Monday, April 30, 2012

What I've Been Reading: April 2012

Question of the month: What's your best beauty tip/secret (aside from: drinking lots of water, wearing sunscreen and taking off your make-up at night)?

My best beauty secret at the moment is....baking soda!
Exfoliation is important for healthy looking skin - but it's hard to figure out what to use...some favor natural exfoliators (like the infamous St Ives Apricot Scrub) - others claim that large granules can actually damage your skin - and opt for chemical exfoliators (like Lactic acid used in the Philosophy Microdelivery Pads).

Too add to the confusion - there is a danger in over-exfoliating your skin - especially if you are already using a product like the Clarisonic facial brush (as I do).

I was researching Dermalogica's Daily Microfoliant (rice-based exfoliating powder) when I read that baking soda can be used as a gentle exfoliator (just mix 1 TB into a paste either with some cleansing gel or water) - I thought that this would be the simplest option for me. I use it 1-2 times a week in the shower, before applying a mud mask. My skin feels smooth and soft but not irritated (and believe me - my skin is SO easily irritated, even switching shampoo brands can wreak havoc!).

Most people have baking soda lying round the house - so this is definitely worth a try!

What's your favourite beauty tip/secret? Please do share - discovering and sharing beauty secrets is what first drew me in to blogging!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Lip Balms...I've got plenty

My latest "I've got plenty" post features a universal obsession...lip balms! They're so addictive, most people can't leave the house without a tube. Just writing this post makes me feel like I need to reapply some on my lips - do you feel the same?
I don't think I have TOO many lip balms (although I do own doubles of the honey ones). Here are my thoughts on the ones I own:

This was a nostalgia-driven purchase - in my high school, this was THE gloss to use. The balm has a glossy texture and glides on easily, coating my lips with a rosy flush of color. Smells like raspberry candy - slightly oversweet for my non-teenaged taste. Doesn't work well with my lips - dries it out. Within 2 hours my lips were majorly peeling and I had to apply another lip balm to soothe them. Will not repurchase.

There was a lot of hype surrounding these balms when they first came out (due to their unique shape and adorable packaging) followed by backlash as many bloggers claimed they weren't anything special. This spherical minty balm is fun to apply - you can get both lips in 1 swipe. It feels creamy and tingly but doesn't leave any residue on your lips. I would say that these help keep your lips in good condition, but are not AMAZING - especially if your lips are severely chapped. On the plus side, these are 95% organic and paraben/petroleum/pthalate-free. Not a must-have.

The original Burts Bees lip balm comes in old-school tin packaging. It has a very solid consistency  and requires a lot of effort to get the product on my lips - I usually end up with an exfoliating effect as I apply it (due to repeated rubbing). It leaves my lips feeling soft but sticky and waxy. The high peppermint oil content makes my lips feel tingly - but once the tingling wears off, my lips feel dry and I need to reapply the balm - which I don't like. Will not repurchase.

I don't know if I chose the wrong version, or I received a bad batch - but I'm surprised at how much love the Korres Lip Butters get (especially the Jasmine version) when my one is such a dud. It applies a beautiful glossy flush of color - but within 5 minutes my lips start peeling - it's not pretty. I may try the Jasmine one some day - but will not repurchase this Wild Rose version - my lips just can't take it!

5) Nivea Milk & Honey ($2.99)
This cheerful yellow balm glides on easily. It immediately hydrates my lips leaving them glossy and healthy-looking. The effects last a long time - my lips still feel moisturized up to 2 hours later (if not more), so I don't feel the need to constantly reapply. It also immediately heals any dryness or peeling reaction from using other lip products. My favorite lip balm - if I could only own 1 balm, this would be it. Will ALWAYS repurchase!!!

My favorite balm before I discovered the Nivea honey balm. This is a good basic balm with a pleasant natural scent. It softens your lips and leaves them looking healthy and soft, but not overly glossy. It is MUCH better than the original Burts Bees balm in the tin. Although this is not as rich or moisturizing as the Nivea balm, I like this because the ingredients are more natural - this is the balm I use on my kids. Will ALWAYS repurchase!!!

This watermelon-scented lip balm looks and feels like a lipstick. It goes on smoothly and immediately makes my lips feel softer, but the moisturizing effect doesn't last too long (around 30 minutes to an hour). It's non-glossy texture makes it a good lipstick base, but it's not an essential product. Will not repurchase.

8) Kiehl's Lip Balm #1 ($7)
A cult-favorite, this balm softens lips and leaves them hydrated for a long time. However, while it's good, it's not too exciting: it looks and feels like a lighter version of Vaseline - I might as well just use Vaseline instead. Not a must-have..

IN MY DREAMS (check out the price tag!!!)

This year's free Birthday gift for Sephora Beauty Insiders is the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment Duo($22). Since this gift is so FANTASTIC, I was paranoid that Sephora would run out before my birthday month (in July). Lucky for me, I was recently sent a set by the gorgeous and kind Skylette - thanks sweetie! I've only used it for a couple of days so far - but it may be my new favorite balm. It glides on smoothly and is very hydrating. It has a beautiful natural scent and the rose version adds a lovely flush to my lips. This gift was a smart move from Sephora - I'm sure there are a lot of FRESH converts waiting to purchase the full-size once their minis are finished - including me and my sister!

Which lip balm works best for you?

DISCLAIMER: I purchased all these items myself except for the Elizabeth Grant Stick (came in my Glossybox) and the Fresh Sugar Duo (was a gift).

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Looking Back: Holiday Outfits

Even though I'll be on holiday for another week, I didn't want to leave you without anything to read. As my mind is on holiday-mode, here are links to my earlier posts on vacation outfits:

JUNE 2010: What I packed for my College Reunion in Boston

JULY 2010: Outfits I purchased for our trip to Florida

OCTOBER 2010: Outfits for my London Trip

JAN 2012: Shopping my closet for our second trip to Florida

Friday, April 6, 2012

Looking Back: Diet, Anti-Aging and Thicker Hair

Even though I'll be on holiday for the next 2 weeks, I didn't want to leave you without anything to read. Here are some of my earlier posts on self-improvement:

DIET: I made some healthy diet changes in 2010 which helped me lose 10-15 lbs of post-baby weight...I stuck to this for a year and need to get back to it!

FACIAL MASSAGE: Since my skin doesn't tolerate ANY anti-aging creams, I try to use facial massage to keep my face toned and (hopefully) youthful looking.

FACIAL EXERCISE: Another anti-aging technique - building up facial muscle to make up for loss of fat as we age. I do LouLou's exercises whenever my face looks like it needs a lift.

EYELASH GROWTH: I tried to use a Castor Oil (aka nature's Latisse!) to thicken my lashes. While it kept them in good condition, I didn't notice any additional thickness or length.

HAIR GROWTH: I also tried various methods of increasing the thickness of my hair - which backfired badly when Biotin supplements triggered a VERY bad acne outbreak!


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