Product Love: Body Care

To be honest, I don’t spend too much time or effort on body care products. I always love clean hands and hand wash seems to be the one body care product I’m always overly replenishing. Lotions and creams, well, I have quite a few because I love both the smell & the feel. Do they get used, though? Not really. I only ever have the patience to moisturize my hands, arms, and chest. I rarely find myself splurging on ‘luxury’ body care for that reason. I’ve noticed that almost all of my favorite body care products can be found at Whole Foods, Pharmaca, or any other ‘holistic’ pharmacy, supermarket, etc.

Warning: you might see a theme with many of the products that I love! (I’m a sucker for any thing citrus.)

My favorite hand wash is the Avalon Organics Lemon Hand Wash. The company states that the hand wash contains 70% organic ingredients. Sure, that is by US standards, but it is still better than nothing, right? The first ingredient is Aloe Leaf Juice, which we all know is hydrating and healing. There are no harsh surfactants and no other nasty ingredients. Using just a small amount, the wash leaves my hands clean and smelling fresh. The scent isn’t overwhelming and it is a scent that is generally not offensive to most. And, I always appreciate the $7.99 price tag. I especially love when Whole Foods or Pharmaca has a sale on the brand. Every once in awhile, both stores will sell the brand at 20% off.

Copyright Avalon Organics

To make life easy, my current favorite hand & body lotion is the counterpart to the hand wash: Avalon Organics Lemon Hand & Body Lotion. Again with the non-offensive scent, this is a winner in my life and is the lotion I keep out for visitors to use. At $12 a bottle, I really don’t mind sharing. The company has the same 70% organic ingredients claim on the bottle. The consistency of the lotion is wonderful: never too heavy, yet very nourishing. This lotion is usually in the bathroom to ensure that I’ll get some hydration on my body after I shower or bathe.

Copyright Avalon Organics

On my desk in my bedroom, I keep Aveda’s Hand Relief Moisturizing Creme ($24). I never splurge on hand creme. This was an add on gift my mother gave me for my birthday. This creme I use only once or twice a day, as it is definitely more luxurious than my $8 Avalon Organics lotion. I love that this creme hydrates deeply without leaving a greasy film. There is a very delicate citrus scent (again, with the citrus). This creme is especially useful during the winter when my body seems to dry up more than usual.

Copyright Aveda

When it comes to body wash, I am not the most picky person. As long as it doesn’t have a bunch of unnecessary crap in it and it smells good, I’m happy. Lately, I have been using Andalou Naturals for body wash. It is a (somewhat) local line for me, with their headquarters and distribution center no more than 60 & 80 miles away from home. As far as the scents go, I’m fond of Mandarin Vanilla and Citrus Verbena. Andalou has been revamped a little and have added a few scents. I can’t wait to try them!

Copyright Andalou Naturals

I’ve recently fallen in love with a product a few vloggers have been talking about (Fleur de Force, in particular). For a year or so now, I’ve been meaning to try Lush’s Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner. I put it off because it’s not cheap. At $33, I hesitated every time I considered buying it. But I am so glad I did!! I’m horrible at hydrating my body. It’s rare for me to put lotion or cream on regularly. This is essentially a lotion you put on in the shower and rinse off. The thought of doing that completely baffled me at first. It seemed completely illogical. After reading the ingredients, it started to make sense. As it is full of wonderful oils, it ends up creating this hydrating barrier on your body. This is the last product I use, right after putting conditioner in my hair. Don’t worry, I’m good about turning off the water while I let both do good work. After a couple minutes, I turn the water back on and rinse off from head to toe. And, this smells divine. It has a light rose scent mixed with something sweet, almost gourmand. Technically it is supposed to be a “rose jam” scent. This has helped my skin immensely; it is smoother and less irritable.

Copyright Lush Cosmetics

These are just a few of my current favorites. They are definite guilt free products as they are from environmentally conscious brands and the majority of the ingredients are naturally derived. Most of them are wallet friendly, and the expensive ones will be reserved for special treats.

What are your favorite body care items? Please share!

Pamper Time! Evening Skincare.

As my skin has settled down from its painful couple of weeks of dermatitis, I am able to get back into a comfortable skincare routine. I do all of my main skincare at night, as it is both physically and emotionally cleansing.

