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:

LORAC Lovin’

Which Mini Palette Is "Right" for You?

Which Mini Palette Is “Right” for You?

I’ve resisted joining the whole eyeshadow palette craze. Sure I’ve been tempted by the latest, most buzzed about launches (my obsession with YouTube beauty vloggers doesn’t help with the temptation). More than once I’ve found myself drawn like a moth to the flame of the glitzy displays for the newest Urban Decay, Tarte or Anastasia palettes. I can’t seem to resist sticking my fingers into those glistening powders and swatching them on my hand or wrist (side note – that can’t be very hygienic for folks who actually test those display shadows on their eyes. I’m sure I’m not the only one sticking my fingers in those things!).

Anyway, a few years ago I tried dipping my toes into the palette waters when I blind-purchased the first Naked Basics palette, basically an all-matte baby version (containing 6 shades vs. the 12 shadows in Urban Decay’s original Naked). After all the buzz surrounding UD’s Nakeds, I was really eager to try out the formula, but I was – quite frankly – disappointed. Based on Sephora’s reviews this product (which convinced me to buy Basics in the first place), it appears I’m the only person who doesn’t love this little guy. I was super excited when I received my Basics palette, expecting to fall in love. I tried to love it. I honestly did. I applied the shadows over a varied assortment of different shadow primers and with the best brushes I could afford. At one point of desperation, I tried applying the shadows with my fingers, thinking that was perhaps the key to achieving better color payoff and blending. It wasn’t. Regardless of application method and the primer underneath, I still have trouble building up any noticeable color with the Basics shadows. On my skin, the colors are beyond “naked.” They’re more like invisible. So, my Naked Basics experience left me a bit palette-shy and unwilling to drop even more money. Plus, the idea of spending upwards of $50 for eyeshadow just seems ridiculous to me, especially if there’s a chance I won’t like it. All that to say I haven’t purchased any shadow palettes….until recently.

A few days ago, I was minding my own business, leisurely wandering through my local ULTA when I stumbled upon a great big shiny display of LORAC Pro palettes (BTW did you know LORAC = Carol spelled backwards, named for the brand’s founder, Carol Shaw). There they were – 3 different curated sets of mostly neutral shadows all lined up, just begging to be swatched (like in this pretty pic from mary82martin on ULTA’s page for this product:

LORAC Pro Palettes 1-3 As pictured by mary82martin

LORAC Pro Palettes 1-3
As pictured by mary82martin

They’re beautiful aren’t they? The display beckoned to me, and I figured no harm in playing around with the shadows. After all, some earnest ULTA staffer had taken the time to set up this appealing display. The least I could do is check it out, right? Holy mackerel! I was blown away. The color payoff was amazing, especially for the metallic shades. The shimmery shades felt incredibly creamy to the touch and left a nearly opaque swatch with just one swipe. Because we’re currently saving up for Baby Girl’s first birthday party, I fought the urge to grab one of the LORAC palettes and tossing that bad boy into my giant ULTA bag (also TBH I couldn’t decide which iteration of Pro Palette I preferred, so that sort of discouraged me from purchasing one as well).

After several minutes spent playing with the beautiful shadows, I finally tore myself away and continued my stroll through the designer makeup section. Just a few minutes later I (somehow) found myself facing the main LORAC section and discovered this little beauty:

LORAC Pocket Pro

LORAC Pocket Pro

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These shadows are VERY pigmented, so I buffed and blended out the final look to make it more daytime-appropriate.

“It’s so cute,” I exclaimed as I immediately began sticking my fingers into the 3 buttery soft, glistening powders. Just as soft and pigmented as the full-sized palette and only $18! I thought. “I HAVE to get this,” I explained to my husband (who was, to his chagrin accompanying on this ULTA safari). He nodded, recognizing it was futile to argue. I think he was just relieved that I didn’t try to justify spending the $44 for one of the full-sized Pro palettes. The next morning I awoke excited to try out my new shadows. I was then and am still very pleased with my $18 purchase. I definitely got my money’s worth. I easily achieved a nice daytime look with these 3 nicely-sized pans of taupe shades, and I snapped this pic of my eyes a few hours after application.

Each of these 3 shadows in LORAC’s Pro Basics have varying levels of shimmer, but they’re creamy, not glittery or chunky. I was pleased that the shimmer is easily muted and appropriate for daytime wear. And the pigmentation is outstanding! A note about my application “technique” – I freely admit that I’m no makeup artist. I’m still trying to learn the right shadow application technique. Don’t come to me looking for a tutorial on a 5-minute cut crease application. I’ll point you in the direction of some actual makeup artists. God knows there’s a ton of ’em on YouTube these days! I’m just a regular makeup geek searching for the best colors and formulations for my skin tone/type and the most flattering products for my facial features. I imagine I’m not the only woman who loves  makeup despite lacking a professional makeup artist’s skill set. So when I find an easy-to-use makeup product that allows me (and my novice-level skills) to achieve an attractive finished look, I feel it’s my duty to share with others.

So, if you haven’t tried LORAC’s shadow palettes, you’re in the market for an everyday, high-quality shadow palette or are in the market for something new but you can’t afford the standard $45+ per price tag, I encourage you to give these Pocket Pros a whirl. Two color/shade options are available. The one I have is cooler, more taupe-colored with nearly purple undertones. The Pocket Pro 2 is warmer with golden and red undertones. So, there’s a color option for all skin tones. They’re both highly pigments with varying amounts of shimmer. I think you’ll be pleased on the return for your $18 investment.

Beauty Resource of the Day:
Do you love Naked Basics and completely disagree with my review? Hey that’s cool. Lots of people love it, including the adorable and fabulously authentic Serein Wu of Dress Yourself Happy. In the following video she provides individual reviews and recommendations for each of UD’s now 6 Nakeds palettes. If you are or have considered purchasing one of these phenomenally successful palettes but are unsure about which one to get (or which one to buy next – no judgement) please watch this video. Her recommendations are super helpful and could save you some money. She could have saved me some money if I’d watched this before purchasing the Basics palette, I’d have saved my money for a full-sized Naked Smokey palette. Oh well. Live and learn, and buy more makeup!

Wisdom for the Day:
“Without advice plans go wrong, but with many advisers they succeed.” ~Proverbs 15:22 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog and I do not receive monetary compensation for any of my product reviews. All reviews are based on my own opinion, personal use and results.

The Amazing Anti-Aging Power of Collagen Part 2 – Beautifying Beverage Recipes

I recently posted a lengthy article on the evidence supporting supplementation with hydrolyzed collagen + hyaluronic acid (HA) + Vitamin C – a combo of supplements that when taken together have been proven to reduce skin wrinkling, improve skin elasticity and increase skin’s overall hydration (think plumping) levels. You can check out that post here. The basic idea is that several studies have proven that consumption of a hydrolyzed collagen powder in conjunction with daily hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C supplementation can significantly increase your skin’s hydration levels, improve its elasticity and decrease wrinkles. Pretty exciting stuff! Check that post for full research detail and product recommendations.

A Bevy of Beautifying Collagens

A Bevy of Beautifying Collagens + Great Lakes Pure Unflavored Gelatin

There are a number of quality hydrolyzed collagen products available nowadays. The 3 I like best are California Gold Nutrition CollagenUp; NeoCell’s Super Collagen; and Great Lakes Gelatin brand Collagen Hydrolysate Kosher Unflavored Beef powderGreat Lakes Gelatin brand also produces 2 other collagen supplement options – these awesome Collagen Hydrolysate Convenience Packs and these nifty little Collagen Endurance Plus packets. The latter product includes 100% of RDA for all B Vitamins as well as 100mg. of Vitamin C per serving (packet). However,  the Collagen Endurance Plus products do have some added sucrose, so this option would not be appropriate for folks actively doing #WHOLE30.

The following recipes combine hydrolyzed collagen and other superfood ingredients into enjoyable, yummy-tasting beverages. I try to drink 2-3 collagen beverages per day. Experiment with these recipes and let me know (in the comments) if you have other collagen recipes you love!

1. Get Glowing Green Tea
I’ve written previously about green tea and the evidence supporting its status as a superfood. I was recently alerted to this fantastic, and quite compelling article detailing the 15 health benefits of green tea and the science behind them. So if you (like me) enjoy geeking out on the science of nutraceuticals and health foods, be sure to check it out!

