About Me

Sunday, August 9, 2015


Enough time has now passed that I have a couple of products I have completely used up -- and since it takes me a while to use things up, this means over 6 months since my last blog post. I want to make this a more regular thing again, and I really have no excuses. Let's do this.

My empties are all shower-related, but I am nearing the end of a few skin care products that hopefully I will remember to write about in another post.

Organix Weightless Hydration Coconut Water Shampoo. I bought this because I wanted to buy Organix's Coconut Milk shampoo after using it at a family member's house and loving it, but they didn't have it at the drugstore so I thought I'd try this one instead. It's good. It's not as moisturizing as the Coconut Milk one, which I have recently purchased. I like that Organix has so many different "flavors" of shampoo and that they are, actually, organic, and affordable at the drugstore. I always buy hair products at the drugstore since the higher-end products I have tried do not justify the higher price to me. I've tried Aveda, Bumble & Bumble, Paul Mitchell, Alterna, and others. My hair also seems to develop buildup easily from shampoos, so I usually keep two shampoos in my shower at a time and alternate them and this seems to help. This is easier to do when the bottles are under $10 as opposed to $20 or even $30.
Aveeno Positively Nourishing Hydrating Body Wash. I don't usually get my body wash/shower gel from the drugstore, but I was out, and for once was not in the mood to carefully research which one to try and go out of my way to get it. Most Aveeno products are a safe bet for me allergy-wise, and it seemed like a fairly new product. I liked all of the scents when I smelled them in CVS, so I randomly chose this "hydrating" one which had a fruity fig scent. This is a solid body wash -- not hydrating enough that you can skip moisturizer afterwards, but not stripping and not irritating, and I used it pretty much every day in the shower. I've actually already repurchased this but in a different scent to switch things up.

L'Occitane Essential Oil Shower Gel. It appears that this product has been discontinued, as L'Occitane tends to do. In any case I don't think I would have repurchased not -- not because it didn't do the job, but because it didn't wow me at a higher price point. It had a unisex minty, herbal scent and lathered nicely.

L'Occitane Almond Shower Oil. I am seriously shocked that I have not blogged about this before. I just went through all of my past blog posts to double check because I was that sure that I had. I've been using this on and off for years and often ending up coming back to it. I love the delicious almond scent of this oil and the other products in the L'Occitane almond line. It's very moisturizing on its own, but I like to pair it with the Almond Milk Concentrate when I get out of the shower. This does not produce much of a lather, so if you like the intense lather that comes from sulfates in most body washes you won't find that here. I do sometimes feel like I'm not getting as thoroughly "clean" as I could be when I use this, which is why I now prefer to use a regular body wash like the Aveeno one, and use the Almond Shower Oil exclusively for shaving. YouTuber Essie Button actually gave me this idea, and it does work SO well as a shaving oil. It also makes the product last longer, as it's on the pricier side.

L'Occitane Shea Butter Ultra Rich Body Scrub. This was a great scrub that lasted FOREVER. I only used it once every few weeks most of the time, and because it's so rich, a little goes a long way. It's not like most other scrubs I used in that it has a creamy base instead of an abrasive one, so it leans more toward the moisturizing side as opposed to exfoliating. It does have "finely ground nutshells," though, as its exfoliator, so when you use the right amount of pressure it does the job. I got this as a gift but I would definitely purchase it, although I would probably try the Almond scrub first to see how it compares.

Cleansing Wipes - Yes to Cucumbers, Burt's Bees Pink Grapefruit, Neutrogena Makeup Removing, Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit. I lumped these all together in one category, but I actually only use the Neutrogena Makeup Removing wipes on my face and the rest on my body after working out if I don't have time to shower. The Neutrogena Makeup Removing wipes are surprisingly the only ones that I can use on my face to remove my makeup that do not irritate my skin. The rest - even the Yes to Cucumbers - make my face beet red. I know this doesn't make any sense because the Neutrogena ones are heavily fragranced (which I don't love) and not specifically for sensitive skin, but, that's my skin for ya. Side note -- I also tried the CVS brand sensitive skin wipes at some point and had to return them because my skin hated them the most. For my body, the Burt's Bees Pink Grapefruit are probably my favorite, although they all do the job. The Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit ones are very similar in scent but the Burt's Bees scent is slightly less artificial. The Yes to ones have a crisp, clean scent. 

