NYX Cosmetics Pump It Up Lip Plumper – Product Review

Several years ago I experimented with lip fillers. Listen I’ve been through some painful procedures in my lifetime. I’ve had a lot of dental work done (which is not fun, BTW). I went through 20+ hours of labor, an emergency C-Section. I feel like I tolerate pain fairly well. But I cannot recall ever, at any point in my life, experiencing pain that compares to those lip injections. Oh my gosh does it hurt! My lips looked great, but I cannot face that pain again.

So I’m always on the lookout for makeup products promising to plump my lips without injections. I’ve tried a few I liked over the years. One that works but is over my current budget is this one from Fusion Beauty. I’ve been determined to find a drugstore alternative. So when I recently spotted Pump It Up Lip Plumper from NYX Cosmetics, I decided to give it a whirl. I have and really enjoy several Butter Glosses from NYX and had high hopes for this one. Here’s the low-down on Pump It Up.

Pump It Up Lip Plumper from NYX Cosmetics. Shade Lindsay.

Pump It Up Lip Plumper from NYX Cosmetics. Shade Lindsay.


Price: $5.49 / 0.28 oz. tube

Color Range: NYX offers 9 shades are available, each have women’s names like Pamela (a pale baby pink without sparkle); Liv (a clear gloss); and Angelina (a brown nude with gold sparkle). I purchased the shade, “Lindsay,” which NYX calls a “baby pink,” but on my bare lips looks like 1980’s frost.

Pump It Up Lip Plumper Shades. Photo from NYX Cosmetics.com

Pump It Up Lip Plumper Shades. Photo from NYX Cosmetics.com

Application: This applies with the now standard doe-foot wand applicator. Because I’ve discussed my feelings about the applicators previously, I won’t repeat myself here.

Coverage: 8 of the 9 shades NYX created are very sheer. The shade “Liv” is completely clear. The shade “Pamela” is described as an “ultra sheer baby pink.” I’d say it’s close to clear with only the slightest hint of a pink tint. “Scarlett” is described as an “ultra sheer red” providing a wash of sheer raspberry color. “Elizabeth” is billed as a “soft mauve pink,” and it is the lone color offering slight opacity. But you’ll still see you’re own natural lip color (or the color of whatever lip product you apply underneath) peaking through.

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Texture + Finish: These glosses go on with minimal stickiness and frankly without a ton of shine. This is not the big, bold glassy shine you’d get from other products out of this cosmetics mega-company such as Maybelline’s LipStudio Shine Shot Lip Topcoat or Lancôme’s Juicy Tubes Lip Glosses (Both Maybelline and Lancôme are owned by NYX’s parent company, L’Oreal). The shine and moisture level are not quite on par with NYX’s own outstanding Butter Glosses and Mega Shine Lip Glosses, both of which offer far wider color ranges and lower price points as well.

Top: Swatch of Pump It Up Lip Plumper (Shade - Lindsay) Bottom: Swatch of Butter Gloss (Shade - Strawberry Parfait)

Top: Swatch of Pump It Up Lip Plumper (Shade – Lindsay)
Bottom: Swatch of Butter Gloss (Shade – Strawberry Parfait)


Wear: You will notice an immediate tingling sensation upon application of this gloss. I’d dispute Beautypedia’s claim that this is “the most painful lip plumping lip gloss ever.” (Read the full Paula’s Choice / Beautypedia review and commentary on this ingredient’s potential impact here). I’ve certainly tried glosses that cause more burning or stinging sensations than this one, and I’ve definitely found other glosses to be more effective in terms of plumping my lips! The ingredient responsible for the slighting tingle, Vanillyl Butyl Ether (in bold in the full ingredient list below), is actually the 2nd to last ingredient on this product ingredient list (meaning it’s among the lowest in terms of concentration) which likely explains the plumping effect is comparatively small.

Skin Beneficial Ingredients: NYX makes a big deal out the peptides. However, the actual peptide-containing ingredients are fairly minimal. NYX did include some Vitamin E, BHA and Aloe Leaf Extract (italicized in the ingredient list below) offering some antioxidant benefits. However, those antioxidants won’t remain stable or effective for long when exposed to air repeatedly with use and due to the clear tube packaging. The rest of this product’s ingredients are pretty standard for a lip gloss.

Full Ingredient List: Mineral Oil, Polybutene, PentaerythritylTetraisostearate, C18-38 Alkyl Hydroxystearoyl Stearate, HydrogenatedPolydecene, Hydrogenated Styrene/Isoprene Copolymer, DiisostearylMalate, Polyglyceryl-2 Triisostearate, Silica Dimethyl Silylate,Tocopheryl acetate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, BHA, Vanillyl ButylEther, Polyethylene Terephthalate. May Contain: Mica, Titanium Dioxide C.I.77891, Iron Oxide Red C.I.77491, Iron Oxide Yellow C.I.77492, D&C Red No.6 C.I.15850, D&C Red No.7 Ca Lake C.I.15850.

Read Good Guide’s Safety Rating of This Product’s Ingredients

Summary and Daily Beauty Wisdom Rating: Pass by Pump It Up and pick up one of NYX’s better lip gloss options.

NYC Cosmetics' Pump It Up Lip Plumper (On Top) along with a Trio of Superior NYX Butter Gloss

NYC Cosmetics’ Pump It Up Lip Plumper (On Top) along with a Trio of Superior NYX Butter Gloss


Additional Reviews and Ratings:
Makeup Alley Reviews (3.1 / 5 lipsticks)
Beautypedia Reviews (Expert rating = 1 / 5 stars; Community rating = 5 / 5 stars)
Influenster Reviews (Rating as of this writing = 4.2 / 5 stars)
Reviews from Amazon.com Customers (3.6 / 5 stars rating; NOTE this is a vendor website)

Check out NYX’s full product summary and info sheet here.

Wisdom for the Day:
“He touched my lips with the burning coal and said, ‘This has touched your lips, and now your guilt is gone, and your sins are forgiven.’
Then I heard the Lord say, ‘Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?’
I answered, ‘I will go! Send me!” ~Isaiah 6:7-8 (Good News Translation)
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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Quick and Easy Sausage Gravy #SeptemberWhole30 #Paleo #GlutenFree

#SeptemberWhole30...Mercifully the End Is in Sight!

#SeptemberWhole30…Mercifully the End Is in Sight!


So we’ve arrived at the final week of our second round of #Whole30. We can see the end from here and I’m feeling a sense of relief. This has been a much harder process than our first Whole30. As I’ve continued to struggle with lagging motivation, I’ve reflected on my own motivations and goals for this doing this round. Many (too many probably) of my goals were related to my appearance or were self-focused, dare I say even selfish goals. Here’s a portion of my goals for this #SeptemberWhole30:
• More energy to exercise – I wanted to start a walking regimen (but I haven’t walked once)
• Create and try new recipes
• No more under-eye circles
• Brighter eyes
• Want my clothes to fit better
• Looking younger
Those types of goals could be describes as external or “extrinsic” motivators. Research has shown that extrinsic factors are significantly less motivating than internal or intrinsic factors. The moral of this story is that internal goals are more motivating than external goals so keep that in mind when you’re considering committing to a (somewhat difficult) program like #Whole30.

