Thursday, March 28, 2013

Review: Burt's Bee Sensitive Cleansing Towelettes

Let's put this simply: I'm lazy.

Well, I prefer to say low maintenance. But the truth is, I don't want to have to wash my face morning and night. It's a pain to pull my hair back, lean over the sink, get water everywhere, never rinse it off completely. So for a long time, I didn't wash my face but once a day, if I showered. Makeup on at night? Didn't matter. I would rather go to sleep with makeup on my face than have to take the time to wash my face before I went to bed.

And then I discovered the magic of face wipes.

Glorious, wonderful invention of wo/man.

I've been bouncing around between brands for a while now. The problem is that a lot of the wipes leave my skin feeling dry and tight, which is awful. Even with moisturizer, I feel like there's a residue. And let's be honest, I started using wipes because I'm lazy, so I'm not inclined to rinse my face after using a face wipe. It feels pointless to me. Like, why use a wipe when you still have to rinse the residue off of your face?

Luckily, I have finally found a wipe that's nice, clean, and feels good on my skin.

These little guys are really affordable (about the same as a standard pack of any other brand at CVS), and they feel really nice.

The wipes are thick, first and foremost. Not thin and flimsy like many brands (Equate, for one). There's more than enough surface area for me to remove all of my makeup easily with a single wipe. 

The ingredients are all pretty respectable, which is important when a product is soaking into the skin on your face. The smell is pleasant, not too noticeable. And best of all, it doesn't make my skin feel strange. Unlike Biore's Daily Cleansing wipes, there is no tingling sensation. No weird needle-like pain. My skin doesn't feel taut or dried out. 

Now, I would still apply moisturizer after using these, because like any soap product, it does pull away a bit of your skin's natural moisture. But this is, thus far, the least offensive wipes I've discovered.

Plus, I already use Burt's Bees lotions, balms, cremes, and chapsticks. Why not add one more of their products to my regimen?

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Review: Lush Charity Pot (Plus a comment on the use of SLS)

This product was provided to me by my best friend because she forgot for a moment that she doesn't like foodie smells. I'm certainly not complaining.

Lush's Charity Pot is an all over hand and body lotion made with lots of goodies. There's almond oil, cocoa butter, and a long list of other things that are known for having great skin benefits. This product combines all of that with a smell that is reminiscent of chocolate dipped flowers. Heavy on the chocolate (cocoa chocolate, not saccharine chocolate), the smell is guaranteed to stick with you for quite a while.

Let me start by saying that I have a love/hate relationship with Lush. And that's putting it mildly. Most of their lotions, deodorants, and massage bars are amazing. The smells are delicious and the ingredients are something I can get behind. The same goes for their message: to fight animal testing and provide good, clean, freshly made beauty products.

What I don't like is that sometimes, their front for sustainable, all natural beauty is just that: a front. 

Many of their products, particularly their shampoos and bath bombs, have ingredients that are really bad for the environment and for the human body. Their shampoos, for instance, all contain sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate. Both of these ingredients are terrible for your skin, and research is beginning to surface that they may be carcinogenic. In addition, SLS is really terrible for the environment, especially when high concentrations go down your drain and into the water and soil. It's pollution on a global scale, and a lot of people don't know about it. 

The problem is that a couple of months ago, I went to Lush to look for an all natural shampoo. Mine had run out and I was looking for something new. Something SLS free. But when I looked at the containers, SLS was sometimes listed as the first ingredient. Not even mass market shampoos are that bad. 

When I brought it up to a salesperson, she stated that they had tried to take out the SLS a couple years ago, but customers had complained because the product didn't suds and they didn't think it was as effect. Never mind the fact that I have several SLS-free products that suds up just fine, but customers are being taught that if it doesn't suds, it's not working. And that's just wrong. 

I really and truly believe that Lush needs to work on this, because as more and more research about SLS floats to the surface of the beauty industry, several companies are hopping on the bandwagon to make their products as good for people and the planet as humanly possible. But Lush continues to simply state that they make "all natural" products. And the fact that their products contain SLS is kind of pushed under the rug a lot of the time by them saying the product contains "fair trade honey" and "organic cocoa butter." 

