Review: It’s a 10 Miracle Hair Mask

I got a free sample of this with the free bottle of It’s a 10 leave-in conditioner I got with Ulta rewards points.  I wasn’t really in need of a hair mask, but I tried it anyway, so I could give you a review…

Pros:  Works decently well as a conditioner.  Leaping Bunny approved (cruelty-free).  Moderate frizz control.   Adds shine.  Smells OK.

Cons:  Contains parabens.  Expensive.  Doesn’t detangle any better than conditioner.  Inconvenient container – especially for a hair care product you’d use in the shower.

In Summary:  I have healthy (although occasionally frizzy) hair, so I’m not sure if I’m a good judge of this product.  However, it did very little to detangle my hair, which is the main benefit I was hoping for.  It did make my hair slightly more shiny and slightly less frizzy.  Overall, I’d say it’s not much better than really good conditioner.  “Miracle” is a stretch.  The price is just exorbitant.  If you’re dying to spend a bunch of money on a conditioning product, get John Masters Organics’ Citrus & Neroli Oil Detangler.  At least it will detangle your hair.  Plus, it doesn’t contain parabens and it costs a lot less.  (Read my review here:

Rating:  2.5 out of 5 stars  

Price:  approx $29 for 8 oz. jar

Available at:  Ulta (not online), Target,,


Review: Buxom “Big & Healthy” Lip Polish

I’m a lip gloss person.  I never wear lipstick – only liner, balm, and gloss.  So, I love trying new lip glosses.  I got a sample of Buxom’s “Big & Healthy Lip Polish” (color “Leslie”)  with something I purchased forever ago and I just got around to trying it…

Pros:  Formulated without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, GMOs or triclosan.  Has a “wand” type applicator. (I prefer these over the hard-to-control brush applicators.)  It’s rather tingly, so I guess it has some sort of healing properties.  Comes in lots of colors.

Cons:  Expensive.  A little bit stickier than some other lip glosses.  A little bit gritty (because of the oh-so-girly sparkles).  Smells/tastes VERY sweet.  It’s kind of sickening. (And I like sweet stuff – a lot!)

In Summary:  This is a decent lip gloss, but there’s no way I’d ever pay $18 for it.  Not even if I had a $1000 Sephora gift card.

Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars  

Price:  $18

Available at:  Sephora (exclusively)

Thumbs-Down: Origins Zero Oil Instant Matte Finish

Since the battle with my oily skin is on the “epic” scale, I’m always on the lookout for weapons to wage my war.  When I ordered the Origins Zero Oil cleanser (which I love), I saw this product.  I was tempted to order it because it was on sale, but didn’t – because I’m commitment-phobic (not sure it will work/be worth the money I spent).  And I’m cheap.  So I went to my local Origins store to get a free sample…

Pros:  Doesn’t contain parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances or dyes, petrochemicals, phthalates, GMOs, or triclosan.  Can be used under or over makeup.  No discernible fragrance.

Cons:  Expensive.  Have to shake it before using (because it separates).  If you forget, you’ve wasted whatever you dispensed and messed up the balance of ingredients. It’s very liquid-y, making it harder to use than some products and not convenient for on-the-go use.  Dries skin.

In Summary:  This product works OK, but it’s far from impressive.  If you use it post-foundation but are using a mineral foundation, it will get messed up.  You’d might as well use oil-absorbing sheets and re-apply your foundation.  It also made my skin feel kind of dry and itchy after using it.  (Not allergic-reaction itchy, just slightly-annoying itchy.)  I can think of several products that work as well or better than this one that are more convenient and/or less expensive.

