Beach Bag Essentials

Photo by Salvador Martin Yeste on Unsplash

What’s the best part of living in Florida? Random Beach Days! Whenever we feel the need for some extra vitamin D, we grab our bag full of beach essentials and head down to our local spot. While our bag is always packed are ready to go by the door, we know it can be easy to forget the essentials, especially when you’re here on vacation.

We’ve put together our beach bag essentials list to make your vacation stress and sunburn free! Scroll to the bottom to enter our Beach Bag Essentials Giveaway!

The perfect beach bag.

Beach Bag – It all starts with the perfect beach bag. Your bag needs to be big enough to fit all of your essentials, but not too big that it becomes too heavy to carry. Your bag should also be water, sand, and sun resistant too. Look for a durable material like nylon or canvas because those will withstand any situation. If you can, we also suggesting getting a bag with an attached coin purse. That little zipper pocket is a great place to store your id, cell phone and keys. 

Sunscreen  – While sunscreen is something you should be applying every day, when you go to the beach you have to take extra care to protect your skin. Make sure your sunscreen is broad spectrum, has an SPF of 15 or above (we suggest SPF 30), and is water-resistant. Don’t forget an SPF in your lip balm either? You won’t like sunburned lips. Pro tip: We set a timer on our phone to remind us to reapply, every 80 minutes if we’re swimming and every two hours if we’re not.

Hat, Sunglasses, Umbrella – Sunscreen isn’t enough to protect your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays. We always keep a floppy hat and sunglasses in our bag. These two items will give your face the extra protection it needs. A beach umbrella is also a must. While we love basking in the sun like the next person, every now and then we crave a break from the powerful sun. An umbrella will give you a cool place to rest.

Reading Material – There are so many things to do at the beach. You can swim, play beach volleyball, and build sand castles. But just in case you get bored, we suggest bringing some reading material. Whether it’s your favorite book or your favorite glossy, having something to read is a beach bag must! 

Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

Water & Snacks – We don’t know why, but a day at the beach takes a lot of energy. Even if you’re just sunbathing, a few hours in the sun can suck the energy right out of you. To fix this, we always keep a few water bottles and snacks in our bag. Our snacks of choice are Publix Subs, trail mix, and protein bars. If you have extra space if your car, we suggest putting your water and snacks in a cooler.

Towel & Baby Powder – We keep two towels in our bag. One for laying out on, the other to dry off with. We also keep baby power in our bag because it makes being sand free easy. When you’re almost ready to leave, sprinkle some baby powder on your skin. The powder will soak up any extra moisture left on your skin. After a few moments, wipe it away and viola! You’re not power and sand free!

After Sun Products – Saltwater and the sun can really dry out your skin so it’s important to use an after sun product to refresh your skin. Our Save A Tan is the perfect solution. Not only will it restore moisture to your skin, it will also prevent peeling and preserve your tan.

Did we miss one of your beach bag essentials? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter! Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter to get more tips and tricks & enter our Beach Bag Giveaway! One luck winner will get $133 in Key West Aloe Goodies!

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A Roadmap to Your Best Skin + Giveaway!!

Photo by Bruce Mars from Pexels

We don’t know about you, but one of our 2018 New Year’s Resolutions is to work on our skin care routines. Like most people, we make a goal at the beginning of the year and slowly but surely we forget about our pledge.

This year will be different. This year, we are going to follow through and achieve our best skin yet!

Identify your skin type

If you’ve been using the same products forever and you’ve noticed they stopped working, you may be using the wrong products for your skin type. Like the rest of our body, our skin type will change over time. In fact, most people’s skin tends to switch from oily to dry as they age. This is due to many factors including the environment. Check out our post on skin types to determine if you have oily, combination, or dry skin.

Figure out the products that work best for your skin.

Once you’ve identified your skin type, the next step is to select the best products for your skin. If you have oily skin you may want to swap out your cream moisturizer for a gel one and if you have dry skin you may want to try products with Hyaluronic Acid. Of course, these are only guidelines. You must try out

Enter our Better Skin Giveaway to win a Daily Aloe Facial Essentials (value $90.50)

Create a realistic skin care routine you can stick to.

Below is a general roadmap we put together to help you figure out what products you should be using and when. Creating a realistic skin care routine will involve trial and error. It can take up to 3-8 weeks to seen proper results, do give your new routine sometime before switching it up.

Reach Your #SkinGoals with Key West Aloe's roadmap to your best skin.
Reach Your #SkinGoals with Key West Aloe’s roadmap to your best skin.

We hope you’ll join us on our skin care journey.

Share your 2018 skin resolutions in the comments below or on Facebook or Instagram. Sign up for our newsletter to get more tips and tricks and don’t forget to enter our giveaway to win $90 in KWA Product!

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Key West Happenings: January 2018

The fun never stops in Key West. From eating your weight in seafood to running it all off a day later there is an event for every type. Don’t miss these popular festivities in Key West this January.

36th Annual Key West Literary Seminar; January 11th – 14th, 2018

Key West Literary Seminar. Photos: Unsplash

Join the Key West Literary Seminar as they examine important works of literature that have emerged from the island nations of the Caribbean. Speakers include Naomi Jackson, Jamaica Kincaid and Robert Antoni.

13th Annual Florida Keys Seafood Festival; January 13th – 14th, 2018

Photo: 13th Annual Florida Keys Seafood Festival

Come experience some of the best seafood you’ll ever eat at the 13th Annual Florida Keys Seafood Festival. Along with a Key West inspired menu, there will be celebrity chef demonstrations, hands-on eco activities, a boat show and live entertainment.

