Monday, April 27, 2015

Product Junkie Review: My Favorite Drugstore Beauty Products

Not everyone is interested in signing up for monthly subscriptions for things like beauty products and cleaning supplies. I actually used to be afraid of signing up for monthly subscriptions after hearing so many complaints about auto-renewals and billing problems. I've been very fortunate to find such great companies to subscribe to (see the list here: My Subscriptions), but I understand that those products just aren't in the budget for everyone.

I've been asked to compile a list of my favorite drugstore brands. I spent a lot of time trying different things in search of the right product for my needs at the best price.  Sometimes I never found it, but these are my favorite Drugstore/Major Retailer Beauty Products (not including nail products).  What I've chosen might not work for everyone, but I hope you can find something that works for you!


Renpure Solutions Cleansing Conditioner (pictured: Sweet Pomegranate) I tried to jump on the "No 'Poo" revolution for awhile and went in search of a good cleansing conditioner that wasn't being peddled by celebrities on late night TV. I'd tried a couple of different products, but many left my hair feeling heavy or looking over moisturized and when I used it I often felt like I needed to wash every day which is the last thing I want. I alternated between the Sweet Pomegranate and Original Coconut Creme (both smell amazing), washing every 3rd day (learn how to stop washing every day) for months before feeling like I needed a clarifying shampoo. My hair looked and felt good and the price was great.
PRICE: Around $10  Amazon's Price: 16 fl. oz. $6.99

Infusium 23 Repair & Renew Leave-In Treatment My first Leave-In treatment that I truly loved. I also think this is the best product at this price point. I've used a lot of things on my hair, this is one I can say I've used for years. It's light and can be used daily for detangling. I definitely find my hair is healthier when I use it.
PRICE: Around $6   Amazon's Price: 8 fl. oz, 2 pk: $9.09

it's a 10 miracle leave-in plus keratin I first received this in my Birchbox a few months ago. It's AMAZING! While you can purchase it in larger bottles, I've been using the small 4 oz. one for months now. It smells amazing. The detangling powers of this product are excellent. It definitely could be for daily use, but I think that is just a bit too much for my hair so I only use it on days after I've washed. It's definitely a ten.
PRICE: Around $21   Amazon's Price: 4 fl oz $11.00 (eligible for free shipping)

Psssst! Instant Dry Shampoo I have a complicated relationship with dry shampoo. Dry shampoo days are, admittedly, not my favorite hair days. This is one of my favorite products because it is both effective and smells great. There are other options that are cheaper or comparable in price, but I found that this was the best at eliminating odor and absorbing excess oil at this price point.
PRICE: Around $6  Amazon's Price: 5.9 fl. oz (3 pack) $19.60

Fekkai Blowout Hair Refresher Dry Shampoo Fekkai Blowout Hair Refresher is a wonder product. The first time I used this product, I used too much because I was so used to the Instant Dry action of the Psssst! I had been using. Since then, I've learn that a little bit goes a long, long way when it comes to this product. Sometimes with dry shampoos, I use them to get rid of some of the excess oil that's causing my hair to look greasy, but I still end up putting my hair up; I don't run into that problem with this product because the blowout spray is amazing for 2-3 day old hair that you actually want to wear down. If you can, I highly recommend splurging on this product.
PRICE: Around $20   Amazon's Price: 4.9 oz $14.16

SKIN: Simple Brand Skin Care From time to time I use different products on my face, including various masks and moisturizers.  However, the products I keep purchasing for myself all come from Simple.  While I don't have sensitive skin, I've heard that it is a great product for people who do.  According to the Simple website, they have 18 products, and all Simple products have no dyes, artificial perfumes or harsh irritants and are hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic and pH balanced.
PRICE: Between $5-13 dollars, regularly on sale at Walgreens.  Amazon: Simple Face Care Trial Set with facial wash, wipes and moisturizer $8.99

Mascara: There are only two kinds of mascara I've bought more than once in my life.  This is for two reasons:  I always use them way longer than recommended (which is a few months) and if I buy something I dislike I still use it as long as I can.  I'm currently using Smashbox Full Exposure ($20.00 at Ulta).  If I wasn't, I would be using one of these options:

Rimmel SCANDALEYES Waterproof Mascara Big, full lashes with a large applicator and waterproof formula.  Not the best waterproof formula I've ever used, but your lashes will look huge.  This didn't irritate my contacts and lasted a long time.
PRICE: priced on a store level, however they are often included in BOGO sales at Walgreens.  Can usually be found for around $11.