This recipe is really tasty and helps ensure I meet my daily green tea quota. The secret is the cranberry juice and added super fruit powder (in this case Navitas Naturals Organic Pomegranate Powder) which provide both a sweet-tart flavor and added Vitamin C which, along with supplemental hyaluronic acid, are key to helping your body assimilate the collagen. Think of them as a power booster for the collagen protein, and they happen to taste great.

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Ingredients:
• 1 sachet plain or fruit-flavored green tea + 8oz. pure filtered or distilled water
• 1 scoop (about 1 Tbsp.) hydrolyzed collagen supplement (see this list for recommended hydrolyzed collagen options)*
• 1-3 tsp. powdered super fruit Vitamin C supplement (I used about 2 tsp. Navitas Naturals Organic Pomegranate Powder) or preferred capsule Vitamin C. (I like Pure Radiance C Veggie Caps .)
• Cinnamon stick for garnish

Hardware:
• Microwave or tea pot
• Measuring cups + spoons
• Mug

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Makes 1 yummy serving.

Process:
1. Brew tea using 6 oz. filtered or distilled water per sachet. Allow tea to steep at least 5 minutes before removing sachet.
2. At this point, I like to reheat the tea for a few seconds on HIGH in my microwave because I dislike lukewarm tea, but that’s totally optional. Remove and discard green tea sachet.
3. Stir 1 scoop (Tbsp.) hydrolyzed collagen into hot tea. Continue stirring gently until collagen is completely dissolved.
4. Add desired amount (I recommend 1/2 cup) of pure unsweetened cranberry juice, powdered fruit supplement and garnish with a cinnamon stick if desired. You can add sweetener to this tea, but I find it doesn’t need it with the fruit juice and pomegranate powder. You could add a pinch of stevia if you want it a bit sweeter. But stevia is not permitted during #whole30.*** (See comment below.)

***Stevia and all other natural or artificial sweeteners (with the exception of pure, no-sugar-added juice) are not permitted during #WHOLE30. For a complete list of #WHOLE30 program do’s and don’ts as well as answers to just about any and all #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 anytime you have questions or need some support (the Facebook and Twitter feeds are tremendous sources of encouragement and support).

2. Prettier Me Mocha
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This recipe is essentially my #WHOLE30 Bullet-Proof Coffee with collagen. It’s also very similar to the original recipe from The Coconut Mama, located here. But lately, I’ve been really enjoying the deliciously creamy and #WHOLE30 approved Nut Pods Original Unsweetened Coffee Creamer. BTW, I’ve also tried their Unsweetened French Vanilla-flavored Coffee Creamer and love it too! Nut Pods are great for those times when I need some coffee but don’t wanna risk waking the baby by running the Nutribullet. I highly recommend Nut Pods!

Ingredients:
• 8 oz. freshly brewed black coffee, preferably organic
• 1-2 scoops (1-2 Tbsp.) powdered hydrolyzed collagen + Hyaluronic acid + Vitamin C (e.g. California Gold Nutrition CollagenUp)
• 1-2 Tbsp. pure (unsweetened) cocoa/cacao powder (I like this one from Nativas Naturals)
• 1 Tbsp. extra virgin coconut oil or 2 Tbsp. Nut Pods Original Unsweetened Dairy-free Coffee Creamer
• dash cinnamon or nutmeg (if desired)
• pinch pure Stevia (optional, don’t use if doing #WHOLE30, see comment above)***

Hardware:
• Blender
• Mug
• Measuring spoons

Process:
1. Brew coffee using 6-8 oz. filtered or distilled water.
2. While coffee is still very hot, carefully pour into blender canister along with all other ingredients and stir briefly until collagen is dissolved. Place canister on blender base and cover with lid.
IMG_2172 3. Blend mixture for a few seconds on HIGH until frothy.
4. Pour into a large mug. Adjust seasoning/sweeteners to taste if desired. But remember, sweeteners of all kinds (including naturally-derived ones like Stevia, maple syrup and honey) are not permitted during #WHOLE30. For a complete list of #WHOLE30 program rules, check out the program rules here and resource links listed in comment above.***
N.B. This recipe can be made without use of blender if using Nut Pods Creamer instead of coconut oil. But even when using Nut Pods creamer, I still like to give my collagen coffee beverages a quick whir in the blender to ensure everything is well-combined and frothy.
Makes 1 Serving.

3. Skin-Loving Bone Broth Beverage

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This warm, savory drink is incredibly soothing and satisfying. It’s a terrific afternoon pick-me-up for tired mommies (like me)! The protein helps tide me over until dinner and the vegetable juice provides some extra Vitamin C + Potassium. You could use store-bought broth, provided it doesn’t contain any sulfites, MSG or other nasty additives. If you’re new to making bone broth, you can read up on the process and find some easy+delicious recipes from Paleo Leap here and The Wellness Mama here.
V8 Bone Broth Beverage Ingredients with CommentIngredients:
• 1 cup homemade bone broth
• 2 scoops (about 2 Tbsp.) hydrolyzed collagen + Hyaluronic acid + Vitamin C (e.g. (e.g. California Gold Nutrition CollagenUp or your preferred hydrolyzed collagen powder + Vitamin C + Hyaluronic Acid supplements) or 2 scoops (2 Tbsp.) of Great Lakes Gelatin brand Collagen Hydrolysate (be sure to take your daily hyaluronic acid supplement and at least 100mg. Vitamin C along with this broth)
• ½ cup unsweetened, low sodium tomato juice cocktail (e.g. V8 Original Low Sodium Vegetable Juice)
• 1 Tbsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice (optional)
• 1 tsp. hydrolyzed gelatin (optional)
• Salt & pepper to taste

Hardware:
• Microwave
• Measuring cups
• Large Mug

Process:
1. Gently heat bone broth in microwave or on stovetop until a little hotter than desired temperature.
2. Remove from heat, and gently stir in 1 scoop hydrolyzed collagen and 1 tsp. gelatin (if using), continuing to stir until collagen + gelatin are completely dissolved.
3. Next carefully pour broth mixture into large mug. Then add the vegetable juice and (if desired) lemon juice.
4. Taste for seasonings, adjusting as needed.
Makes 1 Serving.

4. Make Me Younger Choco-Almond Smoothie

Thick, creamy and full of chocolatey, nutty deliciousness - this shake is my favorite way to enjoy collagen and satisfy my sweet tooth (teeth)

Thick, creamy and full of chocolatey, nutty deliciousness – this smoothie is my favorite way to enjoy collagen and satisfy my sweet tooth (ok my sweet teeth)

This is my current favorite lunch. I can make it quickly and drink it while chasing after my 9-month old daughter who is now constantly in motion. Containing several super star foods from the HealthGrove list of top 30 foods for beautiful skin and hair, this shake is thick, creamy and delicious! The spinach provides a hefty dose of nutrition including Folate, Magnesium, Potassium and Vitamins A, C, E, B2 & K. Read more about spinach here. The almond butter imparts a yummy nutty flavor that goes so well with the cocoa. Almonds also provide more Vitamin E antioxidants, some extra protein and healthy fat (thereby boosting the satiety factor of this shake). Read more about almonds’ nutrient values here.

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Ingredients:
• 3 soaked dates (Soak in filtered water about 1 hour. Be sure the dates you use are free of sulfites if doing #WHOLE30)
• 8 oz. homemade almond or coconut milk
• 2 scoops (about 2 Tbsp.) powdered hydrolyzed collagen + Hyaluronic acid + Vitamin C (e.g. California Gold Nutrition CollagenUp ) or preferred hydrolyzed collagen powder + hyaluronic acid supplements + Vitamin C
• 2 cups loosely packed fresh baby spinach leaves
• 2 Tbsp. pure (unsweetened) cocoa/cacao powder (I like this one from Nativas Naturals )
• pinch salt
• 2 Tbsp. #whole30-compliant or paleo-correct almond butter (i.e. without any added sugars or sweeteners)
• 1 tsp. hydrolyzed gelatin, e.g. Great Lakes Gelatin Unflavored dissolved in 2 Tbsp. warm filtered water (optional but helps make shake thicker and more creamy)
• 1 cup ice cubes (optional, I add ice to thicken the shake and make it more like ice cream)
• pinch pure Stevia extract (optional and can be substituted for soaked dates if you’re watching your carbs but, do not use if actively doing #WHOLE30, see comment above)***

Hardware:
• Blender (I used this NutriBullet Pro 900 model, but a Vitamix or similar strong blender will work well too)
• 2 Freezer-safe mugs or jars with lid
• Measuring cups + spoons

Process:
1. If using gelatin, stir into 2 Tbsp. filtered water and allow to sit for a few (3-4) minutes. Combine milk and collagen in blender canister and whisk briefly with a fork until collagen mostly dissolves (there will still be a few collagen “lumps” but that’s okay).

