Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Moved to a new blog!

Hey everyone! I know I haven't posted here in awhile, and it's because I started up a new blog! It is: The Scholarly Nail - http://thescholarlynail.blogspot.com. Hope to see you all there =)


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Safe Skin Care During Pregnancy

Well, it’s that time. Pretty much everyone I know is either pregnant, just got done being pregnant, trying to get getting pregnant or is already an experienced mommy.  While I personally don’t fall into any of the above categories, family planning is definitely on my mind and so I decided to do a series on pregnancy and children. First up: products that might just make pregnancy a little bit easier.

Ahh, pregnancy. Let me start out by saying, I am not pregnant, nor have I ever been pregnant, so this list of products that I have compiled is a result of many, many hours of research, reading ingredients lists, reading thousands of customer testimonials, and testing products on my un-pregnant self.  I do plan on starting a family sometime in the near future, so I figure that it could never hurt to have these products around.  Anyways, when I started my research, I found that there are several ingredients that pregnant woman are encouraged to avoid during their nine months. Now, everyone knows that drinking, smoking, and eating raw fish are frowned upon during pregnancy, but it seems that you may have to watch what you put ON your body as well as what you put in to it. Besides that, pregnancy skin is known to be UBER sensitive, so these kinds of things can be very trial and error. Always be on the look out for stuff that is hypoallergenic and fragrance-free. Also, keep in mind that the words "natural" or "organic" don't mean that they will not have ingredients in them that you will not be sensitive to, or even that they will be free of ingredients that can be harmful to you and your baby. 

First on the pregnancy no-no list is salicylic acid, also known as BHA or beta hydroxy acid. Salicylic acid is most commonly used in skincare products that have anti-aging properties or are intended to treat acne. High doses of BHA’s are shown to cause birth defects and other pregnancy complications. Another skin care ingredient that should be avoided during pregnancy is retinoids. Again, retinoids are used to treat acne and aging skin, and can be found in several products such as Differin, Retin A, and Accutane.  Retinoids are formed from Vitamin A, which in high dosages during pregnancy can cause problems for the unborn child.  Benzoyl peroxide is a no-no as well, so don’t even think about reaching for that Proactiv! Avoiding these types of ingredients can be problematic for those facing the ever-present pregnancy acne, but I will list a few skincare options below to help with breakouts that are safe to use during those nine months.

Next up are ingredients commonly found in bath and body products: parabens and phthalates. Parabens are very common preservatives used in skin care products, listed in the ingredients as things like methylparaben or propylparaben.  Parabens have been shown to be endocrine disruptors, especially in the reproductive systems of baby boys. There has also been a link to parabens and breast cancer as well. Best to steer clear, especially during pregnancy.

Phthalates are often a bit more difficult to find in ingredient lists, and are sometimes just found under the catch-all term “fragrance,” but is sometimes listed as DBP (dibutyl phthalate). Pretty much any product that has a strong fragrance (perfume, scented body lotion, etc.) will contain phthalates. Phthalates have also shown to disrupt the endocrine system, specifically affecting the development of the male reproductive system. However, this doesn’t mean that “natural fragrances” are any better. So-called “natural fragrances” often contain essential oils, many of which can be as or even more harmful than phthalates. I will provide several bath and body products below that are safe for pregnancy, but all in all, do your research. Some of these ingredients, especially certain essential oils, can be toxic for your baby.

There is much debate on whether or not hair dye or cream hair removers are safe for pregnancy, and based on my personal research, I see no reason why you couldn’t use these occasionally during those nine months. The main concern would be the fragrance in these products, which would more than likely contain phthalates, so use your discretion.

So this blog post will probably earn me some flak for being too crunchy, or overly cautious, but I figure pregnancy is only nine months out of your life, and if what you put on your body may have some soft of effect on your unborn child, why not err on the side of caution? So here is my list of products that I would recommend for the mother-to-be!

Oh, and one last note: always use sunscreen during pregnancy! Your skin will become tenfold more sensitive during that time, and any sun damage that you may receive will be magnified. Your skin will thank you!

DISCLAIMER: This blog entry is not intended in any way to replace the advice of a doctor, and you should always be sure to consult them with any product that you may be unsure of for use during pregnancy. 

Basis Sensitive Skin Bar, $2.89
purchase on drugstore.com

I remember waaaaay back in the day my doctor recommending me to use the Basis bar on my face. I used it for awhile with good results but have since moved onto other things. However, when a pregnant friend said that this was the only facial soap she could use during pregnancy, I gave it a second look. It contains ingredients such as aloe and chamomile, which are safe for pregnancy and have calming effects on the skin as well. Also, it contains no harsh detergents which may dry out skin be harmful for the baby. My friend also said this was the only thing she could use once that third-trimester PUPPP rash reared its ugly (not to mention extremely painful) head. All in all, at less than three bucks a pop, it couldn't hurt to have one of these lying around. 

Belli Pregnancy Acne Cleansing Face Wash, $22
purchase on belliskincare.com

First up is the acne facial cleanser by Belli. Now as I mentioned before, acne treatment can get a little tricky during pregnancy because so many ingredients that will help acne can actually harm your baby. The Belli line has some super awesome products for the mother-to-be, and this is no exception. It is free of all the non-pregnancy stuff like salicylic acid and retinoids, and contains lactic acid and lemon peel oil to help with the blemishes, as well as the cucumber and green tea extracts to help keep your complexion glowing. This stuff is cool because it can also be used as a mask if you leave it on the skin for five minutes. You know how much I love those multi-taskers! Belli Pregnancy also has an awesome facial sunscreen that I would recommend in conjunction with this cleanser.