And, finally, I would just like to take a moment to rant about how much I hate Eos Lip Balm. In my opinion, this is the WORST lip balm of all time. The spherical shape intrigued me, but this thing got dirty. I actually think it was growing some kind of mold at some point. I started wiping it off with a tissue before every time I used it which was annoying and time-consuming. It also didn't moisturize half as well as other drugstore lip balms, like the Burt's Bees ones. 


Sunday, January 25, 2015

New Year, New Citrus

Citrus is one of the strongest scents out there, and usually people have a love it or hate it opinion. I'm choosy about how I like my citrus smells -- I love fresh-cut lemons and citrus-scented cleaning products, but despise citrus candles and perfumes (unless it's mixed heavily with a floral or vanilla scent). I recently discovered another form in which I love my citrus -- skin care. I've been using my Peaches Skin Care classic cleanser for about a year now, which contains grapefruit and orange peel oils, and I really think the citrus scent helps to wake me up in the morning. It's a great all-skin-types cleanser that removes makeup and also works well with a Clarisonic. I've almost used up the bottle and I may even repurchase (gasp!).

However, this post isn't about Peaches again. It's actually about a brand I haven't mentioned before because I've never used it -- Origins. I got two Origins moisturizers in a sample pack from Sephora -- GinZing Energy Boosting Moisturizer and High Potency Night-A-Mins. I did not have particularly high hopes since Origins gives the impression of being a "natural" brand but I suspected that their products actually had a lot of synthetic ingredients, mainly from often seeing Origins being sold in department stores. But, according to their website, Origins products are free from "parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol, mineral oil, PABA, petrolatum, paraffin, DEA, and animal products," which are all good things in my book. When I did a little research on the brand I also learned that they are owned by Estee Lauder, which owns a host of other beauty companies including Bobbi Brown, Clinique and La Mer, to name a few. 

When I tried both of the sample packs (got about three uses out of each) and didn't have an allergic reaction, plus they both smelled amazing with a strong citrus scent and sunk beautifully into my skin, I knew I was going to end up purchasing the full-size versions. A few weeks later, with my Sephora gift card in hand, I bought a limited-edition Origins kit that had full-size versions of both moisturizers, plus the GinZing eye cream and the Drink Up Intensive Overnight Moisture Mask. I was really excited for the mask, since Origins is known for their masks and I was hoping it would help clear up my occasional dry patches this time of year. Much to my disappointment, I had an immediate allergic reaction when I tested it on both my hand and neck (just to be sure) and had to wash it off both times. The eye cream is nice, but it was just about the last thing I needed as I currently have 4 eye creams in my rotation and I can never seem to use up a tube. I bought the kit specifically for the moisturizers though, and I've been using them on and off for a few weeks now and have no complaints -- no breakouts or irritation, just smooth, soft, faintly citrus-smelling skin. I use GinZing in the morning on days when I know I'm not going to be in the sun (which, admittedly, isn't too often here in Santa Barbara), and Night-A-Mins every night as the last step in my skincare routine. 

I will likely be turning to Origins when it's time to buy a new daytime moisturizer with SPF, as the one I'm currently using (Benefit Triple Performing Facial Emulsion) is fine, but I can't shake the strong, powdery, perfumed fragrance or the taste of it if it gets in my mouth. Based on the reaction I had to the mask, I'm definitely going to be testing Origins products before purchasing, but I'm looking forward to finding other skincare staples from this brand. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mascara Comparison

I haven't bought a tube of mascara in probably over a year. And yet I wear mascara nearly every day. How is this possible, you ask? Free mini mascaras seem to keep throwing themselves at me everywhere I turn -- namely, Ulta and Sephora.