Spinach is a superfood too, providing Magnesium, Potassium, Folate & Vitamins A, C, E & K

Spinach is a superfood too, providing Magnesium, Potassium, Folate & Vitamins A, C, E & K

2. Put spinach into blender canister then pour in milk+collagen mixture into blender along with all other ingredients.
3. Place canister on blender base. Cover with lid and blend mixture for a few seconds on HIGH until frothy.
4. Pour into 2 freezer-safe mug or jars with lid. Freeze for about 1 hour or enjoy immediately.
Makes 2 Servings or 1 Large Meal-sized Shake
Remember, sweeteners of all kinds (including natural ones like Stevia) are not permitted during #WHOLE30. For a complete list of #WHOLE30 program rules, check out the program rules here and resource links listed in comment above.***
N.B. If you don’t have access to homemade nut milk, you can substitute ½ cup Nut Pods Original (or flavored) Unsweetened Coffee Creamer + ½ cup filtered water. Stir briefly to combine creamer and water. Then add collagen and proceed as above.
Makes 1-2 servings.
BTW: Don’t be dissuaded by the slightly greenish color of this shakes. It’s delicious and Hubs swears “it’s as good any ice cream!” I like to save half this recipe and keep in the freezer until after dinner. It’s the perfect dessert.

Beauty Resource of the Day:
This video from Emily Noel of Beauty Broadcast is fantastic in content and simplicity.
I LOVE tip #3! It’s one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” kind of tips. I’m hoping this tip “changes my makeup world” too! Thanks as always Emily 🙂

Wisdom for the Day:
Loyalty makes a person attractive. It is better to be poor than dishonest. ~Proverbs 19:22 (NLT)
Read more here.

If you’re interested in checking out the scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of hydrolyzed collagen ingestion for wrinkle reduction and increased skin hydration, check out this DBW post detailing research & evidence supporting Hydrolyzed Collagen Combo Supplements for Younger-Looking Skin. And if you wanna delve deeper into the research, check out these scientific articles and helpful collagen info sites:
1. Borumand & Sibilla S. Effects of a nutritional supplement containing collagen peptides on skin elasticity, hydration and wrinkles, 2015. 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.

QUICK & EASY BEAUTIFYING PAPAYA SALAD #WHOLE30 #PALEO #VEGAN

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If you’ve followed this blog for a while or have read any recipes for beautiful skin and hair series, then you already know I’m really into cooking for beauty. Don’t get me wrong. I’m into external beauty products too. I desperately love cosmetics, makeup, hair products and beauty treatments of all kinds. My bathroom is literally overflowing with lotions and potions of all shapes, sizes and price points! But as the saying goes, beauty begins on the inside. And no amount of making up can disguise unhealthy insides. That’s especially true as we age. And I’ve found that after pregnancy, my body is far more likely to display outwardly any signs of dis-ease I may be experiencing inwardly. And since our baby girl has recently become independently mobile (translation lots more work for Mommy and Daddy to keep up with her), it’s definitely in my best interest to eat as healthfully as possible. So, I’ve been writing a series of recipes based on HealthGrove’s recent study identifying the top 30 foods for beautiful skin and hair (If you’ve missed any of the previous recipes from the series, do not despair. I’ve listed each of them below).

Fortunately for folks like me, the Internet offers tons of (mostly consistent) advice for those of us seeking the best foods to eat for health and beauty (including of course that recent HealthGrove study). Today’s recipe includes a veritable stockpile of beautifying ingredients including most notably #5 of HealthGrove’s list – PAPAYA.

Papaya - beautifying papaya!

Papaya – beautifying papaya!

When I discovered this article by the lovely Joy Bauer outlining the most important nutrients for anti-aging, I was inspired to begin using those nutrients in more recipes as well. However, because everyone in our household is sensitive gluten and dairy, I’ll obviously have to take a pass on the recipe she included in the article (no offense, Joy). So I decided to create my own recipe based around papaya and incorporating the other nutrients Ms. Bauer identifies as key for consumption. So here’s a rundown of nutrients this recipe offers:

Vitamin C – provided by the papaya, tomato and broccoli slaw. For more on the beautifying antioxidant benefits of Vitamin C, check out this article and recipe for #whole30 compliant #paleo and #vegan (and super-yummy) Strawberry Vinaigrette.
Vitamin E – in the extra virgin olive, coconut and avocado oils as well as in the walnuts
Beta-carotene (Vitamin A) – from the carrots and the broccoli slaw (as seen on the package)

Broccoli slaw is not only an antioxidant fest. It's also quick and ready in an instant!

Broccoli slaw is not only an antioxidant fest. It’s also quick and ready in an instant!

Selenium – provided by the Brazil nuts in the dressing. Did you know that Brazil nuts are in fact the #1 food source of selenium?
Omega3 fatty acids – from the walnuts and/or salmon if you choose
Lycopene (bonus nutrient) – lycopene has been shown in recent studies to protect skin against sun-related aging and sun damage. This recipe provides lycopene from 2 sources – EVOO and fresh tomato. Plus, this recipe is easily adjusted to suit vegans, vegetarians, paleo-types and folks actively doing #whole30. It’s quick and easy to prepare and (perhaps) most importantly, it tastes really good. Whoop! Whoop!

Ingredients:
For the Salad –
• 1 whole papaya
• 1-12 oz. bag broccoli or cabbage slaw
• 1 bunch fresh cilantro
• 1 whole tomato
• 2 carrots
• 1 medium jalapeno or Serrano chili pepper
• ½ cup chopped raw cashews or walnuts (I used cashews)

Protein Options –
• About 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (bones, skin and excess fat removed)
• 1 large (14.5 oz.) can wild Alaskan pink salmon, drained
• 8 hardboiled eggs, diced
• 8 eggs, scrambled and chilled
• 2 cups cooked then chilled garbonzo beans (if using canned, drain and rinse very well)
• 2 cups cooked then chilled lentils

For the Dressing –
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• 4 dates, soaked at least 4 hours (see comment below)+++
• 2 garlic cloves
• 6 whole Brazil nuts
• 1 tsp. iodized sea salt
• 1 tsp. hot sauce (optional but recommended for best flavor. I like )
• 1 tsp. spicy mustard (NOT Dijon if doing #WHOLE30, see comment below)+++
• ½ tsp. minced lemongrass or 1” knob peeled fresh ginger root, diced
• ¼ cup lime juice
• ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice (I used OJ)
• 4 Tbsp. Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos Sauce, divided
• ¼ cup extra virgin coconut oil
• ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) or extra virgin avocado oil
• 2 Tbsp. dark (toasted) sesame oil

+++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. Also, most Dijon mustards contain white wine which is also not approved for consumption during WHOLE30, which is why you’ll want to use spicy mustard instead. 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:
• One or two cutting boards
• A sharp chef’s knife
• A pair of disposable gloves
• A sharp vegetable peeler
• A large mixing bowl
• Powerful blender (I used the Nutribullet Pro 900)
• Salad spinner (optional)
• A large spoon or spoonula
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1. Prepare dressing as follows: Drain dates and discard soaking liquid. Place dates, 2 Tbsp. Coconut Aminos (reserving 2 Tbsp. for later use) and all other dressing ingredients into canister of blender. Place lid on blender and process on HIGH until dressing is very smooth and no visible chunks or pieces of ingredients are visible. Remove lid and test for seasonings. Adjust to taste. (I found that dressing was appropriately seasoned without adjustments but add salt or additional spices to your preferences.) Then pour dressing into a jar or bottle. Cover with lid and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Note, this recipe makes about 2 cups (scant) of dressing and may be made up to 3 days in advance. It will keep for about 1 week in the refrigerator.
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2. Wash and dry all vegetables, including cilantro. If you have a salad spinner, place washed cilantro in spinner and spin until dry. If you don’t have (or don’t wanna use) a salad spinner, simply placed washed cilantro on a clean kitchen towel and pat dry.
3. Using vegetable peeler, peel carrots and papaya.
N.B. Trust me on this one! I tried cutting half the papaya without peeling it first (I figured I’d cut it like an avocado, scoring it and removing the peel afterwards). No dice! It was a disaster trying to get the peel off, and I nearly removed my fingertips along with the peel! With the 2nd half I got smart and peeled it first. What a difference. I finished chopping it in half the time and with no near-death experiences.
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4. Finely chop the washed and dried cilantro. Then transfer it to mixing bowl. Next chop the papaya and all the vegetables (except pepper) into roughly equal bite-sized chunks and place into mixing bowl.
5. Put on gloves. Cut pepper in half and remove all seeds, stem and membranes. IMG_3447
Then chop pepper into very small pieces. Place in mixing bowl with other ingredients. Carefully remove gloves and immediately wash your hands. Try not to touch your face or anyone else before taking off, disposing of gloves and washing your hands. Also I used a separate cutting board just for the pepper and washed the cutting board and knife before removing the gloves.
6. Open bag of broccoli slaw and dump into mixing bowl along with other ingredients excepts nuts, dressing and remaining 2 Tbsp. Coconut Aminos. Then add dressing and stir well to combine. If everyone in your household wants the same protein option, then feel free to stir it in at this point. Otherwise, wait and serve several protein options along side Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
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7. Just before serving, stir in remaining 2 Tbsp. Coconut Aminos and nuts.
8. Serve with multiple protein options (unless you already stirred proteins into salad). Example in our house both my mother and my Hubs selected shredded leftover rotisserie chicken. But I selected salmon as my protein of choice for some extra Omega-3 fatty acids. Additional garnishes include chopped avocado or Wholly Guacamole, bean sprouts and sunflower sprouts. Enjoy!