Beauté de Maman Face and Body Cream, $24.99
purchase on beautedemaman.com

While this cream is touted as being both for face and body, I would consider it mainly for facial use. Beauté de Maman is another great pregnancy skincare line whose creators were very conscious of the ingredients they put in the products. This cream is targeted for those with oily and blemished skin that has been caused by pregnancy. Instead of using harsh, toxic ingredients, this face cream contains tea tree, peppermint and lavender oils which act as natural antibacterial agents to help clear up acne. This cream is very lightweight and not greasy at all, and can be used in conjunction with your favorite sunscreen if wearing during the day.

Mario Badescu Drying Cream, $14
purchase on mariobadescu.com

This stuff is awesome! MB drying cream is the perfect spot treatment for those big, underground pimples that seem to plague many pregnant women. Common treatments for large blemishes contain unsafe ingredients such as BHAs or benzoyl peroxide, but this cream has neither of those. It contains sulfur and zinc to help dry up the zit and aloe to help soothe. I've used this stuff for awhile now, and it beats out pretty much anything for taking care of the big suckers. Best of all, it's pregnancy safe!

Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Stretch Oil, $19.95
purchase on earthmamaangelbaby.com

Aaaand on to the next common pregnancy affliction: stretch marks!! They say that it's genetic, and if you're gonna get stretch marks, you're gonna get them, no matter how much crap you rub on your belly. Whether or not that is true, I don't know, but I do know that keeping your skin moisturized will greatly reduce your chances of having significant marks. Earth Mama Angel Baby has an absolutely FABULOUS line of products, for both pregnancy and post-partum. When the day comes where I actually get pregnant, I'm sure I'll end up buying every product they make.
This Stretch Oil is one of their best selling products, and for good reason. It is super lightweight and rubs in well, so there is no greasiness and staining of the clothing. Most women say that this is awesome to put on right after the shower, and it just soaks right in. They find that they can apply this several times a day without it building up as well. It contains several pregnancy safe oils such as chamomile and calendula to soothe the skin, as well as borage and neroli oil to help the skin's elasticity. Some even say that the light, refreshing smell helps relieve their morning sickness. Bonus!!!

Carol's Daughter Sexy Belly, $22
purchase on carolsdaughter.com

I just cringe every time I see a pregnant woman buying that Vaseline Cocoa Butter from Target, thinking that it will help with those stretch marks. Sure, those who are genetically blessed will rant and rave about how they have no stretch marks after using it, but the rest of the folks out there need a bit more help than a petroleum based (read: not cocoa butter based) product can give them. This is where Sexy Belly steps in. This, used with the Earth Mama Angel Baby Stretch Oil can really give those stretch marks the 1,2 punch. This SUPER DUPER THICK cream is a bit greasy, so it is best used before bed time with an old t-shirt. However, it is worth it! This stuff is packed full of shea and cocoa butters for maximum moisture, along with tamanu seed oil, sunflower oil and sweet almond oil to really lock in the moisture. Plus, it's paraben free, contains no mineral oil or other artificial stuff.

Mustela Ultimate Hydration, $21.99
purchase on babiesrus.com

Your belly isn't the only thing that will need extra TLC during your pregnancy, as many pregnant women report being having SUPER itchy and dry skin everywhere during those nine months. This Mustela cream could just be the answer to that dry, itchy skin. It's hypoallergenic to provide insurance against fickle pregnancy skin, and contains glycerin and  plant ceramides to help seal in moisture. It has licorice root and avocado to help sooth irritated skin as well. Overall, a great well-rounded product that can really provide relief for those minor pregnancy skin irritations.

Dr. Bronner's Baby Mild Liquid Castile Soap, $15.75
purchase on drbronner.com

Castile soap is so cool. It is am oil based soap which uses a process to saponify vegetable oils into soap! Not only is this stuff great for body use, but it is can be used for household cleaning and laundry as well - it is said to have 18 different uses! I put this soap here because it is excellent for use during pregnancy. It has no added fragrance, which means that it is phthalate free, and it is excellent for the often overly-sensitive pregnancy skin. Even better, after your baby is born, you can use it on him or her as well.

Eco Tools Bamboo Loofah Brush, $5.99
purchase on drugstore.com

This is an itchy pregnant woman's dream! It has a giant scrubby thing to help scratch that itch, and it's on a stick so you don't have to worry about trying to reach all those awkward places with a huge belly. Keep this bad boy in the shower and wash with your Dr. Bronner's soap, and you will exfoliate all those dead skin cells and be clean and smooth, and hopefully, relatively itch free every time you emerge from the shower!

LAVANILA Vanilla Lavender Eau de Parfum, $39
purchase on sephora.com

Okay, there may not be many days during your pregnancy when you feel like spraying on some perfume, but when you feel like a little pick-me-up on a particularly non-barfy day, this could be a great option. I LOVE LAVANILA FRAGRANCES!!!!! Quite possibly, one of my favorite perfume houses of all time. For serious. I am a sucker for anything vanilla, and this stuff is great because it is one of the most natural lines out there. It contains no parabens, and most importantly, NO PHTHALATES! Yes, a fragrance with no phthalates; it does exist. The Vanilla Lavender is a great option because lavender oil is a said to have soothing and relaxing properties, and better yet, it is pregnancy safe. I've always loved lavender-vanilla fragrance blends, there is just something so comforting about the scent. This all-natural, paraben and phthalate free fragrance is a great option for the pregnant ladies out there. 

Belli Pregnancy Foot Relief Cream, $18
purchase on belliskincare.com

Okay, I try not to put more than one thing by the same company on each of my blog posts, but I couldn't help myself with this stuff. Everyone know's that pregnancy can turn your once cute, petite little feet into painful, swollen, bulbous stumps without notice. This is where the Belli Foot Relief Cream comes in. It contains small amount of peppermint, tea tree oil, and menthol to cool and refresh those tired and swollen feet. The best thing to do is to get your significant other or a good friend to give you a nice 10-15 minute foot-and-calf massage with this stuff. Your tired tootsies will thank you! Every swollen and crabby pregnant lady should have some of this stuff on hand.

