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EcoTools 6-Piece Brush Set & Tutorial
Best Of, Cheap Thrills, Earth Friendly, Makeup Fun - Comments (3) - October 9th, 2012

Ever since I first discovered EcoTools, I’ve been a huge fan. Almost all the makeup brushes I use now are from them. The 6-Piece Brush Set is a good place to start if you’re starting a brush collection, as it’s got some good foundation pieces, and is an excellent price.

The 6-piece brush set includes a blush brush, an eye shading brush, an angled eyeliner brush, a concealer brush, a lash/brow groomer, and a nice hemp/cotton brush holder/bag combo. The brush handles are all made out of bamboo (a great renewable resource), the bristles are synthetic, and the ferrules (the metal part) are made from recycled aluminum.

I use all of these brushes every time I put makeup on, and actually have multiples of some of them so I don’t have to clean them between uses. For example, I use the angled eyeliner brush both for eyeliner, but also to apply brow powder – so it’s nice to have two brushes so one can be dedicated to brow powder. I really like the case that comes with this set. In addition to the brush holders, it has a zippered bag to hold makeup, and a velcro flap to secure the brush holder side. It’s great for travel!

EcoTools did a nice tutorial for a pretty jewel-toned eye that uses the 6-piece brush set. You can check it out here.

You can beat the prices. EcoTools brushes are so affordable, but not cheaply made at all. I have several brushes that are now a few years old and they are holding up perfectly despite regular use and washing. I *heart* EcoTools!

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Paul & Joe Bleu Perfume Review
Best Of, Perfume, Reviews - Comments Off - August 24th, 2012

I’ve been in love with the Paul & Joe brand for several years now. Their makeup is the epitome of luxe, in my opinion, with beautiful textures and colors. I sniffed both of the fragrances offered by Paul & Joe a few years ago, and decided that Bleu was my preferred of the two (there is also Blanc). I suspect it’s being discontinued, because I saw it selling for quite a low price from Amazon.com, so I snatched one up. I’m really happy I did, because it’s as good as I remember it.

If you read the reviews on Basenotes, most reviewers mention the similarity to Guerlain’s Shalimar. I’m a very bad perfumista, and can’t actually remember what Shalimar smells like (although I have smelled it before). Clearly, I’ll try to remedy this soon.

The note that catches my attention the most in Bleu is the cumin. My skin magnifies cumin notes LIKE CRAZY, so it’s a really good thing I LOVE the scent. Some people liken cumin to a sweat smell – perhaps this is so. But I still really like it, and it’s somewhat unusual to encounter it in mainstream perfumery. Bleu also has notes of bergamot, coriander, caraway, cardamom, ylang-ylang, jasmine, rose, sandalwood, oud, myrrh, vanilla, and musk. It’s a very smooth scent, but also very rich and very spicy. It has excellent sillage, and wears for hours. I love the pretty blue glass bottle, with its vintage look.

If you love a slightly unusual, warm oriental type of perfume, try to snag this one at the very discounted price. It’s totally worth it.

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St. Ives Naturally Smooth Body Lotion Review
Best Of, Body Care, Cheap Thrills, Reviews - Comments Off - July 25th, 2012

I love it when I find products at the drugstore that not just work, but work REALLY REALLY WELL. St. Ives Body Lotion in the Naturally Smooth formula is the bomb, yo. I was in the market for an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) lotion that didn’t cost the earth, and I’m happy to say I found one.

St. Ives Naturally Smooth Body Lotion contains a fruit AHA complex, that works to gently exfoliate the skin, improve skin cell turnover, and smooth the appearance of rough uneven skin. It really works! I have had a rash on my left shin for 20 years. I am not kidding, 20 years. It’s been a patch of thick, scaly, rough, itchy, red, and irritated skin that I’ve never managed to clear up. I have tried just about every emollient I could think of on it, as well as cortisones. Nada. I noticed a few years ago that it’s often better in the summer, and eventually a light went on in my head. I shave my legs almost every day in the summer, hence the skin gets exfoliated more regularly in summertime. So I tried using physical exfoliators regularly, but that was a no go too. It finally occurred to me to try a daily AHA-type product and see what happened. WHOA. After a month of using this lotion daily (combined with a secret emollient & antioxidant product I can’t tell you about yet!) the rash IS GONE. Cue an image of my jaw on the floor.

