Beauty

Product review: Keranique Volumizing shampoo and conditioner

(Disclosure: I received a sample of this product for review from iFabbo and Keranique; however I was not compensated for writing a review and as always my opinions are my own.)

Keranique--did it give me fuller hair or leave me feeling flat?

You guys know how much I dislike writing “meh” reviews but sometimes it has to be done! This is a product I was recently sent for review and was so completely underwhelmed by that I put off writing a review because I struggled to come up with positive things to say about it. Ouch. It’s not terrible, it’s just…so meh. Read on for the details:

The product: Keranique Volumizing shampoo and conditioner; typically retails for $49.95 for a set of one 8-oz. shampoo and one 8-oz. conditioner. Available here through the company website. Check them out on social media @KeraniqueHair and by searching #KeraniqueHair.

The claim: Cleans and nourishes the scalp to stimulate the hair follicles and provide thicker, healthier-looking hair. Adds body and volume to thin hair, strengthens breakage-prone hair, and provides shine and smoothness without weighing hair down.

I tried it: I’ve always been a little jealous of girls who seem to have naturally thick, glorious hair. Mine is pretty thin and flat and no matter how I style it I always feel like it needs a little help. So I gave this shampoo and conditioner a shot in the hope that it might boost my hair a little, even though, to be honest, I’ve always been a little skeptical of products that claim to transform your hair. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

The first thing I noticed about this shampoo is that it has a very strong peppermint scent and a tingling feeling on the scalp. Some people might like that but I think lots of others might find the scent too strong. The shampoo definitely leaves your scalp feeling squeaky clean yet not stripped, if that makes sense, and I like that it’s safe for color-treated hair. However, I felt like my scalp felt oilier on the second day (when I skip a wash) than it does when I use my regular Giovanni Tea Tree shampoo, so that was a downer.

I was less impressed with the conditioner. It’s okay, but as a long-haired gal, I’ve tried tons of conditioners and have very high expectations, which this product did not meet. It did an okay job, didn’t weigh down my hair, and detangled nicely; but by the second day my ends felt much drier than they do when using my regular Giovanni or Organix conditioners. I used this product continuously for a month and in conjunction with a variety of other styling products and the result was the same every time.

Did my hair look fuller? Slightly, and it was definitely shiny and pretty, but I was incredibly bummed to go into my second day with oily roots and dry ends. It’s even more of a bummer when you consider the price tag on these shampoos versus my typical drugstore buys. The volumizing effect was nice but way too temporary, in my opinion.

My final thoughts: From such an expensive shampoo with such lofty claims, I expected really amazing results, but I was left disappointed. I think in a blind test you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between this shampoo and conditioner and many other cheaper brands. Overall, it’s definitely not the worst product I’ve ever tried, it was just so middling that I would not recommend it.

Have you ever tried Keranique? What’s your favorite hair-boosting product? Do you have any tips for making thin hair look fuller?

Product review: StriVectin Advanced Retinol Pore Refiner

(Disclosure:  I received a sample of this product for testing purposes from iFabbo and StriVectin; however I was not compensated for writing a review and as always all opinions are my own.)

StriVectin Advanced Retinol Pore Refiner

The product: StriVectin Advanced Retinol Pore Refiner, $99/1.7 fl. oz. at beauty retailers like ULTA and Sephora or online through Strivectin.com. Catch up with StriVectin on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @StriVectin and check out the hashtag #StriVeSTORY for more on the brand.

The claim: A lightweight treatment that combines the power of retinol with skin-soothing hydration for skin that looks smoother and tighter. No irritation, redness or peeling as with traditional retinol treatments.Reduces the visible size of pores and delivers an instant mattifying effect. Wear alone for a #nofilter #nomakeup day or use as a primer under foundation.

I tried it: It seems like ever since I passed my mid-twenties, my skin needs more attention than ever. This winter especially, I’m fighting uneven texture and dullness. It seems like every beauty magazine I’ve opened recently is shouting “retinol!” as a solution but I’ve been leery of trying anything with retinol since it’s notorious for causing irritation, and my skin is already sensitive in the winter.

So, I was really intrigued by this hybrid treatment, which promises long-term skin improvement without any short-term side effects. It layers quite nicely over other skin care products and under makeup without adding shine or making my face feel slick. Worn alone, it gives skin a soft-focus effect that blurs imperfections and lets me skip a full face of foundation.

This product has a very faint, clean fragrance but it fades quickly upon application. I experienced no redness, dryness or other irritation while using it. It isn’t a moisturizer, so you’ll definitely want to layer it—I used it over my facial oil, moisturizer, and sunscreen.

I got several compliments on my skin while wearing this product sans makeup, which surprised me, since I don’t think my skin has been in its best shape this past month. I was very pleased with what a boost I got from a teeny, tiny dollop of product. With the size of the tube and the pump packaging, this will last me quite a while, even if used twice a day as recommended.

In summary: My biggest hesitation with this product is the steep price tag, but considering that a tube will easily last you several months, and if you could snag it on sale, I think it would be a worthwhile splurge.