So, I hope that this has helped some of you prego ladies out there! Next up will be quick blog post on some makeup items that can be great during pregnancy. Stay tuned!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Beauty Products to Bring Camping!

Camping. It’s my absolute most favorite thing to do in the entire world.  Sitting around a campfire for an extended period of time, away from the real world while exploring, eating, and drinking to your heart’s content; what could be more perfect? Unfortunately, we haven’t done as much camping as we would have liked in the past few years.  But this summer, it’s going to be a camping bonanza in this household. We WILL GO at least once a month, if not more often. Maybe. Okay probably not, as the husband’s job is completely and 100% dependent on technology, with some inevitable work on the weekends. Perhaps maybe going twice this summer is a good goal.

I’ve been going camping ever since I joined Girl Scouts in the first grade, and I haven’t stopped since. It’s an addiction, an obsession, a compulsion. By the time I was in fourth grade, not only did I go camping several times a year with my troop, but I began spending the entire summer at sleep away camp. Oh Camp Crowell/Hilaka.  It was the place that taught me to be independent, taught me to love nature, and most importantly, it taught me how to survive in the woods alone. I build fires in the rain; I learned how to rescue people in a kayak; I learned how to keep young campers calm during a tornado warning in a dark, scary basement; I learned how to eat meals with both hands tied behind my back; I learned how to distinguish between different types of owls and frogs, and I learned how to be myself. Sadly, after years of fighting, Camp Crowell/Hilaka is now up for sale, due to an evil regime of greedy, money hungry non-Girl Scouts. Poo on them.

Nevertheless, every time I set up my tent in the woods, or cook my pie iron pizza over the fire, I am reminded of camp and how it made me who I am today. So naturally, I am eager to share my love for the woods with my fellow (wo)man.  Unfortunately, I hear several excuses from my friends as to why they don’t want to come camping: they can’t go without washing their hair, they are afraid of being eaten alive by bugs, they don’t want to go without makeup, don’t want to go without showering, etc. etc. Well here’s the good news: you can still look fabulous while camping!

A few things to remember: use as little fragrance as possible, unless it is a fragrance that repels insects. Whether or not you are camping in bear country, it is extremely important to limit your scented products. Of course, if you are camping in bear country, it is even more important. Products are often marketed as being “unscented” or “fragrance-free,” and there is much debate out there about which is really best. The FDA has no sort of laws or regulations regarding these two phrases, so use with caution. Generally, “fragrance-free” means that a product has no fragrance added, but may have the scent of the ingredients that it is made with.  “Unscented” generally means that things have been added to mask any natural fragrances occurring in the ingredients,  including fragrance itself. Yes, a fragrance to mask a fragrance. It is all very confusing. Basically, keep an eye out for ingredients and let your nose be your guide. Any product labeled as “unscented” or “fragrance-free” may still have some sort of discernable scent, so use caution. For camping, you want to use the least  amount of scented products as possible.

So, without further ado, here are my picks for beauty products to bring camping with you!
California Baby Natural Bug Blend Bug Repellent Spray, $13.50
purchase on ulta.com

You just can't go camping without bugspray. It's impossible. This is one of my favorites, not only because it is natural but because it actually works!  It contains pure citronella oil, as well as several other essential oils that aid in the repellent of insects. It smells SO MUCH better than any commercial bug spray that you will find, and since it is natural, you can feel much better about using it. However, if you are going to be truly in the deep woods, or near lots of standing water, you may need a repellent with DEET in it. However, I find that this works great for the average camping trip and your average outdoor activities. Remember: always spray on your insect repellent far away from your tent, as it may affect the waterproofing.

ExOfficio Insect Shield Paisley Bandana, $12
purchase on rei.com

I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS THING!! Okay, so after a few days of not washing, no matter how much dry shampoo I use, my hair is just not cute. This is why I always bring a bandana when I go camping; it covers up the nasty and is actually quite backwoods chic. But this takes the camping bandana to a whole new level: it is infused with an odorless insect repellent that lasts up to 70 washes!! Amazing! I have a few of these, and I will wrap one around my head and hook the other ones around my backpack, beltloops or my shoes. It's a bit stiff at first, but after a few washings you're good to go! This thing really works, and it comes in about 6 different colors, so you can get one for every member of the fam. You can even tie one around the dog's neck!

Frederic Fekkai Au Naturel Dry Shampoo, $23
purchase on nordstrom.com

$23 seems like a lot to spend on a product that you will be using for camping, but it's definitely a great product to have around for day-to-day use. I like the Fekkai one for camping for a few reasons: #1 it comes in a fairly small package that packs away easily and #2 it is fragrance free. Here we go again with the "unscented" vs "fragrance free" debate, but as far as I can tell, it doesn't have much of a scent to it at all. Just sprinkle a tiny bit around your scalp, comb through, shake your head a few times, and you're good to go! Those of you who aren't hip to the bandana craze, this is perfect for you to take along. 
KINeSYS Fragrance-Free Spray On Sunscreen SPF 30+, $19
purchase on rei.com

Unlike 99.9% of sunblocks on the market, this one has no discernible odor whatsoever, which makes it absolutely perfect for camping. Whether you are camping on a beach or shaded under a canopy of trees, you always need to remember to put on your sunscreen! It's alcohol free, so it won't dry out your skin and it's water-and-sweat proof, so it won't run into your eyes. Most importantly, it is completely unscented and fragrance-free, so you won't attract any bears either.
Sure Unscented Anti-perspirant and Deodorant, $3.19
purchase on drugstore.com

Pretty obvious here, but you definitely want to bring an unscented deodorant. Remember, unscented typically means that the actual fragrance of any ingredients will be masked, so this product has no scent whatsoever. Because you don't want mosquito bites in your armpits. 
Physician's Formula Healthy Wear SPF 50 Powder Foundation, $14.99
purchase on ulta.com

When you are camping, packing space is at a minimum, so you want to bring as many multi-tasking products as possible. This one is awesome, because it is an SPF 50 sunscreen as well as a foundation for your face. Just buff a bit of this into your skin every few hours, and you will have that natural, flawless skin look and be protected from the sun's damaging rays as well. This product comes in four different shades, and has a really nice matte finish that keeps shine at bay, yet is still natural looking. Love it! 

