Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tuesday's Green: Who makes the best eye liner?



Let's talk about natural eye liner today. I cannot tell you how many different eye liners I have tried over the past - gulp - 25 years or so. As I get older, it is trickier to find an eye liner I truly adore.




Here is that I look for in an eye liner:

1. It must have a smooth and soft texture.
2. It must not irritate my eyes.
3. It must not smudge during the day.
4. It must perform well in heat and humidity.
5. It must apply without ease--no tugging.


My favorite eye liner is a natural one without talc, bismuth oxychloride, parabens or fragrance. It is non-nano and cruelty-free.

I am happy to say that my #1 eye liner is a super clean and green one. You will NOT find better ingredients and even the strictest ecobeauty lover will approve. This makes me happy because it performs very well. This is the *only* eye liner I can wear without smudging. Even my "smudgeproof" Cargo Swimmables, which doesn't budge on really anyone, would smudge by the end of the day.

This does not smudge, applies with ease, does not irritate my sensitive eyes and removes well with my eye makeup remover (which is actually Badger Unscented Sensitive Balm).

What is in Au Nature Eye Liner Pencils?

Ingredients: Organic castor oil, mica, wildcrafted euphorbia cerifera (candelilla) wax, organic simmondsia chinsis (jojoba) seed oil, castor wax, iron oxides, kaolinite, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) oleoresin

Color Selection

I wear Coco almost daily. This is the perfect shade of brown for my eyes. Many browns are drab, but this is rich and is absolutely beautiful. You will find Au Naturale Eye Liner Pencil shades: Coco, Amethyst, Meadow, Deep Sea, and Night (which I also own).


Price:

The eye liners are $18 each. This is very competitive among higher end liners.

The Beauty Blogger Rating: A+

Notes:

I have tried several products from Au Naturale. The company is the creation of Ashley Prange and is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. If I could recommend only ONE ecobeauty brand to you, it would be Au Naturale. I use their lipstick and lip gloss and adore their creme concealer. Find Au Naturale at www.aunaturaleglow.com.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Please pardon the dust!

Hello beauties!

If you read my last post, you will see that Chic & Green is in transition and is, after nearly 8 years, becoming The Beauty Blogger. The blog is getting a complete girly makeover and design. This should be completed by Tuesday.

What is coming?  NEW regular features!


Monday will be Beauty on a Budget built around a theme or ingredient.

NO, I am not saying goodbye to GREEN BEAUTY -- it will just not be the main focus. Look for Tuesday's Green each and every Tuesday with posts dedicated to green or organic beauty.

Look for What's in it Wednesday every Wednesday. It will focus on the nitty gritty of products, as in the past.

Thursdays will be all about skin care, while Fridays will be devoted to makeup.

Saturdays and Sundays will not have a set theme, but will most likely be random :)

Thank you so much for your support over the past 8 years! I am really excited to begin the next chapter in C & G's life.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Chic and -- Not so green?

I have been blogging here at Chic & Green for nearly 8 years. My boys were in diapers. Now they are 9 and 11. I was going green and beginning to research the impact of skin care and cosmetics ingredients on our health.

In this almost 8 year journey, a significant amount of my time has been spent on research, interviews, and reading studies about the links between health and products. Weeding through the hype, the possible connections, the contrasts between articles based on speculation versus peer-reviewed studies, etc.  has been very enlightening. And, to be honest, I used to fall for the fear mongering and the scare tactics and the "what ifs" more than scientific data. Maybe because I am a worrier, an emotional person, and a very cautious person, I have actually "come around" on many ingredients and prroducts over the years.

My blog has been called Chic & Green for almost 8 years because the emphasis has been GREEN beauty and being chic. I have built a very solid reputation on being a top tier green beauty blogger. I have made lasting connections and friendships because of this blog.

What if, though, my opinions on certain ingredients have changed? What if I do not believe passionately anymore about it being Natural vs. Synthetic, no exceptions? What happens is this -- I have ALWAYS believed in being myself, owning my opinions & not apologizing for it. I am human. I can change. And as I type this and look at my makeup bag right now -- well, it is 50% green beauty instead of the 100% it once was. I would be a hypocrite to keep GREEN in my name if I am only halfway green.

I believe in vaccines. I get a flu shot--so do my kids. I love essential oils, but do not believe they can cure illness or are an adequate substitute for Western medicine. I love natural and green, but I also have the utmost respect for SCIENCE. Sometimes I wash my hair with a shampoo with the occasional sulfate because my hair just feels better.

I blog about beauty. Chic & Green has been a baby of mine for so many years. But it does not fit MY LIFE or my beliefs. This journey has been AMAZING. But I need to be true to myself.

I still LOVE natural and green products -- if they are preserved effectively and if they work. I have so many favorite brands that I will ALWAYS adore and support because I know that they are putting out stellar products-- from Au Naturale to (seed) to Original Moxie, and more.

Writing about THOSE products still brings me great joy. That said, I still have many other products I adore. And I'd love to write about those, too. That is being true to myself and sharing ALL of my product love with you.