Maybelline Great Lash  Yes, this is a very basic mascara without the fancy bells and whistles and weird applicators.  It's classic, comes in a variety of colors, and simple.  This is what I would recommend for someone who doesn't use mascara often enough to use an entire tube of the expensive stuff before it goes bad or someone who just needs something simple.
PRICE: $6 or less

Maybelline Eye Studio Color Tattoo This stuff is badass.  Highly pigmented and long wearing, I've applied this in the morning and it stayed strong and proud on my lids until I removed it.  It comes in a variety of colors from tame to teal, is easy to use and suitable for every day looks.  This stuff is serious and one of my favorite products.
PRICE: Under $7

FACE: Revlon PhotoReady Insta-Fix Makeup  I fell in love with stick foundations when they came out in my teen years.  However, they just weren't suitable for my skin at the time which was often too dry or pimply for a stick which seemed to make those flaws (and the fact that I tried to hide them) incredibly visible.  I recently fell in love with Revlon's PhotoReady Insta-Fix... it's quick, portable and suitable for quick touch ups or all over application.
PRICE:  Around $14, but frequent BOGO sale item at Walgreens  Amazon's Price: $12.77

Revlon ColorStay Foundation  Sometimes, you just need a liquid foundation.  I've struggled with foundations that melt, wear off, highlight flaws, etc.  I use the one for Oily/Combination skin.  This gives me an absolutely flawless face, especially when I use it with my Beautyblender.  It dries fast and flawlessly and it really does last all day.  It feels pretty lightweight, but it is a medium/full coverage foundation.
PRICE:  Around $14 but frequent BOGO sale item at Walgreens  Amazon's Price: $7.79

Revlon ColorStay Pressed Powder  This is the finishing touch that makes everything all come together.  The ultra-fine formula looks great and helps your skin look flawless alone or over makeup.  I've left the house wearing only this powder and some mascara.  It's pretty amazing stuff and looks great applied with the applicator or a brush.
PRICE:  Around $11  Amazon's Price: $8.54

What is your favorite drugstore beauty product?

**I did not receive any monetary compensation to review these products; All products were purchased and tested by me.  All products were purchased at the price stated in the above review (if I were to receive a sweet deal, trust me...I'd tell you how to take advantage of that sweet deal for yourself).  I pick and choose what products appear on based on products I use or would consider using in my own home.  Receiving product samples does not influence the final review.  Period.  All opinions and experiences are my own and there is no guarantee with my review and I will not be held responsible if you decide to purchase an item and you are dissatisfied with it.  My opinion is just that... my opinion.**

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday Confession: Gambling

Life is a gamble.   Or is it?

Sometimes, especially lately, things feel like they happen according to the roll of the dice and not according to my decision or some kind of "plan".

I don't know who is the house, because the house always wins right?  And I'm not sure that I always do.

Maybe I should stick to playing the slots.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Pits of Dehair

I stopped shaving my pits before Miley Cyrus made it 'cool".

While the nipple pasties wearing, bong smoking twerker has recently made headlines with her unshorn axillary hairs, I've been in hot pursuit of armpit hair for months now.

Yes, months. Why, you ask?

It all started a few years ago when I sprouted one or two little hairs under my chinny chin chin.  I accepted it as a normal part of aging (though I didn't expect it at 23), shrugged, yanked them out with my handy tweezers and moved on until they appeared again.

What they don't tell you is that awkward facial hair spreads like lice in a kindergarten class: it starts with one or two and before you can blink it's everywhere.  Oddly enough, right about the time I started growing awkward facial hair the hair on my head seemed to be thinning.  I couldn't help but think this is how men with incredibly hairy backs and wax-worthy domes got to be that way and I was terrified.  Before I knew it,  I could grow a beard but not the luscious locks of my youth.

My first step was to visit my trusty doctor who gave me a thorough physical, complete with blood tests.  She then suggested a cream that would slow the hair growth for the low, low price of a daily-use prescription not covered by any insurance company because it was considered cosmetic. Not having any spare limbs to pay for such a luxury, I began my journey into the world of hair removal.

If you're imagining me standing in my bathroom in a towel dripping Rogain onto my scalp while simultaneously waxing my chin, you're almost spot on.  Only, this was only a fraction of my hair management responsibilities as I also have eyebrows that try to meet in the middle, an upper lip that occasionally looks "shadowed", ladyscaping duties, and plus-sized lady limbs that need deforestation regularly.