Revlon Grow Luscious Waterproof Mascara, $8.99
purchase on drugstore.com

As a rule of thumb, I really on wear powder and mascara on camping trips, the rest of the stuff just takes up room. To each his own however, and if you really only feel comfortable with a bit more makeup on, by all means, bring some along. I find that mascara alone can really open up the eyes, especially when used correctly. When applying, wiggle the brush back and forth at the base of your lashes to add depth to the eye line before you sweep it across your lashes. The Grow Luscious is great because it is waterproof, and actually conditions your lashes as well so that they grow longer and stronger! 

Campsuds Biodegradable Cleaner, $7.00
purchase on amazon.com

CAMP SOAP! You've got to have camp soap on camping trips! It is multi-purpose, concentrated, and biodegradable - definitely perfect to bring along as it doesn't take up much space. You can use it to wash hands, dishes, laundry, basically anything that gets dirty on your trip! The fact that it is biodegradable is awesome, as it helps reduce the carbon footprint that camping inevitably makes. It does have a slight pine-y fragrance, but I have found that it does not attract animals or insects in the slightest, so it is safe to bring along wherever you may be camping. 

Nice 'N Clean Baby Wipes Unscented with Aloe, $5.49
purchase on amazon.com

Baby wipes are absolutely indispensable on camping trips, especially when there is no running water. They are great for cleaning the hands after cooking, a quick wipe down as an alternative to a shower, and they make great makeup removers as well. Of course, they need to be unscented because the cleansing product will stay on your skin. There are many, many "unscented" and "fragrance-free" baby wipes on the market, and these ones are really one of the only ones that are truly unscented. Don't leave home without these bad boys, you will find hundreds of uses for them out in the woods.
Burt's Bees Poison Ivy Soap, $8
purchase on burtsbees.com

It can never hurt to have this stuff in your kit. This soap will wash away the itch found in poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac with jewelweed, the only ingredient proven to counteract the poisonous urushiol found in those plants. After exposure, you have about an hour window to use this soap, and the chance of you getting poison ivy (or oak or sumac) is greatly reduced. You can also use this after the rash has already started, and it will really help with the itchy ooziness. Definitely another essential, because who wants their camping trip to be ruined with a nasty case of poison ivy?
Coghlan's Featherweight Unbreakable Mirror, $3
purchase on rei.com

And last, but certainly not least, you've gotta have a mirror! This one is perfect, as it is small and unbreakable, yet large enough to be able to see your entire face. It packs up super easily, and has a handy little hole at the top so that you can tie it up to the tree and have both hands free for makeup or skincare application. Also, it doubles as an emergency signal mirror if needed. Always with those multi-tasking products!

That's all for now guys! Thanks for reading =)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Beach Beauty 2011!

Hello friends! I know, it has been months and months since I’ve written. You all know how that goes – life sometimes gets in the way.  Anyways, I’m back and more excited than ever to be sharing my beauty picks with you!

It’s Memorial Day weekend, and unofficially, the beginning of summer! Here in Cleveland, summer is long, HOT, and muggy. In fact, it feels like we really only have two seasons here in the CLE anymore: winter and summer.  Winter is so long and disgusting that we only get a peek of spring, and while summer is not quite as long (or torturous) as winter, it generally lasts long into September with only a few hints of autumn in October. So here it is, Memorial Day Weekend, and it’s time to finally say goodbye to cozy sweaters and fuzzy boots and embrace the sun!

Summer is such a wonderful season in the beauty world. Bronzed and glowy skin, soft beachy waves, and bright colors are all around. Also, for some reason, it just seems easier to be effortlessly put together during the summer months. No need for the winter’s heavy foundations or elaborate moisturizing regimens; just throw on some bronzer and mascara and let the sun do the rest.

If there is one ultimate summer activity, of course, it would be going to the beach! There is nothing better than packing up the car with your friends, rolling down the windows, having dance parties in the car, and heading to the beach. Here in Cleveland, we are actually quite fortunate with our water-side options during the summer; well, as far as the landlocked states go. There are several beaches in the area, as well as the Lake Erie Islands where kids and adults alike can enjoy a taste of the coastal lifestyle. Granted, I would never, EVER swim in Lake Erie (vomit), it’s always great to lay out on the beach.

So here are my beach beauty picks for summer 2011, and I hope everyone has a fabulous kickoff to the summer this weekend!

Neutrogena Wet Skin Sunblock Spray SPF 50, $10.99
purchase on drugstore.com

This isn't your typical spray-on sunscreen! We have seen several different kinds of sunblock in the past: sensitive, mineral, sport, and tinted for bronzing purposes. This one is like sport sunscreen to the max. Finally, a sunscreen that can be sprayed on both WET and dry skin!! When you're out in the ocean, and realize that you're feeling a bit toasty, who really wants to take the time to dry off and reapply your sunblock? With this stuff, you can hop out, spray on while you're still wet, and it will STILL be waterproof. Pretty awesome, right?
Origins VitaZing SPF 15 Energy Boosting Moisturizer, $35
purchase on origins.com

I know I have featured this product in another blog entry, but this stuff is seriously so awesome I couldn't not put it here. Of course, you need to protect your face with sunscreen, and this multi-tasking product is absolutely perfect for the beach. Not only is it a moisturizer infused with sunblock, it is a self-adjusting, tinted formula that adds a hint of glowy goodness to the skin. It may not work on the most extremely dark and light skin tones, but for the majority of us, it is a great product for easy days at the beach.