Key West Half Marathon & 5k Run; January 14th, 2018

Key West Half Marathon & 5k Run. Photo: Unsplash

After you’ve had your fill of seafood, wake up bright and early and join thousands of people as they run a Half Marathon & 5k. The course will take you through the island’s Victorian architecture, historic landmarks and harborfront business. We think this is one of the best ways to get a tour of Key West.

Key West Food & Wine Festival; January 24th – 28th, 2018

Photo: Key West Food & Wine Festival

If wine is more of your style, stick around for the Key West Food & Wine Festival. This five-day festival is full of wine and food-themed events showcasing a diverse range of wines and inventive cuisine.

You can find more events on the Monroe County Tourist Development Council Event Calendar.

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18 Healthy Habits to Start This New Year

It’s the beginning of the year and that can only mean one thing– it’s time to make your New Year’s Resolutions. We’ve compiled a list of 18 healthy habits for you to consider adding to your New Year’s Resolutions in 2018.

  1. Wash your face every day and never go to bed with makeup on.
  2. Commit to getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
  3. Never leave home without applying sunscreen. An SPF will help protect your skin (head to toe) from harmful UV rays.
  4. Start every morning with a tall glass of water and a lemon to rehydrate your body and jumpstart your metabolism.
  5. Speaking of metabolism, start working out regularly.
  6. Put your phone down and lose yourself in a book.
  7. Eat more fruits and vegetables and never skip breakfast.
  8. Sign up for an online class or learn a new skill.
  9. Take time for self-care.
  10. Stop picking at your skin.
  11. Cut out excess sugar and sweets from your diet.
  12. Use the right skin care products for your skin type.
  13. Try Meatless Mondays.
  14. Switch to satin sheets to help maintain skin & hair’s natural moisture level.
  15. Trim your hair every 4-6 weeks.
  16. Swap out coffee for green tea.
  17. Visit a dermatologist.
  18. Track your new healthy habit progress by keeping a journal!

These 18 habits may seem minor in the grand scheme of life, but when added together can result in a healthier YOU.

Tell us what your New Year’s Resolutions are for 2018 in the comments.

Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter and follow Key West Aloe and join the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.

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Holiday Gift Guide

Is it too early to start Christmas shopping? We don’t think so. In fact, we suggest you start crossing people off your list now so you’ll feel less stressed later this season.

We took care of the list making for you and created some fun and useful gift guides. Check them out!

Gift For The Skincare Obsessed Friend

We all have that one friend that’s always trying new skincare products. If you’re reading this blog, you may actually be that friend. Help them find skincare routine peace by gifting a few items from our gift guide for the Skincare Obsessed Friend. Tip: If your friend is worried about wrinkles, make sure to get them our Skin Matrix and a satin pillowcase. Together, they will work to fight the signs of aging.

1. Key West Aloe, Gentle Aloe Facial Cleanser
2. Sephora, Foreo Luna Mini
3. Key West Aloe, Skin Matrix
4. MAC, Makeup Bag
5. Key West Aloe, Too Cool
6. Savvy Sleepers, Satin Pillowcase
7. Key West Aloe, Cucumber Undereye Gel
8. Key West Aloe, Environmental Defense SPF 15
9. Amazon, Jade Roller

Gifts For The Beach Bums

The best gift for a beach bum is something they can use when the weather warms up. Grab one of the gifts from our Key West Aloe certified list. Trust us, any beach bum will love to unwrap one of these gifts.

1. Key West Aloe, Sunsorb Lip Balm
2. Macy’s, Beach Bag
3. Warby Parker, Sunglasses
4. Key West Aloe, Save A Tan
5. Roxy, Beach Hat
6. Bed, Bath & Beyond, Beach Umbrella
7. Key West Aloe, Sunsrob SPF 50+
8. Target, Beach Chair
9. Key West Aloe, Aloe Max 100

Gifts For The Hostess

The holiday season is just a fun way to say dinner party season. Don’t show up to your friend’s house without an appropriate gift. Our below gift guide is a great place to start when shopping for your hospitable hostess. Stock up on a few, universally appealing gifts so you’re never caught off guard. (Tip: if they have a puppy, they’ll love you if you bring a gift for their fur-baby.)

1. Ikea, Vase
2. Target, Marble & Wood Cutting Board
3. Key West Aloe, All About Coconut
4. Amazon, Cookbook
5. Key West Aloe, Pampered Pup
6. Wayfair, Throw Blanket
7. Key West Aloe, All-Natural Soy Candle
8. Key West Aloe, Aloethera Shower Essentials
9. The Meadow, Salt Set

Gifts For The Workout Friend

Whether they currently workout or are planning on a lifestyle trend at the start of 2018, any of these items will delight your friend who likes to go to the gym. The gym bag and water bottle will let your friend stay stylish as they enter the gym and the skincare products will keep they stylish as they leave.

1. Key West Aloe, Gentle Aloe Facial Cleanser
2. Target, Wireless Earbuds
3. Target, S’well Water Bottle
4. Fabletics, The Shift Bag II
5. Key West Aloe, Mango Bath & Shower Gel
6. Target, Yoga Mat
7. Key West Aloe, Marine Mud Mask
8. Key West Aloe, Mango Shampoo & Conditioner
9. Key West Aloe, Aloethera Intensive Body Moisturizer

Gifts For The Manly Man

Searching for a gift for the men in your life is not an easy task. We created a list of items any man would enjoy getting. Tip: Gifting your guy hot sauce could be a great way to get him to cook for you.