Anyone else tried the StriVectin Advanced Retinol Pore Refiner? Any favorite retinol products you can recommend, or are you, like me, a retinol newbie? What’s your favorite skin care product for a no-makeup day?

Steampunk vampire hunter OOTD

I was feeling really bored yesterday and started playing around with some new makeup to create a goth look. And then since the makeup didn’t fit with my sweatpants and t-shirt, I started digging through my closet for the most steampunk or goth clothing I owned. My husband had the bright idea to take some pictures and this is what we ended up with. (And yes, it’s snowing in the pics! Our first real snow of the season!)

Steampunk vampire hunter (goth black outfit #OOTD)

I didn’t dress up for Halloween this year, but this is what I had in mind. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have gotten away with it at work though…especially if I showed up carrying a sword and had a pair of sais stuck in my boots. ;)

Steampunk vampire hunter (goth black outfit #OOTD)

And let’s be real—no real steampunk vampire hunter would chase monsters in high-heeled boots. My feet hurt after just running around the yard for half an hour. And I’m missing a good crossbow or some outlandish steam-looking weapon firearm, which I have yet to procure.

Steampunk vampire hunter (goth black outfit #OOTD)

But it’s pretty fun to dress up and play around at home. Even if the neighbors drive by and stare. Oh well, might as well give them something good to stare at!

Steampunk vampire hunter (goth black #OOTD)

(Steampunk vampire hunter weapons: my own. Pants, top: Walmart. Boots: Payless. Corset: thefashioncorsetshop.com. Necklace: Vivo. Rings: vintage, Walmart, Icing. Makeup: Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips eyeliner in Black, Urban Decay Naked 2 eyeshadow palette, Essence Get Big Lashes mascara, Wet n Wild Fergie Pagan Angel lipstick.)

Product review: Block Island Organics Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30

(Disclosure: I was sent a sample product for testing purposes; however I was not compensated to write a review and as always all opinions are my own.)

Can you guys believe it’s July already?! We’ve had nothing but sun lately and temps near 100, and it’s been intense–even driving in the car you’re liable to get a sunburn if you don’t slather on SPF first. Kelly from Block Island Organics got in touch recently to see if I’d like to review some of their new mineral sunscreen and of course I jumped at the chance to try it out–here’s what I thought after a long, bright weekend!

Check out my review of the Block Island Organics natural mineral sunscreen! It's SPF 30 and free of parabens, sulfates, dyes, and other nasty ingredients. Plus it's vegan and goes on super-sheer, so you won't feel greasy by midday!

The product: Block Island Organics Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30; $19.99/3.4-oz. through the company website, BlockIslandOrganics.com. (Currently on sale for $16.99!)

What it does: A lightweight, fast-absorbing sunscreen free of nanoparticles, gluten, animal ingredients, artificial fragrances and dye, parabens, phthalates, sulfates and petrochemicals. (Whew, what a mouthful!) Suitable for face and body. Block Island Organics is family-owned, USA-produced, and committed to producing simple, effective, affordable formulas without the harmful ingredients found in traditional skincare products.

I tried it: Hands-down, my biggest pet peeve with sunscreen is that it feels and smells like, well, sunscreen. You know: greasy and chemical-laden, and not at all pleasant. You can’t exactly forget you’re wearing it. Luckily, sunscreens have come a long way in recent years and now we have products like this one, which are so light you might mistake them for regular moisturizer. In fact, I would say this is one of the nicest sunscreens I’ve tried recently in terms of weight, texture and scent. The formula is super-thin, so it absorbs quickly and without that infamous white cast left behind by some zinc sunscreens. My skin felt dry to the touch afterward. The scent is nearly undetectable, too, and the dye-free/fragrance-free formula didn’t irritate my sensitive skin.

I also have to say that I really, really love being able to tote one bottle in my bag for face and body alike! I’ve found some sunscreens that were fine for my body, but couldn’t be used on my face because they stung my eyes, turned my skin slick or made me break out. Not so with this sunscreen! You could easily layer this with makeup if desired; I used it over my regular facial moisturizer.

This sunscreen isn’t waterproof, so you’ll need to reapply after swimming or if you’re sweating heavily, but since you’re supposed to be reapplying your sunscreen frequently anyway, I don’t feel like this is a big deal. It’s so light, and a little goes a really long way–no need to goop it on–so it doesn’t feel like you’re suffocating your skin.

Overall I love this sunscreen; it takes all the “yuck” out of daily wear, so I can stay protected from the sun without feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. Block Island Organics has generously offered readers a 15% sitewide discount, so you can try out their products for yourself! Just use the coupon code “Martha” at checkout, now through July 7th!

Check out Block Island Organics on social media: Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest / Twitter

Ingredients: Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide 22%. Inactive Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis Leaf (Aloe Vera Gel) Juice*, Aqua (Deionized Water), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract*, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus) Oil, Gluconolactone, Glycerin*, Lecithin*, Octyl Palmitate, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Laurylglucosides Hydroxypropylsulfonate, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Xanthan Gum, Zemea Propanediol. (*Certified Organic)