Physician's Formula Summer Eclipse Bronzing & Shimmery Face Powder, $11.99
purchase on drugstore.com

This super cute bronzer is almost so cute it makes you want to puke. It isn't especially dark, and is a bit shimmery, so it adds the perfect sunkissed glow without looking caked on or too dark - because you don't want that caked on look at the beach. The little sunburst is a pretty golden color, and the background is a nice warm bronze, and when the two are combined on a nice fluffy bronzer brush (I recommend EcoTools), it is an awesome complexion boosting color for all skin tones.

Lancome Hypnose Drama Waterproof Mascara, $25
purchase on sephora.com

Every girl knows that you've gotta have waterproof mascara at the beach. Or when you're planning on getting really drunk. Either way, it's always good to have one in your stash. I love Lancome's mascaras; and while they're a bit pricy, they really are worth it. Hypnose Drama adds both volume and length, and it really lasts forever.

Make Up For Ever Aqua Cream, $22
purchase on sephora.com

Seriously awesome stuff right here people. This waterproof cream eye shadow by MUFE comes in around 20 different shades and can hold up to the most extreme conditions - as long as you don't wipe it away, of course! The texture is phenomenal: it stays malleable long enough to blend, but once it dries, that sucker ain't going anywhere! It can double as an eyeliner as well, I like to use my flat-ended push brush to sweep this across my lashline. Look for shade #13 Warm Beige - an awesome champagne shimmer that works great as an all-over wash on the lid.

MAC Surf, Baby! Suntints SPF 20 Liquid Lip Balm, $15.50
purchase on maccosmetics.com

These limited edition MAC tinted lipbalms are awesome for the beach! Besides the beach-appropriate packaging, they have SPF, which is essential for the uber-sensitive skin on the lips. This product comes in three pinkish shades (one lilac-pink, one vibrant pink and one golden pink) - though they are fairly sheer and each one would probably work on any skintone. They are quite moisturizing, and add a great natural shine to the lips as well. Perfect to throw in your beach bag and reapply as needed.

Del Sol Color Changing Nail Polish in Rock Star, $10
purchase on delsol.com

The nail polish freak that I am, I had to throw in something here. But for real, this stuff is truly amazeballs. As you can tell by the name of the polish, it changes colors in the sun. The Rock Star color is particularly awesome, as it starts out an awesome ocean blue and then once the sun hits, it becomes an amazing turquoise green color. For those of you who are more conservative with nail polish colors, they have tons of lovely pinks, corals and reds; and those who are more unconventional, there are several other out-of-the-box colors to keep you happy as well. I am in LOVE with these polishes.

Harajuku Lovers G of the Sea Eau de Toilette, $30
purchase on sephora.com

Who says that just because you're at the beach your have to smell like sunblock? G of the Sea is the perfect scent for the beach. I mean, I would buy this even if it smelled terrible because the bottle is effing amazing, but luckily, it smells wonderful. It is based on the ever-popular fruity G fragrance, but has hints of florals and citrus to brighten it up a bit. It is light and fresh enough for a day at the beach, and is still sexy enough to wear on a night out. Snatch it up before it's gone!

Aveda Sun Care Protective Hair Veil, $26
purchase on aveda.com

This is an absolute must for anyone with color treated hair. I swear, anytime my dark brown hair sees the sun for even five minutes, it starts to turn red. I HATE THAT! I take painstaking measures to make sure that my hair never turns red, and alas, the sun is a major enemy in my fight. Thankfully, this stuff makes my job a bit easier. You can spray in either wet or dry hair, and believe me, a little bit does the trick. Reapply after swimming, and it really helps get the tangles out as well. I don't think I would ever hit the beach without this.

CALYPSO St. Barth for Target Straw Tote with Sequins, $24.99
purchase on target.com

And last but not least, you've gotta have a beach bag! Calypso St. Barth did an awesome summer collection for Target, and this is one of the pieces I am obsessing over. I am loving straw totes this season, and I am totally digging the sequins on this one! It's blingy but neutral at the same time, so you can wear it with anything. Most importantly, it's big enough to throw in all the essentials and then some.

That's all for now! Next up: beauty products to bring along on your next camping trip!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Life and Makeup.

Sorry, no pictures today kids.  Life is just one big clusterfuck lately, and I’m just barely holding it together.  Wait! Who am I kidding, I’m not holding it together at all.  Everything is falling apart around me and it’s a pretty scary feeling. I’m usually so in control and so on top of everything but that’s just not the case anymore.  My health has gone from average to shit, our bank accounts went from full to empty to pay for medical bills, my husband has gone from wonderful and amazing to angry and miserable (but still wonderful) due to the terrible conditions at his job, and my life’s plan has gone from one direction to another. That’s just life, I suppose. We’ll get through it all, we always do. Until then, I am just taking it day by day. Some days, the only things keeping me sane are the times I can sit down and do my nails or organize my perfume stash. Everyone’s gotta have something, right?

I’m sure you are all laughing at me as I tell you that cosmetics keep me sane. How could such a seemingly superficial aspect of life bring me such joy, and even serenity in times of clusterfuck-ness? I don’t know, but what I do know that is that it has been that way my entire life. The world of beauty is something that has always fascinated me. At the age of three I was caught playing with my mom’s Avon makeup. My favorite things were those little teeny, tiny lipstick samples. I figured they were meant for little kids…they were the perfect size!  My favorite shade was the Soft Shell Pink, a hideous coral-pink frosty disaster. By the time I was four, I was sampling any perfume I could get my grubby little hands on. The first perfume I ever fell in love with was my mom’s Samba perfume. The packaging was as deliciously 80’s as one could get, bright and tacky. The scent was undoubtedly a heavy oriental headache, but at the time, it was heaven.