One benefit I’ve noticed during both our first Whole30 and this round is feeling more in control of food. I’m far less likely to overeat. I’m less likely to to keep eating just because the food tastes good. I find it much easier to simply stop eating midway through the meal; to leave food on the plate; and to just walk away from the table. It’s possible that some of my willingness to stop eating has to do with my general disinterest in the food. At this stage of the game, I’ve pretty much exhausted my ability to create new or exciting Whole30-compliant recipes. Because we’ve eaten our old stand-byes so many times, I’ve been desperately seeking quick and easy ways to jazz them up like adding a sauce or gravy. This sausage gravy really perks up plain scrambled eggs, omelets or leftover meat and potatoes. My family was very pleased and asked that I keep this one in the rotation even after we’ve finished Whole30 which is the ultimate test of a tasty recipe!

Quick and Easy Sausage Gravy #Whole30 #Paleo #Glutenfree #Dairyfree #Grainfree

Quick and Easy Sausage Gravy #Whole30 #Paleo #Glutenfree #Dairyfree #Grainfree

Ingredients:
• 1-2 lb. Whole30-compliant (sulfite and sugar-free) Sausage, casings removed
• 3 Tbsp. Bob’s Red Mill Instant Potato Flakes
• 2 Tbsp. Tapioca Starch (I used this one from Bob’s Red Mill)
• 1/3 cup Original Unsweetened Nut Pods Creamer
• 1/3 cup Homemade or Whole30-compliant Chicken Broth
(Find a list of commercially-available Whole30-approved broths here)
• 1/3 cup Distilled (Cold) Water
• ½ tsp. Sea Salt
• ¼ tsp. Freshly Cracked Black Pepper

Hardware:
• Large frying pan or cast iron skillet
• Measuring spoons
• Large glass measuring cup (at least 2 cup size)
• Spatula
• Wire whisk (optional)

Instructions:
1. Place sausage in large frying pan or cast iron skillet. Place pan on stove. Turn stove setting to MEDIUM-HIGH setting (7). Cook sausage over MEDIUM-HIGH heat, using spatula to break up sausage into smaller pieces as it cooks, and to prevent any sausage pieces from burning.
2. After meat has completely, turn off the heat. At this point, you may drain the fat from the browned meat. Because I used venison sausage, there really wasn’t an excess amount of fat. But if you use pork sausage, you’ll probably need to drain it.
3. In a large measuring cup (preferably one with spout) stir together coffee creamer, broth and water. Then add salt and pepper and stir again to combine. Add to this mixture the instant potato flakes and tapioca starch. Stir well until there are no large lumps visible.
4. Place pan with cooked sausage back on stove over LOW-MEDIUM heat (3). Slowly stir liquid mixture into meat in 3-4 additions, stirring well after each addition using a wire whisk or fork to stir mixture.
5. Reduce heat to LOW and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring more or less continuously. At this point, you may cover gravy and keep covered over LOW heat, stirring occasionally, up to 30 minutes. Just be sure to keep stirring it occasionally.

Notes and Serving Suggestions: I tried to note this above but it’s worth repeating, the liquids should be cold when initially combined with the potato flakes and tapioca starch in order to prevent lumpy gravy. Also disregard my pic featuring the unsweetened French Vanilla flavored Nut Pods creamer. That’s a mistake. You really want to use the original (unflavored) version for best results.
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As far as serving suggestions – obviously, during Whole30 you wouldn’t serve this over biscuits (the traditional southern style) unless you’re family is not doing Whole30 with you. This gravy really jazzed up our scrambled eggs meal and is delicious over just about any egg preparation you can imagine. I think of it as a condiment, a super sauce if you will to help us get through these last difficult days of this #SeptemberWhole30!

Wisdom for the Day:
“Even if the fig tree does not bloom and the vines have no grapes, even if the olive tree fails to produce and the fields yield no food, even if the sheep pen is empty and the stalls have no cattle — even then, I will be happy with the Lord. I will truly find joy in God, who saves me.” ~Habakkuk 3:17-18 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.

Simple Salmon with Lemon and Dill #SeptemberWhole30

Simple Salmon with Lemon and Dill

Simple Salmon with Lemon and Dill


By now, everybody knows (wild-caught Alaskan) salmon is a health food. It’s chalked full of Omega-3 fatty acids. It’s high in protein and is a great source of Vitamins B6 and B12 and minerals like selenium, phosphorus and potassium (source).

Unfortunately, my family doesn’t really like salmon. After several years of marriage and many coerced meals, my husband now eats it without much push-back. Occasionally he even smiles and says he likes it. My mother on the other hand, all but refuses to eat salmon. She basically has to douse each bite with a half cup of lemon juice before she can choke it down!

Mom’s problem is that she’s been served (not by me) too many dry, fishy-tasting salmon entrées over the years, so she believes she doesn’t like it. Our lovely and generous neighbors recently bestowed upon us a beautiful 2 lb. (wild caught) Alaskan salmon filet. On a particularly hectic weeknight, I decided to make that gorgeous salmon filet for dinner, despite my mother’s protestations.

To accommodate my mother’s need for lemon flavor, I used both freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon slice slices. The salmon basically steams in the lemon juice, water and oils, sealing in the flavor and preserving all the tender, flaky wonderfulness of the salmon!

LEMONS!

LEMONS!


The secret to any successful fish recipe is not to overcook it. I’m convinced the reason so many people dislike fish is because so many people overcook it. So keep this in mind. You may need to adjust the cooking time slightly to account for your oven or the thickness of your salmon filets (our filet was fairly thin). Set your oven timer if you need to. And remember to allow for several minutes rest time after removing the baked salmon from the oven (step #6 below) before serving. During this time, the fish will continue to cook somewhat, so it is better to err on the side of slightly shorter oven cooking time if you are uncertain.

Ingredients:
• 2 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
• 2 Tbsp. Lemon juice (preferably freshly squeezed)
• 2 Tbsp. Distilled water
• 2 lb. Wild caught Alaskan salmon, skin on
• 1 tsp. Sea salt
• ¼ tsp. garlic powder or 1 garlic clove (crushed)
• ¼ tsp. Dried Dill or 1 Tbsp. fresh dill, coarsely chopped
• 2 Tbsp. ghee (clarified butter), melted
• 1 Whole lemon, thinly sliced (preferably organic)

Hardware:
• Glass measuring cup
• Small chef’s knife and cutting board
• Citrus juicer
• Measuring spoons
• 9 X 13” Baking dish or pan
• Aluminum foil

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 340° Fahrenheit (171° Celsius).
2. Wash and slice whole lemon. Then prepare 2 Tbsp. lemon juice. Set aside.
3. In a glass measuring cup, combine 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, and 2 Tbsp. water. Stir mixture to combine, and pour mixture into 9 X 13” baking dish.
4. Next place salmon skin-side down over the mixture in baking dish. Then sprinkle salmon evenly with salt, garlic and dill. Drizzle salmon with melted ghee. Then lay lemon slices on top of salmon.
5. Cover the entire baking dish tightly with aluminum foil. And bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Do NOT over cook salmon.
6. Allow salmon to rest 10 minutes. Then remove foil. Serve and enjoy.

Serving Suggestions and Notes: I served this with a simple green salad and Crispy Fried Sprouts because I happened to have a couple bags of shredded brussels sprouts on hand. But I think salmon also pairs well with steamed asparagus, crispy roasted green beans, broccoli, zucchini or any green vegetable you have on hand. These Quick and Easy Crispy Potatoes are a simple and delicious are a #Whole30 compliant side dish sure to please the whole family.

Wisdom for the Day:
When they went ashore, they saw a fire with a fish lying on the coals, and they saw a loaf of bread. Jesus told them, “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught.” Simon Peter got into the boat and pulled the net ashore. Though the net was filled with 153 large fish, it was not torn. Jesus told them, “Come, have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared to ask him who he was. They knew he was the Lord. ~John 21:9-12 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.

#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.

