March 21, 2017

BOX OF STYLE

Last week I blogged about my new experience with the Birchbox subscription service, a box of selected samples of makeup and beauty related products, that are sent to you each month.  What I didn’t share in last week’s blog is that I also subscribed to Box of Style The Zoe Report!  Box of Style The Zoe Report  is a quarterly subscription service that delivers each box filled with fashion, beauty, and lifestyle items that will upgrade the wardrobe you already own.  If you subscribe to the Box of Style, you are getting a box of items put together by Rachel Zoe for each season of the year. My subscription started with the spring box.  All boxes are anchored around a “Hero” piece.  The cost of this subscription is $99.99 each season/$400 yearly, and it can be cancelled at anytime. It is advertised that the total value of the products are over $400/box.  I received my first box last week and here are my impressions of what was sent.

Tribe Alive Custom Carryall, retail value: $238

♦This is the “Hero” piece; the bag is constructed with hand-woven cotton, fully lined, brass zippers, and leather trim.  It has one interior zippered compartment and two open side pockets.  It is surprisingly light in weight, roomy, and the picture does not do it justice. Tribe Alive was founded by Carly Burson. She partners with female artisans to help employ impoverished women at fair-trade wages.

Tatcha Polished Rice Enzyme Powder, retail value: $65

I was ecstatic when I found Tatcha Polished Rice Enzyme Powder in this box.  I’ve used different brands of exfoliating powders, and I knew this one was the best. I currently use this product.  The rice based powder activates when it comes into contact with water, you massage in circular motion and the powder becomes a creamy foam.  Rinse with water and you now have a soft and smoother complexion.  I use this at bedtime.  It is a great exfoliator, but even better, this was a full size bottle of the product.  Tatcha was founded by Victoria Tsai.  

Adornmonde Ivo Earrings, retail value: $62

 ♦These are a pair of convertible earrings/ear jackets.  They are a bar bell stud design, with an open circle ear jacket.  They are very nice, but are just not my style.  Adornmonde was founded by Niki Allworth, she designs limited edition jewelry.  

BKR 500ml Water Bottle, retail value: $35

♦When I opened the box and saw the glass water bottle, I was disappointed.  I had already destroyed two infusion water bottles and didn’t think I’d have better luck with this one.  The silicone cover is thick and has protected the bottle.  Yes, I’ve dropped it already, but I like it!   The lid does not leak, and the cap has a comfortable carrying ring.  The bottle and  silicone cover are easy to clean.  All glass water bottles are heavy, a small price to pay for an eco-friendly product! BKR, founded by Tol Winter and Kate Cutler.

Symology Scarf, retail value: $50

A great accent to any outfit.  Love the gold and berry color, and the softness of this scarf. This scarf can be used as a hair tie, on a bag, or draped loosely around your neck. Symbology was founded by Marissa Heyl.

butter London Piece of Cake Nail Polish, retail value:$18

Absolutely adore this nail lacquer!  I’ve only recently started using it and was very pleased to find this in the Box of Style.  What makes this lacquer so great is that it promotes stronger and healthier nails while being chip and fade resistant.  butter London does not add the following chemicals to their lacquer:   Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, DBP, Toluene, Camphor, Ethyl Tosylamide, Xylene, and TPHP.   butter London was founded by Sasha Muir with the help of Nonie Creme.

The Spring Box  pleasantly surprised me!  I was anxious to know whether I had made a good decision when subscribing to this service, and now I anxiously await the summer edition!

Hopefully the end of Winter!

     

March 14, 2017

FIRST IMPRESSIONS!

Dealing with rheumatoid arthritis and all the negative effects it can have on one, both physically and mentally have been a challenge.  This challenge has led to my ingenuity to bet RA at its own game!  Not all individuals with chronic illnesses choose to acquiescence and live the symptoms of the condition.  Other than the pain and suffering it sometimes causes, I am most interested in thwarting the physical manifestations of the condition!  I don’t mean camouflaging swelling or disfiguration, I’m talking cosmetic appearance.   Many individuals with active chronic diseases choose to continue actively in their pre-diagnostic world, and I’m one of them!  My pre-chronic illness was full of superficial choices, now, all choices are determined on how they may adversely affect me.  Since health and beauty products are pricey, and there are times that a product did not work out, a viable option was to sign up for the Birchbox, and test drive products!  

Birchbox is a health and beauty product subscription service which sends you a box with five samples, each month.  The service is reasonably priced at $10/month or $99/annually. This is a modest investment to ensure that a make-up or skincare product agrees with you. Even though cosmetics are returnable, not all cosmetic representatives are amenable when you return a product.  So, I signed on February 23rd, and within weeks, I received the March Birchbox!  

The attractive box contained:

♥amika Silken Up Dry Conditioner

Used this product to refresh my hair in between washes (used as a dry shampoo).  The conditioner made my hair look as if I just dried it, with a lovely aroma.  Satisfied, would probably purchase this product.