A few short years later, I discovered Bath and Body Works. Oh, Bath and Body Works, how many fond memories I have of you. My first ever scent from BBW was the elusive Iced Pineapple. It was only around for a short time, but was it seriously one of the best scents to ever come out of that place. Most pineapple scents have the tendency to have a bit of a tart, musty smell – but not this bad boy. It was the perfect juicy scent of fresh-cut pineapple. From then on, I have been hunting for the perfect pineapple scent. While some have come close, nothing will ever replace the glorious Iced Pineapple in my book.  Bath and Body Works was always a “must stop” mall location for me, as I always enjoyed seeing what they would come up with next. This is when my obsession with all things yummy smelling really took off.

Really, I have just always loved shopping. One of my favorite shopping locales as a young child was the little historic downtown shopping center in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.  In the 90’s, it had everything I could ever desire. There was a toy store, a candy store, a store with fairy dust on the floor and tropical fish lining the walls, a bookstore with a superb kid’s section, a Bath and Body Works (of course), and most importantly, Plymouth Candle Company. It was there that I was introduced to Yankee Candles. The first Yankee I ever bought was a French Vanilla tart. I never burned it, since I had no idea what a tart was, but hey, it was little and cute and it smelled like vanilla cake and I was all over it. I have tried many, many candles over the years but I always will have some Yankees hanging out with the rest of my stash.

And then came the Lip Smacker collection. When I first discovered Lip Smackers at the age of 7, my mom gave me the Bonne Bell rundown: she had them when she was a kid, her favorite flavor was Dr. Pepper (isn’t everyone’s?) and they were made right here in Cleveland. Say no more mom, you had me at Dr. Pepper! From then on, I would scour every drugstore, Marc’s, Wal-Mart and K-Mart in the area for new Lip Smackers. I had them all.  I had all the necklaces with 7 different flavors each, I had the special edition holiday ones, I had the giant ones, I had the lipglosses, the perfumes…EVERYTHING. I probably stopped a few years later with the craziness, but to this day, whenever I see new Lipsmackers at Target I have to pick them up. They’re not the best lip balms by any means, but they definitely bring back some fond memories. I’m partial to anything jelly bean or marshmallow flavored anyways.

Nail polish probably came next. When the weather would get nice, my friends and I would save up our pennies and make a hike to Revco to pick up some Wet and Wild nail polishes. This is the time when nail polishes were still mostly all pink and red, so Wet and Wild’s colors seemed so crazy! They had orange, blue, black, purple, even GLITTER. It was a dream come true for a young beauty junkie like myself.  And then a few years later, Hard Candy was born. I saw those ads for it in YM and Seventeen Magazines and I was obsessed with finding it; I had to have that Sky blue nail polish! I had heard rumblings about it being sold in a place called Sephora, so I checked it out. My first step into Sephora, and it was all over. It had EVERYTHING: perfume, nail polish, bath and body products, skincare, and of course, makeup.

I can’t talk about Hard Candy without talking about Urban Decay! Before those two brands were around, makeup was kind of a boring market. Everything was mauve, peach, rose…but with Hard Candy and Urban Decay, we now had Mildew green, Trailer Trash silver, Roach brown, Gash blood red, Toxin blue, and Oil Slick black. As an angtsy pre-teen, these brands were just what the doctor ordered. I had a friend named Elizabeth in middle school, a beautiful and sassy diva of beauty products. I always admired her massive makeup stash, her shower full of shampoo, and her Philosophy shower gel collection.  She actually won an Urban Decay contest and got to name a lipstick. I forgot what it was, and I’m not sure if the color is still around, but at the time, it was one of the coolest things ever. She even got a t-shirt out of the deal. Man, was I jealous of that t-shirt!

Into high school, I began experimenting with other mid-to-high end makeup brands such as Stila, Clinique, Prescriptives (may you RIP), Bobbi Brown and MAC. I was never really great at actually applying the makeup, but did I sure love trying! High school was also when I started dying my hair. Red was usually a favorite, but I seemed to often end up with tinges of orange or purple in there. However it turned out, I generally didn’t care. The fun part was getting together with my girlfriends and ruining the bathroom sink with hair dye. This is when the acrylic nails started as well. OH THE HORRORS! Those terrible FRENCH TIP ACRYLICS. *gag* I always have had such nice nails, I’m not sure what ever possessed me to go with acrylics. Ugh, and how they would get yellow after tanning. Sick. Hey, I never said my beauty journey was a pretty one.

After high school began my career in retail beauty stores. My first real job was at the Body Shop. My manager was amazing and coming to work every day was a blast. I loved playing with all the body butters, doing makeovers on customers and coming up with fragrance oil combinations. Sadly, the Body Shop was later bought out by L’Oreal and they just haven’t been the same since. After the Body Shop, I worked at Trade Secret. True,  Trade Secret is a salon but the main source of revenue is the retail section. Hair products and nail polish galore! The best part was having first pick of the 75% off nail polish markdowns. After Trade Secret was Bath and Body Works. To this day, that was my favorite job ever. After years and years of shopping there, I was finally behind the scenes.  When I worked there, BBW was at the height of its innovation. There was the regular Pleasures line and the Anti-Bac line of course, but there was also Breathe, Aromatherapy, True Blue Spa, Tutti Dolci, C.O. Bigelow, Savannah Bee Company, Le Couvent des Minimes, Temptations, and White Barn Candle Company. Those were the days for sure. After that, there was a short stint at Yankee Candle and later a run at Perfumania. I just couldn’t stay away from beauty products!

During that time, I experimented with making my own bath and products as well. I soon realized that it was just more fun buying what other people had made. And so I discovered bath and body e-tailers. These are companies that hand make their own products, and they often have over 500 different scents available to purchase! I loved slathering myself in the Blueberry Pancake, Strawberry Margarita, Raspberry Cheesecake, and Pineapple Buttercream Cupcake fragrances that e-tailers would offer. It became a very expensive habit, since every fragrance these companies had sounded so flipping delicious! The orders were made from scratch, so once you placed the order, it would be a good month or so wait before receiving the products. Once that package came, it was like Christmas all over again.

