Friday, March 27, 2015

Sleep With Me

Are you having sleeping difficulties? The stress of my upcoming move had me awake at four every morning, laying there anxiously focused on all my poor life decisions, then off went the alarm and I was a groggy mess. Along came the opportunity to review Life & Food's Garcinia Cambogia in exchange for an honest review. I am not a fad super foods follower or a supplement taker but insomnia was sucking the life out of me, and this product claims to safely boost serotonin, along with weight management. The pills are your standard gel caps, I found them easy to swallow. By my third dose of two pills twice daily, I was finally able to sleep through the night and am still sleeping well a week later. I will update on any weight loss progress if it occurs. For now, I am thrilled to get a full nights rest. If you want to sleep with me, in a non-groggy fulfilling sleep cycle, give this product a try. I had no negative side affects.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Pura d'or for Hair Loss

Short and Semi-Sweet Review

 Pura d'or was gracious enough to supply me with their Premium Organic Hair Loss Prevention Shampoo and Premium Organ Argan Oil Based Conditioner in Lavender Vanilla. I always give my honest opinions and try the products several times, as directed, prior to posting my reviews.
 I really wanted to like Pura d'or, and the products may work better on a different hair type than mine, which is very porous from bleaching, naturally fine and has bright semi-permanent coloring that is easily stripped with the wrong shampoo. The Pura d'or Premium Organic Hair Loss Shampoo had a gel like consistency out of the pump, was clear and had an earthy but not unpleasant scent. I only shampoo maybe three days a week to keep my color in, and the shampoo went to town on my oily scalp, literally making it squeak. My hair was not gummy or stiff after the shampoo, which happens with many brands both cheap and high end, like how my hair HATES TIGI Urban Anti-dotes, much to my dismay. Like TIGI Urban Anti-dotes though, the Pura d'or pulled out most of my demi- and semi- permanent color, which had been freshly done three days before. That made me sad.
  I chose the Hair Loss Prevention shampoo as my hairline has been thinning for years and I've just come to accept it. I did try using the shampoo only at the edge of my hairline and, maybe because I'm suddenly looking for it, I have noticed several dozen new dark hairs poking through before the hairline. Just tiny stubble, but maybe if used as often as possible, daily for most men, it can make a difference. I just can't risk my hair color.
 Just to show how honest I am, here's an unflattering pic of my no-make up self with all my sun damage and wrinkles and thinning hair line. Hard to tell but there ARE tiny hairs coming up, whether from the shampoo or the extra massaging, I'm not sure.
 I did not care for the Organic Argan Oil Conditioner in the slightest. It immediately absorbed into my hair and would not wash out with warm water, leaving me to use the hottest water I could handle to try to get it out and still... so greasy. I gave it two chances, same results. My hair is just too porous for the Argan Oil conditioner. Definitely for thick, denser hair.
 Apologies for the slow posting, as I'm in the middle of moving from a house across town to an apartment. *sob*

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

But I AM smiling!

Serums, Oils and Oils!

My daughter Claire and I went to a monthly craft show called PopShop this weekend. There were some really cute handmade local stuff from vendors, food trucks, plus vintage/second hand stores on each side of the parking lot. We finally had a chance to try Common Bond Bakery, a French patisserie that seems to be closed when we drive by.

 The bakery was bright, sunlit and perfect for photos, which brings me to the point of this post, which isn't about my love for pastries.
It's about my resting bitch face. 
I have the brow furrows, the labial-nasal fold, the crinkles below my mouth... the whole fabulous grump package. I used to go through my pics and remove them until I found this great Beauty Booth app which just blurs skin texture and leaves you looking radiant but still textured. I have been reviewing several skin care items lately and all rate effective in their own way but let me tell you, BUY THE VITAMIN C SERUM. NOW. I have been using the Radha Vitamin C Serum 20% for over two weeks and found it superior to my prior brand in consistent results. I wash with my Wasabi clarifying wash in the AM, then follow with the Vitamin C serum from my forehead hairline down, really working it into the eye area and my "angry 11s" between the brows, which have really softened with use. 