I have purchased the domain name thebeautyblogger.net. I am a beauty blogger, have been for (nearly) 8 years, and so C & G's name has changed to The Beauty Blogger.

This will be a hard change in that my social media handles have been /chicandgreen for so many years. I do not want to live in a way that is not true to myself or representative of the real me, though. And I think that is why I haven't been excited to sit down and write each day like I used to.

Always be true to yourself--and don't apologize for being who you are.




Thursday, February 19, 2015

Debunking Popular Anti-Aging Myths

Today we’re going to dispel some anti-aging skin care myths.  We’ve all heard them. We’ve heard the outrageous product claims and slick magazine ads. Chic & Green takes a look at 7 of the most common skin care myths and truths.






Myth #1:  Dry skin causes wrinkles.


Truth: Dry skin does not cause wrinkles. A breakdown in collagen is what causes wrinkles.  Dry skin will most definitely make wrinkles more obvious, but skin hydration has nothing to do with whether or not one will develop wrinkles.


Myth #2: My mother looks very young for her age, so I will too.


Truth: While genetics do play a small role in terms of aging, lifestyle habits have a much greater impact. If you are smoking, eating a poor diet, and skipping sunscreen, your genetics will not help you stay younger looking. These lifestyle choices have much more of an impact on your skin than genetics.


Myth #3: Moisturizing faithfully will help prevent wrinkles.


Truth:  Regularly applying moisturizer will help your skin stay hydrated, but it will not prevent wrinkles.  You can apply all the moisturizer you want to and there will still be no impact on wrinkle prevention. Moisturizer will add hydration to the top layer of your skin.  It has no impact on wrinkling.


Myth #4:  It’s cold and cloudy so I do not need sunscreen.


Truth:  You need to apply a broad spectrum SPF each and every single day--rain or shine.  The fact is that your skin is still exposed to UVA rays (the aging rays) even on a subzero cloudy and snowy February day in Upstate New York. The sun’s rays are the number one cause of aging and everyone should be applying sunscreen before going outside.


Myth #5: The ad said that I will look younger in just 7 days. This has to be true, right?


Truth:  Unfortunately, this is just a tactic to get you to purchase the company’s products. The FDA does not monitor or control the claims made by the skin care and cosmetics industry.  You have to take these claims with a grain of salt and do your own research. Just because the company selling the product promises you the fountain of youth doesn’t mean that it will happen.


Myth #6: You can exercise your facial muscles to get rid of wrinkles.


Truth: No, this is just a myth. We’ve all seen those facial exercising machines late at night on home shopping television channels. Stretching and making exaggerated facial expressions with a special “exercise” gizmo for the face could actually cause you to look older, so do not waste your money.  


The muscles on your face are unlike the muscles in other parts of your body.  Do your facial muscles have the ability to get bulky like your biceps? No.  There is no evidence that facial exercises will erase lines and wrinkles.  In fact, doing so is more likely to create lines than diminish them.


Myth #7: Expensive anti-aging skin care products are always better than drugstore ones.


Truth: What matters the most in a skin care product is the quality and concentration of ingredients used. You might actually find that are $30 serum works better on your skin than a $100 one in fancy packaging. It’s what is in the product that makes it good or bad. Product efficacy does not always have to do with the price. Remember that there is no such thing as a cream to remove wrinkles, so do not buy into the slick marketing campaigns. That said, please know that you are not very likely to find $10 serums with peptides and potent actives. Why? These ingredients are more expensive, which will make the product more expensive. When it comes to cleansers, toners and body care products save your money. Splurge on your serums and targeted skin treatments.

Anti-Aging Skin Care Truth


We all want to prevent and correct the signs of aging, but the most important tip is to take good care of yourself and treat your body with respect.  Eat fruits and veggies.  Stay hydrated. Wear sunscreen.  Don’t smoke or use alcohol in excess. Take time to be out in the fresh air being active.  Choose your products wisely and don’t fall victim to the latest product advertisement promising you the fountain of youth.

And now the nitty-gritty: What can I do to help prevent and correct the signs of aging? There is no magic pill or product to just erase wrinkles, but there ARE many things you can do to help your skin look younger! Stay tuned for part 2 on skin and aging tomorrow on the blog.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What's In It Wednesday: Lemongrass Spa Foundation

I have mentioned Lemongrass Spa before. My cousin, consultant Ashley Sanford, introduced me to this handmade in Colorado brand of natural skin care and beauty products. I recently mentioned the body scrubs and have nothing but glowing things to say about these products!






I recently ran out of foundation and was pondering getting the Pur Minerals 4-in-1  Pressed Mineral Foundation, but decided to try a loose one again. I was browsing Ashley's website and after hearing rave reviews about the foundation from my friend Krista, I decided to order the Sheer Minerals Foundation from Lemongrass Spa.






I chose the Oatmeal Light Foundation and have been using it the past few days now. It is talc-free, contains no harmful chemicals and offers physical sun protection.

Here are the ingredients:

Mica, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, iron oxide for color

That's all -- no artificial fragrance, irritating bismuth oxychloride or other unnecessary ingredients. This is as pure & natural of a foundation as you are going to find.

