Dumbest Idea Ever…or not

While browsing around the drugstore.com clearance section (I had “store credit” to spend and it was expiring)  I saw this product.  At first, I thought “Wow, that’s stupid!” but then I got to thinking…

Beauty Fixation (by Japonesque) Pre-Filled Portable Lip Conditioner Swabs (clearance price $3.75)

Why I Thought it Was Dumb:  “Seriously?  A lip balm takes up too much space in your purse?  You seriously need a bigger purse!” was my initial thought.  It does seem kind of wasteful to have basically just the applicator part of a lip product to use and throw away.

Then I Realized:  You know all those times when you have a cold (or maybe a cold sore) and you keep using your lip gloss/balm?  Yeah, that’s pretty unhealthy.  I personally don’t get sick very much (probably because I’m mildly germaphobic…)  When I do, I make sure not to use the applicator part of my lip products.  I apply them with a Q-tip instead.  So, these would be a great solution to those times when you really need to have something portable that isn’t going to lengthen and/or cause the resurgence of your illness.

So…  If you have young kids and get sick regularly (kids are disease-carrying vectors!), have immune system problems, or get cold sores/fever blisters, you might want to get some of these.


Review: Yes to (baby) Carrots Face & Nose Wipes

OK, it may seem odd that I’m reviewing a baby product when I haven’t had babies for like 15 years.  However, I read that this product is good for people with sensitive skin.  My skin isn’t normally sensitive, but I’ve been using heavy-duty retinol products and it gets irritated more easily than it used to.  So, I thought I’d try these wipes for my face.  (Trying to be nice to my skin, even though it’s not being nice to me!) 

Pros:  Gentle.  Smells OK.  Cruelty-free (PETA approved).  Contains aloe and vitamin E.  100% natural ingredients.  Hypoallergenic.  Biodegradable, natural cloth.

Cons:  Doesn’t do a good job of taking off makeup – even mineral makeup.  Not “scrubby”.

In Summary:  These are absolutely fine for their intended purpose – wiping leftover food off a baby’s face.  They’re just not meant to be used by Moms, I guess.  Oh well.  At least they don’t smell bad.  Maybe I can use them to wipe dirt off my dog’s paws or something…

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars (but not for makeup removal)  

Price:  approx $6 for package of 30

Available at:  Target (baby section, not sold online), drugstore.com, various other retailers

Review: Tigi Bed Head “Masterpiece Massive Shine Hairspray”

I’ve been using Tigi Bed Head’s “Headrush” hairspray to add a little “shine” to my hair.  I went to Ulta for my annual “support the pink” purchases of Tigi’s breast cancer awareness items and saw the “Masterpiece” hairspray.   I asked the store clerk if she knew how it compared to the “Headrush”, but she didn’t know.  Here’s my take…

Pros:  Bigger bottle (better value – 9.5 oz. vs 5.3 oz.).  Paraben-free.  Is meant to hold hair in place, not just make it shinier. (Didn’t know this when I bought it – it’s traditional hairspray that also adds shine, whereas “Headrush” only adds shine.)  Helps control fly-away hair.

Cons:  Doesn’t smell as nice as “Headrush” (doesn’t smell bad, though).  Taller bottle may be problematic for storage.  Comes out heavier than “Headrush”.

In Summary:  I still prefer “Headrush” for adding shine to my hair, but “Masterpiece” is still a good way to add a little luster to your hair while maintaining its style – as long as you’re careful not to spray too close to your hair or use too much of the product.  I don’t usually need “hold” when I style my hair, so the “Headrush” would probably work fine most days.  However, I wanted to support the breast cancer awareness campaign, and this product was on sale, so I’m pretty happy with it.

Beauty Tip:  If trying to add a natural-looking “shine” look to your hair, apply shine-adding hairspray at a diagonal angle where your hair hits your shoulders and with a horizontal motion about halfway up your head.

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars 

Price:  approx $14 for 9.5 oz bottle

Available at:   Ulta (not online), some salons, drugstore.com


Thumbs-Down: Bath & Body Works

Well, I had pretty much sworn off Bath & Body Works body care products, because almost all of them contain parabens.  So, I’ve been limiting my purchases there to hand sanitizers and candles.  But I had a coupon for a free “body care item” with $10 purchase. So, I stocked up on hand sanitizers and picked up this item.  I’ve been needing a body scrub and this one looked promising.  Looks can be deceiving…

Pros:  Smells nice.  Was on sale (half off, plus mine was free).  Pretty packaging.  (I’m trying really hard to find “pros”.)