And here I am today, an equal opportunity offender.  My current love is nail polish, but I still have a wonderful makeup, perfume and body and body stash as well.  Now with beauty blogs, communities like Makeup Alley and the YouTube beauty community, I am able to share my love for products with people from all over the world! It’s wonderful talking to people who are as obsessed, and often times MUCH MORE obsessed with the beauty world as I am. I’m sure most of you stopped reading about 20 paragraphs ago, but I really enjoyed sharing this with you all and I encourage you to share your beauty story with the world as well!! I tag EVERYONE, beauty nut or not, to do the same!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

My Favorite Discontinued Beauty Products

Perhaps one of the most frustrating things about being a consumer in today’s beauty world is the constant discontinuation of products. Companies are always striving to stay on top of the trends, and it almost seems that sometimes they are trying to discourage people from becoming loyal to one specific product. Sure, part of the reason why we love beauty products is that there is always something new and exciting popping up on the shelves. But for those of us that have had a favorite product discontinued, we realize that the new and shiny stuff comes with a price. The whole “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra just doesn’t seem to ring true in the cosmetics industry these days.

I am one of the lucky ones that always seem to fall in love with products that are doomed from the start. If it’s limited edition, hard to find or extremely unique, I will develop a need for that specific item. Luckily, the exception for me seems to be makeup; any makeup products that I have fallen in love with seem to stick around for awhile. However, I swear to all that is holy, if MAC discontinues the Painterly Paint Pot or Shale eyeshadow, I will boycott them for the rest of my life. Anyways, it is seriously heartbreaking when I go into a store and find that the object of my desire doesn’t even exist anymore! When I recently discovered that my all-time favorite conditioner was discontinued (I will discuss this in a bit), I almost cried. It took me so long to find a conditioner that was the perfect combination of moisture and protein, had the perfect scent that would linger in my hair forever and left me tangle free. Of course, I scoured every store in the area and ended up with about 15 bottles of it. I just used up my last bit a few weeks ago, and it was the end of an era.

So what can you do if your favorite product is discontinued? Unfortunately, not much. I have written to companies (nice letters at first, becoming more indignant with time), made endless calls to customer service, joined “bring back my product” campaigns on Facebook, and even scoured eBay for perhaps the last existing bottles of the product on earth. I once paid $100 for a discontinued candle on eBay. Yes, one hundred crisp American dollars. This was in my teen years before I knew the true value of money, of course.  These days I just don’t have that luxury anymore. So the best I can do is whine about it and write blogs like this, so that  these products will stay alive in the hearts of beauty lovers and perhaps one day, we will see them again. Yeah, right.

Here are some of my favorite products that have bitten the dust.
Bath and Body Works Tutti Dolci Line
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This stuff first came out a few months before I started working at BBW after high school. I had always been a huge fan of anything foody-smelling, but those types of products were quite hard to come across in the mainstream brands. And then came Tutti Dolci! The scents were: Angel Food Cake (as shown above), Pineapple Chiffon,  Lemon Meringue (my personal favorite), Creme Brulee, Cinnamon Frosting, Tiramisu Veneziano, Chocolate Fondue, Fantasia di Cioccolata, Apple Torta, Amaretti, Mango Sorbetto, Sugar Wafer, and Rasberry Granita. I was in heaven with this line! The moisturizing souffles were the perfect, fluffy amount of moisture and the scent would last all day, the body washes were creamy and gorgeously scented and the EDT's were beautifully packaged and always stayed true to the scents. When I found out this line was being discontinued, I really stocked up. Of course, everything got used up eventually and all I have left is a tiny bit of Tiramisu body souffle. BBW, if you are listening, PLEASE BRING THIS LINE BACK! I haven't seen anything this luxurious and wonderfully scented since. 
Bath and Body Works Temptations Line
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Bath and Body works in definitely the absolute WORST offender in my book for committing crimes of discontinuation. The Temptations line has another sad story of being absolutely amazing and then disappearing out of the blue. Apparently, some customers were complaining about this line disappearing and BBW put out a half-assed attempt to revive the line in Christmas of 2009. The scents were absolutely horrid (including a scary attempt at a red licorice scent), and BBW apparently took the fact that the line didn't sell as a sign that customers weren't interested in delicious fragrances. UH, WRONG! The one exception is Twisted Peppermint, which was so popular that they decided to include it in their Holiday Traditions Signature Collection line every year.

Anyways, the scents from the Temptations line were: Frozen Daquiri, Tropical Colada, Pomegranate Martini, Cinnamon Bun Heaven, Spiced Apple Rapture, Pecan Passion, Pumpkin Pie Paradise, Twisted Peppermint, Wickedly Hot Chocolate, Crazy Caramel Corn, Spicy Gingerbread, Island Coconut, Beyond Berry, Mango Colada, Orange Freeze, Frosting Forever, Iced Tea Twist, Melon Cooler, Simply Divine Cherry Pie (my favorite, shown above), Glittery Gumdrop, and several others. I would give anything to be able to buy these scents again!  
Bath and Body Works Pleasures in Fresh Vanilla
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This is the best vanilla scent ever. 'Nough said.  
Bath and Body Works Pure Simplicity Aloe Vera Body Butter
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Okay, I swear this is the last BBW product! I really could have done an entire blog post about all my favorite products that they have discontinued, but I couldn't even find visual evidence that several of the items even existed, such as the Le Couvent des Minimes Orange Cinnamon candle. I am convinced that there is not even one picture of this item in existence! Anyways, this Aloe body butter was amazing! It wasn't greasy or heavy like most body butter can be; it was light, whipped and cooling. The aloe in it made a PERFECT after sun lotion, and really helped with sunburn when I didn't want to cover myself in sticky aloe gel. I have yet to find a product that even comes close to this one in texture and performance. 

