can arrange to have champagne, strawberries, cheese platters and decorations adorning your room.

Year-Round Activities

While we chose to get away just after Thanksgiving, there were still things to do in the cold, as you can see from this article. There are equally fun things to do in warm weather.

And although the spa was completely booked during my stay and I was unable to get in, I hear it is wonderful.

So if you live in the tri-state area, or further, and looking for a unique getaway, give Pine Ridge Dude Ranch a look. I think you and your family will enjoy the experience.

Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Or check out our natural bath and body line!

** This trip was comped, but the review and experience are my own.

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Prickly Pear Seed Oil Skin Care Benefits

Shannon Smyth

Fine lines and wrinkles, brown spots, dry skin... as we age, it seems like we suddenly have a plethora of skin issues to combat. As someone with "mature skin" (I honestly hate that term), I've discovered a prickly pear seed oil that has been doing wonders on my skin.

What is Prickly Pear Seed Oil?

Also known as cactus oil or barbary fig oil, it's an oil derived from the prickly pear, a member of the cactus family.

Found in Morocco, and other dry climates, it's an oil that is rich in essential fatty acids (EFA's), Vitamin E (Tocopherols), Phytosterols (water-binders) and Polyphenols (micronutrients.)

Face Oils Don't Equal Oily Skin

I'll be honest, prior to using heritage & terre's Coeur de Cactus, I never thought too much of how life-changing this antioxidant-rich oil would be.

Having combination skin most of my life, for a time I misunderstood the relationship between oils and oily skin. I thought oils/serums = increased and/or added to oily skin.

It took until my 30's to understand that there are products that cause the over-production of sebum (oily skin) - usually ingredients that were harsh on my skin and dry it out; and there are oils that kept it in perfect balance.

It was all a matter of educating myself and finding the right ones. A great face oil will give you what your skin needs, not make it oilier.

Cactus Oil Skin Benefits

Getting back to what makes prickly pear seed oil an amazing multi-tasker for mature skin.

Essential Fatty Acids: I mentioned this in my keratosis pilaris article, EFA's contain linoleic, oleic and palmitic acid. Acid is not a bad word here.

These acids help skin to stregthen its moisture barrier, repair and heal, and aids other beneficial skin care ingredients in better penetrating skin (e.g. helping your products to actually work for you and not against you.)

Vitamin E: This antoxidant is found in most anti-aging products for a reason. It's tried and true when it comes to helping fight environmental damage, tackling fine lines and wrinkles by way of keeping skin hydrated and protecting skin cells that make collagen and elastin (something we lose as we age.)

Phytosterols and Polyphenols: From helping to retain moisture to assisting in collagen production to preventing and treating sun damage (wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, loose skin, red and uneven skin tone, etc.), this is where prickly pear seed oil shines.

heritage & terre Coeur de Cactus

I use heritage & terre's cactus oil twice per day. For my a.m. routine, I use it as my sole moisturizer before applying my sunscreen. For my p.m. routine, I apply it before my Jan Marini Transformation Face Cream.

I've needed to use my concealer much less, because my skin isn't as ruddy. Brown spots seem a bit faded and not as evident. My skin has not been greasy or dry since using this serum regularly (6+ weeks at this point.)

The wrinkles on my face are bit more minimized and the lines around my eyes have softened. (Yes, I still have wrinkles...those never go away.)

I feel more confident on my non-makeup wearing days. You'd think as a beauty blogger I'd always been in a full face of makeup, but as in real life, that is not the case.

Just living life with a fresh face is refreshing and I don't feel like I have to hid under layers of makeup to treat all of my "flaws."

If you haven't yet tried this type of face oil, I highly recommend it. 2-3 drops is all you need.

Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Or check out our natural bath and body line!

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Retailer Spotlight: Courtney Hollis of Lilly's Bathcarry

Shannon Smyth
A Girl's Gotta Spa! retailers are the best! And I am happy to feature Courtney of Lilly's Bathcarry so that you can get to know her better.

Lilly's Bathcarry has been one of our retailers, almost since our launch. So often, wholesale relationships are hands-off and all about supplying a need for the customer.

But that's what's unique about the partnership with Lilly's Bathcarry. Courtney is very approachable and she makes you feel like the relationship is more than transactional, it's relational.