1. Key West Aloe, Quench Anti-Aging Moisturizing Gel
2. Straightrazors.com, Straight Razor
3. Modcloth, Socks
4. Whisky Stones, Whisky Stones
5. Key West Aloe, Zele Aftershave Gel
6. Thoughtfully, Hot Sauce
7. Key West Aloe, Sensitive Skin Shave Gel
8. The Two Guys Bow Tie, Wooden Bow Tie
9. Key West Aloe, Key West For Men
10. Macy’s, Leather Wallet

Need more gifting options? Check out all of our Aloe Vera based skincare gifts on our website. Also, consider signing up for our newsletter to get the best deals on your favorites.

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Exfoliation 101: The Best & Worst Times to Exfoliate

There are certain parts of our skin-care regimen that come pretty easy. We know when to cleanse and moisturize to focus on the intensive stuff at night before bed and focus on SPF during the day. But where does exfoliation fit? Should you exfoliate in the morning to start your day or at night before bed?  Many people want the specifics on the best time to use an exfoliant, so here’s our take on this matter.

The best and worst time to exfoliate is really dependent on you (sorry, we know, not much help!) But, if you wear makeup every day, exfoliating at night would help remove makeup particles from your skin and open up your pores to more of a cleansing. Yet, if your face is duller or if you have oilier skin, exfoliating in the morning would be best to provide your skin with a fresh glow to start your day.

So, there’s no better or worse time to exfoliate, it really just depends on your skin type and preference. You should concentrate on exfoliating once or twice a week on average. You can up the frequency,  just make sure you pay attention to how your skin reacts to the exfoliation so you do not irritate your skin.

Designed by Freepik

With face scrubs, you get more control on the exfoliation because you can vary the pressure you apply when applying the product. The best way to utilize a facial scrub is to make circular movements all over your face when you scrub.  Some days you might want to do harder pressure with less frequency of those little circular movements while other days you might want to focus on lighter pressure with more frequency.

If a physical exfoliation is too harsh for your skin, consider swapping it out for a chemical exfoliating product like our KWA Solution. Don’t let the chemical part intimidate you, a chemical exfoliate will gently remove dead skin cells with harmless chemicals like alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids (AHAs and BHAs). In fact, in most cases, chemical exfoliators are considered better for you skin especially if you are sensitive or acne-prone. If you do go the chemical route, you should only use that product at night and limit your exposure to UV rays by wearing an SPF during the day.

Whether you chose to exfoliate in the morning or night, with a physical or chemical exfoliant, it’s important to remember to always moisturize your face and utilize SPF during the day!

Need more fall advice? Sign up for our newsletter to get more tips and tricks. Follow Key West Aloe and join the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.

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Get Ready for No-Shave November with our Beard Grooming Tips

No-Shave November Logo
No-Shave November – A unique way to grow cancer awareness. Photo: No-Shave.org

Have you ever noticed that when fall comes around more and more men are sporting beards? There are a ton of reasons why men decide to grow their facial hair but the main reason men grow their beards in November is for No-Shave November. What’s that you ask.

No-Shave November is a month-long journey where participants stop shaving and grooming in order to start a conversation and raise awareness about cancer prevention.  The goal of No-Shave November is to grow awareness by letting your hair grow wild and free (something cancer patients don’t always get to do during treatment). Instead of spending your money on shaving supplies, you could take that money and donate it to a charity that will help educate the public about cancer prevention and help save lives. 

This campaign was started in 2009 by a Chicagoland Hill family when they decide to raise money for charity. The family lost their father to colon cancer in November 2007 and were very passionate about bringing more awareness to cancer. Since 2009, the organization has raised over $2 million dollars and hopes to one day eradicate cancer.

Young Man grooming his beard by barber
Designed by Freepik

Two Ways to Participate

There are two ways for you and your family to get involved with No-Shave November.

  1. Stop shaving and officially register on their website. You will get a personal fundraising page that can be shared on social media, via email or through your family and friends. Women can participate too – they may not grow beards but they can stop shaving their legs. It will certainly start a conversation.
  2. If you’re not ready to put the razor down, consider donating to a friend who is.

Beard Grooming Tips

Key West Aloe Men Products
Key West Aloe Men Products, Photo: Key West Aloe

For all of the men taking option 1, we’ve created a list filled with our top 5 beard grooming tips needed to stylishly make it through November.

Tip #1: Keep it Clean
Like the hair on your head, you need to regularly wash your beard. We suggest using a mild shampoo to gently cleanse away the dirt and grime you collect during the day. Our Aloethera Moisturizing Shampoo is perfect because the aloe softens the hair follicle but does not have an overpowering scent. Follow up with a conditioner to help strengthen your beard.

Tip #2: Don’t neglect your face
Growing a beard is not an excuse to forgo your daily skincare routine. Make sure to still cleanse your entire face and consider still using your regular aftershave. Our Zele Aftershave Gel is perfect for the neck area because it will keep your neckline moisturized and since it’s an anti-bacterial and an anti-fungal, it will keep the area clean.

If you’re not into aftershave, try a moisturizer made specifically men. This year, we released a product called Quench Anti-Aging Moisturizing Gel. It’s made for the manly man who is also worried about showing his age. The Lab Certified Aloe Vera combined with the Hyaluronate Acid work together to fight the signs of aging.

Key West Aloe Men Products
Key West Aloe Men Products, Photo: Key West Aloe

Tip #3: Exfoliate during the growing stages
Ingrown hairs are a thing. You may not experience them a lot on your face because you regularly shave but when you stop shaving ingrown hairs may start popping up. How do you combat ingrown hairs? By exfoliating of course. Quench EX Face & Body Scrub is the perfect facial scrub to help stop ingrown hairs. Our 5 in 1 Aloe Foundation will leave your skin hydrated while the apricot seeds will gently remove dead skin cells that are great at blocking the hair follicle creating ingrown hair.