Does it work, though?

YES!

This is a lovely foundation. It provides a buildable coverage, does not settle into fine lines, and has a silky, non-chalky texture. I use the EcoTools Buffing Brush to apply.

My skin is fairly dry. I apply my skin care products, a light layer of primer and then apply this foundation. It is the perfect shade for my complexion and I love how it feels completely weightless. When you're around 40, you also notice that makeup can settle into fine lines halfway through your day and this does not.

It is an excellent foundation. I highly recommend this to everyone who wants to get back to basics and eliminate the junk ingredients from the beauty routine.

It is now my go-to foundation!

I am so impressed. I had given up on loose mineral powder foundations. My favorite was $44 and I just didn't feel it was worth the splurge. This one is $20 and rivals any mineral powders from Sephora or Ulta. The reason I stopped using them is because my skin would itch and just feel uncomfortable after using them. That is because of the bismuth oxychloride. This is a highly irritating ingredient found in many powders. 

In fact, I'd like to take a look at some of the more popular loose mineral foundations so you can compare the ingredients.


Bare Minerals Original SPF 15

Active: Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide. Inactive: Bismuth Oxychloride, Mica, Iron Oxides


Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Airbrush Foundation


Quartz, Ruby Powder, Tourmaline, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Smithsonite Extract, Sea Salt/Maris Sal/Sel Marin, Hydrolyzed Pearl, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, BHT, Kaolin. May Contain(+/-): Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI77491, CI77492, CI77499), Ultramarines (CI 77007), Zinc Oxide (CI 77947), Manganese Violet (CI 77742), Chromium Oxide Greens (CI 77288), Chromium Hydroxide Green (CI 77289), Bismuth Oxychloride (CI 77163), Ferric Ammonium Ferrocyanide (CI 77510), Ferric Ferrocyanide (CI 77510)


Laura Mercier Mineral Powder SPF 15

Active Ingredient - Zinc Oxide. Ingredient: Pearl Powder. May Contain (+/-): Mica (CI 77019), Bismuth Oxychloride (CI 77163), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499)

L'Oreal True Match Naturale SPF 19

Active Ingredients : Titanium Dioxide 10.0%. Other ingredients : Boron Nitride, Kaolin, Isononyl Isononanoate, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Calcium Gluconate, Manganese Gluconate, Magnesium Gluconate, Copper PCA, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Tocopherol, Panthenol. May Contain: Titanium Dioxide, Bismuth Oxychloride, Mica, Iron Oxides

Neutrogena Mineral Sheers Loose Powder Foundation

Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 7.5%. Inactive Ingredients: Mica, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Zinc Stearate, Silk Powder, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Flour, Tocopheryl Acetate, Pantothenic Acid, Retinyl Palmitate, Ascorbic Acid. May Contain: Bismuth Oxychloride, Iron Oxides, Titanium Dioxide


The C & G Bottom Line:

As you can see, the most popular mineral foundations contain irritating Bismuth Oxychloride.

What is Bismuth Oxychloride? Let me preface this by saying that, in my view, you would be better off using talc than bismuth oxychloride in your makeup. Talc is actually more pure and natural than Bismuth Oxychloride. This "natural" ingredient is not that natural. Bismuth is actually the by product of the copper and lead refining process and then combined with water and chloride. It is notorious for irritating the skin, especially sensitive skin.

Why on earth is this a common ingredient? It's common because it gives a slightly shimmery, pearlized effect,. Nothing more. It is in no way beneficial to your skin.  So skip it.

Some of the above powder foundations also contain potentially parabens, which are believed to be endocrine disruptors. There are so many truly unnecessary ingredients in the other brands -- I am loving my Lemongrass Spa Foundation. It really is top-notch and I look forward to trying more makeup products from the line! 


A disclaimer -- most of the makeup I review on this blog was sent to me for the purpose of review. I purchased this product on my own and I am not affiliated with Lemongrass Spa.

Should bloggers be paid for product reviews?

As a blogger and a person who works with bloggers, I have lots of insight and opinions on the blogging industry.




I  spend several hours each week doing social media, blog outreach for beauty companies, and blogging on my own, I have come across from all different types of bloggers. First off, I am a blogger.  I have had a very successful green beauty blog for nearly 8 years.  I also blog for other companies.

I would consider myself a pro-blogger.  I have consulted with dozens of bloggers on how to improve and monetize their blogs.  I have been interviewed and featured in multiple publications for my blogging. My blog has provided me with tremendous career growth.  It is BECAUSE of this blog that I have landed writing jobs for publications such as USA Today, was introduced to JamberryNails, and met the amazing folks at a body care brand I blog and do social media for. I have made numerous professional contacts through this blog.

I want to talk about money and blog reviews today. It's been on my mind.

If you are not a blogger, you may not realize that popular bloggers receive up to several thousands of dollars per year in free full-sized products. I receive at least a dozen pitches daily from brands wanting me to review their products or host a giveaway.

Then we receive advertising requests, are members of affiliate networks, get invited to swanky events, are often provided with free services, etc.