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QUICK & EASY BEAUTIFYING PAPAYA SALAD #WHOLE30 #PALEO #VEGAN

Wisdom for the Day:
Today I read the following quote:
“Biblical orthodoxy (hypocritical religiosity) without compassion is surely the ugliest thing in the world.” ~Francis Schaeffer And I was struck by the brilliance and simplicity of that statement. Surely a compassionate heart is an essential component of beauty. What if we made the choice to put on love and compassion the same way we put on makeup? The Bible says that we can in this passage from ~Colossians 3:12-13 (ESV)
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Read more here. I encourage you to spend a few moments each morning imagining yourself putting on love and compassion, like you’re applying makeup or sunscreen. Surely we need to apply God’s love and compassion daily as the most important and effective beauty treatment!

Beauty Resources for the Day:
Want more info on what to eat for anti-aging benefits? Check out this slideshow from the folks at Total Beauty (Hint: if you consume this dressing on a regular you can cross slide #7 off your to-eat list).

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

French Provincial Furniture Rehab – Chest of Drawers Makeover

A few years ago when Hubs and I purchased our home, we found ourselves with 3,000+ sq. feet of area in need of decor and very few suitable pieces of furniture. Because we’d decided to spend most of our remaining cash (after all the initial mortgage monies were paid) on professional interior painting and in converting several rooms’ flooring from carpet to hardwood, we had very little left to spend on furniture. So, pretty quickly we decided our best bet was to purchase quality used furniture and refinish as necessary.

The first piece we rehabbed was this flat front, chest-on-chest piece circa 1950.
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We chose this chest because it’s well-made, solid wood and was in good condition. Plus, it actually came with this matching vanity and stool which we also refinished (I’ll described in separate posts).
IMG_3289We snagged these beauties for $350 total. My thinking was, because it’s flat front, the chest would be the easiest to tackle as my first refinishing project. What follows is a step-by-step description of what we did and what I learned during the process.

Step #1: Removing those hideous drawer pulls. Okay, so they’re not actually hideous. Maybe you like them, but they’re not my style and did not fit with my vision for the finished piece. Plus, removing the pulls made Step #2 a whole lot easier.

Step #2: Sanding. This took quite a while. We used 2 different electric sanders and ended up doing most of the work by hand. This is where I learned my first furniture refinishing tip. Stock up on woodworking masks because you never know what materials (and potentially even hazardous chemicals) may be flying around when you refinish a vintage piece. I nearly choked a few times, and I’m still not sure what types of fumes we inhaled as we sanded off countless layers of paint, varnish and sealants. Why take that chance? Now I wear a mask anytime we tackle this type of project. I’d add that I tried to save some cash by initially purchasing a cheap-o mask akin to those flimsy plastic Halloween masks kids wear. It left marks on my face. It was difficult to breathe through, and then the flimsy rubber band on the mask broke. Ugh the frustration! So, I recommend you purchase a sturdier, more comfortable (and yes, more expensive) mask like this one.

Step #2b: Ordering New Pulls and Appliqués. As I said, sanding took a while, so I took advantage of that delay by shopping. I spent hours browsing various internet sites, searching for exact right the pulls. The interesting thing about this chest is that the pulls on the top 3 drawers are smaller than those on the bottom two, despite having the same widths (both large and small pulls measure 2.5″ at the centers). So I really had to hunt to find pulls I liked that were available in both large and small sizes. Ultimately, we had great success with these purchased from the unfortunately-named MyKnobs.com. I was so pleased with the experience that we ultimately decided to order all new knobs for our bathroom cabinets from MyKnobs.com. I also wanted to jazz up the flat drawers by adding floral appliqués and found a great selection of floral appliqués at reasonable prices from Do It Yourself Chic retailer at ebay.com.

Step #3: Cleaning Up. Once you’ve finished sanding, it’s important to remove all the dust, as residual dust will keep the paint and primer from sticking. On the advice of various internet furniture painting gurus, we used baby wipes to clean the piece and remove excess sand, dust and debris prior to priming.  

Step #4: Applying Appliqués & Priming.  This step took longer than necessary. But, I learned the importance of applying appliqués BEFORE priming for best results. That’s my 2nd tip – furniture glue works best when applied directly to bare wood. If you going to add any decorative accents to the furniture you’re refinishing, do so before priming. This may seem self-evident to some, but I had to learn the hard way. I tried to apply appliqués to sanded and primed wood and it was a massive fail! The glue wouldn’t adhere and the appliqués kept sliding off. Ugh! Fortunately, it was a relatively easy fix. We just had to re-sand (to remove primer) the areas where we planned to place the appliqués. Vise grips also helped ensure the appliqués stayed in place while the glue dried. Bonus tip – We found that Gorilla Glue tends to be more effective than furniture glue for appliqué application. We used Rustoleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover Primer, available from Home Depot and other retailers.

Step #5: Painting. I started painting by hand using a quart of warm white Valspar paint and a regular bristled brush. But after 3 coats, the coverage was streaky, and I disliked the brush strokes left behind. I experimented with using foam brushes and found that the coverage was smoother but drippy. Even though I sanded the piece by hand after each coat of paint, I still disliked the finish. After researching the best furniture painting guides online, I decided to switch to a different paint altogether – Rustoleum PAINTER’S TOUCH® Ultra Cover 2x Satin Spray in Heirloom White. What a difference! This is now my all-time favorite paint. The coverage is beautiful. The spray nozzle works wonderfully and is so user-friendly in design. Unlike other sprays we’d tried (for smaller projects), this one never clogged or dripped. And the coverage is thin, smooth and even. No more drips or streaks! Tip 3 – If you’re new to refinishing or just don’t have time to bother with (seemingly) endless cycles of paint and sanding, get some PAINTER’S TOUCH® Ultra Cover 2x Spray. Other finishes are available but I love the satin.

Step #6: Gilding the Lilly. I love the look of golden patina over antique white painted furniture. I easily located a suitable (and inexpensive) stencil at the craft store and expected to make quick work of the stenciling using some gold craft paint. But alas, that attempt failed miserably. Next we tried several other gold paint options, everything from craft paint to specialty golden furniture paints. None seemed to stick to the paint or they were barely visible. Some even peeled right off. So we eventually sought advice from online resources and local paint stores, and ultimately purchased 1 quart of this pricey specialty gold paint, Benjamin Moore Studio Finishes Latex Metallic (at a cost of $50 for 1 QT) from the nearest Benjamin Moore retailer.
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Fortunately, this product works really well with the stencils. And it was easy to apply using a rolling foam paint brush like this one. After only one coat of this stuff, we had a gorgeous golden stencil on each of the drawers.

 

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After only one coat of this stuff, we had a gorgeous golden stencil on each of the drawers.

 

 

 

For the finishing touch, I used some more of the latex gold paint to highlight the appliqués, as seen here. IMG_3379

 

Step #7: Sealing. After my experience struggling with brush-on paint (and after realizing the comparative ease of spray paint), I decided to use a spray-on paint sealer. And I figured, why change to something else when we’ve had such success with Rustoleum’s Painter’s Touch products. We used this seal and protect spray and it worked beautifully. I think the finished piece required 2 cans, but it was well worth it given the time and hassle spared. And as you can see from the last picture below, this sealant has protected and preserved all our hard work despite heavy daily use.

