I Tried IQ Natural’s Ester C Serum for 30 Days and Here’s What Happened…

IQ Natural Skincare Ester-C Serum

IQ Natural Skincare Ester-C Serum

I’m a sucker for a serum that promises to turn back the clock on my skin. Billed as a “dark spot and free radical warrior,” the Ester-C Serum from IQ Natural Skincare hits right in my sweet spot. IQ says if you feel your “skin looks aged and dull, and you’re concerned about damage from free radicals and UV radiation, you should try this serum immediately.” The company also stated their Ester-C Serum has been “proven to get rid of fine lines, reduce the appearance of new wrinkles, even out your complexion, lighten age spots and reduce hyper-pigmentation, and it protects against the effects of daily exposure to UV rays and free radicals.” Pretty impressive claims!

They state this serum’s star ingredient, Ester-C (AKA Ascorbyl Palmitate), “has all of the benefits of Vitamin C, but it actually works better and faster, as the skin absorbs it faster and more efficiently than normal Vitamin C.” Ascorbyl palmitate is the most widely used fat-soluble derivative of Vitamin C in skin care. It is non-irritating and more stable than vitamin C. Keep in mind that fats (in the form of lipids) are found in multiple layers of the skin – in the stratum corner and granular layers of the epidermis; in the composition of cellular membranes and in the skin’s own sebum (Source). So theoretically a fat-soluble topical vitamin/antioxidant cocktail (like this one) should not only be more stable on your bathroom counter but also should be better absorbed and utilized by your skin than a water-based one. Furthermore, ascorbyl palmitate is a fat-soluble antioxidant. Scientists tell us that it is at least as effective as Vitamin E in protecting the skin from lipid peroxidation – a really bad kind of free radical damage you don’t want to happen to your skin (Source).

And the IQ Natural folks included a relatively high amount of Ester-C in this serum. It’s listed as the 5th ingredient which is pretty impressive when compared to most serums on the market (where the featured antioxidants are often listed further down the lists). In more good news, IQ Natural includes both Ester-C AND Vitamin E in this serum so you’re doubly covered! But they didn’t stop there! They added the traditional form of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), multiple antioxidants from organic fruit extracts and mixed it all up in a creamy aloe+glycerin+wax base along with a couple skin-beneficial oils (such as rosehip and neem) that have been shown to have a positive impact on the skin. Wow!

Price: $36 / 1 fluid ounce (30 ml)

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BEFORE – Notice the Wrinkles at the Top and Base of My Neck and Hyper-pigmentation across My Chest 

What Happened when I Used This Serum for 30 Days: I was super excited when an IQ Natural rep contacted me and asked me to try this serum, especially after I read the company’s product description and promises (above). I quickly decided the best place to test this serum was my neck and décolletage areas where I have some pretty noticeable sun damage. I took a few before pics. Here’s the best one to show the sun damage and wrinkling around my neck:

Based on IQ Natural’s product description, I was hoping to see some slight improvement in the sun spots and hyper-pigmentation, understanding that it usually takes several months to see a big change in these issues. I figured any results would be minimal since I’d only be testing the serum for 30 days. I certainly wasn’t expecting much (if any) results in the way of wrinkle improvement. But that’s exactly what I got!

AFTER Using IQ Natural's Ester-C Serum for 30 Days

AFTER Using IQ Natural’s Ester-C Serum for 30 Days

As you’ll see from my AFTER picture, the depth in the wrinkles (especially those around my neck area) were noticeably decreased. There was some improvement in the hyper pigmentation on my décolletage area as well. However, the damage there is pretty severe, and the sun spots actually have a raised texture. So dramatic improvements (i.e. complete fading or removal of the dark spots) would likely take about 6 months. Still I see a decrease in the severity of those spots and and improved overall tone of the area at day #30.

BEFORE

BEFORE

AFTER 30 Days Using Ester-C Serum Twice/Day! Pay Close Attention to the Decreased Wrinkling at the Base of My Neck and around My Throat + Fading of Sun Spots on My Chest!

AFTER 30 Days Using Ester-C Serum Twice/Day! Pay Close Attention to the Decreased Wrinkling at the Base of My Neck and around My Throat + Fading of Sun Spots on My Chest!

In case you’re wondering if I used any other products to boost this serum’s results the answer is yes but with a caveat. I used the same products I’d been using for the last 6 months on my neck and upper chest area which included the following:
CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser
Followed by IQ Natural Skincare Ester-C Serum (the only change in my regimen) day & night
Then Olay Regenerist Regenerating Lotion with Broad Spectrum SPF50 (daytime) OR
Paula’s Choice RESIST Retinol Skin-Smoothing Body Treatment (nighttime)

So, yes, technically, this serum did have the benefit of other ingredients like niacinamide (in the case of the Olay SPF lotion) and other antioxidants and retinol (from the PC moisturizer), but I’d been applying those products to the same area for several months prior to using this serum (and prior to the BEFORE pics) so it’s really a wash. Just for comparison’s sake, here’s a more zoomed in, side-by-side pic of my neck area that I think really shows the impact of the serum.
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These are completely un-retouched, #nofilter photos taken in the exact same light/location, at almost exactly the same time of day. Even Hubs was impressed by the results!

Packaging: The clear glass bottle is not ideal for preserving the integrity of some of the light-sensitive ingredients (Vitamins C and E), but recall Ester C is more stable than the traditional form so it’s less susceptible to air/light degradation. To be on the safe side, just store this serum in a cabinet or drawer away from the sunlight. Dispensing this serum from eye dropper-style bottle means that the ingredients are exposed to light and air with each use. However, I found that when applying this serum twice/day (as directed), I used almost the entire bottle within 30 days meaning there was little time for the fragile ingredients to oxidize. FYI, most companies using similar packaging and eye-dropper style dispensers guarantee their Vitamin C products’ efficacy for at least 90 days after purchase (Example Paula’s Choice guarantees their RESIST C15 Super Booster for 6 months after date of purchase (read more here) and Timeless Skin Care guarantees their 20% Vitamin C+E Ferulic Acid Serum fresh and effective for 90 days after purchase (read more here).

IQ Natural Skincare Ester-C Serum

IQ Natural Skincare Ester-C Serum

So the packaging is not really an issue until you get near the bottom of the bottle. At that point, it’s very difficult to get the last 10-20% of the serum out with the dropper because this serum is thicker than most other serums (those mentioned above are almost water-like in consistency whereas this one is more lotion-y). I tried various un-scientific techniques – tilting and shaking the bottle, trying to scrape the last bits of serum up into a corner so I could readily retrieve the product into the dropper. But I finally resorted to just dumping the bottle upside down and dumping some product into my hand. This worked pretty well and allowed me to avoid feeling like I was wasting any.

Application: I was pleasantly surprised that upon my first application of this serum my face showed immediate improvement in radiance and seemed more plump and hydrated. Because this serum is so creamy and includes several hydrating ingredients, it may not be ideal for oily skin types, but my drier skin loves it! As clearly depicted in the BEFORE/AFTER pictures, the emollient ingredients do a terrific job of plumping up and diminishing the depth of fine (and even some deeper) lines and wrinkles in a relatively short period of time.

Skin Beneficial Ingredients: This serum almost contains too many antioxidants, vitamins and skin-beneficial extracts to list. I’ve included the full ingredient list below. The base is a mix of aloe, glycerin, Rosehip oil (which itself has antioxidant properties) and wax which is best for normal to dry skin types. As stated above, Ester C is the 5th ingredient along with smaller amounts of proven antioxidants Vitamins C and E. Several fruit extracts – cranberry, raspberry, wild blueberry, etc. are also present boosting this serum’s antioxidant capacity.

Full Ingredient List: Aloe barbadensis (Organic Aloe Vera) Juice, Vegetable Glycerin, Rosa mosqueta (Rosehip) Seed Oil, Emulsifying Wax, Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C Ester), Vaccinium macrocarpon (Organic Cranberry) Extract, Rubus idaeus (Organic Red Raspberry) Extract, Vanccinum angustifoilium (Organic Wild Blueberry) Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Salix nigra (Black Willowbark) Extract, Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) Oleoresin (rosemary oil extract), Azadirachta indica (Neem) Oil, Tetrasodium EDTA (chelating agent), Citric Acid.

Scent / Fragrance: This serum has little to no fragrance (always a good thing in skin care and is especially important for sensitive skins).

Skin Unfriendly Ingredient(s): This is where this serum really excels! It contains virtually ZERO problematic ingredients making it a slam-dunk option for the most sensitive skin types, or anyone (like me) combining this serum with heavy-hitter topical like Retin-A, retinol or chemical exfoliants (e.g. alpha or beta hydroxy acids). There is some evidence that rosemary extract may have a sensitizing effect on the skin. However, researchers also state that the amounts of rosemary extract/oil typically used in skin care products are almost always too small to be a risk (Source). And the minuscule amount contained in this serum (it’s the 4th ingredient from the bottom) is so tiny that is almost guaranteed NOT to cause a reaction.

Side-by-Side Ingredient List Comparison of Another "Natural" Antioxidant Serum with Witch Hazel (Left) and IQ Natural Ester-C Serum (Right)

Side-by-Side Ingredient List Comparison of Another “Natural” Antioxidant Serum with Witch Hazel (Left) and IQ Natural Ester-C Serum (Right)

Unlike many all natural (or so-called “natural”) serums, this one is not formulated in a Witch Hazel base. That may seem insignificant, but stick with me. Despite its reputation as a natural skin care ingredient, witch hazel is not skin-friendly because it typically contains 14% – 15% alcohol. Note that some brands of witch hazel contain as much as 30% alcohol (source1 and source2)

Texture + Feel: This feels more like a lotion than a serum. It comes out thick and feels moisturizing immediately upon application. Unlike many C serums (especially those claiming to lighten age spots or improve skin tone) this one causes no burning or stinging on application. After only 5 minutes or so, the serum has completely absorbed allowing you to proceed with your skin care and makeup routine.

Wear under Makeup: If you notice, this product contains no silicones so it doesn’t ball up or compete with the silicones in your foundation or BB cream of choice. The one caveat to that is that this serum contains several oils and moisturizing ingredients so it could theoretically interfere with ultra oil-free foundations (e.g. Milani’s Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation+Concealer) which really doesn’t perform well when applied over oil-containing moisturizers (as I discussed in step-by-step Making Milani’s Conceal+Perfect Work for All Skin Types tutorial). So if you’re planning on wearing an oil-free, all water+silicone foundation over this serum, be sure to allow several minutes for the serum to absorb. Then lightly blot the skin before following with an oil-free moisturizer and/or sunscreen. Then wait 5 more minutes, blot again and apply a good silicone-based primer. Carefully following this process I had no trouble using this serum under any of foundations and I didn’t notice any disruption in wear-time and had no problems with application.

Summary and Daily Beauty Wisdom Rating: This is definitely a wise beauty purchase for anyone with aging skin looking to combat lines, wrinkles and sun damage. The price point is very reasonable and the company has obviously spent a great deal of time and effort in ensuring this serum is well-formulated and the ingredients are effective, yet gentle. I highly recommend it! And based on this experience I’m looking forward to testing some other IQ Natural skin care products and their intriguing mineral makeup line!

Full Product Info and Company Product Page: IQ Natural Ester C Anti-aging Facial Serum

Company Home Page: IQ Natural

Wisdom for the Day:
“Always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~Ephesians 5:20 (CEB)
Read more here.

October Beauty Empties

October #Beauty Empties

October #Beauty Empties

Ever since I posted this article about how I rarely I actually empty beauty products, I’ve started paying closer attention to those cosmetics I deem worthy of finishing. One thing I’ve noticed during my observations is I tend to consistently use (and use up) skin and hair care products; whereas I rarely empty makeup products. I’m more likely to toss those for lack of use or expiration than “hitting pan” as it were. This month is no exception. Here are my product empties and brief reviews for October (2016)…

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Neutrogena® Oil-free Eye Makeup Remover

1. Neutrogena® Oil-free Eye Makeup Remover:

Claims – Neutrogena states this product has an “ultra-gentle dual phase formula (that) activates when shaken to remove all eye makeup — even waterproof mascara — without any greasy residue.” The company also promises “it is ophthalmologist tested, safe for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers and oil free.”

My Results – I use this first, before dual-cleansing. I shake it well (it basically doesn’t work if you don’t) then apply it onto 2 cotton pads which I then apply to my eyes. I allow the saturated pads to sit on my eyes for about a minute to start to break down the makeup. Then I lightly rub the pads around my eyes to remove additional traces of makeup. Then I followup with a makeup removing oil cleanser to my whole face and a cream cleanser (usually CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser). One of the best things about this product is that it never causes burning or stinging to the eyes. Neutrogena also delivers on their promise that this product leaves no oily or greasy residue behind. Then again I follow it with double cleansing so any residue gets pretty well taken care of in that process.

Price – $5.99 – $7.99 (per Neutrogena’s website). This one is available almost everywhere. From Walmart and other major discount stores to national drugstore chains (Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, etc.) and even many grocery stores. ULTA sells 2 sizes (3.8 oz. and 5.5 oz.) priced at $5.99 and $7.99, respectively along with a Buy One / Get One 40% deal (at time of this writing).

One note about finding this product in stores – almost every retailer stocks this product along side Neutrogena’s makeup products, not with their skincare products. So if you’re having trouble locating it, check the makeup area.

Draw-backs – The primary complaint I have with this product is the same one I have with every other eye makeup remover I’ve tried – that is, it doesn’t immediately remove all eye makeup without rubbing and tugging. I rarely wear waterproof mascara but do you use waterproof liner on a regular. Though I don’t consider my eyes very sensitive, I notice some redness and swelling the next day if I don’t get all my eye makeup removed at night.
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Ingredients – Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Leaf Juice, Benzyl Alcohol, Sodium Chloride, Dipropylene Glycol, Poloxamer 182, Allantoin, Tripotassium EDTA, Benzalkonium Chloride Solution, Glycerin, Cucumber (Cucumis Sativus) Extract (Cucumis Sativus), Potassium Phosphate, Dipotassium Phosphate

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L’ORÉAL Paris™ EverPure Blonde Brass Banisher System™

2. L’ORÉAL Paris EverPure Blonde Brass Banisher Shampoo & Conditioner:

Claims – L’ORÉAL promises this shampoo and conditioner will “boost your blond for fresh pure lustrous color,” and claims using both products together will “neutralize brassiness in just 1 use while deeply nourishing hair to restore hydration…and (help) you keep the color you love for up to 32 washes.”

My Results – Since going blond, I’ve tried SO many lavender, purple anti-brass toning shampoos and conditioners, and I really like these. First of all, the shampoo is sulfate-free so it doesn’t strip out my color which is important because getting my hair professionally foiled is NOT cheap! So obviously, I want to do everything I can to preserve it. There are other stronger purple toning shampoos on the market, Clairol Shimmer Lights comes to mind (works great but turns my hair into perfectly-toned brass-free straw). This one is gentle enough to avoid that overly dried out crispy result but it’s effective enough keep that dreaded yellow-orange tinge out of my hair.

Price – Price varies by vender. $5.97 each from Walmart. ULTA sells the shampoo and conditioner for $6.99 each and currently (at time of this writing) offers a Buy Two, Get One Free offer. Amazon sells the shampoo from $5.97 each. The conditioner is also available for various prices.

Draw-backs – My one complaint with the otherwise excellent pair of lavender toners is the difficulty I have getting the lids closed. For some reason, it’s nearly impossible for me to get the lids fully closed especially when the tubes are wet, I’m wet and my hands are covered in suds. So what ends up happening is that lavender-colored shampoo and conditioner leaks out onto my shower shelf, creating a mess and wasting product. While this is not an expensive product (especially when compared to salon brands) it’s still frustrating to waste product and it’s really annoying to discover a trail of purple soap dripping down the wall of my shower.

Ingredients (shampoo) – Water, disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, sodium lauryl sulfoacetate, sodium lauroyl sarcosinate, cocamidopropyl betaine, glycol distearate, glycereth-26, decyl glucoside, fragrance, hydrogenated coconut acid, ppg-5-ceteth-20, dimethicone copolymer, polyquaternium-7, amodimethicone, polyquaternium-10, sodium isethionate, propylene glycol, peg- 55 propylene glycol oleate, carbomer, c11-15 pareth-7, benzoic acid, benzophenone-4, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, benzyl salicylate, laureth-9, glycerin, hexyl cinnamal, benzyl alcohol, linalool, trideceth-12, limonene, sodium benzoate, c12-13 pareth-23, c12-13 pareth-3, iris florentina root extract, calendula officinalis flower extract, ext. violet 2, red 33, sodium hydroxide.

Ingredients (conditioner) – Water, cetearyl alcohol, behentrimonium chloride, isopropyl myristate, cetyl esters, fragrance, isopropyl alcohol, hicone, polyquaternium-37, mineral oil, sodium benzoate, amodimethicone, tocopherol, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, peppermint leaf extract, chlorhexidine dihydrochloride, citric acid, limonene, ppg-1 trideceth-6, linalool, butylphenyl methylpropional, rosemary leaf oil, citronellol, benzophenone-4, iris florentina root extract, calendula officinalis flower extract, ci 60730 / ext. violet 2, ci 17200 / red 33. f.i.l. # d168573/1.

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Nature’s Bounty® OPTIMAL SOLUTIONS® Hair, Skin, & Nails Gummies with Biotin

3. Nature’s Bounty® OPTIMAL SOLUTIONS® Hair, Skin, & Nails Gummies with Biotin:

Claims – Nature’s Bounty® states these sugar+corn syrup-based gummies “provide you with the vital nutrients your body needs to support your natural beauty from within. Vitamin E and Vitamin C are antioxidants. Vitamin E contributes to skin health, and Vitamin C is involved in collagen production and formation, which forms the basis for vibrant skin.” 2 Gummies provide 15 mg. Vitamin C (as Ascorbic Acid); 15 IU Vitamin E (as dl-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate); 2,500 mcg. Biotin (as d-Biotin); along with 15 calories, 4 grams carbohydrate and 2 grams of sugar.

My Results – Like most women, I noticed increased lost of hair starting about 3 months postpartum. Sadly, I never experienced the increased thickness and luster I started taking this supplement in May as a replacement for my previous Biotin supplement. I wanted something that provided both Vitamin C and Biotin to complement my existing Collagen drink regimen (read more about the anti-aging power of collagen here) and these dummies seemed like a tasty option to try. Because I was pretty panicked about the amount of hair loss I was experiencing, I started taking these (2 dummies) twice per day. After about 2 months (roughly 3 jars of dummies) I started to notice a significant improvement in the thickness and condition of my hair. Now, during that same time I continued taking 1-2 collagen drinks each day so I’m certain the results were attributable to the combination of all the supplements more than any one on its own. But I definitely think these dummies have an impact so I continue taking them.

Price – These supplements are widely available sold everywhere from grocery stores to major discount retailers (Walmart, Target, etc.) to drugstore chains and online retailers. Price varies by vender. Vitacost offers the lowest online price (as of this writing) at $7.19 / 80 Gummie jar. CVS and Walgreens vary from around $8-$8.50 for the same sized jar with local stores often offering in-store coupons and discounts. You can usually find Nature’s Bounty® coupons in your local Sunday paper or coupon mailer.

Draw-backs – As I noted above, these gummies are designed to mimic gummy candies so the good-for-you vitamins and nutrients are contained in a sugar and corn syrup base. If that’s a problem for you – i.e. if you’re sensitive to sugar; if you need to avoid all sugar for health reasons or you’re actively doing the #Whole30 or similar sugar-free diet – then these supplements won’t work for you. I had to switch back to Vitamin C and Biotin tabs during our recent #SeptemberWhole30 but eagerly switched back to these on October 1st. They taste good and make taking vitamins a lot more enjoyable!

Ingredients (according to Nature’s Bounty website): Corn Syrup, Sugar, Dicalcium Phosphate, Grape Juice Color Concentrate, Gelatin, Modified Food Starch, Citric Acid, Lactic Acid, Natural Strawberry Flavor, Black Carrot Juice Color Concentrate, Maltodextrin, Fractionated Coconut Oil (Contains one or more of the following: Carnauba Wax, Beeswax), Silica.

Wisdom for the Day:
“In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity.” ~Richard Baxter
Read more about the importance of unity here.

Wet n Wild MegaGlo Contouring Palette – DBW Product Review

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There was a time, not so long ago, when I shied away from setting powders because I believed powder of any kind emphasized my fine lines and wrinkles. Over the last 6-12 months I’ve had the opportunity to test some powders and application techniques. And I’ve discovered that finely milled, well-formulated powders applied and set properly can actually help to diminish the look of fine lines and age-related texture on my skin. These 2-shade powder palettes from Wet n Wild have become one of my favorites.

Price: $4.99 / for 0.44 oz. (12.5 grams) palette

Where to Buy: Wet n Wild is so at Walmart stores nationwide along with select CVS, Walgreens and other major discount retailers and drugstore chains.

Color Range: 2 shades are offered, both named after desserts – the lighter combo is “Dulce de Leche” and the darker is “Caramel Toffee.” The lighter combo provides a matte ivory highlight powder and a cool-toned contour shade. The deeper combo features a vanilla-toned highlight shade that’s also matte and akin to a pressed version of Ben Nye’s Banana Powder (made famous by Kim Kardashian and her MUA). The darker combo also includes a deeper shade intended for contouring that is a more neutral in tone, containing a nice balance of cool and warm tones. Experts tell us cool tones (with more blue/gray undertones) are more appropriate for contouring because they most closely mimic actual shadows.
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Application, Texture and Finish: These powders, especially the lighter shade, can easily be applied with a puff, makeup sponge or brush of any size. These palettes do kick up a good bit of powder when you dip your brush into them, so plan for some fall-out. I find that the lighter shades very similar to a loose powder. It’s very finely milled and incredibly soft, but it’s a talc base so the texture differs from MAKE UP FOR EVER’s HD Finishing Powder (that one’s 100% silica). I find that any excess powder is easily removed with a brush or damp beautyblender® type sponge. And any overly powdered look is easily remedied with a good setting spray.

Coverage: Because the lighter shades are intended as highlight, they don’t provide a lot of coverage. They’re somewhat sheer. However, they do offer sufficient coverage and brightening to perform the intended effect.