I have had a winter coat custom made for me just for the mention on my blog. I got my brows shaped and waxed at a local brow salon for a post about brow sculpting, and have been invited to some really great blogger functions. I've received free dresses, jewelry and nail services in Los Angeles (which I gave to a friend in the area). I've been invited to lunch with company owners and receive Christmas gifts from PR firms. I've been able to try expensive gizmos I would not have purchased on my own.

There truly are some great perks to being a top tier beauty blogger.

There is a line, however, that must NOT be crossed.  A blogger loses all credibility when she begins selling reviews.

I remember being more than just a bit offended not long ago by a PR rep from a high end beauty brand.  I was offered several skin care products to try, but the brand uses parabens and test on animals.  I kindly replied that I was uninterested in doing a review because of the ingredients and animal cruelty issues. The PR rep actually wrote back and asked me if I would reconsidering doing a "pleasant review" for a payment of $150 via Paypal.

I was left in shock. My opinions cannot be bought. Nor should yours.

Another time, while doing blog outreach for a company, I offered to have 3 full sized products sent to the blogger with the possibility of doing a review.  She responded that she expected payment in order to write the review.  When I gently explained that she would be receiving multiple full-sized products at no cost, she had a virtual tantrum via email about how hard bloggers work and how hard it is to write up a review, so bloggers deserve to be paid to do them.

First of all, from the stand point of a business, a reputable business should NOT buy a review. I believe this to be unethical. If you owned a business, suppose you sent someone $75 and they posted all over the Internet how horrible your eyeshadow was? Would it have been worth it?

Bloggers are beginning to see that money can be made. And many are taking shortcuts and doing whatever they can to make an extra buck.  It gives reputable, fair, and legitimate bloggers a bad reputation. This is only a growing problem.  There are websites out there promising bloggers "between $20 and $200 for each product review."

There is a line here and it is clear.  Everyone wants to be paid fairly. I am not saying one shouldn't make money off of their blog. I do via affiliate ads (which are fully disclosed) and side column advertising.  I have received $50 and free tequila for a sponsored post from a tequila company.

Product reviews are different. Reviews are personal and they need to be candid and truly honest. Being paid in addition to receiving lots of freebies crosses that line of ethical vs. unethical.

But wait! It takes time and effort to do each review!

This is a common argument. Yes, it takes time and effort for a review. I test skin care products, for example, for weeks to be sure they deliver promised results.  Sometimes I have a reaction and have to stop using something and end up with 3 days of blotchiness and Benadryl to cure the effects. Then there is the nitty-gritty of sitting at the computer to put my thoughts in order.  Each review takes about an hour of my time. Then I need to photograph the product or make a fun collage via PicMonkey or Polyvore. My time IS valuable. I am a mom and I work and it seemss I am always on a deadline.

However, haven't I already been paid by receiving a $40 cleanser or $70 serum? Or box full of hair care? Or a new dress? Or shoes?

Accepting cash, or even worse-- DEMANDING it -- is wrong. Plain and simple. A reputable business will never offer you cash in exchange for a positive review. And a reputable blogger will never accept it.

What do you think? Should bloggers get paid in exchange for a good review?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

DIY Beauty: The Ultimate Facial Cleansing Oil



Today, I am going to show you how to make my facial cleansing oil. This was my best-selling cleanser for a good couple years and I know you'll enjoy it! If you are newer to Chic & Green, you may not know that I used to formulate skin care products. My handmade facial care line was open until September 2009, when I stepped away to enjoy more time with my boys. KZM Facial Care Boutique products were featured in Martha Stewart Whole Living (Body + Soul) magazine, multiple newspaper articles, and they made an appearance at the Blue Planet Film Festival.

We've all seen the facial oils on the market from brands like Shu Uemera, DHC, and more. The only thing I believe setting this recipe apart from others is the cost.

In fact, I believe this is less irritating because I do not use emulsifiers in this. No, this cleansing oil doesn't rinse right off with a splash of water, but that is not a bad thing. Sometimes people mistakenly believe that the OIL is what can aggravate breakouts in retail cleansing oils, when indeed it is the synthetic emulsifying agent. The emulsifying  agents used in some of the popular retail cleansing oils have been shown to promote acne and aggravate eczema.

Do you double cleanse?

This facial oil is what I use to remove my makeup at night as part of "double cleansing"--using a cleansing oil first followed by a second cleanser.

Do not be afraid of the word "oil". Most vegetable oils do not, in fact, clog the pores. My facial cleansing oil is a wonderful blend of high-quality ingredients. You may use this to remove your makeup. It will melt it right off. I prefer to gently dampen the skin and then massage into my skin and wherever I have makeup. I rinse with tepid water and then follow with Exuviance Gentle Cleansing Creme.

The Oil Cleansing Method has been embraced by several well-known brands. Why? It is gentle, yet effective!

Here are the oils I put in this FACIAL CLEANSING OIL. You do not need all of them. You may use just one, two, three--all of them are just a FABULOUS blend! 