Note:  Apparently, Origins used to make a product called “Matte Scientist” which has been discontinued.  This one seems to be the one they’re marketing to replace it.  Several online reviews I’ve read said the Matte Scientist was a much better product.  I guess I’m not the only one who was unimpressed…

Rating:  1.5 out of 5 stars 

Price:  $13.50 for a tiny .64 oz. bottle

Available at:  Sephora, Origins,,

Review: L’Oreal Magic Lumi Primer

I’m not a fan of face primers.  I like the idea of improving the application of my foundation, but not the extra step (and purchase) or worrying about it making my skin oilier.  But, I got a free sample of this one, so here’s my review…

Pros:  Gives skin a healthy shimmer/glow (but isn’t sparkly).  Less expensive than some primers.    Not as oily as some.  Available almost everywhere.

Cons:  Contains parabens.  Probably not ideal for hyper-oily skin (contains glycerin).  A little on the expensive side for a “drugstore brand”.  (It’s not much cheaper than Smashbox – at $16 for .5 oz. – which doesn’t contain parabens and is oil-free.)

In Summary:  I like the “illuminating” effect of this primer, although my instant reaction to anything-but-matte skin is “I look oily”, because it’s hard to tell a difference between shine from “healthy glow” and shine from “oily”.   The glow-y effect worked even through mineral foundation, but I don’t know how well it would work with a liquid or anything with more coverage.  This product would be perfect if you already had a tan and just wanted to add a healthy glow to bare skin.  It could also work well as a “highlighter”.  So, if you’re looking for a luminizing primer and don’t care about parabens or oil, this could be a good option.

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars  

Price:  approx. $12 for .68 fl. oz.

Available at:  mass merchandisers, drugstores,

Love This! Cover Girl Brow & Eye Makers Pencils

In my younger days, I plucked my eyebrows into oblivion.  I didn’t know they wouldn’t grow back, so now I have what I think of as “angry” eyebrows.  They’re tiny and make me look kind of mean.  And old.  So, I fill them in.  (For the most part, I’m drawing them on…)  This is the only product I’ve ever used, because it works so well I can’t justify spending a lot more money on other products…

Pros:  Perfect amount of waxiness to fill in brows. (It also works as eyeliner, but I don’t use pencil eyeliner, so I won’t testify to its quality as an eyeliner.)  Sharpens without breaking off constantly.  Made in USA.  Comes in a good variety of colors.  Very inexpensive.  Comes with a small sharpener.  Available almost everywhere.

Cons:  If you use these as often as I do, you end up with a lot of leftover sharpeners, which seems kind of wasteful.  Not waterproof.

In Summary:  I love these pencils.  I know there are all kind of specialty products to achieve perfect brows, but I just don’t feel like I need them.  (Besides, I’d probably go broke using the specialty stuff every day.)  I kind of wish they came in a waterproof formula.  I use a sealer (which has been discontinued) after doing my brows and it would be nice to skip this step.  However, I haven’t had much luck with waterproof eye products, so maybe it’s just as well…

Rating:  5 out of 5 stars   

Price:  approx. $3 (package of 2)

Available at:  mass merchandisers, drugstores,

Favorite Face Cleansers for Oily Skin

I’ve tried a lot of face cleansers.  I have hyper-oily skin and regularly wear semi-waterproof makeup, so I need something that will really clean my skin.   I hate it when the description says “For healthy looking skin”.  I don’t want healthy LOOKING skin.  I want HEALTHY skin.   There are a lot of good cleansers out there.  Here’s a quick list of the ones I like…

The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Face Wash. 

Available at Body Shop stores.  Approx. $11.

Philosophy Purity Made Simple.

Available at Sephora, Ulta,,  Many sizes available.

Standard size is approx $32.

note: contains parabens

Origins Zero Oil Deep Pore Cleanser. 

Available at Sephora and Origins stores, as well as  Approx. $18.

Simple Refreshing Facial Wash Gel. 

Available at drugstores and mass merchandisers.  Approx. $7.

BeautiControl Spa Facial Purifying Cleansing Gel. 

Available from BeautiControl representatives.  Approx $24.

