30 August 2014

Combating Eczema: Products I Like

If you follow my blog, you know that I battle against dry skin, especially in the winter time. It's one of the many reasons I learned how to make lotion bars (find my recipe here). It's also the reason I bought four different kinds of body butter off Amazon two days ago. And both those things are great and lovely and moisturizing. I find the lotion bar, especially, is great for extra, targeted moisture where I have actual eczema and not just general dryness. However, I found that I still hadn't found a great solution for when I'm at work, or doing stuff at my computer. Because, while they are incredibly moisturizing, lotion bars and body butter tend to be a bit on the greasy side, which is not ideal when I'm at work or touching electronics. I have also been having an eczema flare-up for the past few weeks, and on my dominant hand of all places, which is just driving me batty. So I really needed something to put on my hands multiple times a day that I wouldn't have to worry about letting soak in after I applied it. So, after a thourough internet and in-person search, I decided to buy the following two products:

First is the Up & Up Eczema Moisturizing Cream. On the package it says to compare to Aveeno Active Naturals Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream. I really like this lotion. It has an ever so slightly oatmeal scent and soaks in nice and quick. But it also moisturizes very deeply, makes my hands stop itching, and I can still feel the moisture in my hand over an hour later. I've been keeping it on my desk and using it every time after I wash my hands or whenever I feel I need more. I've also been using it at night before I go to bed and put on my lotion bar.

Second is the Up & Up Hand Cream Skin Repairing. This one says compare to Eucerin Intensive Repair Cream. It has a simple lotion-y scent and also is incredibly moisturizing, while also soaking in quickly. This one is a much smaller tube, so I threw it into my bag and have been using this one at work. I've been quite happy with it.

Sort of boring and mundane, but my hands were just driving me nuts and I was really happy to find a couple products that have been working well for me.

29 August 2014

Quest for body butter and a BOGO surprise

So I have been on a quest to find a quality, but inexpensive body butter. My favorite body butters of all time are The Body Shop body butters, but regularly priced at $20, that's almost $3 an ounce. It does go on sale, but you've got to catch it when it is. The Trader Joe's body butters (Coconut and the seasonal Pumpkin) are delightful and well priced, but they are more or a mouse than a butter. I find that they don't moisturize for quite the same length of time as the body butters from Body Shop. After a bit of research, I decided I wanted to try the Cranberry and Pomegranate Body Butter from Burt's Bees. Online, it gives the impression that CVS carries them. However, after going to THREE different locations, I can tell you that they do not have them in store! It was imensely frusterating. In the end I had to order it online. I'll let you know what I think of it once it gets here!

But since I was going to CVS anyways, I picked up a few other things I needed. My pressed powder was almost out, so I picked up a wet n wild Coverall Pressed Powder in Fair/Light. I used to buy the pressed powder from their "Naturals" line (trying to get in on the market that Physician's Formula occupies), but it seems that they're fazing it out. I'm not picky about my pressed powder, as I only use it to even out and mattify whatever foundation I've used. And since CVS was doing BOGO 50% off, I also picked up a nice Coloricon Eyeliner in 650D Purple/Violet.

I also needed to get some dry shampoo, because my Garnier Volume Extended Instant Boost Dry Shampoo ran out yesterday. I wasn't dissatisfied with it, but I hadn't loved it, so I decided to try another brand. I almost got the CVS generic one, but ended up going with the Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Refreshing Dry Shampoo. I'd read some positive reviews about it, and it was also very reasonably priced. All the Not Your Mother's products were also BOGO 50% and they had an awesome deal on the Short Order Fiber Glaze Cream, where you can send in your receipt for a rebate of your purchase price. Which meant I got the Dry Shampoo for half off and the Fiber Glaze Cream for free! The cream isn't something I would necessarily have splurged on, but it was free! I used it this morning and will report back on how I like it. If nothing else, it smells delightful. I'll also do a review of the dry shampoo once I've used it.

And finally, the cherry on top of my day was the Spearmint and Tea Tree Pit Putty Deodorant I'd ordered waiting for me at home. I was starting to get desperate!