I use equal parts safflower & rice bran to make the bottle half way full. Then mix equal parts olive squalane, jojoba, sunflower, grape seed and argan to the mix to make up the other half. This is my personal best formula. Some people may want more grape seed...others more jojoba. It just takes a little experimentation to get the right blend for yourself. I make this without essential oils. I used to use them more in skin care, but I prefer not to most days now.

To purchase the oils for this DIY, check out Mountain Rose Herbs. Their quality is outstanding.

More on the ingredients used--

Safflower Oil: Safflower oil has firming and hydrating properties and consists of over 75% Linoleic Acid and is very high in Oleic Acid. Both are very moisturizing, yet this oil penetrates the skin very quickly so it isn't greasy.

Rice Bran Oil: This wonderful oil can held reduce inflammation and skin irritation. It absorbs very quickly without leaving a film on the skin. This oil is antioxidant-rich, as it contains vitamin E and gammaoryzanol. Rice Bran is a great, lightweight oil to give your skin a velvety feel.

Olive Squalane: Has been shown to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. It is ideal to soften your skin as well. We naturally produce squalane, but as we age, the production slows down. This ingredient is vegan (traditional forms come from sharks), from olive oil. It can improve cracked skin, and skin suffering from conditions such as eczema and dermatitis. It has regenerative properties and can help restore a youthful, supple appearance. It is very light in texture, so it will not leave a greasy residue on the skin.

Jojoba Oil: is wonderful for the skin because it mimics your skins own sebum, drawing excess oil out. Jojoba oil is pure and it is natural. This oil is hydrating without being greasy. It will not promote acne or aggravate an existing case of acne.

Sunflower Oil: is chock full of vitamins A, C, D, and E. It is highly protective. It has also been shown to fight bacteria, which makes this a wonderful oil for acne, and why I believe this is ideal for all skin types.

Grape Seed Oil: This is very lightweight and absorbs quickly into the skin. It contains antioxidants and has high amounts of linoleic acid.

Argan Oil: Argan is a very special oil. Argan itself contains more antioxidant and cell regenerative properties than olive oil, grape seed oil and avocado oil combined together. Argan oil has been shown in many studies to help increase cell regeneration and improve cell turnover. When applied to the skin, it absorbs quickly, and without an oily film, leaving behind a silky and satiny feel.

Argan Oil contains Omega 6 fatty acids, twice the amount of Vitamin E than olive oil, Vitamin A to improve elasticity; Phenols, which are tremendously beneficial antioxidants, as well as anti-fungal and antibacterial agents; and something called Triterpens, which aid in cell restructuring, can slow down the cell aging process, and also act as an anti-inflammatory. It is one of the more expensive oils to buy, but it is commonly referred to as "Liquid Gold" for a very good reason!

How To Use Facial Cleansing Oil: Dampen skin with tepid water. Apply cleansing oil to your fingertips (no larger than the size of a dime) and massage into the skin. Massage for at least 60 seconds in upward circular motions. This oil is able to remove stubborn waterproof makeup, sunscreen and mascara. Gently massage and rub ever so gently with a gentle microfiber facial cloth like the Makeup Eraser. Rinse again. Follow with your favorite gentle cleanser.

In search of the best loose leaf tea? Try Tealightful!


Scroll down to the bottom of the post for details about a BEAUTY GIFT *and* a tea party!!!





I don't drink soda. I drink water, coffee and tea. I enjoy the occasional glass of red wine or indulge in a craft IPA (or Stella Artois). Throughout the day, though, I am sipping tea or coffee.

The difference between the two? Well, for me personally, I *feel* better when my hot drink of choice is tea. I drink a lot of tea, and loose leaf tea is my go-to for tea.

I have written here on the blog over the years about loose tea. In the past, I have enjoyed varieties from Teavana, Adagio and Harney & Sons. Smaller indie companies SBS Teas and LiberTeas are no longer in business. They were my favorites back when I started drinking loose leaf tea in 2009. Tea for All Reasons is another on Etsy that I have purchased from. I believe they are still around.

Not long ago, though, I was introduced to another loose tea company. After trying their teas, I will never buy from another. They are that good. Even better? The company is based right here in Rochester, New York!





Today, we're talking about Tealightful.

Tealightful is a company using the direct sales (often referred to now as social selling) model. My local friend, Michelle Giannavola, is an Independent Consultant. I first sampled Tealightful while I was having lunch at Michelle's. She makes a great bowl of tomato soup, by the way! We started our meal with the Lemon Ginger Green Tea, which was outstanding. We had Pralines & Cream scones for dessert -- Tealightful offers scone mixes, too -- and enjoyed a cup of Butterscotch Mocha Pu-erh.
This contains coffee beans and offers a more robust flavor.







Just before I left lunch, Charlene Phillips, the CEO of Tealightful stopped over. It was lovely meeting her and talking with her about both tea and direct sales. After meeting her in person, I knew I'd be a customer for life.





Michelle sent me home with a catalog and a sample of the Toasted Almond Spice Cake. It was so good! And it is a rooibos, so there is no caffeine at all. I do not generally add sweeteners to my tea or coffee and these are perfect on the own!