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The finished product, immediately after completion

The finished project after nearly 5 years. Still in pretty great shape. All those steps paid off in producing a lovely and resilient piece we use daily.

The finished project after nearly 5 years. Still in pretty great shape. All those steps paid off in producing a lovely and resilient piece we use daily.

Wisdom for the Day:
Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold.
~Psalm 119:127 (English Standard Version) Read more here.

Beauty Resource of the Day:
Wanna read more before tackling your next furniture rehab project? Check out this informative article from Frugal Girl featuring step-by-step guide and product recommendations (and lots of pictures!).

Some Recent (Rare) Product Empties & Why I Love Them

I’ve mentioned previously that I have ADHD, and I often attribute my tendency to lose interest in cosmetics to my general attention deficits. But the truth is, like most women in this culture, exposed to near constant beauty ads and media images, I’m just constantly on the look-out for the next best thing, for that magic bullet that will make my skin perfect and that will finally disguise all my perceived imperfections. I’m a marketer’s dream because I bite on all the product hook lines and chase after every sales pitch. As a result, I generally never get around to finishing the cosmetic products I purchase. Product empties are a rarity for me. So, when I found myself preparing to dispose of 5 empty bottles and 1 completely spent sponge, I felt a post was in order to describe these fantastic products and what makes them special to me.
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1. Paula’s Choice RESIST Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum: Retails for $36 for 1 oz. from Paula’s Choice.com or Dermstore (plus 10% savings if this item is listed among your Dermstore “favorites” list). I adore this serum. It’s possibly my favorite antioxidant serum of all time! Plus it doesn’t contain any retinoids so I used it throughout my pregnancy and while breastfeeding, so I’m (admittedly) somewhat sentimental about this product. But even without sentimentality, this is an elegantly formulated serum that’s well-suited to all skin types and covers all your antioxidant needs. Among other ingredients it contains peptides, ceramides, and Ubiquinone (nearly identical to the star ingredient in the über expensive Prevage MD product line which features idebenone, a synthetic form of ubiquinone), along with nourishing soybean and palm oils, turmeric, bearberry and mushroom extracts. But what really excites me is the combination of multiple forms of stabilized Vitamins C and E in combination with ferulic acid. That’s nearly identical to the ingredients of the ridiculously expensive Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Serum ($163/oz.) from Dermstore and when purchased at physicians’ offices. But the Paula’s Choice serum is more user-friendly because it’s in an air-tight tube (not dropper-style). And of course, the Paula’s Choice serum is less than 1/4 the price. That adds up to a pretty wise beauty buy in my book!

2. Kenra Professional Clarifying Shampoo Chelating Formula: I am so in love with this shampoo, and it’s so under-rated. I’m like on a crusade to get this product its due respect! It retails for $13 for 10.1 oz. from ULTA or $32 for 33.8 oz. from Amazon. You can also purchase it in some salons (including occasionally at the “salons” inside select Wal-Mart superstores) at varying prices and sizes. I love this shampoo because it is hands-down the best clarifying product I’ve ever found. It removes styling product build-up better than anything I’ve ever tried and does so quickly, requiring only wash and very little scrubbing. Okay, so it’s not a gentle sulfate-free co-washing type product (it’s called chelating for a reason). And I have color-treated, very fine, fragile hair, so I only use it about once a month. But it’s so effective that’s really all I need to use it. Afterwards, my hair is shinier and has more volume, because it’s not weighed down by all that excess build-up. Bonus, this shampoo is hands-down the best makeup brush and sponge cleaner I’ve ever found! The larger size/price comes in at just under a $1/ounce – an absolute steal when you consider that the “value sized” 10 oz. BEAUTYBLENDER liquid blender cleanser® retails for $30 ($3/oz.). This product is the ultimate multi-tasker and a beauty bargain to boot. I simply cannot recommend this shampoo highly enough.

3. Timeless Skincare The Original Hyaluronic Acid 100% Pure: Retails for $13.16 for 2 oz. from Amazon.com Hyaluronic Acid is a big buzz ingredient these days in skincare. But it’s been around for a while (it’s most commonly used as an injectable filler). It doesn’t have the same (longer lasting) effects when applied topically, but has a nice skin-plumping effect and is a great addition to your existing anti-aging skincare routine. Turns out it’s pretty difficult to get HA in a stabilized form for topical application, so it’s usually pretty expensive. For example, I’ve also ordered and enjoy using Paula’s Choice brand Hyaluronic Acid Booster (seen here) which retails for $45 for 0.67 oz. Now admittedly, the PC’s HA product has a few more bells and whistles (several ceramides, adenosine and panthenol). But since I’m already using some pretty outstanding serums and lotions, I don’t mind saving a little money when it comes to my HA booster. And this one is a steal at only $6.58/ounce! It mixes in with nearly other treatment, lotion and potion I use and is especially great patted on top of foundations or powders, making the cakiest of applications look smooth and lovely. It’s a wonderful perk-me-up that never disrupts the pre-existing application. I like to pat it onto my eye area when I’m looking more wrinkly or tired than usual, which seems to be more often these days (i.e. since becoming a mom) and probably accounts for the recently emptied bottle.

4. Obagi Nu-derm Exfoderm Blender: Price varies, available only from physicians’ offices. In general, retails for around $100 for 2 oz. Read more about this product at Obagi.com.  I was first introduced to Exfoderm Blender by the same Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner who, not coincidentally, also introduced me to one of my favorite products ever, Revision Intellishade, about which I’ve already written at length here, so I’ll spare you further rhapsodizing about it here. Suffice it to say, I trust this brilliant woman’s opinion. She never steered me wrong and the Exfoderm Blender is yet another example. Blender contains 4% Hydroquinone, probably the most-researched, most scientifically-supported skin-lightening ingredient. It’s important to understand how hydroquinone works because some people mistakenly think that it “bleaches” the skin which is untrue. Hydroquinone actually works by preventing melanin (skin pigment) production. It’s effective when used as part of a comprehensive skincare regimen that absolutely must include broad-spectrum sunscreen. For more on broad-spectrum SPF, check out this article. And if you’re interested in reading more about hydroquinone, are considering using yourself and just fancy a bit of fascinating cosmetic chemistry reading, check out this summary from Beautypedia. But back to why I love this product: I’m ashamed to admit I was very unwise about sun protection when I was younger. I even frequented tanning salons in my teens and 20s. Horrifying, I know! I had a couple sun spots on my cheeks in my early 30s, and this stuff knocked ’em out in less than 6 weeks. With consistent sunscreen application, those pesky sun/age spots on my cheeks have never returned (thank goodness). But unlike PC’s RESIST Super serum, I wasn’t able to use this product during my pregnancy or while breastfeeding. And despite my best efforts and lots of sunscreen, like many women, I developed some sun sports and hyper pigmentation (this time on my neck and chest) during my pregnancy. So I was super excited to resume using Exfoderm Blender as soon as my daughter was weened. Now that I’ve finished this bottle, I hope to purchase another one as soon as our budget allows for it. It ain’t cheap, but it’s really effective!

5. M2 Skincare High Potency Skin Refinish Retails $49.98 for 1.7 oz. at Dermstore. I was first introduced to this product a few years back when I received a deluxe sample along with an order I purchased from Dermstore. After testing that sample just once, I immediately ordered the full-sized product. Since then (about 4 years ago now), I’ve yet to experience any other exfoliant that even comes close to performing as well. Skin Refinish is great because it combines mandelic and malic acid exfoliants, which are gentler forms of glycolic acids at a pH that actually works. Along with the acids, M2 includes the ever-popular antioxidant ubiquinone (noticing a trend here?), some other antioxidants (like algae extract), hyaluronic acid and some aloe leaf extract for soothing. The packaging M2 selected is especially thoughtful. Hubs calls it “space-aged.” The bottle is frosted to avoid any light or sun damage to the ingredients (antioxidants readily breakdown and are rendered useless in the presence of light and air. N.B. that’s why expensive jars of cream claiming to provide tons of antioxidant ingredients are such a ripoff – because the prized ingredients will be rendered ineffective in a matter of days after opening). You have to twist the nozzle on the  Skin Refinish bottle before the pump appears allowing you to dispense the product. Then you twist the top again, and the pump dispenser disappears back into the bottle. Pretty cool! And most importantly, it preserves the integrity of the precious ingredients inside. I use this product once per week, every Saturday night, and I immediately notice a difference in my skin. Then the next morning I wake up with brighter, tighter, glowing, more youthful skin. I love it! The most impactful exfoliant ever! Far superior to any grainy scrub. I already have my next bottle ready and waiting, so tossing this one was not too painful.

6. Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge: Retails for $6.99/each at ULTA or $10.99 for 2 sponges (also at ULTA). Incidentally, ULTA usually offers a buy one, get one 50% deal on these little guys. So, doing the math, that would be 4 sponges for $16.49 (plus tax obviously), or a little over $4.12/sponge. Not bad when compared to that famous pink sponge that costs $20 per! I know, I know. The two are not perfectly comparable. And this may be sacrilegious to some, but for day-to-day makeup application, I actually prefer the RT version! Feel free to hit me with angry comments. I promise to respond to each one 🙂 But I dislike the idea of using a $20 for everyday applications. Sure I like the almighty BeautyBlender too. They’re great.  But I tend to save my super-snazzy, jewel-like pink egg sponges for those occasions when I’m getting all dolled up for something special. For one thing, most of the time, I’m not applying a full face of foundation. Most days I’m sticking to simple Tinted Moisturizer and for that, I prefer the flat side of the RT sponge to smaller rounded BB. For another thing, I like the softer texture of the RT for day-to-day application. The RT tends to lay down lighter coverage, which again, is more appropriate for daytime, informal usage. And finally, I use RT sponges most of the time because I’m really rough on my sponges. I routinely use the same sponge for tinted moisturizer or BB cream; to dab on a little cream foundation over said BB cream (just where I need a little more coverage, you understand); to dip into cream concealer or to dot on some color corrector; to smudge out bronzer or blush; and to smooth out my high SPF powder foundation. I even use the pointy tip to go over the (often) messy areas of my eyeshadow. At the end of the day, there’s a whole lot of color product built up on my sponges. I try to be consistent about cleaning my sponges, but I do have a baby and a husband after all. So if I have dispose of my sponges more frequently that say, every 3 months, I’d prefer not to suffer massive pangs of financial remorse every time I toss one. I feel better by saving a little cash and using the RTs most of the time, especially since the performance is really good!

Beauty Resource Video of the Day:
Check out this informative video from Makeup Geek as she shares the top reasons why we (all at one time or another) have experienced this unpleasant phenomenon, and more importantly how to avoid it!

Wisdom for the Day:
Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.
~Proverbs 22:29 (English Standard Version)
Read more here.

Be sure to subscribe to Daily Beauty Wisdom to automatically receive new posts sent directly to your inbox of choice!

Some Recent (Rare) Product Empties & Why I Love Them

I’ve mentioned previously that I have ADHD, and I often attribute my tendency to lose interest in cosmetics to my general attention deficits. But the truth is, like most women in this culture, exposed to near constant beauty ads and media images, I’m just constantly on the look-out for the next best thing, for that magic bullet that will make my skin perfect and that will finally disguise all my perceived imperfections. I’m a marketer’s dream because I bite on all the product hook lines and chase after every sales pitch. As a result, I generally never get around to finishing the cosmetic products I purchase. Product empties are a rarity for me. So, when I found myself preparing to dispose of 5 empty bottles and 1 completely spent sponge, I felt a post was in order to describe these fantastic products and what makes them special to me.
IMG_3201

1. Paula’s Choice RESIST Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum: Retails for $36 for 1 oz. from Paula’s Choice.com or Dermstore (plus 10% savings if this item is listed among your Dermstore “favorites” list). I adore this serum. It’s possibly my favorite antioxidant serum of all time! Plus it doesn’t contain any retinoids so I used it throughout my pregnancy and while breastfeeding, so I’m (admittedly) somewhat sentimental about this product. But even without sentimentality, this is an elegantly formulated serum that’s well-suited to all skin types and covers all your antioxidant needs. Among other ingredients it contains peptides, ceramides, and Ubiquinone (nearly identical to the star ingredient in the über expensive Prevage MD product line which features idebenone, a synthetic form of ubiquinone), along with nourishing soybean and palm oils, turmeric, bearberry and mushroom extracts. But what really excites me is the combination of multiple forms of stabilized Vitamins C and E in combination with ferulic acid. That’s nearly identical to the ingredients of the ridiculously expensive Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Serum ($163/oz.) from Dermstore and when purchased at physicians’ offices. But the Paula’s Choice serum is more user-friendly because it’s in an air-tight tube (not dropper-style). And of course, the Paula’s Choice serum is less than 1/4 the price. That adds up to a pretty wise beauty buy in my book!

2. Kenra Professional Clarifying Shampoo Chelating Formula: I am so in love with this shampoo, and it’s so under-rated. I’m like on a crusade to get this product its due respect! It retails for $13 for 10.1 oz. from ULTA or $32 for 33.8 oz. from Amazon. You can also purchase it in some salons (including occasionally at the “salons” inside select Wal-Mart superstores) at varying prices and sizes. I love this shampoo because it is hands-down the best clarifying product I’ve ever found. It removes styling product build-up better than anything I’ve ever tried and does so quickly, requiring only wash and very little scrubbing. Okay, so it’s not a gentle sulfate-free co-washing type product (it’s called chelating for a reason). And I have color-treated, very fine, fragile hair, so I only use it about once a month. But it’s so effective that’s really all I need to use it. Afterwards, my hair is shinier and has more volume, because it’s not weighed down by all that excess build-up. Bonus, this shampoo is hands-down the best makeup brush and sponge cleaner I’ve ever found! The larger size/price comes in at just under a $1/ounce – an absolute steal when you consider that the “value sized” 10 oz. BEAUTYBLENDER liquid blender cleanser® retails for $30 ($3/oz.). This product is the ultimate multi-tasker and a beauty bargain to boot. I simply cannot recommend this shampoo highly enough.

3. Timeless Skincare The Original Hyaluronic Acid 100% Pure: Retails for $13.16 for 2 oz. from Amazon.com Hyaluronic Acid is a big buzz ingredient these days in skincare. But it’s been around for a while (it’s most commonly used as an injectable filler). It doesn’t have the same (longer lasting) effects when applied topically, but has a nice skin-plumping effect and is a great addition to your existing anti-aging skincare routine. Turns out it’s pretty difficult to get HA in a stabilized form for topical application, so it’s usually pretty expensive. For example, I’ve also ordered and enjoy using Paula’s Choice brand Hyaluronic Acid Booster (seen here) which retails for $45 for 0.67 oz. Now admittedly, the PC’s HA product has a few more bells and whistles (several ceramides, adenosine and panthenol). But since I’m already using some pretty outstanding serums and lotions, I don’t mind saving a little money when it comes to my HA booster. And this one is a steal at only $6.58/ounce! It mixes in with nearly other treatment, lotion and potion I use and is especially great patted on top of foundations or powders, making the cakiest of applications look smooth and lovely. It’s a wonderful perk-me-up that never disrupts the pre-existing application. I like to pat it onto my eye area when I’m looking more wrinkly or tired than usual, which seems to be more often these days (i.e. since becoming a mom) and probably accounts for the recently emptied bottle.

4. Obagi Nu-derm Exfoderm Blender: Price varies, available only from physicians’ offices. In general, retails for around $100 for 2 oz. Read more about this product at Obagi.com.  I was first introduced to Exfoderm Blender by the same Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner who, not coincidentally, also introduced me to one of my favorite products ever, Revision Intellishade, about which I’ve already written at length here, so I’ll spare you further rhapsodizing about it here. Suffice it to say, I trust this brilliant woman’s opinion. She never steered me wrong and the Exfoderm Blender is yet another example. Blender contains 4% Hydroquinone, probably the most-researched, most scientifically-supported skin-lightening ingredient. It’s important to understand how hydroquinone works because some people mistakenly think that it “bleaches” the skin which is untrue. Hydroquinone actually works by preventing melanin (skin pigment) production. It’s effective when used as part of a comprehensive skincare regimen that absolutely must include broad-spectrum sunscreen. For more on broad-spectrum SPF, check out this article. And if you’re interested in reading more about hydroquinone, are considering using yourself and just fancy a bit of fascinating cosmetic chemistry reading, check out this summary from Beautypedia. But back to why I love this product: I’m ashamed to admit I was very unwise about sun protection when I was younger. I even frequented tanning salons in my teens and 20s. Horrifying, I know! I had a couple sun spots on my cheeks in my early 30s, and this stuff knocked ’em out in less than 6 weeks. With consistent sunscreen application, those pesky sun/age spots on my cheeks have never returned (thank goodness). But unlike PC’s RESIST Super serum, I wasn’t able to use this product during my pregnancy or while breastfeeding. And despite my best efforts and lots of sunscreen, like many women, I developed some sun sports and hyper pigmentation (this time on my neck and chest) during my pregnancy. So I was super excited to resume using Exfoderm Blender as soon as my daughter was weened. Now that I’ve finished this bottle, I hope to purchase another one as soon as our budget allows for it. It ain’t cheap, but it’s really effective!