Tip #4: Keep it in check with a trim
The whole point of No Shave November is to bring increase cancer awareness not to grow a castaway beard like Tom Hanks. Keep it in check with a regular trim. Birchbox has a great article on their blog on how to trim your beard. Check them out if your beard needs some extra love.

Tip #5: Be patient & prepared
Beards do not grow overnight. Like puberty, you may have a few days of really awkward facial hair. Don’t let that discourage you. If you follow the above tips and keep at it, by the end of the month you can have an impressive beard. No-Shave November may turn into “Still Not Shaving December” and “I guess I’m a bearded guy January.”

Need more grooming tips? Sign up for our newsletter to get more tips and tricks. Follow Key West Aloe and join the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.

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Our Favorite Instagrammers – October 2017

Instagram

We have a confession to make. We LOVE Instagram. There are so many talented people on the platform who share amazing photos. We are inspired every day by the content posted on our feed, so much so that we had to create a monthly blog post featuring our favorite Instagrammers from the past month.

Check out our favorite accounts from October – We hope you love them as much as we do.

@PoppybassetWe first discovered Poppy’s Instagram account in September when her mom tagged us in an Instagram story. We fell in love with her adorable puppy face and amazing talent. Luckily, we were able to partner up and provided Poppy with items for a giveaway. Poppy post regularly on both Insta Stories and her feed. Don’t miss one photo – follow her on Instagram now!

 

A Key West tradition… #keywest #funinkeywest #sloppyjoeskeywest #keywestlife #keywesttradition #daydrinking

A post shared by Insider Tips on Key West (@funinkeywest) on

@Funinkeywest: The Fun In Key West Instagram account is run by Kevin and Michele O’Connor from Fun In Key West. They provide free travel services including advice, help with booking rooms and tips on the best spots in Key West. Their account is also full of Key West photos. If you can’t make it to our lovely island, the Fun In Key West account is the perfect substitute.

 

Did you catch this look on DressedforTime.com? I’ve partnered with a handful of other fashionable ladies to share their take on being bold and wearing red for fall! I love how everyone’s interpretation is a bit different. I went casual chic with distressed jeans, leopard flats and a classic little black bag, paired with this longer-length bell-sleeve top from @shopthemint. Don’t forget to sign up for their newsletter to take $10 off your first order! #shopthemint #ad . . . . . . . . . #redtop#skinnyjeans#distressedjeans#rippedjeans#bluejeans#bellsleeves#fallfashion#falltrends#falltrends2017#boutiqueshopping#boutiquefashion#linkup#sunnies#leopardflats#studdedflats#plusmodelmag#psstyle#bloggerstyle#rocksbox#rocksboxitgirl

A post shared by Kristin Taylor 💋 (@dressedfortime) on

@dressedfortime: Kristin from Dressed for Time is one of our favorite fashion bloggers. She always looks classy and recommends items anyone can afford and wear. Definitely check out Kristin on @dressedfortime  or her blog for outfit inspo.

 

@hemleva: As a plant-based skincare company, we can’t help but feel inspired every time @hemleva’s post pop up on our feed. Samantha’s profile is full of handmade enamel pins and air plants. If you see something you like, you can purchase it on her website too.

 

@inspiredtotaste: These are cookies. Need we say more? Not only do Liz Joy’s cookies look delicious, they are practically works of art. Which make sense because Liz is an art director turned baker.

 

What are your favorite Instagram accounts? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on our Instagram or Facebook accounts. Don’t forget to join our family by signing up for our newsletter. We share special offers, tips, tricks, and news.

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Say Cheese! Best Spots to Take Photos in Key West

Photos in Key West on white background with sunglasses, an iphone and a camera.
Aerial View of Key West
Aerial View of Key West. Photo: commons.wikimedia

For such a small island, there are so many great photo opportunities. Check out all the snap-worthy spots below!

Mile Marker 0

Mile Marker 0 in Key West located on the corner of Fleming Street and Whitehead Street. Photo: Key West

Key West Lighthouse

Key West Lighthouse located at 938 Whitehead St.
Key West Lighthouse located at 938 Whitehead St. Photo: Key West Aloe

Southernmost Point Buoy

Southernmost Point Buoy located at Whitehead St & South St.
Southernmost Point Buoy located at Whitehead St & South St. Photo: Key West Aloe

Cuban Coffee Queen

Cuban Coffee Queen located at 284 Margaret St.
Cuban Coffee Queen located at 284 Margaret St. Photo: Key West Aloe

Sunset Pier

Sunset Pier located at 0 Duval St.
Sunset Pier located at 0 Duval St. Photo: Key West Aloe

Smathers Beach

Smathers Beach located at 2601 S Roosevelt Blvd. Photo: Ulla Moilanen

Hemmingway Museum 

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum located at 907 Whitehead St. Photo: Ulla Moilanen

Mallory Square

Welcome to Mallory Square
Photo: Flickr – Sam Howzit

Blue Haven

Blue Haven located at 729 Thomas St.
Blue Haven located at 729 Thomas St. Photo: Key West Aloe

Key West Aloe (we couldn’t resist)

Georgene and Kendra love our Sunsorb SPF 30
Georgene and Kendra love our Sunsorb SPF 30. Photo: Key West Aloe

Did your favorite spot make the list? If not, tell us in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook and Instagram. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more skin care tips & tricks.

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Aloe Vera – Not Just For Sunburns

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While most people use Aloe Vera to treat sunburns, many are unaware of the powerful moisturizing benefits this plant can have on dry skin or the amazing benefits it can have on healthy skin. The substance found within the spiny leaves of Aloe has long been referred to as “Nature’s Gift” for burns and wound care and is ready to make its debut into the world of fall and winter skincare.