I decided to order some of my own and then decided to host a party. I was able to get oodles of rewards and I got myself a pretty robin's egg blue infuser pot.



Tealightful offers so many choices -- Rooibos, Oolong, Black, Green, White, Fruit Tisane & Iced.



Here are some of my own--













Let's have a tea party! Toss out that bag of yours. Tea bags are basically just tea dust. Seriously! YUM. A nice bag of flaky tea dust. If you want all of the benefits of tea, choose REAL tea. I am going to make a cup of tea right now. I am going to walk you through making a cup of the Green Rooibos Peach right now:








And VOILA! A hot cup of Green Rooibos Peach!






---------->  PARTY TIME!!!

I am so in love with EVERY tea I have tried from Tealightful! I am hosting a little blog tea party right now. Head over to Michelle's site and you can order right there. EVERY person who orders is going to get a little goodie bag of beauty products from my blogger swag! EVERY. SINGLE. ONE OF YOU will get a goodie bag from MOI.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Monday Beauty Round Up: Green Tea Edition


I am working on a post that is all about tea. We haven't talked about my love of loose tea in a LOOOONG time. Later today or tomorrow, I am going to tell you about an amazing Rochester-based company called Tealightful -- and we will have a GIVEAWAY too!

Until then, I want to talk about green tea.

Green Tea is a powerhouse antioxidant, which has been shown to significantly halt the glycation process as they promote collagen synthesis. Choosing skin care products formulated with Green Tea can help fight glycation and minimize the signs of skin aging caused by dietary indiscretions such as sugar consumption.




For your health, antioxidants are believed to help inhibit cell damage and are said to help prevent skin damage from the sun's UV rays, lower the risk of heart disease, help prevent Alzheimer's and more. That is why Green Tea is so amazing!

Green Tea is also wonderful when used in skin care products.This is because they help protect against free radicals. Free radicals not only impact your health, but they also impact your skin. UV damage, smoke and other pollutants can wreak havoc on your skin, accelerating the aging process and damaging cells. This damage causes collagen and elastin to break down, making you look older.
When you apply skin care treatments with antioxidants, you are shielding your skin from harm.


This milky cleanser has a beautiful consistency. I used to be a bar cleanser girl. I also liked gel cleansers. Now I just adore milky cleansers as I get older and my skin is dryer. This really has a beautiful feel to it. The first three ingredients are aloe vera, green tea, and milk. It is about as wholesome as cleansers come and it is oh so gentle on my skin. I like this. A lot. It can be used as both a mask and a cleanser. They recommend applying to the skin and letting it absorb for three minutes as a mask. The soothing effects of the green tea are really apparent. This is a top notch product. As a basic cleanser, you can use it as normal and massage in. It also removes makeup without stinging. 


This is one of my four favorite shampoos. In addition to bamboo and avocado, this is rich in Green Tea. You may not be aware of this, but Green Tea is believed to help strengthen thinning hair and protect it from the elements.


A bargain at drugstore.com, this body butter in a hygienic tube is amazing. It rivals any uber high end brand. Shea butter is the number one ingredient, followed by Green Tea. It is extremely rich and ideal for winter-dry skin. You will not be disappointed.


They have this one at Walgreens and it is lovely. It is non-irritating even to my watery, sensitive eyes. It removes stubborn eye makeup, including Cargo Swimmables Eye Liner. It doesn't leave a greasy film either. 


5. Homemade Green Tea Toner

And here is a recipe that I make in a pinch and have for well over a decade! It is a DIY Green Tea and Vitamin C Toner. Will it be as potent as a really good, dermatologist-crafted green tea skin care product? No. But this is still lovely!

  • Chilled green tea (one cup of tea made with distilled water)
  • 5-6 drops of lavender essential oil
  • a drop of vitamin E oil
  • one crushed up 500mg vitamin C with rosehips tablet
  • Shake really well. I store it in an amber or cobalt spray bottle and spritz on.
  • Keep refrigerated and discard after 1 week.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Monday Beauty Round Up: Peppermint Edition

In this week's BEAUTY ROUND UP, I am going to focus on peppermint.  I love anything with peppermint. In fact, it is the ONLY mint I like the smell or flavor of.

Here are my top 5 peppermint beauty and skin care products!





1.  Perfectly Posh I've Been Set Up Nourishing Makeup Setting Mist is undoubtedly the BEST makeup setting spray you will ever use. I have used everything from Evian mist to Urban Decay over the years to set my makeup and these do not hold a candle to Perfectly Posh. I use it as the final step to my makeup routine after my finishing powder.





2. Lemongrass Spa Peppermint Foot Balm -- I have been a Lemongrass Spa customer for just a couple of months and I absolutely LOVE their products. My cousin, Ashley Sanford, is a consultant. She is also an RN and mom to two little ones. Being around so much cancer in her career field, she has made it her mission to educate consumers about the importance of using better ingredients. Among the many products I have tried is the Peppermint Foot Balm. It is so invigorating and cooling. It is rich and luxurious and makes me heels silky soft. I apply the balm each night and them put on cotton socks. Nothing makes my feet softer!