#SeptemberWhole30 Days 8-9

…Remind Me Again Why We’re Doing This!

So here we are more than a week into our second #Whole30. I won’t presume to speak for Hubs, but I am struggling! When I say struggling, I’m talking about something that goes well beyond the simple “I just want a nap” kind of thing predicted for days 6-7 by the (suddenly difficult to locate) official Whole30 Timeline 2.0. I’m talking about a level of fatigue that I feel down into my bones; that requires giving myself a pep talk just to get out of bed; dragging myself through the day; drinking extra coffee in order to formulate a coherent sentence. I don’t remember being this tired last time, but Hubs assures me I was. I’m taking his word for it, mostly because I’m just too tired to argue the point.

Before I go into all that, some positives. There are a few things actually making this round easier than our first Whole30 in April.

First and foremost – Nut Pods Coffee Creamers (I’m sure I’ve probably mentioned these delicious creamers before because I’m a tad coffee-obsessed, and I was desperate to find a way to keep putting creamer in my coffee during our first Whole30. If you’re a mom you can relate to just how crucial coffee is. It’s basically fuel new moms run on, but I digress).

Whole30 Mama Needs Caffeine!!!

This Whole30 Mama Needs Caffeine!!!

Next, I’m so happy that we invested in a couple of cases (seriously) of different flavors of these yummy La Croix flavored sparkling waters. Yum. O. Now that it’s football season, I can park it in front of the TV with a nice cold glass of fruity, bubbly La Croix and not feel the least bit deprived. We’ll definitely continue drinking these post Whole30!
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Lastly, I am still really excited about this Daily Beauty Wisdom green tea + collagen recipe. It’s the only green tea drink I have ever consistently drank in my life. For more on green tea’s health and beauty benefits click here and here. This drink is delicious and has some great beauty benefits that others are starting to notice. Here’s what happened:
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I had a long, busy day yesterday, with several errands to run, including a much-needed hair appointment. Of course, I also had to make sure our daughter was fed, changed and happy, and all her needs met. So, I needed 3 cups of coffee (thank you again Nut Pods!) and 2 cups of green tea just to get through the day.

I know, that’s a lot of caffeine. But, like I said. I had a lot to do, and I’ve had like NO energy. Still, I did have one briefly exhilarating moment yesterday when my hair stylist commented on the growth and thickness of my hair. She said she could really see a difference in the overall condition of my hair and that my supplements were starting to make a difference. Wow! Score a big win for the collagen drinks!

Delicious and beautifying with a hint of caffeine to boot!

Green Tea + Collagen + Vitamin C – Delicious and beautifying with a hint of caffeine to boot!

Genetically, I have extremely fine hair, which has been made fragile by years of frequent coloring (read bleaching). Then in the last 15 months or so, I’ve been pregnant twice (I had a miscarriage just prior to getting pregnant with our almost 11 month-old daughter), so I shed a ton of hair postpartum, leaving me with even thinner hair. For my stylist to say that my hair stronger and longer, was a big deal! But alas, my exhilaration was short-lived.

I soon found myself dragging again and questioning my commitment to this “whole” Whole30 thing. Then last night, after having (finally) gotten baby girl to sleep, Hubs and I collapsed next to one another on the sofa. We debated whether to eat dinner or just go straight to bed as we were both equal parts tired and hungry. Though we agreed “we should probably eat” in order to avoid waking up hangry in the middle of the night, neither of us moved immediately, so I turned to him and whined, “I’m so uncomfortable. Remind me again why we’re doing this.”

Hubs – in his (frustratingly) infinite wisdom and patience asked, “If you need some motivation, why don’t you go back and look at your #NSV Checklist from last time? Or read over those things you said you want to accomplish this time? It’s only 22 more days. We can do it.”

I hate it that he’s always right! But I followed his advice and took a look at my #NSV Checklist from Round 1 and reviewed my goals for #SeptemberWhole30 as listed in my Kickoff Post. Here’s a list of the goals I said I hoped to achieve and a status report as of day 9:
• More energy to play with our daughter – No increases on this front
• Improved attention span – About the same
• Fewer ADHD symptoms – Same
• Fall asleep more easily – YES, I fall right asleep and I sleep deeply. Waking up on the other hand…not so easy, hence the coffee!
• More energy to exercise – Exercise is a struggle, a big one!
• Be outside more – No change
• Create and try new recipes – I have one new recipe for a delicious Whole30-compliant Sausage + Apple Soup, but I’ve been too tired to post it!
• No more under-eye circles – I haven’t noticed a change
• Brighter eyes – I don’t notice any difference
• Clothes fit better – I still can’t fit into some of my pre-pregnancy jeans BUT today I easily fit into a new pair of pants that I ordered in a smaller size so I’d say that’s progress, right?
• Looking younger – No real change there
• Fewer seasonal allergies – Maybe a slight improvement
• Less fatigue – Yeah you know the answer to that one
• Practice mindful eating – Honestly, I think there’s been some improvement here

So in total, for 7 of 14 (50%) of my goals, I’ve seen no change.
For 5 of my 14 goals (roughly 36%) there’s been at least some improvement or progress toward my stated goal.
And in 2 of my pre-Whole30 goals (about 14%) both of which relate to energy, there’s been movement in the opposite direction.

So it looks like we’re in this for the long run, or at least for the whole 30 days. And, I’ll close this post by quoting a verse I shared a few days ago: “Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride.” ~Ecclesiastes 7:8 (New Living Translation) So I guess that will be the Wisdom for the Day. And I’ll just go reread it a few more times just to remind myself that finishing is indeed better than starting. 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.

Whole30-Compliant Sloppy Joes on Sweet Potato Toasts

Beautiful * Deliciously Sloppy Joes

Beautiful + Deliciously Sloppy Joes

I’m really excited to share today’s recipe with you, for several reasons – primarily because my family loves this meal so much. Since a happy and healthy family is my #1 cooking goal, this one is a big win in my book. It’s also a ‘win’ because Hubs loves (LOVES) sloppy joes, so I made them often especially in the beginning of our marriage. But I never felt good about serving such a highly-processed, sugar-laden food. About a year ago, I began making my own sloppy joe / BBQ sauce using ketchup, maple syrup, some vinegar, spices, etc. I felt a little better about that, but in the back of mind, I knew that commercially available ketchups are loaded with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and added sugars. Because of that, we all but gave up on ever eating sloppy joes again, especially during and after we did the #Whole30 this past April (2016). So, I’m really pleased that this recipe (which includes no ketchup, maple syrup, HFCS or added sugars beyond a few dates and pure apple juice, which are perfectly #Whole30 acceptable when used in moderation) allows us to one again enjoy this favorite and fun meal without regrets.

The magic is in the BBQ sauce. It’s quick and very easy to make. It’s great for basting chicken, beef, pork or any other standard BBQ sauce application you may have. AND it includes a secret (healthy+beautifying) ingredient.

Pumpkin - It's More than a Pie Filling!

Pumpkin – It’s More than a Pie Filling!

For the past few months, I’ve been posting a series of #Whole30-compliant, paleo-correct recipes featuring the ingredients identified by a recent HealthGrove study as the best foods for beautiful skin and hair. And Number 13 on the HealthGrove list is that fall favorite – PUMPKIN.  Thanks to the miracle of modern technology (i.e. canning), pumpkin is now available year-round. It’s a great source of Vitamin A (in the form of beta carotene), potassium and fiber. (For more detail, check out this nutrition summary from HealthGrove.). And, pumpkin is a great way to add sweetness to a recipe without sugar, HFCS or other sweeteners not approved for #Whole30. Pumpkin is also the “secret ingredient” in this recipe, and I can almost guarantee your family will never guess it’s in the sauce. If you’ve missed any of the previous recipes in this series, check out the list and links below. And as always, if you have #Whole30 questions, need advice or support to complete your #Whole30 or just wanna brush up on the rules and recommendations, I encourage you to check out the Whole30 website and specifically the Whole30 101 pages.