Cons:  Originally very expensive.  Contains parabens – lots of parabens.  VERY oily.  Not very “scrubby” for more than a few seconds.

In Summary:  I want my body scrub to scrub.  Seriously – what’s the point of using something that doesn’t exfoliate?  I used a generous amount of this product and it just kind of dispersed all over my skin and got less and less scrubby with every motion of my hand.  Oh, and did I mention it was oily? (I guess the “make make surfaces slippery” is a hint…)  I’m not understating this – my skin was waterproof after I used it.  The water was literally beading up on my skin.  I washed with regular body wash afterwards and my skin is now only moderately oily.  Between the parabens, price, and oily-ness, I would definitely not recommend buying this product.  (Unless you’re rich, don’t care about cancer risk, and have super dry skin.)

Rating:  1.5 out of 5 stars 

Price:  $16.50

Available at:  Bath & Body Works



Review: Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Genius

I’ve been using Benefit’s (discontinued) She-Laq to seal my mostly-drawn-on eyebrows for quite a while now.  However, She-Laq is no longer available for purchase, so I’ve been forced to find a new product (boo!).  I went to Sephora to see what was available and I only had two options.  1:  Makeup Forever “Aqua Seal” (a liquid product in little bottle with a “dropper”) and 2:  Anastasia’s “Lash Genius”, which is actually a waterproof topcoat for mascara.  They cost exactly the same, so my usual “buy the less expensive item” option was invalidated.  The Sephora representative recommended the Anastasia product, so that’s what I got…

Pros:  Paraben and fragrance-free. Hypoallergenic.  Opthalmologist and dermatologist tested.  Cruelty-free (PETA). Does a decent job of waterproofing.

Cons:  The mascara wand is a little hard to use on your brows.  (I guess if I had thick, natural brows it would be fine.)  Brush smears brow pencil if you use a “sweeping” motion.  I had to kind of “dab” it onto my brows, and then I ended up with globs of it in some areas.

In Summary:  I’m going to be very sad when my bottle of She-Laq is gone.  (I’m already sad that I can’t buy it anymore!)  It was easier to use and worked better than this stuff (and cost less!)   I think the Makeup Forever product would have been a better choice for me, because I’m used to a liquid product I can gently brush onto my eyebrows to keep them in place.  I could have poured it into the She-Laq bottle and used the same brush.  Since I spent $21 on this (had a $10 gift card, but still…) I’m going to have to find a way to make it work.  I think I’m going to start by finding a brush that will fit into the mascara tube…

Rating:  3 out of 5 stars    (based on use for eyebrows only, may work better for mascara)

Price:  $21

Available at:  Sephora, Ultabeauty.com, anastasia.net



I’m Back

You may have noticed I haven’t been posting lately.  That’s because all my “free” time (shouldn’t be called that – it’s actually quite expensive!) has been spent working on a huge fundraiser project for my kids’ school.  The project is wrapped up (mostly), so I can get back to “life as normal” – whatever that means…

Review: L’Occitane en Provence Repairing Shampoo & Conditioner

I got a travel size L’Occitane en Provence “Repairing” Shampoo with a gift-with-purchase set.  Unfortunately, the”matching” conditioner I got was only a little packet, so I haven’t been able to use the products together long enough for a thorough review.  But here’s what I can tell you…

Pros:  Paraben-free.  Lower in sulfates than some products (shampoo). Nice fragrance.  Contains 5 essential oils.  Doesn’t “strip” hair clean.  Both products are available in an eco-friendly “refill” container.

Cons:  Shampoo isn’t as foamy as you may be used to.  Fragrance is a little strong.  Expensive.

In Summary:  This is a good shampoo/conditioner.  The conditioner packet didn’t contain as much product as I usually put into my long, thick hair, but it still did a decent job of conditioning.  The fragrance (of both products) is just a tad bit too strong for me and I wouldn’t want to use it on “migraine days”, but other than that I like it.  However, I’m not sure it’s worth the price tag.  I would only pay this much for shampoo if it were sulfate free or organic or something.

Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars  

Price:  $8 for travel size, $20 for 8.4 oz. conditioner or 10.1 oz shampoo, $30 for 16.9 oz, $25 for 16.9 oz refill

Available at:  L’Occitane en Provence stores and website

Note: links are to U.S. retail/web stores, but there are stores throughout the world.