The Body Shop Invent Your Scent Altaro Eau de Toilette
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This is the single most amazing perfume I have ever smelled in my entire life. If it was still in production, I don't think I would even need to buy anything else, ever. This Invent Your Scent line came out in 2004 when I was working at The Body Shop (can you tell I have worked for a lot of cosmetics/body products/fragrance companies?) and I was immediately drawn to this scent. It was an incredible mix of cinnamon, clove, sandalwood, and vanilla that was spicy enough to linger on the skin all day, but not too spicy that it gave you a headache. I have actually tried to replicate this fragrance myself on several occasions, mixing different oils at different concentrations, but to no avail. If anyone out there has a suitable replacement, let me know!! The bottle I have been keeping tucked away has finally turned bad, and I just can't wear it anymore. I don't think I'll ever stop looking for something similar.

The Body Shop Melonseed Body Butter
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For a very long time, the particular fragrance of TBS' famous body butter was only available in the UK.  I had heard from my fellow employees that it was outstanding and I was missing out having not experienced it. Sooner or later, the Body Shop smarted up and brought Melonseed to the US during their semi-annual sale. It was love at first sniff. I have always had a melon-fragrance obsession, and this was one of the best I had ever come across. It was a fresh honeydew scent, not overly sweet but just sweet enough. The butter itself was lighter than most and sunk into my skin beautifully. They soon introduced a shower gel in this fragrance as well after realizing the popularity of the Melonseed. But of course, nothing lasts forever and this went into the gutter. Still haven't found a melon scent that was as fresh and true as this one was. 

Yankee Candle Halloween
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Best. Candle. Ever. You will come to know that Halloween is my all-time favorite holiday and I am a sucker for anything Halloween or fall related. In fact, my wedding was Halloween themed! I know what you're thinking, but I can assure you it wasn't one of those creepy zombie-themed weddings where everyone dresses up as the dead and the bride ascends from a coffin at the altar. Think pumpkins, barns, bonfires, and apple cider. Anyways, this candle was the absolute epitome of Halloween: an intoxicating blend of black licorice, cloves, pumpkin and smoke. Every time I would smell it, I would be transported back to the autumns of my childhood, the Halloween parties, the hayrides, the scary movie marathons, pumpkin carving, and most importantly, brisk autumn evenings spent trick-or-treating. For a while, there was one of these up for sale on eBay for $250, but I recently checked and it was gone. To say that this is one of Yankee's most coveted candle is an understatement: if someone paid $250 for it, it has to be the best damned candle in existence. I, for one, believe that it is. 

Escada Ibiza Hippie Perfume
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This limited edition fragrance from 2003 is a wonderful fruity floral mix. Escada comes out with limited edition scents every year along the same lines, but this one is definitely the best. I wore this all of my junior year of high school, and one whiff can send me back to my first car, my first prom, my first SAT test, my first love and my first heartbreak. I even remember the first time I smelled it; I was shopping at Beachwood Mall Nordie's with a friend of mine and I spotted the colorful bottle amongst the boring Ralph Lauren and Estee Lauder fragrances. I, of course, bought the largest bottle of it right one the spot. I have a little mini bottle that I will save for nostalgia, but now that a regular sized bottle is now going for around $100 on eBay, it is safe to say that I will probably never get a brand new bottle of this ever again.

Sexy Hair Concepts Healthy Sexy Hair Pumpkin Conditioner
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My precioussssssssssssssssssssssssss. This came out a few years back when I was working at Trade Secret Salon (see, if a store has anything to do with beauty products, I have probably worked there) and I had to give it a try. I am a huge pumpkin fan in general, and this one has the most delightful pumpkin spice scent ever. The ingredients were great as well: no silicones, no parabens and best of all, it made my hair feel amazing!! When it was discontinued last year, I cleaned out my local Ultas and ended up with about 15 bottles of it. I really hit the jackpot though when I found 2 half-gallon-sized bottles of it at TJ Maxx. Those 2 huge bottles and the 15 regular sized ones lasted me a good year. I did have super long hair so I probably went through it faster than the average person. Anyways, I have found a semi-suitable replacement but I will always, always check TJ Maxx for the off chance that they may have a bottle of this stuff on the shelves!
John Frieda Beach Blonde Ocean Waves Texturizing Spray
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I first started using this stuff in middle school! It was the perfect product to give you that sexy, beach-touseled waves. You would shake the bottle so the two layers would mix together, and you would get a salty, sparkly spray of delicious coconut goodness. I would spray this stuff on wet hair, give it a few scrunches and I would be good to go. It was especially helpful during the dog days of summer when I had nothing to do but lounge by the pool. It was perfect: it had great hold, a great scent and was never sticky or crunchy (unless you used too much, of course).  I have tried several similar products, including Bumble and Bumble's Surf Spray, and they all suck compared to this one. Please John Frieda, bring this product back!!!!
Hard Candy Nail Polish
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Yes, I am aware that Walmart now carries the Hard Candy cosmetics line. But I am talking about the original Hard Candy, circa 1996, when these coveted nail polishes were only sold at Sephora and they came with rubber rings. The colors were so innovative at the time, and the print ads were outstanding! The recent reincarnation of Hard Candy just doesn't cut it for me. Sure, there are some good products in the bunch (namely the Glamoflage concealer), but I miss the old-school stuff! My old Hard Candy nail polishes have long dried up and been tossed in the trash, but I will never forget the giddy excitement as a teenager when I would get a new bottle of Hard Candy polish. Hard Candy really set the nail polish world on fire.

I had to write two papers for school today, so I'm sorry if this blog entry was a bit bland, as I am all worded out for today. Anyways, hope you guys enjoyed that, and helped you reminisce about some of your favorite defunct items. Would love to hear what your favorite discontinued products are! Leave me a comment =)