Much more than a simple “burn plant,” Aloe Vera can play a significant role in the protection and maintenance of healthy skin. That’s why Aloe Vera is the foundation of all of  Key West Aloe products.

Photo: Key West Aloe

Where Does Aloe Vera Come From

Originally from Africa, the Aloe species now grows in Australia, Aruba, Barbados, Belize, Nigeria, Paraguay and the United States. As Aloe is a succulent plant that is very effective in retaining water, it is able to thrive in very dry areas.

The Aloe species contains over 400 different varieties, with Aloe Vera being the most commonly used for topical skin applications. Aloe Vera is about 95% water and contains more than 200 phytonutrients including vitamins, minerals, amino acids and most importantly polysaccharides. Polysaccharides are long chains of sugar molecules that contribute to many biological processes and are both anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. This is why Aloe Vera is very effective in wound healing. It has also been shown to stimulate collagen production, reduce oxidative stress and stimulate the immune system. What more could you ask for in a skin care ingredient! 

Photo: Key West Aloe

Aloe Vera Provides Optimal Fall & Winter  Relief

During the harsh winter months, the cold weather can take a toll on the skin leaving it dry, chapped and irritated. Most people will slatter on oil and creams to help retain the moisture, completely forgetting about their favorite sunburn relief ingredient – Aloe! That’s a huge mistake.

Oils and butters do a great job at sealing in the moisture content of the skin and should be used during the colder months. What people mistakenly do is add the oil or butter onto their skin before adding any additional moisture first. These ingredients do not soak into the skin, instead, it sits on top resulting in a sticky, yet still dry skin. Aloe Vera does the exact opposite. Instead of sitting on top of the skin, Aloe works its magic by deeply penetrating the skin and helping it absorb four times the moisture of water alone. It helps pores open and receives hydration without clogging them.

Photo: Key West Aloe

To relieve dry skin we suggest first replenishing the skin’s moisture level with Aloe Vera and then sealing that moisture in with an oil or a butter. Our Aloethera Intensive Body Moisturizer is the perfect product for this. Not only will this lotion hydrate your skin, it will also seal in all of the moisturizing benefits you get from the Aloe. Aloethera Intensive Body Moisturizer is made with 30% Lab Certified Aloe Vera plus sunflower oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, mango butter, shea butter and cocoa butter. Together, these ingredients work together to protect and restore dry winter skin.

Check out the entire Aloethera line for your fall and winter skincare needs.

Do you use Aloe Vera for something else besides sunburns? If so, let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook and Instagram. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more skin care tips & tricks.

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What is Fantasy Fest?

Source: Fantasy Fest

Our founders, Frank Romano and Joe Liszka, were real pillars of the Key West community. Not only did they come up with the idea of Key West Aloe, they also donated their time and money to multiple organizations, were both voted Humanitarian of The Year and are part founders of Key West’s own Fantasy Fest.

So what is Fantasy Fest?

It’s kind of hard to describe but Fantasy Fest is a 10-day street festival that invites grown-ups to come out and play while still celebrating the Florida Keys culture. It’s essentially one big party where everyone can come and have a good time. On top of that, many of the events raise money for local non-profits. Who doesn’t love a party that gives back?

Source: Fantasy Fest

So how did it get started?

Back in the day, October in Key West was a pretty slow time. The tourists that flocked to the island during their summer vacation were now back at work or school and were not due back until later in the year closer to Christmas. It was so slow that many businesses closed their doors for a few months deciding it was better to relocate than attempt to stay open during the “slow season.”

One October day in the late 70s Joe Liszka brought Frank Romano down to Duval Street and pitched him a grand idea – To host a huge celebration in October that will drive tourist to Key West and help boost the economy during the slow period. We imagine Joe painted a very exciting event because not only did he get his partner to agree to help plan this party, he also looped in two other local businessmen to help execute the first Fantasy Fest.

It took the foursome an entire year to plan the first parade. Over 5,000 people showed up to enjoy the festival and thanks to a few outspoken people, the event gained more and more attention having up to 75,000 people from all over the country flock to take part in the fun events.

Source: Fantasy Fest – Facebook

Fun & Fundraising 

The 10-day extravaganza is jam-packed full of adult-themed fun. There are costume parties, family fun bike rides and Halloween themed 5Ks, cultural and art events and of course parades!

While Fantasy Fest is all about enjoying yourself, the festival also has some altruistic moments. The 2017 Royal Coronation Ball is a fundraising event that raises money for AIDS Help. The King and Queen of Fantasy Fest are the candidates who raise the most money for AIDS Help. Last year, the candidates raised over $173,00 for the health organization.

Are you going to Fantasy Fest? Check out the full schedule on the Official Fantasy Fest Website. Also, sign up for our newsletter to get more tips and tricks. Follow Key West Aloe and join the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.

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How Can You Help The Florida Keys

Photo: Key West Aloe

On September 10th, 2017, Hurricane Irma made landfall in The Florida Keys as a Category 4 hurricane. Irma left The Florida Keys with flooded streets, damaged buildings and roadways, neighborhoods without power and general debris.

The news always tells you how to prepare for an incoming hurricane but cannot always offer insights on how to recover from the storm. Right now, Key West is in recovery mode. There is a lot of clean up and repair that needs to be done to return our beloved islands to their original condition but our passion and love for the area will fuel us to work hard to restore our home.

As you hear more and more about the Florida Keys condition after Irma you may wonder how can you help. We’ve outlined a few ways that you can make a positive impact on the Keys Community.