Lush has some issues. Especially with me. 

Still, their lotions are generally pretty good. There are still some preservatives I'm iffy about, but that's relatively unavoidable when you consider that their products are made on site. 

This lotion is no different. It's smooth, thick, and creamy, without being greasy. After shaving, it makes my dry-as-a-bone legs soft and supple. Really, nothing beats it. 

The smell can be a little overpowering at first, especially if you don't like chocolate and florals, and the smell tends to stick around all day. But I like the way it smells, and I like the way it makes my skin feel. 

So for this wonderful little pot of lotion, Lush wins a point in my book. Now let's see how they react to the rising statements against their use of SLS. 

Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Miracle Finds Under Five Dollars

You remember when I said that sometimes buying cheap is the best option? Because it lets you test out a product and maybe get lucky?

This is the story of the best $5 I've ever spent on a nail product.

You see, I used to be a huge fan of Seche Vite. Everyone recommended it. It was expensive, but supposedly worth it. And, in fact, it was.

For a time.

But as you may have heard or experienced, after a couple of months, Seche Vite has a habit of getting gummy. And not just a little thick and gloopy. Oh no. It gets thick enough to drag wet polish around and off the nail. If you use a bottle of Seche Vite a month, then fine. This wouldn't be a big deal. But I don't know anyone who paints their nails that often, even for swatching.

In the end, I was severely disappointed by this "miracle" product because, for me, it wasn't worth its money. I paid $8 for it and only made it through half a bottle before it became too gluey to use.

Enter a necessary Walmart run.

While waiting for my prescriptions, I perused the beauty section like I always do. At this point, my nails were naked because I had no top coat. Suddenly, I saw a big, round bottle looking up at me from the bottom shelf. I don't know why it caught my eye, other than its sheer size, but I'm so glad I picked it up.

The price? $4.99. The effect? Awesome.

Now, don't get me wrong, this doesn't dry as fast as Seche Vite. But within five minutes, my nails are dry to the touch. No smudges, no pooling, no gumminess. And look at the size of that bottle! 

I've already had this product for two months and there have been no negatives. And the best part? I don't feel bad adding two or three coats of this because it was so cheap! 

All in all, this is definitely tiding me over until I can afford the Deborah Lippman Gel Lab. And for $5, it's something great to have in your arsenal if you're planning on swatching at all. 

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

March Birchbox - Macadamia Healing Oil Treatment

This is, honest to goodness, my first time trying hair oils. So take this review with that in mind, since I have absolutely zero basis for comparison. But as I have said, Birchbox is a great means to try new things. To step out of one's comfort zone and perhaps find something wonderful.

And that's exactly what happened!

This little miracle in a bottle is awesome!

First and foremost, a little goes a long (loooooooong) way. I only need a couple of drops for each of the three sections of my hair. And I have a lot of hair.

Second, the smell is fabulous. Clean, subtle, kind of beachy. But really, it smells like vacation. Like relaxation and calm happiness. I know, I know. Talk about abstract. But it really does make me feel happier with my existence.

Now, on the Birchbox website, it mentions that it shortens the dry time of your hair by pushing out excess water. I can't speak much to that, because I literally threw this in my hair, combed it through, and then put my hair into a bun.

What I can say is that when I took my bun down after a long day of work, my hair was gorgeous! Soft, silky, shiny, luxurious. It felt healed and supple for the first time in a long time this winter. I even made sure to leave a few days between this Macadamia product and the masque I reviewed a couple of days ago, just to be sure that I would get an honest opinion of each item on its own.

This stuff has blown me away. Really, it has.

I'm super excited to have found something new that can help with severely damaged hair. Now I have something I can strongly recommend to everyone I know. Because it honestly works!

Happy day! Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

March Birchbox - Macadamia Masque

I have a love/hate relationships with masques. I always have.