INGREDIENTS:
For ground meat –
• 1 lb. lean ground beef, bison or turkey breast (I used 97% lean ground turkey)
• 1+½ tsp. salt
• 1 Tbsp. coconut or avocado oil

Perfectly Paleo and Whole30-compliant BBQ Sauce

Perfectly Paleo and Whole30-compliant BBQ Sauce


For Sweet Smoky BBQ Sauce –
• 6 dates soaked overnight in ½ cup filtered water
• 6 oz. can tomato paste
• ½ cup no-sugar-added applesauce, organic if possible
• ½ cup pure canned pumpkin (NOT canned pumpkin pie mix)
• ½ cup homemade or organic ready-made chicken broth
• ¾ cup 100% pure apple juice
• ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
• 2 tsp. Celtic sea salt
• ½ Tbsp. liquid smoke
• 1 tsp. spicy mustard (NOT Dijon mustard if doing #Whole30)
• ¼ tsp. garlic powder (or 1 whole garlic clove)
• dash ground allspice

For the Sweet Potato Toasts –
• 2 large or 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
• 2 Tbsp. coconut or avocado oil, divided
• ¾ tsp. Celtic sea salt, divided
• Sprinkling garlic powder
• Dash ground allspice

Sweet Potato Toasts

Sweet Potato Toasts

NECESSARY HARDWARE:
• Blender or food processor
• Measuring cups + spoons
• Large frying pan or skillet (preferably nonstick)
• Toaster Oven (helpful but non-essential)
• Small baking pan lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Prepare BBQ sauce place soaked dates AND soaking water into canister of powerful blender or food processor fitted with S blade, along with all other sauce ingredients. Cover blender or food processor and pulse on LOW setting for about 1 minute. Then blend/process sauce on HIGH setting until the sauce is thoroughly blended and very smooth.
2. Taste sauce to test seasonings and adjust if necessary. Transfer sauce to a large jar or pitcher with lid. Cover and place BBQ sauce in refrigerator. BBQ sauce will keep covered in refrigerator for up to 1 week.
3. Brown ground meat in a 1 Tbsp. oil (not necessary if using higher fat meat, such as 85% lean ground beef) in a large (preferably non-stick) pan or skillet over  MEDIUM-HIGH (level 7) heat. Sprinkle the meat with 1.5 tsp. seal salt and stir frequently while browning to break up the meat into smallish pieces or chunks. Drain meat if necessary. When meat has been browned (and drained if necessary), turn off the heat and cover the pan.
4. Take BBQ sauce from refrigerator and pour about ¾ of the sauce over ground turkey. Stir well to combine and recover pan or skillet.
NOTE: Store remaining BBQ sauce in refrigerator. You can serve Sloppy Joes with the extra BBQ sauce or keep it for another use.
5. Turn skillet or stove to MEDIUM and cook mixture covered until sauce begins to simmer. Then reduce heat to LOW. Cook mixture on LOW for about 30 minutes while preparing sweet potato toasts.
6.Prepare Sweet Potato Toasts as follows: Slice peeled sweet potato length-wise into 1/8” slices. Cover a small baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Then pour 1 Tbsp. oil onto pan and sprinkle pan with ¼ tsp. sea salt. Place sweet potato slices in a single layer on pan. Drizzle remaining Tbsp. oil over the sweet potato slices. Then sprinkle slices with remaining 1/2 tsp. salt, garlic powder and dash of ground allspice.
7. If baking sweet potato toasts in full-size oven, preheat to 400°F (204°C) (if you’re using a toaster oven, there’s no need to preheat). Bake sweet potatoes at 400°F (204°C) for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove toasts from oven and flip each toast over. Return toasts to oven for about 5-10 minutes, again at 400°F (204°C). Check on the toasts often because they get really dark quickly.
N.B. – If you need to cook the Sloppy Joe mixture for longer than 30 minutes (i.e. to attend to other tasks), that’s no problem. Just follow steps 2-5 above, then turn stove or skillet setting lowest heat setting. Then a few minutes before serving, add another 1/2 cup pure (no-sugar-added) apple juice and a pinch more sea salt. Stir well and keep mixture on LOW until serving.
~ Makes 4 dinner-sized servings
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Serving Suggestions:
As always, I recommend serving these “sandwiches” along side a nice tossed salad of mixed greens, with a little fresh maybe or nuts tossed in, or crisply fried+crumbled #Whole30-compliant bacon. Some sort of cooked green vegetable side also works nicely (if you’re not as salad-crazy as me). I served these along side steamed green beans almandine (as pictured above) and tossed salads. But other great side options include:  Crispy Fried Sprouts or Crispy Coconut Roasted Green Beans or your own preferred veggie side are all great options. A final note, if you’re not interested in making the sweet potato toasts, you can also serve the mixture on large romaine lettuce leaf “boats” for an open-faced style sandwich. That’s actually my favorite way to eat these.

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The cool crisp lettuce is such a great counterpoint to the sweet, tangy BBQ sauce and warm meat filling.

Wisdom for the Day:
“⌊God has sent me⌋ to provide for all those who grieve in Zion, to give them crowns instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of ⌊tears of⌋ grief, and clothes of praise instead of a spirit of weakness. They will be called Oaks of Righteousness, the Plantings of the LORD, so that he might display his glory.” ~Isaiah 61:3 (God’s Word Translation) Read more here.

Beauty Resource of the Day:
I often share Tati Westbrook’s videos because I think she’s so adorable and relatable. This Strobing Tutorial is one of my current favs. Strobing is prettier, easier and more natural-looking than that harsh contouring trend of a few years ago. Here Tati demystifies the technique (REALLY important for me and my novice-level makeup skills) and steps you through how-to strobe using a balanced mix of both drug-store and high-end products. Enjoy that summer glow!

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

Super Simple & Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes

#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.

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.

 

Beauty Resource of the Day:
Do you love beauty tutorial videos as much as I do? Okay, maybe you don’t love them as much as I do. Maybe you just need some help achieving a polished summer look. Tati Westbrook is here to talk you (and me) through her Summer Glam makeup application. I can’t stand those YouTube makeup gurus who come across as condescending or snobbish, or who leave me feeling even more confused about how to apply my makeup. Tati’s style is so relatable and approachable, and her videos are always fun and informative. She almost always includes a nice balance of drugstore and high-end products, making her the practically perfect beauty guru in my book. Enjoy this tutorial and get glam, Pretty Mommies!

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!!!

IMG_4026
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.

Stupid Easy Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce #WHOLE30 #Vegan #Raw

Stupid Easy Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce

Stupid Easy Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce

Today’s recipe continues our series of recipes based on a the HealthGrove study identifying the top 30 foods for beautiful skin and hair. In case you’ve missed any of the previous recipes from the series, you can find links for each at the bottom of this page, so be sure to check those out. In order to avoid missing any future posts and recipes, be sure to subscribe to Daily Beauty Wisdom. It’s quick and easy, and  you’re guaranteed to never miss a new DBW post. Simply enter your email address in the “subscribe here” box to sign up. A few minutes later, you’ll receive a confirmation email. Click the “confirmation” button in the email, and you’re done. Easy as that.