I have gotten two minis of Benefit's cult-fave They're Real! Mascara, which I think is my favorite. Everyone raves about this one, and I get it. It lengthens without clumping -- what more can you want? It also works pretty well if you're one of those gals who likes to apply multiple coats. In terms of volume, I would say it's not the best choice. It gives you so much length, though, it makes you forget about volume. Interesting story -- I recently had my makeup done for a wedding by a woman who has been in the biz for years, and she absolutely hates They're Real! because she said it clumps. She also said they always use disposable wands and not the wands that come with the mascara for hygienic reasons, so the wand might be the key to They're Real!'s success (although it looks like any ordinary wand to me!).

Another luxe fave is the mini I recently got as a free gift with my Tarte BB cream purchase -- their Gifted Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara. I know their Lights, Camera, Lashes Mascara gets a lot of love, but I've never tried that one so I can only speak to Gifted which is part of their Amazonian Clay line. Like They're Real!, this mascara gives amazing length with a single coat. It can be a little quick to clump when applying multiple coats, but not too bad overall. I also feel like it gives much more volume than They're Real!, which is a big plus for me. It can be a little stubborn to remove with just my face wash, but a few swipes with eye makeup remover usually does the trick. 

My third favorite mini that I have in my makeup drawer right now is the Noir Couture 4 in 1 Mascara by Givenchy. I never buy "designer" brand makeup, so this is definitely not something I would've purchased on my own, but I was pleasantly surprised. I like the three-bulb wand style for reaching all my lashes, and it also doesn't clump and gives good length and volume. 

My least favorite mini that is currently in my rotation is the Make Up Forever Smoky Extravagant Mascara. It's bleh. Doesn't do much in terms of length or volume, but is an OK basic mascara. The cone-shaped brush also doesn't do anything for me. Pass. 

And finally, I have to mention a drugstore mascara that I love and have actually repurchased in the past: Physicians Formula Organic Wear Jumbo Lash Mascara. This is, honestly, the one I'm most likely to buy the full-size off once my minis run out. It's less than $10, natural, and does what most of the above mascaras do. I first bought this a few years ago after asking a coworker what she used on her fabulous lashes, and I just noticed they have a couple new formulas in the Organic Wear line that must've come out in the past few years. If the above mascaras are a bit on the pricey side for you, I would definitely recommend starting with this one and seeing how you like it. 

Does anyone else have a problem with knowing when to throw mascara out? You can't easily see what's left in the tube, and unless there's clearly no product on the wand, or it's clumping like crazy when it didn't use to clump, how do you know? I've never had a mascara do any of the above, so usually I just toss it after I can't remember how long I've been using it. I know different makeup products have different shelf-lives, but I usually don't follow these as I like to use things up to the last drop (or, as my husband would say, I have a compulsion to use things up to the last drop :). 

I also wanted to mention that I gave my blog a little facelift since there were some technical issues with the layout I was previously using. I don't love it, but I'm considering upgrading to a nicer blog as soon as I have the time and resources. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014


A few months ago a friend of mine started selling BeautiControl products. For those of you (like me) who are completely unfamiliar with the brand, BeautiControl is primarily sold through representatives and catalogs, like Avon or Mary Kay. BeautiControl has a smaller product line (as far as I can tell) and everything I've tried has been high-quality, better than I remember Avon or Mary Kay products being.

I've actually been using two BeautiControl moisturizers as my main moisturizers -- the BC Spa Facial Defend & Restore Moisture Lotion SPF 20 in the AM (only on days when I know I'm going to be outside the majority of the day) and BC Spa Facial Defend & Restore Night Creme in the PM. Both don't irritate my skin or cause breakouts (yay!). There also isn't any noticeable fragrance, even though the website doesn't specifically say that they are fragrance-free.