I’m not that big into full-on contouring because I’ve never figured out how to pull off that look without looking muddy. I do enjoy using the darker shade for a little light bronzing around the perimeter of my face. And it works incredibly well as a transitional eye shadow shade because it blends like a dream!

Wear: Applied and set these powders don’t budge. My favorite way application is using the lighter shade to set under-eye concealer. It works extremely well for baking – decreasing any creasing you may experience with your favorite concealer and improving the longevity and wear time. I find that I may need the occasional powder up after 5-6 hours of wear, usually only in my oiliest areas or if I’m wearing particularly oily moisturizer underneath these powders that day. On a positive note, I have never experienced any oxidizing or color-changing with these powders even when applied over heavy-duty moisturizers or when set with my DIY Glowy Setting Spray (which includes a bit of oil from the added antioxidants). That’s good news for oily-skinned gals who’ve experienced the dreaded oxidation “orange face” that happens mid-day with some powders.

Packaging: This is where you’ll recognize this as an inexpensive product. These palettes are enclosed in cheap plastic with a basic opaque black base and a thin, clear plastic lid that scratches easily. The palettes have a basic snap-type closure that can break after a while or when dropped. The packaging is obviously not great, and if you plan to carry one of these in your makeup or travel bag, be mindful that the packaging means they’re more fragile. All things considered, I’d rather save money and get a great makeup bargain than spend an $15-20 extra for fancy packaging. But if you prefer beautiful packaging, Wet n Wild is probably not a brand that speaks to you anyway.

Skin Beneficial Ingredients: Minimal. This is not a skin care product so don’t expect it to provide a bunch of antioxidants or skin-beneficial ingredients. These powders are composed primarily of talc, nylon, boron nitride and aluminum starch. Then again these palettes cost less than $5 and for the money you get a ton of product.

Full Ingredient List (per company website): Talc, Nylon-12, Boron Nitride, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Ethyl Macadamiate, Dimethicone, Magnesium Myristate, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Phenoxyethanol, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Lauroyl Lysine, Caprylyl Glycol, Polybutene, Hexylene Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tocopherol, o-Cymen-5-ol, Methicone (in shade 749A), [+/- (MAY CONTAIN/PEUT CONTENIR): Mica, Iron Oxides/CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499, Titanium Dioxide/CI 77891, Red 40 Lake/CI 16035, Yellow 5 Lake/CI 19140, Ultramarines/CI 77007].

Summary and Daily Beauty Wisdom Rating: These palettes are terrific beauty bargains for anyone looking to experiment with contour and highlighting. And they’re great on-the-go options for anyone who, like me, rushes out the door with their makeup half done (intending to finish in the car or upon arrival at their destination) or anyone needing a fantastic touch-up powder combo. I should add that this is currently my second favorite setting powder, second only to the far more expensive Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder ($38 / 1 ounce) which is also talc-based and considered among the best setting powders in the industry. Yes, it’s that good! Give these palettes strong consideration. They’re worth the $5.

One final comment, Wet n Wild claims on the front side packaging for these products that they are cruelty free. However, the back side packaging clearly states they are made in China, which some would say negates the “cruelty-free” claims. If that’s an issue for you, be advised.

Additional Reviews:
Makeup Alley ratings https://www.makeupalley.com/product/showreview.asp/ItemId=177909/Coloricon-Contouring-Palette/Wet–n–Wild/Contour (4.3 / 5 lipsticks; 83% of Reviewers said they would repurchase).
Stacy Makeup’s Review (spoiler – she recommends these palettes as an all-around beauty bargain).
* It’s interesting to note that many of the more well-known makeup review sites don’t yet have reviews for these palettes. So they’re kind of under-the-radar beauty products that seem to garner positive ratings among those who have tried them.
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For more information, check out the full product info and Wet n Wild company page here.

Wisdom for the Day:
“Now we see a reflection in a mirror; then we will see face-to-face. Now I know partially, but then I will know completely in the same way that I have been completely known.” I Corinthians 13:12 (Common English Bible)
Read more here.

Easy At-Home Baked Sweet Potato Fries

#Vegan #Glutenfree #Grainfree #Whole30 #Paleo #Dairyfree #Sugarfree
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Our daughter just turned the Big 1 year! Hubs and I confidently carried our little one into her 1-year follow-up expecting, for the first time in our brief parenting tenure, to get a great report along with the standard marching orders “just keep doing what you’re doing.” We’d been receiving those same instructions at every previous check-up along with high praise for our daughter’s diverse food intake and her preference for spinach and love of scrambled eggs.

Baby Girl Turns Eating Spinach into a Full Contact Sport

Baby Girl Turns Eating Spinach into a Full Contact Sport

But this time, we were hit hard by our pediatrician’s orders to transition our daughter to all solid food within 60 days. Most alarming to me, I was told to stop pureeing or mashing her foods starting right away…I was appalled! I thought we were doing so well. I’d been cruising along using our trusty NutriBullet to puree everything from broccoli and carrots to salmon and chicken, and she was doing so well eating that stuff…just as long as it was smooth with no lumps. She’d basically refused to eat anything with lumps or texture except her beloved eggs. I had created these yummy Veggie Puffs which she liked, but they’re pretty labor-intensive so I rarely make them and don’t relish the idea of making them several times per week.

Now my head was spinning as I pondered all the changes I’d have to make and worried how baby girl would respond to the transition. On the other hand, I can’t stand the idea of giving our little girl the highly-processed chemical-laden transitional toddler foods sold in stores.

Hubs – recognizing the look of consternation on my face – said, “Baby, it’ll be okay. We’ll just start by giving her those foods she already likes. What about sweet potatoes? We know she loves those.”
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Of course! That’s what I’ll do! She loves sweet potatoes. I’ll start there, I thought to myself. I decided to try to recreate one of our favorite treats – sweet potato fries – without the funky hydrogenated oils and preservatives. Baked with a little extra virgin coconut oil and some pure, unsweetened apple juice, these “fries” take only a few minutes to make and both my daughter and husband love them! Their an easy, inexpensive and delicious treat you can make in less than hour (including cook time). The secret is the combination of coconut oil and apple juice that the “fries” bake in. The result is slightly sweet and just the right combination of soft and crisp to be considered the perfect healthy transitional food by even the most persnickety pediatrician. Score one for Mommy!
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Ingredients:
• 1 Large or 2 Small Whole Sweet Potatoes, Washed and Peeled
• 1 Tbsp. Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
• 2 Tbsp. Unsweetened Homemade or Organic Apple Juice
• 1/4 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
• Light Sprinkling of Sea Salt, Ground Ginger, and/or Allspice
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Hardware:
• Large Chef’s Knife (the sharper the easier this will be)
• Cutting Board
• Parchment Paper
• Medium-sized Cookie Sheet or Baking Pan

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit (190° Celsius). Cover baking sheet/pan with parchment paper. Then set aside.
2. Slice sweet potato (or potatoes) length-wise into 4-5 slices of roughly equal width (as pictured below).
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Then cut slices into match sticks (or french fry shape). When cutting sticks, try to avoid pointy or sharp edges.
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3. Pour oil and apple juice onto parchment paper and rotate pan gently to blend the liquids (you can also use a fork or other utensil to swirl the liquids together). Then place the sweet potato sticks in a single layer atop the liquid mixture. Lightly sprinkle with spices, and then gently shake the pan again to distribute the liquids and seasonings.

raw seasoned sweet potato sticks ready to bake

Raw Seasoned Sweet Potato Sticks Ready to Bake

4. Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes. Then remove from oven and test for doneness.
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Makes about 2-3 Toddler Servings
Notes and Serving Suggestions: If you’re serving a toddler, you want the fries to be softer so stick with the shorter bake time. Check first after 40 minutes. If not quite done, stick the pan back in the oven for 3-5 more minutes. For adults, bake for 45 minutes before checking for doneness for a crisper texture. If not quite done, bake for 5-7 minutes longer, but keep a close eye on them. They go from crispy to burned very quickly.

Wisdom for the Day:
So, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, don’t have stubborn hearts as they did in the rebellion, on the day when they tested me in the desert.”
~Hebrews 3:7-8 (Common English Bible)
Read more here.

DIY Glowy Makeup Setting Spray

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Setting sprays have become extremely popular over the last few years. Beauty Bloggers across the internet and YouTube Beauty Vloggers have identified these sprays as essential to creating the perfect makeup look. There are so many sprays on the market promising to do everything from prep and prime the face for makeup to set and perfect a completed makeup look, control oil, provide just the right amount of luminosity and ensure your makeup lasts 12+ hours without fading, caking or creasing.

Those are some big promises! And for the record, no single makeup product can do all that. That being said, a good setting spray can do some great things in terms of finishing your makeup look and providing some nice benefits to your skin, depending on the ingredients included in your spray of choice.

You have be careful because there are a lot of setting sprays that have high alcohol contents (e.g., the very popular L’Oréal Infallible Pro-Spray and Set is extremely high in alcohol and fragrance so it’s basically like spraying hairspray on your face!). The alcohol in some (thankfully not all) of these sprays can not only dry out your face but has been shown to cause death to skin cells in a dose-dependent rate (read more about alcohol types used in skin care and the latest research here). In layman’s terms that means the more you use those sprays, the more you could be killing your skin cells (source). Scary stuff!

The best alcohol-free setting sprays tend to have a few common ingredients (generally a base of water, glycerin, some sort of slip-agent and a few antioxidants thrown in), but they can also be fairly expensive. MAC’s Prep and Prime Fix+ (AKA Fix+) is one of the most enduringly-popular setting sprays with some of the most vocal YouTube devotees (including my favorite YouTube beauty blogger Tati Westbrook AKA . Cost = $23 for 3.4 fluid oz. MAC’s website doesn’t provide the full product ingredient list but states Fix+ is “infused with a blend of green tea, chamomile and cucumber.” According to the Paula’s Choice / Beautypedia Fix+ review here, this spray is composed primarily of water, glycerin, butylene glycol (slip enhancer), along with some chamomile, cucumber and green tea extracts as well as some Vitamin E, panthenol and caffeine thrown in for good measure. But the key ingredients in terms of makeup setting, eliminating a powdery look and helping several layers meld together into a seamless finished look are actually the water and glycerin. The glycerin is especially important for imparting that lovely glow and helps the other ingredients in the spray blend together well so I encourage you not to skip it. Vegans take note – vegetable glycerin available from Amazon, Vitacost, or other Internet sites.

Consider the antioxidants in this spray as an added bonus, not your primary source. You’ll still want to use your regular serum and moisturizers. But this recipe includes some great antioxidants! Green tea is well-established as a potent anti-oxidant and skin soother. Chamomile is a great ingredient to include in your setting spray because it also provides antioxidant and skin-soothing even benefits (source) and some research has shown it may be helpful in fading sun spots (source, and the marks left behind from acne scarring (source).
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A Few Notes about Storage: Many of those un-pronounceable (not sure that’s a word) ingredients you see so often in cosmetics are actually preservatives which extend the shelf life of the product, since companies have no idea how long they’ll sit on the shelf before purchase and/or how long it will take you to consume the contents. This spray has no preservatives or funky chemicals. For that reason, once you get the full recipe mixed up, you may consider pouring half into a smaller spray/storage bottle and stashing it in your refrigerator until ready to use.
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Since I’m all about reduce and reuse, if I make this spray during the summer (when I’m likely to store it in the refrigerator full-time), I usually pour the full recipe into this dark-colored bottle which previously held One ‘n Only brand Argan Oil Treatment, which I’ve carefully washes a couple of times with hot soapy water. Then I just keep in the fridge so it’s nice a cool when I use it!
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Otherwise, I pour half into this 2 oz. bottle which previously held E.L.F. Cosmetic’s Mist and Set which excludes glycerin but includes several great skin-beneficial ingredients and antioxidants including forms of Vitamins C, E and A and some Green Tea. The dark bottles protects the fragile antioxidants in this recipe. If you don’t have any suitably-sized dark bottles available for reuse, keep in mind that Walmart and other discount retailers sell spray bottles for reasonable prices in various sizes and colors.
Ingredients:
• 1 pouch each green tea + chamomile tea brewed with 1/2 cup (or 4 oz.) total distilled or filtered water
• 1 Tbsp. glycerin
• 2 Tbsp. rose water
• 1 Evening Primrose Oil gel-tab (optional, oily skin types may skip this as it adds additional oil)

Hardware:
• Measuring Spoon
• Clean 6-8 oz. spray bottle (preferably one made of opaque or dark-colored material to preserve antioxidant ingredients)
• Sewing needle (optional)
• Funnel (optional)

Instructions:
1. Brew chamomile and green tea in 1/2 cup filtered or distilled water if possible. Allow tea to steep at least 5 minutes. For best results, allow tea to steep covered overnight in the refrigerator.
2. Pour cooled tea into a clean 6-8 oz. spray bottle (I find using a small funnel help prevent making a mess or wasting half the tea when pouring). Then add 2 Tbsp. rose water and glycerin.
3. Finally (if desired), using a clean sharp sewing needle very carefully puncture evening primrose gel-tab and squeeze contents into spray or storage bottle. Then tightly secure lid onto the bottle and gently shake bottle before using or pouring into desired storage bottles.

Wisdom for the Day:
“In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword. His face was like the sun when it shines in all its brightness.” ~Revelation 1:16 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.

If you’re interested in discovering an easy and delicious recipe combining the health-benefits of green tea and the proven anti-aging benefits of collagen proteins, check out this link from Daily Beauty Wisdom: The Amazing Anti-Aging Power of Collagen Part 2 – Beautifying Beverage Recipes

Sweet and Crunchy Whole Apple Crumble

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An apple a day…we’ve all heard the saying encouraging us to eat an apple everyday to stay healthy, avoid trips to the doctor, etc. Check out this terrific article with current research and info proving that old adage that apples are truly one of the world’s healthiest foods! Apples are remarkable little nutritional powerhouses – providing lots of fiber (including soluble fiber proven to decrease levels of “bad” cholesterol), buffer blood sugar spikes and aid in weight loss by sustaining feelings of fullness; along with several antioxidants likes Vitamins C and E (source).
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Apples are also a good source of the flavonoid querticin. Quercitin is interesting because research has shown that topical application of quercetin provides protection against free radical damage and provides skin soothing benefits, especially when combined with silicones and lipid ingredients (for example in a good antioxidant serum, source). Consuming quercetin is thought to provide similar protection, and research is ongoing to determine the extent to which bioflavonoids can help fight the signs of aging. Read more about Quercitin, the nutrients apples provide; and the world’s healthiest (type) of apple here. In the meantime, we should all try to eat more apples and other fresh fruits.

I try to vary the types of apples our family eats. Hubs likes to dip apple slices into unsweetened almond butter, and My mom likes to sprinkle her slices with sea salt. The baby is found of homemade applesauce (thank you, NutriBullet!). But sometimes, especially as the weather here is turning toward fall, I find myself craving the warm, soothing comfort of sweet baked apples spiked with cinnamon, ginger and cloves and topped with crunchy, crumbly yumminess.
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This recipe satisfies those cravings without sacrificing health and nutrition by incorporating apple in various formats including whole organic apples I found from a local vendor. It’s a perfect Thanksgiving or holiday dessert recipe because it’s quick and easy to throw together while you manage other cooking and all the craziness that holidays bring. I think your family will enjoy this recipe as much as mine did!

Ingredients:
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• 8-10 small apples, preferably organic and/or locally grown, washed and chopped
• 1 Tbsp. Apple cider vinegar
• ½ cup Whole pitted dates, chopped
• ½ tsp. Ground cinnamon
• ¼ tsp. Sea salt
• pinch each Ground Allspice, Ground cloves, and Ground ginger

• 2 Tbsp. Unsweetened apple sauce
(Consider making your own fresh apple juice for highest nutrient profile. Read more here.)
• 1.5 Tbsp. Tapioca starch
• ½ cup Maple Syrup
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• 1 cup Gluten-free Rolled Oats (substitute ½ cup each Coconut and almond flours for Grain-free/Paleo version)
• ½ cup Coconut Sugar
• ¼ tsp. Sea Salt
• ½ cup Chopped walnuts
• ½ cup Chopped almonds
• 2 Tbsp. Unsweetened apple sauce
• ¼ cup Coconut Oil, melted

Hardware:
• Measuring spoons + cups
• Glass measuring cup
• Small mixing bowl
• Nonstick coconut oil spray
• 8 X 8” Baking dish
• Aluminum foil

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit (177° Celsius) and spray the inside of an 8 X 8” or 9 X 9″ baking dish with nonstick coconut oil spray.
2. Place chopped apples in bottom of prepared baking dish then sprinkle with vinegar. Toss lightly to combine. Add the dates and spices to apple mixture. Then stir well to combine and set aside.
3. In a glass measuring cup, stir together apple juice, apple sauce, and maple syrup. Then mix tapioca starch into syrup mixture and using a wire whisk or fork to beat mixture well until no visible lumps of starch remain. Pour apple juice mixture over chopped apple mixture and toss well to combine.
4. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.
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5. While apple mixture cooks, combine next 6 ingredients (rolled oats – chopped walnuts) in a small mixing bowl. Stir to combine. (BTW, you probably want to use a larger bowl than I did here. I made a mess!)
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6. Create a small well in the center of oat/nut mixture then pour in the melted coconut oil. Stir well to combine. Mixture should resemble very course crumbs.
7. After baking for 45 minutes, carefully remove apple mixture. Then increase oven temperature to 400° Fahrenheit (204° Celsius).
8. While oven temp increases, carefully remove aluminum foil (be sure to open the side away from you first to allow steam to escape). Then sprinkle oat crumble topping evenly over apple filling and return to oven. Bake uncovered 15-20 more minutes at 400° Fahrenheit or until lightly browned on top.
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Serving Suggestions and Notes: You’ll want to keep a close eye on this during the second baking time to avoid burning the oats and nuts. In my oven, it took about 18 minutes at 400° to brown the crust without burning any of the nuts.
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I recommend allowing the crumble to cool slightly before serving. This is especially yummy topped with coconut (or dairy-based if you must) ice cream and a few more chopped almonds or walnuts and perhaps drizzled with a little local raw honey if you’re seeking an especially decadent dessert (vegan should stick with a little more maple syrup)!

Whole Apple Crumble #Glutenfree and #Dairyfree and #Delicious

Whole Apple Crumble #Glutenfree and #Dairyfree and #Delicious


Final note, this same crumble topping works perfectly for this Sweet Potato Soufflé which is delicious if you’re looking for another phenomenal holiday recipe sure to win raves from friends and family alike!
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Wisdom for the Day:
“May the Lord bless their land with crops, the best gift the sun can give, the best produce of each month, the finest fruits from the oldest mountains, the best from the ancient hills, and the most plentiful crops of the earth.” ~Deuteronomy 33:14-16 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.

Super Cheap+Super Easy DIY Makeup Brush+Sponge Cleaning Spray

Take Care of Your Brushes and They'll Last a Long Time!

Take Care of Your Brushes and They’ll Last a Long Time!


As I’ve written previously, I believe good quality makeup brushes are a wise beauty investment. And like any investment, you need to protect your investments by caring for your brushes and cleaning them regularly.

Clean Brushes All in a Row and Ready to Be Hung up to Dry

Clean Brushes All in a Row and Ready to Be Hung up to Dry

I have found that Sephora’s Solid Clean: Solid Brush Cleaner ($14 for 1 oz.) is excellent for deep cleaning brushes and ULTA’s Makeup Brush and Sponge Cleaner (spray; $10 for 5.1 fluid oz.) is less expensive; works well for quick cleanups; but doesn’t provide the same thorough results and has an odd smell to me.

So I set out to create a simple, inexpensive brush cleaner recipe. This recipe works very well, effectively removing the most tenacious waterproof gels and stains. I store this in a small (6oz. size) spray bottle. Then I make a second batch using slightly less water (described below) to keep in a non-spray bottle to clean my sponges.

Brushes in Need of Cleaning

Brushes in Need of Cleaning


Clean Brushes in a Jiffy!

Clean Brushes in a Jiffy!


I love using Kenra Professional Clarifying Shampoo to clean my makeup brushes! I find that it’s the best thing for remover tough, waterproof gels and creams. The best place to purchase Kenra products is probably ULTA because ULTA always almost offers $3.50 off $10 coupon is available electronically or in their catalogs. (Click here to sign up to automatically receive ULTA emails or here to enroll in ULTA’s text alert program). ULTA also periodically offers 20% off coupons and other deals for Platinum ULTA Members and ULTAMATE Rewards Credit Card holders. Learn more at ULTA.com or the ULTA store nearest you.
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If you already have a clarifying shampoo that you love or just want/need an even cheaper option, Johnson’s Baby Shampoo may be substituted for the Kenra Shampoo and works (almost) as well. And you can save some more money by signing up here to receive Johnson and Johnson brand coupons.

Ingredients:
• 2 Tbsp. Dawn Original or 1 Tbsp. Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid
• 2 Tbsp. Kenra Professional Clarifying Shampoo or Johnson’s® Original Baby Shampoo
• 5 oz. (10 Tbsp.) filtered or distilled water

Hardware:
• Measuring spoons
• Small spray bottle (6-8 oz. size)
• Small funnel
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Instructions:
1. Carefully pour all 3 ingredients into a small spray bottle.
2. Tightly place lid on bottle and shake well to thoroughly combine ingredients.
3. Shake well before each use.
Makes about 5 oz. of cleanser.

NOTE: If you need a liquid brush and sponge cleaner or just don’t want to use a spray, you can easily adjust this recipe as follows – decrease the amount of water from 5oz. to 4oz. (8 Tbsp.) and keep all other measurements the same. Then, pour mixture into desired storage bottle.
Cleanser recipe can also be doubled to product 8-10oz. Use twice the above amounts of shampoo+dish liquid (to 4 Tbsp. of each) and double water to 10oz. (20 Tbsp.) for spray bottle or 8oz. (16 Tbsp.) for non-spray bottle.

Check this related post – $1 Makeup Brush Cleaning Tool – if you want to learn more about this genius and inexpensive little silicone cleaning tool you can pick up for just over $1 at your local Wal-Mart.

