Category Archives: Hobbies

Cleanse, rinse, moisturize, repeat – A year of face products

I gave up on subscription boxes when I realized I was more disappointed than delighted at their arrival.  I like decent sample sizes because they can save me from returning a full size via shipping as most green beauty products aren’t yet available here, and smaller sizes are great when traveling.  Sometime last year I thought I’d save up all the empties and review the products from the last year of subscription boxes and gift with purchase bags.  In the spirit of not wasting, I spent the past eleven months using nearly everything even if it meant putting expensive moisturizer on my feet.

First up in the empties is Metta Skincare Intensive Replenishing Face Balm.  Giving the Metta jar a sniff it smells good but I remember every single face balm wasn’t great for break outs, so I probably used this on my neck, chest and arms.  De Mamiel Restorative Cleansing Balm, broke me out too and smelled of Lemon Pledge furniture polish.  I finally used up the entire jar on my feet where the lemony scent would be farthest from my nose.  MAYA CHIA Supercritical Chia Waterless Wonder Balm.  I loved this product as a lip balm.  And I loved the scent.  I even got a little education from looking up the definition of supercritical.  I refuse to pay for a new one, especially when what I want is an awesome balm in a tube I can take anywhere.

That led me to try new lip balm products.  Why are lip products important?  Because whatever you put on your lips you’re going to eat a portion of.  I have all of the S.W. Basics organic lip balms but no plans to repurchase those after they are gone.  I got a tube of R.L. Linden & Co. La Balmba Rosa lip balm and love it. Love it.  After I discovered it I learned they went out of business so the quest continues.  What does the Linden balm have that I love so much?  It is smooth going on, there are no shea butter bits, it feels perfect, not too waxy, not too heavy, and my lips love it.  Also, it lasts.  One application and my lips are happy for a very long time, whereas the S.W. Organic balms disappear quickly, my lips still feel as dry and I have to reapply far more times.

On to lipsticks and tinted lip products, I used almost half of the Modern Minerals Lip Creme Tint.  I liked the color but not the strong mint scent.  Speaking of strong mint scents, the NOTO Multi-Benne Stain Stick opened up my sinuses with each use. I got a jar of Kari Gran tinted lip whip and love it and love that it has no scent but I’m wondering why they can’t put this in a stick form.  Pacifica Deeply Devoted Natural Lipstick feels good, smells okay, goes on like a dream but the colors are not for me.  I could write a paragraph about that but let me just say that if the colors work for you, I suggest them.

A Bite lip product I love is High Pigment Lip Pencil.  I love how it feels on.  However, I got the Sephora Bite birthday gift this year and the two color products inside, a Matte Creme Lip Crayon and Amuse Bouche Lipstick have a faint scent that gives me headaches each time I apply them.  I knew about the Amuse Bouche from previous samples, but I was hoping the Lip Crayon didn’t have that same issue.  Sadly it does.  The lip scrub and lip balm samples, tiny blister packets, that were also inside are nice.  I’m considering buying the Agave Lip Balm, as for the lip scrub, ah, let me say it had a smoother feel than anticipated but I can’t imagine paying for lip scrub.  When I brush my teeth I gently go over the lips with the toothbrush and voila, lips are scrubbed.  After that I apply a balm.  I don’t have chapped lips ever.

Derma-E Hydrating Night Cream w/Hyaluronic Acid.  I didn’t like the smell.  Instead I applied it to my neck and chest in the morning and my shirt probably kept the scent from my nose.  First Aid Beauty has excellent facial moisturizers for me and my daughters, especially during winter.  We’ve had good luck with FAB moisturizers not leaving a white cast on darker skin tones. I’m not clear on how green they are, but last time I looked they were still cruelty free.  I should probably double check that because I want more of FAB Eye Duty Triple Remedy A.M. Gel Cream.  Blissoma Pure Sensitive Skin Soothing Complex was lovely.  I remember liking this because it went on nicely and not greasy.  There is an odd scent to it, but I’m guessing it fades away.  PAI Chamomile and Rosehip Calming Day Cream was not as hydrating as my skin needed.  SKIN OWL Neck +, and Eye + creams are good.  I prefer the Neck + and purchased a full size of that after I used up the .25 oz. sample.  It looks like a clear gel but goes on lighter than that and not sticky.  There’s no scent and my skin likes it.