Photo: Key West Aloe

Donate Supplies

When a natural disaster strikes, our first instinct is to donate food and goods to those in need. If you have any extra water or hurricane supplies at your home, considering donating to the relief effort. Also, think about little items that are easy to forget like toiletries, diapers, pet food, bug spray, fans and sunscreen.

Once you’ve collected your items, next you must locate your nearest relief organization. We recommend reaching out and confirming there is a need for those good. After confirming, pack and labels your goods and drop them off at your organization of choice. If you have some time, also consider staying and lending a hand.

Photo: Key West Aloe

Donate Money

While donating supplies is a great way to help the recovery efforts, Monroe County stated they preferred cash donations. Their Facebook post on September 18th, excerpt below, explains why.

“While residents of the Florida Keys are grateful for the outpouring of donations of clothing, food and other items from across the U.S., the hurricane relief response team is having to dedicate scarce resources to processing and storing these goods. At this time, they are requesting that those wanting to assist with the relief effort make cash donations to established relief organizations. These donations will help agencies purchase precisely what the community needs. Cash donations also reduce the logistical requirements that come with donated goods.”

With that in mind, Key West Aloe is collecting donations for Hurricane Irma Relief. All proceeds will be donated to United Way of The Florida Keys’ Irma Relief Fund. 100% of the donations raised will be distributed to smaller nonprofits throughout Monroe County who may not have the capacity to generate their own funds. Visit our website to learn more and to donate. 

Photo: Key West Aloe

Donate Time

Sometimes, all that’s needed is a helping hand. We’ve listed multiple ways you can donate your time by volunteering. We will do our best to keep this list current.

Volunteer Florida is a statewide volunteer agency helping organize local volunteers in Monroe County. You can register online or call the county’s Citizen Information Hotline at 800-995-5505.

OneBlood is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) community asset responsible for providing safe, available and affordable blood. Find a Big Red Bus® or a donation center and schedule your appointment today.

The Salvation Army will have various opportunities for you to volunteer your time.

Share

If none of the above options are possible, consider sharing this post or other recover efforts with your friends and family. The more people aware, the more opportunities for help become available.

Carol Shaughnessy from Keys Voices said it best in her recent post, “Irma might have battered the Keys’ landscape, but the storm couldn’t touch the island chain’s greatest asset and greatest strength: the tough, independent, creative, warmhearted spirit of its people.”

Together, we can rebuild The Florida Keys. Thank you in advance for your support!

For more information about the Keys Recovery efforts, please visit keysrecovery.org. 

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Coffee Naps, Do they really work?

Feeling stressed and fatigued by your hectic schedule? Try a caffeine power nap this International Coffee Day!

I love Coffee
Source: stokpic.com

With the hustle and bustle of life, late night parties, (And, in our case, early wake up calls courtesy of the Key West roosters)it is easy to feel a bit run down this time of year.  A simple solution? Coffee + Power Nap= Caffeine Nap.

Yes, we know caffeine is no substitute for 8+ hours of sleep. We also know that daily life doesn’t always give us a full 8 hours for sale. Sometimes we need a quick fix.

While there are many variations to the Caffeine Nap, the basics are quite simple.

Drink a cup of coffee, and immediately take a 20-minute nap.

This phenomenon has picked up steam on the internet in the last few years, but the science behind it dates back more than ten years to research from Loughborough University in the UK. Researchers tried several different treatments on sleepy drivers to determine the best method to stay awake, thus cutting down on fatigue-related accidents. It takes about 15 minutes for caffeine to kick in, or at least to begin to keep one awake, so in theory, should make you feel more alert following the power nap. As with regular power naps, the point of a caffeine nap is not to legitimately fall fast asleep; simply dozing with one’s eyes closed is enough to clear your brain of adenosine, the chemical that makes us feel cloudy and tired. The coffee adds a one-two punch that should have you up and feeling refreshed.

Some tips:

A “cup” of coffee is just that.  A standard cup. Skip the extra tall $7 white chocolate mocha and save it for when you can actually enjoy it. Even if you don’t like regular coffee, trust us. It works the best and doesn’t involve the inevitable sugar crash that comes with fancier beverages.

 Don’t overdo it. Don’t nap longer than 15-20 minutes, or you will wake up feeling groggy and defeat the whole point.

Throw in a pain reliever. If your fatigue is accompanied by a mind-splitting headache, mix a packet of headache powder like Goodies into the coffee. Yes, it will taste nasty, but again, good taste really isn’t the point here. The aspirin will begin to work on the headache while you nap. (Obviously, know the precautions of aspirin and your tolerance to it.)

Best Added Boost? If you STILL need an extra boost, keep a stash of Key West Aloe Cucumber Undereye Gel cold in the fridge, and apply liberally around your eyes before you nap. Not only will it immediately soothe tired and sore eyes, its high concentration of aloe will draw moisture into your skin, and you will wake up looking refreshed, and not like the undead.

Think of it as an emergency wake-up kit. Most of us find ourselves in that situation sooner or later. But seriously, the preventative approach-getting a decent night’s rest on a regular basis-should be our first priority. Now if we could only get the roosters to understand…

Need more fall skincare advice? Sign up for our newsletter to get more tips and tricks. Follow Key West Aloe and join the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.

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Best Places to Shop in Old Town Key West

Welcome To Key West
Photo: Flickr – Cayobo

One of the best things about Key West is its diversity and its support of small businesses. While there are big brands located on the island like Ron Jon Surf Shop and Banana Republic, those big names are outnumbered by locally owned businesses. And like the people of the island, the local shops are unique and cater to the true, Key West lifestyle.