Wisdom for the Day:
“That is what some of you used to be! But you were washed clean, you were made holy to God, and you were made right with God in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” ~I Corinthians 6:11 (Common English Bible)
Read more here.

$1 Makeup Brush Cleaning Tool – Available at Walmart

Can a $1.25 Tool Clean My Messy Makeup Brushes?

Can a $1.25 Tool Clean My Messy Makeup Brushes? Yes!!!

I’ve tried to be honest about the fact that I’m not a makeup artist/expert. I’m a makeup fan/lover (there’s a big difference). My skill level may best be described as amateur, but I’m getting better, primarily because I’ve gradually acquired some nice makeup brushes. Quality makeup brushes are an investment. You really only need 5-10 high quality makeup brushes to take your makeup application technique to the next level.

Of course, you’ll need to properly care for those brushes in order to ensure they last a long time and give you the most bang for your beauty buck. And that means regularly cleaning them. That’s the step that tends to trip up busy moms (like me). We all know cleaning our brushes is important. Dirty brushes = patchy uneven colors; poor distribution of creams and liquids; breeding grounds for acne-causing bacteria; etc.

In recent years, an entire industry has grown around makeup brushes and cleaning led by innovators like the Chapman Sisters of Real Techniques fame along with Rea Ann Silva and the others at beautyblender®. So many companies today now offer cleaning supplies including brush cleaning solutions, wipes, mitts and even electronic brush cleaners like these (for a whopping $120+)!

Don’t worry. You don’t have to spend that much to quickly and effectively clean your brushes. One of my favorite YouTube Beauty vloggers – Emily Noel – raved about these silicone brush-cleaning eggs mitts she discovered at an “everything for $1” subscription shopping website in this video:

Emily is so adorable and enthusiastic. She almost always convinces me, but I’m trying to avoid signing up with any additional shopping sites. Too tempting. Still, those brush cleaners intrigued me, especially at just $1 + $3.95 shipping (roughly $3/each). So when I spotted these Lil’ Scrubbies facial brushes at Wal-Mart priced at just $2.43 (plus tax) for two, I grabbed them immediately hoping they’d work as well as Emily’s egg mitts. I tested my Scrubbies-as-makeup-brush-cleaners theory, and they worked great!
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To be clear, the Lil’ Scrubbies are designed to be used as facial exfoliators. But (as I’ve written before) I don’t need that because I’m really satisfied with my Foreo LUNA sonic cleanser. Both my Foreo LUNA and the Lil’ Scrubbies are made of quality silicone and have very similar scrubbing surfaces. So if you don’t currently have a daily facial cleansing tool you love, these little guys can meet that need as well (although Lil’ Scrubbies obviously will not provide the oscillating sonic technology of the Foreo LUNA).

Left: Foreo LUNA (Sensitive/Normal Skins) Right: Lil Scrubbies Silicone Facial Scrub Brush

Left: Foreo LUNA (Sensitive/Normal Skins)
Right: Lil Scrubbies Silicone Facial Scrub Brush

Lil’ Scrubbies’ have 2 different surface textures – tiny bristles and little round nubs which allow you to quickly clean different-sized and shaped brushes. The small nobs are especially effective at cleaning the sides of tapered brushes. The Scrubbies are made of a single piece of silicone with a suction cup feature built into the back. This suction cup piece makes it easier to securely hold the wet soapy Scrubbie securely between two fingers of your non-dominant hand while you scrub the brush with your dominant hand.
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You’re also able to keep the Scrubbie and the brush secure while cleaning and also have your thumb free in case you need to apply more pressure to spread out the tip of the brush to get it thoroughly clean (as Emily describes around 6:00 in the video).
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I found them exceptionally easy to use and effective in cleaning all types of brushes – from large fluffy powder brushes to flat-topped kabuki brushes to tapered shadow brushes and lash combs. Lil’ Scrubbies cleaned my brushes gently without ripping out the bristles or breaking the hairs. All this for a price of $1.215 each!
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Lil’ Scrubbies themselves are easy to clean with warm water and (if necessary a gentle soap). Then simply store on your mirror using the suction cup feature until ready for next use.

Clean Brushes All in a Row and Ready to Be Hung up to Dry

Clean Brushes All in a Row and Ready to Be Hung up to Dry

One last thing, toward the end of the video Emily talks about the brush drying “Sunflower tree” she uses for drying her brushes. Those trees retail for around $40 plus tax and shipping. Learn more here. But I use this recipe book rack I had sitting around (unused and in the way) in our kitchen. It works perfectly to hold for most (not all) of my brushes as they dry. It keeps them off the bathroom counter and holds them at a slightly downward angle, preventing water from collecting in the metal barrel of the brushes (which can damage the brushes and shorten their lifespans).

Multi-Tasking - A Repurposed Recipe Rack Holds Clean Makeup Brushes

Multi-Tasking – A Repurposed Recipe Rack Holds Clean Makeup Brushes

Wisdom for the Day:
Purify me from sin with hyssop, and I will be clean. Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. ~Psalm 51:7 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.

#TBT Fragrance Edition – Amarige de Givenchy

Givenchy Amarige EDT and EDP

Givenchy Amarige EDT and EDP


Aaahhh-marige! My precious! Full disclosure before beginning this “review” of Givenchy’s Amarige – I cannot and nor will I even pretend to be a neutral observer when it comes to this now classic opulent white floral powerhouse. Amarige is the first grown-up French perfume I’ve ever really “worn.” There’s a difference between a tween applying (usually over-applying) a nice perfume and the moment you become mature and confident in yourself enough to truly inhabit a grown-up woman’s perfume. I discovered this somewhere around age 19, around that age of maturity. It became my first signature fragrance and remains the only perfume I’ve ever truly loved. So it will be difficult for me to keep this write-up brief. To that end I’ll rely on reviews from other sites and will try (my best) to distill the key points.

Amarige de Givenchy EDT

Givenchy Amarige Eau de Toilette

First, understand Amarige is one of those fragrances that tends to illicit strong opinions even among perfume aficionados. Remember that scene in Pretty Woman where Richard Gere’s character is explaining to Julia Roberts’ character the strong reactions people have when they first experience the opera? He says, “People’s reactions to opera the first time they see it is very dramatic; they either love it or they hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don’t, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul.” Amarige is like that. I loved it immediately. Some people will hate it at first whiff. Most perfume lovers who don’t love Amarige can appreciate its craftsmanship, the expert blending and nuanced layering of so many notes even if they could never wear it. I understand that because that’s exactly how I feel about Opium and Shalimar.

Next point – Like all perfumes, Amarige will not smell the same on everyone. It will react uniquely with each person’s unique chemistry and may smell differently on the same person at different times of the year or during various hormonal shifts. This reaction is especially common with super powerful floral notes like tuberose and gardenia as well warm, heady dry-down notes like musk, amber and sandalwood.

Amarige is an anagram of the French word for marriage (mariage), and it’s meant to capture the moment of pure blissful emotion of love at first sight. Created by master French perfumer, Dominique Ropion, this now classic opulent white floral was first released a quarter century ago, in 1991. Givenchy called its newly launched fragrance “Feminine. Ethereal. Beautiful.” Today, Amarige is described by some as “the heart of femininity with soft, sweet notes that are truly radiant” and by others as “a strong white floral-oriental fragrance that is sensual, youthful and timeless.” Amarige combines mimosa with citrus fruits, soft florals, precious woods and vanilla.

Category: Classic French / Floral-Oriental

Notes: The top notes are composed of fresh fruit including peaches, plums, oranges, and mandarin. The floral heart, very intense and luscious, is created of mimosa, orange flowers, tuberose, gardenia and violet along with a hint of black currant. The warm woody base is composed of musk, sandalwood, vanilla, amber, Tonka bean, rose and acacia woods and cedar.

Layers of Fruits, Florals, Greens and Woody Notes Combine to Create Amarige

Layers of Fruits, Florals, Greens and Woody Notes Combine to Create Amarige


Sillage: Amarige may accurately be described as both extremely feminine and extremely powerful. It can be overpowering, especially if you tend to be heavy-handed with the atomizer. Well crafted perfumes tend to unfold throughout the day, the middle and heart notes effusing gracefully as your body temperature increases. For some, the release of those middle notes can be intoxicating. Despite my devotion to Amarige, I’m careful to avoid it during hot or humid days. Several years ago, Givenchy released Amarige Ice (no longer available), which was essentially a lighter version meant for folks who find it difficult to wear this during warm weather. I find it easier to just save this sillage monster until temperatures dip below 75˚ Fahrenheit.

Longevity: Reading the list of notes in this fragrance you may expect relatively short lifespan on this one, especially since Givenchy almost exclusively sells only EDT version of Amarige. Don’t let the plethora of fruit notes fool you. Amarige has excellent longevity, particularly when sprayed on or near clothing or other fabrics. This is tenacious stuff, with a longevity befitting a high-end, high quality fragrance. The lingering scent is particularly lovely on fabric and clothing.

My Impression and Experience: On first spray I get a hit of juicy peach and some orange that quickly transitions into orange blossoms mixed with gardenia and tuberose. I get hints of plum but not much because the fruits disperse so quickly that it’s tough for me to differentiate peach from plum. Some sites also state Amarige’s top notes include hints of melon. I’d like to state for the record that I cannot find melon anywhere in this one. The floral notes continue to dominate for several hours but I never find the tuberose overpowering or overwhelming. On me, the mimosa in Amarige never takes a turn toward that unwashed (dirty) note that can become unpleasant. The scent remains warm and enveloping; sensual but not dirty. The scent is always available and never evaporates which is gratifying, particularly in this generation of short-lived citrus vanillas. It’s strong without suffocating despite its largely floral heart. It is always charming; always pretty and eternally feminine.

Bottle: The Amarige bottle was designed by Pierre Dinand, taking as its inspiration the ruffled sleeves of the “Bettina blouse” Hubert de Givenchy created for another muse, model Bettina Graziella.

Beauty in Simplicity - The Amarige Bottle

Beauty in Simplicity – The Amarige Bottle Designed by Pierre Dinand

Price and Where to Buy:
Amarige is available at most major department stores in the USA (Belk, Dillards, Macy’s Saks, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom’s etc.). ULTA and Sephora stores also carry most Givenchy fragrances. Interestingly, Sephora and Givenchy beauty (including Givenchy’s Fragrance House) are owned by the same parent conglomerate, LVMH. In recent years, Amarige has become available at lower price points from discount chains (Walmart etc.) and drugstores. Unfortunately, the quality of the EDTs sold at these stores is not the same as the bottles sold at department stores and cosmetics retailers. I recommend saving your money and purchasing a more expensive bottle for best quality and most reliable perfume experience.

Brand History: Hubert de Givenchy grew to prominence as an haute couture fashion designer in the 1950s and 1960, making a name for himself primarily as the signature designer for his muse Audrey Hepburn. His work was prominently displayed throughout each one of Ms. Hepburn’s movies. One need only watch such glamorous films as Sabrina, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Charade to see the extraordinary results of this collaboration. In 1957, Givenchy created L’Interdit EDT as a tribute to Audrey. The same year the fashion house released Le De Givenchy and other successful fragrances followed. Givenchy Beauty is owned by luxury conglomerate LVMH. Read more about LVMH beauty and fashion houses here.

Read more about Amarige and Givenchy Beauty here.

Read the full Fragrantica Summary and Reviews here.

Wisdom for the Day:
The Lord spoke to Moses: “Take for yourself the finest spices: 12½ pounds of liquid myrrh, 6¼ pounds of fragrant cinnamon, 6¼ pounds of fragrant cane, 12½ pounds of cassia, and one gallon of olive oil. Prepare from these a holy anointing oil, a scented blend, the work of a perfumer; it will be holy anointing oil…“Tell the People: This will be My holy anointing oil throughout your generations. It must not be used for ordinary anointing on a person’s body, and you must not make anything like it using its formula. It is holy, and it must be holy to you.” ~Exodus 30:22-25, 31-32 (NIV)
Read more here.

Milani’s Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation+Concealer – Product Review

Milani Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation + Concealer

Milani Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation + Concealer

When YouTube Beauty experts began touting a new drugstore foundation that provided water-resistant full coverage for less than $10, I was super excited. I went to multiple drug stores across our area. I ultimately located a single bottle in a CVS store over an hour from our home (thank you online product locator!). I waited to try the product until I found another bottle in a second shade. Another family member heard about my searching and found a couple of stray bottles in her town so I ended up with 3 bottles of this tough-to-come-by product. But alas, after all that effort and all the hype, I was pretty disappointed because it just didn’t look very good on me. The coverage was there but it seemed to emphasize every tiny bit of texture on my face. Worst of all, it settled in the crows feet around my eyes. That’s an unpardonable foundation sin in my eyes (no pun intended). So I set all 3 bottles aside, writing the whole experience off as yet another makeup disappointment in along the way in the endless search for my holy grail foundation.
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A few days later I noticed those bottles and got to thinking about all the effort that went into obtaining them so I decided to play with it a little to see if I could make it work for me. I really wanted to like it because inexpensive foundations with this level of coverage do not come along every day. When I was younger, not that much younger, but before I got married and before I had our daughter playing with makeup was fun. Now it’s more of a chore because I don’t have a lot of time to do it, but I happened to have a few minutes on this day to play. So I took my time and prepped my skin with a good moisturizer and sunscreen. I allowed it sink in and then blotted my face before applying a primer which I allowed to set for a god 5 minutes. Then I used a damped beauty blender® and applied 2 pumps of this foundation along with another couple of products (explained in a separate post) and set it with a powder. You know what? It’s a really beautiful foundation! I discovered that even those of us with dry or mature skin can wear this foundation and have a lovely result. I have come to the conclusion that most people can’t just slap this foundation on and expect it to be pretty. It’s tricky for both dry and oily skins alike. But with proper prep it’s lovely; has a beautiful full-coverage finish and long wear-time. It may not be realistic for you to go through the prep to wear this everyday. But at this price point, Milani’s Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation+Concealer deserves strong consideration for a spot in your beauty top drawer lineup.

MILANI Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation+Concealer. Photo from Milani.com

MILANI Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation+Concealer. Photo from Milani.com

Price: $9.99 for a 1 oz. pump

Color Range: Milani created 14 shades this foundation in 14 shades most of which are neutral, with varying levels of yellow or red undertones. It’s worth noting that several reviewers have complained that the lightest shade, 01 (Creamy Vanilla), is too dark and/or too yellow for very pale complexions. I can successfully wear shade 03 (Light Beige) or 04 (Medium Beige) and noticed that several of the shades are workable for light-medium skin tones. I’ve also noticed that most drugstores only carry a few shades; that none of the Walmarts in our area carried this foundation; and that none of the stores carried any of the darker shades which was really disappointing.

This product has a lot in common with Urban Decay’s recently launched “All Nighter” Foundation (similar texture, coverage and longevity promises). But while Milani offers fewer shade options, those shades don’t tend to darken, change colors on the dry-down or noticeably oxidize which are common complaints among reviewers at Makeup Alley of All Nighter.

Coverage: This is FULL coverage friends! Full. Coverage. Lots of foundations promise full coverage, but this one delivers. 2 Pumps was fully sufficient to cover my whole face with a damp sponge. I had enough left over to cover some sun spots on my chest and touch up some red areas around my nose that always need extra coverage.

Re Milani’s claim that this doubles as a concealer – yes and no. As I mentioned above, additional layers or spot application quickly and easily covered and sun spots or minor discoloration but it is not sufficient to cover the puffiness and dark circles under my eyes. For that, I need to mix the foundation with high-powered concealer.

Texture + Finish: The texture of this one could be described as a liquid/cream hybrid. The finish is more satin than matte with a hint of luminosity that is flattering at first, especially on dryer skin. However, it can emphasize any uneven texture or flaws on the skin and may not flatter oilier skin types.

Wear: Milani claims this foundation is waterproof and wears all day, and “works around the clock to keep skin looking naturally perfect.” This will wear at least 6 hours with a silicone-based primer. And because the finish is more satin than matte, I’d recommend setting it with powder, even for drier skins and especially for those with combo to oily skins. Oily skins will get the longest wear by using a mattifying primer underneath. Dry skins should be careful not to use an oil-based moisturizer or sunscreen product before applying this foundation. Because this is an oil-free foundation it won’t react well to oil-based products and that oil will in fact cause the foundation to break apart, shortening the its longevity.

Application: Milani recommends the following application, “Apply a dime-sized amount of product with fingertips or a brush beginning at the center of the face, blending outward.” I prefer applying this with a damp beautyblender® type sponge. I had some success using my finger as well, but I just really dislike apply foundation with fingers. For some reason I dislike the feeling of it on my fingers and hands. Has nothing to do with the texture of this particular product. Actually, if you enjoy using your fingers to apply foundation, this may be a good match for you because the warm of your fingers may help you spread this around. Because it’s thicker than your typical liquid foundation (MUF’s Ultra HD Foundation for example), I found that applying it with a brush left streaks and just wasn’t very pretty. I wouldn’t try it unless you’re lucky enough to own an Artis (oval 7) foundation brush. To avoid creasing, I’d recommend setting this with powder, even for drier skins but especially for those with combo to oily skins.

Skin Beneficial Ingredients: This foundation is composed primarily of water and a mix of multiple silicones (all the silicones highlighted below) as well as various oil-free emollients including glycerins and wax. This also contains a very small amount of a fruit-based (in this case plum) extract – Prunus Domestica Fruit Extract – shown to provide some antioxidant properties. But it’s way down the ingredient list and not a powerful or well-researched antioxidant so I would count on it to do very much for your skin.

Full Ingredient List: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Isononyl Isononanoate (oil-free emollient), Cetyl Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Mica (shine), Glycerin (oil-free emollient), BIS-PEG/PPG Dimethicone, VP/Eicosene Copolymer, Bis-Vinyl Dimethicone, Ozokerite (wax), Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Beeswax (wax), Glycereth-18 Ethylhexanoate (oil-free emollient), Potassium Sorbate, Silica, Caprylyl Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Xanthan Gum, Isododecane, Propylene Carbonate, Prunus Domestica Fruit Extract, Glycereth-18, Aluminum Dimyristate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Disodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Allantoin, C30-45 Alkyl Cetearyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Polyisobutene, C18-21 Alkane. +/- May Contain: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499).

Summary and Daily Beauty Wisdom Rating: There’s much to love about this product. But if you read the reviews, you’ll notice lots of people have trouble with it too. It’s definitely tricky. Oily skinned gals find it breaks up and gets shiny; while those with drier skin find it emphasizes rough patches and fine lines. When I first tried this foundation, I was really disappointed and was convinced it just didn’t work for me. It takes a couple of tries and sufficient prep to get it to work for you. If you have the time and patience, it can be a beautiful, cost-efficient foundation for days when you want to “go all out.” I’m loving this one now. After some trial and error, this has become my current fav. It’s even replaced Revlon’s ColorStay Whipped Creme Makeup as my go-to foundation for a flawless, full coverage look. Be on the look-out for a follow-up post sharing the tricks I discovered to make this work for me!

Additional Reviews:
Influenster Reviews (4.2 / 5 star rating)
Makeup Alley Reviews (3.2 / 5 lipsticks rating)
Allure Magazine Reviews (ranked as Allure Best of Beauty for 2016 and Allure Best Beauty Steals for 2016)

Find full product detail and info at Milani’s product page here.

Wisdom for the Day:
“If someone listens to God’s word but doesn’t do what it says, he is like a person who looks at his face in a mirror, studies his features, goes away, and immediately forgets what he looks like.” ~James 1:23-24 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.
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#TBT Makeup-Style Taking a Second Look at Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick

#TBT Reviewing a Modern Classic - Bobbi Brown's Skin Foundation Stick

#TBT Reviewing a Modern Classic – Bobbi Brown’s Skin Foundation Stick


Cosmetic companies are pretty savvy, especially when it comes to making money. In an industry where buzz is everything and new stuff hits the shelves every day, cosmetics that don’t sell, don’t stick around for long. So when a makeup product has been around more than two decades, you know that product has found a niche in the market. When a product has that kind of longevity, you can bet it has some worthwhile features and deserves a 2nd look, or review. That’s certainly true of Bobbi Brown’s Skin Foundation Stick.

Few things have changed about this foundation since it was first introduced nearly 25 years ago. The name has been changed from simply, “Foundation Stick,” to “Skin Foundation Stick,” and the shade range has expanded. Most recently the formula has been tweaked slightly to include what Brown calls “skin tone-correct pigments” which she promises will result in “an incredibly natural look.”

What You’re Promised: Bobbi Brown says this foundation is ideal for all skin types, stating it has a texture that is “creamy yet weightless,” and which “applies effortlessly and blends seamlessly.” Like many brands today, Brown promises this foundation has the somewhat magical ability to simultaneously moisturize and control oil, claiming this stick is composed of, “An innovative blend of emollients—like olive extracts and shea butter—help to moisturize skin (and lock it in), so skin stays looking soft and smooth all day.” She goes on to explain this foundation contains “light diffusing powders and oil-controlling minerals.” According to the company, these special minerals manage to “perfect the appearance of skin while reducing shine (even in sweat, water and humidity).”
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Price: $46 for 0.31 oz.

What You Get: As noted above, for the price you’re not getting a lot of product. That tends to be true for most stick foundations. Users that love stick foundations tend to enjoy and value portability and are willing to pay more per ounce for the ease and convenience of a portable foundation.

Color Range: Bobbie Brown has long been praised for her neutral color range, especially among her foundations. Over the years, Bobbi Brown has expanded the color range of this foundation to an incredible 31 shades, from a very light cool-toned (i.e. yellow-based) Alabaster to deep Espresso and Cool Espresso. The original shades leaned heavily toward yellow undertones, but newer additions include warmer pink to red undertones to accommodate most skin tones. The shade range is really impressive and worth applauding!