I very rarely use them, but that's mainly because every time I have used a hair masque, my hair has come out the other side greasy, smelly, and oddly textured. In fact, I recently purchased a hair masque from Sally's Beauty because I got one for free with the renewal of my membership. And you remember in the beginning, how I said sometimes it's great when you get something cheap or free because it sucks?

This was one of those times. The masque I bought left my hair so oily, that even after two washes later in the day, it still looked like I hadn't showered in a week. And now that dirt cheap product is sitting in my shower, languishing away because I refuse to use it.

So when I saw this Macadamia Oil Deep Repair Masque in my box, I was tentative. But I figured that it deserved a shot. Everything deserves a shot.

And I'm so glad I gave this stuff a chance!

This is made with macadamia and tea tree oil. I'm sure we all know the benefits of tea tree oil, but the macadamia is still a bit of a mystery for me.

Right out of the sample packet, this product is different from every other masque that I've tried. It was thick and felt kind of similar to room temperature coconut oil, but it didn't leave a greasy feeling on my hands. That's always a bonus.

It smelled nice. Clean, natural, nothing too overpowering. And it spread out nicely.

Now, on the Birchbox directions, they recommended rinsing it out with cool water. But I always use my masques when I'm in the shower, mainly so that I don't have to hop in and out over and over again, or lean awkwardly over the tub to rinse out my hair. 

So I did what I do with all conditioners (and you should do, too), and rinsed with lukewarm water. It helps seal your follicles to keep your hair looking cleaner, longer. And it seemed to suffice for this masque just fine. 

After my hair had dried, I noticed that it did seem pretty calm. Normally, winter for my hair is spent entirely up in a ponytail because the dry air makes it frizzy and unmanageable. But this product seemed to limit that. It kept it shiny and relatively free of flyaways all day long. 

But it was the next day where my hair truly shined! I only wash my hair every other day, so when I woke up to see that my hair looked soft, smooth, shiny, and flaw free, I about died. None of my usual lumps and bumps from a long night of restless sleeping. Just straight, calm hair. 

So yeah, I have to say, this product is pretty impressive. If I had more money, I would probably commit to the full size. My recommendation, though: put it in at night, rinse it out, then pull your hair into a loose top knot or sock bun to let it dry. I can guarantee you this will give you the best waves and curls ever. And no heat's needed!

If you try it, let me know how it works out for you!

Thanks for reading. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

March Birchbox - Whish Shave Cream

So, I have a secret. Normally, I use my husband's shaving cream. It's nice, good for sensitive skin, and doesn't smell like flowers had a child with candy and synthetic chemicals.

And since I'm on a roll, here's another secret: I very rarely deal with my bikini line.

Too personal? Sorry, it's relevant.

You see, I got this fancy shave cream in my Birchbox:

I'm not too picky when it comes to shaving creams. I'm really not. As long as it doesn't smell like death rolled up in aspartame and doesn't make my legs itch, I'm ok. And for my tenderest of areas, I just use an electric razor for a not-too-close shave. 

Yeah, I don't wear bathing suits that often. It's not a big deal. 

But for those with sensitive skin, or those who shave their bikini line really often, Whish has come up with the perfect solution. 

This shave cream is thick, moisturizing, and elegant. Yeah, I said elegant. Because it smells like a freshly opened tin of Harney & Son's Blueberry Green tea. (I work at a coffee shop, what can I say?) And, since I had only recently shaved my legs, I had to think of some way to use it. 

The winner? My dreaded bikini line. I figure if it can make that better, it can rule the world. Well, at least rule my shower. 

My verdict? Holy. Cow. 

No nicks. Nice, smooth, close shave. No uncomfortable itchiness for days. Just a good, close, clean shave. 

I'm serious. It doesn't get any better than this. It really doesn't. I'm so impressed, I'm going to be an awesome friend and share the rest of my sample with my best friend. She's been searching for years for something that can allow her to shave and not make her skin break out in itchy, bumpy awfulness immediately after. 

My favorite part? The smell makes me want to eat it. Ok, ok. And that a tiny bit goes a very long way. 

Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 11, 2013

March Birchbox - Benetint

Yay! It's Birchbox day!