And now, the news, er I mean, the recipe. Today’s recipe is an easy, quick-to-prepare sauce that can be used to jazz up desserts or meats. It makes a lovely sweet and tangy counterpoint when served as a dipping sauce for well-seasoned grilled poultry or pork. And it’s my preferred accompaniment for my Paleo Brownies available here. This sauce features the fantastic and beautifying ingredient – cranberry juice (food #27 from the HealthGrove list). In case you hadn’t noticed, cranberries are not just for Thanksgiving anymore. Cranberry juice, in particular, is everywhere! And for good reason, not only is is this sweet+tart juice healthy (with impressive levels of Vitamin C and potassium in every cup), it plays really nicely with other fruits. Apparently all the juice makers are onto this fact as well because there’s a seemingly endless variety of cranberry juice combos available on the juice aisles of every grocery and health food store, as noted here by the indescribably fabulous Brian Regan:

IMG_3691

Ingredients:
• 5 dates, soaked at least 4 hours or overnight (see comment below)+++
• 12 oz. (about 2.5 cups) frozen unsweetened pitted cherries, defrosted
• 1 cup pure (unsweetened) cranberry juice
• 1.5 Tbsp. chia seeds
• pinch iodized sea salt
• pinch ground allspice
• pinch pure Stevia extract, optional (do not use if doing #WHOLE30, see comment below)+++
• 1-2 Tbsp. lemon juice (optional)

+++When doing #WHOLE30, it’s very important you get into the habit of checking the ingredient lists of any foods you plan to eat or use when cooking. Many dried fruits (including certain brands of dates) are processed with sulfites which are also not permitted for consumption during #WHOLE30, so be sure to check the dates before you purchase/use them. Stevia and sweeteners of all kinds are also not permitted when doing #WHOLE30. For a complete list of #WHOLE30 program do’s and don’ts as well as answers to just about any #WHOLE30 questions you may have, I highly recommend you check out the program rules here and other resources available at WHOLE30’s website to educate yourself prior to beginning your own #WHOLE30 journey or whenever you have questions or need some support.

Hardware:
• Measuring cups + spoons
• Powerful blender or food processor (I used the Nutribullet Pro 900)
• A large spoon or spoonula
• Mason jar or other preferred storage receptacle with lid
IMG_3692

Process:
1. Drain dates and discard soaking liquid.
2. Place dates and all other ingredients into canister of blender or food processor. Place lid on canister and process on HIGH until sauce is very smooth and no chunks or pieces of ingredients are visible.
3. Remove lid and test for seasonings. Adjust to taste. You may want to add 1 Tbsp. or 2 of lemon juice (as noted below) if serving sauce with a savory dish. If you do adjust the seasonings, replace the lid and blend the sauce again briefly.
4. Then carefully (this will stain) pour sauce into a jar or bottle with a lid and cover. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Recipe Notes:
• This recipe makes about 2.5 cups of sauce.
• Sauce will keep for about 1 week in the refrigerator.
• I recommend adding 1-2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice if you plan on using this as a sauce or dip for savory dishes.
• As mentioned above, this sauce is my preferred accompaniment for my Paleo Brownies seen below:

Stupid Easy Cran-Cherry Sauce #WHOLE30 #Paleo #Vegan #Raw Also pictured: DBW Paleo Brownie #Paleo #Vegan

Stupid Easy Cran-Cherry Sauce #WHOLE30 #Paleo #Vegan #Raw Also pictured: DBW Paleo Brownie #Paleo #Vegan

Wisdom for the Day:
I spend a lot of time and blog space here at DBW discussing things that will be tasty and pleasing to the tongue, but I don’t often acknowledge the power of the tongue. Words are powerful! The following Proverb reminds us that the things we say have the power to bring life or death.
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love to talk will have to eat their own words. ~Proverbs 18:21 (God’s Word Translation) Read more here.

Beauty Resource for the Day:
Ever hear dermatologists and other skin experts say you should reapply sunscreen every few hours, but think “okay but how the heck am I supposed to do that when I’ve already put my makeup on?” Well, Angie from Hot & Flashy has an answer, and a video tutorial, for that very question! Check it out as she enlightens us on the best ways to protect ourselves from the sun while maintaining previously applied cosmetics:

Check Out These Great Recipes from the (HealthGrove) Top 30 Foods for Beauty Series:
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

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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Fix-It-And-Forget-It: Simply Beautiful Southern Greens Crockpot #WHOLE30 Compliant

Super Simple Southern Style Mixed Greens & Sausage in a Crock

Super Simple Southern Style Mixed Greens & Sausage in a Crock

A few weeks ago, I began a series of recipes based on a recent HealthGrove study identifying top 30 foods for beautiful skin and hair. As I’ve mentioned in each recipe I’ve shared in the series, 27 of those 30 foods are #WHOLE30-compliant foods (the 3 exceptions being non-soy legumes, e.g. green peas and pea pods). None of the 30 foods from the list are dairy or grains products. I found the study so inspiring that I challenged myself to create all new #WHOLE30-compliant recipes with each of the 27 foods from the list (again, not counting the 3 legumes); and thus, the birth of this series of recipes. If you’ve missed any of the previous recipes, I’ve included links for each at the bottom of this article.

Coming in at #3 on HealthGrove’s list of best foods for beautiful skin and hair, today’s featured ingredient is – KALE!!! The curly leafy green earns an A+ nutrient rating with incredibly high levels of Vitamins A and C (almost 400% RDA and 55% RDA respectively) with only 40 calories per cooked cup. Kale has become über popular over the last 5-10 years, so I probably don’t need to tell you it’s a healthy food. There’s just a ridiculous number of (often absurdly expensive) kale “health” foods on the market these days. But properly cooked, well-seasoned greens are a southern tradition. I’ve been eating them since I was a little girl. They’re inexpensive and relatively easy to make (relative to say, making your own dehydrated kale chips with raw cashew “cheeze” sauce).

Truthfully, authentic southern style greens are usually made with fresh collards, turnip or mustard greens, not frozen kale and spinach. But frankly, I’m not about to go through the hassle of soaking and stemming fresh greens. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Frozen chopped kale is inexpensive, almost as healthy as the fresh stuff, super convenient and readily available everywhere. As you can see from the pic below, I purchased a couple 1 lb. bags at Wal-Mart (Great Value, Wal-Mart’s store brand), and each bag was less than $1.50 each. Frozen chopped collards (#4 on HealthGrove’s list BTW) are also widely available, and you could use those instead of kale if you wanna be more authentic. But because collards and turnips can be a tad bitter, I wanted to try this recipe with kale first. I DEFINITELY recommend adding spinach to the mix because spinach has the most mellow flavor of all the greens and brings its own healthful punch to the mix (it’s #8 among beautifying foods).