This story is, of course, just an anecdote, and I can’t promise that your rashes will be magically cured. (This disclaimer is for the lawyers, lol.)

ANYWAY. The lotion has a very light texture, and sinks in very quickly. It’s not the most moisturizing lotion, hence the secret emollient I use with it on The Rash That Is No More, but St. Ives has other formulas that probably are more moisturizing if that’s your thing. It doesn’t contain mineral oil or parabens, a major plus for a drugstore lotion. The fragrance is also quite light, a sort of citrus and fruit scent that I find pleasant. It doesn’t linger.

What’s quite possibly the best part is how affordable all this amazingness in a bottle is. It’s under six bucks for a 21 fl. oz. bottle! I was looking at another brand of AHA lotion and didn’t feel like spending $13 or so bucks on a little bottle, so I was really pleased to see that St. Ives is a reasonable price.

Overall, I definitely recommend St. Ives Naturally Smooth Body Lotion for anyone looking for smoother, less rough, less dry, and less flaky skin. It gets two thumbs up!

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One Hand Washes The Other’s Black Magic Scrub Review
Best Of, Complexion, Reviews, Skin Care - Comments (1) - June 11th, 2012

Last year I tried One Hand Washes The Other’s Black Magic Soap, and really liked it. Now I have the Black Magic Scrub in my hot little hands, and OH MY. It’s packed with WIN!

Here’s the scoop. The scrub is the cream version of Black Magic with bamboo powder added. Bamboo powder, you say? Yes! Bamboo stems are rich in silica, and this silica makes a great exfoliating powder. I like it because it’s definitely scrubby but it isn’t as rough as other scrubs, like those that use walnut shell powder, for example.

The cream soap contains all the stuff that makes Black Magic, well, magic. That would be the essential oil blend including tea tree, grapefruit, and peppermint, French green clay, activated charcoal, and calendula. It’s a great blend for blemish-prone skin. The scrub part provides surface exfoliation to help keep your skin clear.

I bought the 2 oz. jar to start off with, and it’ll probably last for a while – a little goes a long way. I will likely buy the bigger jar next time, just because I love it so much and it’s worth it. I’ve noticed my skin is a lot smoother. I started using it in the midst of an epic hormonal related acne-fest and it cleared up very quickly and with minimal scarring. TWO ENTHUSIASTIC THUMBS UP!!

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One Hand Washes The Other’s Buttella & Snayk Oyle (And Giveaway!)
Best Of, Body Care, Giveaways, Reviews - Comments (38) - May 25th, 2012

Okay, I’ll admit up front that I’ve gotten to be really good friends with Becca, the genius behind One Hand Washes The Other. But we’re the kind of friends that if she made a product that sucked, she wouldn’t get all butthurt if I told her so. Buttella, her latest product, in fact doesn’t suck. It’s basically full of win. As an added bonus, I recently tried out a sample of Snayk Oyle, and it doesn’t suck either. Here are the details!

Buttella is a whipped cocoa butter with a delightful chocolate hazelnut fragrance blend exclusive to OHWTO. With notes of roasted hazelnuts, vanilla syrup, cocoa absolute and melted chocolate, it’s srs bsns for chocolate lovers. Buttella contains cocoa butter whipped with sweet almond, grapeseed, rice bran, and apricot oils – so basically, it’s a powerhouse of goodness for your skin. It melts on contact with skin, and has light yet significant feel on skin. It’s a little hard to describe, as it’s not at all greasy or oily, but you can definitely feel it on your skin.

Best use for Buttella? Apply it to damp skin directly after your shower or bath, and enjoy soft, moisturized skin for hours. A little goes a long way, so the 4 oz. jar isn’t going to get used up in a week unless you REALLY SLATHER this stuff. The scent is strong, it lingers for a long time. I also like to use it on my hands before bed.

Because Buttella melts at warmer temperatures, OHWTO only offers this in colder times of the year. So you’ll probably have to wait until next fall to order it. But don’t despair because…

…You can use Snayk Oyle in the meantime! Snayk Oyle is a lightweight dry(ish) oil spray, comprised of fabulous skin-loving ingredients like grapeseed and jojoba oils, olive squalane, meadowfoamseed oil, and cyclomethicone. Like with Buttella, apply this to damp skin and your skin feels soft and moisturized for hours. It’s not as rich (no cocoa butter, after all) but for summer use, it’s really quite perfect. What’s more, you can have it scented with the same Buttella scent! I have a Buttella one on the way to me, actually.

