Sunday, April 28, 2013

Metal Tube Wringer - My New Fave Invention

Look at this! I'm not sure why finding this made me as ecstatic as I am, but alas... I'm easily amused when it comes to something that combines beauty and organization. And it's kind of cute, like an old fashioned wind up toy. I find it neat that Gill Mechanical Company started manufacturing these in the 1970s, and they're still going strong!

This metal tube wringer was $23 on Amazon, and I'm VERY excited about it. Basically, it's meant for painters to use on metal tubes of paint. However, it works just as well on tubes of toothpaste, lotion, eye cream, etc. 

You open it up, put the edge of the tube in the "teeth" of the wheels, close the clamp and wring away!

I mean, isn't that just gorgeous!? I used to ogle over all the beautifully wrung samples of Weleda, Acure and Suki at Whole Body, and now I can do it on my own!

The only disappointing thing was when it wouldn't work on some of my plastic tubes; observe my failed attempt on the Whish Shave Cream from my Birchbox.

This was my favorite tube to wring! And I do love this Caudalie Foot Beauty Cream. It's not super thick and as creamy as most, but it feels very moisturizing. It also contains no parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals, triclosan or GMOs. Right up my alley!

What are your favorite organizational accessories and/or tools?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Inaugural Empties

Since beginning this beauty blogging journey in December, I've been saving up my empties to join all the other bloggers who intrigue readers with their... trash? Yep! We're a weird bunch like that. I'll be honest... I have been saving them up for four months and have a Birchbox box overflowing with beauty refuse. These are just a sprinkling of all the empties I have. 

The Inaugural Empties

I'm very excited for y'all, because most empties I read are all shampoos and mouthwashes... Less than exciting and mostly non-makeup items... Boo. So, I was excited to be able to tell you about three makeup items!

The Inaugural Empties

I guess only the box has the shade on it, because the bottle does not. On the bottom it says "REF: 37020" so maybe that somehow tells you the shade if you are in-the-know? If I wasn't switching from conventional cosmetics to healthier, more natural options, I would definitely repurchase. I am oily and (with a primer) this foundation had the perfect amount of coverage (I like a heavier coverage) and kept me matte. I really liked the squeeze bottle packaging, so you got as much of the product as possible. If I really wanted to milk it, I would have cut off the bottom, so I could scrape it out with a brush and stored it in a ziploc baggy.  But I'll admit - sometimes you want it to just be an 'empty' already so you can buy something else! I'm not like some of those crazy bloggers (no offense, Ladies) who just spend loads on makeup. I like to wait until I run out.

NARS Pressed Powder in Flesh - $33

Having been a Mac Studio FX powder fan, I tried this because of a Sephora associate suggestion. I wasn't particularly wowed by it. It had a decent coverage, but it always looked too powdery to me. For someone who can pull off powder only, this would probably work well. I like to put powder over foundation (or BB cream, now), and this was a bit too much for that.

The Inaugural Empties

Buxom Lash Mascara in Blackest Black - $19

I really like this mascara! I wrote about it in my Sephora Haul post when a smaller size came in my Beauty Insider points perk. Let me tell you the long road I chose to take to get to this wonderful product... It all started about two years ago when I bought a mascara sampler from Sephora. You know, one of their "Best of..." kits. It was about $45 and came with around 10-12 small mascaras. I used EVERY.SINGLE.ONE. until I found my favorite. I went through Too Faced, Tarte, Benefit, MUFE, Laura Mercier, etc, and this ended up being the best. I used up ALL the mascaras and over a year later finally took my 100 point coupon in to buy this full sized beauty. I adore the brush; it keeps my lashes clump free. The mascara is a pretty dry formula (which I prefer), so it's easy to build on. If you want a dramatic lash, this isn't really the best for that, but it does flake less than most I've used. Now, will I repurchase? I might. I'm currently using the sample size from my Buxom sampler box. When I run out, I'll move on to the Tarte Lights, Cameras, Lashes! travel size in my Picture Perfect Duo

(P.S. I was so excited about this purchase. Typically, as most of you know, getting any Tarte products half off is nearly impossible. BUT I have a store near me called The Cosmetic Market that has a 50% off wall that always has Tarte, Caudalie and Bare Minerals on it. I got this duo for $8, instead of the normal $16!) 