Super greens short cuts - frozen chopped kale and spinach

Super greens short cuts – frozen chopped kale and spinach

I should add that back in the day, my southern Grandmothers would have thrown ham hocks into the crock (instead of the organic chicken & apple sausage that I used), and they would have offset the greens’ bitterness with a quarter cup (maybe more?) of sugar. But ham hocks surely have additives not approved during #WHOLE30 (plus they’re kinda gross IMO). And sugar is most definitely off limits during #WHOLE30. So I used unsweetened (pure) apple juice as the cooking liquid and threw in some applesauce and balsamic vinegar for good measure. As the balsamic cooks down (over that last hour of cook time), it thickens and condenses, becoming sweeter and more intense in flavor. See note below regarding selection of cooking ingredients.+++

Ingredients:
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• 2-16 oz. bags frozen, chopped kale
• 1-10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach
• 1 Tbsp. iodized sea salt
• 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
• 3-4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
• ¼ tsp. white pepper
• 1 cup pure, unsweetened apple juice (see note below)+++
• ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce (organic if possible, see note below)+++
• 1 Tbsp. hot sauce (optional but highly recommended for true southern authenticity)
• 3 Tbsp. balsamic or apple cider vinegar (I used pure balsamic vinegar, see note below)+++
• 12-16 oz. package fully-cooked sausages without sugar or other unapproved additives (I used Aidell’s All Natural Chicken & Apple Sausages)
• 4 pieces fully cooked bacon, crumbled (again, choose a bacon without added sugar, sulfites or other additives not approved for consumption during #WHOLE30. Check out the #WHOLE30 list of officially #WHOLE30-approved brands and products

+++When doing #WHOLE30, it’s so important to check the ingredient lists of any products you plan to consume (actually it’s always important to be aware of what you’re feeding your family, right?). Many processed meat products (e.g. bacon, sausage, etc.) contain sugar, sulfite preservatives, something called carrageenan (thickening and stabilizing agent) and other additives not approved for consumption during WHOLE30 (and which aren’t healthy for us to consume anyway). Some brands of applesauce and apple juice have added sugars (the naturally occurring sugars are fine). And many juices “drinks,” especially those called “lite,” “low calorie” or “low sugar” contain artificial sweeteners to replace the natural sugars removed. Sweeteners of all kinds are off limits during #WHOLE30. Likewise, some balsamic vinegars are nothing more that colored white vinegar with corn syrup added. I know! Frustrating right? But that’s why you gotta be a label reader. For a complete list of #WHOLE30 program do’s and don’ts as well as answers to just about any #WHOLE30 questions you may have, I highly recommend you check out the program rules here and other resources available at WHOLE30’s website to educate yourself prior to beginning your own #WHOLE30 journey or whenever you have questions or need some support (N.B. – the Facebook and Twitter feeds are tremendous sources of encouragement and support). Also, consider reading the book It Starts with Food prior to attempting a #WHOLE30. It’s chalked full of useful info and helpful tips to make surviving the whole 30 days a whole lot more tolerable (pun intended).

Hardware:
• Crock pot                                                                     • Cutting board
• Chef’s knife                                                                 • Kitchen sheers or scissors
• Measuring spoons                                                     • Measuring cups
• Microwave                                                                  • Large microwave-safe bowl(s)
• Crock pot liner (optional but makes cleanup a LOT easier)

Process:
1. Using scissors or kitchen knife, carefully snip small holes in tops of each bag of frozen kale and top of package of frozen spinach.
2. Place one bag of frozen kale into microwave-safe bowl, cut-side up. Microwave on HIGH for 5-6 minutes. Repeat this process for remaining bag of frozen kale and package of frozen spinach.
3. If using crockpot liner, place in pot and turn crockpot on HIGH setting for 4 hours. Add all 3 bags of greens to pot.
4. Add sea salt, EVOO, chopped garlic cloves, white pepper, apple juice, applesauce and (if using) hot sauce. Then add sausages. Stir to combine. Place lid on crockpot and cook on HIGH for 2 hours.
5. Reduce heat to LOW setting. Remove lid. Add vinegar and stir to combine. Then recover crockpot and cook on LOW setting for 1 hour.
6. After 1 hour, decrease heat to WARM. Remove sausages and set aside until cool enough to handle. Then cut into bite-size pieces. Return sausage pieces to greens and stir well. Recover the pot, and allow greens mixture to warm about 15-30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon just prior to serving. P.S. – Don’t toss the cooking liquid (known as “potlick”). My Grandma used to drink it like broth. It’s delicious!
7. NOTE: If you need to cook this recipe for longer (say 8 hours or more) you would follow this procedure: Prepare crockpot as above (with liner if using) and turn to LOW setting for 8 hours. Microwave each bag/package of frozen greens for only 2 minutes on HIGH (greens will still be mostly frozen but will be easier to pour into crock). Place all ingredients except vinegar into pot. Cover and forget it. Then about 1 hour before serving, remove crockpot lid; add vinegar and stir mixture well. Cook for 1 more hour on LOW. Remove sausages and (if desired) cut into bite-sized pieces. Then return sausages to the mix. Stir well. Reduce heat to WARM setting. Recover mixture and allow to rest about 15-30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon just prior to serving if desired.
Servings: Makes about 6 generous servings

Hubs requested his sausages remain whole. He's sooooo picky ;)

Hubs requested his sausages remain whole. He’s sooooo picky 😉

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Serving Suggestions: The primary protein in this dish is sausage (recall bacon is basically just a condiment, not a quality protein source). But sausage (even without unapproved additives) is not what the Hartwigs would call high quality protein (see It Starts with Food Chapter 5, for more detail on what constitutes a healthy and satisfying meal. Hint:an effective meal is based around a high-quality protein + good fat(s) and veggies.) So to boost the protein content of this meal I recommend adding a high-quality lean protein to whatever side dish you serve with this entrée. Example, I added hearty portions of chopped, hard-boiled eggs to the tossed green salads I served. I like mine with extra hot sauce and no bacon.

Don’t Miss the Other Recipes in This Series:
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

Wisdom for the Day:
And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.” ~Genesis 1:29 (English Standard Version)
Read more here.

Beauty Resource of the Day:
Save your money! Why spend the extra $$$ for high-end cosmetics when you can get a cheaper (sometimes better performing) product at the drugstore?
Check out this incredibly in-depth video from the amazing Tati as she compares her fav drugstore dupes to expensive makeup.

P.S. – I don’t usually watch 23 min. YouTube videos either but this one is SO worth it! She literally compares each product side-by-side and tells you the prices of each product and money saved; links to purchase for all products also included. This one is not to be missed!

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Living in the Mommy Moments


There’s a viral video out there about motherhood and how quickly our children grow up, and it’s taken over my Facebook feed in recent weeks. If you’re a mom reading this, I suspect someone has shared Slow Down with you along with the tagline “guaranteed to make you ugly cry.” That rather unappealing promise aside, it’s a beautiful song, and I adore Nichole Nordeman. She’s one of my all-time favorite singers, and the story behind her latest album, The Unmaking, is inspiring. Meanwhile, there’s a super popular post on Scary Mommy right now which is also popping up on my social media feeds with increasing frequency entitled Someday I’ll Wish I Could Go BackSlow Down and the Someday I’ll Wish article have touched the same nerve with mommies of the Internet world – namely that our babies’ childhoods seem to pass too quickly, like a blur; that we want to savor every moment but life and the worries of every day distract us from truly enjoying each precious moment we have with our children. And we know that someday we’ll regret it.

Given its popularity, chances are you’ve watched the Slow Down video several times by now and boohoo cried over it too. But, if you haven’t read the Someday I’ll Wish article, I encourage you to check it out now. It’s a quick but impactful read. I’ve read it like 10 times at this point and still cry every single time I read these lines: “She was longing to nurture. To pick up a crying baby and be everything that he needs. To hold that warm, soft body and feel the weight of his head resting on her chest.” What a powerful image! As I read those words, I can literally feel my daughter nestled against my chest, her warm breath against my neck and my arms wrapped around her back and bottom. That’s a rare occurrence for me now.

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My darling daughter at just one day old!

