summer

Top Ten Tuesday: beach reads!

Top Ten TuesdayIt’s been quite a while since I’ve linked up for Top Ten Tuesday! This week we’re talking about our favorite beach reads. I’m not a big beach person—we don’t have a lot in the traditional sense where I live—but I am all about lying in the hammock in my backyard with a good book and a tall glass of iced tea!

I don’t really stick to any particular genre or style of book when picking out beach reads. They just have to be so compelling you can’t put them down, and they should be something that’s not too serious—no nonfiction exposes or tear-jerking fiction. Also, they should preferably be in paperback. Hardcovers are too heavy for casual summer lounging!

So, here are ten books I plan to tote out to the hammock this summer, and quite possible devour in a single gulp. I’m sure there are many, many more to be found in the depths of my TBR list but these are just some of the more recent, off-the-top-of-my-head titles.

TTT: beach reads edition!

The Three, by Sarah Lotz // Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch // Tell the Wolves I’m Home, by Carol Rifka Brunt // And I Darken, by Kiersten White // We Could Be Beautiful, by Swan Huntley // The Sister, by Louise Jensen // This is a Book, by Demetri Martin // The Hanged Man, by P.N. Elrod // Norwegian by Night, by Derek B. Miller // Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson

I’ve linked here to the Goodreads pages for these books so you can look up the blurbs and add them to your own TBR lists! If you have any other beach reads you think I might like, be sure to leave me a comment and let me know!

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)  

A cute (and easy) hairdo for the braid-challenged

I’m braid-challenged. I admit it. But I love the look of braids, and they’re so perfect for hot days when you just can’t be bothered to style your hair, which is why I love the look of this ponytail/braid combo on Blake Lively.

It starts with a slicked-back pony–perfect for hiding flat roots, grown-out layers, and a host of other hair issues. After the ponytail it turns into a rough, messy braid. It looks like her stylist teased her hair (and possibly added some dry shampoo for grip and body), then wove differently-sized sections of hair into a loose braid. You could tug on sections and/or rough up the tail a little more with a brush to make the braid even bigger and messier.

 

 

Here’s another view of it from the back:

Cute, right? And simple enough for even the clumsy-thumbsys among us to do. Just add some statement earrings and you’re ready to go. (Blake wore this look at Cannes, so you know it’s good to go for evening events, too!)

Product review: Beautisol Medium Self-Tanning Mousse

(Disclosure: I received a sample of the product(s) mentioned below in order to write a review. I was not compensated for writing this review and as always any opinions expressed in this review are my own.)

The product: Beautisol Medium Self-Tanning Mousse; $39/8-oz. bottle. Available through the Beautisol website (purchase here). Get 15% off through 8/15/14 with the code “BBLOGGER”.

The claim: Get a flawless faux tan in a single day with this lightweight, quick-drying mousse. Low-odor and tinted so you can see where you’ve applied. Paraben- and propylene glycol-free. Vegan.

Ingredients: Water (Aqua) Dihydroxyacetone, Ethoxydiglycol, Caramel, Glycerin, Decyl Glucoside, Sodium PCA, Betaine, Sorbitol, Glycine, Alanine, Proline, Serine, Threonine, Arginine, Lysine, Glutamic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Coco-Glucoside, Glyceryl Oleate, Lactic Acid, Citric Acid, Cetyl Hydroxyethylcellulose, Fragrance (Parfum) Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Yellow 6 (CI 15985) Red 40 (CI 16035) Green 5 (CI 61570).

I tried it: If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you know that last summer I tried out an almost identical product from Beautisol. For a fun throwback, remember how dark I got with that tanner?

This one gave my legs a nice glow but it was a teense less dark; I also think it had a bit less of a “tanner” smell. Otherwise, they’re practically identical in formula, so I was really able to fine-tune my application techniques this time around to get an even better tan.

One of the biggest things you’ll quickly realize when using a mousse is that it is 100% unforgiving, as opposed to a lotion formula, which usually gives you at least a little leeway for errors. You cannot skip any of the prep steps: exfoliating all over with an oil-free scrub, shaving, and applying a light body lotion to the really rough areas (ankles, elbows) so the tan doesn’t soak up and turn splotchy in those areas. (If you’ve ever skipped this with a lotion and though “no biggie”–you can’t do it with the mousse. It’ll soak up quicker than you can say “spots”.) I’ll apply the mousse itself with an applicator mitt like this one to avoid getting the dreaded orange palms. I would absolutely not recommend that you go bare-handed with this stuff; it is much more staining than a lotion, and you will regret it!