An early Neiman Marcus ad for Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick. Photo from EverythingBobbi.com

An early Neiman Marcus ad for Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick. Photo from EverythingBobbi.com


Application: Bobbi Brown recommends starting with moisturized skin and applying this foundation “lightly” across forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin. Brown states that this foundation may blended with fingertips, sponge, or a foundation brush. Unlike many stick foundations, this one glides over the skin with very little drag. This is a very creamy foundation. Unlike many stick foundations, this one applies easily with very little drag over the skin. The creaminess allows you to easily blend it out with your fingers or a damp makeup sponge. Applying this with a brush would likely result in steaks (because it’s so creamy). Despite the creaminess, you’ll definitely want to prep the skin first with a good moisturizer, and preferably one with a broad spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF30 due to the absence of SPF in this foundation. Those with large pores will want to take time to prep with pore-camoflaging primer before applying this foundation as well. The prep is necessary because this foundation tends to cling to any dry patches or large pores and emphasizes any flaws.

Coverage: This foundation offers a light to medium coverage. It easier to sheer out than to build to full coverage due to the amount of slip (creaminess) during the application. It’s tough to achieve full coverage because the product tends to slide around when you go in with additional layers. Trying to pile on too many layers tends to be counterproductive because the bottom layers never set, causing the additional layers to just slide around.

Texture + Finish: While you’d expect this to be (like most stick foundations) a cream-to-powder, it isn’t. It never dries down to a powdery finish. So you’ll need to set it with a powder. Otherwise it remains fairly creamy and tacky. It will stay somewhat shiny and, depending on your skin type, you may risk it slipping all over your face.

Wear: Again, setting it with a powder to improve its longevity and staying power. You should also plan on carrying this stick foundation with you because it will require some touch-ups after 4-6 hours of wear. It’s light and portable and unlikely to create a mess in your purse. It was designed for use on the go, after all.

Skin Beneficial Ingredients: The formula does include the touted olive extract as well as some Tocopheryl (Vitamin E), but those antioxidants will be rendered inactive when exposed to light and air (due to the stick format of this foundation). That’s not a deal-breaker since most people get their antioxidants etc. from their skin care, not their foundation. The formula also contains shea butter which has emollient properties (as mentioned above). So this is not an ideal foundation for all skin types as advertised.

Also, I currently have dry, sensitive skin (thanks to a Retin-A treatment regimen), and I didn’t find this foundation particularly moisturizing or my skin noticeably smoother after applying it. In fact, despite my best pre-application moisturizing prep and a good moisturizing foundation primer (in this case Napoleon Perdis Auto Pilot Radiance Boosting Foundation Primer), the foundation still clung to and emphasized dry patches on my face and magnified my pores (flashback to my Clinique’s CC Cream experience). I applied a different stick foundation (Napoleon Perdis’ Foundation Stick) to half my face and Bobbi Brown’s Skin Foundation Stick to the other half and asked my family which side looked better. Both my mother and husband agreed that the side with the Napoleon Perdis foundation looked better than the Bobbi Brown side, and they both said they chose that side because my pores looked smaller and skin smoother.

Summary and Daily Beauty Wisdom Rating: As I mentioned at the beginning, this foundation has been around for a long time and for good reason. Bobbi Brown’s shade range is fantastic and most are incredibly skin-like. The stick foundation concept is wonderful and very convenient for anyone needing a portable option for touching up their foundation during the day. The formula of this one is obviously not my favorite, and I would dispute the claim that this is “ideal” for all skin types. But this foundation obviously resonates with many women. If you are willing to spend the money and plan to use this sparingly, this could work well for on-the-go touch-ups (bring along a setting powder or blotting papers too).

But I would not recommend this as a primary foundation. For one thing, it’s really expensive. Its $46 per 0.31 oz. price tag translates to a whopping $148.39 per oz.! And for another thing, I think there are other, superior stick foundation options currently available. Among them: the aforementioned Napoleon Perdis Stick Foundation (from $35.70 for 0.5 oz at Dermstore); the NYX Cosmetics Mineral Stick Foundation ($9.99 for 0.21 oz.); and Shiseido The Makeup Stick Foundation SPF15-18 ($38.50 for 0.38 oz.).

Additional Reviews:
1. Beautypedia Reviews (Expert Rating – 4 / 5 stars; 4.33 / 5 star rating among Beautypedia Community Reviewers)
2. Total Beauty Reviews (7.1 / 10 Rating)
3. Makeup Alley Reviews (3.5 / 5 lipsticks rating)
4. Influenster Reviews (4.4 / 5 stars rating)

Bobbi Brown Website and Full Product Detail Available Here

Wisdom for the Day:
“You make wine to cheer human hearts, olive oil to make faces shine, and bread to strengthen human hearts.” ~Psalm 104:15 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.

Moroccanoil® Luminous Hairspray (Strong) – Product Review

I’ve written previously about having fine hair. I’ve struggled with it my whole life. That’s a slight exaggeration. I’ve probably battled my hair since puberty, which is when I really started to care about making it looking a certain way. And I wanted it to look thicker, shinier and to stay in place once I fixed it. I think I’ve tried virtually every product I could afford (and some I couldn’t) if that product promised fuller, thicker,and/or shinier hair. So when one product comes along promising all of the above, I’m intrigued. The product in question – Moroccanoil® Luminous Hairspray. The hairspray comes in 2 options – medium and strong hold. I’ll be reviewing the “Strong Hold” version.

What You’re Promised: Moroccanoil® states this product is ideal for all hair types and says it’s “a flexible hairspray for building long-lasting styles with movable yet strong hold.” The company also describes this spray as “lightweight and workable,” stating that it “brushes out easily and leaves no flakey or sticky residue.” Sounds great so far. But the line that really hooked me was Moroccanoil’s promise that this “firm-hold finishing” spray, “blankets hair in a reflective shield of shine that fights fizz and humidity,” and is “infused with a combination of advanced ingredients, including antioxidant-rich argan oil.” So you’re telling me, this hairspray provides strong hold; builds texture; fights frizz while providing shine and antioxidant ingredients – and all without leaving any sticky residue or flaking behind; AND infusing my hair with that glorious Moroccanoil® fragrance? Wow! That sounds the like the only product I’ll ever need. Ever! Sign me up!

Price: $10 for 2.5 oz. or $24 for 10 oz. (per Moroccanoil® website). Certified stylists may purchase for lower prices at stylists-only beauty supply stores.

Moroccanoil® Luminous Hairspray Strong Hold. Photo from Moroccanoil® website.

Moroccanoil® Luminous Hairspray Strong Hold. Photo from Moroccanoil® website.

Where to Buy: Moroccanoil® recommends the purchase of their products from professional salons. Find a Moroccanoil® salon near year through this link. You can also purchase Moroccanoil® products online from their site store. Non-affiliated online mega-stores such as Amazon.com and eBay also sell this product for similar prices. However, Moroccanoil® strongly opposes sales of its products outside of professional salons. Read more about the company’s stance here.

Expect this hairspray to become part of your hair styling arsenal, not to replace all your current favorite styling products!

Expect This Hairspray to Become One of Your Styling Favorites. It Cannot Replace All Your Favorite Styling Products!

What You Get: A medium to fairly strong hold hairspray that helps build texture for styling and thickness and works as a finisher to hold styles in place, providing a small amount of luminosity without obvious shimmer and zero stickiness. This is not a stand-alone styling product so don’t toss all your other styling products. This product can replace that so-so hairspray and/or texturizing spray you’re not sold on. And it makes your hair smell terrific!

Scent: This hairspray has the same deliciously ethereal signature Moroccanoil® scent that is instantly recognizable but strangely indescribable. In fact, most review sites include comments calling the brand’s signature scent “pretty but hard to describe.” If I were to forced to describe it, I’d say it’s a unique clean floral with slight hints of musk and perhaps some vanilla. I find the scent more potent and longer-lasting in the aerosol products (i.e. hairspray) than in their original oil or cream-based treatments.

Hair-Beneficial Ingredients: Argan oil is present in this hairspray, but it’s 8th (2nd to last) on the ingredient list. The 1st ingredient is alcohol, and the 2nd is hydrofluorocarbon. Otherwise, the ingredients here are pretty standard for aerosol hairsprays. Be careful not to use this stuff near an open flame or near babies (moms of young children, i.e. me). Truth is, hairspray ingredients are almost all the same, especial among aerosols.  Here’s the full ingredient list:
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Texture + Finish: As promised, this product is not sticky, and does not leave your hair with any tell-tale “you just lacquered your hair down with hairspray” white flakiness, even if you brush through it. It add some texture and thickness with successive applications.

What I Like/Love: I love the signature Moroccanoil® scent. It’s really beautiful and is the only thing I’ve found that rivals the Oribe scent. This product had good hold especially in comparison to previous Moroccanoil® hairspray I’d tried. I was especially impressed with the “memory” of this product in that my hair continued to return to the original style after several brush-throughs. It played nicely with styling products from several other brands and layered well, especially when compared to another product with similar promises from Sexy Hair (their Big Sexy Hair Get Layered).

What I Don’t Love: I was a little disappointed by the promised luminosity. It didn’t provide the type or level of shine and texturizing as I get from say, Oribe’s Aprés Beach Wave and Shine Spray (yes, I am totally obsessed with that product). This hairspray also doesn’t have the kind – wow shine of say, Nick Chavez Starlet Shine Spray. On the other hand, neither of those offers the memory and hold of the Moroccanoil® Luminous Hairspray. Also, the amount of good-for-you ingredients is slightly overstated. Most of the ingredients are standard for most hairsprays. The Argan oil is present, but it’s the 2nd to last ingredient on the list, so keep that in mind and keep your expectations in check.

This Hairspray May Help You Consolidate Styling Products!

Moroccanoil® Luminous Hairspray May Help You Consolidate Styling Products!

DBW Rating and Summary: If you’re looking for a multi-tasking product that offers hold, some thickness without stickiness or flaking, along with a little shine and that great Moroccanoil® scent, then this may be a wise purchase for you, especially if you don’t tend to overuse hairsprays. If you’re looking for a straightforward hairspray product to hold your style in place – and you’re less concerned about scent, buildable texture, thickness or shine, then you’ll likely find this product too expensive. Something like Sebastian Shaper Plus or the excellent generic equivalents would be your best bet.

So while this hairspray won’t be replacing all my styling products, it has replaced the Big Sexy Hair Get Layered (which I’ve given away) and I’ve almost completed retired Starlet Shine Spray (still in a drawer somewhere but likely to be given away soon).

Additional Product Review Sites:
1. Total Beauty Reviews (10 / 10 highest rating)
2. Makeup Alley Reviews (3.7 / 5 lipsticks; NOTE – Composite score includes reviews for both Medium and Strong holds Moroccanoil® Luminous Hairsprays. Individual reviews for strong hold formula appear to be higher than medium hold version.)
3. Influenster Reviews (4.6 / 5 stars)

Full product info available at the Moroccanoil® product page located here.

Wisdom for the Day:
“I want women to show their beauty by dressing in appropriate clothes that are modest and respectable. Their beauty will be shown by what they do,[a] not by their hair styles or the gold jewelry, pearls, or expensive clothes they wear.” ~I Timothy 2:9 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.

E.L.F. $1 Essentials Eyebrow Stencils – Product Review

I’ve struggled with my eyebrows for decades, DECADES! My God-given brows are very dark brown and full. In my early 20s I went blond and decided those dark brown brows were way too harsh. But instead of doing the wise thing (i.e. tinting them a lighter shade), I plucked them until they were nearly invisible. Hey, thin brows were the thing in the late 1990s / early 2000s. Still, when I look back at pics of myself from those years, I shudder. My whole face looks weird.

On the left, 11 years old with natural (untouched) hair and brows; At right, 20 years old with big blond hair and barely-there brows.

On the left, 11 years old with natural (untouched) hair and brows; At right, 20 years old with big blond hair and barely-there brows.

When I finally put down the tweezers, my brows did grow back, albeit less full and with a few holes. But I found myself completely unsure about how to style them. I spent hours browsing (pun intended) IG pics and video tutorials for #Instagrambrows, #browsonfleek, #browsheldhigh, and so on. I bought tons of brow products – gels, powders, pencils, combs, spoolies, brushes, etc. Finally I decided I needed some sort of guide. I found this video from Angie of Hot & Flashy.com.
In this video Angie demos and highly recommends an all-in-brow kit from Too Faced. The kit retails for $39 and contains 3 stencils, 2 “universal” brow powders, a wax, one pair of tweezers, a mini slanted brush and a mini spoolie brush.

So, I started thinking, I already have most of those products. What I need is stencils! After searching for several weeks I found these at one of the Wal-marts in our area, but I’d probably checked 3 or 4 before finding them. E.L.F.’s Essential Eyebrow Stencils are one of the best, most cost-efficient beauty purchases I’ve made in years. They’re incredibly easy to use; easy to clean; and (as I’ll explain) offer options for just about everyone. Since I began using these stencils a couple weeks ago, I received multiple compliments on my brows. The first compliments my brows have received since…well, since I went blond.

Brows again at last!

Brows again at last!

Price: $1

What You Get: 4 Flexible brow stencils in different sizes/shapes in order to accommodate different natural brow shapes or different styles you may want to try. The shapes included are fairly standard (though many kits only offer 3, not 4 stencils) and are as follows:
• Soft Arch – the most natural option
• Structured Arch – the highest arch with a sharp tail
• Curved Arch – a nicely curved arch and gently tapered tail
• Full Arch – the shape I chose, the most voluptuous shape with a fuller arch and tail

Special Features: A few aspects of this bargain-priced kit are special – The individual stencils are divided by a white piece of paper which has a cutout of the brow shape on the stencil behind it. That helps brow novices know for sure which stencil they’re looking at – i.e., “is this a structured or the full arch?” You can also hold the papers up to your own brows to try out the looks before committing to one of the stencils. When you select one of the stencils, you’ll find that the brow shapes are stamped onto the square silicone stencils but the brow shapes are not “punched” out. That means, if holding paper up to your brows didn’t help you select a stencil, you can pop out the individual shapes brow shapes and place each one over your own brows to determine which one/ones suit you best. You can also use those pop-out shapes to guide you in removing errant hairs outside your preferred shapes, especially helpful if you’re like me and tend to be tweezer-happy.

Lastly, these stencils are very flexible. They mold to the shape of your face and stretch slightly (but not overly so) to accommodate longer brows. That may seem like a small thing but some brow stencils are hard and inflexible which is strange because faces are not flat and because brows vary in length. The thin material of E.L.F.’s stencils warms to your skin’s temperature, allowing it to better adheres to your eye area, and making it much easier to hold the stencil in place with one hand. And that allows you an easier, quicker and more precise brow application every time!

Where to Buy: I found it at Wal-mart on the E.L.F. display. The selections vary store to store so you may have to check different Wal-marts if you can. Some drugstores, like CVS, also carry limited selections from the E.L.F. product lines. The only guaranteed way to purchase this or any E.L.F. product is from E.L.F.’s website. Shipping costs vary by location (E.L.F. offers free shipping to all USA sites for all orders of $25 and up).
See full product info here.

E.L.F. Essentials Eyebrow Stencils (photo from E.L.F website)

E.L.F. Essentials Eyebrow Stencils (photo from E.L.F website)

Summary: If you are brow-challenged or are a makeup beginner, this E.L.F. Essentials Eyebrow Stencil Kit is definitely worth the small investment!

Wisdom for the Day:
“My bride, my sister, you have charmed me. You have charmed me with a single glance from your eyes, with a single strand of your necklace.” ~Song of Solomon 4:9 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.

Awesome Autumn Apple Sausage Soup #SeptemberWhole30

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This is day 19 of #SeptemberWhole30, and our second #Whole30 has been more challenging than our first. Both Hubs and I have struggled to maintain motivation, and most recently we’ve been battling powerful (if surprising) cravings. We’ve had multiple conversations over the past 10 days that have gone something like this:
Hubs (and/or me): “You know what would be great right now?”
Me: “I don’t know ’bout you, but I’d like a drink!” (this is especially crazy because I almost never drink)
Hubs: “I’d like to eat a whole bag of chips, maybe two.” (Again bizarre. Hubs never, EVER overeats!)
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The cravings are apparently to be expected according to the #Whole30 timeline, but the lack of motivation is disappointing. We’ve had several discussions about why we seem to be white-knuckling it this time around. There seems to be no energy or excitement to the process this time compared to last time. For example, I’ve suffered from a serious lack of creativity this time. I’ve primarily had to rely on recipes from our first #Whole30 only because I have had such a hard time coming up with new stuff this go-round.

This soup recipe is the one exception to my recipe dry spell. This recipe makes a huge amount of soup and it’s ready pretty quickly. Using fresh and frozen veggies that are pre-chopped saves time and energy which is really important at this stage of the Whole30 process. And the wide variety of flavors and textures; plus lots of fiber and high-quality protein makes this a very satisfying and satiating meal. Just what you need when the cravings are raging!

As a special added bonus, this recipe includes some ingredients from Healthgrove’s list of top 30 foods for beautiful skin and hair#19 Brussels Sprouts and #4 Collard Greens, along with smaller amounts of #16 carrots. Brussels sprouts are a terrific source of Vitamins C and K. Collard greens are also great sources of Vitamins C and K and are some of the best sources of Vitamin A available. When you add in the collagen and gelatin, this soup becomes a skin and hair beautifying bonanza! And it’s really delicious!

Ingredients:
• 2 Tbsp. extra virgin coconut oil
• ½ large sweet onion (e.g. Vidalia), chopped
• 1 tsp. garlic powder (or 2 garlic cloves, crushed)
• 2 tsp. pure sea salt
• 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
• 6 stalks celery, chopped (divided)
• 4 carrots, peeled and chopped (divided)
• 1 tsp. garlic powder (or 2 garlic cloves, crushed)
• 2 tsp. pure sea salt
• 32 oz. (4 cups) homemade or Whole30-compliant stock. Whole recommends several delicious commercially-available broths. Check out the approved list here.
(I like this one from Imagine Foods)
• 32 oz. (4 cups) distilled water
• 1 oz. dried mushrooms (I found these beauties for less at our local Walmart)
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• 4 medium red potatoes, diced or shredded (I made a batch each way and prefer using shredded potatoes because the shredded potatoes added more textural variety)
• 1 package Aidell’s Organic Chicken & Apple Sausage, chopped
• 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Instant Potato Flakes (optional but yields a creamier soup)
• 1 bag (14 oz.) frozen chopped collard greens, defrosted and drained
• 1 bag (16 oz.) frozen brussels sprouts, defrosted and drained (or 12 oz. package fresh shredded brussels sprouts)
• ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
• ¼ tsp. each dried thyme leaves, rosemary, ground bay leaves, and white pepper
• generous pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
• 1 large or 2 small apples
• 4 Tbsp. Great Lakes Brand or Vital Proteins Brand Beef Gelatin
• 4 Tbsp. Great Lakes Brand Collagen or Vital Proteins Brand Collagen Peptides
Hardware:
• Chef’s Knife
• Cutting Board
• Measuring Cups + spoons
• Extra large soup pot with lid
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Instructions:
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1. Place soup pot over MEDIUM-HIGH heat and add coconut oil to pot. Rotate pot to disperse oil. Then add chopped onion, chopped parsley, half the chopped celery and half the chopped carrots. Cook the vegetables in oil over MEDIUM-HIGH heat, stirring continuously for 8 minutes. While mixture cooks, open dried mushrooms pack and empty onto clean kitchen towel or plate. Carefully sort through mushrooms and remove and small stones.
2. Reduce heat to MEDIUM-LOW. Stir in garlic, sea salt, broth, distilled water, and sorted mushrooms. Place lid on soup pot and cook for 30 minutes. While mixture cooks, if using whole slice brussels sprouts, slice in half and set aside.
3. After mixture has cooked for 30 minutes, remove lid and add all remaining ingredients except apple. Stir well to combine. Then reduce heat again to LOW. Replace lid and cook mixture for 60 minutes more.
4. After 60 minutes, core and chop apple(s), peeling first if desired. Then add apples, collagen and gelatin into soup. Stir well to combine. Be sure the collagen and gelatin dissolve with no clumping. Recover the pot and cook for 15 minutes more (over LOW heat).
5. After 15 minutes, test soup for seasoning, adjusting to taste if needed. Serve and enjoy.

Deliciously soothing and satisfying soup!

Deliciously soothing and satisfying soup!


Serving Suggestions and Notes: This is a hearty soup that hits on 4 of the 5 primary flavor points – salty, sweet, bitter, and spicy. You can hit that 5th point (sour) by serving a crisp green salad along side this dressed with a fruit-based vinaigrette such as this (Whole30-approved) one from Tessemae’s. Or you can easily whip up Presto Peachy Lime Vinaigrette (pictured above) or this Split-Second Strawberry Vinaigrette, both deliciously #Whole30-compliant and ready in 1 minute or less.

Wisdom for the Day:
“Don’t associate with those who drink too much wine or with those who gorge themselves on meat. For the drunkard and the glutton will become poor, and grogginess will clothe them in rags.” ~Proverbs 23:20-21 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Read more here.

For More #Whole30 Recipes, Check Out These Great Recipes from the (HealthGrove) Top 30 Foods for Beauty Series:
Super Simple & Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes
Stupid Easy Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce #WHOLE30 #Vegan #Raw
QUICK & EASY BEAUTIFYING PAPAYA SALAD #WHOLE30 #PALEO #VEGAN
Presto Peachy Lime Vinaigrette #WHOLE30-compliant #Vegan #Paleo #Raw
Split Second Strawberry Vinaigrette #WHOLE30 Compliant (#raw, #paleo & #vegan)
Fix-It-And-Forget-It: Simply Beautiful Southern Greens Crockpot #WHOLE30 Compliant
Quick & Easy Paleo Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing #WHOLE30 Compliant
Chicken Tri-Almandine Casserole
WHOLE30 Stuffed Zucchini 2 Ways
Easy Cheezy Chicken & Broccoli Soup with Crispy Potato Croutons

Revlon Colorstay Whipped™ Crème Makeup – Product Review

Revlon Colorstay Whipped Crème™ Makeup - Could This Be Your HG Foundation?

Revlon Colorstay Whipped Crème™ Makeup – Could This Be Your HG Foundation?


Revlon Colorstay Whipped™ Crème Makeup is one of the line’s mainstays and one of Revlon’s few foundations not reformulated in recent years. That’s a good thing because this a great medium-full coverage cream foundation without sunscreen for those with normal, combination, slightly dry to slightly oily skin.