 I have been embarassed over my large pores and acne scarring between my nose and cheek, that wonderfully named "labial-nasal fold", and this Vitamin C serum has added a softened, hydrated effect that is so visible. Sometimes I don't even use my beauty filter! I let it sink into my skin, though I do skip my nose as it is very sensitive to anything I attempt to use. I massage the serum over my neck and onto my chest/decolletage and the softening effect has also happen on my bustline. It is not greasy, my skin drinks it in quickly and within minutes I can apply concealer and foundation over the area without any makeup sliding or oxidizing. I prefer it to a BB cream or primer, frankly.  When I get a pimple that leaves a scab or dry skin behind, the Vitamin C softens it and it peels off easily. Extractions are also much easier and my face is much less red after using my salicyclic wash. 

My daughter Claire has some blemishes but nowhere near the blackhead and acne scar issues that I have. She has started oil cleansing in the PM and adding the Vitamin C serum as well. She has no breakouts and no stinging, which can be an issue with some sensitive users. She is eighteen, I am forty four, so I have been encouraging her to care for her skin with anti-aging products NOW.
 I was given a generous sample of Radha Beauty's 100% Pure Fractionated Coconut Oil and wish I could say that I love coconut oil as much as I enjoy vitamin C serum and their 100% pure organic argan oil. I found the coconut oil too heavy for my facial skin, and its high comedogentic rating keeps me from trying it anywhere else but my feet, where it does a nice job post-shower with socks to cover. I DID make *fabulous* fried chicken with it last night, my family said it was the best I'd ever made. Super crisp batter, never smoked or had that burnt taste the last few pieces tend to get. Definitely worth a splurge for cooking, still undecided on whether I'd recommend it for oily/acne prone skin like mine. I'm preparing to bleach Claire's roots and heard it makes an effective protectant in that case, that you can bleach with the oil in the hair during processing and it still lifts but doesn't damage. Their Radha 100% Argan Oil is in a HUGE cobalt bottle with glass dropper, very low scent and wonderful on my hands, awesome for client hand massages during heat treatments.
 Lastly, Radha Beauty also gave me a sample of their Intensive Youth Eye Gel. It feels very rich, almost like a dense lotion when it comes out of the pump but it absorbs quickly and I can use it under my eye makeup without issue. I have a horrible sunken ridge under my eyes, with a yucky swollen poof over it and using this every night has really kept that puffiness down. I did get a small red spot under my eye, a sort of blemish, when I used the product for about the third time, but it resolved itself within a day or two, probably just the super hydration of the product. Definitely worth a try if you're looking to prevent eye puff and wrinkles. Let me know if you try the chicken!

 It's difficult to get a clear selfie of my eye but you can see the redness and bagginess. *sob* The Radha eye gel really smoothed them out as seen in the more flattering above pics.

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Argan Oil, Truth or Fiction

Argan Oil, Miracle? Or Just Marketing?

 Argan Oil: the hot new beauty cure-all found in everything from hair care to skin care to nail care. Usually when one product claims to help EVERYTHING, it actually helps... well, it may help a little but in more of a "better than nuthin'" way. I have clients who swear by it and clients who ask my opinion on it and, like any beauty professional, I want to stay on top of the hottest trends and technologies and maybe bust a few beauty myths along the way.
 I was given a bottle of  Foxbrim 100% Pure EcoCert & USDA Certified Organic Argan Oil in exchange for a non-biased review. In a world of trending products, you have to be *certain* that you are buying the purest form such as Foxbrim's Argan Oil, not whatever processed junk might be tacked on to cheap hair/skin products trying to catch your eye. Foxbrim promises NO additives, parabens, fillers, silicones or fragrance to irritate your skin or plug up your pores. Since I have skin that looks like a moonscape full of blackheads and acne scars, argan oil's non-comedogenic rating of zero on a scale of 0-5  is extremely important. I have enjoyed a few moisturizers recently that gave me painful, red bumps by the next morning and made my blackheads worse, though they were touted as being great for problem skin. Read your labels!

  I am really satisfied with my Foxbrim Argan Oil, especially as I had doubted the claims that it is non-comedogenic and appropriate for skin/hair/nails in the manner so many sites rave about. My polish in these photos is Margit by Julep, I just can't stop repainting with this shade! 