Starting with the day moisture lotion, I like that it has SPF 20 from titanium dioxide and not one of the more chemical sunscreen ingredients that usually irritate my skin, like octisalate. It comes in a squeezable plastic tube, which is my favorite kind of packaging because it protects the ingredients from destabilizing due to exposure to light and, more importantly, means you can use it up to the last drop! The consistency of the lotion is not my favorite. It looks like greasy sunscreen when you squeeze it out of the tube. When you put it on, however, it absorbs quickly and does not look shiny. I've noticed that my skin tends to get shinier throughout the day when I use this, but I should probably invest in an oil-absorbing powder to wear that would take care of this problem. And while it's certainly not drying, it's also not particularly hydrating. I should note that BeautiControl sells a heavier version for drier skin of both of the products I'm reviewing in this post, and I have not tried them. I got the lighter versions since it was the beginning of summer when I bought them.

The night creme is also light and fast-absorbing, and does a much better job of moisturizing than the day lotion. At the same time, I feel like it's just an ordinary night cream. And it comes in a tub, which is not ideal. Both of these products are also on the pricer side at $30-35 each. While it's certainly not that extravagant (ahem, $100 moisturizer post), I think you could find similar products at a drugstore in the $10-20 range.

While we're on the BeautiControl topic, I've also tried their sensitive skin line which, naturally, irritated my skin, and some of their makeup products, which, on the other hand, I love. Cute, innovative packaging (their lip glosses have a mirror on the side and a light inside the cap -- genius!) and good colors. I also finally found my holy grail brow pencil from their line, in the most perfect, easy-to-apply shade of brown.

Overall I've been pleasantly surprised by BeautiControl and would recommend checking them out if you have a rep in your area.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tarte CC Primer

Okay, time for a traditional post about just one product that I've been using recently and am happy with: Tarte Colored Clay CC Primer. I bought it on a whim one day at Ulta to use up a coupon I had that was expiring (always a sound reason to make a purchase, right?) and I've been using it almost every day for about a month now. 

I was intrigued by the little color wheel on the stick that includes green and pink that is supposed to help correct redness, which is certainly a problem for me. I usually draw a flat line across my cheeks, chin and forehead, trying to press down evenly, and then use my fingertips to blend out the line. When I read this in the instructions I was a little skeptical, but it blends really easily and beautifully. I would suggest that if you have combination-dry skin like mine, you start with a good moisturizer, because the "stick" nature of this product means that it's not packing much moisture and I've noticed on days my skin is a little drier it can kind of bring little flakes or just make my skin look drier in general. This product is supposed to be a primer, but for me it's all I wear unless I have an acne scar or small pimple that needs some extra coverage, in which case I spot-apply my liquid foundation. That said, it is definitely light coverage and nothing more, which I personally think is the way to go unless it's a special occasion. 

I'd be interested in trying out my Tarte products based on my positive experience with this one, and because my good friend Ruth uses Tarte products for her makeup routine (even for her own wedding!) and always looks glowing. <3

Saturday, August 9, 2014

August Beauty Update

Hello loyal readers (all 2 of you)! I know it's been a few months since my last post but I do have a few new products I've been using and loving that I hope to share with you on a semi-regular basis going forward. I just ran a 5k yesterday for the first time without having to stop to walk at all, so, in my world, that means I can do anything. 

First off, a followup to The Acne Post - Revisited. I am still loving Peaches Skin Care. I have been back since then for a third facial and have been consistently using their Flawless Exfoliator, Classic Cleanser, Perfect pH Toner, and, more recently, Perfecting Polish. Every morning, I use the Flawless Exfoliator, wash off, then the Classic Cleanser, wash off, and (only every other morning or 2-3 times a week depending on how often I'm using my Clarisonic at night -- don't want to over-exfoliate!) then a tiny bit of the Perfecting Polish, which is one of the most unique products I've ever used. It's a white paste with just a little bit of something rough (I think it's the sugar) that dissolves once it hits your damp face and really seems to get any remaining dead skin off. It's one of those products that the first time you use it, you'll be amazed at how soft your skin feels. The same thing happened to me when I first used my Clarisonic (which I have mixed feelings about, but, I'll leave that for another post). It may seem like a lot of steps for washing your face if you're used to just cleansing, but it goes pretty quickly and I've found that the results are more than worth it. And in the evenings it's much simpler -- just cleanse, tone, and moisturize. 

