• Beauty,  face care,  product review,  skin care,  vegetarian

    Product review: Alba Botanica Natural Acne Dote Invisible Treatment Gel

    Today I’m finishing off a three-part series of reviews on a trio of Alba Botanica acne products I used up this month. Friday I reviewed the regular wash, yesterday I showed you the scrub, and today I’m posting a review on the treatment gel.(Apologies for the crappy old picture, and shame on me for tossing the carton before checking my camera card to see if the picture turned out okay. You can tell I took this picture several months ago, when I was still learning.)

    The product: Alba Botanica Natural Acne Dote Deep Pore Wash; $10

    The claim: 2% salycylic acid derived from willow bark deep cleans pores. 65% of testers saw clearer skin in the morning when used overnight. (From their website)

    I tried it: Since I loved the Acne Dote pore wash and scrub so much, I thought this spot treatment would be perfect for me. Despite trying to stick to a healthy diet and regular skincare regimen, I do get the occasional spot, and they always show up at the worst times, so I was really hoping to score a spot treatment that could kill a zit overnight.

    Instead, I got a minor skin disaster. Surprised? You might be if you read my glowing reviews of the wash and scrub! Before I go on, I do feel the need to tell you that I’ve looked up reviews for this product on the Alba Botanica website, on Drugstore.com, and on Makeup Alley; and while there are a couple of bad reviews, most people seem to love this product. So you need to take what I say below with a grain of salt and realize that this is merely my personal experience, and this product may work very differently for another person! :)

    Here’s the deal: this stuff will suck the life out of a zit overnight like nothing I’ve ever tried. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. If you’ve ever used a spot treatment gel you know how they work; you dab a tiny bit on zits and other trouble spots. When I get up in the AM, I can see exactly where I’ve dabbed the gel, because I have red, dry, flaking spots! Did I mention they’re flaky? I don’t have words to describe how lizard-y and icky I feel. Makeup makes the flaky spots even more visible; even a thick coat of creamy moisturizer can’t help them. They’re more like scabs.

    And of course, if you know anything about skincare, you know that when the skin gets super-dry, it ramps up oil production to compensate…which means that a few days later, by the time the scab is finally gone and the surrounding dryness is healing up, I tend to get a new breakout in the same spot.

    This product goes on clear, which is awesome, but it stings like crazy. I’ve tried using it in conjunction with my other Acne Dote products, with gentle cleansers, and finally with nothing more than a splash of warm water, thinking perhaps it was just the layering of so many acne products that was drying out my skin. It doesn’t matter. From the first dab to the last, this stuff dries out my skin instantly and terribly.

    I’m honestly scratching my head at the number of positive reviews I’ve read, because it wasn’t like I was using this on a part of my face that tends to be dry. This is my T-zone, site of the world’s largest oil slick come a warm summer afternoon if I haven’t taken precautionary measures. I used to use the Clean & Clear spot treatment without ever experiencing this sort of drying issue, so I’m not really sure why this doesn’t work for me, especially considering how well the other Acne Dote products have performed for me.

    One last note: this product is 100% vegetarian and is Leaping Bunny certified.

    My verdict: Fail! I hate to say it, because I do love Alba Botanica, but they really let me down with this product. Perhaps it just works poorly for me and other people would love it, but I certainly won’t repurchase it in the future.

  • Uncategorized

    Inspiration Saturdays: 30 Before 30!

    Something a little different today! I’ve seen this tag floating around the blogosphere for a while now, most recently over on the lovely Ange’s blog Hairspray and High Heels. I’ve never taken the time to sit down and create my own list, though. Part of feels like I can’t come up with thirty things worth writing down. And the other part of me thinks, What if my goals are too big and I can’t complete them all?

    I have a fear of failure. But I feel like fear can hold you back or propel you forward, so I’m hoping the fear of not getting what I want in life will motivate me to just go for it, instead of idling the days away behind the computer screen. So here we go: thirty goals I want to accomplish before I hit thirty! I’ve got a few years to get all of these done. Hopefully that’s enough time!