My only child is just 7 and ½ months old, but I can already attest to that all too rapid flight of time. My daughter’s first months are just a hazy memory now. Seems whenever I hold her these days, she just struggles out of my arms. I end up wrestling with her most of the time as she fights to gain ever-increasing mobility and independence. Perfectly developmentally-appropriate of course, but frustrating for me because now I really want to cuddle her close. I find myself staring longingly at pictures from her very earliest days in the hospital, when she gladly snuggled up to me and fell asleep on my chest. Pictures like this one:

I wasn’t paying attention at the time. I was too busy reeling from my emergency C-Section; too worried about my milk supply and too preoccupied with fears that I’d never lose the 50 pounds I gained during pregnancy, that I’d never feel like myself again. And now I find myself regretting the time I wasted, the moments I missed and wishing I could go back and hold my placid, tiny little newborn again; longing to recapture and savor those precious snuggly moments I failed to cherish at the time. N.B. I long to relive the cuddles and snuggles with my sweet little newborn NOT the sleepless nights, projectile poops and 3 AM battles with nipple shields. And I definitely do not miss the hours and hours I spent fellowshipping with my breast pump. But those are the things – those nagging nuisances, those pressing have-to-do tasks that go along with parenthood – those are the things that capture our attention and cause us to miss out on the sublime everyday moments with our children we might otherwise embrace. So each night when my husband and I sing our daughter to sleep my voice cracks because I know another day of her childhood has passed. I get tearful because I realize again that a little bit more of our time with her has slipped away.

I recognize that in order to truly enjoy the precious (and all-too brief) time I have with her, I need to live in the moment and stop being so distracted by all the other things that worry and distract me from what I truly value. And I am reminded of the following pre-game speech I once heard from former University of Florida (and current Oklahoma City Thunder) men’s basketball coach Billy Donovan.

He gave this speech just prior to the national championship game, which they won (Go Gators BTW). I love what he says! And it must have been effective because not only did this team win the national championship that night, they went on to win a second (e.g. back-to-back) national championship the following year. Coach Donovan challenges the players to anticipate adversity but still remain focused on the goal – to live in the moment. That same message – living in the moment despite the (very real) daily challenges that distract us from the truly important things like cherishing our children and family – is the key. As parents, we will always remember our children’s various stages fondly. But living in the moment, cherishing each moment is key to avoiding the pain of regret that comes from realizing (after the fact) you missed those precious moments because you were too worried about other, less important things. But again, the question is, how can we remind ourselves throughout the day to “live in the moment” when our minds often wander to other things?

First, understand it’s “normal” for your mind to wander. In 2015, Microsoft released a study (1) which stated, among other things that an adult’s attention span is only 8 seconds long. Basically, our minds wander every 8 seconds. Understand that some of us have an even harder time. For example, I have ADHD. And recent studies (2) have found adults with ADHD suffer from “excessive mind wandering,” (file that research finding in the ‘duh’ category). So, obviously my mind wanders more often than every 8 seconds. The point is, for all mothers, it’s hard to remain present with our children, and for some of us (i.e. me and others with ADHD), it’s REALLY hard. I often find myself feeling antsy or bored, reaching for my phone or the TV remote just while feeding my daughter. It’s tempting to multi-task, even when with our children in the name of “productivity.” But that kind of multi-tasking does not produce meaningful results, and it communicates to our children that they are less important than the phone, laptop, tablet etc. Which brings us to the next point: understand the role technology plays in distraction. That same Microsoft Study (1) found that average adult’s attention span decreased by 33% in just 13 years – decreasing from 12 to 8 seconds when measured in 2000 versus 2013, respectively. Those dates of course correspond to the boom in internet, hand-held technology and social media which now inundate us all, constantly. So it’s important to disconnect from the phone, laptop and TV as often as possible (at least a couple of times per day for at least 15-30 minutes at a time) and just be present with our children, spouse and family.

Here are 2 techniques that can help you tune into the present moment. Before trying either technique, disconnect from all electronic devices (obviously, you’ll need to read through how to practice these tricks first). Simply disconnecting from electronic devices will help tremendously with your present moment focus.

Technique #1 Balanced Breathing – think of your inhale (breathing in) as an arrow pointing upward. Now imagine your exhale as an arrow pointing down. Balanced breathing is when the “up” and “down” arrows are of equal sizes. Your inhale matches your exhale. Another way to think of it is to count silently as you breathe in (say inhale for 4 counts). Then count at the same pace as you breathe out, and match your exhale to the inhale (4 counts). When you first begin practicing Balanced Breathing, you may need to start with shorter breaths, only 3 counts in/out so you don’t get too tired or light-headed, especially if you have any breathing conditions (asthma, COPD, etc.) or allergies. You will soon be able to stretch out your breaths. But always make sure your inhales and exhales are equal or “balanced.” Practice Balanced Breathing at least 5 minutes each day. And soon you’ll be able to use this technique to focus yourself whenever you need to pay better attention. It can also help you feel more energized during the afternoon doldrums and can help you calm down after an argument with your spouse.

Technique #2 Grounding – Grounding uses your senses (touch, taste, sight, sound, smell) to help you return your focus to the present moment by directing your attention to your immediate surroundings. The easiest and quickest way to do this is by using your sense of touch but any of your 5 senses will work. The next time your find your mind wandering, reach out and touch your child’s foot or hand or touch the chair or sofa your sitting in. Feel the texture of the table next to you or pet your dog or cat. As your doing this, really pay attention to how it feels in your hand. Try to describe the sensation in your mind. Is it rough, smooth, furry, cold, warm or coarse? Simple touch is very effective for bringing us back into the present moment, but other sensations work too. Try pouring yourself (and your child/children if applicable) something to drink. Then slowly take a few sips, being mindful to notice how it tastes and feels in your mouth and as you swallow. Next, describe it to your child. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. It can be simple, like “oh that is cold on my tongue and throat.” Ask your child to do the same. Try being very still and quiet for a few seconds and notice what you hear. Can you describe it? Maybe you hear the whirring sound of the refrigerator, or your dog snoring (that’s our house). Pausing for a few minutes to tap into one or more senses is a great way to bring yourself into the present moment, and it’s a useful skill to teach your children too. Try it today and practice it with your kids a few times a week. It will become second nature.

There will always be distractions. As Coach Donovan said, “there’s gonna be adversity and challenges.” We know that in advance. But as moms we know that we don’t want to miss these precious moments. I want to embrace these moments now, not later or after the fact.  I want to really live in these “Mommy Moments” each precious day.

Wisdom for the Day:
Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
~Matthew 6:34 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Read more here.

Resources of the Day:
1. Check out this article entitled Rush to Press from the brilliant Functional Dad. Yes, it’s true I’m massively biased. But do remember Functional Dad is PhD with tons experience helping folks perform better and improve their daily lives by applying these very same mindfulness and balanced living skills.
2. This self-help worksheet for anxiety from the wonderful online site Anxiety BC contains more info on relaxation and grounding as well as additional links for skills such as progressive relaxation and tips on healthy living.

The Marvelous Magnificence of MUTU

My Results in Only 12 Weeks with MUTU

I’m a control freak. I admit it. Big changes and major life events tend to make me anxious. I generally try to cope by doing lots of research, making plans and taking steps to feel prepared, safe, like I have a sense of control over what’s happening. So when I got pregnant, I spent a lot of time researching various health issues that may affect pregnant women. Early in my first trimester, I stumbled upon a condition called Diastasis Recti (DR) and was fascinated. It was like I finally had an answer for why so many women in my family had what they affectionately referred to as “mummy tummys” despite being relatively thin after childbirth. My own mother always carried a bubble of bloat just below her waist despite dropping to only 97 pounds after I was born. She always said it was because she never did any ab exercises. I assumed she was correct and swore it would never happen to me.