Because Snayk Oyle is so full of win, Becca and I are giving away a 2 oz. bottle to one lucky reader! To enter, leave a comment telling me what your favorite summer scent or perfume is. For ONE additional entry, you can tweet about the giveaway (leave a comment with a link to your tweet). This giveaway will run through next Friday June 1st at midnight PDT. Entries must have a valid email. Thanks and good luck!!

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Rosebud Salve Lip Balms
Best Of, Hot Lips - Comments (1) - March 20th, 2012

I’ve been meaning to write a post devoted to Smith’s Rosebud salves for a while now, so here it finally is. The company was started by George F. Smith in 1895, and is still family-owned today. This is definitely part of the charm for me, that it isn’t some slick corporate operation. I love how simple and un-corporate their website is, for example.

My three favorite products are all actually variations on the original Rosebud Salve. I’ll get my nitpick out of the way first: the ingredient lists on the packaging suck. There, I said it. None of them really list what-all is in the product. I overlook this because the STUFF WORKS. But since an incomplete ingredient list might be a deal-breaker for some people, I like to throw it out there first. What all of them have in common is the petrolatum base, which is why I like it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really love plant-based products and usually prefer them. But in the case of dead-of-winter chapped lips, nothing protects my lips like petrolatum, and Rosebud is what I reach for.

As an aside, Rosebud salve works great for spreading next to your hairline and on your ears to keep purple hair dye off your skin. LOL.

The tins are quite large, so you get a lot of product. I also use this as cuticle balm, and I’ve been known to pat small amounts on a sore, chapped nose (from a cold) at night. (Not so great during the day, since it’s tinted and I don’t want to go around with an extra-pink nose, lol.)

The Minted Rose was (and still is) my first favorite. I usually dislike mint in lip stuff, but it’s not super-minty and the rose is a nice mix with mint. The tint is perfect for a your-lips-but-better look. It’s the brightest/most noticeable of the three, in terms of the tint.

The Mocha Rose is amazingly delicious, and a lighter tint. Drugstore.com has a better ingredients list for this one on their website. This one has my favorite FLAVOR. It is lip-smacking good, if you like chocolate, which I do. It has both cocoa and vanilla extracts in it. YUM.

The Brambleberry Rose was my favorite flavor before Mocha Rose came along. The sweet berry-vanilla-rose flavor is yummy. This one has the prettiest tin, in my opinion. The lady is Vivian, the founder G.F. Smith’s granddaughter. The picture is from the 1940′s. Drugstore.com also has ingredients for this one.

I haven’t tried them yet, but now Mocha Rose, Strawberry, and original Rosebud all come in tubes! I think I definitely will be wanting the Mocha Rose, at a minimum. I love tube packaging.

Smith’s Rosebud salves combine a family business with an effective product and I love the retro, metal tins. Overall, these are definitely on my “best of” list.

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EOS: Evolution Of YUM
Best Of, Body Care, Cheap Thrills, Hot Lips - Comments (3) - March 16th, 2012

I discovered eos (Evolution of Smooth) for the first time when I found their lip balm spheres in a drugstore in New York City. Because that was an awesome trip (and the lip balm was great too), I’ve regarded the brand fondly ever since. Since then, they’ve expanded their line to include some new products, including a medicated lip balm and a hand lotion.

The lip balm in the stick comes in three flavors, and I’ve used the Vanilla Bean. The formula seems just a smidgen softer than the sphere formula, but I wouldn’t describe one as better than the other. You’d pick the stick because you want vanilla (no vanilla in the sphere shape) or because you prefer the stick shape to the sphere shape. It’s a nice formula, with olive oil and shea butter. The stick shape is easier to carry in your pocket, for sure.

I have a new favorite sphere flavor too, the Strawberry Sorbet. It’s seriously yummy. The new Medicated Tangerine formula is pretty good too. I had to look up what the medicated part was all about – since the eos website is a little vague. The Medicated part is phenol, which helps reduce the itching and burning associated with dry chapped lips and cold sores. Phenol also helps to gently remove old, dry and peeling skin found on very chapped lips. It’s a common active ingredient in medicated lip balms for chapped lips. For winter time, you can’t beat the Medicated Tangerine for keeping your lips soft and protected. Like the stick, the formulas include olive oil and shea butters to nourish and hydrate. eos is definitely my favorite drugstore brand lip balm! The little sphere shapes are just so cute, and all the flavors are yummy. I haven’t tried the Lemon Drop SPF yet, but it’s on my list.

