Month: July 2013

Product review: Acure Organics Mineral Protection Sunscreen SPF 30

I’ve got another suncare review for you today! I’ve been looking for a new facial sunscreen for awhile and just couldn’t find one I liked. The chemical sunscreens sting my eyes like no tomorrow but I’ve just had to make do! But the more I’ve learned about the toxic makeup of these sunscreens and how they affect the body and the environment, the more eager I’ve become to find a good natural sunscreen! And where better to start than with my face?

I decided to go check out the skincare aisle at my local health food store and with the the help of one of their awesome associates (they seriously have the nicest people there!) picked out this little tube to try out. Acure is already fast becoming one of my favorite skincare brands so I thought their sunscreen had to be worth trying!

The product: Acure Organics Mineral Protection Sunscreen SPF 30; $15.99/1 oz. at health food stores or through their website

The claim: Physical mineral sunscreens offer broad-spectrum sun protection while prickly pear extract fights free radicals.

Ingredients: Titanium dioxide9%, zinc oxide 3%, aqua, caprylic/capric triglyceride, carthamus tinctorius oleosomes, isopropyl jojobate, jojoba alcohol, jojoba esters, silica, benzyl alcohol, phenoxyethanol, polyhydroxystearic acid, opuntia ficus-indica stem, glycerin, tocopheryl acetate, bisabolol, isostearic acid.

Ingredient notes: Acure products are vegan and Leaping Bunny-certified (yay!). Paraben-free and free of harmful chemical sunscreen ingredients like oxybenzone.

I tried it: I think it’s fantastic that Acure is vegan and natural, I love the higher SPF, and I love that they threw in some antioxidant action to help fight skin damage. Now, with all of those basics covered, I still needed to know how this sunscreen would perform “in the field” as it were, across my five main points of concern:

  • Does it leave a white cast? No! This sunscreen rubs in very well and doesn’t leave any whitish tint.
  • Is it greasy/slick? No! If anything, this sunscreen left me with a matte, velvety finish on the skin, much like a makeup primer. Surprised? I was too!
  • Does it sting or smell? Nope! The wonderful thing about mineral sunscreens is that they’re much less irritating, so no watery, burning eyes here!
  • Can it be layered with makeup? Yes! No slip and slide here.
  • Will it cause a breakout? This is a huge concern for me since I have combo-oily skin, but thankfully–no breakouts to report!

My final thoughts: A definite winner! I do wish the tube were a little bigger but since I’m only using it on my face (I’ll use a separate sunscreen for my body), that’s okay. I don’t mind paying a little more for a nice facial sunscreen since, after all–if it isn’t nice, I won’t want to put it on my face–and if I don’t ever use it, then it does me no good!

Favorite blog posts this week!

Here’s another round of favorite blog posts for you to peruse!

Beauty Redefined by Pang has a ton of swatches of both green and purple liners. Beauty Passionista has a review of the Boots No. 7 Hero eye cream. Green Eyed Monster has a review of the Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter cuticle cream, which I’ve been eyeballing for months.

If you’re into using natural products, you might like this post on the many ways to use coconut oil, from We Were Raised By Wolves. Sifa’s Corner is experimenting with honey and she’s got some great tips on how this natural product can improve your skin and overall physical health. (This is great for non-vegans who still want to use very natural, healthy products but might be allergic to nut-based natural items.)

Sugarpuffish discusses the environmental impact of sunscreen on coral reefs–something I had never before heard of–and Shoes, Sushi and Spare Change talks about the trouble with “faux” fur.

If you want a laugh–Dabbling in Dixie wrote this hilarious post about being a single girl in the season of weddings. I just love Katie’s use of GIFs and as always she has some good ones here! Cocalores talks about the ten types of tourists from hell, which is applicable no matter where you live. (She’s from Germany, but some of these types can be found in small US tourist towns, too!)

Finally, for bloggers who want to learn more about SEO optimization for their blogs, Rosalilium has some helpful tips that are easy to follow even if you don’t know a lot about search engines or keywords.

Ten on Tuesday: 7/23/13

1. Something to listen to…

2. This is the sort of embarrassing thing I would do.

3. If you’re having a bad day at all, watch this video of journalist Charlie Bird getting cuddled by a pair of baby elephant seals. Too. Much. Cuteness.