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What is Keratosis Pilaris? Symptoms and Treatment

Shannon Smyth
Keratosis Pilaris symptoms and treatment.

What is Keratosis Pilaris?

According to skin care expert, René Serbon, Keratosis Pilaris (commonly referred to as KP) is a keratolytic skin disorder.

Most often seen on the outer upper arms, but can occur on the thighs and cheeks, and less frequently on the forearms and upper back. The condition presents as numerous rough follicular spots that can be skin colored, red, or brown.

The bumps generally don’t hurt or itch. The transition of vellus hair to terminal hair may be an aggravating factor to why this condition often develops in teenage year indicative of a hormonal trigger such as androgen.

Vellus hair, twisted into a spiky keratolytic plug, emerge from the dilated opening of the pilosebaceous duct, can become discolored with pigment or inflammation or both.

In layman's terms - KP is that red, bumpy skin that is annoying at best and is often referred to as, "chicken skin."

How to get rid of red bumpy skin.

At What Age Does KP Appear?

KP is also most evident during teenage years, however; it can be present in babies and persist into adulthood usually disappearing by age 30. It can be particularly prevalent in those who are overweight.

My youngest son has had KP on his arms since birth. Anyone who has ever touched his arms, always remarks on the bumps.

Is KP Genetic?

When I was in my teens and first realized that my skin was not like my friends, I began to notice my mom's skin was exactly the same. And some of her siblings also had this bumpy skin.

Now a mom myself, I have come to understand that KP is familial. My son's have it, as well as atopic dermatitis and eczema.

Serbon explained to me, "There is a genetic predisposition. In individuals with a history of eczema, atopic dermatitis or ichthyosis a genetic filaggrin gene deficiency might be present."

She also told me, "People with a very fair skin and red hair, e.g. Celtic background are also prone." And this makes sense. While we don't have red hair, both their father and myself are Irish (my mom's side of the family is Irish as well.)

Can You Get Keratosis Pilaris on Your Face?

While the bumps are commonly on your upper arms, thighs, and buttocks, it can also present on your face, although it is not as common.

strawberry legs image for pinterest

What Are the Symptoms of KP?

As described above, the symptoms largely surround the presentation of numerous small rough bumps on the skin, is typically dry, and can occur in patches. The biggest complaint of those who have KP is the appearance of their skin.

Although, the majority of the medical literature describe sufferers of KP as symptom-free, others support that itching can occur and, less commonly, redness and swelling can be a potential problem. Especially if you are not proactively exfoliating and moisturizing your skin regularly.

Note, that there are times of the year or certain climates that can cause KP to worsen (ie: in weather that promotes dryness it can worsen, in weather that promotes moisture it tends to subdue). KP is not associated with pain or progression of symptoms (ref: Keratosis pilaris, 2).

Should one suspect that they have KP, but see an uncomfortable worsening or progression of symptoms, be sure to consult your physician to determine if there is a need to see a dermatologist or if the doctor feels that any of the associated skin conditions that may co-occur with KP are present.

“Keratosis pilaris is often described in association with other dry skin conditions such as ichthyosis vulgaris, xerosis, and, less commonly, with atopic dermatitis, including conditions of asthma and allergies” (ref: Alai, 1).

Are There Times of the Year When KP is More Prominent?

In the winter months or times of low humidity there is fast trans epidermal water loss (TEWL), Keratosis pilaris tends to be more severe.

Does KP Ever Go Away?

Dr. Hannah Sivak, PhD Founder of Skin Actives Scientifis, says yes. "As we age, the skin gets thinner and KP goes away." Serbon agrees, stating that it persists into adulthood and usually disappears by age 30.

At 45, my KP has yet to disappear, although it is not nearly as bad as it was in my teens and twenties.

But what can those of us do until it actually resolves itself decades from when it started?

Keratosis Pilaris Treatment

First and foremost, Serbon recommends reducing sun exposure to reduce keratinization.

Enzyme treatments, lotions that contain lactic acid or ammonium lactate and daily use of vitamin A in creams or lotions help to reduce KP, according to Serbon.

For those who have KP on their face, Dr. Sivak recommends products with ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids, salicylic acid (also called "beta hydroxy"), and vitamin A.