Widcraft Cleanse Makeup Remover.  It smelled pretty awful for chamomile and honey.  It worked ok, jojoba oil works better at a better price , thank you Trader Joe’s, with no smell and no stinging eyes.

Mun Akwi Purifying Cleanser remains one of my favorite face cleansers.  The only reason I don’t have more is the price.  Following that, I received a sample of Little Barn Apothecary Blue Yarrow + Geranium cleansing oil and it’s what I use at night.  I even purchased a full size bottle and am happy to let anyone reading this know that Ulta stores will be carrying Little Barn Apothecary products.  Without checking, I’m pretty sure my Blue Yarrow oil is half the price of the Akwi cleanser.  After using the cleansing oil, I apply Thayer’s Witch Hazel (alcohol free, I like Rose and Aloe) and breakouts are a thing of the past or rare (witch hazel also helps with breakouts from trying new products.  If I didn’t say it before, here it is, don’t squeeze the spot, wash your face with whatever you use and wipe some witch hazel over the area twice a day.  I’ve had the best results.)

Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator is another empty I can barely remember.  I smell the empty spray bottle, ah yes, memories.  It was nice.  It felt good.  I noticed no benefits though.  The Dr. Hauschka Facial Toner was in a lovely bottle but I can’t tell it did anything for me, as did the Osea Sea Minerals Mist (toner), ditto on the Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask.  That’s the thing I did learn over the past year of trying some lofty face items, I still look like me.  That being said, I am pretty sure the daily sunblock and constant moisturizer has helped me remain looking like me like I want to look versus the me that used nothing and looks leathery. Can I take a second to point out a design flaw in the Osea bottle?  The silver pump has a cap that looks like it should twist off but instead it slides off, which means every time I pick up the top of the bottle, the cap comes with me, and the bottle falls.

Suntegrity 5 in 1 Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen went on really well but after a week I noticed my face was drying out.  I came to realize I tend towards dry skin and zinc oxide doesn’t help this no matter what it is mixed with.  Big alert, Mad Hippie Face SPF is awful.  Forget it unless you like the white, chalky look.  My favorite facial sunblock was Algenist Sublime Defense Anti-Aging Blurring Moisturizer SPF 30, it has a light, whipped texture, goes on easily, doesn’t leave a white cast, the scent fades instantly, but it costs a fortune (and I don’t know if it’s cruelty free or green).  I continue to look for facial SPF, I’m currently using First Aid Beauty w/SPF 30 but it leaves me looking shiny.  It’s currently winter so the other day my dry skin loved it and I looked dewey.  The good kind of dewey.  Another day it looked greasy, on those days I use my RMS powder to take away the shine (I love that powder).  I also gave E.L.F. Foundation Serum with 25 SPF and Goji Berries a shot.  It felt nice and blended well, and if you have oily or at least not dry skin it might be nice on you.

I’m still on the hunt for a good concealer because I’ve got dark circles under my eyes that have nothing to do with sleep.  NYX Gotcha Covered Totale (sic) Waterproof Concealer wasn’t for me.  I can’t remember why but tried two shades and returned both, I’m thinking they were too thick.  NYX Dark Circle Concealer Correcteur (sic) can be patchy and fades away.  BECCA Under Eye Brightening Corrector was thick and greasy on me.  I wanted this product to be part of my stash so bad I tried it for days.  DAYS.  But no go.  I also tried E.L.F. HD Lifting Concealer and like it very much, but there’s no way that stuff is green.  I bought samples of Root Under Eye Brightener, Prime/Conceal Cream Corrector to go green.  They were a big nope for me, patchy, chalky and just yikes.

Urban Decay Cannonball waterproof mascara was the love of my mascara life.  Mineral Fusion Volumizing Mascara was in the Whole Foods Beauty Bag 2017 and I was pleasantly surprised.  When it was gone I bought a tube of E.L.F. mascara and didn’t like that, ditto on the UD Perversion which transferred below my eyes.  I’m currently awaiting delivery of Lily Lolo Black Vegan Mascara which I hear very good things about.

Recent purchases: The Balm Nude Beach eyeshadow palette has some really good colors in it.  You can find reviews of this on Youtube that have all the details.  I wish The Balm sold singles of my favorite shadows but they do not.  If I publish this in time, be aware they are having a 50% off sale tomorrow (Monday, Feb. 26, 2018).