4. I wish I didn’t burn when I go in the sun, because right now just flopping down on the lawn and sleeping there sounds pretty darn good. I know exactly how that would end, though!
5. That awkward moment when you get a bug on your arm and scream and shimmy across the room in horror, only to realize it’s a piece of lint…
6. Hooray for using up my last bit of summer vacation. Hopefully I get some stuff accomplished this week and don’t just nap the days away.
7. My level of productivity drops exponentially in relationship to my open Pinterest and Spotify browser tabs. But seriously–I’ve picked up a wealth of genius DIYs to play with and discovered a ton of new music I love this week! Right now I just keep listening to everything by Ratatat.

8. So I was all excited for the movie version of Divergent, until I scrolled through the cast list and decided that they totally miscast Four. Theo James doesn’t look anything like the Four that I pictured when I was reading the book. Now I don’t even want to see it. :( Have any of you guys read Divergent? If so, what do you think of the casting? I need to go pick up the sequels and finish the trilogy sometime soon…
9. On a different note: Batman and Superman are going to be in a movie together?! Who do you think will play Batman this time around, since Christian Bale is apparently not going to return to the role?
10. This just makes me love George R.R. Martin even more than before.

DIY: Lavender-coconut moisturizing sugar scrub

Hey lovelies! Remember last week when I highlighted Elle’s recipe for a coconut lime scrub? Well, I loved that combo so much I decided I wanted to find a recipe for a lavender scrub to use before bed. I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted, so after reading a bunch of different scrub recipes online and in my new DIY beauty book (find it here on Amazon) I just kind of winged it with this one and made up the recipe as I went! I chose to use a higher ratio of oil to sugar for a more moisturizing scrub, but you can just use less for a drier scrub.

What you’ll need:

–1 cup of sugar
–3 heaping tbsp. coconut oil
–3 tbsp. almond oil
–1 tbsp. lavender essential oil

In a large bowl combine the lavender essential oil and the almond oil. Add the coconut oil and blend well. Add the sugar and mix well with a fork. If the mixture still seems too dry, you can add a bit more coconut oil. Spoon into a glass jar (I use pint canning jars) and attach a label or tag for gift-giving.

Remember that when you make something with all-natural ingredients, it’s best to use it up quickly–I would use this up within the month. And be careful when using this, as the extra coconut oil can make the shower or tub very slippery. On the upside, it leaves skin silky smooth, so much so that you almost don’t even need to use body moisturizer afterward!

This scrub is not only easy to make–it’s vegan, all-natural, and if you do the math on the ingredients, it winds up being waaaay cheaper to make versus buying a conventional scrub at the store. Plus, if you package it up in cute jars with little tags and twine, it can make a great gift for your friends! I’ll definitely be making jars of scrub come Christmas time to give to my girlfriends.

Sunday confessions: 7/21/13

I started reading Alyx’s lovely blog recently and thought it would be fun to link up for Sunday Confessions! I suppose I don’t have a ton of things to confess this week but here goes. This week I confess…

1. That I consider coffee and or Monster Tea to be an acceptable substitute for a real meal.

2. That I haven’t slept more than 4 hours a day all week, and I’m okay with it, because I’m going on vacay tomorrow and I can sleep all I want then. My doctor loves to yell at me for not committing to sleeping 7-8 hours each night but when I know I have a few days off to sleep I tend to push it!

3. That I slept on the couch in my work clothes this morning. It was just one of those days when I didn’t think I could possibly stay on my feet a moment longer, even to change into something more comfortable. #sorrynotsorry

What do you have to confess this week?

Product review: Hydroxatone Anti-Aging BB Cream SPF 40

Disclosure: I received this product complimentary of iFabbo for testing purposes. I did not receive compensation for writing a review and as always all opinions are my own.