After I use up the Tarte mascara, I have my eyes on the Korres Deep Colour Mascara.
The Inaugural Empties

Next let's talk about hair products!

I would definitely repurchase this. I'm a fan of Giovanni products, because they avoid many ingredients I do: propylene glycol, SLS, and parabens. This shampoo smells divine, and the fragrance comes from essential oils. When purchasing products I also look at whether it just says "fragrance" or if it explains where it comes from/is organic. Most natural products derive the fragrance from something natural, because they don't have heavy chemicals to cover up. I also love the packaging. The "spout" is at the bottom, so it's easy to squeeze it all out and not have to turn it upside down when you begin to run out. If you are not brunette, they also have products for blonde, red and black hair.

I'm in my twenties and am about 25% gray. Yup! It's terrible... So, I needed a solution for the days and weeks between the never ending coloring I'll do for the REST.OF.MY.LIFE. This root concealer actually has an updated formula and packaging, so I'm not sure you can get this exact product. It has a very small sprayer that focuses a light brown "spray paint" onto your roots to cover roots and gray hair. I liked this product and may purchase again in the future, mainly because there are not a lot of options out there like it. I've seen hair "crayons" and sticks, but this is quicker and easier, to me. The only down side was at times the sprayer sputtered, and brown dots would get on me, my clothes, or my shower curtain. An additional perk to covering up my gray hair was that it also soaked up oil. I felt like it acted as a dry shampoo, as well! The main thing making me hesitate to repurchase is the price point and that it contains butane, which scores a 5 on EWG's Skin Deep database for immunotoxicity.

My photo of this is the small .75floz version that came in my monthly Birchbox in March. It's currently a Birchbox exclusive item. The full size bottle is not a squeeze tube, like this. (Do you see the little lines across it where I tried to use my new tube wringer? Clearly, it doesn't work well on plastic... just metal tubes). It smells really great with a very heavy blueberry scent. However, I didn't find it to moisturize my skin any more than a normal shave gel. (I'm currently using Skintimate). It comes out like a white cream, and I almost feel like you can't use too much. I would find myself dispensing a big blob and not be able to cover my whole leg. I could see someone using this up really fast, and for the price point, that's not a perk to me.

The Inaugural Empties

Lastly, let's talk about hygiene and natural products!

I have acne prone skin, and I honestly believe it's because I'm terrible about sticking to a pre-bedtime routine. I'm notorious for starting a book or TV show and getting so tired that I crawl into bed without washing my face. (Here's my hand... slap it. I know!!) So, my solution for the past year or so is to keep wipes on my night stand.  I've used Neutrogena wipes and some other brands, but since detoxing my beauty life, I tried these. (I also bought some Giovanni wipes that are waiting in the closet for when my current Blum wipes run out). The Burt's Bees version smells delicious and is very effective at taking all my makeup off. The only downside to using wipes is that I tend to not get all my mascara off. I started to realize I was rubbing a lot harder and pulling on my eye area too much with wipes. So, I often times will have to go back over it the next morning with eye makeup remover. (I talked about my favorite Bliss Lid + Lash Wash one in a favourites posts here). The reason I switched to the Blum wipes was the ingredient phenoxyethanol found in the Burt's wipes. It scores a 4 on the EWG database. Some would argue it's not toxic unless ingested, but if I have an option to buy wipes without it, I will. 