I became obsessed with avoiding DR. When I read that doing crunches later into pregnancy could cause my abdominal muscles to separate and create the very condition I desperately wanted to avoid, I stopped crunching cold turkey. I insisted on getting out of bed sideways each and every time (even in the middle of the night). I fanatically avoided any movement that would strain my abdominals. I used supportive belly bands while exercising. I counted calories throughout my pregnancy so as not to gain too much weight (because I’d read that contributed to post-pregnancy belly bulge). I drank at least a gallon of pure, filtered water every day and gave up anything that might lead to bloat like dairy or diet sodas. I took tons of supplements. By my third trimester, I had a daily workout routine of at least 300 squats (guaranteed to make labor a breeze according to multiple websites) and walking at least 5 miles. I scoured the internet for “the best” postpartum compression girdle and had that bad boy delivered and packed in my hospital bag weeks before my due date. Yep, I had it all under control…that is until I went into labor.

When the Labor & Delivery began monitoring our daughter, they estimated her size as between 8.5 and 10 pounds. I knew at that point that I was not going to have the easy breezy labor I’d planned for (I’m a small person with narrow hips not designed to push out a large baby). I’ll spare you the details of my labor. In summary I was in labor for about 20 hours after my water broke. I pushed for about 2 hours. And though I dilated fully, my daughter just never “arrived.” Her head was stuck, and I needed an emergency C-Section. There were several moments during that 20 hours where I remember saying to the doctor, “just go get her (e.g. do the C Section now)” because I was concerned about my daughter’s safety and all my planning and vanity ceased to matter. When they wheeled me in for the surgery, I remember thinking, “I’m so glad we are doing this!” Ironically, when the doctor cut me open he also pulled my abdominal muscles apart just like you’d pull open a pair of curtains. He did exactly what I’d tried to avoid all those months, and I ended up with a great big split in my abdominals. And I’m happy he did it because I have a beautiful, healthy baby girl. Of course, I was left with not only bulging abdominals but a big surgical incision so I wasn’t even able to use the expensive compression girdles I’d purchased. Isn’t it funny how we think we are planning our steps, but God determines the ways we truly will go (Proverbs 16:9)?

Anyway, after about 2 months of recovery from major surgery and the even bigger life adjustment of having a newborn, I got the go-ahead from my doc to begin some physical activity. So I began searching for a program to rehab from DR and a C Section, and I found several articles recommending the MUTU system. After more research, I decided MUTU would be the best program for me, and Hubs generously offered to purchase for me as a Christmas gift. I started the program at 3 months postpartum and have posted my BEFORE and AFTER pics below. The results are really incredible. I am sharing my story because DR affects more that 65% of all mamas, and it is incredibly frustrating and may include some very problematic other symptoms. But recovery is possible even if your children are 5, 10 even 15 years old. Also, I think it’s important for us all to remember that as humans we can only control so much in life but there is comfort and peace in knowing the God who is in control of everything and in trusting that He has a good and perfect plan for each one of us (Jeremiah 29:11).

I hope my story and pictures provide you with encouragement. I have also included the direct link to the MUTU online store below a couple more of my before & after pictures so you can directly access this awesome resource, my fellow Pretty Mommies. I pray for peace, health and joy for each of you all!

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Thought for the Day:
Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil. 
~James 4:13-16 (NLT)
Read more here.

Resource of the Day:

Giorgio Blue by Giorgio Beverly Hills – Fragrance Review

The Lovely Aquatic Giorgio Blue

The Lovely Aquatic Giorgio Blue

There’s an unspoken belief, particularly among perfume aficionados (like myself), that a perfume must be expensive in order to be good. I, for one, have always gone by the rule that you get what you pay for. There’s plenty of inexpensive (even cheap) perfumes that start out lovely but soon either disappear completely or dissolve into something so disastrous you can’t wait to take a shower.

Giorgio Blue by Giorgio Beverly Hills is one of those rare jewels that, despite being quite reasonably priced, is well-balanced, pretty, and somehow manages to last all day without overwhelming its wearer or offending those in the vicinity. For this reason, it’s a true beauty bargain. But Blue has other impressive qualities.

Giorgio Blue manages to pull off a feat few perfumes at any price point accomplish these days – it’s not particularly derivative or reminiscent of anything else on the market. It’s an aquatic white floral but doesn’t contain the most commonly used aquatic notes (think watery notes, watermelon, cucumber, etc.). Here the water essences are evoked by means of water hyacinth, juicy guava, musky essence and driftwood.

I’ve seen it compared to Aqua di Gio, but the latter is a very complex almost fussy perfume with a cacophony of notes mixed together (full review here). At such a low price, if you’re a fan of Aqua di Gio or aquatic florals, you may want to try this one for yourself.

Price and Where to Buy: Online is your best bet for purchasing Giorgio Blue. Some retailers like Kohls, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx carry it in stores but selection can be hit or miss, so I recommend the following online options:
Amazon.com – 3 oz. from $22.48
Fragrancenet.com – Usually a very reliable vendor but sold out at time of this writing.
FragranceX.com – 3 oz. from $16.82 plus shipping
Jet.com – $27.96 with free shipping
Walmart.com (sold through an affiliate vendor) – $27.98 for 3 oz. with free shipping

Notes: When first sprayed, you get hit with juicy orange and guava. But those quickly fade (as citruses so often do) and you’re notice something watery grounded by earthy moss and a very pronounced musk. As the fruits continue to dissipate, the white florals – jasmine, water lily, hyacinth and a fairly benign (to my nose at least) tuberose (which can if not tempered can ruthlessly overtake a fragrance); base notes are vanilla, musk, oak moss and driftwood. See below for additional detail on my own experience on the unfolding of the notes over wear-time.

Sillage: Moderate. 2 Sprays will get you a fragrance trajectory of around 2-4 feet depending on your body’s own chemistry, the weather, air pressure and environment, other scented lotions or products you apply, etc.

Longevity and Experience: This wears at least 6-8 hours (at least on my skin which eats fruity florals by breakfast). You’ll catch whiff’s of this all day, especially during moments of increased body heat (i.e. when your coworker does something that causes your temperature to raise). As it dries down, the musk and driftwood notes become more prominent. But you’ll still get occasional wafts of guava blended expertly with enough water lily, jasmine, and tuberose to feel bright and feminine but there also enough musk mixed in to warm things up and make the whole mélange feel a bit sexier, warmer and more summery somehow. It’s not a beachy fragrance per se, more like a romantic walk evening stroll by the lake.
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The Bottle: The bottle is shaded blue cut glass with gold cap. The bottle will may not rival Viktor and Rolf’s BonBon but (IMO) it’s as pretty as any those crazy-expensive Bond No. 9 New York bottles!

More Info:
Giorgio Beverly Hills burst onto the scene in the late 80s and faded almost as quickly. The company had all but disappeared from perfume lexicon as the early 2000s. That obscurity is a good thing for anyone preferring a unique personal fragrance instead of smelling exactly every other woman. Most recently the company was bought by Elizabeth Arden and Giorgio Blue was released in 2016, mercifully without any reformulation of changes to this magnificent and wonderfully hidden gem of fragrance.

  • Fragrantica’s Reviews of the original 2009 Giorgio Blue EDT and the 2016 release (not reformulated) following Elizabeth Arden’s purchase of the Giorgio Beverly Hills brand.
  • Makeup Alley’s Review may seen here.
  • FragranceX Review (NOTE this is a vendor site) may be seen here.
  • com Reviews (NOTE – this is a vendor site. Reviewers are Amazon purchasers) may be read here.

Wisdom for the Day:
“Oil and incense make the heart glad, and the sweetness of friends comes from their advice.” ~Proverbs 27:9 (Common English Bible)
Read more here.

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