3. Decongesting Blend Body Oil from (seed) Body Care also rocks my socks! Why? This 100% natural, plant-based blend is just what my family needs during cold season. Instead of chemical-laden Vick's, I use this oil to help clear congestion. While I am a proponent of Western medicine and seeking the advice of a doctor (I do not believe aromatherapy equals medicine), Peppermint essential oil does seem to help clear a stuffy nose! I love this oil. When my boys have colds, I rub this on their chests and feet.




4. Avalon Organics Peppermint Strengthening Shampoo -- Ever since I tried their gluten-free Cucumber shampoo, I have been a fan of the natural hair care products from Avalon Organics. This one is no exception. It helps my scalp feel clean, yet never dry, while my hair is left strong, shiny,  feeling so soft!





5.  Acure Organics Mint Body Wash is just what you need in your morning shower! I am in no way, shape or form a morning person. I am a grumpy Gus until about 10. I still get up each day at 6 and have to hop in the shower. This body wash is ah-mazing! It wakes the senses and makes me smile, even early in the morning. It is scented with natural peppermint oil and contains Coenzyme Q10, seabuckthorn, and Argan oil. This one is a keeper. Skin feels clean, but not stripped. I adore it!



Wednesday, February 4, 2015

How to get rid of acne scars

Scars are a visible reminder of  acne. While acne skin care products are able to help clear existing acne and prevent new flare ups, acne scars can linger long after the breakouts have gone away. I've compiled a list of some of your most common questions related to acne scars, from how they happen to how to fade them.



1. I have acne now. Will it leave scars later?

Not necessarily. While it is estimated that as many as 95% of acne sufferers may experience some form of scarring, this is not a cause for concern if you only have an occasional pimple every now and then.
While most acne scarring is very mild and hardly noticeable, there are many who will experience severe scars.  The more inflamed your acne, the more likely you will be to experience scarring. Lasting scars have an impact far more reaching than just the physical -- embarrassing scars can lead to low self esteem and depression.

2. What makes acne scars form?

When the dermis of the skin is damaged, scars form. In the case of acne, pores can experience swelling and inflammation. When this happens, the swelling may cause the follicle wall to rupture. If there is a minor break, the resulting acne scar tends to be very minor. A larger rupture will destroy healthy skin tissue because dead skin cells, excess sebum and bacteria will seep into the dermis. Generally, new collagen fibers are produced by the skin and will ultimately repair the problem. Sometimes, too much collagen tissue is formed, which results in a bumpy or uneven texture.

3. How can I prevent acne scars?

It is imperative to treat your breakouts right from the start in order to prevent scars. Using the right products for your acne are first avenue to take. Choose gentle formulas without harsh chemicals that will strip your skin and cause it to produce even more oil than before. In most cases, the right acne care regimen will quickly improve the appearance of your skin, helping to clear pimples.

If you do not find any improvement with your acne skin care routine, you may want to make an appointment with a dermatologist to discuss other options. Be sure to include sunscreen as part of your acne skin care product lineup. Based solely on ingredients, I recommend the acne care line from Eminence Organics. I have to go by ingredients, because my skin is dry and I do not have breakouts. 

4. Are there different kinds of acne scars?

Yes, there are actually different types of scars associated with acne.
  • Hypertrophic scars are caused by too much tissue being formed during the acne healing process. These scars are raised and often shiny and dome-shaped. An example of this type of scar would be a Keloid.
  • Atrophic scars are depressed and sunken scars. This is a result of lost tissue and can create a pitted appearance. Common types of atrophic scars include boxcar and icepick scars.

5. How do I treat my acne scars?

There are very potent skincare ingredients that are very effective at treating acne scars. The most controverial ingredient out there proven to help fade discolorations associated with acne scars is hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is effective and will lighten your scars faster than any other ingredient, but is it safe? I would not use it myself. Some medical experts believe it is safe, while others consider it one of the most dangerous ingredients out there. I would err on the side of caution and personally cannot recommend it. Would I use hydroquinone? NO.
Sun protection also plays a role in acne scar treatment. If you have scars, these areas react differently to the sun than areas of normal skin. The sun actually has a greater impact on scarred areas, as they are less resistant to the effects of the UV rays. In other words, this makes the skin more likely to burn. Additionally, when these sun-induced changes occur, the scars will be more likely to change color. Be sure to wear a broad spectrum sunscreen daily.While I normally advise mineral-based sunscreens, they are NOT the best for acne prone skin. In this case, I recommend Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Control Moisturizer SPF 30.
Bumpy, uneven texture -- another visible effect of acne scars -- can also be improved with products formulated with gentle Ascorbic, Lactic and Glycolic acids. These help create a smoother appearance on the skin surface. Combining this type of product with gentle acne skin care products can give a fresh and glowing appearance to the skin, make skin feel more even and lighten discolorations. My pick? The Purifying Acne Serum from Suki.
Do you have a question for us about a particular skin care topic? Please ask me in the comments below and we may answer it for you in a future blog post to help others with the same question!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Lemongrass Spa Body Polish: It's Scrubalicious!

