My New Weapon in the War on Dirty Brushes

I have tons of makeup brushes, partially because I hate the cleaning process.  I used to buy cheap brushes and just throw them away, but in an attempt to be more eco (and budget) friendly, I started buying better brushes that will hold up to repeated cleaning.  Now, I’ve made the process as easy as possible…

Background:  I had been using Ulta’s “Professional” brush cleaner – until I read the ingredients and found out it contains parabens.  I got one of those cool 20% off anything” coupons from Ulta and decided to use it to buy a huge bottle of Japonesque brush cleaner. (Review here:

japonesque brush cleaner

16 oz. bottle for $30 at Ulta

Bad Luck:  I have terrible luck when it comes to spray bottles.  It seems that no matter what kind I buy or what I’m using them for, they don’t last very long.  Also, the bottles I was using for brush cleaner made the stuff spray all over my sink and faucet, which is a waste of brush cleaner!

More Background:  A while back, I bought Misto brand sprayer to use with my Urban Decay De Slick oil control spray.  (They’re marketed as “olive oil sprayers” and I have a couple in my kitchen as well.) It didn’t work so great for the De-Slick.


Misto Olive Oil Sprayer. Approx. $10.

Solution:  I use the Misto sprayer for brush cleaner.  It’s SO much better than the regular pump bottles for several reasons:  1.  It hasn’t broken yet.  2.  It allows you to create an aerosol spray that’s easier to control and gets into brushes better.  3.  It’s reuseable and eco-friendly because it uses air pressure to create the aerosol – not chemical propellants.

In Conclusion:  I’m glad I kept this sprayer around.  After using it (unsuccessfully) for the De-Slick spray, I didn’t want to use it in the kitchen, so it was collecting dust in my bathroom for a while.  Luckily, it works perfectly for cleaning makeup brushes.  Totally worth the $5 I spent on it!



Review: Clear (for Men) Scalp Therapy Shampoo in “Clean & Refresh”

Recently, a local drugstore was doing a “buy one, get one free” deal on Clear brand shampoo and conditioner products.  Unfortunately, all the “girly” shampoos were sold out, so I had to buy one of the men’s ones.  Now, normally I don’t mind using products designed for men.  My favorite razor is a men’s razor, I like the way T-shirts from the “young men’s” department fit me, and men’s shave gel is sometimes cheaper, even though it works the same.  However, I’m going to have to draw the line at this product…

Pros:  Affordable. Paraben-free. Works as well as other shampoos.  Contains botanical extracts and pyrithione zinc – a proven anti-dandruff ingredient.

Cons:  Not the least expensive product you can buy. Contains sulfates.  Smells awful.  The fragrance is like cheap cologne mixed with something else (fruit? liquor?).  It’s really “distinct”, but not in the good way.

In Summary:   Lesson learned:  Smell the shampoo before you buy it.  To be honest, I’ve never used a shampoo that smelled so bad that I wanted to throw it away.  I can’t even stand the smell enough to keep using it so I can tell you how well it works! (I don’t even think I want the guys in my house to use it, for fear I’d have to keep smelling it on them!)  If you have no sense of smell and a dry scalp, this would be fine for you.  Otherwise, maybe you should just use Head & Shoulders – or try another fragrance. (It’s also available in “Strong & Full” – whatever that means – and “Cool Sport Mint”).

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars (mostly because of the fragrance)  2-stars

Price:  approx $7

Available at: drugstores, mass merchandisers, etc.

clear shampoo

Thumbs-Down: J.R. Watkins “Lotion Devotion” Set

On one of my regular trips to Target, I saw a too-hard-to-resist collection of travel-sized lotions on clearance, about half off. (5 different ones in a zip-top bag, which I can reuse for travel.) Because I never leave home without lotion – usually in my car AND in my purse – I thought these would be handy to have around.

Pros: Paraben-free. Made in USA. Natural ingredients. Convenient for travel.

Cons: Expensive if bought full-price. Inconvenient containers. (no flip-top) Fragrance is overpowered by other ingredients, so it smells like cheap lotion with added fragrance. Unimpressive moisturizing. Not very “creamy”.

In Summary:  I’m not too upset about the disappointing performance of these lotions, but only because I spent just $4.14 on them.  If they at least smelled better, I would be willing to keep using them. The ingredients are almost exactly the same on each of the 5 containers (the foot “cream” contains glycerine, which the others don’t), so I think they’re all the same quality and just come in different fragrances.  I don’t know if these are even worth “emergency” in-my-car use…

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars 2-stars

Price:  $8.29 at Target, $10.99 at manufacturer website (for five 1 oz.  containers in a zip-top bag)

Available at: Target,


Liebster Blog Award

OK, OK, I know I’ve been a total slacker lately.  I’ve been uber-busy with my kids and volunteer work, so I haven’t had time to do any product reviews (or any other sort of post, for that matter!).  However, the lovely Kareen at Ziba by Nature graciously nominated my blog for this award, so now I’m sort of obligated to stop slacking…

The Liebster Award Rules:

1) Post 11 things about yourself.

2) Answer the questions that the tagger/nominator has posted for you.

3) Create 11 questions and choose (nominate) 11 up and coming blogs and link them in the post.

4) Go to their page and tell them.

Liebster Award

11 Things About Me:

1.  When I was a teenager, I hardly ever wore makeup.  Now, I wear it almost every day, and never leave my house without it.

2.  I have two teenaged children – ages 16 & 17.  (Yes, I realize I’m giving away my age…)

3.  I have a completely psychotic dog who absolutely adores me and hates anyone not in “her” family.

4.  I have never had a professional pedicure, and have only had half a manicure (nail polish removed, fingernails re-painted) because I take care of those things on my own.

