Dear readers,

There is an issue I would like to bring to your attention that will hopefully help to prevent some disappointment from future purchases of certain beauty items.

So, lets say I’m in the market for a new hair dryer. I want salon quality without the price tag but any old drug store dryer just won’t do. The dryer I want is $150, but I see there is a travel size for only $100! Should I:

  1. Pick the travel size because it will save me some money and save space.
  2. Go with the original size.

If you are like most consumers, you probably picked the first option to save a bit of money. The best answer is really 2. By the way, this is just a pretend scenario. I happen to love my Conair from Target.

Most electric “travel size” beauty accessories (i.e. hair dryers, flat irons, styling tools, and skin care items that require an outlet or batteries) are just that- travel size and only for travel. They often have shorter warranties and are not intended for daily use. They will not usually hold up to every day wear and tear and are meant for occasional use, hence why they are for travel.

Think of it this way: If you wash and condition your hair at least five times weekly, little travel sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner would last, at most, only for that one week (maybe longer if you have shorter hair). You would possibly end up spending more on the smaller size items then to just shell out for full size shampoo and conditioner.

It is the same concept for beauty appliances. You might be saving a little money for the moment, but you’ll spending more in the long run, having to purchase a new one when the manufacturer deems the warranty void because it wasn’t used as intended. And, as previously mentioned, the warranties are often much shorter in duration, sometimes by up to a few years.  

If you really do intend to use it occasionally then you will be fine with purchasing the travel size with no problems at all. Just make sure that if you find yourself using it more often to invest in the full size/original size version.

XOXO,

A.

Skin Care Expiration

August 31, 2009

suggestion

 

Have you ever been using your favorite skin care or body product and think, “So when does this expire, anyway?”

Some products do have expiration dates, though those are few and far between. Many brands have an expiration suggestion printed on the back of the bottle, jar, ot tube. It looks like a jar with the lid open and has a number printed inside. This number indicates the number of months after opening the product that it should be good for. Conditions such as contamination (IE dipping unwashed hands into a jar) or forgetting to put the lid back on the product can shorten that amount of time.

In the above photo, one of my products is optimal to use until six months of opening, while another is good for 24 months. The amount of time will vary from product to product depending on factors such as ingredients (essential oils, plant or fruit extracts, parabins aka preservatives, and etc.).

if you are using a skin care product as directed, it should not last longer then the expiration suggestion. Some products (body items, for example) may last longer then the suggested amount of time. In these cases, it’s best to monitor the texture, color, and scent for any changes which can indicate it has spoiled.

Don’t remember when you first opened a product? I always try to mark the bottom or somewhere inconspicuous with the month and year, just so I don’t forget. This is also a good idea if your product doesn’t suggest any time frame of expiration so you will know how long it’s been around.

The gym shoe rant

May 27, 2009

gym

 

Going to the gym is so not on my list of fun things to do. However, I am not one to just run around the block or even pop in a mundane exercise video. Having a gym membership, for me, means that I’ll go because I don’t want to waste money. Lately, my feet have been hurting after my workouts. Granted, my feet hurt from constantly standing at work, but they shouldn’t hurt all the time.

I purchased two new pairs of shoes to wear to the gym today. I had a really fantastic discount coupon and it’s been ages (November 2000) since I’ve purchased new athletic shoes. I’d say it was about time for new ones! I honestly didn’t think much or wearing 8 year old shoes. I figured they were just as great as the day I bought them. Well, I was wrong! They turned out to be the reason for my foot pain.

I tried on what seemed like a zillion pairs and it was like walking on air. Let me tell you, shoe technology has come a long way since 2000. They are light weight and bouncy! I ended up with a pair of Nike’s and New Balances. I always thought New Balance shoes were “cheap” (i.e. sold at K-Mart) but oh no my friends, I learned today that they are, in fact, quite expensive.

While picking out shoes, I noticed that manufacturers certainly produce a lot of pink shoes. I kind of like pink in moderation but it’s nowhere near my favorite color. I don’t even think I own a single piece of pink clothing (besides undies). It’s like shoe manufactures think, “All girls like pink! Lets make 90% of our shoes pink and they will totally buy them! We’ll sell them for $150 and they won’t even notice because they’ll be so happy to have pink workout shoes!” Omg. No. Just no.