You can find whatever your heart desires in Key West. With so many great stores, it can be hard to decide which ones you must stop at during your visit. We’ve narrowed down the list for you to the top 5 shops in Old Town Key West you can’t miss.

Welcome to Mallory Square
Photo: Flickr – Sam Howzit

Mallory Square

Mallory Square has always been an important part of Key West with its history stretching back to the early 1820’s. Back then, the area was home to the Tift family warehouse where the famous Asa Tift could store his goods found from shipwrecks off the coast of Florida. Now the area is home to over 30 shops and hosts the nightly art festival “Sunset Celebration.” One of our favorite shops located in Mallory Square is the Shell Warehouse. Inside, you can find great souvenirs that like empty conch shells and sand dollars. These shells make great gifts for both friends and family and are a great way to remember your Key West Vacation.

Photo: Books & Books

Books & Books @ The Studios of Key West

So many great writers have called Key West home – Ernest Hemingway, Tennesse Williams and Robert Frost. With all of these iconic writers living on the island, it stands to reason that we would have a great bookstore to share their stories. Books & Books @ The Studios of Key West is that bookstore. Books & Books is a “locally-owned, nonprofit, independently-minded neighborhood bookstore” that is dedicated to curating a selection of books turned to the interest and reading habits of the island. Pop into the former Masonic Temple to browse over 5 thousand titles and see what Conch’s are currently reading!

Kino Sandals 

Floridians live in sandals all year long. Conchs live in Kino Sandals handmade in the Greene Street factory. If you or your loved ones are looking for a comfortable and durable shoe then look no further than Kino Sandal. These sandals are made only in Key West using leather straps and natural rubber seals. Selecting your perfect Kino is like selecting a shoe made just for your feet. Pop by and check it out yourself. We bet you’ll leave it a pair… or two.

Key Lime Pie Factory

A trip to Key West is not complete until you’ve had key lime pie. While there are many places on the island where you can get key lime pie, our favorite spot is the Key Lime Pie Factory. They sell key lime pie by the slice and other goodies that will last longer than the pie. Located on Greene Street, you can grab a slice of pie before heading to Mallory Square for Sunset Celebration.

Photo: Key West Aloe

Key West Aloe

We know we’re a little biased here but Key West Aloe is a must for anyone visiting the Keys. Not only do we sell Aloe Vera based skin care products that will soothe and nourish your sunkissed skin, we also sell anti-aging products that will never tell your age and let you make your own Tropical Salt Scrub! Our Greene Street Store is located in the historic Telegraph Office and just a few steps away from the other shops on this list. Stop in to experience the Key West Aloe Difference.

Did we miss your favorite spot to shop in Old Town Key West? Let us know in the comments below!

Want more Key West Tips? Sign up for our newsletter to get more and follow Key West Aloe and join the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.

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Featured Partner: Boxelder

A beautiful aerial view of Downtown Sanford
Photo: Alive After 5 Facebook

Have you heard of Sanford, Florida? It’s one of the oldest incorporated cities in Central Florida – a cousin, of sorts, to the well-traveled city of Orlando.

The city is beautiful with towering oaks trees and 19th-century Victorian homes lining the brick roads. It’s booming with shoppers browsing the antique shops, restaurants and art galleries in Downtown. Lucky for us, Boxelder, a boutique gift store offering a modern selection of affordable gift items, including Key West Aloe products, is right in the middle of Sanford. We caught up with Boxelder’s owner Kyle Perry and had a chance to learn more about him, his boutique gift shop, and his fun city.

Key West Aloe: When & why did you open Boxelder?
Kyle: My interest in gift shops developed over my retail career with Restoration Hardware and later with Crabtree & Evelyn. I took my interest and experience and opened Boxelder in early 2013. As a Florida native, Key West Aloe was a natural product choice for my gift shop and I have proudly featured the products for almost 4 years!

A inside view of Boxelder
Photo: Boxelder

KWA: Describe your store in one sentence.
K: A boutique gift shop with an assortment of “unique to the local marketplace” merchandise.

KWA: What Key West Aloe products do you carry?
K: Tropical lotions, full Facial Care line, full KWA line, Aloethera line (lotions, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner)

KWA: Besides KWA skin care, what other products do you carry in your store?
K: Body care products, soy candles, handbags, jewelry, kitchen accessories, bar accessories & greeting cards.

KWA: What’s your favorite KWA product?
K: Frangipani Lotion

KWA: Tell us more about your location?
K: We are in the middle of Historic Downtown Sanford which has other great shops, restaurants and a rapidly emerging microbrewery scene with two currently open and four in development.

Bath & body products sold my key west aloe

Thank you, Kyle, for sharing your store with us! We are proud to have you as a member of the Key West Aloe family. If any of our readers are in the Sanford, FL area, stop in Boxelder and say hello!

Check them out on Facebook and visit their store!
Boxelder
278 South Palmetto Avenue
Sanford, FL 32771
407-323-6060
Mon-Sun: 10 am to 5 pm
Like them on Facebook

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What’s My Skin Type?

Created by Benzoix – Freepik.com

Have you walked into the skin care section of a store and just aimlessly stared at all of the different product options. There are 20+ different types of cleansers, exfoliators that also cleanse the skin, moisturizers that are a gel, cream or even a combination of both and advance products that reduce the appearance of pores. It’s very easy to get lost in all of the options.

If you feel a little overwhelmed when it comes to skincare, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Before heading to the skin care aisle, we suggest starting with the basics by figuring out your skin type. Knowledge is power and when it comes to skin care, knowing your skin type gives you the power to choose the right products and routine for you.

Generally, skin can fall under one of four different categories.