One more product review for the day! This is another product courtesy of iFabbo. I might not be a big fan of BB creams in general, but that doesn’t mean I was going to pass up the chance to try this stuff out, and in the end–I’m glad I tried it…

The product: Hydroxatone Anti-Aging BB Cream SPF 40; $39/1.5 oz at

The claim: “Reduces the appearance of lines and wrinkles and overall skin aging as it visibly firms and lifts; make skin instantly look flawless and more youthful. Contains a potent antioxidant to reduce free radical damage in the skin. Evens out skin tone and visibly brightens dullness and discoloration with active Vitamin C and an advanced encapsulated peptide. Contains a special blend of plant extracts to help calm and sooth irritated skin. Shields the skin with powerful broad spectrum UVA/UVB SPF 40. Hides uneven skin tone and minimizes the appearance of imperfections.”

Ingredients: Medium (shade received): Active: Titanium Dioxide 12.16%. Inactive: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Butylene Glycol, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Phenyl Trimethicone, Caprylyl Methicone, Neopentyl Glycol Dicaprate, Glycereth-26, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Dimethicone, Alumina, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Sodium Chloride, Dipropylene Glycol, Disteardimonium Hectorite, PEG/PPG-20/15 Dimethicone, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, Panthenol, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein/PVP Crosspolymer, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Alcohol, Acrylates/C12-22 Alkyl Methacrylate Copolymer, Potassium Hydroxide, Boron Nitride, Methicone, Sodium PCA, Propanediol, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Oil, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Tocopheryl Acetate, Allantoin, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Urea, Silica, Disodium EDTA, Malus Domestica Fruit Cell Culture Extract, Triethyoxycaprylylsilane, Adenosine, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Oligopeptide-68, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ceramide 3, Lecithin, Viscum Album (Mistletoe) Leaf Extract, Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract, Humulus Lupulus (Hops) Extract, Foeniculum Vulgare (Fennel) Fruit Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Beta-Glucan, Xanthan Gum, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Sodium Oleate, Sodium Phosphate, Tocopherol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Phytosterols, Squalane, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Hydrolyzed Pea Protein, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, sh-Polypeptide- 7, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Fragrance, Potassium Sorbate, Benzoic Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Methylparaben, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, DMDM Hydantoin, Iron Oxides.

Ingredient notes: Hydroxatone lists their products as not tested on animals. This product does contain lecithin, which may or may not be animal-derived, so strict vegans may wish to avoid this product. This product received a 6 out of 10 from Skin Deep for containing ingredients like fragrance and DMDM hydantoin. It’s also largely made up of synthetic ingredients, so it definitely isn’t natural.

I tried it: This product has a much thicker consistency than typical American BB creams–it’s closer to my Flower Beauty BB Cream I reviewed this winter/spring.You can apply it with your fingertips or use a brush for buildable coverage. I would say you can achieve light to  medium coverage with this BB cream, much as if you were using a light foundation. The finish is somewhere between matte and satin, so it’s good for those of us who are prone to oiliness.

Like my Flower BB cream, I feel like this has a slightly yellow tint that helps neutralize the redness in my face. It also helps add a little glow to dark circles and dull skin. I would still use concealer if I were doing a full face of makeup, but for “natural” makeup looks, this stuff works pretty fairly on its own. Because the finish is not overly dewy, I didn’t feel the need to set with powder afterward.

I like the high level of SPF. I didn’t notice any stinging or irritation with this product.

I’m not sure that I would call this an “anti-aging” product. The overall texture and finish of this BB cream seems to me to be better suited to someone with combo/oil-prone skin and a need to lightly enhance the skin tone, as opposed to someone with drier skin and/or wrinkles. It’s a good fit for me because I’m stuck in the middle: I still battle breakouts, but I need something that will start addressing the fine lines that are beginning to pop up. I wouldn’t recommend this if you have very dry patches.

Overall I feel the wear time is fair. Without primer you will probably get 3-4 hours out of it, while a primer will extend the wear to 6-8 hours. Obviously the point of a BB cream is to slap it on and run out the door without primer or any other additional steps, but on combo skin I really think there’s no such thing as one-step skincare, so I use it with a primer anyway.

My final thoughts: I’m pleased with this–I just wouldn’t shell out $40 for it. In my (humble) opinion, if you’re going to spend that much on a foundation, it should make you look like you just stepped off the red carpet, so I’m not going to splash out on a BB cream or a lightweight formula. Alternatively, you could grab the Flower BB cream for $13 or the Physician’s Formula BB concealer from the drugstore, and get a product that’s just as good for a third of the price.