Now that I’ve used up all those trial sizes, I’m ready to move onto specific things I want with a few new samples.  I am expecting any day now a waterproof eye pencil from Antonym Cosmetics, the aforementioned Lily Lolo Mascara, Osmia Rose Clay Facial Soap I’m planning to use during the summer when my skin gets oily and if it’s as gentle as I’m hoping, it will be good for travel.  Also arriving by mail soon are Hynt Beauty Duet Concealer sample in two shades so I can decide which is best for me, and because Integrity Botanicals lets you pick three free samples with each order I am getting a sample of W3ll People Bio-Tint Multi Action Moisturizer SPF 30, a sample of concealer from Sappho ( I said I was still on the hunt didn’t I?), and a Mahalo Balm because I’ve heard wonderful things about it.

If you’re wondering about green eyebrows, or other unusual colors check out Notoriously Morbid and MehronMakeup on Instagram.  From these two I have seen wiggly eyebrows, green and other shades on brows, but I’ve also seen purple brows on IG on some other post.  I adore how creative people can be and use makeup for fun.  If you’re into something more theatric, I suggest @MadeyewLook.  She’s the best.

Heads up, the Whole Foods Beauty Bag comes out sometime in early March.  The only way to know which day is to follow them on Instagram and get to the store first thing in the morning.  Last year it was me and about seven other people waiting for the doors to open.  A man told me his wife made him go since she was at work.  Make it a Breakfast at Whole Foods morning and try out some new things.

Why/how can I pay so much attention to makeup?  It distracts my mind from some of the more ghastly things I’ve read/seen at work.  When writing won’t work, when reading or gardening, hiking can’t take away the images in my head I have found playing with face paint does.


Adventures in Makeup

Now that my inner child is a teenager I have been diving into the world of makeup in a way I never have before, (parochial upbringing) and loving it.  For me, makeup is fun and not at all about following trends (my eyebrows can confirm this) or trying to look a certain way, other than colorful and shiny.  I’m talking the Joss Whedon, Firefly kind of shiny.  I also mean shiny as in, metallic eyeshadow because it makes me happy like Ramona Quimby puddle jumping with red rain boots.

This was an experiment to discover if lip products could become my favorite makeup items.  I thought it was time to try ‘high end’ i.e., pricier products, with the idea of discovering some kind of holy grail product.  I purchased a smile-shaped box holding six different high end brands in a variety of lip finishes from Sephora.  For $28 dollars I got two full sized products, and four products in what the beauty world calls ‘deluxe sample’ sizes.  (I have to admit I’ve become a snob and eschew foil packet samples.  Don’t save me.)

I’d heard wonderful things about Melted Liquified Long Wear Lipstick by Too Faced.  It felt softening and perfect, the color seemed made for me, but it had a cloying sweet smell that while not overly powerful, was strong enough to give me headaches. (I applied it on two different occasions, and wore it for at least half an hour to be sure.  I now think of it as Evil-in-an-Elegant-Squeeze-Tube).  Next I tried Kat Von D. Studded Kiss Lipstick, the miniature spiky looking container is perfect.  The color is fine, but the formula feels drying, and it has a mild scent that while it didn’t give me headaches, it didn’t fade and annoyed me the entire time I had it on.  Also I have the same color in a Colourpop Lippie Stix, which costs $5 compared to the full size KVD Lipstick for $21, and the Colourpop doesn’t feel as if it’s actively removing moisture from my lips.

There’s a Fresh Sugar Rose Tinted Lip Treatment, it’s a balm with a hint of color.  It’s beautiful (product and package), it feels great, looks great, but again, what is with the strange scents in lip products? Hello, cosmetics companies?  The nose is right above the lips, have you not noticed?  Wearing a scent I don’t like on my lips is like having a smoker living in the apartment beneath me.

How sensitive to scent am I?  On a scale of one to ten, one meaning I can sit next to tuna man on an airplane and never notice, I’d say I’m a seven.  I’ll notice the unpleasant odor, and ration however many sticks of Big Red I have in my bag to last the length of the flight, chewing until my jaw hurts in order to smell something other than my neighbor.  If I keep the comparisons to other lip products, the scent on Colourpop’s Lippie Stix I don’t particularly like at first uncapping, but it disappears in an instant (and it’s not on all of them).  Another example I can give, Fresh Sugar untinted balm hits me with a whiff of, no joke, lemon pledge furniture polish, but, and this is a big but, the smell fades quickly and I can wear it in comfort.  I can’t say the same of the tinted balm in this package, which in all fairness the scent is faint, but for me, it’s just strong enough to be an annoyance.