5. M2 Skincare High Potency Skin Refinish Retails $49.98 for 1.7 oz. at Dermstore. I was first introduced to this product a few years back when I received a deluxe sample along with an order I purchased from Dermstore. After testing that sample just once, I immediately ordered the full-sized product. Since then (about 4 years ago now), I’ve yet to experience any other exfoliant that even comes close to performing as well. Skin Refinish is great because it combines mandelic and malic acid exfoliants, which are gentler forms of glycolic acids at a pH that actually works. Along with the acids, M2 includes the ever-popular antioxidant ubiquinone (noticing a trend here?), some other antioxidants (like algae extract), hyaluronic acid and some aloe leaf extract for soothing. The packaging M2 selected is especially thoughtful. Hubs calls it “space-aged.” The bottle is frosted to avoid any light or sun damage to the ingredients (antioxidants readily breakdown and are rendered useless in the presence of light and air. N.B. that’s why expensive jars of cream claiming to provide tons of antioxidant ingredients are such a ripoff – because the prized ingredients will be rendered ineffective in a matter of days after opening). You have to twist the nozzle on the  Skin Refinish bottle before the pump appears allowing you to dispense the product. Then you twist the top again, and the pump dispenser disappears back into the bottle. Pretty cool! And most importantly, it preserves the integrity of the precious ingredients inside. I use this product once per week, every Saturday night, and I immediately notice a difference in my skin. Then the next morning I wake up with brighter, tighter, glowing, more youthful skin. I love it! The most impactful exfoliant ever! Far superior to any grainy scrub. I already have my next bottle ready and waiting, so tossing this one was not too painful.

6. Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge: Retails for $6.99/each at ULTA or $10.99 for 2 sponges (also at ULTA). Incidentally, ULTA usually offers a buy one, get one 50% deal on these little guys. So, doing the math, that would be 4 sponges for $16.49 (plus tax obviously), or a little over $4.12/sponge. Not bad when compared to that famous pink sponge that costs $20 per! I know, I know. The two are not perfectly comparable. And this may be sacrilegious to some, but for day-to-day makeup application, I actually prefer the RT version! Feel free to hit me with angry comments. I promise to respond to each one 🙂 But I dislike the idea of using a $20 for everyday applications. Sure I like the almighty BeautyBlender too. They’re great.  But I tend to save my super-snazzy, jewel-like pink egg sponges for those occasions when I’m getting all dolled up for something special. For one thing, most of the time, I’m not applying a full face of foundation. Most days I’m sticking to simple Tinted Moisturizer and for that, I prefer the flat side of the RT sponge to smaller rounded BB. For another thing, I like the softer texture of the RT for day-to-day application. The RT tends to lay down lighter coverage, which again, is more appropriate for daytime, informal usage. And finally, I use RT sponges most of the time because I’m really rough on my sponges. I routinely use the same sponge for tinted moisturizer or BB cream; to dab on a little cream foundation over said BB cream (just where I need a little more coverage, you understand); to dip into cream concealer or to dot on some color corrector; to smudge out bronzer or blush; and to smooth out my high SPF powder foundation. I even use the pointy tip to go over the (often) messy areas of my eyeshadow. At the end of the day, there’s a whole lot of color product built up on my sponges. I try to be consistent about cleaning my sponges, but I do have a baby and a husband after all. So if I have dispose of my sponges more frequently that say, every 3 months, I’d prefer not to suffer massive pangs of financial remorse every time I toss one. I feel better by saving a little cash and using the RTs most of the time, especially since the performance is really good!

Beauty Resource Video of the Day:
Check out this informative video from Makeup Geek as she shares the top reasons why we (all at one time or another) have experienced this unpleasant phenomenon, and more importantly how to avoid it!

Wisdom for the Day:
Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.
~Proverbs 22:29 (English Standard Version)
Read more here.

Be sure to subscribe to Daily Beauty Wisdom to automatically receive new posts sent directly to your inbox of choice!

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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Split Second Strawberry Vinaigrette #WHOLE30 Compliant

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Today’s post is part 6 in my series of recipes based on a recent HealthGrove study identifying the top 30 foods for beautiful skin and hair. As I have previously discussed, all but 3 of the most beautifying foods are #WHOLE30 foods. The 3 exceptions on the list (those foods not technically Paleo or WHOLE30-compliant) are legumes (i.e. beans), not dairy or grains. In case you missed any of the previous recipes from this series, you will find links for each at the bottom of this post. So, be sure to check those out, and definitely stay tuned to Daily Beauty Wisdom because I’ll be posting all new recipes for each of the remaining #Paleo / #WHOLE30 ingredients from the HealthGrove list (I think I’ve got about 20 or 21 left to cover). And be sure to subscribe to Daily Beauty Wisdom to automatically receive new posts sent directly to your inbox of choice!

Today’s beautifying ingredient is the sweet and juicy, bright red succulent strawberry (food #17 from the HealthGrove list). Here’s a little bit of trivia. Did you know strawberries are the only fruit with seeds on the outside? Strawberries are low calorie, high in fiber and a terrific source of Vitamin C (necessary in the synthesis of collagen, the key component of healthy skin and hair), providing more than 100% of RDA per serving. Vitamin C is one of several antioxidant vitamins.

You may be wondering why antioxidants are important. Antioxidants protect the skin (and other cells) from oxidation which occurs when our bodies are exposed to free radicals like the sun’s rays, smog, second-hand smoke and other environmental toxins. Oxidation is akin to rusting of the body, and it’s the primary way the body shows its age. Anti-oxidants are the antidote to oxidation, like tiny molecular-level shields protecting against rust and decay inside the body. (when we eat foods high in antioxidants like strawberries) or when applied topically (when using cosmetics that have added antioxidants ingredients). The the science is mixed with respect to usage of antioxidants in preventing disease. But antioxidants are generally accepted as anti-aging superstars. Most experts recommend getting our antioxidants from foods (versus supplements) and suggest the best way to combat aging is to eat foods high in antioxidants and other skin-beneficial ingredients (like biotin and good fats); to get lots of sleep (sleep is when the body repairs itself from damage it sustained during the day); and to use products with antioxidants and other skin-beneficial ingredients (source here).

I whipped up this recipe on Father’s Day to serve to Hubs. Since this was his first official Father’s Day I had quite the special Daddy Dinner menu in the works, including among other things these paleo pancakes (remember we’re not currently doing a #WHOLE30) with homemade strawberry syrup (I used the remaining thawed strawberries, some unsweetened OJ and coconut sugar simmered on LOW for 2 hours); scrambled eggs and bacon; tossed salads and this vinaigrette.

The hallmark of successful recipe - a smiling Hubs!

The hallmark of successful recipe – a smiling Hubs!

Because I took a couple of preparatory measures in advance (soaking the dates in the fridge overnight and pre-measuring lemon juice + other ingredients in advance), this recipe was quite literally ready in seconds. I timed it. It took around 47 seconds, literally less than 1 minute to prepare. If using frozen strawberries (which I think is the way to go as long you are careful to purchase UNSWEETENED, AKA no sugar added berries), just remove the bag from the freezer (and place in the refrigerator) the night before you plan to make this dressing. I actually soaked the dates in the fridge overnight too, just to save a little prep time on Sunday. BTW, I used defrosted frozen strawberries in this recipe only because I had them on hand (and I’m a big believer in using what ya’ got). But It’s summertime in North America, at least. So if you can get your hands on some fresh (preferably local) strawberries, I highly recommend using those in this recipe.