There's a new body scrub in town and it is F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S.

I love a good body scrub -- salt, sugar, coffee -- you name it and I will slough off dry skin with it. My cousin, Ashley, is a registered nurse and mom to twin toddlers. Not long ago, she signed up to become an independent consultant for a natural products company called Lemongrass Spa. The products are gluten-free and paraben-free and are handmade in Colorado.





Everyone needs some exfoliation. Even in the summer time when it's generally not as dry as it is now in the middle of winter, a good scrub can make your arms and legs smooth and radiant. It also provides the perfect canvas for applying tinted bronzers and self tanners.


Why? At some point, most of us will notice a decrease in skin radiance. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. If you make exfoliation a regular part of your skin care routine, you’ll get your glow back. Cell turnover slows down as we age, so it’s important to help the process along so our skin can shed dead cells. Using a gentle scrub like Lemongrass Spa Body Polish will slough off that top layer of skin, over time your skin will look fresh and healthy once again.


Choosing the right scrub is key. Finding the perfect balance between the scrubbing agent (whether it be nutshells, sugar salt, etc.) and the oils can be difficult. Too much oil, and your tub is left a slippery, greasy mess. Not enough oil and your scrub is too dry and won't leave your skin feeling nourished. Thankfully, there are some really lovely body scrubs available now!

I recently hosted an online party for Lemongrass Spa. It was SO much fun -- like my nail parties -- expect in this case, I was the hostess and Ashley was the consultant. It was easy peasy and I earned all sorts of amazing free rewards! Just for hosting an online party, I earned all of these scrubs, plus a concealer brush and lip gloss. More on those in another post.

The Lemongrass Spa Body Polish truly rocks my world. I chose the Vanilla Latte, Perfectly Pumpkin, Lemon Sorbet and Almond. The ingredients are truly natural and beneficial to the skin. Each scrub varies slightly depending on the one you choose. The Vanilla Latte, for example, contains coconut oil, grapeseed oil, vitamin E, coffee grounds and more. The Almond features sweet almond oil, mango butter, honey and gluten-free whole grain oatmeal. Each formula contains something truly special to treat the skin. 


They smell amazing -- and contain only phthalate free fragrances. When you purchase 3, they are $2 off. I highly recommend these products and Lemongrass Spa!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Monday Beauty Round Up: Caffeine Edition





Introducing a new Monday feature: The Monday Beauty Round Up. Each Monday, I will have a collection of favorite beauty, skin care, hair care or body care items with a theme. The first up is CAFFEINE.

Caffeine contains many skin care benefits -- from reducing inflammation and swelling to temporarily reducing the appearance of cellulite.

I am sharing TRIED and TESTED products with caffeine that I can wholeheartedly recommend.

Here they are:




1. I have a FAVORITE new eye cream. It is called Impish Eyes De-Puffing Eye Serum Potion and it is from Perfectly Posh. My former caffeine-based favorite eye cream was from 100% Pure and this one blows it out of the water (Please note, I am in no way affiliated to Perfectly Posh and purchased this product myself. I have tried several of their products now and am IN LOVE). Impish Eyes contains polypeptides, Coenzyme Q10, cucumber extract and more It is 0.9 ounces --most eye products are half an ounce -- and it is just $19. It helps with puffiness, dark circles and fine lines.




2. Wash With Joe Coffee Mint Invigorating Body Wash -- You *must* try this! The scent is amazing--think of peppermint, coffee ad maybe even the warmth of caramel. Certified Vegan and Paraben Free.




3. Clarins Body Lift Cellulite Control  -- Yes, this is a splurge. However, it works. I was first introduced to this in 1997 when I was working as a Clarins Counter Manager when I was fresh out of college. I was a size 6, small for my frame (that is a whole other story, parts of which have been shared here over the years), but was self conscious about the backs of my thighs. My weight has varied wildly with pregnancies, being immobile for a couple months with a broken tibia/fibula, and FINALLY finding what works for me. Anyway, even though I exercise at least 4 days a week, I still get self conscious about the backs of my thighs. I am approaching 40 and cellulite is bound to happen. Anyway, this product is expensive. If not for me receiving products for free through the blog to give me a largely untapped beauty budget of my own, I would not purchase this regularly. In the summer, I use this when I wear shirts, dresses or shorts. Why? Because it TEMPORARILY (for several hours) does lessen the appearance of cellulite. Does it cure it? No. Are results permanent? No. However, it is fabulous and it's free of parabens.




4. Origins GinZing Energy Boosting Moisturizer is formulated with coffee beans, lemon & grapefruit essential oils and Panax Ginseng to boost skin radiance and gives it a brighter, healthier glow. I just started using it and already see a difference.



5. It's another Perfectly Posh favorite. I am loving the Daily Grind Body Coffee Scrub. It combines the best of both exfoliators -- sugar and salt -- to gently slough off dead skin cells to reveal a fresh, glowing complexion. As for the claims that is is anti-cellulite, it does give the appearance, albeit temporarily, of more youthful, taut skin. Love it!