There are surgical treatments that can be done to treat KP, although it's not something I will address in this article.

At home therapies are not a cure, however they can help to reduce KP flare ups and will help to minimize the appearance of it. These are otherwise known as home remedies or over the counter treatments.

Physical and Chemical Exfoliation

To smoothe out skin and help to "unplug" the keratin build up in the hair follicle, you need to exfoliate a few times per week.

For Face: Skin Actives Alpha-Beta Exfoliant Solution: Chemical is not a bad word here, as alpha and beta hydroxy acids exfoliate skin. This is a great way to to keep follicles (and pores) on your face, exfoliated of build up. I don't have KP on my face personally, but I use this exfoliant to keep blackheads on my nose and chin at bay.

For Body: A Girl's Gotta Spa! Energizing Citrus Salt Scrub: Manually exfoliate and smoothe your arms and legs by massaging affected areas with Dead Sea Salt. You also get the added bonus of hydration from sunflower and safflower seed oils.

Creams to Exfoliate

Creams containing alpha hydroxy acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid or urea help loosen and remove dead skin cells.

For Face: Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Lotion Exfoliant: With 8% glycolic acid mixed with plant-soothing botanicals, skin is exfoliated without scrubbing and nourished at the same time.

For Body: AmLactin Lotion: This lotion has lactic acid in it, so it both exfoliates and hydrates skin.

Lotions to Keep Skin Hydrated

After removing the build-up of dead skin cells from the hair follicles, it's important to keep skin moisturized at all times, as it is the lack of moisture that creates the dry skin that lends to the cycle of build up.

It's especially important to be dilligent with this two-step process if you live in a dry climate and during seasonal dryness (like Fall and Winter.)

For Face: heritage & terre Prickly Pear Seed Oil: While not a lotion, this serum nourishes like a dream. 2-3 drops of this cold-pressed Moroccan cactus oil is all it takes to keep skin hydrated because it is very high in linoleic acid.

For Body: A Girl's Gotta Spa! Energizing Citrus Body Lotion: Olive oil, shea butter and cocoa butter create a trifecta of hydration (and pairs perfectly with the body scrub.) Olive oil is an emollient and has fatty acids (oleic, palmitic, and linoleic) that work wonderfully on the skin. Shea and Cocoa Butter are both humectants and emollients. Your skin will never be left feeling dry.

Sylveco Birch Moisturizing Body Balm - This lotion contains grapeseed oil (an emollient), aloe, Vitamin E and betulin from the bark of birch trees. It's both soothing and hydrating.

Sidenote: I used this lotion from Sylveco on my teen son, who has atopic dermatitis on his elbows, with amazing results - stay tuned for that review!

kosmatology Goody-Goody Grapefruit Lotion Bar: If you've been reading this blog since its inception in 2005, it all began with a lotion bar. This one from kosmatology comes in a handy twist-up tube with ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, and olive oil in Candelilla wax.

All of the above won't prevent or make this skin condition go away. It will only improve the appearance and help you to manage it better.

If moisturizing and other self-care measures don't help, your doctor may prescribe medicated creams.

Things to Avoid if You Have KP

  • Hot water, whether via a long bath or shower. Warm water is best.
  • Exfoliants that are rough on the skin, like body scrubs that contain walnut shells or apricot kernels.
  • Completely drying skin when getting out of the shower. Leaving skin slightly damp and then applying your lotion works best.
  • Tight clothes - the friction can make things worse.
  • Prolonged sun exposure - and always wear broad spectrum sunscreen regardless.

Subscribe to A Girl’s Gotta Spa! beauty blog. Watch our reviews on YouTube, see our pins on Pinterest and check us out on Instagram. Don’t forget to check out our cruelty free beauty products!

This article is in no way meant to diagnose and treat a skin condition. Speak to your dr., who will know your whole health history.


  1. Alai A., MD, FAAD. “Keratosis Pilaris Treatment and Management.” emedicine.
  2. Keratosis pilaris.” WebMD.
  3. René Serbon, Skin Expert.
  4. Dr. Hannah Sivak, PhD Founder of Skin Actives Scientifis.

Co-written with Courtney Smith, BSN.

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