Keeping things tidy has been a full time job.

It occurred to me that if I could grow a good ladybeard then there was no reason I couldn't grow good hair.  Clearly, I was doing something detrimental to the top of my head that I wasn't doing to the rest of my face.  It was then that I made the hard decision to stop dyeing my hair: a practice I'd engaged in faithfully every 4-6 weeks for the better part of a decade.  I've been tempted by beautiful highlights, but I have persisted and not an inch of the hair presently on my head has been touched by dye.

I miss the ritualistic process of mixing the dye and developer and the big reveal of new color, which is why I got so excited when I heard about women dyeing their armpit hair.  I scoured Google Images looking at teal and purple pits for hours and decided I was going to do it.  I didn't care about my armpit hair being damaged from dye and the idea was hilarious to me.  When I remembered that bright colored dye bleeds and would ruin my clothing I abandoned the idea, but I still didn't shave.

The first two weeks, I felt absolutely disgusting.  Then I noticed a change: I started to struggle to identify what exactly makes not shaving that particular area so "gross".  Now, I'm oddly comfortable with my armpit hair in a way I never thought I would be when I was feeling the knee-jerk impulse to hop in the shower and shave.

There are people who can't see, taste, touch, hear or taste my armpits who are disgusted by the idea that they're unshaven even though there is no health related reason for removing unwanted body hair.  I have and will always have body odor, but not shaving has not made any kind of discernible difference in this department.  Last, but not least, no one is cuddling with or trying to get intimate in a way that involves their face in my armpit.  There is only one of the five senses that can really be offended by my refusal to shave (sight), and I don't often wear sleeveless clothing.

It's really very unusual when you think about it: we are a society so accustomed to women who obsessively remove all body hair that refusing to remove what is natural seems unnatural.

I realize this only makes my choice to pursue laser hair removal confusing.  I might feel differently about it if I didn't believe that stupid facial hair ruins a nice face, and in this instance my face is better sans beard.

But if you think I'll be able to talk to my Aesthetician/Laser Technician without using air quotes like Dr. Evil from the Austin Power's Movies, you're so wrong.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday Confession: Silver Lining

The silver lining.

I think everyone has been in a position where we've searched long and hard to find it, but I think sometimes we look for the silver lining we want to see instead of the silver lining that's actually there.

You know I've found the silver lining in a situation when I'm laughing.  It might not be the "actual" silver lining, but if I'm laughing about it or if I can make a joke about it, there is a good chance I'm going to make it past the dark cloud.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Confessions of a Childless Wonder: Why is being Auntie not enough?

It's been said that weddings and funerals bring out the best and worst in people.  This is generally a true statement in my experience.  In fact I find that it applies to most life milestones and events and for some reason it also seems to be true when it comes to sex.  I never thought, however, that it would apply to the happy occasion of the birth of a child, or in this instance two children.

I am, of course, talking about the birth of my sister's beautiful twins.  For what it is worth, everything went well and everyone is doing fine.  It seems, however, that instead of sharing in my joy at the recent arrival people are more concerned with showing me their ass  shit stirring  sharing their opinion with me Re: My Reproductive Status.

Since the announcement of my sister's pregnancy I have felt interrogated, attacked, pitied, and even degraded.  It has felt like an emotional warfare to me.  The first shot was fired when upon learning that my sister was expecting twins, a family member proceeded to ask me when I would be contributing to the family legacy.  While I'm sure it was meant as good-natured ribbing, it was mostly just irritating especially coming from someone who didn't biologically contribute either.  All I could think to say was, "I'm not. I ovulate sand".

Since that first inquiry into my contribution to the family mud hole tree, it's been a real shitshow of ASSumptions and rude questions.  I've been questioned as to why I don't have children yet.  I've had well-meaning people reassure me that my time will come and not to worry about the fact that my sister has a three child head-start on me.  I've been asked why I don't want kids, why I hate kids, and if I would have the baby if I got pregnant.  If I say I didn't want anyone in my past to be the father of my child or express that I have horrible taste in men people have been offended;  I've also received eye rolls and ridicule about the decisions I've made regarding my personal sexual responsibility (read: BIRTH CONTROL).  Some people have taken my childless status as some kind of negative statement about my sister's status as a mother, some have taken it as a negative statement about me  that I haven't yet chosen to be a mother.  I've been told the ways I'm inadequate for motherhood.  I've been told that I can't handle children so it's best that I don't have any "and that's ok".  I've been accused of being jealous.  When I've tried using the "tried and true" method of saying I'm waiting for the right time/place/person, people think I'm a snob or that I'm unrealistic instead of merely wanting to make a conscious decision to be a parent when I'm ready (though from what I hear no one is every actually ready).