Price: Varies by store. Walmart offers most colors for around $11 for an 0.8 fluid oz. jar. Some shades cost a little more and are only sold only with shipping fees upwards of $5. ULTA and many drugstores (CVS, Walgreens etc.) sell this foundation for $15, but these vendors frequently offer Buy One, Get One 50% Off deals on Revlon products (which translates to 25% off or $11.25 each when you purchase two or more).

Revlon Colorstay Whipped Crème Makeup Photo from Revlon.com

Revlon Colorstay Whipped Crème Makeup Photo from Revlon.com

Color Range: Revlon markets 12 shades from the very light “Ivory” which has a neutral yellow undertone to deepish “Caramel” which has a more warm reddish undertones. However, most major retailers – ULTA, CVS, Walmart to name a few – carry only 8 of the 12 shades in stores. And different retailers tend to stock different colors. That’s either good news or a giant hassle based on your color needs and shade availability in your area. The good news is that drugstores and large discount retailers like Walmart have return policies almost as lenient as Sephora’s (generally allowing you to return opened/used products within 90 days of purchase with a valid receipt), so you can usually exchange it, provided you can find a suitable color match. The color range is mostly neutral. The deeper colors are not all that dark, or at least they don’t appear to be online. Unfortunately, most retailer don’t carry the darkest shades in store which is disappointing because shipping can be expensive due to the heavy glass jar packaging (more on that below). I’ve actually purchased 4 different shades and find my skin varies from 200 to 250 depending on the season, and shade 150 works very well as cream highlight.

The thick and creamy texture of Revlon Colorstay Whipped Crème Makeup (Shade 150)

The thick and creamy texture of Revlon Colorstay Whipped Crème Makeup (Shade 150)

Application: This foundation is (as you might expect) thick and creamy. Revlon describes this as a “bouncy, whipped” formula with a “mousse-like texture that feels like silk on your skin.” I wouldn’t expect an airy whipped cream texture because it’s definitely thicker than that. And it’s heavier and creamier than the mousse that you use in your hair. But it does feel silky, with enough “play time” to allow you to blend it in without steaks.

Because this foundation is packaged in a jar, you’ll need to use clean hands every time you apply this foundation and/or be sure to use a clean brush or sponge each time you dip into the jar. Otherwise you risk contaminating the product and creating a breeding ground for bacteria or other contaminants that could ruin the foundation (or worse) cause acne, breakouts or other skin reactions. So, be careful.

Coverage: A thin layer, applied with your finger or a damp BeautyBlender-type sponge yields moderate coverage with an attractive (though slight) luminescence and skin-like finish. Two layers will get you fuller (not quite “full”) coverage and a finish similar to the Kat Von D Lock-It Foundation or Tarte’s Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full Coverage Foundation.

Left-Right Kat Von D Lock-It Foundation (Medium 54); Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Foundation (Light-Medium Sand); Milani Conceal+Perfect (03); Becca Ultimate Coverage (Noisette); Revlon Colorstay Whipped Crème Makeup (250)

Left-Right Kat Von D Lock-It Foundation (Medium 54); Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Foundation (Light-Medium Sand); Milani Conceal+Perfect (03); Becca Ultimate Coverage (Noisette); Revlon Colorstay Whipped Crème Makeup (250)

Texture + Finish: Revlon claims this foundation has a “mousse-like texture feels like silk,” on your skin and the time release formula balances skin for a flawless look. Revlon also promises that their Colorstay Whipped™ Crème is capable of self-adjusting to your skin’s needs, magically balancing out any dry or oily patches for a perfectly flawless look. Yeah, no foundation is capable of doing that. This one looks good on your skin as long as you’ve taken the time to prep your skin first. Despite Revlon claims Whipped™ Crème “never looks cakey,” if you pile on too many layers, it can look slightly cakey. Even then it can be sheered out with a damp sponge and a spritz of moisturizing setting spray.

Wear: Continuing with Revlon’s amazing claims for this product, they promise an astonishing 24-hour wear-time for this foundation. First of all, barring some major disaster or unforeseen event, nobody should be wearing their makeup for 24-hours straight. That said, this stuff will not last for 24 hours anyway. It breaks on me (at least) after about 10 hours, even with a great primer and periodic touch-ups. But that isn’t a deal-breaker. The best makeups require touch-ups because the skin on our faces is always producing oil; shedding skin cells. We sweat; talk on the phone and smudge makeup off. Whatever. Life happens. With realistic expectations, this foundation wears as long as some of the most expensive products with similar formulations. All matte, liquid foundations (e.g. Chanel Perfection Lumière Velvet SPF 15) will always last the longest and perform the best in high humidity, but those foundations also have the greatest likelihood of emphasizing wrinkles, fine lines, etc.

Skin Beneficial Ingredients: This product does contain several emollient and skin-beneficial ingredients. Among them – Glycerin (skin replinisher), Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Hyaluronic Acid (emollient), Silk protein (may have antioxidant properties). The Vitamin E and Silk protein’s antioxidant properties will lose efficacy after a few weeks of regular usage due to product’s packaging. The sodium hyaluronate may eventually lose efficacy as well. The emollients will not be affected unless the product becomes contaminated as described above.

Revlon chose to house this foundation in a (very) heavy glass jar. Jar packaging is not my favorite due to sanitary concerns and because jar packaging means repeatedly exposing product ingredients to air, thereby decreasing effectiveness of fragile ingredients like antioxidants, etc. But I don’t usually rely on foundation for antioxidant or skin treating ingredients. Typically I applies those things as part of of my skin care regimen prior to applying my makeup. The heavy glass jar means you won’t want to carry this in your purse. So using it for touch-ups is out. And the absence of sunscreen means you’ll want to apply a broad spectrum sunscreen (preferably one that includes some antioxidants and skin-identical ingredients like ceramides, niacinamide, etc.) of at least SPF30 before applying this foundation.

Find the full list of ingredients here. To read more about the problems caused by jar packaging, see note below excerpted from this review at Beautypedia.com.

Summary: This is a great bargain for your beauty dollars and all-around wise purchase if you have normal, combo, or slightly dry to slightly oily skin and you’re looking for a medium to almost full coverage foundation with an attractive skin-like finish. This one comes in a wide array (for drugstore foundations) of neutral shades, but most retailers do not carry the full range of color option. The absence of sunscreen means this foundation won’t interfere with any selfies or photography you may encounter, but it means you’ll need to pair this with a broad spectrum SPF of at least 30 if you plan on using this as your everyday foundation.

Wisdom for the Day:
“Who is wise? And who knows the meaning of anything? A person’s wisdom brightens the expression; it changes the hardness of someone’s face.” ~Ecclesiastes 8:1 (Common English Bible)
Read more here.

+++More Info on Jar Packaging: The fact that it’s packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won’t remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air, so once a jar is opened and lets the air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars also are unsanitary because you’re dipping your fingers into them with each use, adding bacteria, which further deteriorate the beneficial ingredients (Sources: Free Radical Biology and Medicine, September 2007, pages 818–829; Ageing Research Reviews, December 2007, pages 271–288; Dermatologic Therapy, September-October 2007, pages 314–321; International Journal of Pharmaceutics, June 12, 2005, pages 197–203; Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, January 2002, pages 1–32; International Society for Horticultural Science, www.actahort.org/members/showpdf?booknrarnr=778_5; and Beautypackaging.com, and www.beautypackaging.com/articles/2007/03/airless-packaging.php).

Clinique Superbalm™ Moisturizing Gloss – Product Review

Clinique Superbalm™ Moisturizing Lip Gloss in Raspberry - Simply the Best!

Clinique Superbalm™ Moisturizing Lip Gloss in Raspberry – Simply the Best!

Matte lips are a big trend these days. Practically every makeup line from low to high end offer liquid lipsticks, lip paints, lip tars and stains. As with most makeup trends, the look is incredibly flattering on some and not so pretty on others. Trends are by definition cyclical – going in and out of style – and I suspect the matter lip trend to be no different.

Something that never goes out of style is plump, moisturized healthy-looking lips. And that’s exactly what you’ll get from Superbalm™ – an all-time favorite lip gloss from Clinique. Here’s my review:

Price: $17 for a o.5 oz. tube.

Color Range: A total of five shades are available. Four are available from Clinique counters and at Clinique.com and a Fifth is available exclusively at Sephora stores and Sephora.com.
Lilac – a light purpley pink with more blue undertones
Grapefruit – a very light neutral pink that doesn’t lean too orange or too blue (my all-time fav topper for nude lipstick)
Raspberry – a brighter cherry red/pink with blue undertones
Currant – a slightly deeper mauvey purple that still leans toward pinky tones, especially when applied on bare lips

Clinique Superbalm™ Moisturizing Gloss in Currant. Photo from CLNIQUE.com

Clinique Superbalm™ Moisturizing Gloss in Currant. Photo from CLNIQUE.com

The Sephora-exclusive shade, Black Honey, is probably the most popular. Black Honey is a deeper wine-like shade that is perfect for fall and neutral enough to compliment a variety of skin tones.

None of the shades contains shimmer. Some previously available colors did offer shimmer but have since been discontinued. So if you’ve been afraid that gloss will make you sparkle like a glittery 70’s disco-ball, don’t worry. This one won’t.

Application: Superbalm glosses have a plastic slant-tip applicator which has a tiny hole through which the product dispenses when you squeeze the tube. That applicator is actually part of the tube. It’s actually more sanitary than the removable doe-foot wand applicators commonly used on many recently-launched lip products. When you remove a wand/applicator from a liquid cosmetic product and apply the product directly to the skin, you expose the applicator to bacteria and other contaminants in the air and on your skin. Those contaminants are then introduced to the product when put the wand/applicator back into the product. An external applicator (especially a hard plastic one) may be cleaned to remove dirt and contaminants. But an internal applicator, especially one made of spongy material, cannot. We spend so much time cleaning our makeup sponges and brushes, but I for one never consider the fact that I constantly reuse doe-foot applicators that I cannot clean. Something to consider.

Superbalm™ Has an Easy-to-Use, Easy-to-Clean Applicator

Superbalm™ Has an Easy-to-Use, Easy-to-Clean Applicator

Coverage: Each shade is sheer without shimmer, providing a tint of color and big-impact shine. Superbalm™ is designed to be worn alone or layered over color lip products. Because the colors are so sheer, you can literally layer any shade, with the possible exception of Black Honey, over any lip color. Even Black Honey won’t dramatically alter your basic lip color but will darken and warm it slightly while adding shine and moisture. Grapefruit is probably the easiest shade to pair with other lip products. Because it’s a nearly clear pink, it’s unlikely to alter the shade of a lipstick when layered over top. But because it’s so light, Grapefruit provides no meaningful coverage on its own. It will highlight your lips own natural beauty and make them look fuller and more attractive naturally.

Clinique Superbalm™ Moisturizing Lip Gloss in Shade Grapefruit

Clinique Superbalm™ Moisturizing Lip Gloss in Shade Grapefruit

Texture + Finish: This is big glassy shine, so expect some tackiness after application. I find the texture very similar to NYX’s Butter Glosses but more sheer and far more moisturizing. Some Sephora reviewers describe Superbalm™ as sticky but I don’t find the level of stickiness to be problematic and certainly no stickier than other more expensive glosses on the market. The glass-like shine lasts at least 30 – 60 minutes depending on your activities, whether you eat, drink etc. after application. The color remains about 30 minutes after the shine has dissipated depending on the shade (with deeper shades like Black Honey and Raspberry sticking around longer).

Wear: The glass-like shine lasts 15 – 60 minutes depending on your activities, whether you eat, drink etc. after application. The color hangs around another 30 minutes+ after the shine has dissipated. The moisture remains at least another hour which is fantastic, for anyone with chronically dry lips, those living in a dry climate, or anyone who gets chapped lips during colder winter months. So basically everyone can enjoy this product at some time or another!

Skin Beneficial Ingredients: Clinique includes several proven moisturizers like petroleum, wax, soybean oil, linoleic acid and squalene. Also included are several antioxidants – retinal palmitate (Vitamin A derivative), Vitamins E and C. This gloss is also fragrance-free.
Full list of ingredients available at here.

Summary: This is a terrific lip gloss suitable for all skin types and anyone looking for a hint of color along with big shine and a healthy dose of moisture. These glosses look great on their own but work very well with just about any type of lip product (the possible exception being liquid lip stains that specifically instruct you to avoid glosses that contain any oils). Otherwise, these glosses will play nicely with just about any lipstick in your collection! At $16 each, Superbalm™ glosses qualify as wise beauty buys!

Additional Comments and Notes: If you already love this gloss and live within driving distance of an outlet mall that has a Cosmetics Company (Estée Luader Outlet) Store, I encourage you to head on over to said mall and stock up because Cosmetics Company routinely sells these glosses for just $11-12 each. And the deals don’t stop there! You can save on all kinds of Lauder-owned brands of fragrances, skin care, hair care, and makeup (M.A.C., Clinique, Smashbox, Bumble & bumble, and more!). Click here to locate a Cosmetics Company Store near you.
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Wisdom for the Day:
“O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will tell about your praise.” ~Psalm 51:15 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.

Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream Hydrating Colour Corrector Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Product Review

CLINIQUE Moisture Surge CC Cream Hydrating Colour Corrector Broad Spectrum SPF 30

CLINIQUE Moisture Surge CC Cream Hydrating Colour Corrector Broad Spectrum SPF 30

I love a good BB/CC Cream, and I’ve been a fan of Clinique since my earliest days exploring skin care and makeup.

Moisture Surge CC Cream Product Photo from Clinique.com

Moisture Surge CC Cream Product Photo from Clinique.com

I first purchased this a couple years ago during a particularly dry phase for my skin (due to heavy Retin-A usage). At the time I was big into layering BB/CCs over high SPF sunscreens and wanted the most emollient products available. I purchased this one based on positive reviews, describing it as extremely moisturizing, offering greater coverage than most of other available options. Broad spectrum sun protection is present through the following actives: Titanium Dioxide 5.2% (UVA/UVB), Zinc Oxide 3.2% (UVA), Octinoxate 7.5% (UVB), and Octisalate 5% (UVB).

After a few tries, I found that the product applied unevenly on my skin. I couldn’t achieve the flattering finish I’d expected. It never absorbed to dried down but seemed to shift throughout the day. I decided it just didn’t work for me at that time and gave it to my mother (a Clinique devotee). I recently decided to give this CC Cream another try and my own thoughts and review follow based on most recent testing of the product. I’ll preface my opinions by saying my mother still adores it!

First Swatch - Arm

First Swatch – Arm

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Left Side = Concealer Only, No Foundation             Right Side = Concealer + Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream Hydrating Colour Corrector SPF30 (note difference in pores)

Price: $38.50 for 1.4 fluid oz.
Color Range: 6 shades available, ranging from “Very Light” to “Deep” (for reference, I were shade “Light Medium”). I would add that the mineral sunscreens in this product may look a bit ashy on darker skin tones. Mineral sunscreens actives can also look a bit shiny and reflect camera flash exaggerating skin imperfections so keep that in mind if you’re expecting to be photographed.
Coverage: Clinique states this product provides “Sheer to Moderate” coverage. I think “moderate” coverage is more accurate. It would be difficult to get this down to sheer coverage without it looking very patchy and streaky. And trying to build up multiple layers is likely to feel heavy and look very unnatural. Several Sephora reviewers of this product state this product has been reformulated, that the original offered smoother, fuller coverage.
Texture+Finish: The texture is thick but expected that given the touted moisturizing properties. The thicker texture makes blending tough. If you skin is sensitive in addition to dry, that’s going to be a problem for you. I found that I had to rub more than bounce my makeup sponge in order to blend this in. All that rubbing kicked up some flakiness in my skin and resulted in more redness after application that before. Not a good result for a foundation-type product! But my biggest complaint is the finish. I found that it tended to exaggerate my pores. I never really think about having a problem with my pores, at least not until I tried this stuff again. Made me think, “man, my pores are huge! I better start using that Retin-A again. But if I do that, I can’t really wear this stuff anyway…” You see the dilemma.

Arm swatch blended. Despite nearly flawless skin on my inner arm, product still settled into pores and fine lines.

Arm swatch blended. Despite nearly flawless skin on my inner arm, product still settled into pores and fine lines.

Wear: I did have to touch up about midway through the day. But with all that’s not a huge problem for me. I usually touch up with a mineral powder sunscreen because it reassures me that I’m getting additional sun protection in areas where my foundation already tends to break up – around my nose and chin, a little across my forehead. This product did oxidize a bit on my skin, turning a bit darker later in the day. However, I’m reluctant to blame that entirely on the CC Cream as I was piling on several layers of emollients underneath. The pore issue cannot be attributed to other products as I tested this product with a pore-minimizer primer underneath and even without any other products underneath (when going out after dark) – same pore magnifying result.
Skin Beneficial Ingredients: Primarily the broad spectrum sunscreens along with squalane, a couple of lecithins, and a tiny bit of sodium hyaluronate (moisturizers); as well as linoleum acid; Vitamins E and C (antioxidants).
Summary: Between the difficult application, relatively high price point and less-than-flattering final result, I’d say this is a pass. There are wiser purchases for your BB/CC/Tinted Moisturizer dollars. I will say my mother loves it and still uses this product. But as I mentioned my mom is totally devoted to Clinique. Mom has very sensitive skin and sometimes “forgets” to remove her makeup at night. So she tends to favor makeup that won’t irritate her skin even if she sleeps in it. While I never support sleeping in your makeup, you cannot argue Clinique’s status as a leader hypoallergenic makeup and skin care products.

Note the appearance of pores around my cheeks (I intentionally left the product clump on my neck to illustrate difficulties I had with blending)

Note the appearance of pores around my cheeks (I intentionally left the product clump on my neck to illustrate difficulties I had with blending)

Additional Comments & Notes: Despite the SPF30, if you love this CC Cream, I would recommend you always layer this over a broad spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF30. If you’re unsure about which sunscreen is best for you or just confused by all the sunscreens on the market today, check out this in-depth article breaking down the best high-SPF sunscreens under $15.

Wisdom for the Day:
Those who are wise will shine like the brightness on the horizon. Those who lead many people to righteousness will shine like the stars forever and ever. ~Daniel 12:3 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.

Allure’s 50 Must-Buy Beauty Products – My Thoughts + Dupes

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A few years ago (August of 2012 to be exact), Allure Magazine published an article online describing the Top 50 Beauty Products You Have to Try before You Die (ominous title, right?). It was and continues to be a very popular article. It continues to resurface periodically on various social media platforms. It recently showed up again on my Facebook feed republished by Allure, so I reread the article to see where I measure up in terms of having tried the 50 products and to see whether I agree with the list.

As a beauty blogger, I’m a little embarrassed to admit I’ve only tried 22 of these so-called 50 “must try” products. There was a time when I would rush right out and immediately buy the remaining 28 products. But, I’ve grown up a little, gotten married and adjusted to our single-income budget. So I’m less likely to run right out and buy the latest or (purportedly) greatest products. I may have become a teensy bit cynical too, after having tried and been disappointed by so many supposedly magical products over the years.

Of the products I’ve tried my opinion is that some are deserving of the hype and some aren’t. I’m listing the products I’ve tried below as well as my impressions of each and whether or not I believe them to be “must try.” Have you seen this article? If you’re a beauty product aficionado (like me), then I’d love to hear your comments on those products you’ve tried and if you concur with Allure Magazine that these are musts for any beauty fan.

1. Chanel N°5 EDT: This was the first, classic fragrance I ever purchased for myself. My mother is a big fragrance fan as well and she taught me from a young age the value of classic, high-end scents. When I was about 12, Mom schooled me on classics like Joy, Shalimar, Diorissimo and Chanel N°5. Diorissimo and Joy were too flowery for my young tastes, and Shalimar was too strong (though I respect everything Guerlain creates).

N°5 became my goal because I’ve been a Marilyn Monroe fan since forever. When I read that Chanel N°5 was her favorite, I decided I HAD to have this fragrance too! With my babysitting money in tow, I trotted down to our local Dillard’s Department Store and purchased a great big atomizer of this without even testing it. I still remember the box and the shiny black lacquered bottle. Alas, the fragrance itself never won me over (again, probably too flowery) so I gave it away. But I’ll always have a sentimental fondness for this one…It was Marilyn’s favorite, after all.

2. L’Oreal Elnett Satin Hairspray: I tried this one about 5 years ago because I’d read an article calling it the best hairspray ever. Honestly, this one didn’t blow me away. The scent is just…wow! It’s just really strong! And frankly, I was then and am still far more impressed with Sebastian’s Shaper Plus (pictured below) and the generic Shaper Plus alternatives now readily available at drugstores and Wal-Mart) which out-perform Elnett without the overpowering smell. If you love this hairspray but (like me) don’t enjoy the fragrance, you’re in luck because L’Oreal has released an unscented version.
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3. La Mer Creme De La Mer: I’m sucker for a celebrity endorsement. I once read that Jennifer Lopez slathered her whole body in this uber expensive night cream before she went to sleep each night. And who doesn’t wanna have their own JLo glow? So, I did and purchased a 1 oz. pot of this purported miracle cream. I liked it. It’s an effective moisturizer; although I now know that most of the effective anti-aging ingredients will be rendered ineffective due to the jar packaging. But I cannot justify the price anymore; nor can I ignore the fact that most of the active anti-aging ingredients in this product lose their efficacy due to the jar packaging. For more on that, check out this review from Beautypedia.com.

Fortunately, there are other, more reasonably priced face and body creams available. I personally love these 3 fantastic options from Paula’s Choice, each contain a number of potent anti-agers and each one is thoughtfully packaged in a way that preserves the efficacy of those ingredients.

A Trifecta of Effective PAULA'S CHOICE Anti-Aging Moisturizers

A Trifecta of Effective PAULA’S CHOICE Anti-Aging Moisturizers

4. NARS Orgasm Blush: I had this one a few years ago as well, and it was also a blind purchase (this time from Sephora’s website). Honestly, I disagree with the reputation this has for being “perfect for every skin tone.” It’s not perfect for mine. I actually like their other brighter pink blushes better on me (my current favs are “Desire” and “Gaity“). I cannot argue with the excellent pigmentation of all NARS’ blush products. They’re fantastically pigmented and one compact will last you a looong time!