 Argan oil is much less dense than the Vitamin C serum I've been working with recently. The texture is fluid and feels best when you heat a few drops in your palms before application. I wash with my Derma MD Wasabi cleanser and leave the skin damp, as argan oil absorbs better on moist freshly cleansed skin. I put about three drops in my palm, rub briskly, then use my clean fingertips to work the argan oil from my hairline  (and even into my hairline) to my eyes, using circular motions to really work the oil in as it wants to flow downward. I work the oil into my eyebrows, which I'm hoping will fill in as claimed on some argan oil enthusiast pages. I work the oil between my eyes onto the dreaded frowny lines, which have really been softened by my Amara Vitamin C serum but you can use both argan oil and serums in the same skin care routine without issue. I rub the oil in the orbital eye area, especially at the temple and outer eye. Some women use argan oil to remove eye make up, but I'm doing fine with Lush's 24/7 for now. Keep on working that oil down into the labial-nasal fold, softening up the acne scars and the general age lines as well as the lines appearing around my lower lip and chin area. I even run a bit over my lip line. I do avoid my nose right now, as it's recovering from a whitehead explosion due to the overly rich moisturizer I used days ago. Ugh, ageing blows but THIS really takes the edge off my rough facial skin and gives a hydrating plumpness without aggravating my acne.
  I finish my facial treatment by rubbing my palms all over the backs of my hands where all the spidery lines are and I saw immediate and lasting results, especially up between the knuckles. If you have to wash your hands a million times a day at work like I do, you will appreciate the tenacity of the softness, I will try argan on my legs and feet next. Not sure about using on my hair yet as it is very fine and I'm concerned that the oil might interfere with the semi-permanent color. 
I will be reordering Foxbrim's Argan Oil. 

Do YOU use ARGAN OIL? Have any tips for me?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Muddy Buddy

Spring in Houston Equals Mud

 We have two default seasons here in Houston, Texas: cool and humid versus boiling and humid. We are now in the cool night approaching furnace day known as "spring". Nonstop rain. Ugh.
 Stellar enjoyed a delightful mud mask yesterday, one of the first dry mornings this week.

 I don't recommend rubbing your face in my multi-dog gumbo clay yard mud. I DO recommend trying Pure & Essential Minerals Dead Sea Mud Facial Mask. I was pleased to be given a sample in exchange for my honest review and am a decades old fan of mud and clay masks in general and a new fan of this mask in particular. The texture is more gel in consistency than other mud masks, due to the aloe vera ingredient. I love this as it stays in place yet is smooth and non-gritty, allowing you to work it into your pores to get the full sebum reducing affect. The scent is very pungent eucalyptus, almost minty, yet didn't bother me as the mask dried. Ten minutes is the recommended time to let it dry, but I lost track of time and left it on for maybe half an hour without any issues. No inflammation, no redness. In fact, I have more redness with a quick salicyclic acid face wash than with extended time with this mask.
 The smooth gel nature of the dead sea mask made it the easiest mud mask I've ever washed off, though I do suggest washing the mask off in the shower so you can really steam it back up and wipe off with a washcloth very thoroughly. There IS a sulfur odor when the mask is washed off after drying, I'm not sure how to explain the smell other than smelling like Nair remover but it will pass once the mud is thoroughly wiped off and your skin is patted dry. The results are worth the temporary odor, to be sure. 

See, the mud mask is quite firm in the container and a dream to apply. After the warm water rinse, I inspected my face in my 10x hand mirror and saw many of my blackheads on my upper cheeks and nose were pulled to the surface and ready to be extracted. The mud mask had softened the congested pores and allowed me to just pop out the blackheads, then use a toner and my vitamin C serum. My skin post mud felt clean, taut but not stripped and my vitamin C serum absorbed easily. The instructions call for a weekly mask treatment and I can't wait to get muddy again. I will probably extend the mask over my neck and onto my chest and shoulders this go round. Give this small company a try, their product is a treat for any skin type, especially congested skin.
 Now, to the real question: WHO WORE IT BETTER, ME OR MY DOG?

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Scar & Eye Cream Gel Review

Scars happen. They don't HAVE to, though...