Split-Second Strawberry Vinaigrette – Sweet & Simple & #WHOLE30 Compliant

Ingredients:
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• 1 cup whole fresh or frozen unsweetened strawberries, defrosted and drained (if using frozen)
• 4 whole pitted dates, soaked at least 4 hours, drained (see note below)+++
• 1 tsp. iodized sea salt
• 10 cranks freshly cracked black pepper
• 1 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tsp. spicy mustard (if doing #WHOLE30 be sure mustard contains no white wine)+++
• ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice from 1 small lemon)
• 1 cup avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil
• ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

Hardware:
• powerful blender (I used a NutriBullet Pro), but a Vitamix or other sturdy, powerful blender would work equally well

Process:
1. Drain dates and disgard soaking liquid.
2. Add dates, strawberries and all other ingredients to pitcher or jar of blender.
3. Place blender pitcher on base, cover and blend on HIGH until no chunks or pieces of the fruit or garlic remain. It should take no more than a minute.
4. Remove blender from base and remove lid. Test dressing for seasoning and adjust as needed to taste. Then refrigerate until ready to use.
~Makes about 2 cups vinaigrette.

This dressing will keep covered and refrigerated about 1 week.
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+++When doing #WHOLE30, it’s very important to check the ingredient lists of any foods you plan to eat (actually it’s always important to be aware of what you’re feeding your family, right?). Some frozen fruits contain sugar or other additives not approved for consumption during WHOLE30 (and which aren’t healthy for us to consume anyway). Sugar and sweeteners of all kinds are off limits during #WHOLE30. And, dijon mustard usually contains white wine which is also not permitted during #WHOLE30. Finally, some dried fruits are processed with sulfites which are not permitted for consumption during #WHOLE30, so carefully check the dates you use for this any other recipe. 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).

Whip up this simple and super-fast vinaigrette with a quick whirr of the blender!

Whip up this simple and super-fast vinaigrette with a quick whirr of the blender!


Don’t Miss the Other Recipes in This Series:
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

Wisdom for the Day:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.. ~Ephesians 5:22-25 (English Standard Version)
Read more here.

Beauty Resource of the Day:
Here’s another helpful makeup tutorial video from the brilliant Wayne Goss. This little tip will help you avoid making mistakes when applying your eyeshadow:

First (2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th) Impressions – Physicians Formula Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Work It! Marathonista Tinted Moisturizer SPF 40

I love a good multi-tasking cosmetic, so I’ve always been a fan of tinted moisturizers and well-formulated BB/CC creams, especially during the warm, humid summer months when I can’t stand to wear a full face of heavy foundation. Nowadays (i.e. since the birth of our darling daughter, 8 months ago today in fact) I simply don’t have the time I once had to devote to my makeup routine. So finding products that combine 2 (preferably more steps) is not merely a luxury. It’s a necessity!

Physicians Formula Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Work It! Marathonista Tinted Moisturizer SPF40

Physicians Formula Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Work It! Marathonista Tinted Moisturizer SPF40

I have used and enjoyed several Physicians Formula BB/CC creams for several years. I think they’re a great alternative to some of the more expensive BBs and tinted moisturizers out there and those I’ve referenced here. My favorites are the Super BB All-in-1 Beauty Balm Cream and the Super CC Color-Correction + Care CC Cream SPF 30 (both $14.95). I also love their Super BB All-in-1 Beauty Balm Powder ($13.95). The Super BB All-in-1 Beauty Balm Stick ($12.95) is a great portable option for touch-ups on the go. And their Mineral Wear® Talc-Free Mineral Airbrushing Pressed Powder SPF 30 ($13.95) is one of my all-time favs! I use it to set BB cream or light foundation and adore the coverage and SPF it provides without looking chalky or cakey. I also find Physicians Formula colors fairly consistent, especially in the cream products (BBs, CCs and Tinted Moisturizers). I always, always, always wear Light/Medium.

All that to say, I was really excited to try this new higher SPF Tinted Moisturizer from the Organic Wear® line, and I confidently selected the Light/Medium. I have tried this product 5 times over 2 weeks since purchasing it because I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt. Honestly, I wanted to love it. I REALLY did! But I can’t make it work, not for me.

First, the color is off. It’s got an orangey undertone which does not work on my skin and which differs significantly from their BB and CC creams mentioned above. I decided to swatch it with the other Physicians Formula products I own to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating the color difference. Turns out I was correct – it is more orange in tone. The difference is especially noticeable between Marathonista and the Super BB Cream. Super CC Cream is a bit warmer and closer in tone to Marathonista but still easier to blend. See swatches below. The shade issue might not otherwise be a deal-breaker except that Marathonista is pretty thick, and that orange tint is pretty tenacious. It was pretty noticeable no matter how well I blended.
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Speaking of the thick texture – this stuff is tough to blend, and believe me I tried! I tried a damp Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge and got a patchy, uneven application. Then I tried a damp Beauty Blender without any better results. Every time I got a patchy orange result that really bunched up around my brows and hairline. Worst of all I noticed the product tended to emphasize my fine lines which was confusing because Physicians Formula claims it “nourishes, soothes” skin and provides both antioxidants and a special amino acid complex said to “boost and support long-term hydration and skin elasticity.”

Also, I noticed the product was catching onto dry areas and “kicking up” flakes of dry skin making my skin look really pasty and uneven. I decided this was related to the recent introduction of Retin-A into my skincare routine and decided that I would lay off the Retin-A for a few nights, then give my skin a good exfoliation and few days intense moisturizing before writing off Marathonista. So I did that and tried it again. Still patchy, still orange but fewer flakes. I waited a few more days (still without using any retinoids); gave my skin one more good exfoliation with my fav chemical exfoliant: M2 Skin Care High Potency Skin Refinish, and did some serious coconut oil treatments before trying Marathonista the final time. This time, I used Wayne Goss’ method (video below) of adding a drop of oil to the product and applying with damp sponge. And still I was left with an orangey face, a patchy application that took way longer than I wanted to dedicate to foundation alone and flakiness around my nose and eyebrows. At that point, I exclaimed, “I give up. This product does not work for me!”

Despite my best efforts, I couldn't get this product to work for me - note the spotty coverage and orangish tint. Yuck!

Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get this product to work for me – note the spotty coverage and orangish tint. Yuck!

The company makes a lot of (almost outlandish) claims for this product. However, there is nothing particularly alarming among the ingredients (listed below). I was concerned about the statements regarding inclusion of lemon-derived ingredient because generally any lemon-based ingredients (especially in an SPF product is a BAD thing; Source). However, Physicians Formula used “hydrolyzed lemon protein” which should be less of a problem and is present here is fairly small amounts. Based on the reviews at Physicians Formula’s website and ULTA.com it appears it does work for some people. And if it works for you, awesome! Use it in good health and beauty. I’m sad that it didn’t work for me. But it just really did not.

Price: $14.99

Summary:
This tinted moisturizer from Physicians Formula earns positive marks for its high SPF (relative to other drugstore products in its category and price range). However, this was ultimately an unwise purchase for me. I found that the color was off and just looked orangey on me no matter how I tried to blend it out. Despite Physicians Formula’s claims that this “do-it-all” product would sooth, nourish and hydrate my skin, I found that it magnified my fine lines and clung (tenaciously) to areas of dryness causing patchy application and substantial flaking around my nose and chin. I’d definitely recommend Super BB All-in-1 Beauty Balm Cream or Super CC Color-Correction + Care CC Cream SPF 30 (both $14.95) from this brand before this product and suggest pairing one of these far superior products with a well-formulated daytime moisturizer with sunscreen if you need more SPF. Daily Beauty Wisdom Rating: ** 2/ 5 pearls of wisdom

Ingredients (as listed on ULTA.com website)
Active: Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide.
Inactive: Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Water*, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil*, Dodecane, Glycerin+, Polyglyceryl-4 Diisostearate / Polyhydroxystearate / Sebacate, Lecithin*, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Water*, Polyglyceryl-2 Oleate, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Polylactic Acid, Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Hydrolyzed Quinoa, Hydrolyzed Kale Protein, Kunzea Pomifera (Muntries) Fruit Extract, Syzygium Leuhmanii (Riberry) Fruit Extract, Tasmannia Lanceolata (Pepperberry) Fruit Extract, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil*, Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract*, Alcohol Denat., Alumina, Beeswax*, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax*, Hydrolyzed Carrot Protein, Hydrolyzed Lemon Protein, Jojoba Esters, Lauroyl Lysine, Leuconostoc Ferment Filtrate, Leuconostoc / Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Magnesium Sulfate, Mica, Polyglyceryl-2 Stearate, Silica, Water, Xanthan Gum. May Contain: Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides.

Wisdom for the Day:
But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you 45 so that you will be acting as children of your Father who is in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both the evil and the good and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous. ~Matthew 5:44-45 (Common English Bible)
Read more here.

Beauty Resource of the Day:
The incomparable Wayne Goss shares his tip for flawless and natural foundation application. Enjoy!

Hi I'm Karen.

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