Tonight I am giving my skin some extra special love as it has been an arduous two weeks. I’ve been working nonstop and had finals this week. I desperately need some TLC! I want to share my pampering evening skincare ritual.

My skin type is dry, sensitive, and prone to redness & enlarged pores. I like to call my skin bipolar, as it really varies day to day as to how dry & sensitive it can be.

To start, I take off my make up with Caudalie’s cleansing water.

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This has been my favorite makeup remover for years. It takes off everything, including heavy foundation and waterproof eye makeup.

Next up is a proper cleanse!!

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Tonight I chose to use Ren’s cleansing balm with my Clarisonic Mia2. The cleansers I use vary. My other favorites are Ren’s Hydracalm cleansing milk, Nude’s cleansing oil, and Ren’s Hydracalm cleansing gel. It really depends on the day.

Next is a mask. I rarely do masks. Let’s face it, I’m lazy! So this is the unusual pamering part. And when I do a mask, it has to be amazing.

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Tonight I am indulging. Two masks! First is Ren’s Glycol Lactic mask to exfoliate, brighten, and hydrate. Then I hop in the shower. After the shower I slap some of Aveda’s intensive hydrating masque while I make some tea. This is supposed to be left on 5-10 mins, but I leave this on a lot longer sometimes. As it’s not a peel, it doesn’t hurt if I forget about it for awhile.

Once this is rinsed off, I finish with a serum & moisturizer.

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Along with Ole Henriksen’s truth serum & Korres’ wild rose sleeping facial, I have added some rose essential oil in a jojoba oil base.

Tonight I am all about exfoliation, hydration, nourishment, and brightness. I love nights when I pamper my skin!! It’s rare, which makes the ritual even more special. I do hope you enjoy this little snippet of my life.

FYI: I do not represent or am not paid by any of these brands for any usage or mention of them or their products. All of the products I used were paid for by my own money over the course of the year. Any product gifted me will always be disclosed and I will not use nor review something gifted to me if I do not like how it works for me. Thank you!!

Take Care: Treat Yourself Thursday

It’s no secret that I’m an Aveda fan. I use at least two things from the brand every single day. The two I use most often are Rosemary Mint Hand & Body Wash and Hand Relief Hand Cream.
I find that the hand wash gets my hands clean without drying them out. I’ve never been a fan of hand washes with Triclosan in it. I’d rather just wash my hands well and regularly. Plus, synthetic antibacterials seem to be drying on my skin. Aveda’s hand wash smells great and doesn’t dry my hands.
Coming into winter, my already dry skin has a tendency to become more dry. About a year ago, my mother get me a tube of Aveda’s hand cream and I’ve been hooked ever since. It is extremely hydrating, but absorbs very fast. Those seems to be the two most important factors when people shop for hand creams.
So, dear readers, my treat yourself suggestion today is taking care of your hands. Happy hands (and feet) help set the tone for the day. I do suggest Aveda’s Rosemary Mint hand wash, but any gentle wash without synthetic antibacterials will work. Wash your hands regularly, especially during heightened times of the cold & flu. Make sure you have a great hand cream. My favorite is Aveda’s, but another amazing hand cream that works just as well is Caudalie’s Hand & Nail Cream, which is nourishing and also absorbs well.
And, remember to keep your hand active. During cold weather, joints may have a tendency to stiffen up more often. While putting on hand cream, give your hands a mini massage. This will boost circulation to keep them warm as well as keep fluid moving well.
Enjoy!!

TYT Again!!!

Happy Thursday everyone! You know what that means!? It’s another Treat Yourself Thursday post! w00t!!

Last week, I got y’all started with a playlist to take yourself on a walk with. I hope you were inspired to get out there and move. I know I was!

I work retail, so I interact with a slew of personalities. Most of them are amazing & positive, but like life, there are always a select group of “interesting” people. I’m sure you’ve all met these kinds of people. You know, the ones that leave you saying to yourself “shake it off…”

So this week, I’m going to share with you my way of relaxing and recharging after a long day on my feet.