The hand lotion is another new product. I love the packaging! The little pod shape is so cute and the 1.5 oz size is perfect for tucking in your purse. I tried the Berry Blossom, which is a sweet fruity fragrance. The scent doesn’t linger too long on your hands, which I like. The formula sinks right in, with no greasy feel. It has some nice vegetable oils like sunflower, macadamia, and shea butter to nourish and hydrate your skin. It’s a cute little nugget and it works great too! The small size is also air travel friendly.

I’m still a huge fan of the eos shaving cream. I’ve been pretty devoted to the Vanilla Bliss, but I have to say the Pomegranate Raspberry is seriously YUM smelling too. I’m a big fan of the container – the pump is easy to use, and the plastic is soft and doesn’t hurt as much if you drop it on your foot (as I tend to do). I’ve tried other formulas, but I keep coming back to eos.

I haven’t tried the eos body lotions yet, but they’re next on my list!

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Review: Mychelle Perfect C Serum & Supreme Polypeptide Cream
Best Of, Complexion, Skin Care, Splurge Worthy - Comments (1) - March 15th, 2012

I have two more MyChelle Dermaceuticals products to add to my list of AWESOME: The Perfect C Serum and the Supreme Polypeptide Cream. Let me give you the scoop.

MyChelle Dermaceuticals is all about combining plant-based active ingredients with cutting edge skincare, to bring to consumers effective, safe products. You can read more on their website about this. I like their philosophy, it fits with the kinds of choices I want to make about the products I buy.

Let’s start with the Perfect C Serum. According to the website:

Advanced formula to protect skin’s health while combating the signs of aging. A potent 17% dose of clinically proven L-Ascorbic Acid helps to strengthen collagen and improve skin texture. L-Ergothioneine boosts cellular energy and helps interrupt the stress reaction that destroys elastin. Buddleja Plant Stem Cell protects against photo-damage and oxidative stress through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.

What does that mean? It’s supposed to help with texture, smoothness and firmness, and protect your skin from sun damage and stress. Two pumps under moisturizer is all you need, so the bottle does last a while. The only thing I’m not in love with is the scent – it’s a bit pungent right out of the bottle. However, it fades quickly, so it’s not really a big deal. The serum sinks right in. I haven’t experienced any breakouts from it – on the contrary, I think it’s helped with my blemishes, keeping them at bay and fading redness from old acne marks really quickly. It’s $41.79 on the MyChelle website for 0.5 oz – a bit pricey, but worth the splurge. I love serums – you get a lot of bang for your buck. Personally, I’m willing to drop the dough on serums and take it easy on moisturizers.

The Supreme Polypeptide Cream is soooo nice. Here’s what the website says about it:

Nutrient-rich recontouring cream lifts and retexturizes skin for a more refined, youthful appearance. Matrixyl® synthe’6™ reduces wrinkle volume by 21% and wrinkle depth by 19% in 8 weeks. Proteasyl® TP Pea Peptide is clinically proven to improve skin’s elasticity, increasing overall firmness by 35% in just 6 weeks. Rice Peptides improve skin smoothness while Syn®-Coll Peptide triggers skin’s own reparative function to accelerate collagen production.

I lurve this cream. It’s rich, but not greasy, it smells AMAZING, it feels so good on my face. I use it at night, and wake up to the softest skin. I’ll admit, I’m only 33 and I don’t have a ton of wrinkles or anything – so I can’t comment on whether or not it’s going to take years off your face. What I can say is, my face loves it. I like that it’s probably keeping my skin looking younger, longer. There is an unscented version for sensitive skin, too. At $53.39 for a 1.2 oz. jar, it’s definitely on the splurge side. If money were no object, I’d totally keep buying it. Since I’m on a budget, I’m going to keep using the Pumpkin Renew Cream, which isn’t an anti-aging powerhouse but does have its own good points.

If you are looking at putting together an anti-aging skincare regimen, I would definitely look into MyChelle Dermaceuticals. They represent a good value for your money, and the products are a pleasure to use.

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