Reveiw: Skin Effects Brightening Gentle Foaming Cleanser

I recently made a trip to CVS (drug store) where I somehow managed to get away with a bottle of nail polish remover, a bottle of nail polish, a travel-sized Nexxus hair spray, 4 candy bars, a pack of bobby pins, a pack of gum, and a face cleanser  – all for 64 cents.  (disclaimer:  I had “CVS Rewards” money, and several coupons).  I had a coupon for “any face cleanser”, but I had a hard time finding one that wasn’t expensive and/or didn’t contain parabens.  This is the one I ended up with…

Pros:  Paraben, fragrance and detergent/sulfate-free.  Does a good job at removing mineral makeup.  Doesn’t smell too bad, considering it’s unscented.  Left skin feeling pretty clean.

Cons:  .  Doesn’t do a good job of removing liquid foundation.  My skin felt like it had been cleaned, but using a wipe afterwards proved that it wasn’t.  Left my skin feeling pretty dried out.

In Summary:  I’m glad I got this on sale.  This is one of those products that’s trying to look like a more expensive one.  Don’t let the packaging trick you into thinking it’s something it’s not.   It’s basically store-brand cleanser in a pretty bottle.  For the same amount of money, you can buy a dozen different products that work better.  If I hadn’t gotten it so inexpensively, I’d be pretty mad about wasting my money on it.  But I’m still wishing I had used those coupons for something else…

Rating:  1.5 out of 5 stars  

Price:  approx $7

Available at:  CVS drug stores,


I’m Not Fat, I’m “Retro”

I recently bought a T-shirt with images of Marilyn Monroe on it.  Every now and then someone comments on it, and I tell them “This is my reminder that you don’t have to be a size zero to be beautiful.”  Marilyn was undeniably gorgeous – a beauty icon.  And she wasn’t stick-figure thin, either.  (Her actual size was between an 8 and 12, depending on what reports you read.)  If you believe the measurements provided by her dressmaker, though, it seems she had an un-naturally small waist.  (36-24-37, in inches), but she still would be considered “fat” by 2012 standards…

Funny How Times Change:  Advertisements from the 1930s into the 1960s told women how they could gain weight.  Yes, gain.  While we are constantly bombarded with ways to shed pounds, women in this era were shown how they could add some.  Crazy, right?  I love this one, telling you “If you want to be popular” that you shouldn’t be skinny.  Wow. (view more ads here:

But I Don’t Live in the 1950s:  Unfortunately, I’m forced to live in 2012, which is apparently the era of the anorexic.  Nobody wants to gain weight in 2012.  The only people who want to be my size are people who are bigger than me.  I know I’m overweight (maybe even by 1950s standards!) and I need to work on that.  But I refuse to let my self-worth be determined by a number on a scale.

Un-Denial:  I’m not going to be one of those people who says “To Hell with it!” and just wears whatever they want, either.  I’m not one of the People of WalMart or one of those people you see at the waterpark who is testing the tensile strength of their bikini.  I know that I will never be able to wear non-Bermuda shorts at this weight (or maybe ever).  I realize that horizontal stripes and bright colors are not my friends.  I buy clothes based on how they look on my body, not how they look on a model/mannequin.

I Am Me:  Yes, I need to be in better shape – but my weight doesn’t keep me from doing things I would normally do (except maybe wear certain clothes).  I don’t have any weight-related medical conditions.  Most importantly, I’m comfortable with who I am, which is more than I can say for the 20-something, 120-pound person I used to be. (I’m 5′ 8″ and have weighed as little as 108. Yes, that was too thin, but I’m sure Calvin Klein would disagree with me…) I spent more time and energy obsessing over my body in my 20s than I do now.  (Ironically, I wouldn’t mind being as “fat” as I thought I was back then!)  It seems that no matter what I’ve looked like, I’ve never been satisfied with my body.  So, I’ve decided to be happy with who I am, which has absolutely nothing to do with how much I weigh.

Review: Yes to Tomatoes Blemish Clearing Facial Towelettes

This was another of the items from my recent Yes To… order.  I have acne-prone skin, so I thought I should try these out.  Here’s what I thought…

Pros:  Paraben, petroleum, and (other) oil free.  Biodegradable, natural cloth.  Contains salicylic acid to treat blemishes. Made with 98% natural ingredients.

Cons:  Not “exfoliating”, if that’s what you need.  I personally don’t like the fragrance.  It reminds me of cheap hotel soap.  Not the least expensive facial towelette on the market.  Doesn’t do as good a job of removing (liquid foundation) makeup as some wipes.

In Summary:  These are good wipes, but I wouldn’t recommend them for sensitive skin.  They’re slightly drying (which you might need) but shouldn’t be used in combination with prescription acne treatment products.  Even if I hadn’t decided to boycott Yes To… products, I probably wouldn’t buy these again, because I’m already treating my breakouts with other things.

Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars  

Price:  $7.99 for package of 25

Available at:, drug stores, some mass merchandisers

Review: The Body Shop Almond Hand & Nail Cream

I recently purchased the “Hemp” gift set and couldn’t stand the fragrance.   The very friendly employees at The Body Shop helped me decide on a replacement/exchange item by letting me sample the wild rose and almond scented lotions.  Although I liked the fragrance of the wild rose, it was a bit strong for days that I have migraines, so I opted for the almond one.  I ended up getting the “Handy Manicure” gift set, which came with a nail clippers, file, and buffer.  I’m not going to bother to review those, because they’re about the same as all other nail clippers, files, and buffers…

Pros:  Fairly neutral fragrance.  Paraben-free.  Suitable for all skin types.  Ingredients acquired by Community Fair Trade methods.

Cons:  Not as “rich” or “creamy” as the hemp one.  The container is one of those “metallic” types that doesn’t stay looking pretty for very long.  It can also be harder to get the remaining product out of the tube as it runs low.

In Summary:  This is a fairly good hand cream.  It’s not as good as L’Occitane en Provence’s Shea Butter Hand Cream or Bath and Body Works’ True Blue Spa “Look Ma, New Hands” (which is what I’ve been using), but the L’Occitane is rather pricey and the True Blue Spa contains parabens (unless it’s been re-formulated).  So, this is a good replacement item, considering buying it in the gift set made it less expensive than just buying the same size by itself.  I’ll probably shop around for something else when the time comes, but I’m happy with this for now.

Note:  The Body Shop gift sets are on clearance right now (through Sunday).  For $10, you can get the hemp, wild rose, or almond one in a gift set.  The regular price of the same size lotion is $20.

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars 

Price:  Gift set currently on clearance for $10.  Normal price for lotion is $20.

Avaiable at:  The Body Shop (in store and online)



Review: Fresh (brand) Sugar Lip Treatment

This is one of the two products that came in my Sephora birthday gift this year. (The other was a tinted version of the same product.)  I look forward to these free products all year long and was glad to have something new to try…

Pros:  Broad-spectrum SPF 15.  Contains antioxidant grapeseed polyphenols and vitamins A, C, and E.  Paraben-free.  Nice container.  (It’s metal and the lid has to be twisted off, which means it can’t accidentally fall off.  Lip balm is retractable.)  Not sticky or waxy.  Nice “flavor” (a creamy lemon type).

Cons.  Ridiculously expensive.  Doesn’t last as long as some products.  You can’t carry it in your pocket or leave it anywhere warm, because it will melt and be messy.  It says it “plumps” the lips.  I didn’t notice it having this effect on mine, nor would I want it to.

In Summary:  Just when I was feeling bad about my addiction to Jack Black Lip Balm ($7.50), I now have a reason to feel less guilty.  Apparently, people are spending three times as much on lip balm.  Crazy.  Seriously, it’s good lip balm, but it’s not good enough to justify the price.  It works only slightly better than the much-less-expensive Burt’s Bees with acai or pomegranate.  However, it got rave reviews on the Sephora site.  I guess all those people got it for their birthday, too…

Rating:  3 out of 5 stars  

Price:  $22.50 for .15 oz stick

Available at:  Sephora,,, various other retailers

Review: Yes to Cucumbers Soothing Eye Makeup Remover Pads

Although I’ve boycotted the Yes to… brand, (read why here:  I’m going to review the remaining products I’ve ordered…

Pros: Paraben-free.  99% natural ingredients.  OK for sensitive skin.  Hypoallergenic.  Compostable cloth.  Removes makeup pretty well.  More cost-effective than similar products.

Cons: Rather strong cucumber fragrance.  The pads are pretty small and very thin, which makes them a little harder to use than other products.  Also, they’re all stuck together, so you have to peel them apart (or you might accidentally use more than one, not realizing it.)

In Summary:  It’s a shame I’ve boycotted this company’s products, because I would like to continue using these wipes in place of the Visine eye wipes I also like.  They’re more affordable and work similarly.  Oh well.  I guess I’ll just have to stay on the lookout for Visine coupons and sales…

Note:  This is a new product I ordered from the website.  As far as I know, it’s not available anywhere else yet.

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars 

Price:  $6.99 for 45

Available at:, may be sold at some drug stores and mass merchandisers soon

Review: The Body Shop Hemp Foot, Hand, and Body Trio

I’ve been needing to find a new hand and foot lotion for a while now.  The stuff I’m using contains parabens, so I’m not going to buy it anymore.  I got a great deal on this set (the price was less than just the cost of the hand cream), and I had heard such great things about the hemp hand cream, that I really wanted to try it.  So I ordered it online (partially because I was getting some software for free by ordering from The Body Shop.)  I should have gone to the store to check it out first…

Pros:  Paraben-free.  Great price for the set (especially when discounted, as I got it).  The one product I tried (the hand protector)  works really well.  I’m sure the other products do, too, but I’ll never know (keep reading).  I think the tin is very pretty, even though it has a big “hemp” logo on the outside, which some could misinterpret as marijuana.