Brilliant blushes

Brilliant blushes

5. Maybelline Dream Bouncy Blush: These blushes are great! I should qualify that statement. If you enjoy cream, cream-to-powder or gel blushes; if your skin is on the drier, more sensitive side, you’ll probably love this blush! It really is great. The pigmentation is great. There’s an excellent shade range from pale candy pink to bright red, coral and a phenomenal bronze shade that’s terrific and works for a number applications. When I took stock of my makeup inventory for this article, I discovered I currently own 4 Dream Bouncy Blushes (in Pink Frosting, Fresh Pink, Hot Tamale, and Coffee Cake). As with the NARS shades, I tend to favor the lighter pinks, but I adore the bronzer (Coffee Cake) which works well on my skin tone as a cream contour.

6. Dove White Beauty Bar (soap): This is another throwback product I remember using during my teen years. These days, I steer clear of bar soaps save for Drunk Elephant’s amazing bar soaps.

7. Crest 3D Professional Whitening Strips: I used these a couple years ago to brighten my smile. They worked okay but the sensitivity I experienced during treatment scared me off trying these strips again.

8. Yves Saint Laurent Touche ÉClat: I sampled this product the day the Gainesville (FL) Sephora opened in 2008. It was suggested to me by the guest makeup artist attending the event as a possible coverup for the purple Botox shiners I was sporting at the time. It did not cover up those bruises, and I’m not convinced this product is a great concealer (it doesn’t cover my bluish underage circles either). However, it is an effective and elegant click-pen highlighter that basically started the trend. These days, I actually prefer Maybelline’s DREAM LUMI® Touch Highlighting Concealer to YSL’s version. It’s worth noting that both YSL cosmetics and Maybelline are owned by the mega-company L’Oreal. Those major cosmetics conglomerates often share researchers, product testing and formulations.

9. Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+: I started using Clinique’s famous 3-step protocol at age 13, after several of my little girlfriends mentioned their mothers had introduced them to the line’s famous protocol. I still remember dragging my mother to nearest Clinique counter and insisting that she buy me the soap (the scent of which was so recognizable that it still conjures up powerful middle school memories), the clarifying lotion and the unmistakable yellow cream. Fast forward 27 years later and there’s still a bottle of Dramatically Different in both my bathroom and my mother’s. It’s not the highest-tech, most sophisticated night cream on the market. But this product has undeniable staying power and its simplistic formulation makes it suitable for virtually all skin types, even the most sensitive. Side note, if you’re looking for an effective and gentle moisturizer that provides proven anti-agers, check out this widely available and reasonably priced lotion from Cerave. It contains 3 different types of ceramides, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid. It melts into the skin quickly and gives my skin an immediately plumped appearance.
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10. The Original beautyblender®: This super sponge revolutionized makeup application and spawned an army of knock-offs. Sponging is my preferred way to apply foundation, and this tool outperforms nearly every other sponge on the market, especially for a smooth, fuller coverage foundation finish. I find that it doesn’t work the best around my eyes, and I’ve yet to try the beautyblender micro.minis mostly because I find the idea of paying $18 for 2 such itty bitty sponges. Most days, I only wear a BB cream, so I tend to use this sponge from Real Techniques. But when I have a special occasion or event I’m going all out for, I still swear by the original beauty blender when I need a flawless full-coverage result.
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11. Lip Smackers: All hail Bonne Bell Lip Smackers! These waxy flavored chapstick-style treats are a right of passage for tweens around the world. This is (yet) another product that I’ve long since set aside in favor of more grown-up lip balms, but I still have a soft spot for for these soda or candy-scented sticks.

12. Aquaphor’s Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment: Maybe the ultimate beauty multi-tasker, in my opinion this stuff definitely deserves a spot among the 50 must-try products. It’s the ultimate multi-tasker! I have used this as an intensive but gentle moisturizer post-procedure (e.g. post microderm or fractional laser treatments), as a heavy-duty balm for cracked and peeling lips, to keep my brows in place, as a cuticle tamer, and to soothe my feet after a long workday wearing 5″ heels (mercifully I don’t wear those heels very often now). I also used it daily on my pregnant belly to prevent stretch marks. I’m not sure if it was the Aquaphor or genetics, but I am very fortunate to have escaped pregnancy with zero stretch marks. This stuff stuff was also recommended by our pediatrician as a gentle but effective post-bath moisturizer for our daughter’s sensitive skin. Works like a charm!

13. Clarisonic Classic Sonic Skin Cleansing System: I purchased a pink Clarisonic Mia (1st generation) maybe 3 years ago now. I like it and used it consistently for about a year, replacing the cleansing brushes every 2-3 months. I even convinced Hubs to try it (quite a fete since I’d selected a pink one!). He liked it (he likes almost all techy toys) . We both used it for a while, until we tired of purchasing new brush heads for that one (which we had to do even more frequently when we were both using it). About that time, Foreo released their LUNA sonic cleanser.
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I quickly succumbed to the LUNA hype and purchased it with my 20% Platinum ULTA coupon. Once I got the Foreo Luna, I put the Clarisonic away; though I still have it. In writing this article, I got the Clarisonic out, recharged it and used it along with the Luna for comparison. I found that the Luna is a bit gentler than the Clarisonic which is important for my sensitive skin. Plus, the charge on the LUNA lasts at least 10 X longer than the Clarisonic. That, along with the cost savings of no longer having to purchase replacement brush heads, seals the deal for me.

14. Dior Diorshow Buildable Volume Mascara: Here is an almost $30 mascara with a big rep for creating huge, separated, clump-free lashes. I purchased it in 2008. It is a good mascara. I enjoyed using it. It was particularly effective since, at the time that I purchased Diorshow I’d been using Latisse for about 6 months. So this mascara produced great volume without much need to lengthen my lashes. I’ve never purchased it again, because I just never felt – based on my experience – that it was worth the price tag.

Benefit's They're Real Mascara Mini

Benefit’s They’re Real Mascara Mini

Keep in mind that Dior is a subsidiary of LVMH – the giant conglomerate which owns Sephora stores and brand cosmetics, Benefit Cosmetics, MAKEUP FOREVER, Givenchy and Guerlain, Kat Von D makeup and several other beauty brands. I personally think that Benefit’s “They’re Real” mascara is a great dupe for Diorshow. Whereas Diorshow costs $28.50; They’re Real costs only $24. Hey every $4.50 saved is money you can spend on buying (what else?) more makeup! Also, Benefit offers a travel size option for just $12, available at both Sephora and ULTA stores and online shops. If you’ve struggled with (full-size) mascara tubes drying out and turning clumpy, I’d  recommend you try a travel-sized version for your next mascara purchase.

15. Guerlain Meteorites Pearls: Another product I (incredibly) was able to convince my mother to buy me, a then 15 year-old. I remember circling the Guerlain counter multiple times and asking the poor sales person to allow me to test this product. My mother finally succumbed to the pressure. If memory serves, this one was part of a birthday present, and I remember being over the moon to receive it and open the elegant packaging. I guess this was my first highlighter which is really its main purpose. It’s nearly impossible to use individual colors for color-correcting.

16. Cnd Shellac: Big fail for me. No idea what happened but this stuff just peeled right off my nails after just 2 days. Worked great on my toes, but like almost all polishes (even those professionally applied) this one tended to peel off my nails. Side note, back in the day (i.e. the 90s) when I wore (sigh) acrylic nails, even falsies lifted and peeled right off my nails. So these days, when I need a long-wearing manicure, I prefer to use the Red Carpet Manicure brand gel polish set. It’s cheaper than a salon mani/pedi, and I can touch it up at home if (when) I need to.
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17. OPI Nail Lacquer in Lincoln Park After Dark: I like OPI polishes a whole lot! And this one deserves its legendary status. It’s a lovely deep plum shade that’s neither to warm or too cool. The color is sophisticated and chic. Appropriate for women of all ages, it’s edgy enough to feel youthful but understated enough to work for more mature women.

18. Tigi Bed Head Superstar Queen for a Day Thickening Spray: I have fine hair. So I’m always on the hunt for styling products to make my hair look thicker. I purchased this one from Tigi a few years ago along with several other sprays including Redken’s Guts root thickener spray, and the now legendary Oribe Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray. In all honesty, I prefer Oribe’s version. It’s brilliant and smells amazing! But, it’s quite pricey and only available through Oribe salons or the Oribe website. Bed Head’s Queen for a Day is an effective and more cost-efficient alternative, but it’ll never replace my Après Beach.

19. Tweezerman Slant Tweezer: I’m not ashamed to admit I’m the proud owner of 4 of these terrific tweezers. I keep 2 pair in my bathroom (one on each side of the br, nearest my best makeup mirrors) and the other two are stashed in various handbags. I hate to ever be without one. They really are the best and worth every penny!

Quite simply the best tweezers available!

Quite simply the best tweezers available!

20. St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse: As mentioned above, I have light (sometimes pale) skin. Always have. I think shimmery bronze skin is beautiful, and I believe that having a tan can hide a multitude of flaws, especially any creaping or dimpling on the legs. I used to frequent tanning beds in search of a browner color, but I now realize the error of my ways (and have to sun spots to remind me) so I stay as far away from those places as possible. This self-tanning mousse is the truly the best I’ve tried. It doesn’t smell awful. It’s thick but still easy to apply. And the consistency is smooth enough to offer a little extra “play time” during application to prevent major speaking or random clumps of brown stain. A close, if not-quite-a-dupe product is Jergen’s Natural Glow Instant Sun Sunless Tanning Mousse (I use Deep Bronze shade). Jergen’s tanner also has no offensive odor. It has an almost identical texture and applies evenly without streaking. Plus, the deep bronze shade is very close to St. Tropez’s Classic Mousse color. But the Jergens option costs just $13 (for 6 oz.); while the St. Tropez version costs $42 (for 6.7 oz.).
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21. Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick (Black Cherry): I LOVE Revlon lipsticks. Always have. My earliest makeup memory involved me (at around 4 years old) rooting through my mother’s purse and discovering a bright purple lipstick shade from Revlon. I remember being mesmerized by the color and taking (AKA stealing) it to play with. About 10 years later, I got Black Cherry. I finished that tube and now keep at least 4 other Revlon Super Lustrous shades on hand at all times.

22. Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage: This product is one of the many, many (probably over 50) concealers I’ve purchased to cover my genetically-bestowed under-eye bags. This product contains two shades that can be used separately, combined to create a custom shade or layered for color-correcting purposes. Because the skin around my eyes is always super dry, this one didn’t work very well. Both shades are very pigmented. And this is one concealer Wayne Goss recommends for his “lift the eye” concealer trick (described in the video below). Sadly, for me it creased and settled in my fine lines. But I think it works brilliantly for others without my particular constellation of under-eye “issues.”

Side rant: I once loved LM products and swore my allegiance to her foundations thanks to a couple of her foundations that were perfect matches for my skin. Sadly, both my Laura Mercier HG foundations (the first generation Moisturizing Foundation and the original Silk Creme Foundation) have since been discontinued and/or reformulated. I wish cosmetics companies would listen to their consumers and stop messing with successful products! Thankfully, the LM Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer with Broad Spectrum SPF20, remains unchanged.

Wisdom for the Day:
Commit your path to the Eternal; let Him direct you. Put your confidence in Him, and He will follow through with you. ~Psalm 37:5 (The Voice)
Read more here.

Beauty Resource of the Day:
Do you need a lift around your eyes? I sure do! In this video Wayne Goss describes his quick (and very easy) technique for giving your eyes a nice lift WITHOUT the need for medical interventions:

#WHOLE30 Stuffed Turkey or Pork Roulades

#Whole30-Compliant Stuffed Turkey & Pork Roulades #Paleo #Grainfree #Dairyfree #Primal #JERF

#Whole30-Compliant Stuffed Turkey & Pork Roulades #Paleo #Glutenfree #Dairyfree #JERF

Sometimes you just need something special for dinner. This recipe makes about 8 elegant entrée servings. It’s delicious and impressive, and it just happens to be Whole30-compliant. Much of this recipe may be prepared in advance, making this a convenient option for hosting company. Your guests will never suspect you’re serving a “diet” recipe. But then, Whole30 is not a diet. It’s a lifestyle, allowing you to regularly enjoy healthful and delicious meals like this one!

INGREDIENTS:
For the Spinach Cream Stuffing –
• 1 + 1/3 cup raw almonds or raw cashews, soaked at least 3 hours (or overnight) in filtered water
• ¼ cup lemon juice
• 1 tsp. spicy brown mustard (not Dijon, see comment below+)
• 2 tsp. Celtic sea salt, divided
• ¼ tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
• 1 whole pitted date
• 4 Tbsp. Nut Pods Original Unsweetened Coffee Creamer, New Barn or homemade almond milk (I like this recipe from the lovely and very talented Angela of Oh She Glows)
• 1 egg lightly beaten
• 4 – 6 Tbsp. filtered water, added 2 Tbsp. at a time to mixture while processing to form a smooth cream
• 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and very well drained
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For Roulades –
• 2 lb. extra lean turkey or pork boneless, skinless cutlets
• 1 Tbsp. coconut or avocado oil
• 1 tsp. Celtic sea salt
• Generous sprinkle garlic powder

Hardware:
• Food processor or powerful blender (e.g. Vitamix or Nutribullet)
• Parchment paper
• Meat mallet (pounder)
• Chef’s knife + Cutting board
• 13”X9” baking pan or dish
• Nonstick coconut oil spray
• Toothpicks (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Prepare spinach cream as follows:
• Drain soaked nuts. Then place nuts into the canister of food processor with S blade attached or into the canister of powerful blender (I used a NutriBullet blender, but a food processor would work too).
• Add the next lemon juice, mustard, 1 tsp. salt, pepper, date, egg and creamer/milk to the canister.
• Place lid on food processor or blender and begin to process mixture by pulsing on LOW food processor.
• Begin adding water 2 Tbsp. at a time until the mixture comes together; has no visible pieces of nuts or date and is mostly smooth. Use as little water as necessary to be able to blend the mixture.
• When mixture reaches consistency similar to ricotta cheese, scrape the mixture into a small mixing bowl along with well-drained spinach and remaining 1 tsp. Celtic sea salt. Stir well to thoroughly combine.
• Cover with lid and refrigerate mixture.
NOTE: Spinach cream may be made up to 3 days in advance. Just keep covered and refrigerated until ready to use.
2. Prepare stuffed roulades as follows: IMG_4725
Place 1 large piece of parchment paper over a cutting board. Then place 2 cutlets in the center of the paper about 2” apart. Cover cutlets with another piece of parchment paper. Then pound each cutlet with meat mallet until about 1/8” thick. Repeat this process with remaining cutlets.
NOTE: You can do this part in advance as well. Simply place pounded cutlets in a large freezer bag and refrigerate up to 24 hours.
3. Coat the inside of 13”X9” baking dish with coconut oil or nonstick coconut oil spray. Then add 1 Tbsp. of oil to baking pan/dish. Set aside.
4. Using clean hands, place one cutlet on a plate. Spread 2 Tbsp. spinach stuffing mixture atop of the cutlet. Then carefully roll up the roulade and if desired secure with toothpicks. Next place rolled and stuffed roulades side-by-side in prepared baking dish. Repeat this process until all roulades have been placed in baking dish. Use any remaining spinach cream to top roulades, spreading an even layer over top each roulade in baking dish. Sprinkle roulades with 1 tsp. seal salt and garlic powder as desired. Then cover baking pan or dish with aluminum foil.
NOTE: Rolled and stuffed roulades may be prepared up to 24 hours in advance and kept covered and refrigerated until ready to bake.
5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit (190° Celsius). Bake roulades in preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until the thickest roulade reaches an internal temperate 165° Fahrenheit (74° Celsius).
6. Allow baked roulades to rest about 15 minutes before serving.

Halved #Whole30 Turkey Roulades with Super Simple Sweet Potatoes, Tossed Salad, & Presto Peachy Vinaigrette.

Halved #Whole30 Turkey Roulades with Super Simple Sweet Potatoes, Tossed Salad, & Presto Peachy Vinaigrette.

~Makes 7-10 roulades, or about 8 servings.

+When doing #Whole30, it’s very important you get into the habit of checking the ingredient lists of anything you plan to eat or use when cooking. For example, dijon mustard usually contains white wine which is not permitted during #Whole30, so be sure to check the mustard before you purchase. For a complete list of Whole30 program do’s and don’ts as well as answers to just about any questions you may have, I highly recommend you check out the program rules here and other resources available at Whole30.com to educate yourself prior to beginning your own Whole30 journey, whenever you have questions or need some support.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS: This recipe makes a fancier entrée suitable to serve to guests or company. These roulades are especially delicious served with Stupid Easy Cran-Cherry Sauce. The sweet tartness of the sauce provides a lovely counterpoint to the savory spinach stuffing and makes the meal feel even more special.

Mixed Halved #Whole30 Turkey & Pork Roulades with Stupid Easy Cran-Cherry Sauce

I suggest serving this entrée with a tossed salad of mixed greens, fruit and nuts. Optional side dishes include Oven Fried Sprouts; Super Simple Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes; or Quick & Easy Crispy Potatoes. A final note, the Spinach Cream Stuffing makes a terrific appetizer dip for raw vegetables. Simply spoon spinach cream into an oven-safe bowl and bake at 350° Fahrenheit (177° Celsius) for 30 minutes.

Beauty Resource for the Day:
I recently posted an article describing my favorite (and not-so-favorite) drugstore sunscreens. In that article (which you can read here), I attempted to demystify the various sunscreen “active” ingredients and discuss which types of formulas are best for different members of the family. The video that follows from the brilliant celebrity makeup artist, Lisa Eldridge, provides an even more in-depth discussion regarding sunscreens and offers a short list of recommended brands and products including those available outside and within the USA. Apparently, other countries have access to a wider variety of broad spectrum sunscreens than we do here in the United States. Bummer! But I’ll let Lisa explain the particulars.

Wisdom for the Day:
“I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope. Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” ~Jeremiah 29:11-12 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.

Super Simple & Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes #Whole30 #Vegan #Paleo

#WHOLE30 #Paleo #Vegan #Grainfree #Dairyfree #Sugarfree

Simple and Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes

Simple and Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes

I’ve been posting a series of recipes featuring the ingredients identified by a recent HealthGrove study as the best foods for beautiful skin and hair. If you’ve missed any of the previous recipes in this series, check out the list and links below. Number 1 on that list is – the deliciously healthy and beautifully utilitarian SWEET POTATO! Sweet potatoes are a tremendous source of Vitamins C and A (in the form of beta carotene) and also earn high marks for potassium content as well as fullness or satiety. Check out this nutrition summary from the folks at HealthGrove. Sweet potatoes are also an inexpensive, unprocessed and grain-free source of complex carbohydrates, making them favorites among #WHOLE30-ers, #Paleo types and staunch vegans alike.

Check out to learn more about the amazing health-promoting benefits of sweet potatoes!

Sweet Potatoes 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

The Lovely & Talented Sweet Potato

The Lovely & Talented Sweet Potato

The following sweet potato recipe is perfect for anyone needing a quick and easy weeknight side dish. Weeknights are hectic, especially for working folks and families. It’s also an especially dangerous time for those actively doing #WHOLE30 because (in the US at least) it’s the time we tend to eat our largest meal. I find it helps tremendously to have a few simple, no-brainer type recipes on stand-by to expedite the weeknight dinner-making process. This delicious and simple side dish is one of our family’s favorites, and it’s super easy for Mommy (me) to make while attending to other tasks. After making it several times, I’ve found that I can now prepare it quickly and with almost no thought. That’s really helpful on nights when we have a lot going on and other things to attend to (like our constantly in-motion little girl). Most importantly, this dish is really yummy and works well with a wide variety of entrees. This recipe is fully #WHOLE30-compliant and #Paleo-correct. It’s free of grains, gluten and sugars. And if prepared with coconut oil, it’s also #vegan, dairy-free and suitable for folks with virtually nearly any food allergies, with the exception of tree nuts. However, you could easily substitute sunflower seeds for pecans or leave out the nuts altogether to accommodate. As listed, it’s a yummy mix of sweet, warm and salty. Buttery and tender with a bit of crunch, it’s sure to satisfy your whole family and keep you on your #WHOLE30 progress. It’s a winner all the way around.
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Ingredients:
• 2 large or 3 medium-sized whole sweet potatoes
• 1/2 cup no sugar added 100% pure apple, pineapple or prune juice (I used pineapple)
• ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
• 1 tsp. Celtic sea salt
• 2 Tbsp. coconut oil or clarified butter (i.e. Ghee), divided
• 2 tsp. Celtic sea salt, divided
• dash each ground ginger, ground cloves, and/or allspice
• 1 cup diced fresh pineapple or 2 organic apples or peaches, sliced (optional)
• 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
• 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Hardware:
• Microwave
• Vegetable Peeler
• Chef’s Knife + Cutting Board
• Large Microwave-Safe Bowl
• Measuring Cups + Spoons

If you're the type to do your weekly meal prep on the weekends, consider peeling and slicing a few sweet potatoes. They store nicely in a freezer bag for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

If you’re the type to do your weekly meal prep on the weekends, consider peeling and slicing a few sweet potatoes. They store nicely in a freezer bag for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Process:
1. Wash and peel sweet potatoes. Then slice sweet potatoes into 1/8” thick slices, and cut those slices in half. It goes faster if you stack the slices when cutting in half.
2. Pour 1 Tbsp. oil or butter into a microwave-safe bowl. Then transfer sweet potato slices to same bowl.
3. Sprinkle salt and seasonings over sweet potato slices and toss gently to distribute seasonings.
4. Pour ½ cup juice and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil over seasoned sweet potatoes and toss gently to combine.

Don't mock my dirty microwave. I told you it's hectic around our house!

Don’t mock my dirty microwave. I told you it’s hectic around our house!