Back to the box, I picked up the full sized Juicy Shaker by Lancome.  Upon first glance it’s an adorable, tiny martini shaker but with a see-through lower portion which showed the product to be separated like old nail polish.  Ghastly.  Ah ha! I realized, it must be shaken.  I shook it and told myself my lips were being spared from a nasty binding ingredient, but between you and me that glimpse of unmixed product wasn’t appealing.  Then I saw the warning sticker telling me the contents are “Flammable”.  Let me pause so that can sink in.  ___________.  I want to ask Lancome, what exactly should I avoid doing while wearing your lip product?  Visions of birthday cakes setting my face on fire came to mind.  Too much Stephen King you say?  You may be right, but  I haven’t opened the tiny shaker yet.

There’s a Smashbox  Always On Liquid Lipstick (the other full sized product) which I had planned from the first to give to my niece as she loves that brand.  Also, a NARS Satin Lip Pencil, which my oldest daughter says is one of her favorite brands, so that is going to her.

All in all, eyeshadow remains my favorite makeup product.  While I expected I might not like the finishes or the colors of all the lip products, it didn’t occur to me that I’d have issues with scent of more than say, one item.  Oh well.  I’m ready for the next adventure.

There’s treasure everywhere

Today a friend gave me a big box full of beading things.  She said it had belonged to her mother, who passed on some years ago.  My friend has come to the decision she isn’t going to take up the hobby, and that it’s time to let go of these items.  I asked a few times if she was sure she was ready to give these things away.  She was sure and so tonight I looked through it all, like a pirate discovering a trove full of treasure.

It was clear her mother spent a lot of time creating this stash; from choosing beads in all shapes and colors, to the large variety of the fiddly bits one needs to complete projects.  Everything was organized and labeled.  All the while I had a sense I couldn’t put my finger on.  Melancholy?  Hope?

I came across a project-in-the-making bag, inside were two kinds of beads, sparkly diamond like crystals, and alphabets beads.  Lastly, a heart and arrow clasp had been chosen for this piece.  As soon as I realized the letters were to spell out my friends name, it hit me.  That moment came in like a gentle wave.  Finished or not, the love is clearly there; in the intention, and six tiny beads with a heart.  Treasure indeed.

I bake, therefore I am

Baking, it’s my favorite kind of technical chemistry.  I failed a semester of science in my freshman year of high school, maybe she should have asked us to measure and mix together things like flour, baking soda, butter, sugar and chocolate chips.  Anyway, one of the best parts to making homemade goodies are the reactions from people.  They often get nostalgic, with eyes rolling back in their heads, they moan words along the lines of, “This is just like my grandmother used to make.”  I love that, for a few seconds they are transported to a place and time when they were blissfully content.  Then I get to hear a personal story that creates a warm and fuzzy moment.

Today, I want to bake something I haven’t made before.  I was tooling around the Bakerella website looking for a cupcake recipe, then got lost in the world of beautiful and seriously yummy looking goodies.  She’s amazing and so is her website, if you’ve never seen it, check it out.  I’m still not sure what I’m going to bake today, something chocolate I think, but I’m also wanting to make something new, like buttery yellow cake… with chocolate frosting naturally.

There was a yellow cake recipe on the Bakerella site, but I’m not partial to wrapping cake in plastic wrap, and refrigerating it.  That equals wait time and how anyone does that is beyond me.  Plus, I’m kind of wanting something warm, possibly with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.  Apple cobbler comes to mind, and how it makes the house smell impossibly perfect with cinnamon and apple.  But there’s no chocolate in that.  I believe I’m on the hunt for a warm, chocolatey treat because a week or so ago I was nuts for chocolate lava cake, only, turns out, I don’t really like lava cake.  It’s hot cake batter, not bad, but not what I want.  When I hear lava, I think of rivers of hot fudge, smooth, thick, chocolatey.  Sigh.

I could make the tried and true, triple chocolate brownies, but that’s not new.  Conundrum.  I’m going back to perusing the web for a recipe that calls to me.  In the meantime, what’s your favorite baked dessert and is there a story to go with it?