Cons:  The smell.  It has “fragrance” listed in the much higher in the ingredient list than many items, so I have no idea why it smells this bad.  The inner plastic part that holds the items isn’t recyclable – kind of odd for a company that advertises its social responsibility.

In Summary:  The only product I tried was the hand protector, because they all smell the same.  I’m not kidding when I say I cannot stand the fragrance.  I put the lotion on before bed and was overwhelmed by how strong/unpleasant it was.  I’m not very picky about fragrances, either.  I like everything from fruity to spicy to floral, but this was way too “earthy” (I guess that’s how I’d describe it???) for me.  I put my “old” lotion on over it, trying to make it more bearable, and it was still pretty bad.  I almost never return products I’ve already opened, but I’m going to try to exchange this for something else.  I thought about buying and adding some essential oils, but if I do that I’ll be spending more money on the products than they’re worth.

Rating:  3 out of 5 stars (only because of the fragrance!) 

Price:  Originally $20, on sale for $14

Available at:  The Body Shop


Hemp Hand Protector (3.3 oz/full-size)

Hemp Foot Protector (.5 oz)

Hemp Body Butter (1.69 oz., almost same as “mini” size)

Review: L’Oreal Youth Code Eye Cream

I got this in Target’s clearance section with coupons that made it cost about 50 cents.  Hard to resist a deal like that…

Pros:  Works as well as most eye creams.  Blends easily.

Cons:  Contains parabens.  The applicator is a little unusual.

In Summary:  I really don’t like the metal applicator.  I’m not sure why it has to be metal (it just seems odd) and it really seems like they were using a model of a lip balm applicator.  That would be fine, except my under-eye area isn’t the same shape and my lips.  Consequently, the applicator is a little unwieldy.

Note:  There are 2 “Youth Code” eye creams out there.  One is the .33 fl. oz one that I have.  (I honestly think it came out of a multi-package product to be sold separately, because its bar code was on a sticker.) The other is a .5 fl oz that’s labeled “Eye Cream Daily Treatment” or “Rejuvenating Anti-Wrinkle Cream”.  They look exactly the same, so I don’t know what the difference is, except that the .5 fl. oz. one seems to be much more expensive.  (Listed at $24.95 MSRP on the L’Oreal website)

Rating:  3 out of 5 stars  

Price:  $4.99 – $24.99???

Available at:, Ulta, various other retailers

Thumbs-Down: Revlon Photo Ready Pressed Powder

I wear translucent pressed powder almost all the time – even when I wear mineral makeup.  I’m in love with Too Faced Absolutely Invisible pressed powder, but have been looking for a more budget-friendly alternative, so I tried this one out at one point.  Here’s what I thought…

Pros:  Paraben-free.  Made in USA (but of “U.S. and non-U.S. components”).  Inexpensive.  (You can use coupons to buy it – I guess that’s a “pro”.)  Goes on pretty well, if you use a decent brush.

Cons:  Sparkly.  Very sparkly.  Cheaply-made brush.  I don’t know why it’s white, even though it’s “translucent’.  Nobody has white skin – why not make it at least off-white?  If you accidentally put too much on, it looks white-ish.

In Summary:  I’ve been pretty satisfied with Revlon’s Photo Ready Foundation (although it’s not working as well since my skin went into oil-producing overdrive), but this stuff is just disappointing.  I guess if you were going out to a club, it might be OK.  It’s a bit much for everyday use.

Rating:  1.5 out of 5 stars  

Price:  approx $12

Available at:  drug stores, mass merchandisers,

Review: Replenix Eye Repair Cream

Eye cream is the hardest thing for me to remember to use.  I try really, really hard to remember, because I’ve noticed some slight “crow’s feet” type of wrinkles that I’d rather not get worse.  I got a sample of this product and I used it every night for about a week and a half.  Here’s my review…

Pros:  Contains Green Tea (polyphenols), arnica, and vitamin K.  Paraben-free.

Cons:  Very expensive.  Much thicker than most eye creams, making it harder to blend into skin.  No huge improvement of my under/around eye area appearance.  No “instant” improvement.

In Summary:  I haven’t noticed much of a difference between very expensive eye creams and those that are less expensive.  It seems like they all improve the appearance of the eye area because it’s more moisturized.  This one is no different.  It got great reviews on some of the sites where it’s sold, so maybe I should be using it twice a day, or maybe it takes longer to see the effects.  In which case, what’s the point of a sample that only lasts a week or two?

Rating:  3 out of 5 stars  

Price:  $75 for .5 oz

Available at:  various online retailers, including