I am a huge fan of aromatherapy. As humans, we are all wired to associate different smells with different emotions and reactions. My bathroom and bedroom are both always stocked with specific essential oils: Lemon, Orange, Peppermint, Rosemary, and Eucalyptus. For many people, the true scent citrus fruits are refreshing and uplifting. They help clarify the mind. Peppermint does the same, as well as offers a cooling sensation. For me, rosemary is grounding as well as clarifying. And, we all know how well eucalyptus works for our sinuses during colds. Like peppermint, it opens up nasal passages & cools any heat or discomfort we may feel.

These five essential oils aren’t very expensive, which is why I am happy to keep a constant supply of them. Depending on the brand and amount you are purchasing, they range anywhere from $3-$12 per vial. Not too bad, as you don’t need much of any of them during each use.

I use essential oils in many different things. But, I won’t overload you! Instead, I’ll share a couple different ways of using aromatherapy to help relax yourself.

[Lil’ legal disclaimer: I am not a licensed aromatherapist, naturopath, nurse, MD, et cetera. These are things that have worked for me safely and work for many people. However, I do suggest you please consult a licensed ND or MD if you have any major health concerns. Thank you!]

Refreshing & Calming Foot Soak:
Tub big enough to soak feet and ankles in (use bathtub if you must)
Warm water (I like fairly hot water myself)
10-15 drops Peppermint Oil
10-15 drops Eucalyptus Oil
10 drops Rosemary Oil (optional)
After you have filled your bucket/tub/bath with enough warm/hot water, add the essential oils. Please make sure the temperature is safe enough to submerge your feet and ankles in! Get settled in a comfy seating position & soak your feet. I like to soak my feet for 15-25 minutes, adding hot water a couple times. After soaking, dry off your feet and follow with any lotion you like. I usually use the Aveda foot lotion or argan oil with peppermint & rosemary essential oils. The heat, water, and essential oils will help with any pressure, swelling, and circulation issues standing for extended periods of time can cause. The weightlessness of the water takes pressure off joints & tendons, allowing blood to circulate better, which assists with any swelling. Peppermint, eucalyptus, and rosemary all assist with circulation, drainage, and detoxification. [Again, not a chemist, naturopath, ND, MD, nurse, or aromatherapist. Not everything works the same for everyone. Capisce?]

Uplifting Body Hydration & Stimulation:
Argan Oil, Coconut Oil, or Unscented Body Lotion
5-15 drops Lemon Essential Oil
5-15 drops Orange Essential Oil
5-15 drops Lime Essential Oil
5-10 drops Rosemary Essential Oil
5-10 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
This works best right after a shower. The reason why there is such a variance in the drop amount is because it depends on how much of your body you are going to massage. You’ll see the main focus is the citrus oils. They are naturally happiness inducing. For most people, we associate citrus smells with warmth, joy, happiness, and cleanliness. The citrus oils also help brighten the skin. And, the rosemary & peppermint essential oils are there to help with circulation, detoxification, and fluid drainage. What I find easiest to do is to work section by section. In your hands get just enough argan or coconut oil or body lotion, add a few drops of each essential oil, then work it into your skin. For my skin & body long circular motions seem to work the best. I’ll do one thigh, then the other, then each calf seperatly. Then I’ll do each arm seperately, then I’ll do my torso last. The two places I save for absolute last are the back of my neck and chest. These two places are where I seem to hold most of my tension. Also, it is nice to have the scent of the essential oils still fresh when I get into bed.

I do hope you enjoy these little things to pamper yourself with. If you don’t have the time or patience to do either of those, you can still do aromatherapy! One drop of an essential oil warmed up in the palms of your hands will still brighten your day! Find one you love, and a few times throughout the day place one drop in the palm of your hand, warm it up with both palms, then cup your hands around your mouth & nose and inhale/exhale slowly & deeply a few times. This is a great way to take a one minute break to reset your mind. You’re smelling something that has a positive effect on your brain, you are slowing down for a minute, and you are getting some good oxygen flow to your heart & brain.

Enjoy your Labor Day weekend, all you Americans reading this!!

Summer 2013 Empties

We’re in the first weeks of August and, by my pagan Irish standards, that means summer is officially over & we are in the beginning of autumn. Please, do not make any comments on the “correct” seasons, as pagans and Celts and agriculture have been around a lot longer than the USA has been as an official country.