Here’s the other major thing I’ve realized about mousse: while the super-quick absorption means it dries in a snap, it also means drier skin types will have to do extra prep and maintenance to avoid streaks or patchiness later on. Take your time with the application and go lightly on the feet, hands, and face, so you don’t wind up with dark patches; it’s best if you use the leftover mousse on the mitt to do those areas, rather than using a whole blob of mousse, which can turn too dark. I do think the mousse requires extra buffing, since it can be difficult to blend into the skin; I kept a clean mitt on hand to buff any spots that looked too dark, which really helped even things out.

Finally, don’t skimp on application; work on one body part at a time (calf, thigh, arm, stomach, etc.) and use a large blob for each area so you get full coverage before moving on to the next. I would recommend you set aside at least 30-45 minutes to do your whole body, especially if you plan to contour the legs or any other areas. I should point out here that if you’re interested in contouring, I find it much easier to do with a mousse than with any other formula–just be sure to blend the edges.

Once you’ve showered off the guide color, slather on a super-rich body cream or even pure coconut oil (my fave) to really hydrate the skin and keep your color from fading in patches. Continue to use a rich moisturizer on the days you don’t tan. I find that exfoliating every few days (be sure to do it evenly) and moisturizing well will keep the color looking healthy for several days, so unless you want to go darker, you probably won’t have to reapply more than once a week. I did need to do touch-ups on my face, but that’s the norm for me with any tanning product.

Now I’m ready for summer and can wear my favorite brights without looking translucent. Even Max approves of my 100% safe and sun-free tan.

My final review: 9/10. Overall, I still think this mousse requires a lot of work, but it also delivers the most natural-looking tan this pale girl has ever encountered.  I think it really just boils down to how much work you want to do to get that tan; if you don’t mind spending a lot of time on it, then you’ll love this stuff. If you’re more of the quick and easy type of person, you’ll probably want to stick with gradual tanning lotions, since they’re more forgiving (though they also give much lighter results).

(Disclosure: I received a sample of the product(s) mentioned below in order to write a review. I was not compensated for writing this review and as always any opinions expressed in this review are my own.)

Ten on Tuesday: first tattoo!

1. So last time I linked up, I said that I dreamed about adopting a baby raccoon for a pet. Now this week I dreamed about getting a whole litter of kittens–eight in all. If only!

2. By the way, June is Adopt a Shelter Cat month. So, if you needed a good reason… :)

3. One of my besties and I finally went to see Divergent on Sunday, and it was awesome. Just as good as the book, I think. Now I want to see it again!

4. Is it weird that I spent much of the movie being jealous of Shailene Woodley’s hair? Like, seriously, what is she even doing to have such an awesome mane?!

5. Oh, and THIS happened yesterday.

It means “fortune favors the bold” in Latin.

6. Now that I’ve got one tattoo down, I’m trying to decide what to do next!

7. I can’t wait to go shopping for some crop tops and whatnot to show off my ribs now. But I need to tone up my abs a little first. Which can mean only one thing: it’s time to hit Pinterest for some workouts! Let me know if you’ve Pinned any fave exercises lately.

8. We had our first official big thunderstorm of the season last night. I don’t know why but that always feels like a must-have before you can say it’s really summer.

9. Two and a half weeks until vacation!

10. I didn’t care so much for this song when it first hit the radio, and then I saw the Clueless-inspired music video and kind of changed my mind.

Ethical fashion picks: May 2014

1. Britta top, $29.99, Threads For Thought. Organic/recycled materials.
2. Indian block-print sandals, $65.53, Fashion Conscience. Vegan.
3. Edenham bangle, $25, Roozt. Fair trade and made from plants.
4. Chevron zip pouch, $23, Pure Citizen. Vegan and fair-trade, supporting single mothers in East Africa.
5. Sarong scarf, $33.66, People Tree. Made by Swallows, a fair trade group working with women in rural Bangladesh.
6. Southwestern top, $19.99, ModCloth. Made in the USA.

Nail Polish of the Month: August 2013

Wow, this summer has flown by! I’ve really been neglecting my monthly polish picks and I completely forgot to post a swatch of this color when I received it in my June Julep Maven box. Payton is a beautiful bright Kelly green creme with a super-shiny finish; it almost makes me think of a jelly polish because of the finish, but it’s opaque in two coats. Adding a third coat will make the color a little darker.

Julep Payton retails for $14 ($11.20 for Mavens) through Julep.com. It is vegan and free of formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene and DBP.

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!