 I have been looking for an over the counter type product to reduce my acne scarring for some time now. My dermatologist pushes expensive prescription products that irritate my skin, or are just not effective enough to pay such a large sum for. As I am a beauty blogger, I was given the opportunity to sample InstaNatural's Scar Gel Cream in return for my honest opinion. I found the product more of a gel, as it is light, non-greasy and it absorbs very quickly. I originally used the scar gel on my upper cheeks where I have both old and active scarring from acne and from a skin peel gone terribly wrong years ago. While I did find the gel very soothing, without irritation, it had a texture that did not allow for foundation makeup to be applied over the dried product. As a cosmetologist, it is VERY important that I wear foundation to work, so I found another use for the the scar gel.
I have several dogs who occasionally scratch my arms or legs during play, sometimes these scratches abrade the skin and leave dark marks as they heal. I got two red raised marks in the soft underside of my arm three days ago after some silly play on the couch and IMMEDIATELY applied this scar gel. It did not burn or irritate and the redness of the area was soothed immediately. As per directions, I reapplied twice daily to the upper arm area where my skin is frosty white and soft. After the third application, I am convinced that this product sped the healing and kept the dark scarring from appearing as it does all up and down my arms and legs from various scratches and scrapes that I encounter at the salon or in the garden or by my dogs who really need manicures. Give this a try, it's a great product from a small company who offer excellent customer service.

Wow, I wish I had started this eye gel five years ago! I just turned 44 the other week and realized that I should have started a pro-active anti-aging skin care regime a minimum of five years back to prevent these fine lines and eye puffiness that I've noticed in the recent year. I live in a very old house with new found allergies as well, leaving me with bags under my deep set eyes that make me look like a bulldog. Beyond just vanity, I am a cosmetologist expected to project (and sell) a certain look of youth and health and glamour which needs a LOT of help these days.
 Enter InstaNatural Eye Cream, who generously provided me with a sample in return for my honest working review of the product. I had a great experience with their Scar Gel Cream reducing my inner arm scratches, and I am equally enthusiastic about this eye cream. I have a bit of creasing under the eye due to very harsh acne skin care, which I was focusing on for years instead of treating my eye area with gentle, hydrating products such as this. I apply the eye cream in the AM, fresh out of the fridge for a cooling sensation, just a small dot gently worked into my inner eye by my nose, sweeping under the eye to the full orbit by my cheek, past the outer edge onto my temple. The cream is actually more of a gel in its quick absorption and I can apply my full foundation and eye makeup within probably two minutes of application. There is no residue, nothing to interfere with make up application. In the evening, I apply the eye cream from the fridge again post-shower, before applying my nightly serum to the outer eye area. I awake to less puff, less shadowing and am seeing a bit of softening in the lines at the inner lower orbit where my poor nose/upper cheek has taken such rough drying treatment. I do not have to apply concealer under my eyes thanks to this product. I will definitely repurchase as this eye cream meets all my needs! DO NOT WAIT, start a preventive eye care regime today and give this product a chance.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

What Does a $1000 Luxury Mask Look Like?

Lionesse Gem Golden Sapphire Mask 

 I am a contest junkie. I spend the majority of my online time looking for hair inspiration, working on my portfolio using social media, and entering every contest that I think I have a chance at winning. I've been lucky enough to win palettes, hair care, skin care and toys for my friend's kids. Take a look at this incredible luxury skin care item that I was so LUCKY to win, as I would never be able to afford this super high end skin line called Lionesse.

 Everything about the packaging tells you this is a LUXURY product, from the thick golden logo box with magnetic closure to the dense, heavy gold and clear packaging. Absolutely beautiful, something to really show off in your bathroom or on your vanity to be sure. My nail color is Margit by Julep, a soft frosty greige lavender, one of my new favorites. 

 With a price tag of $1,000 (yes, ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS), you may say that the packaging is all well and good and so flossie but.... WHAT IS THE PRODUCT REALLY LIKE? 
 It is UNLIKE any product I've ever tried. It is a "mask" made with fruit extracts and gems, according to their promotional material. I cleansed with warm water, as I had already used a cleanser that morning and didn't want to overdry my skin. I applied the Lionesse mask in a very generous pump's worth and worked the light, slightly opaque white lotion down from my hairline to my chin, making sure all my facial surfaces were covered, including my T zone. The smell was heavenly, very high end and not overwhelming or of a single note. My poor skin has been blasted by harsh acne products and is in recovery and this "mask" felt so soothing, never oily or heavy as it sat on my face for ten minutes per instructions. You do not wash this mask off, just massage it into the skin. I did have some moisture bead up on it here and there, had the same results with those who used it at the salon, and you just smooth that back into the skin.
 Amazingly, I had NO BREAKOUT after use. No pimples, no redness, no congested pores, just soft skin that really stuck with me for DAYS. Recommended for weekly use, I decided to pass my luck onto the cosmetology school's salon for use with their facials as there's no way I could use all of that huge rich container myself. I hope the clients are delighted as I was when the box if presented and they enjoy a soothing massage with Lionesse.