Currently, I’m not making videos, although I am well aware that an empties post generally does better on YouTube. However, I do want to cover some of my favorite products I’ve finally emptied! Some products were given to me to try, and those will be marked with an asterisk(*) and I am mentioning them because I actually use them, love them, and will repurchase them.

The first to empty is the Sephora Collection Supreme Cleansing Foam. This cleanser I use as primarily as a makeup remover after using a cleansing wipe or cleansing water. This, I feel, is able to get off anything residual on my face. Two pumps on dry skin, then rinsed off, my face is completely clean without feeling tight. It took me awhile to get through one $12 bottle. I don’t wear makeup everyday, and sometimes I am too lazy to follow my cleansing water/wipe with a second clean. Yes, such a terrible habit! Also, I sometimes use the Ren #1 Purity Cleansing Balm as my makeup remover instead of the wipe/water+foam routine.

Next is the Aveda Rosemary Mint Hand & Body Wash (8.5oz/250ml). What an amazing scent combination. For 15 years or so, I have been a fan of the Rosemary Mint collection from Aveda. In fact, I keep a mini bottle of the lotion (which I refill from a larger bottle) in whatever bag I’m carrying so I can keep the smell near me at all times. This hand & body wash is a permanent fixture at my bathroom sink. The scent is fresh, crisp, and clean, which means it’s a hit for both men & women, and is always a hit with guests who use my bathroom. I always buy a new bottle when there is approximately a third left in the “currently in use” bottle. One of these days, I am going to splurge on the litre size & just keep it in my cupboard under the sink to refill the smaller bottle. Or, I will just recycle the smaller bottle & people will have to deal with the huge bottle of hand wash at the sink.

Another product I finally finished is the Ren Resurfacing AHA concentrate*. The bottle that I managed to finish was given to me from the brand, as I had mentioned I wanted to try it. After a few uses, I fell in love with it, so I bought another bottle, so I’d be prepared for when I finished my first bottle. Let me give you a little insight about my skin. Many products with glycolic acid are too harsh for my skin. There are products out there that I am glad I sampled instead of purchased. Many glycolic products that claim to be safe for delicate skin do not work for my delicate skin, even when used more sparingly than directed. For many of these products, within about 12 hours of one use, my skin looked as though I got a professional, medical grade chemical peel, you know, the really intense kind you get done by a dermatologist. Imagine the Sex & The City episode in which Samantha Jones gets a peel done before Carrie’s book launch party & she scares the little girl on the street. My skin wasn’t too far off from what her’s looked like. That’s how delicate my skin is when it comes to glycolic acid. So, you can imagine my excitement when I find a glycolic product that doesn’t rip my skin to shreds. I use this concentrate 1-3 nights per week, depending on how dry I feel. I focus primarily on my nose and forehead. My nose, of course, is the most congested. My forehead has the deepest wrinkles. This concentrate smells amazing and absorbs really quickly into the skin. The morning after, my skin always feels comfortable and more hydrated.

Sticking with the glycolic trend, another “empty” are the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Peel Pads* in original. Again, a product gifted to me. I absolutely adore these pads. This 2-step system is phenomenal. Designed with glycolic sensitive people in mind, these pads have fairly low amounts of five different acids in step 1: Glycolic, Salicylic (hey, “beauty gurus” – notice how there is no D in salicylic?), Citric, Latic, and Malic. There is also witch hazel, chamomile, Copper & Sodium PCA in step 1. The second step, the neutralizing step, helps prevent over exfoliation and acts as a hydration barrier. I have never had a problem with the glycolic in this system. I can even use it every day, although I don’t out of sheer laziness. I know I’ll have better results if I do use them every day. However, when used 3 times a week (even on nights I use the Ren AHA concentrate), I notice my skin feels & looks fresher, the pores on my nose aren’t as noticeable, and my moisture levels are in check. This system is a must have for anyone, especially those with glycolic sensitivity.