Disclosure: I received this product complimentary of iFabbo for testing purposes. I did not receive compensation for writing a review and as always all opinions are my own.

Product review: Hydroxatone AM/PM Anti-Wrinkle Complex SPF 15

Disclosure: I received this product complimentary of iFabbo for testing purposes. I did not receive compensation for writing a review and as always all opinions are my own.

Here’s another product that I received for consideration courtesy of iFabbo. Unfortunately when the box arrived I saw that it had literally expired just a few weeks prior, so I figured I could do a short test to see how the product works, but it isn’t something I’ll keep on hand for longer use–there’s no point applying an SPF product if it’s no longer good!

The product: Hydroxatone AM/PM Anti-Wrinkle Complex SPF 15; $69/1 oz. through

The claim: “A unique moisturizer specifically designed to increase skin hydration and soften the appearance of visible wrinkles by helping the skin stimulate the production of collagen. Increased collagen produces a long-term reduction in visible wrinkles, crow’s feet, and facial lines.” Designed for all skin types, including sensitive skin.

Ingredients: Octinoxate 7.5%, octocrylene 4.5%, oxybenzone 3.5 %; water (Aqua), C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Sweet Almond (Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis) Oil, Sesame (Sesamum Indicum) Oil, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Sorbitan Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth-20, Shea Butter (Butyrospermum Parkii), Stearic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Sodium Hyaluronate, Panthenol, Cocoa Butter (Theobroma Cacao), Carbomer, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Tetrasodium EDTA, Triethanolamine, BHT, Polysorbate-20, DMDM Hydantoin, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Propylene Glycol, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Sorbic Acid, Pomegranate (Punica Granatum) Extract, Grape (Vitis Vinifera) Seed Extract, White Pine (Pinus Strobus) Bark Extract, Green Tea (Camellia Sinensis) Leaf Extract, Ginseng (Panax Ginseng) Extract, Chamomile (Matricaria Recutita) Flower Extract, Algae Extract, Bearberry (Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi) Extract, Coneflower (Echinacea Angustifolia) Extract, Licorice (Glycyrrhiza Glabra) Root Extract

Ingredient notes: Hydroxatone lists their products as not tested on animals, and I don’t see any ingredients here that should be of alarm to vegetarians or vegans. Skin Deep rates this product a 7 out of 10 for potential toxicity and irritants, which raises my eyebrows. If you click the highlighted link you can see the full breakdown of ingredients and their individual ratings; just a few standouts include retinol, chamomile, and oxybenzone. Given the data, it makes it hard to understand how Hydroxatone can call this “a more natural alternative” and “gentle and non-irritating” on the product packaging.

I tried it: This cream has a thick consistency and a yellowish tint, and combined with the smell of sunscreen, it’s kind of alarming. Luckily, it spreads on well and does not leave a cast behind.

The SPF confuses me. If this is a day/night cream, why include SPF? I would only use an SPF product during the day. However, when I reach for SPF, I want something higher–say, 30 (or even 50). It’s kind of like they got stuck halfway between day and night cream and couldn’t decide. Of course, this is coming from a very picky SPF freak, so take it with a grain of salt!

I do feel like this gives skin a velvety, slightly blurred finish that helps mask the appearance of pores and fine lines. It doesn’t cause my skin to turn super-shiny in a hurry–always a concern with heavy moisturizers–and I think it would work okay either alone or under makeup. This didn’t seem to clog my pores. I can’t say how well it works at reducing the appearance of wrinkles in the long-term, since I only used it for a few days–and here’s why…

On the Hydroxatone website the product is touted as erasing the appearance of crow’s feet and fine lines around the eyes, but on the product packaging it says to apply “away from eyes”. Well…which is it? I’ll tell you what: even if you avoid the eye area (as I did), this product somehow finds its way into your eyes and when it does, it stings like crazy. I just can’t use a product that’s going to end up irritating my eyes; sooner or later I’ll just have to run to the bathroom to wash it out and then all my makeup goes down the drain, too.

My final thoughts: I hate to be all Debbie Downer about a product but between the ingredients, the high price, and the stinging–this is not a product I would ever recommend. I just feel like I’ve tried creams that have better ingredients, cost less, and work so much better!