Unfortunately there isn't really anything you can say in defense of yourself without giving some kind of "proof" or "evidence" that you're jealous and/or sensitive about the issue, or that states how you feel without incurring more of the same treatment.  In many ways it feels like you just can't win for losing, but the truth about how I feel about the recent arrival is this...I'm sad. 

I have two absolutely beautiful new nieces who came into this world safely, not all twins are as lucky.  I have a sister who is pretty unselfish with all of her children and she lets me grab them, hug them and love them as much as I want.  I love my nephew like crazy, and two more babies means three times as much love.  I choose to believe my sister is slowly but surely birthing me an army of Auntie-loving minions.  I love my nieces and nephew and I love my sister.

So, why do those things make me sad?  Because some people have felt the need to try and cut me down instead of seeing how thrilled, proud, excited and outright joyful I am and joining me in celebrating.  I feel like there have been people who have attempted to pit me against my sister, or goad me into a competition that doesn't exist between us and tell me that I can't simply be happy with how things are right now and I can't believe that people are actually like that.  People have talked down to me because I'm happy to be an Auntie as if I'm settling for being something less but just being an aunt and not a mom. 

It's sad, really.  That we live in such a world where love and happiness can't just simply be that, where people have to look for the nastiness in a situation where there isn't any or that people think it has to be that way.  I am my sister's sister, and I am her children's Auntie.  I'm proud to be who I am.  In fact, I'm thrilled and I wouldn't have it any other way.  Why is that not enough for some people? 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sunday Confession: Cheese

If life is like a box of chocolates, the people you meet along the way will be like a cheese section.

You'll meet people who are cheap and artificial.

You'll meet people who are aged, smoked and seasoned.

You'll meet people who stink.

You'll meet people best paired with wine.

You'll meet people who should be eaten with crackers. 

You'll meet people who are stringy in nature.

You'll meet people who are soft, runny and spreadable.

You'll meet people with a hard rind and a soft inside. 

You'll meet people who are hard.

And too much from the cheese section will stop you up.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sunday Confessions: Theft

Today, I will be committing a few thefts...out of Easter baskets.

Happy Easter Everyone!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Secret Subject Swap: April 2015

Welcome to the April 2015 Secret Subject Swap. This week, 15 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.
Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:                          Baking In A Tornado                       The Bergham’s Life Chronicles                         Spatulas on Parade                                      Dinosaur Superhero Mommy                                          The Momisodes                         Southern Belle Charm                        Confessions of a part-time working mom                                       The Lieber Family                        Someone Else’s Genius                             Climaxed                 Stacy Sews and Schools                              Sparkly Poetic Weirdo                    Searching for Sanity                  Silence of the Mom  

My subject is “April Showers bring May Flowers, what is your best and/or worst memory of something that happened in April”.  It was submitted by Southern Belle Charm.  Here goes:

April is usually an unremarkable month for me.  We dye eggs.  Easter comes and goes.  Sometimes it rains.  I live in Wisconsin so usually it snows a few times.

As a general rule, the air smells like dog doo on account of the thawing landmines left behind by family pets.  It seems fitting because with April comes the thaw of the poopy mood I've been in for the last few months due to my Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Something about the warm air, the sunshine, and general newness of Spring seems to thaw the emotional chill that can sometimes feel soul penetrating.

It can be a slow wake up, but gradually I will start to feel human again.  I will drink my coffee on the balcony in the cool air and warm sun.  I will plant seeds.  I will open my windows to the fresh air while I clean house and blast the neighborhood with my music and singing while I scrub away the Winter grit.   

Sometimes, if I'm lucky, there will be a nice, hard, warm rain.  The kind of rain that pounds the Earth, washing away the remaining snow and sand from winter. It's my favorite rain of the year. The one that hits hard, and cleanses for the newness of the season.  Sometimes, when winter has been rough you can find me out dancing in the rain and laughing like a crazy person.

It's my least favorite month because it becomes apparent to me how rough the winter was, but somehow the sunshine seems to dissipate those feelings, and I know the showers will soon bring flowers.