Coastal Scents® Revealed Smoky Eye Shadow

The sample of the eyeshadow contained only two of the four shades of the full size version. I was able to create a smokey/muted eye, with the two shades.  The eyeshadow is easily blendable and can be worn sheer or built to a bold intensity. 

Davines OI Shampoo and Conditioner

Single foil packets of the shampoo and conditioner, both paraben and sulfate free. Comparing the results of Davines shampoo and conditioner, to my Living Proof products, resulted in no obvious difference.

Davines OI All in One Milk

A post shower leave-in treatment, a couple of spritz and I dried my hair.  It is a weightless conditioner that gave my hair body and shine.  I really liked this product.  

♥Real Chemistry Fresh-Start Foaming Cleanser

A cream-to-foam cleanser that gently cleansed while nourishing, left my skin soft and supple with a light and fresh grapefruit scent.

Coola® Mineral Face SPF30 Unscented Matte Tint

This is a tinted sunscreen/BB Cream with anti-aging benefits.  It is supposed to even your skin tone, I didn’t see it.  

So, that’s the whole contents of the box.  Whether I purchase any of these products, I can’t really say, but it certainly was worth the money to try them out.  There is no shipping and handling fees when you join annually. Even though stores have return policies and Sephora is very generous with samples, it makes me uncomfortable to go into stores and ask for samples or return disastrous products.  Having a box delivered once a month will keep me satisfied in my quest to find the best fitting products.

 

February 21, 2017

Is Makeup Really Good For You?

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think makeup was necessary or good!  I only wanted to wear makeup sparingly, on special occasions or Halloween, because I questioned how good it could be for my skin, since you needed special removers to clean it off your face. Well, being of a certain age; and dealing with the side effects of RA medications, my opinion has changed, I need makeup.  When I wear makeup I not only feel good, I get a boost of confidence that I need on difficult days, so if I feel good, I look good!

I’m extremely self-conscience of facial age spots, what better way to deal with them is to apply a tinted moisturizer containing protection from the sun.  It’s a win-win for me, I’m protecting my skin from the elements and camouflaging my facial imperfections.  I don’t apply makeup to display my physical attractiveness (remember I’m no Spring chicken) and I’m not trying to transform myself into something different from what I am.  I’ve just come to the conclusion, out of necessity that make-up lifts my spirit and makes me look put together and polished.   This being said, I’ve found the silver lining associated with wearing makeup, many products contain ingredients that are good for your skin.  Most of the products I purchase are anti-aging, contain antioxidants, and since they contain sunscreen, I can eliminate one product from my morning ritual.

NEIGHBORHOOD SQUIRELS 

February 7, 2017

COLD WEATHER SKINCARE UPDATE!

It’s been my experience, especially since being diagnosed with RA, the cold of winter can inflict damage on fingers and hands, as well as making your face look weather-beaten. Even though I already have plenty of product, I’m always scouting out the best winter regime I should be following.  Last fall I purchased many Sephora brand products and religiously used them daily, bi-weekly, or weekly for approximately 12+ weeks.  The reason I stuck with this regime was that it takes approximately a month to realize the benefit of a product, the benefit won’t be visible until a full cycle of skin cell turnover takes place.  In addition to the Sephora products, I found two dry shampoos that do not make my dry hair even drier, and a body cream containing argan oil.  Here are my impressions of the products I purchased in early October.  

Winter cold and dry air always takes its toll on my eye and lip area.  Since I cannot go and get facials as much as I would like to, I used the eye mask and lip mask twice a week. The Shea lip mask had a difficult application.  I have a good size lip area, but the mask not only covered the lip, it covered a large surrounding area.  I don’t believe that was a bad thing, but it was messy.  You keep the mask on for 15 minutes, then remove the sheet, and your left with some excess that you are instructed to massage into your skin.  For $3.00 per application, it is a good value and it will moisturize and hydrate your lips.

The Pearl eye mask proved to be another challenge to apply and position the patches under each eye area.  The eye mask moisturized and hydrated my eye area, but don’t expect this eye mask to reduce fine lines or reduce puffiness.  You also have to be careful when you gently massage the excess product under your eyes, really sensitive after the treatment. For $5.oo per application, it is a good value, for a temporary fix.   I don’t think I’d do this again, I will make the appointment to see Debby Votta, and have my skin care needs addressed, professionally.  I had better results with the Argan hand mask and the Lavender foot mask.  The hand mask, costing $6.00 an application was pretty fun.  It is one pair of disposable non-drip, coated gloves. Supposedly, the skin enhancing benefit of these gloves are anti-aging and evenness of color.  I didn’t notice my hands looking better, but they felt more supple and hydrated for a few days.  It didn’t seem to have any longterm benefits other than the relaxing nature, for 15 minutes the gloves are on.  

The Lavender foot mask was pretty spiffy!  The disposable socks that you soak in for 20 minutes smelled great and felt wonderful while on.  For $5.00 an experience, it was well worth it.  I felt relaxed and it alleviated the minor aches for the time my feet were in the socks.  I don’t believe it had any long-term benefits, but I thoroughly enjoyed this product. Sometimes I think that’s what I sometimes need, a break from RA symptoms and some pampering!