In Summary:  My main criteria for selecting these cleansers is how well they work.  There are some other things about some of them that I don’t like (parabens, price, fragrance) but they work well.  The way I judge a cleanser is by using it when I’m wearing my makeup.  If a lot of “color” comes off when I go to rinse my hands, I know it’s working.  Sometimes, I test them by using a face cleansing wipe after washing.  If there’s still makeup on my face, I know it didn’t do its job.

Get It Together

Does your collection of beauty products look like the aftermath of a tornado at an Ulta store?  Well, here are some ideas that might help you get it all organized…

For Your Deep Cabinet Drawers:   Lots of bathroom cabinets come with ridiculously deep drawers that are almost impossible to use unless you find a way to customize them.  I got these bins at a dollar store to organize my hair accessories.  Just measure your drawers to figure out what you need.  Use them to organize whatever you need to put into them.

Inexpensive bins keep hair accessories organized.

For All Those Tiny Little Perfume Samples:  I love trying new perfumes and – when given the opportunity – will usually choose the free perfume samples above many other things.  However, keeping them organized can be problematic, so I picked up one of these organizers.  I think it’s designed for lipstick.  It seems kind of odd to me since lipstick varies so much in packaging design, but OK…

“Flower Organizer” or “Lipstick Organizer” holds tiny perfume bottles.

For Your Medicine Cabinet:  I absolutely love these organizers I saw on a morning news show.  The shelf is perfect for beauty products in a medicine cabinet because you can put stuff on top and underneath.  The other organizer is great for those little things that are easy to misplace.  There are several different organizers available that are designed just for your medicine cabinet.

OXO Good Grips Divided Organizer & Shelf Set

For Shallow Drawers:  My bathroom has a “vanity drawer” (sometimes called a “knee” or “desk” drawer).  It’s not very deep, so I had to find a way to keep it organized.  Instead of shopping for a specialty organization item, I got a flatware organizer.  It works perfectly.  You can find similar things in the office supply section of almost any mass merchandiser, too.

A cutlery or office organizer works great for vanity drawers.

Under the Sink:  When it comes to under-sink storage, there are lots of options. Depending on your level of DIY skill and the amount of money you want to spend, you can probably find exactly what you want.  There are high-end, fancy products:

approx $60. Yes, really.

And more budget-friendly options:

approx. $20. Expandable.  Adjustable shelving allows it to go around pipes.

And REALLY budget-friendly options:

A locker shelf can give you a little more storage space, especially if you find a bin that fits underneath.

Plastic drawers will usually fit under the sink and are great for storing backup beauty supplies, samples, razors, etc.

For Your Closet:  If most of your storage is in a bathroom closet, you might have to find some clever ways to keep your stuff organized.  I love 2-tier lazy susans.  I use them for my medications (and for spices in my kitchen cabinets), but they could also be used for lotion, foundation, whatever.  Don’t forget to use the back of the door, too!

Double Lazy Susan

In Summary:  Keeping your supplies organized will help you save time and stress with your beauty routine.  If you have to share a bathroom, it can also help keep peace in your home. Find what works for your space and try to “think outside the box” when coming up with storage solutions.

Fight the Frizz

If you have frizz-prone hair (especially if you live in a hot/humid climate like I do), you know the challenges of trying to keep your hair from looking like a poodle’s bad hair day.  Here are some tips to maintaining sleek hair…

Dry it Completely:   Going out into warm weather with your hair isn’t 100% dry is a great way to get instant frizz.    Even if it’s not humid, the remaining moisture in your hair will create its own humidity.  Also, before you flat-iron your hair, you should make sure it’s completely dry to avoid the flattened-but-frizzy look.  I know some flat irons are designed to straighten hair even if it’s wet.  I don’t know how well they work.  It seems like a really harsh way to dry your hair.