24 August 2014

Annual Maui Pedicure

I thought I had posted this on my way back from Maui, but it turns out that it didn't upload from my phone. Every time I go to Maui, me and Mum go get pedicures. She has a girl she always goes to, named Mimi, who recently moved shops. Like, really recently. The walls hadn't all been repainted, some of the chairs were still in plastic wrap, and not everything was all set up yet. It's not even 100% clear what their name is- they were calling it Beautiful Nails, but the sign says Pro Nails, and so did the receipt. In any case, they're located at 737 Lower Main Street in Wailuku and they were really excellent pedicures! Mimi was great for Mum, as always, and the ladies who did mine were excellent as well (an older lady did the bulk of the pedicure and then a younger girl took over for the painting and nail art.) Mum asked for lots of sparkles and rhinestones, and boy did she get it! I told the girl who did mine to do whatever design she wanted and the result was so awesome! Here are mine and Mum's toes together:

Mum's tanned, sparkly toes and my white, flowery ones.
Here's a close-up of my toes:

Flower on my big toe and little designs on my other toes.
It was so much fun to watch her work. She started with the white and did the flower and the curlicues. Then she added the pink onto the flower and placed the rhinestone. Lastly, she added the little dots and did the lines on all the smaller toes. It was one of the best pedicures I've ever gotten!

05 August 2014

Summer Dye: Ion Color Brilliance Brights

Misleading photo of my Manic Panic slightly purple hair.
As may be evident, I've been trying to get some fun and interesting colors into my hair, hopefully without bleaching it first. My first attempt was with Manic Panic in Pillarbox Red. You can find my post about it here. My hair definitely turned out red, but a fairly natural red. I also tried Purple Haze over my natural hair, and the color was so subtle that I never even blogged about it. I do have one picture which showed how the purple popped a little in the right light. It was certainly not the vibrant color I was looking for either, though.

I was ready to go in and get my hair bleached, but I had to wait for the Manic Panic to all wash out before I could go. While I waited, I hit tech for Twelfth Night, and so my plans to get my hair bleached were put on hold. I happened to be browsing the Sally Beauty site and saw another of the semi-permenant hair colors they offered that had some interesting colors. It was the Ion Color Brilliance Brights Semi-Permanent Hair Color line. They have a line of traditional hair colors, but this is their "hi-fashion hair colors designed to give vivid, boldly intense results." Like most hair colors, they recommend bleaching first. However, there were many positive reviews about how well they layered over unbleached hair, and also how fade-resistant they were. At only $4.79 a tube, I figured it was worth a shot before I spent significantly more time and money bleaching my hair.

After doing a bit of research, I decided to buy the Ion Color Defense Intense Moisture Conditioner and the Ion Color Defense After-Color Sealer in addition to the Ion Color Brilliance dye. Many reviews mentioned that the dye was quite thick out of the tube and that they'd found it helpful to thin it with some conditioner. I didn't want to thin it with a cheap conditioner, which is why I invested in the Ion conditioner. Also, I figured even if I never used the Ion dye again, it would still be great conditioner to use at any point on my dyed hair. The After-Color Sealer is recommended by Ion (of course, because they want to make more money) but there were several positive review regarding its use. And, again, even if I hated the Ion dye, I could use it after other dye jobs in the future. 

The experience of using the Ion Color Brilliance dye was quite pleasant. It was very thick, but the conditioner helped get it to a nice, workable consistency. I went ahead and applied the dye the way I feel most comfortable, which is brushing it along the roots, starting at center and working first towards on side, then the other. Next is the roots in the back. Once I'm satisfied I've gotten all my roots, then I slather it on the ends, comb it through, and clip it up. I left it on for 40 minutes, which was the longest recommended on the packaging (it said 20-40 minutes). I also heated it up a couple times under my glamorous bag shower cap while I waited. I think given that it is an ammonia and peroxide free treatment, I would probably stretch it to a full hour next time.