5. Place bowl into microwave and cover with a paper towel. Microwave on HIGH for 8 minutes.
6. Carefully take bowl out of the microwave. Remove paper towel (watch out for steam). Stir well. If you’re using to add fruit, do so now.
7. Return bowl to microwave and replace paper towel over the bowl. Microwave again on HIGH for another 8-12 minutes, depending on size/strength of you microwave. (As an example, we have a pretty strong microwave that has 1800W. So I microwave for 8 minutes the first time, and another 11 minutes after stirring.)
8. Carefully take bowl from the microwave. Remove paper towel (again, watch out for steam). Test one sweet potato slice for doneness. The goal is a tender not toothsome texture. (In my experience, it takes longer than you expect to cook all the sweet potatoes). You may need to microwave a bit longer (say 3-5 minutes on HIGH) to fully cook to tender.
9. Just before serving, sprinkle sweet potatoes with balsamic vinegar and pecans. Then stir once more before serving.
~ Makes about 4 generous side dish servings.

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Super Simple & Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes along side #Paleo Turkey Roulades, and a tossed green salad, with WHOLE30 Peachy Lime Vinaigrette.

Wisdom for the Day:
With perfect peace you will protect those whose minds cannot be changed, because they trust you. ~Isaiah 26:3 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.
Praying that your evenings are full of “perfect peace” and trust in God! ~KG

Check Out These Great Recipes from the (HealthGrove) Top 30 Foods for Beauty Series:
Stupid Easy Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce #WHOLE30 #Vegan #Raw
QUICK & EASY BEAUTIFYING PAPAYA SALAD #WHOLE30 #PALEO #VEGAN
Presto Peachy Lime Vinaigrette #WHOLE30-compliant #Vegan #Paleo #Raw
Split Second Strawberry Vinaigrette #WHOLE30 Compliant (#raw, #paleo & #vegan)
Fix-It-And-Forget-It: Simply Beautiful Southern Greens Crockpot #WHOLE30 Compliant
Quick & Easy Paleo Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing #WHOLE30 Compliant
Chicken Tri-Almandine Casserole
WHOLE30 Stuffed Zucchini 2 Ways
Easy Cheezy Chicken & Broccoli Soup with Crispy Potato Croutons

Super Simple & Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes

Super Simple & Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes

An Anti-Aging Elixir – Yes It Does Exist!!!

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We all know it’s important to take care of our skin as we age – to remove makeup every night; to always (ALWAYS) apply broad spectrum sunscreen with a rating of at least SPF30 regardless of the season or time of year; and to use other topical skin-beneficial ingredients like antioxidant serums, retinoid creams, and the like. But when it comes to skin health, what we put into our bodies is just as important as the lotions and potions we apply to the skin. For healthy youthful skin, experts recommend drinking lots of pure water, staying away from too much sugar, avoiding cigarette smoke, eating foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, and reducing/eliminating alcohol consumption.

But what if I told you there’s a nutritional drink scientifically proven to significantly decrease wrinkles (especially your deepest wrinkles); to improve your skin’s elasticity; and to increase your skin’s overall hydration levels? Would you be interested? Turns out such a miraculous concoction does exist.

The foundation for this anti-aging cocktail is collagen. In humans collagen is a key component of the skin, hair and nails and makes up nearly 30% of our bodies’ protein composition (Borumand & Sevilla). Sadly, collagen production decreases as we age, causing a number of common aging complaints – wrinkles, sagging skin and loss of skin tone and elasticity. Recent technical advances have produced a supplemental form of collagen that, when consumed in conjunction with certain other key nutrients, effectively combats age-related collagen loss and associated skin concerns.

A Bevy of Beautifying Collagens

A Bevy of Beautifying Collagens

What Is Collagen?
Supplemental collagen is closely related to gelatin, but it’s chemically different from the gelatin (this ain’t your grandmother’s JELL-O) you’ve eaten in the past. The differences between gelatin and collagen can get pretty technical, so I’d encourage you to check out this article from Dr. O’Shea at The Doctor Within, as well as this excellent summary from Paleo Leap for more detail. The basic idea is that the protein components (amino acids) and peptides in gelatin must undergo additional processing to break down those components into forms more readily absorbed by humans’ digestive tracts, i.e. to break down the proteins into forms our bodies can actually digest and use to strengthen skin, hair and nails. The specific additional processing is known as hydrolysis and results in “hydrolyzed collagen,” also known as “collagen hydrolysate.”

But Haven’t Gelatin Supplements Been around Forever?
You may have seen gelatin tabs or powder gelatin supplements in stores. They’ve been around for a while. But researchers say those old-school gelatin capsules and supplements are all but worthless. That’s because the body isn’t able to break down those gelatin proteins to create the necessary building blocks for stronger hair and nail structures. N.B. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors often consumed the skin, bones and connective tissues of wild or free-range meats and fish. These sources do provide collagen more readily digested and assimilated by the human body. However, most modern diets do not include sufficient amounts of these food sources of usable collagen. Therefore supplementation is recommended. So #paleo diet folks and #whole30 fans alike can rest assured that hydrolyzed collagen supplementation is completely compliant with their chosen food regimens.

According to Borumand & Sibilla (2015), previous “oral (collagen/gelatin) treatments for skin aging have been unsuccessful due to their constituents being broken down by acid and enzymes in the gut; however several studies have shown that hydrolyzed collagen is absorbed in the gut and then delivered to skin and joints through the blood stream (see reference 1 below).” Researchers have also found that consuming hydrolyzed collagen along with oral hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C produces the best results and efficacy. Several recent studies have reported impressive wrinkle-reduction and skin hydrating results using a cocktail of supplemental hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic acid (HA) and Vitamin C. Borumand & Sibilla found that this combination resulted in 25-50% skin hydration levels among study participants. They also noted significant decrease in wrinkle depth among those receiving the hydrolyzed collagen+hyaluronic acid+Vitamin C cocktail. An earlier study by Ohara et al. (2009) using a combination collagen+HA+Vitamin C supplement produced similar results in terms of improved skin hydration and increased elasticity. But in this study, participants over age 30 displayed the most significant wrinkle-reduction results (see reference 2 below).

So the evidence definitely supports this combo of supplements for improving skin-related aging complaints. Perhaps you’re eager to try out these supplements for yourself. You’ll first need to decide which hydrolyzed collagen, HA and Vitamin C option or options are best for you. I have listed some options for each below. Where possible, I’ve included comments based on my own experimentation with these products. I should note that no evidence has been found indicating any negative side effects from collagen supplementation. I personally have a pretty delicate system. There’s lots of things I cannot take, but I’ve never had any problems or side effects from the collagen, HA and superfood C products I’ve tried. Nevertheless, we are all different. You may respond more favorably to one brand of hydrolyzed collagen (or HA or C) over others. It may take some experimentation to discover the best combo for you. Here are some options to consider.

Hydrolyzed Collagen Supplements

Reserveage Organics Collagen Replenish (for $15.79 for just 2.75 oz.) provides 2,500 mg. of hydrolyzed collagen + 20 mg. of hyaluronic acid and 60 mg. of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). This one is pretty pricey compared to other hydrolyzed collagen options below but earns points for convenience by combining all 3 necessary supplements into one powder form. Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 1.24.55 PM

California Gold Nutrition CollagenUp ($12.95) contains 60 mg. each of hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C along with 5,000 mg. of hydrolyzed collagen (from fish). This product is odorless and tasteless in every beverage I’ve tried. It does require a bit more stirring to dissolve (compared to the NeoCell Super Collagen below).

California Gold Nutrition CollagenUp 5000

California Gold Nutrition CollagenUp 5000

NeoCell’s Super Powder Collagen ($10.84 for 7 oz.) provides a whopping 6,600 mg. of hydrolyzed collagen. But it doesn’t include added Vitamin C or hyaluronic acid, so you’ll need to find those from other sources. N.B. NeoCell produces and recommends their own hyaluronic acid, but I suspect any well-made HA will work in conjunction with the NeoCell Super Powder Collagen. IMG_3990

• Last but definitely not least, Great Lakes Gelatin Co., Collagen Hydrolysate, Collagen Joint Care, is available from Amazon and iHerb along with other online sources. Price varies from $21-25 (generally around $23) / 16 oz. This amazing collagen product is odorless and tasteless (some reviewers report it has a slightly “meaty” flavor), dissolves quickly in hot, warm or cold liquids and offers pure hydrolyzed beef collagen – 6,000 mg. (6 grams) per Tablespoon. It’s worth noting that one (male) iHerb reviewer actually described this collagen as “better than Botox.” See that review here. Now that’s my kinda supplement!!!

Great Lakes Gelatin Brand Collagen Hydrolysate

Great Lakes Gelatin Brand Collagen Hydrolysate

 

Hyaluronic Acid Supplements
IMG_3995
Vitamin Shoppe brand makes a terrific hyaluronic acid product, Injuv Hyaluronic Acid 140 mg. I’ve used and enjoyed this product without any negative side effects. It has a very high level of hyaluronic acid per (2 gel-tab) dose, providing 140mg. relative to most other HA supplements, most of which provide no more than 100mg. of HA per dose. And because it’s Vitamin Shoppe brand, you’re sometimes able to get discounted prices for this product, especially if you’re a loyal Shoppe buyer.

Neocell’s Hyaluronic Acid, Nature’s Moisturizer product provides 100mg. of HA per 2 capsule dose ($19 for 60 capsules). This one is reasonably priced and is another great HA option.

Superfood Vitamin C Sources

My Current Fav Superfood Vitamin C Source

My Current Fav Superfood Vitamin C Source

Back in the day, the options available for Vitamin C supplementation were all lab-generated (often synthetically created) pills and sugary Vitamin C chewables. One problem with these options was the “GI distress” many people suffered when taking more than 1,000 mg. (1 gram) of Vitamin C per day. Next came Vitamin C Ester, highly touted by such skin/beauty gurus as Dr. Nicholas Perricone (of PBS and Perricone Prescription fame) who has been a big proponent of Vitamin C Ester, a different version lab-created C option. Some people claim Vitamin C Ester results in less digestive upset than traditional Vitamin C. However, several exerts (references here and here) state that Vitamin C Ester is chemically so different from the form readily recognized by the human body that it is less effective (than say Ascorbic Acid).

In the past few years another, more natural Vitamin C options have become widely available – C supplementation through consumption of concentrated essences of so-called “superfoods,” such as pomegranate, Camu Camu, acerola and others. These sources of Vitamin C are reportedly the most readily used by the human body and are the least likely to cause digestive side effectives (reference here). Hooray! Finally an answer to the C debate. There are some excellent “superfood” supplement options available to help you meet your Vitamin C needs. Here are a few to consider.

Navitas Naturals, Organic, Pomegranate Powder (pictured above) – Tart and sweet this bright orange powder dissolves quickly in liquids and imparts a nice pomegranate flavor. Just 1 Tbsp. of this powder provides 130% of your (adult) RDA for Vitamin C. And it’s certified organic, raw, kosher, gluten-free and non-GMO. Navitas claims this product provides a, “potent source of naturally occurring phytonutrients and superior antioxidants like polyphenols, ellagic acid, tannins and anthocyanins. When consumed, these compounds are strong free-radical fighters, providing added protection against cellular damage.” I like this supplement a lot. This is what I used in the Get Glowing Green Tea recipe which will be posted separately along with a few other collagen+HA+C beverage recipes.

Sunfood, Raw Organic Camu Camu Powder – This powdered concentrated raw powdered essence of the Amazonian super fruit, Camu Camu provides more than 250% of an adult’s RDA for Vitamin C in just 1 tiny teaspoon. Sunfood claims this product is manufactured in a special way that “preserves the abundance of Vitamin C in the Camu fruit.”

Navitas Naturals also makes an organic, raw Camu Camu powder supplement that boasts an almost too-good-to-be-true 1180% RDA for Vitamin C in just 1 teaspoon! The reviews for this product and the Sunfood version state pretty consistently that both companies’ Camu powdered supplements taste pretty bitter; though the Sunfood version seems to be less bitter (it also provides less Vitamin C).

• You may prefer to take your super fruit supplement in capsule form. If so, this product, Pure Radiance C Veggie Caps from The Synergy Company ($22.34 for 90 caps) is a great option. Based on The Synergy Company’s “proprietary blend of all whole food extracts,” including Camu Camu berry extract, manioc root, acerola berry extract, among others, just 1 of these capsules provides 200% of the RDA for Vitamin C as well as several naturally occurring co-factors and other antioxidants.

As stated above, I will soon be posting several beautifying and anti-aging “cocktail” recipes using this combination of nutrients. So be on the lookout for that! In the meantime, do some shopping. Find the right hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C supplements for you! I encourage you to check out the referenced articles below if you’d like to some more research on this anti-aging combo for yourself. And if you’re interested in reading about my preferred form of topical hyaluronic acid, be sure to check out this post.

Beauty Resource for the Day:
Time to identify and correct some possible beauty mistakes you may be (unknowingly) making.
Check out this list of 20 frequently-violated beauty rules from Listotic.
P.S. I’m totally guilty of #3! Guess it’s time to change my sleeping habits too…☹

Wisdom for the Day:
“If you faithfully obey the commands that I’m giving you today, love the Lord your God, and serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 I will send rain on your land at the right time, both in the fall and in the spring. Then you will gather your own grain, new wine, and olive oil. 15 I will provide grass in the fields for your animals, and you will be able to eat all you want.” ~Deuteronomy 11:13-15 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.

Referenced Article and Links for Further Reading:
If you’re interested in checking out the scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of hydrolyzed collagen ingestion for wrinkle reduction and increased skin hydration, below are some citations for studies (referenced above) Hydrolyzed Collagen Consumption for Skin:
1. Effects of a nutritional supplement containing collagen peptides on skin elasticity, hydration and wrinkles (2015). Borumand & Sibilla S. Journal of Medical Nutrition and Nutraceuticals; 4(1), 47-53. Online full text article link.
2. Ohara H, Ito K, Iida H, Matsumoto H. Improvement in the moisture content of the stratum corneum following 4 weeks of collagen hydrolysate ingestion. Nippon Shokuhin Kogaku Kaishi 2009; 56: 137-45. Online link to abstract here.
3. Matsumoto H, Ohara H, Ito K, Nakamura Y, Takahashi S. Clinical effect of fish type I collagen hydrolysate on
skin properties. ITE Lett Batteries New Technol Med 2006; 7:386-390. Full text unavailable. See other cited article links (above and below) for summary of this study.
4. Sibilla S, Godfrey M, Brewer S, Budh-Raja A, Genovese L. An Overview of the Beneficial Effects of Hydrolysed Collagen as a Nutraceutical on Skin Properties: Scientific Background and Clinical Studies. The Open Nutraceuticals Journal 2015; 8: 29-42. Online full text article available here.
5. Dr. Tim O’Shea of The Doctor Within on Hydrolyzed Collagen Supplementation. Link here.
6. All About Gelatin & Collagen from Paleo Leap.
7. And you’ll want to check out this list of Studies on Collagen Supplementation from Collagen Complete.

Let’s Compare SPFs – Which One Is Right for You?

Just SOME of the SPF options from the sunscreen aisle at my local Walmart

Just SOME of the SPF options from the sunscreen aisle at my local Walmart

I recently stood in front of this display at my local Wal-Mart for like 10+ minutes (incidentally way more time than I wanna spend at any part of Wal-Mart) looking at sunscreens. As I pondered various SPFs, another woman and her young daughter approached. She was similarly perplexed by the options, and she asked my advice for a kid-friendly SPF because she’d previously purchased a sunscreen that caused an allergic reaction in her daughter. We talked for a while and she mentioned how confusing finding a suitable sunscreen had become. We discussed the things she tried and her daughter’s reaction. She ultimately chose a gentle mineral (or physical) sunscreen and thanked me for the advice.

A Brief Sunscreen Primer:
Have you also noticed that sunscreen shopping has become pretty overwhelming lately? There are just SO many options out there, and all of them claim to offer sufficient protection and superior performance. It’s tempting to grab whatever is on sale or whichever bottle looks the best on the sunscreen display. Unfortunately, that’s not always a wise way to go. As with the food we eat and the beverages we drink, it pays to read the ingredient lists on sunscreens you are considering purchasing. In fact, this is especially true with sunscreen “active ingredients.” There’s a whole lot to keep in mind when sunscreen shopping, and there’s a bunch of terminology to learn. A key SPF term is “broad-spectrum” meaning the product protects against both UVB and UVA rays. UVB rays are the ones that cause skin to get red, burn or tan. UVA rays are the really nasty ones that are primarily responsible for aging, wrinkles, sagging skin and (scariest of all) skin cancer (Source).

There are 2 categories of broad-spectrum sunscreen active ingredients – mineral (AKA “physical”) sunscreens and chemical (AKA “synthetic”) sunscreens. Mineral sunscreens are generally gentler; are best for children (6 months and older) and those with allergies and sensitive skin; and work by creating a physical barrier between skin and the sun. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are mineral sunscreen actives, and most mineral sunscreens include both these ingredients in combination. Unfortunately, mineral sunscreens tend to leave a white or grayish cast on the skin and can affect makeup performance, and some people with acne may break out after using them. Synthetic or chemical sunscreen actives include avobenzone, Mexoryl SX, and Tinosorb. These ingredients dissolve into the skin more readily (that’s how they work) and are therefore easier to use under or in makeup products. However, sensitive skins, those with allergies or very young children may react negatively (think stinging skin or watery eyes) to chemical sunscreens especially when applied on the face or near the eyes. So, both mineral and chemical actives have their pluses and minuses.

The Wal-Mart encounter got me thinking that it would be helpful to create an easy-to-read info sheet comparing reasonably priced sunscreens, so that is my intent. Below I have listed a dozen sunscreen options. Each option was selected based on the following criteria: 1.) Must have broad-spectrum sun protection. 2.) Face products have an SPF rating of 45 or higher; lip SPFs a rating of 25 or higher. 3.) All sunscreens must cost $15 or less. I have listed each product by name; SPF rating; the amount of product you get; prices points from 3 selected retailers (I chose ULTA; Wal-Mart and Amazon.com); and have included brief product summaries based on my own product testing; the benefits and limitations of each (IMO); a few other comments on each product (e.g., how the product performs under makeup, if it has fragrance, is suitable for children, etc.); and my thoughts as to who may be the best person/persons in your family to use this product.

N.B. Products with an asterisk ‘*’ are brands carrying the official Seal of Approval of the International Skin Cancer Foundation (Source). That’s a whole bunch of points to consider! So, let’s get started. First the mineral-based sunscreens:

Mineral sunscreen actives are titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. These products are often considered gentler and labeled for sensitive skin, children or babies.

Mineral sunscreen actives are titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. These products are often considered gentler and labeled for sensitive skin or very young children.

1. Neutrogena Pure & Free Liquid Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF50* (1.4 oz.). This fragrance-free all-mineral sunscreen uses 5% titanium dioxide and 3% zinc oxide to provide broad-spectrum coverage but includes minimal other good-for-skin ingredients. Price points as follows: Not currently available at ULTA (though I’ve previously purchased in-store at ULTA, so you may check your local store); available for $11.80 from Wal-Mart; and $11.79 from Amazon. This product has the thinnest texture (almost watery) of any mineral sunscreen I tested. But even if you shake it up really well, it initially has a grainy feel that goes away as you rub the product into your skin. I found the graininess somewhat irritating and imagine babies and those with very sensitive skin would as well. It has a very minimal white cast and performs fairly well under makeup, again the best of any mineral sunscreen I reviewed here. As with all similar products, you must be careful to rub in these sunscreens around the tricky areas (hairline, brows, nostrils, any dry patches, etc.). With the exception of the initially grainy texture, I would highly recommend this product for all family members.

2. Cerave Sunscreen Broad Specrum Stick SPF50* (0.47 oz.). Not currently available from ULTA; available for $10.05 from Wal-Mart; and $9.99 from Amazon. This fragrance-free all-mineral sunscreen stick includes a couple of great skin-beneficial ingredients – ceramides (typical of Cerave) and hyaluronic acid but no antioxidants (just as well given the stick-style of this product. Antioxidants would be rendered useless shortly after opening). This product uses a whopping 6% titanium dioxide and 4.7% zinc oxide! With that level of mineral actives, you would expect it to be opaque, and it definitely is. This reminds me of those solid white strips of sunscreen lifeguards would sport back in the day. It’s not a product I’d use on my face before applying makeup. But it’s great for babies or young children as long as the child is willing to let you take the time to rub in the sunscreen. Given the size and style, it works really well stashed in a purse or makeup bag for on-the-go or spot applications of small areas (but again, probably not over makeup), as long as you’re able to tolerate some white patchy areas after application. Speaking of size, it’s pretty pricey given the amount you get, so keep that in mind as well.

3. Cerave Broad Spectrum Face Lotion with InVisibleZinc SPF50* (2 oz.) This all-mineral sunscreen is available for $14.99 from ULTA; for $12.12 from Wal-Mart; and for $7.99 from Amazon. As with Cerave’s stick option (above), this one is also fragrance-free and features actives titanium dioxide (present here in 4.9%) and zinc oxide (at 4.7%), the company’s star ingredient ceramides (present here in several forms) along with hyaluronic acid, peptides and beeswax. The good news is that Cerave included some antioxidants in both this formulation and the similar Cerave Sunscreen Broad Spectrum Body Lotion SPF50. The antioxidants can help provide further skin-protection against free radical damage (for more on antioxidants check out this article and recipe). This product contains Vitamin C, Niacinamide and small amounts of Vitamin E. This is a thicker lotion and leaves a definite white cast on application that takes significant time and effort to rub into skin. It works well for babies and young children, those with very sensitive skin, or anyone willing to take the time to rub this lotion into the skin. Just keep in mind that it will affect makeup performance and appearance.