Disclosure: I received this product complimentary of iFabbo for testing purposes. I did not receive compensation for writing a review and as always all opinions are my own.

Product review: Hard Candy Glamoflauge Heavy Duty Concealer

Yay for the weekend!! Here’s another review from my birthday haul.This concealer has been recommended to me multiple times so I finally caved and picked it up to try out.

The product: Hard Candy Glamoflauge Heavy Duty Concealer; $6 at Walmart stores

The claim: A heavy-duty, multi-use concealer that provides coverage for dark circles, blemishes, and tattoos. Comes with a mini concealer pencil.

Ingredients: Concealer: Petrolatum, lanolin oil, tridecyl, stearate, neopentyl, glycol dicaprylate/dicaprate, isoamyl laurate, tridecyl trimellitate, VP/Hexadecene copolymer, ozokerite, silica, phenoxyethanol, cetyl alcohol (may contain titanium dioxide, iron oxides.  Pencil: Beeswax/cera alba/cire d’abeilli, copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax/cera carnauba/cire de carnauba, euphorbia cerifera (carnauba) wax/candelilla cera/cire de candelilla, stearic acid, ozokerite, ricinus communis (castos seed) oil (may contain titanium dioxide, iron oxides).

Ingredient notes: Hard Candy maintains that they do not test their products on animals, but it’s important to note that not all of their products are vegan. This one, for example, contains lanolin oil and beeswax, which I would have noticed if I had thought to read the ingredients on the box before using it–blogger fail!

I tried it: When I say that I have dark circles, I mean it! They’re partly the result of not sleeping enough at night and partly a byproduct of being so fair-skinned–they really pop out against my radioactive pallor. Light-weight concealers do not cut it for me and I’m always on the lookout for something heavy-duty. I also need a concealer to deal with my acne scars, breakouts, general redness and other blemishes.

I bought the shade “medium” and it blended in very well with my skin tone and actually served to warm it up a bit, I think. It has a yellow undertone that really helped correct the grey of my circles and the weird combo of ash and pink in my skin. The concealer pencil has a soft, slightly oily/waxy feel to it and blends well. The liquid is very thick and requires careful blending; I strongly recommend applying this in natural light so you can see exactly what you’re doing, or else it’s easy to wind up with a streaky, patchy finish. 

I used the pencil in a “v” under each eye, lightly patting out the edges, and then on any redness or scars on my face. After this I used a stiff foundation brush to apply the liquid concealer. I was warned that a little goes a long way and it’s no lie: whatever you think you need, halve it, and then halve it again. And about half of that is all you need!

After applying concealer to my circles I also applied it to the redness around my nose, acne scars on my chin, cheeks and forehead, and the redness on my cheeks and forehead. I then used a thick bronzer brush to buff my regular light foundation all over the rest of my face and then used a fluffy brush to dust my Physicians Formula Super BB Powder all over to set my makeup.

Here’s a closer shot that shows how this looks after four hours of wear. You can see just how smoothly this blends in. The redness and blemishes across my face are gone and my circles are well-hidden.

I would definitely advise using a good all-over primer under this concealer. I did use the Hard Candy Sheer Envy primer all over my face and I feel like this primer is perhaps more moisturizing than some other formulas I’ve tried, which I think helped everything stay put without undue caking or settling. Typically with such heavy concealer I do worry about caking around the eyes, but I didn’t notice any even after several hours of wear.  As with all cosmetics, it’s mostly going to depend on your skin type, but I’m surprised that a full-coverage concealer could be so non-drying around the eyes.

My final thoughts: For a $6 concealer, this stuff really packs a punch. I’m not sure how it would work on a tattoo, but for dark circles, blemishes and redness, it’s great. I wish they offered the pencil in a larger size. My main gripe comes down to the inclusion of lanolin in the product, since I feel like it’s just plain icky and I try to avoid it–but again, had I been more careful of reading the packaging, I would have not bought it, so that’s my bad. It’s only been in the past few months that I’ve become more aware of the strange ingredients in my body products and I’m still adjusting to reading labels so closely. I won’t be returning it because if nothing else the pencil is really nice and I haven’t found anything similar to that at the drugstore!

So, in the end: it works great, it’s a great price, I just would not repurchase this due to the lanolin.