    Places and spaces

    1. Move out of my hometown.
    2. Take a road trip.
    3. Visit the Atlantic Ocean.
    4. Travel outside of the U.S. Right now I’d be happy with making it across the Canadian border for a cup of coffee and a donut. Mmm, donuts…
    5. Go to Ireland.
    6. Go to Europe.
    7. Go to New Zealand. And yes, I want to see some of the filming sites from The Lord of the Rings. Fangirl alert!


    1. See Mumford & Sons live in concert.
    2. Finally get my tattoos.
    3. Get a motorcycle license (and a motorcycle!).
    4. Finally finish putting all of my scrapbooks together. We’re talking photos dating back to my childhood here, people.
    5. Get to touch and possibly ride an elephant. And not in a zoo prison crappy captive environment where the elephant is mistreated and unhappy.
    6. Photograph wolves in the wild.
    7. Go on a multi-day hiking trip, complete with sleeping under the stars.


    1. Hit 1,000 followers on my blog.
    2. Complete cosmetology school.
    3. Finish writing a book (or several) and actually get one of them shipped off for possible publication.


    1. Learn Italian.
    2. Learn German.
    3. Take Krav Maga classes.
    4. Take enough yoga classes that I can do a handstand! I am so weak.
    5. Learn to bellydance.
    6. Run a 5K. I can’t run to save my life, so this will be a toughie.
    7. Learn archery.
    8. Learn to kayak.

    Face my fears

    1. Walk across the Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado, aka the highest bridge in the U.S. I’m deathly afraid of heights!
    2. Handle a snake or a tarantula. Needn’t be both. Even the rubber ones creep me out.
    3. Give a speech in public. I’m a confirmed introvert.
    4. Swim across a lake. The smallest one possible. A koi pond would suffice.
    5. Fly in an airplane. You can all laugh at me now for having never ever flown, because getting over my fear of these deathtraps flying will obviously have to happen before I complete my overseas travels.
  • Beauty,  face care,  Holy Grail beauty products,  product review,  skin care,  vegetarian

    Product review: Alba Botanica Natural Acne Dote Face & Body Scrub

    Today I’m continuing my three-part series of reviews on a trio of Alba Botanica acne products I used up this month. Yesterday I reviewed the regular wash, today I’ll show you the scrub, and tomorrow I’ll be posting a review on the treatment gel.

    The product: Alba Botanica Natural Acne Dote Face & Body Scrub; $10

    The claim: 2% salycylic acid derived from willow bark deep cleans pores. 80% of users saw clearer skin throughout the day. (From their website)

    I tried it: I don’t know what I expected this stuff to look like, but I didn’t expect a slightly runny chocolate brown scrub! After my initial alarm (hey, it was early and I was tired!) I realized that this was probably caused by the ground-up walnut shells (which provide exfoliation) and took a moment to appreciate the beauty of an actual lathering cleanser. I’m used to thick, scratchy scrubs that exfoliate just fine but don’t feel like an actual cleanser. This is almost like a hybrid cleanser-scrub with very low lather and fine exfoliation.

    I’ve used this product both solo and as a follow-up to the Acne Dote pore wash, and it works great either way. On the days I’m feeling super gunky and it seems like the pore wash just wasn’t enough to clean out my pores, particularly if I’m having a blackhead episode, I’ll use this scrub afterward just to seal the deal. However, because of the low lather, it also works great solo. It’s gentle enough that you can use it several times a week if need be, though obviously I don’t recommend going crazy overboard with the scrubbing; even with a gentle formula, your skin does need a break!

    I used this stuff during the winter months without any dryness, which kind of surprised me. It doesn’t leave my skin red or stinging, and the smell isn’t harsh at all. Overall this is one of the gentlest acne scrubs I’ve ever picked up, drugstore or otherwise. As with the pore wash, I feel they’ve made a fair claim regarding the product’s effectiveness; I feel like using this scrub does a lot to keep my skin clearer and less oily throughout the day, which makes me very excited to use it this summer (the prime time of oily skin).

    I do have to note that I’m a huge fan of the packaging. Many tubes, whether of scrubs or of another product like a hand creme or shampoo, are so rigid that it’s difficult to squeeze all of the product out. This one is super-flexible and very nearly rolls up like a toothpaste tube, so you can squeeze out every last drop of product. That’s a feature that makes this budget-conscious gal extremely happy.

    My last notes: this product is 100% vegetarian and is Leaping Bunny certified. Be aware that some people may have an allergic reaction to the walnut shells!