Perhaps in another 8 years when I buy athletic shoes again, there will be less of a pink color selection. Now I remember why I would only buy my athletic shoes in high school from the little boys department: no pink! BTW: both pairs I bought today are blue and silver. Even the black shoes had a trace amount of pink!

bliss

I’ve been using Bliss Best of Skintentions SPF 15 moisturizer as my day hydrator for the past few weeks and I’ve been loving it. It’s not heavy, has antioxidants, and features subtle pretty skin illuminators. I also love the Japanese SPF PA++ rating. Bliss Best of Skintentions SPF 15 moisturizer has all of these, plus minerals and omega 3 fatty acids. Finally, a skin care product that gives me everything I want and more! While it is a fantastic formula, the scent is not my favorite. It’s a fresh floral that seems to disappear when I apply my makeup over it. When I go bare faced, the scent lingers for an hour or so. If you are not particularly sensitive to fragrance you probably won’t even notice.

Bliss is carried at Sephora, The W Hotel, select Nordstrom, Macy’s, Saks, and other department stores and boutiques. Check out the Bliss website to find a retailer near you.

tbscranberryhugs

I love The Body Shop, especially the seasonal cranberry items. The cranberry scent is calming, light and not too sweet or tart. Yum! Last year they had cranberry heatable feet hugs and cranberry heatable body hugs, both are cozy, soft material that contain little pouches you heat in the microwave. They retain heat and you can bask in the warmth they give off. I wanted both of the hugs over the holidays but was too lazy to order them. Well, laziness pays off because I was randomly browsing TBS site and found them on sale for $13 each! They were previously $26 each.

My favorite of the two is the feet hugs. They feel divine after a long day of standing and walking. I also have feet that turn cold easily so I foresee these being my favorite thing next winter. I like the body hug and I wish it was a bit longer. I’ve only used it once and it didn’t seem to retain heat very long, although I know with such products it takes a few uses for them to hold heat longer. It will probably be my BFF when I’m crampy or sore.

All in all, at the sale price, I’d say these are both worth it. They are still available on TBS website, and are currently listed under the “specials” tab in “last chance” so they may be gone soon.

I also got a free coconut shower cream. I chose coconut because I adore their coconut body butter (my fave scent, next to mango). When you spend $25 or more (before tax and shipping) you can choose a free shower gel online or at participating stores. This offer is valid until April 19th.

ao

For the past two weeks, I’ve been using Josie Maran Argan Oil under my PM moisturizer (currently Korres Thyme Honey Moisturizer). Love, love, love! I want to bathe in it but alas, I only have a small sample vial of the product. You can also use Argan Oil as a hair treatment, on your body, and it’s also recommended for dry cuticles and eczema.

My oily skin is prone to occasional breakouts, especially when I’m PMSing. Since I started using it, my skin looks clear, radiant, and feels a tad less oily. It’s certainly not a miracle product but I do admittedly adore it, so far. The texture is neither thin nor thick, it is quickly absorbed, and doesn’t have a heavy scent. I’d describe it as slightly earthy in a good way. While I like this brand, I am also researching other brands that sell the same product for perhaps a bit less. I might break down and buy a bottle if I don’t find a suitable alternative. Buyer beware: make sure you check ingredients of what you are buying as some companies add fillers to keep the price down.

firefount

For my birthday, my mom bought me one of those cheesy drug store fountains with “calming” LED lights. More specifically, it’s the “cordless tranquility fire pit fountain” from Innovage Home. She knew I haven’t been sleeping well lately and thought it would help to hear water in the background. Awe, thanks Mom! Last night I inserted the required two “AA” batteries and 8 oz of water, turned it on, and tried drifting off to sleep. The motor kept me up and the trickling water sound was totally annoying. She totally meant well and I feel like I have to use it or at very least keep it somewhere conspicuous so she can say, “I’m so glad you like my gift!” Maybe the more I use it, the more I’ll like it?

lvanillavanillavender

 

When the LAVANILLA brand debuted about two years ago with three fragrances, I was instantly in love with the vanilla grapefruit scent. It was soft and the perfect balance of sweet and tart. I was also excited about the brand because the fragrances were sans alcohol, which can be drying to skin. Other items in the brand are formulated with natural ingredients and boast being free of parabens, synthetic fragrances and dyes, petro-chemicals, phthalates, GMO, and triclosan.

I’m currently burning their new lavender vanilla candle and I’m totally loving it. The scent is perfect in this form, not too heavy, not to soft. The “throw” is fairly decent (the distance you can smell the candle from). I also love that it burns clean without emitting any soot or toxins into the air. If you need a simple, relaxing indulgence, this candle might be for you. It burns for up to 60 hours, so you have plenty of time to enjoy the relaxing scent.