5.  I’m moderately germaphobic.  I carry hand sanitizer everywhere I go (in my car AND my purse!)

6.  I’m currently growing my hair out so I can donate it to a charity that uses it to make wigs for women who are undergoing cancer treatment. (I’m getting it cut off on my next birthday – August 6th!)

7.  I’m not a great cook – unless you count breakfast and baking (but I’m kind of a “foodie”!)

8.  I lived in Italy for over three years and South Korea for two.

9.  I don’t have normal fears (bugs, snakes, spiders, etc.) but I think monkeys are kind of creepy.

10.  My son and I are planning on going skydiving this year for his 18th birthday.

11.  My daughter and I get along so well it’s kind of scary.  I’m not one of those “buddy” Moms, but we really do have fun together.

Questions Posted by Ziba by Nature:

1) How long have you been blogging?

On this blog – about a year.  On my previous blog – for a little over a year. (So: two plus years.)

2) What made you start blogging in the first place?

I was SO frustrated by spending (lots of) money on products that didn’t work.  I usually bought them because they were recommended by this or that magazine, or because they got rave reviews on a beauty website.  I decided that there needed to be more impartial, honest reviews of products out there.  Also, I love saving money, (the more I save, the more I can buy!) so I wanted to give people advice on ways to do that, too.

3) What three traits do you admire most in people?

Honesty.  I mean real honesty – not that sugar-coated version some people give you.  Also, I admire generosity, and willingness to try new things (because that can be kinda scary!)

4) What is your number 1 priority when purchasing beauty products? Is it the brand name, effectiveness, price, naturalness, or is it something else… ?

Value.  I need to feel like I’m getting my money’s worth.  What good is fancy packaging if it’s the only reason something costs more?

5) Where is your favorite place that you have traveled?

There’s an area of Italy called Cinque Terre.  It is literally one of the most beautiful places on Earth.  Beaches, cliffs, hiking trails – it has everything!  Florence would be a close 2nd because it’s my favorite city.

6) What would your perfect breakfast be like?

Anything I don’t have to cook!  🙂   Seriously, I really love fritattas.

7) Have you ever experienced love at first sight?

I don’t believe in “love at first sight” but I absolutely believe that chemistry can be detected at first sight.  There’s an energy between two people that you can recognize right away.  And yes, I’ve experienced this many times. 

8) What was the last book that you read? Write one sentence that summarizes the entire book for you.

“Insurgent” by Veronica Roth.  Teen fiction man-versus-society future dystopia.  (That’s about all you need to know.  If you don’t like those genres, you’re not going to like the book!)

9) Cat or dog? You only get one!


10) What do you see yourself doing five years from now?

Wow.  My life is going to change so much in the next five years.  Both my kids (should) will be in college by then.  Hopefully, I’ll be finding new and exciting things to try.  And I really want to buy a motorcycle.

11) What is the last thing that made you LAUGH SO MUCH UNTIL YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE GOING TO DIE?

I don’t remember what the discussion was about, but my family was around the dinner table and someone said something that was taken out of context and the whole conversation went hilariously awry.

11 Questions for Blog Nominees:

1.  What is your biggest source of pride?

2.  What’s the worst beauty mistake you’ve ever made?

3.  If you had to choose a “beauty icon”, who would it be?

4. What are three things you’d like to do before you die?

5.  What motivates you?

6.  If you had to be any animal, what would it be and why? (sorry, 2 questions!)

7.  What is the worst beauty product you’ve ever tried?

8.  If money were no object and you were forced to choose only one beauty brand, what would it be?

9.  What would your dream home be like?

10.  What’s your least favorite thing to do?

11.  What one word describes you best?

Nominees (This is a little difficult.  Admittedly, I don’t read as many blogs as I should, some of these may have already been nominated for this particular award…):

Beauty & the Brain – Honest, real-world reviews.

Taneja’s Bride – Product reviews and highlights, nail color introductions.

Sicilianna Beauty – Reviews, how-tos, and fun polls.

The Makeup Honey – Great makeup/beauty tips from a makeup artist.

Every Sensory – A fellow nail polish addict.

Harajuku Girl FL Beauty – Features reviews and introductions to brands you may not have heard of yet.

Two Lacquered Girls – Lots of great nail polish ideas.

All Things Girl Related – Random acts of girly-ness.

Nailmattic – Tons of nail art inspiration.

Forty, Flirty & Fabulous – Shopping/gift ideas and more.

All That Filipina Glitters – Great beauty and skincare tips (for everyone – not just Filipinas!).


Review: Ulta Ultimate Pure Color Shampoo

I recently took my daughter to get her hair colored at Aveda Institute.  Since I had over 2 hours on my hands and there was an Ulta store nearby, I decided to go over and see if they had any sulfate-free shampoo to protect her new color (because I paid for it!).  I picked this one up because it had a Buy One, Get One Free offer…

Pros:  Sulfate-free.  Still lathers, which some sulfate-free products don’t, and which can be off-putting to some people.  Affordable.  Eligible for all Ulta coupons, which “prestige” brands are not.

Cons:  Odd, menthol/medicine-y fragrance.  Didn’t notice any extra moisturizing effect (but I only used it once – after all, it wasn’t for MY hair…)

In Summary:  If you’re looking for a sulfate-free shampoo, this is one of the least expensive ones you can find.  It seems to be on sale on a regular basis, too, (currently Buy Two, Get Two Free) which is a plus.  I don’t love the fragrance and I’m sure there are better shampoos out there, but if you’re on a budget and want to protect your color, this is probably an excellent choice.

Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars  3.5-stars

Price:  $6.99 for 9.25 oz

Available at: Ulta


This is a bad photo of the product. The one on Ulta’s website is of the conditioner, for some reason…