4. Neutrogena pure & free baby sunscreen with purescreen SPF 60+* (3 oz.) Priced at $11.99 from ULTA.com; at $9.42 from Wal-Mart; and $13.99 from Amazon. This is a fragrance-free product featuring all mineral sunscreens (4.9% Titanium Dioxide; and 4.7% Zinc Oxide). Neutrogena also included Vitamin C (in the form of ascorbic acid), oat kernel extract and beeswax for hydration. But inexplicably, the company also included a preservative (methylisothiazolinone)+++ which, as explained below can cause sensitizing reactions when included in leave-on skincare products. This product has a thicker texture and leaves a white cast that, while less noticeable after a few minutes, may alter the color, performance of makeup. The problematic preservative in this sunscreen is the real deal-breaker here and makes this one a no-go for children and anyone with sensitive skin. I cannot recommend this product for any member of the family. Just check out the Amazon.com reviews! You’ll be convinced to go elsewhere for SPF protection. I’d suggest another Neutrogena option, Pure & Free Liquid Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF50 or Cerave’s Broad Spectrum Face Lotion with InVisibleZinc SPF50 (both above) as far superior. Both offer broad-spectrum, all-mineral SPF50 protection more appropriate for young children’s sensitive skin. Any mineral sunscreen is going to leave some white cast behind (these 2 options included), but both are far better suited to babies and young children and do not include any glaringly problematic ingredients.
+++Per this product’s ingredient list, this product contains an ingredient called methylisothiazolinone, a preservative known to cause sensitive reactions in skincare products. Here’s the link to the Beautypedia summary. Additional Sources: Actas Dermo-Sifiliograficas, January-February 2009, pages 53–60; Archives of Dermatological Research, February 2007, pages 427–437; and Contact Dermatitis, October 2005, pages 226–233).

Moving onto to the chemical sunscreens:

Synthetic or chemical sunscreens work by dissolving into the skin, so they are less likely than mineral actives to disrupt makeup application or leave whitish cast on the skin after applying. But they may cause a reaction in sensitive individual, including children.

Synthetic or chemical sunscreens work by dissolving into the skin, so they are less likely than mineral actives to disrupt makeup application or leave whitish cast on the skin after applying. But they may cause a reaction in sensitive individual, including children.

5. Coppertone Oil-Free Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF50* (3 oz.). This product is not currently available online from ULTA; it is available for $6.87 from Wal-Mart; and for $11.82 from Amazon. This fragrance-free all lotion-style sunscreen is surprising emollient while still managing to absorb quickly and without leaving noticeable residue or cast. It performs well under makeup. But it’s worth noting that the all-chemical sunscreen actives may provoke some reaction among sensitive individuals. Avobenzone is present (here in 3%) for UVA protection along with other standard UVB chemical actives (Homesalate 15%; Octisalate 5%; Octocrylene 10%; Oxybenzone 6%). Coppertone also included minimal amounts of palmitic acid (an emollient) & some vitamin E (tocpherol). I really like this product for its reasonable price and excellent performance under makeup. I recommend it for adults and those without sensitive skin, especially those in need of a high SPF.

6. L’Oreal Silky Sheer Face Lotion Sunscreen SPF50+ Antioxidants (1.7 oz.) Not currently available from ULTA; available for $12.96 from Wal-Mart (though out of stock at time of this writing); and available for $11.99 from Amazon. This is a fragrance-free all synthetic (chemical) sunscreen which includes 3% Avobenzone for broad-spectrum protection along with Homesalate (15%); Octisalate (5%); Octocrylene (5%); and Oxybenzone (6%), all UVB protectants. The antioxidants referenced in the title are not present in large amounts. It has a thin, almost watery texture that blends in quickly, leaving no color texture behind. I find that it performs well under makeup and does not pill, crack or “bunch up” in my pores or around my eyebrows, hairline, nostrils etc. Honestly, I really like this product. I was saddened to read (among Amazon reviews) that this product may be discontinued. That would explain the difficulty I had in repurchasing a new bottle. 😟 I hate when cosmetic companies discontinue great products. If you’re able to get your hands on this stuff, it’s best for pre-makeup application, for those without sensitive skin (due to synthetic actives) or for stashing in the car to protect hands, arms, other areas you may have forgotten to cover with SPF or for additional SPF touch-ups throughout the day.

7. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liquid Sunscreen SPF70* (1.4 oz.). This very high liquid SPF is priced at $12.99 from ULTA; and is available for $10.77 from Wal-Mart; and for $11.99 from Amazon. This very thin (almost watery) liquid sunscreen uses all synthetic actives including 3% avobenzone for UVA protection as well as 10% Homesalate; 5% Octisalate; 7.5% Octocrylene; and 5% Oxybenzone (all for UVB protection). The thin, watery texture dissolves almost immediately after application with minimal rubbing required, making it ideal for pre-makeup application. And the higher SPF means if you’re the type of person who tends to under-apply your sunscreen, this may be the product for you, as long as you’re not allergic or sensitive to chemical sunscreens. There’s one catch. This product has an odd chemical smell that is quite noticeable on application and for about 5 minutes thereafter. It doesn’t bother me tremendously (I’m pretty sensitive to smells), but I am definitely aware of it until it dissipates (after about 5 minutes). Just something to keep in mind. Because of the chemical actives, I would not recommend this for young children. But for adults without sensitive skin or allergies to chemical sunscreens, this is a great option!

8. Jason Sun Kids Sunscreen SPF45 (4 oz.). Jason Sun is not currently available from ULTA. But it is currently available at Wal-Mart for $9.67, and it is available for $9.19 from Amazon. A little background, Hubs has used and enjoyed this product for several years. I’ve always commented on how much I enjoy it when he uses it because I like the smell of it. So first thing to know about this sunscreen is that it has a really obvious scent. We’re talking powerful fragrance. It’s pleasant, but it’s obviously there. So if you’re bothered by fragrance, skip this sunscreen. And I think it’s kinda weird for JÃSÖN® a company which claims to be safe and gentle, to produce such a fragranced product under the name “Kids.” But I digress. I was satisfied with Hubs’ usage of the product because it’s not an unpleasant smell (it smells a little like Hubs bathed with a bottle of old-school Panama Jack Tanning Oil), and I’m always glad when he uses sunscreen. I always considered the smell as my confirmation that Hubs was protected. So when I began researching this product for this post, I was mortified to discover that Beautypedia review indicated this product does NOT provide broad-spectrum protection. Houston, we have a huge problem (asking self why I never checked the Beautypedia review before and how I could have allowed Hubs to be walking around with sub-par sun protection for so long)! However, on closer inspection of the actual product ingredient list, I noticed that the Beautypedia review did not include all the active ingredients and specifically does not include: 3% butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, AKA avobenzone which is in fact a broad-spectrum sunscreen active.

(here's the pic)

(here’s the pic)


So, it appears to me that this product does, in fact, offer broad-spectrum sun protection. And again, I say that this broad-spectrum sunscreen bit is a tricky business. This product dissolves fairly quickly leaving minimal white cast behind. Hubs has really enjoyed wearing it and has no complaints. I have applied from my neck down and had no negative reactions or problems. However, that doesn’t make this a good option for everyone, especially children. It’s still an all-chemical sunscreen with a strong fragrance. If you’re not sensitive to chemical sunscreens or fragrance, this may be an option for you.

Here’s a few more sun protection products I really like. These products are not as widely available as those above. But they’re inexpensive and offer broad-spectrum sun protection. First let’s talk about lips. One of my worst habits (when it comes to sun protection, I have lots of other bad habits not particularly germane to this post) is neglecting my lips. I’ll admit, years, decades went by before I recognized the importance of applying sunscreen on my lips. Even when I started going regularly to the dermatologist for anti-aging treatments, using prescription-strength skincare, etc. it just never occurred to me that I needed to protect my lips. Weird right? Then one day at a family reunion, I noticed several of my older relatives had small dark greyish, almost black moles or growths on their lips I’d never previously noticed. That was enough to convince me to always apply sunscreen to my lips prior to lipstick, gloss, whatever type of color products I may use that day. Here are my current lip protection favs:

9. Almay Age Essentials Lip Treatment $12.99 at ULTA and not yet available at Wal-Mart and Amazon. It’s a clear balm includes several chemical sunscreens, including 3% avobenzone for broad-spectrum protection (N.B. it’s generally preferable to use chemical sunscreens in lip products unless you have an allergy to synthetic sunscreens). This product comes in traditional twist-up lipstick style container (similar to Maybelline’s Baby Lips) but it’s thicker than a traditional chapstick. The stick is thicker primarily because it has what Almay calls an “anti-aging” pink center core which contains primarily emollients (glycerin, fatty acids, waxes, etc.) and small amounts of antioxidants and peptides. The lovely and talented Tati reviews this product briefly here.

Be sure to check out that video for more info on this and other new drugstore products. This product goes on sheer but is pretty shiny so keep that in mind if that’s a problem for you. It may be a deal-breaker for men (some of whom will probably dislike the lipstick-like appearance of this product as well).

10. If you’re into a traditional chapstick style, check out Australian Gold’s Face Guard Stick SPF50 $7.20 at Amazon at Wal-Mart. It is not currently available at ULTA. This is a simple, straight-forward sunscreen without fragrance or frills (not additional ingredients to mention). It features the standard chemical sunscreens and 3% avobenzone as primary UVA protection and can be used on the lips, ears and small areas like tattoos, or anywhere that needs extra protection. I wouldn’t use it on a baby unless you know that baby can tolerate chemical sunscreens without reaction or allergy.

11. If you’re into more emollient, Vaseline-style lip treatments, consider Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balms SPF25. These scented/flavored lip balms are available for $7.50 from ULTA; and Amazon.com. This product includes 3% avobenzone sunscreen among other chemical actives and comes in several flavors like “grapefruit & shea butter” (ULTA sells only 3 flavors). It also has several good-for-you ingredients like Green Tea extract, Shea butter and Avocado oil. However, I’d be concerned about the amount of Mint oil it includes (it’s pretty high on the ingredient list). Though Mint oil is included in a number of lip products these days (especially those claiming to “plump” lips), it’s a potential skin irritant (Source). And, I personally prefer the chapstick-style like Almay’s product above because it’s easier to apply lipstick over it. But this product works well as a stand-alone gloss or over a lipstain.

12. And finally – Paula’s Choice Extra Care Non-Greasy Sunscreen SPF50* (5 oz.) is a fragrance-free lotion-style sunscreen that I’ve enjoyed for years. It’s available for $17 at Paulaschoice.com. Hint: Paula’s Choice routinely offers email exclusive sales (like the current 20% off all products anniversary sale). This particular PC sunscreen features several synthetic (chemical) sunscreens including UVA active avobenzone (3%) as well as several antioxidants (e.g., multiple forms of Vitamin E, Vitamins A and C) along with an anti-inflammatory agent and aloe. This is a wonderfully-formulated chemical-based sunscreen that absorbs quickly, leaving no white cast or residue behind. It is fragrance-free and has never caused me any tearing or allergic reaction. It does cost more than $15 without the discounts. But I’m including it in the list because you can frequently get it for $15 or so and because it has been my go-to high SPF product for at least 5 years now. I really love it! This product is also available for $17 at Dermstore.com AND you can routinely save 10% on many brands (including Paula’s Choice) by creating a free Dermstore account and a personal “favorites” list. You can occasionally find Paula’s Choice products at Amazon. And I found this product for $19.50 + $5 shipping with very limited availability here. P.S. Paula’s Choice also makes a chapstick-style lip sunscreen (billed as a men’s product) which is marvelous and fairly economical. Check that out here.

BTW, if it seems like I favor Paula’s Choice products, it’s because I do. I’ve learned so much about skincare, product ingredients and chemistry, and the way the cosmetics industry works from reading Paula Begoun’s books and articles. Her products (especially antioxidants and sunscreens) perform equal to, in many cases superior to super expensive products you’d purchase in department stores or physicians offices. I strongly recommend Beautypedia to anyone looking to improve their beauty IQ!

Summary: There are many, many reliable and well-formulated sunscreens in all price ranges, far too many to review here. When it comes to choosing a sunscreen, the most important factors to consider are, in descending order of importance: 1.) Does it provide broad-spectrum sun protection (i.e. does it contain at least 1 of the following: avobenzone, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, Mexoryl SX, or Tinosorb)? 2.) Will you use the product in sufficient quantities to get full benefit? 3.) Does the product contain any problematic or objectionable ingredients? and finally 4.) Does the product provide any additional benefits or ingredients like antioxidants, skin-identical ingredients, etc.? I hope this post has been helpful as you prepare to shop for sunscreens this summer.

Beauty Video Resource of the Day:
You may already know how much I adore the wonderfully open and honest Angie from Hot & Flashy. She recently released her 2016 video rating best mineral sunscreens of the year, and I think it’s one of her best videos ever. This year’s video is especially awesome because Angie included a visual aid to demonstrate exactly how much sunscreen the typical person is using versus how much sunscreen manufacturers assume we’re using when they issue the SPF ratings for each product as well as the amount the FDA recommends we use for sufficient sun protection. Here’s a preview: you’re not using enough!

Wisdom for the Day:
Yours (oh God) is the day, yours also the night; you have established the heavenly lights and the sun. You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter.
~Psalm 74:16-17 (English Standard Version)
Read more here.

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Making Milani’s Conceal+Perfect Foundation Work for All Skin Types

Milani Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation+Concealer

Milani Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation+Concealer

Recently, I wrote how my excitement to try Milani’s Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation+Concealer quickly turned to disappointment when it didn’t look very pretty on me. After all the buzz around this foundation, I really wanted to make it work for me so I kept playing around with it and discovered some tricks that ensure I achieve a beautiful result every time I reach for this.

I have come to the conclusion that this really is a great foundation that’s worth the hype. But this is not as easy foundation. It’s not one to reach for on lazy (AKA no-makeup look) days. It’s the one to grab when you’re short on time. This process I outline below involves several steps (5 to be exact; though you could conceivably combine Steps #1-2 if you have a favorite water-based daytime moisturizer that gives you broad-spectrum SPF of 30 or more. I’ve just never found one). This may require more time than you may have most mornings. So you may want to save this for special occasions or days when you have extra time because the result is beautiful and worth the effort.

Some basic concepts to help you achieve the best results:
• First and foremost you need to understand the chemical composition of this foundation. It’s oil-free and made up primarily of water and silicones (if you’re interested I’ve included the full ingredient list at the bottom of this post and highlighted all the silicones for reference). So you want to diminish the amount of oil on the surface of your skin and avoid using any products that contains oils to ensure prettiest application and longest wear-time of the foundation. Hint – this is NOT the time to use Wayne Goss’ famous add a drop of oil to your foundation trick. Instead, you want to follow a couple of other Wayne Goss tips, blotting your face of excess oil throughout the application process and carefully avoiding any products that counteract the ingredients in this foundation.
• With each step/trick, I try to give several options for the products I suggest. You almost certainly can get this done with products you have on hand once you get the idea of the types of products that work. Then check out your stash for similar options you could try.
• I’ve done a complete review of the foundation below for anyone who may be curious about this foundation. You can read that review posted separately here.
• Each of the following steps are based on prepping the skin to be in the best condition to receive this foundation, so the makeup applies its best and has every chance to last 10 hours (or longer). In order to make this foundation work, you need to use products that have similar ingredients to Conceal+Perfect….again, reference the ingredient list – avoid oils and stick to water or silicone-based products. When I first tried to use this foundation, my biggest problem (when I had bad results) was trying to apply it over several oil-based moisturizing products which were basically counterproductive.

Application Steps and My Tips:
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Step #1 – Prep your skin with a good silicone-based oil-free antioxidant serum followed by a water-based moisturizer. The type of serum and moisturizer you use are important. This is NOT the time to use your trusty Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing+ Lotion (it’s a sesame oil base) or to use Argan Oil (yes, it is good for you, but it won’t work here). My favorite antioxidant serums are from Paula’s Choice, and Paula’s Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum is absolutely brilliant under tricky foundations like this one. It provides an extraordinary cocktail of anti-aging skin goodies in a super-light silicone base with zero oil. Top your serum of choice with a good oil-free moisturizer. CeraVe’s PM Moisturizing Lotion (or CVS’s awesome generic version, pictured above) and Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Gel-Cream Extra-Dry Skin or Hydro Boost Water Gel (for normal/combination skins) are great oil-free moisturizer that absorb quickly while providing excellent hydration and skin-beneficial ingredients like hyaluronic acid. Allow lotion to absorb into skin at least five minutes. Then move on to Step #2.
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Step #2 – Using a plain tissue (do NOT use the kind with added lotion or emollients), oil-blotting paper or even TP (no shame), lightly blot away any excess moisture from your face. If you’re applying this foundation at night, you can go ahead and skip ahead to Step #3 now.

If you are getting ready to go out during the daytime, you now want to apply a lightweight easily absorbed sunscreen with broad spectrum sun protection of at least SPF30. I like Coppertone Clearly Sheer Faces Broad Spectrum SPF50 (which is an all-chemical sunscreen best for non-sensitive skin types) or Neutrogena pure & free Liquid Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF50 with purescreen® (all-mineral sunscreen best for sensitive skins. Read more about this product and other inexpensive broad-spectrum sunscreens here). Both these products have a thin, almost watery consistency that absorbs quickly. The Coppertone option is a chemical sunscreen so it absorbs more easily leaving no white or gray cast behind, but it’s also more likely to cause an allergic reaction in the most sensitive individuals. Allow sunscreen a few (3-4) minutes to absorb. Then proceed to Step #3.
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Step #3 – Blot your face again (oily skin types, do NOT skip this step). Then apply a silicone-based primer to your T-zone and any other areas where your foundation tends to apply unevenly or break up during the day. Allow primer to set at least 3-5 minutes. Then blot again (yes, again!) with a clean tissue or blotting paper.

A few of my favorite primers for this application include: L’Oréal Revitalift Miracle Blur Instant Skin Smoother Finishing Cream SPF30; Garnier Skin Renew 5 Second Blur Instant Smoother; Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer (I have the Green Color-correcting one, but they’re all terrific); Napoleon Perdis Auto Pilot Radiance Boosting Primer (this is the best primer for dry or aging skin). Give your primed skin at least 3 minutes to allow primer and other products to fully absorb and skin to be completely dry before proceeding to actual foundation application (Step #4).
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Step #4 – Use a damp makeup sponge apply 1 pump Milani Conceal+Perfect foundation and 1 pump (3-4 drops) of your favorite oil-free BB Cream (my favorite is Dr. Jart’s Premium BB Cream SPF45+ though be careful with this because it contains a teeny amount of soybean oil) or an oil-free highlighter (dry skins or anyone looking for a more sheer more luminous finish). My favorite liquid highlighters for this step include: Revlon PhotoReady Skinlights (which is an excellent inexpensive liquid illuminator but has become increasingly difficult to find in stores though according to Revlon’s website indicates that this product has not been discontinued) and NYX Cosmetics Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator.  Stay away from Becca’s Shimmering Skin Enhancer in this case, though. Because even though it’s a terrific liquid highlighter and comes in some really flattering shades, it contains both avocado and mineral oils, so it will cause the foundation to break apart and look patchy.

Build this foundation in thin layers if you’re a makeup novice (like me) and not an expert makeup artist. It’s easier and ensures a prettier result. For the final layer, I like to mix equal parts Conceal+Perfect foundation and concealer (my current favs are Tarte’s Shape Tape and Maybelline’s Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circle Treatment Concealer ) on the back of my hand and dab that mixture in a triangle shape under my eyes and cheek area using my finger. Then I’ll blend this mixture out using my damp beautyblender® sponge. Finally, I’ll use a small amount of foundation to touch up any other blemishes or discolorations needing additional concealing before moving onto finishing touches (Step #5).
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Step #5 – Once you are satisfied with the level of coverage you’ve achieved, blend out any creasing and set this product with your favorite setting powder. There are lots of good ones available in all price ranges so don’t get carried away by the hype. I definitely recommend setting this foundation with powder, even for drier skins but especially for those with combo to oily skins not only to avoid creasing but for best longevity and most flawless result. If you have the time, you can also bake the undereye or areas where large pores are an issue. And I like to finish with a few spritzes of setting spray. My current favorite setting spray is E.L.F.’s Makeup Mist and Set but any oil-free setting spray will work.
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Additional Notes on Application: Milani states this foundation may be applied, “…with fingertips or a brush beginning at the center of the face, blending outward.” I prefer applying this with a damp beautyblender® type sponge. I had some success using my finger as well, but I just really dislike apply foundation with fingers. For some reason I dislike the feeling of it on my fingers and hands. Has nothing to do with the texture of this particular product. Actually, if you enjoy using your fingers to apply foundation, this may be a good match for you because the warm of your fingers may help you spread this around. Because it’s thicker than your typical liquid foundation (MUF’s Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation for example), I found that applying it with a brush left streaks and wasn’t very pretty. I wouldn’t try brush application unless you’re lucky enough to own an Artis (oval 7) foundation brush. Finally, though Milani suggests applying “a dime-sized amount of product,” all at once, I’d caution against it. I suggest applying thinner layers until achieving desired level of coverage. Trying to apply too much all at once tends to make the product bunch up and look heavy.

Summary: Remember that this foundation is oil-free and composed primarily of water and silicones, so you want to take the time to prep your skin using water and silicone-based products and control any surface oil you may have on your skin. Avoid using any products that contain oil. Dry or combo skin types will want to use a water-based moisturizer and allow sufficient time for it to absorb. Then tissue off excess moisture before applying a light broad-spectrum sunscreen and silicone-based primer. Those with oily skin will want to take extra care to prime skin with an oil-controlling primer and tissue off excess oil between each step. Because this foundation is thick, it is best applied in thin layers with a damp makeup sponge. You can thin it out even more by adding a drop or 2 of highlighter or BB cream. You can also mix it with your favorite (oil-free) concealer to highlight and brighten. Be sure to set this product with your preferred setting powder and finish with your favorite setting spray (if desired).

#NoFilter Milani's Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation+Concealer

#NoFilter Milani’s Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation+Concealer

Ingredient List: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Isononyl Isononanoate (oil-free emollient), Cetyl Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Mica (shine), Glycerin (oil-free emollient), BIS-PEG/PPG Dimethicone, VP/Eicosene Copolymer, Bis-Vinyl Dimethicone, Ozokerite (wax), Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Beeswax (wax), Glycereth-18 Ethylhexanoate (oil-free emollient), Potassium Sorbate, Silica, Caprylyl Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Xanthan Gum, Isododecane, Propylene Carbonate, Prunus Domestica Fruit Extract, Glycereth-18, Aluminum Dimyristate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Disodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Allantoin, C30-45 Alkyl Cetearyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Polyisobutene, C18-21 Alkane. +/- May Contain: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499).

Read the full Daily Beauty Wisdom Review of Milani Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation+Concealer here.

Wisdom for the Day:
All of us, then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces; and that same glory, coming from the Lord, who is the Spirit, transforms us into his likeness in an ever greater degree of glory. ~II Corinthians 3:18 (Good News Translation)
Read more here.

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