The Inaugural Empties

About two years ago I took a six week class with Dr. Josh Axe on toxins in foods and products. I learned a lot about the dangers of fluoride and have since switched to fluoride free toothpaste and mouthwash. This little guy is a travel size toothpaste, which I think is awesome. For some reason, travel sized products make me so happy. It's like a beauty baby - so little and cute! But one thing that has always frustrated me is I could never find natural options. Now I go to Whole Foods before a trip (which is where I got this) or if you're an online shopper has a great collection of natural products.
I'm currently using a full size Jason toothpaste with a cinnamon flavor and love it. This particular product pictured above had a nice, clean flavor. Natural toothpastes tend to have a grittier texture, but it doesn't bother me. 
And, just to reassure you, I just went to the dentist last week after missing my 6 month cleaning, and the  dentist said I have "dental school perfect teeth" and no cavities!

The Inaugural Empties

And for my last surprise 'empty,' I want to chat about a book I recently finished.

I like to peruse the free kindle books every so often, and this one caught my eye. I actually really liked it. I typically feel so-so about the free ones. But, this one actually made me cry. It's a story of a troubled young woman running away from her past and doing her best to make a future she knows she can't have unless the truth comes out. But the truth could ruin everything. On the flip side, there is a man who worked his whole life for success and respect that also has a secret that could strip him of the life he has built. In the mix are neglected children, a released convict with a deadly grudge and a kind spinster who has given her life to others. I really recommend reading this!

What books have you recently finished you could recommend? I don't have anything waiting for me, so I need some suggestions! 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lip Balm

A main beauty obsession of mine is lip balm. I can't abide by a minute without something on my lips. I remember my freshman year in high school, where I would set my huge, chunky Bath and Body Works chapstick on my desk and apply it a dozen times or so during each class. It appears my "problem" hasn't subsided... So, here are some of my current favorites, with their pros and cons.

You'll notice I have some tinted balms mixed in with un-tinted ones. I probably own like three or four true lip sticks. Everything else is a gloss or balm. So, to add some color to my daily routines, I love to use tinted balms.

I found this product while feasting my reading eyes on my most recent addiction, Essie Button. Being a yank (correction: Southern yank), I rarely get to buy all the fun things I see all the across-the-pond beauties rave about. When I saw this on Birchbox's website {AND free shipping} I just could not pass 'er up! 
It's foundational ingredient is honey. It smells so pure and sweet (with some citrus hints). It also goes on a bit gritty, but then your body heat takes care of the granules - much like putting honey in or on something warm melts it. Many balms go on glossy, but I love how this just settles in subtly. It doesn't appear you have anything gooey and healthy on, so topping it with a lipstick or gloss is just fine. 
It also last for eons! 
The only con (for me - and it's not really a con in real life...) is that it's in a pot. It's a beautiful glass pot, but it's not quick and easy to swipe on while driving. So, it tends to stay at home in the bathroom where I use it in the evenings or when I'm lounging about. 
One other thing - what are the darn ingredients? I cannot find them online anywhere. It was probably on the box, but I'm terrible about tossing packaging. So, I am curious as to whether it's really as healthy as it seems.
The website also says to use it on cuticles and small burns. I haven't done that yet but will definitely try to remember to!

Let's be real... this is more fun than practical. In a normal tube this product would be considered of the mill. But put it in a ball and call it a "Smooth Sphere" and you've got yourself a niche-y winner! 
I saw this at my local Target recently and had to snatch it up. I like the smell, though I am not a huge fruity flavor person. It goes on well (somewhat thinner) and lasts a good amount of time. 
I'm really attracted to it being organic, paraben free and sweetened with stevia (as opposed to saccharin or sucralose). 
I also love the shape of it. It's easy to find this "ball" in the bottom of your purse (while driving... I tend to need to moisturize during that daily drudgery). 
I also feel like a little kid every time I apply it. I hope someone is watching, thinking Man, I wish I had her lip balm! Silly... I know. 
Only con is how little it's available in my area. This flavor is the only one I've seen locally. However, I recently found the Sweet Mint EOS at ULTA (which was like a 45 minute drive...). Love it, though!