Review: RickyCare No-Frizz Comb

I admit, I’m a little skeptical about the idea of an oil-infused comb (especially since it’s plastic).  It sounds weird and seems like it would be hard to make it work.  However, since frizz is my most common (and annoying) hair issue, I decided to give one of these combs a try when I saw it being sold at a discount store for half price…

The Claims: Essential oils are dry-baked into the plastic.  Gradually reduces dry oil on every strand of hair.  Eliminates frizz.  Treated with a NANO coating that fills irregularieis in the plastic that inhibits bacterial growth.  Works for 25,000 strokes, or about one year.

Pros:  Very sturdy.  Easy to hold.

Cons:  I didn’t really notice much frizz-control.   Made in China.

In Summary:  The comb doesn’t feel “oily”, so I don’t see how it’s supposed to work.  It does say that you see better results with dry hair, and I rarely comb my hair when it’s dry.  Plus, it’s possible that these combs come with an unknown “expiration date” and – since I bought it at a discount store – maybe this comb had been around too long to keep working its magic.  At any rate, it’s a strong, durable comb.  I have long, thick hair that loves to tangle.  (My hair has caused the death of several combs – I broke one in half combing my hair last week!)  The strength of this comb makes it worth the price (especially since I got it half off), so I don’t really mind if the oil-releasing mojo isn’t there anymore.  I have argan oil.  I can get it into my hair the old-fashioned way…

Note:  All the “No-Frizz” combs are about half price at the manufacturer’s website.  I’m not sure if this means they’re discontinued (maybe they DON’T work!) or are just on sale.

Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars 

Price:  approx $8

Available at:  amazon.com

Thumbs-Down: Finesse “Moisturizing” Shampoo

I’ve noticed that a lot of the products I used to consider “cheap” have been re-formulated to become better-quality products.  So, I decided to give Finesse shampoo a chance.  (Also, I had a coupon that made it almost free…)  After all, I’m not a snob when it comes to my hair/skin/beauty products, and I’m certainly not brand-loyal.  Maybe it’s time to be a little more snobby…

Pros:  Inexpensive.  Cleans hair very well. Paraben-free.

Cons:  Contains sulfates.  Strips hair in a pretty harsh way, and the effect gets worse as you use it more.

In Summary:  I have pretty healthy hair, but after using this shampoo, it looked pretty dry and frizzy.  The bottle says “Self Adjusting” (whatever that means) “for Consistently Beautiful Hair”.  Um, no. Also says “Moisturizes for softness and manageability”.  Again – no.  And “for dry or damaged hair.”  Oh, I get it – you mean to GET dry/damaged hair, you should use this product.  Oh, OK.  It’s not often that I just throw a product away.  I usually try to find some use for it or just use it a little at a time until it’s gone.  This one is going down the drain.  I wouldn’t even use it on a cat.  And I’m a dog person.

Rating:  1 out of 5 stars 

Price:  approx.  $4 (about $3 too much, if you ask me)

Available at: mass merchandisers, drug stores

Dryness – Enemy of Oil Control

If you struggle with acne and oily skin (or hyper-oily skin, like me), you may be doing everything you can to “control” the oil.  Unfortunately, you can be doing more harm than good if all you’re doing is focusing on ways of drying up that oil…

Truth:  Overly-dry skin will often try to compensate by producing more oil.  Yeah, it’s annoying.

Solution:  Moisturize your skin, but be reasonable.  Find a good oil-free moisturizer.  Avoid products with petroleum, glycerine, and other pore-cloggers.

Suggestions:  Use your salicylic acid cleansing wash, acne treatment, or whatever your dermatologist has given you, but find a way to work moisturizer into your routine.

Example:  My dermatologist had given me a .025% strength retinol cream.  It wasn’t working as well as I’d like, so he prescribed a .05% version (double strength!).  The stronger one is a little harsh, so I’ve worked out an evening routine (to follow my salicylic acid wash) that’s helping my acne without leaving me looking like I’m molting:  Day 1 & 2:  .025% cream.   Day 3:  Oil-free moisturizer.  Day 4:  .05% cream.  Day 5:  Oil-free moisturizer.  (Repeat.)  This seems to be working out for me so far.  I also work an “exfoliation” in when my skin starts getting really flaky, which is a side effect of the retinol cream.

Recommended Products:

Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer ($14)

(packaging varies, and it comes in SPF 15 or 30)

Boscia Oil-Free Daily Hydration SPF 15 ($36)

Love this, but not the price