The one area where Peaches falls short for me is moisturizers -- I'm allergic to their only moisturizer. So I've been trying a few other new brands and having good results, which I will share with you soon once I've had a little more time to evaluate. I'm still scraping the bottle of my $100 moisturizer and realizing the green recycled glass packaging, while pretty, makes it also pretty impossible to use it up to the last drop. 

Another Peaches product I received a sample of and will probably purchase is their Retinol Night Creme. I'm starting to think more about preventative skin care to fight wrinkles and I've heard that retinol-based creams are the best. This one is non-irritating and very light, almost like a gel, and I put on a tiny bit at night a few times a week instead of my moisturizer. 

If you don't live in or visit Santa Barbara often, Peaches has a location in Montgomery, Ohio, and you can also buy their products on their website. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

What's in my Bag?

I've been seeing these posts a lot lately and I thought it would be fun to do one myself. In order for this post to have any meat to it, though, I have to describe everything that could possibly be in my bag at any given time. (I do usually carry a large purse, so it's actually pretty likely that everything listed here could be in there at one time.) So, besides my phone and wallet, here are my must-haves:

1) Hand sanitizer. Doesn't matter what brand, just needs to be there. Especially if you are not carrying #11, so you can use this and a napkin or one of #7 in a pinch. 
2) Mints. Usually Altoids, the small ones. The wintergreen flavor is my fav, but since they sell only Original in the smalls at Trader Joe's that's usually what I have. I made the mistake once of thinking I could live without having mints on my person at all times, and am pretty sure I traumatized a young child with my garlic-onion breath. Never again. 
3) Compact folding hair brush. You know what I mean; the little round ones that fold in and pop out like a sea anemone. 
4) Compact with pressed foundation with mirror. Even though I have not been wearing foundation as of late, I do not want to be stuck with a zit on my face or some redness when I have a work meeting or something of the like. And a mirror is always useful. Use the foundation sparingly. 
5) Hair ties. At least two.
6) Bobby pins. Again, at least two. The boppy pin monster and hair tie monster are actually much more lethal than the better-known sock monster. 
7) Tissue pack. I like these from Kleenex because they come in fun, chic prints, but they aren't as pricy as those fancier, but awesome, tissue packs from Sniff.
8) Lip balm. See this post. The L'Occitane one is still my favorite, but I actually am more likely to have Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15, untinted, in my bag. The SPF makes me think I'm doing the right thing for my lips during the day, even though if I listen to my own/Peaches' advice in my previous post I should probably be thinking otherwise.
9) Lip gloss. How have I not done a post about this topic yet? More to come, but Buxom glosses are my go-to.  I also am dying to try Burt's Bees new line of tinted lip balms and glosses. 
10) Hand cream. See this post. Lest you somehow find out on your own and I lose all trustworthiness, neither of those hand creams are actually in my bag right now -- a Johnson's body care, lavender & chamomile scented one is. I don't love it. In fact, I don't even really like it. I just am irrationally determined to use it up before throwing it out, because I don't want my $2 to have been wasted (or even....was this a stocking stuffer from my mom?)
11) Lemon-scented wipes. These ones from L'Occitane are a fancier version of the ones I usually use but can't find online. I got them at Target in the travel cosmetics bins section. These aren't always in my bag, and when they're not, I without fail find myself in a situation where they are gravely needed, like eating tacos with grease running down my arms. (If you're grossed out, you clearly haven't been to Lily's. The grease is totally worth it.) 

Only 11 items...I would say that's less than average for a young woman, no? Am I missing anything essential? Please tell me so I can go out and buy it immediately! :) Something I would like to add to the list is food, maybe in the form of a granola bar or nuts. I've definitely found myself out and about and hungry but not hungry enough for a full meal, and end up eating more than I needed to at a restaurant or at least spending more money than I needed to. For some reason I never think ahead to bring a snack in my giant purse --- going to work on that! :)