Speaking of mint... For years I've been addicted to Burt's Bees original Beeswax Lip Balm Tube. Who isn't?!? It's $3 on their website, but I'm pretty sure I've seen it higher in stores... a bit on the high side for a boring ol' chapstick, so when I stumbled across this goodie in Whole Foods at the check out stand I grabbed it up. (Kudos to your add-on skills, WFs!) It was LESS than $2 (crazy talk), organic (and a bargain?!?) and it's mint (perfect). 
And in case you didn't know this about me... 
I once bought 6 boxes of my favorite mint green tea online because they were discontinuing it. 
The only facial water I can stand is Caudalie's elixir which has what some describe an obnoxious minty smell. (Disagree!)
I also use peppermint essential oils to relieve headaches, add to drinking water, and rub into sore muscles.
I even sniff it! (At least it's that and not Sharpies... though I do think there is something kind of disturbingly good smelling about those...? Right?)
Back to the balm... I once lost this puppy for two days and tore the house up looking for it. My husband said, "Just buy another one..." Are you kidding me? I don't leave a product in the lurch like that - especially my best, brightest and most loyal! Abandonment was not an option; I finally located her; and we've been inseparable ever since.

Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Rose - $7
Because I do love all things Burt's, I have to include this goodie. Although the packaging it came in was fun and almost keep-able, the tube itself is not fun or sexy. Good! It's easy to use. I can blindly grab it from my bag, swipe it on without a mirror and toss it back in.
It doesn't feel especially healing or treatment-like, but the pigment is a fun extra to add to an already great lip balm. I like how many color options there are. I've owned two of these, and this shade was the most pigmented on my lips.
Like I said before, I do love me some Burt's original beeswax balm, but the tint makes this my current go - to.

Keeping on the same tint track...
I would definitely consider this a more luxury item. Granted it is only a few bucks more than the Nuxe, but being that it's heavily tinted, it's not as versatile. (ie. Use before bed or under lippies).
It does feel heavenly, and it provides a major pop of color. 
A few dry-shampoo, sock bun Sundays ago I wore it with highlighter, mascara and fuschia blush and got a compliment on how my makeup was "glowing"! I was the best looking hobo in Tennessee... 
It lasts quite a long time, too. 
A pro and con: the packaging. I love that it's a metal tube, it's beautiful and feels really cool. However, I have to twist it up (and back down) every time I use it. And the topper screws onto the tube. So, it's not a one-hander. The downside to the metal part of the equation, I found, is that if it's in your pocket your body heat will be conducted by the metal and melt the balm. Mine is now all kinds of lumpy and melted. When I apply it, the stick pushes over the side. For $22 I would expect it to not be so soft, unless they put it in a pot. Despite the packaging and application issues, it's still a enjoyable "treatment." It smells divine - lemon-y and fresh!
I received it as a Birthday gift from Sephora, so I am not complaining too much. However, I will probably just enjoy it while it lasts and not repurchase. I just might have to resort to a lip brush... and it will be worth it.
Although it's paraban, sulfate, phthalate, etc free, it does score a 7 on EWG's Skin Deep database for a sizeable list of other undesirables. Disappointing! Another reason I won't repurchase but will enjoy in the meantime.

I included this balm in my January Favourites post. I've had it for years and years. It is probably  the best bang for my buck in this post. Ten ounces for $9!?! Amazing. 
As ranchers were milking cows and applying this to their udders they realized how soft their hands were getting. The rest is history.
I mainly use it on my lips (big ol' blob!) before bed. I also like to put a huge dollop on my feet, then socks and sleep on that for softer tootsies, too. 
I have used it on my cuticles before, but it made my polish bubble up... Twice. Weird! I avoid that now.
Being that you don't really find this in health food stores, I wondered how non-toxic it could be. I was pleased to find it scored a 1 on EWG's Skin Deep database!
Only cons are 1) it will last until I die, so I probably won't ever try anything else again that is similar. I have my eye on some Badger Balm. And 2) it smells a little weird. Just think, cows don't care about fragrance.

What about you lovelies? What lip-savers do you trust your kissers to?

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in Rose

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