The two dry shampoos were good.  My shampoo/conditioner of choice for quite a while, has been Living proof, so I was interested in trying the Perfect hair Day dry shampoo.  I don’t use dry shampoo to absorb oils between shampooing, I use the dry shampoo to refresh my hair between shampoos.  Perfect hair did the the trick, I finger the product through my hair and brush, this is a good product but left my hair heavily scented, not in a bad way, just a strong fragrance.  Good product, but when compared to the Klorane dry shampoo, there is no comparison.  Klorane is the superior product.  It not only works as a dry shampoo should, absorbing excess oil from hair, it adds volume and texture to your hair after application and leaves your hair looking healthy and smelling fresh and clean.  

Lastly, I’ve added another Josie Maran products to my repertoire of favorite beauty products.  The Josie Maran DIVINE Drip Honey Butter Balm in Pure Honey is remarkable, the best body moisturizer I’ve used to date.  I apply this product onto slightly damp skin after showering, it soaks quickly into my skin leaving me with soft and moisturized skin, without being sticky.  There is no sign of residue on my towels, my skin, which is normally dry, looks healthy, and smells delicious,  another Josie Maran keeper!  

As I stated earlier, it takes time for skin care products to show their benefits.  A products benefit won’t be visible until a full cycle of skin cell turnover takes place.  I sometimes think I’m searching for the perfect, be all to end all products, that would okay if my skin stayed the same year in and year out, so my search is always ongoing.    As weather changes, and medication changes, my skin care products will have to change according to my skin’s condition and needs.  Be well!  

 

January 10, 2017

Some New Things!

This week’s entry is not intended to showcase what I got for Christmas, but to showcase some remarkable products I’ve been using lately, and some items I’ve received as Christmas presents, that I think are worth mentioning!

For years, the purchasing of beauty gift sets, for myself at Christmas time, has been one of the most enjoyable secular activities of the holiday.  Since I’ve been doing this for years, I had a difficult time ignoring some new additions to beauty sets that I’ve already used. It was too good to give up, so I purchased the Josie Maran Infinite Argan Enlightenment Duo and the First Aid Beauty Fab Holiday Trio, both containing an item I’ve never tried.  The first new product, part of the Josie Maran  duo was the Argan Infinity Intensive Creamy Oil.  According to “How to Use”, you are directed to:  “Smooth onto face before applying makeup, or use to smooth flyaways, or condition lips or…” that was it.  So I visited the Sephora website and learned that there was over 20 uses for the this product. The Josie Maran website makes claim to this product being used on eyes, lips, or any other part of body.  It can smooth rough patches, and can be used as a highlighter.  Wow, the Holy Grail! Sounded a little too good to be true, yet if you remember my Josie Maran “Whimsical Wonder” critique, you would know how much respect for the brand, I have.  So I gave it a whirl, for approximately 20 days I used this product under my eyes, even when I didn’t leave the house, and squeezed a dab of this into my moisturizer each morning,  liked it, a lot!  The results were; reduced puffiness under my eyes and I did not experience any major dryness on my face when using this product.  The descriptions of Josie Maran products as stated, have always  been accurate, which speaks to the integrity of the brand. The other new product in the First Aid Beauty Fab Holiday Trio was the Ultra Repair Lip Therapy . Their face cleanser and facial radiance pads are truly remarkable, but the lip therapy was nothing to write home about.  I did not dislike nor like the product, but I do like an angled dispenser that dispenses a limited amounts of product,  which this lip product had.  

One of my suggestions for a Christmas present from my husband was the Christian Louboutin Velvet Matee Lip Colour in “Just Nothing”.  This was an expensive, frivolous, request that I am so glad I made.  I have been known to be occasionally distracted by shiny objects, this time it worked out.  “Just Nothing” is a strong beige full coverage lipstick.  My lips have darkened as I’ve matured and neutral shades lipsticks have disappeared after application.  After reading many of the reviews for this product, I knew it would work for me.  It starts with the most flattering color, unlike any other neutral I’ve used.  The smooth texture makes for an easy application that is highly pigmented and buildable.  I find the lipstick easy to wear, casual or occasion with a slight shine and most importantly, it did not dry out my lips.  I must stop, before I gush, I love this lipstick!  

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The presentation is beautiful, and that is not the best part of this expensive experience!
On the last day of work before Christmas break, I found a really cute looking gift in my mailbox.  Robyn Peterson, a Pure Haven Essential  representative left a Pure Haven essentials lip balm for me.  After taking a picture of it, I tried it and was very impressed. What hit me first was the pleasant aromatic nature of the product.  It is a 100% natural lip balm, which makes sense, the scent was subtle, not pungent.  This lip balm has a smooth and even application, that is long-lasting and moisturizing.  This is a product I believe you cannot go wrong with!  
My Week In Pictures!  Let it Snow!!!!!
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