Having normal skin means you have a good balance of moisture, have barely visible pores, and have an even and smooth complexion. Most people are lucky enough to have normal skin, but if not maintained, skin can fall into of the other categories listed below.

If normal skin had a great balance of moisture, dry skin does not have enough natural moisture. People with dry skin often have dull and flaky skin. There are many reasons your skin is dry. You could naturally have dry skin, the weather can be drying out your face or you are taking a new medication that creates flaky skin. Whatever the reasoning, using a gentle cleansing face wash and a rich moisturizer can help hydrate the skin.

If you have oily skin, you probably know it. People with oily skin have an excess of oil on the face and if allowed to build up can result in a shiny look. This skin type is most common in youth, especially after puberty hits, but can affect any age. Many people with oily skin notice more oil in their T-zone, also know as the forehead, nose and chin area. Your first instinct may be to avoid moisturizers, but we don’t suggest it. Instead, find an oil-free, noncomedogenic moisturizer to help keep your skin soft with that added greasy feeling.

Combination skin can be a little trickier because it’s a combination of both oily and dry skin. Usually, the T-Zone is oily and the cheek area remains dry. People with combination skin often have to use a variety of products to properly care for their skin. If you have combination skin, it’s important to determine which parts of your face is oily and which parts are dry.

Do you fall under normal, oily, dry or maybe a combination? Use these three steps below to determine your skin type.

  1. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser and pat dry.
  2. Wait a few hours for your skin to return to its natural state.
  3. Examine your face in the mirror paying special attention to the T-Zone — the forehead, nose and chin areas.

What do you see?

If your skin shows no signs of flaking or oiliness and feels smooth, you’ve got normal skin. Try a lightweight moisturizer like Day Moist to maintain your smooth complexion.

If your skin looks shiny and feels slick to the touch, you’ve got oily skin. Try a gentle exfoliator like Oatmeal Facial Scrub to remove oil build up.

If your skin feels tight and has flakes in some areas, you’ve got dry skin. Try an intense moisturizer like Night Moist to give your skin an extra boost of hydration.

If all of the above applies, you have an oily T-Zone but everywhere else is normal to dry, you’ve got combination skin. Try a pH-balanced cleanser like Gentle Aloe Facial Cleanser to wash your face without drying out your skin.

Remember, your skin type will change over time so it’s good to revisit this post to make sure the products you’re buying are still working for your skin.

Share your skin type with us in the comments below or on Facebook or Instagram and we can help you build the perfect skincare routine.

Need more fall skincare advice? Sign up for our newsletter to get more tips and tricks.  

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45 Years Old & You Can’t Tell

Every successful business owner had an “ah-ha” moment that motivated them to start a new company. For Frank Romano and Joe Liszka, our founders, that “ah-ha” moment was a sunburn.

The native New Yorkers were vacationing in sunny Key West and made the timeless mistake of not using protection. Luckily, a local friend was growing Aloe Vera in their yard. The friend broke off a piece of this tropical plant and smeared the gel on Frank’s burn. The pain stopped immediately. The next day, Frank was so impressed that the sunburn practically disappeared he decided to dig a little deeper into this wonderful plant.

Frank, a chemist and a cosmetic researcher, saw the magical properties of Aloe and started to wonder, “If Aloe was that effective on damaged skin, what could it do for healthy skin?” Two years of research, $21,000, and a move to Key West, the nation’s first cosmetic company to make Aloe Vera based skin care products opened their doors on November 13, 1971. They sold $36 on their first day!

2017 and Beyond

45 years later, our mission remains the same. We want to create a wide range of luxurious skin care products with nature’s best ingredient as our primary ingredient. To celebrate 45 years of business, we released our Anniversary Travel Bags in January 2017! These colorful travel bags will take you back to the 70’s when Key West Aloe used to be named Key West Fragrance & Cosmetic Factory. Back then, you could watch Frank or Joe make the products in the window of our Front Street location and shipping was only $1.50.

The Anniversary Travel Bags features a Key West Hand Print Fabrics design made exclusively for Key West Aloe. While the history behind the print isn’t clear, we believe the print was created by Suzie DePoo, staff designer at Key West Hand Print Fabrics and the creator of many designs that would eventually become Lilly Pulitzer’s trademark. Back in the day, this print was on everything Key West Aloe produced including our bags, catalog and some packaging.

Each travel sets comes with a moisturizing body wash, a hydrating body lotion, a softening shampoo, and a strengthening conditioner. The sets are available in our most popular scents – Key Lime, Mango, Coconut, Aloethera  – and come in two different sizes.

Discover the secret of our Aloe and find the out why we are Florida’s favorite Aloe Vera brand!

Have you been to our original factory in Key West? Share your story with us below!

 

Do You Need Sunscreen In The Fall?

Photo: Key West Aloe

Summer is gone and Fall is here. It’s time to pack your summer bathing suits and sandals and swap it out for sweaters and boots. We’ve already written a post about transitioning your skin care routine into Fall & Winter but you still may be wondering, do you need sunscreen in the Fall & Winter?

If you read our last blog post,  you already know the answer is YES!

Sun protection is not a seasonal thing that you bring out when your outside more. You should always wear sunscreen to protect yourself from harmful UVA and UVB sun rays.

Here are other questions you may still have about sunscreen:

  • Do I need to wear sunscreen if I have an office job? YES
  • I have SPF Makeup, do I need any additional protection? YES
  • I don’t get sunburns, do I still need sunscreen? YES

Continue your education and get Sun Smart with Key West Aloe! Check out the full infographic below and let us know if you learned anything new.

Get SunSmart with Key West Aloe
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