Have the Right Tools:  Use a wide-tooth comb on your hair.  It’s gentler because you won’t catch every tiny tangle and tear it up as you go.  Some combs are infused with various oils (macadamia, argan, etc.) and promise to help promote hair health.  I haven’t tried them, so I can’t recommend them, but it might be worth a try if you have troubled hair.  When brushing, use a natural bristle brush.  It will help smooth those pesky hairs that seem to have a mind of their own.  A good flat iron (unfortunately, “good” = “expensive”) can also do a much better job of straightening hair without the frizzy side effect.

Maintenance:  Get your hair trimmed regularly – even if you’re trying to grow it out.  Split ends are the #1 way your hair ends up looking frizzy and/or damaged.

Product:  I can’t understate the power of really good hair care products.  They can make a huge difference in your hair’s appearance.  Some work best when applied to wet hair, while others are for post-styling.  Here are some of the ones I like:

In Summary:  Unless you’re trying out for a role in a Tim Burton movie, you probably don’t want your hair to look crazy.  Controlling frizz can be challenging, but – with a little effort – you can have the manageable, sleek hair you always wanted.


Review: Herbal Essences “Tousle Me Softly” Shampoo & Conditioner

I keep trying to pull off the “tousled” look.  Some call it “beachy waves”.  Whatever you call it, it’s not an easy task (especially when you’re a perfectionist who’s obsessed with making both sides of your hair look the same).  I was hoping this shampoo/conditioner would help…

Pros:  Smells wonderful.  Lightweight.  Leaves hair feeling soft.  Inexpensive.  Paraben-free.

Cons:  Doesn’t provide a lot of moisture to hair, so not recommended for dry hair.

In Summary:  I’m not sure what I was expecting, but these products didn’t leave my hair any more tousle-able than before.  The shampoo does allude to keeping “your strands soft and virtually tangle-free”, so I guess it’s just designed to keep you from putting knots into your hair while you’re trying to look “tousled”.  Maybe they’re formulated to work with the other “Tousle Me Softly” products and there’s some magical, synergistic effect that happens when they’re combined.   I have the mousse and “finishing touch” cream, but I’ve been too busy (lazy/impatient) to use them lately.  Even still, these are good hair care products, they’re inexpensive, and they smell good.  That’s more than I can say for lots of shampoos and conditioners I’ve used.  And – unlike many other products – these haven’t left a waxy, heavy build-up on my hair, even though I’ve used them every day for about the past week.

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars  

Price:  approx. $5

Available at:  mass merchandisers, drugstores,

A New Club in Town

I often recommend “joining the club” at beauty stores to get the best deals.  What I may be glossing over is that the places that have “clubs” might not always be the places that always have the best deals.  CVS has added a “Beauty Club” to its “ExtraCare” program.  (You know, that stupid card you have to use to get even-sort-of-normal prices on stuff!)  Here’s what you need to know…

The Benefits:  Joining the Beauty Club gets you a one-time 10% discount (valid for 3 days after joining) on your beauty products.  You also get $5 in ExtraBucks for every $50 you spend on beauty items (progress is shown on your receipts), as well as $3 ExtraBucks for your birthday.  The good news about ExtraBucks is that they work like store credit and aren’t treated as coupons, so you can use them in conjunction with other offers.

The Fine Print:  Like every other printable CVS coupon I’ve ever seen, the 10% initial discount is not good on sale items.

Keep in Mind:  CVS is one of the most expensive places to buy beauty products – especially makeup.  They have regular “Buy One, Get one 50% Off” sales.  Sometimes the stuff is STILL more expensive than buying it elsewhere.  When they have stuff marked down (clearance) – or on some sort of special to compete with Walgreens – it’s usually a good deal.  If you have a CVS coupon you can use with a manufacturer’s coupon and the BOGO sale, you might be able to get a good deal.

In Summary:  Unless you have some sort of beauty emergency or can use a bunch of deals at once, CVS is not the place to buy makeup.  But go ahead and join the club anyway, just for the $3 ExtraBucks on your birthday and the chance you might spend $50 on “great deal” products and get another $5.