The color I picked out was Red. I hesitated for a moment at the Magenta and the Fushia (which looks much cooler on the in-store swatch than it does online) but as I didn't know how well it would go on my hair, I played it safe (relatively speaking) with the Red. The Red is actually fairly pink, in my opinion. It comes out of the tube red, but anytime it got on my skin, towel, or other porous surface (like the poor Brita filter on the faucet in the kitchen or the door jamb in the bathroom) it looks very pink. Like bright, hot pink. It seemed quite pigmented and was pretty hard to wash out of my hair, though it didn't stain my scalp as badly as the Manic Panic did. I spent a good 5+ minutes in the kitchen trying to wash the bulk of it out of my hair before I moved into the shower. I don't think I would have noticed as much had I not been in a hurry to get to work, but in the end I'll admit I didn't wait until the water was 100% clear because it seemed like that was just never going to happen.
Ion Color Brilliance Brights in Red or Squinty smirk in the back alley.
All that to say, I am really happy with the color. I took a picture the first day to document (though I don't love the photo). I'll try and take another, hopefully better one, after I wash it for the first time tomorrow. It definitely reads more as a magenta than a true red, but as I almost got the Magenta anyways, I'm perfectly happy with that. It's not crazy in-your-face about being an unnatural color, but it's unusual enough to make me very happy and feel more me. I never feel like myself when my hair is brown. Given how well this turned out, so long as it doesn't fade crazy quick, I'll most definitely be trying some of the other colors to see if they pop as well over my natural hair. But, I would 100% try this color again. I've gotten tons of compliments on it, and zero weird looks, so I'm calling that a win!

09 July 2014

Tony Awards Themed Make-up and Hair

This is extraordinarily tardy, but I did my make-up and hair special for the Tony Awards last month, which also happened to coincide with closing for Secret Garden. I did something I'd done before, which was gold shadow and a black winged eye liner. I also used one of my gold hair accessories to complete the look. Had it not been such a crazy day, I probably would have done a bold lip as well.

07 July 2014

Mud Scrub

A while back I threw a recipe for Mud Scrub into my files to try out later. Now that it's summertime and my legs are out in full view and getting shaved rather frequently, I realized I should be exfoliating them more. I decided to try out this recipe and I am really loving it!

Mud Scrub
1 cup brown sugar
5 Tbsp coffee grounds
~1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1 tsp peppermint extract
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine the brown sugar and coffee grounds. Slowly mix in the oil. You may not need the full 1/4 cup. I think I only used a couple tablespoons. It also depends on how liquid vs solid you like your scrubs. I made this particular batch fairly solid (if you look at the original blog, she made hers a lot more liquidy). Once the oil-sugar ratio is to your liking, add the peppermint and vanilla. You can of course skip the extracts, but they do add a lovely scent. That is actually one of my favorite things about this scrub- it smells AMAZING!

Part of the reason I decided to make this scrub in particular was because I have some old coffee lying around that I won't ever drink and my brown sugar had turned into rocks, so this was an excellent way to use some of it up. To combat the brown sugar rock problem, I recently got a Brown Sugar Bear and it is the best thing ever! He keeps the sugar nice and soft. You can of course use white sugar rather than brown if you want and the oil can be whatever kind of oil you like to use. I have a big bottle of grapeseed oil that I use in all my DIY beauty products because I like that it doesn't have a strong odor and is relatively inexpensive.

I've been using the mud scrub every couple days for the past few weeks and I'm really loving it. It does a good job exfoliating, smells positively delicious (I swear it helps wake me up because of the coffee smell), and leaves a nice moisturized feeling once I'm out of the shower. It is a bit messy in the shower since the coffee grounds don't dissolve like the sugar does, but it's easy to quickly rinse off the walls before your shower is over. Definitely my favorite DIY scrub to date!

Rhubarb Cake

Summertime means lots of fun fruits and vegetables, including rhubarb! Growing up, we never had to buy rhubarb, because either we or someone we knew had it growing in the back yard. Well, that is no longer the case for me, but I had a hankering so I went to the grocery store and picked some out. I didn't really feel like making pie, so I decided to make my great-grandma's Rhubarb Cake. Mike wasn't thrilled with it (we suspect he doesn't like rhubarb) but I love it. It's sort of like coffee cake with rhubarb throughout. If you like rhubarb, you'll think it's delicious!

Grandma Settle's Rhubarb Cake
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup margarine
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb

1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13x9 pan. Combine flour baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

2. Cream the brown sugar and margarine. Add the egg, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir until well combined. [I went the easy route and did the 1 tablespoon vinegar + enough milk to make a cup instead of buttermilk because I don't keep buttermilk in the house.]

3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet. Stir in the rhubarb. Spread into pan. Sprinkle the sugar-cinnamon topping over the cake. Bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

4. Cool and enjoy!

All that's missing is a fork!
I could also see walnuts in this being good. My family is not good on nuts, so they may have been in the recipe to begin with and were cut.