My box is pretty amazing this month, and I'm super excited to try everything in it.

First, though, is this wonderful piece of amazing:

I had been hoping that I would get Benetint in my Birchbox, and I squealed when I saw it nestled in amongst everything else!

This is the lip and cheek stain that I have been lusting after for like...ever. Seriously. This stuff is supposed to be utterly amazing. And I'm going to tell you now that it doesn't disappoint.

The brush is pretty nice. Just kinda standard for a high quality lip stain. This is nice and firm, though, which is great. And it's a lot better than the marker-like applicator that a lot of lip stains use.

And this, ladies and gents, is the awesomeness (with a coat of beeswax lip balm on top). Now, I'm super pale, and my lips kinda match that. Not bad, eh?

Here's the best part: It doesn't sink into the cracks in my lips!! Normally, with lip stains, I have this terrible problem where it looks like I'm bleeding profusely from my cracked lips. Chapstick doesn't help, balms don't help, scrubs only help minimally. I'm still searching for something that will cure my horrible lips. And with stain, balm or no balm, they just...look bad. 

This stuff, though, doesn't seem to do that as much as all of the others. Maybe it's the ingredients, the way it soaks in, the better color. Whatever it is, it makes me very, very happy. 

Note: It could do with some balm or chapstick on top. It doesn't moisten your lips (it's not supposed to, really), so mine were a little dry after application. But that's an easy problem to solve. 

Also, I've been wearing this for almost an hour now, and there is no fading, no cracking, no peeling. Just nice, subtle color. I know that this is really buildable, but the great news is that the picture is with just one tiny, itty bitty bit. Isn't that amazing! 

I know for a fact that this going to be a full size purchase. Because it is already worth every penny. 

Thanks for reading, and I'll have more goodies to post tomorrow!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Tricks and Tips : Blush

Here's a confession: when I started out with makeup, I made so many mistakes. Aw, who am I kidding? I still do! Almost every day, in fact. I do something that could be better. I have to go back and fix something I messed up on.

My biggest problem? Blush.

It took me ages to figure out how to put on blush so that it didn't look like I had put on blush. My blush was always too red, too much, to weirdly applied. And for years, I didn't wear any. I bought blush, would try it, look horrendous, and would just wash my face and go out bare faced.

After some practice (and buying a decent brush), I finally have it down.

Well, a little.

First off, you need a decent blush brush. At first, I denied this. I thought that a makeup brush is a makeup brush and I didn't want to spend tons of money on a tool. I couldn't tell the difference between a powder brush, a foundation brush, or a kabuki brush. But then I learned that, actually, the right brush can make a world of difference.

This is the blush brush that I use now. It's just the basic powder brush from Sally Beauty. 

Notice: the bristles are soft and fluffy, so application isn't too concentrated.

And here's the difference between the one that comes with blush (small, stiff) and the brush that I prefer. You can see how distinct it is. And how even that brush can make a difference.

Big secret: You don't have to spend tons and tons of money to find the right brush. The blue beauty up there? Less than a dollar at Sally's. If you have the money to blow on the best of the best tools, then fine. But for me, and for people who are just getting started, there's really no need. There are good, affordable brushes out there that can help when you're just starting out.

And honestly, I'm not a makeup artist. I'm just an average girl. I don't need the absolute best brushes because I put on makeup once a day, not 50 times a day on different people.

Basically, figure out what price range is best for you and start out small. 

Trick number two: a dry makeup sponge is your best friend for blush. 

This is the back side of my makeup sponge. Notice how red it is. 
The trick is, if you apply too much blush or the color is uneven, use a dry makeup sponge to drag the color upward. Start at the bottom of the area, and then gently use the sponge to move up toward the apple of your cheek. Once you have most of the color smudged off, you can gently pat the back of the sponge back towards your jaw line to blend. 

If done right, the sponge will pick up a good bit of the excess blush. That way you won't look like you've just been slapped. You'll look fresh faced and warm. 

It takes a bit of practice to get this technique down pat, but I think that knowing how to correct mistakes is half the battle with anything. 

Good luck and thanks for reading!