Love candles but want another way to enjoy the fragrance? Try their fragrances, body butters, shower gels, and lip products. LAVANILLA is available at Sephora, Nordstrom, Bliss, Fred Segal, and at the Home Shopping Network.

 Ladies also take note.

wf1

1. First, and most important, be consistent! The more you take care of your skin, the better it will look. Think of it like going to the gym: once a week won’t really do much for you but if you go daily, you’ll notice a real difference. It’s the same with your skin.

2. Cleanse your skin twice daily. If you are aiming for clearer skin, this is an important step to cleanse away dirt and oil.

3. Protect your skin by using an SPF of at least 15 and if you work outdoors, make sure to reapply every few hours.

4. Exfoliate! Not only will it help shed dull, dead skin cells, it will help any creams or lotions penetrate the skin more effectively. Some cleansers do double duty by exfoliating, so check the label. Look for BHA’s (or beta hydroxy acid) or anything that mentions exfoliation.

5. Hydrate your skin with a good moisturizer, preferably without an SPF in the product. A moisturizer sans SPF can be used in the AM and PM.

Shopping Tips:

While there are skincare brands that specifically cater to men, you can use any brand. There aren’t any “women only” brands, though quite often the packaging is designed to appeal to that market.

You don’t need to drop a lot of cash on your skincare routine. The age old debate of department/specialty store VS drug store products is a personal decision and neither is right or wrong.

Heads up: unlike drug stores, you will receive personalized help at a department store counter or store like Sephora then at a drug store, so if you have questions, they tend to be good places to start.

If you do have a Sephora in your area, you can make an appointment for a complimentary consultation. This is a free session (usually a few minutes in length up to a half hour) where a skincare expert can demo the products on your skin, help establish a routine that fits your skincare needs and lifestyle, and they can answer any questions you may have. You can check their website (www.sephora.com) to find store locations.

If you need a few items at once, are trying a new brand,  or are just starting out using skincare, gift sets and travel packs are a great way to try products out. They are often smaller then full size items and can help you figure out what you like best. They also tend to be great values for your money.

Some department store counters charge for consults, so be sure to check prices. Sometimes the cost of the consult is redeemable in products.

You can also walk up to any counter or store at any time and they should be able to help you find products right for you if you are short on time. This should be free and quick (under five minutes).

If you feel pressured to buy something and aren’t ready to commit, see if you can take home a sample of the product to try first. Some places sample generously and some don’t.

If heading to the drug store, most brands have packaging on the box that will tell you what they do (i.e.: cleanser for oily skin or moisturizer for all skin types).

I <3 baths

January 13, 2009

spaspaspa

I love taking a nice, long, hot bath. Right now, Bath and Body works is having their sale and I had a gift card to use. I got sooooo much stuff for under $30! I love a good sale even more then a hot bath. I purchased tons of sleep-inducing aromatherapy items and have been slowly trying them out, one by one.

bbwsale

My purchase included a Black Chamomile set (above) that is just fabulous. It’s a bit heavier then other chamomile scents I’ve tried in the past and it’s quite nice. The set includes a body lotion, bath and shower gel, pillow mist, and aromatherapy roll-on that’s designed to lull you into dream land. I’m not super enthused with the roll on. Either mine is “off” (it smells weird) or the scent doesn’t agree with me. I also dislike the little cutesy things BBW adds to its gift packs (in this set, it was a little lamb). Over all, at $10, this set was a huge steal and I totally recommend it. I pretty much slept like a baby the first night I used it.

I also indulged in the Warm Milk and Honey Luxe Bath. AMAZING! The scent is light and calming and my skin felt super soft afterwards. If I had known this would be my new favorite thing, I would have gotten more Milk and Honey items instead of the others.

Since one of my favorite bath and shower gels happened to be on sale for $5, I bought a bottle and the matching body lotion. I received the coordinating pillow mist as a holiday gift since I ran out just before Christmas (I previously had the old packing that was long and featured faux botanicals inside). They are best when used together, although you can absolutely use them separately.

All of that said, I generally am NOT a Bath and Body Works fan, save for the Warm Vanilla Sugar and Sensual Amber scents. The sleep line of aromatherapy stuff IS indeed something to check out if you happen to be near a store.