I’m so picky about my unruly, independent willed curly hair. It’s difficult to find products that actually work & continue to work over time. Two products I love and managed to go through quickly are Bumble & Bumble’s Tonic Lotion and Aveda’s Brilliant Damage Control spray. These two sprays have been permanent fixtures in my haircare routine this last year. The Bumble Tonic is a spray that has tea tree oil, peppermint, rosemary, and nettle extract in it to stimulate the scalp & keep it clean. I don’t use shampoo everyday, so I need something to keep my scalp on point. After the shower I squeeze excess moisture out of my hair, then spray some Bumble Tonic, focusing primarily on my scalp. After 20-30 sprays on my scalp & through my hair, I follow with Aveda’s Brilliant Damage Control. This gets sprayed primarily throughout the rest of my hair, as it it is designed to hydrate & protect the hair. Apparently, this is a great heat protectant, but I rarely use heat on my hair. 99% of the time, my hair gets air dried. It is also a UV protectant, which is great, as I am now coloring my hair more frequently. Both of these sprays can be used on hair wet or dry, which is a lifesaver. As I mentioned, I don’t shampoo my hair everyday. In fact, I don’t even (traditionally) wet my hair everyday. These two products work as curl re-stylers, allowing me to reset some wayward curls if I am on the go. I do use other products in my hair, but I switch between a couple different ones, so it takes awhile to get through them. I’ll talk about them in a later post, possibly one about my haircare routine(s).

And, of course I have to mention some non-beauty items that I hold near and dear to my heart. I’m a candle girl. Always have been. A die-hard hippie at heart, I’d rather light a dark room with the glow from candles than the forced, uncomfortable light of bulbs. I made my way through quite a few candles this summer. My favorites were (and still are) Pacifica votives, TruMelange travel tins, and (surprise hit) a Bath & Body Works 3-wick candle.

The Pacifica candles I used and loved were the Indian Coconut Nectar, Persian Rose, and Island Vanilla. When I burned the Rose with either the Coconut or Vanilla, the house smelled luxurious. I couldn’t afford a tropical vacation, so the combination of the rose+vanilla or rose+coconut allowed me to visualize myself on a remote white sand beach. Tru Melange has a couple scents I used this summer, as well as all year round. Harmony was my introduction to the company and I used the scent in the evenings and/or if I was taking a bath. Harmony is a blend of vanilla & peppermint. The warmth of the vanilla mixed with the crisp liveliness of the peppermint allow me to get focused and relaxed before turning in. The other scent I adore is Refresh. This candle blends bergamot & lime together. A classic combination I often associate with drinking tea, this candle always energizes me. On my days off, I’d light a Refresh votive soon after waking. While relaxing or doing simple household chores, I never felt dull, instead happy. Lastly, I discovered a candle at Bath & Body Works that I could actually stand. This summer, they came out with some candles that were supposed to represent different metropolitan areas (and one tropical setting, perhaps). I remember there being a Parisian one, a Greek one, a Tropical one, and a London one. I’m sure there were a couple more. The one I instantly gravitated to was the candle named “London Calling” as that just happens to be where I was born. (I am still a UK citizen, 31 years later, and have lived in the US for 23 years.) This candle claims it is a blend of tea & lemon. And, sure enough, it smells like freshly (but weakly) brewed iced black tea with the juice of a lemon or two. I noticed that I couldn’t burn it too long as the smell filled the house quickly. That goes for any Bath & Body Works candle, I’ve noticed. Because I love these candles, I stocked up on quite a few of them. Bath & Body Works were selling the destination inspired candles for $12, so I bought a couple. And, the local Pharmaca had a 20% off Tru Melange sale, so I bought their entire stock of the Harmony & Refresh travel tins. Seriously, I did. I bought four of each.

My last empty I want to talk about is Traditional Medicinals Linden Flower Tea. I have a hard time sleeping, and don’t want to rely on pharmaceuticals to aid me. I usually use a combination of GABA & Melatonin to help. Sometimes, it is too late to take melatonin, or I have an overly anxious day, so a couple mugs of this herbal tea allows me to fall asleep without any trouble. It is a blend of linden flower, hawthorn, and lemon balm. I didn’t think it would do much other than calm down blood pressure. I was happy to find that the first mug I ever drank of it managed to make me drowsy within 20 minutes of drinking it. That was without any melatonin! Since that first mug, I have been a fan. I’ve noticed I don’t take melatonin as often, which is great, especially as I have become more busy incorporating school with a full work schedule.

These are my current empties! At the end of August, I have a feeling I’ll have more empties and will update you on them. Enjoy!