    My verdict: Another win! I love this scrub beyond words. Obviously I’ve already repurchased this product and I can’t imagine finding a replacement for it any time soon.

  • Beauty,  face care,  Holy Grail beauty products,  product review,  skin care,  vegetarian

    Product review: Alba Botanica Natural Acne Dote Deep Pore Wash

    Today I’m kicking off a three-part series of reviews on a trio of Alba Botanica acne products I used up this month. Today I’ll review the regular wash, tomorrow I’ll show you the scrub, and on Sunday I’ll be posting a review on the treatment gel.

    The product: Alba Botanica Natural Acne Dote Deep Pore Wash; $10

    The claim: 2% salycylic acid derived from willow bark deep cleans pores. 70% of users saw clearer skin within 7 days. (From their website)

    I tried it: My skin is combination-oily, with the odd breakout or blackhead, but it’s also sensitive. Finding a wash that addresses all of my concerns is tricky, so I was hoping I’d have good luck with a natural formula.

    I’m not sold on the thin formula; it’s very watery, and I feel like it would be easier to work with a gel or cream cleanser. It’s easy to pour out way too much of this product, and if you’re not careful you can get it in your eyes, since it is so runny. However, it does lather up fairly well, despite being sulfate-free. (Sulfates are what cause traditional washes to lather and foam so wonderfully.)

    I typically leave this cleanser on my face for 30-60 seconds so it can really work its magic. Most days this won’t cause any redness or burning, though on more sensitive days (if I’ve done a masque that morning, or if my face is wind-chapped) I just lather and rinse to avoid any stinging. This is an issue I’ve always had with acne washes, though, not specifically with this product, so that’s nothing new.

    I feel like this cleanser does a good job of deep-cleaning my pores with overdrying my skin. It’s gentle enough that I can use it on a daily basis. A little goes a long way and the smell is not too harsh, which I appreciate, as I’m not big on scented face washes.

    It does seem to pull off foundation fairly well but like any acne product, I would not use this to remove makeup around the eyes, since you’ll wind up burning yourself and needing to rinse out your eyes! I’ve used it after using oily makeup removers on my face and it does seem to cut through the oil fairly well to get my skin clean. I feel like I should just throw that out there for anyone who’s wondering.

    I would agree with the statement that this wash gives you clearer skin within a week. I’ve switched back and forth from this wash to another a few times this winter and every time I switched back, there was a notable improvement in my skin within several days, with the most notable improvement being visibly cleaner and smaller pores. Long-term, my pores appear to have shrunk, I have to use deep cleansing masques less often, and my breakouts are reduced.

    It also does seem that using this product keeps my skin looking and feeling less oily and shiny throughout the day. I have real problems with midday T-zone shine, whether or not I wear makeup of any kind, and I’ve noticed that the amount of oil and shine has decreased quite a bit since I started using this wash on a daily basis.

    One last note: this product is 100% vegetarian and is Leaping Bunny certified.

    My verdict: We have a winner! My skin has definitely changed for the better since I’ve started using this wash and I will definitely continue to buy it (even if I would prefer a thicker formula). I officially now have a Holy Grail face wash.

  • blogs,  books,  movies

    Random Thursday: Top 3 Books Turned Movies

    Much of the time, I’m not really a fan of the way Hollywood butchers my favorite books for the big screen. I’m one of those annoying people who can’t enjoy a movie or TV show because they’re lamenting all of the missing dialogue, changed scenes, and actors who look nothing like the character inside my head.

    That said, three of my favorite books did manage to get a decent adaptation treatment, and those are…

    1. ‘The Lord of the Rings’. I’ve read the books a couple of times, in between watching the movies about a gazillion times, and I have to bow down to Peter Jackson for not only making an amazing series of films but actually improving on the books. If you’ve read them then you know that J.R.R. Tolkien, for all his imagination and language wizardry, was not exactly the master of the gripping narrative. I could go on and on in true obsessed geeky style about how much I love these movies but I’ll spare you all the slobber.

    2. ‘The Hunger Games’. When I found out they were turning this into a movie I realized I would probably wind up going to see it with friends who had read the books, so I decided I needed to sit down and read the entire trilogy as well. I’m really picky about reading the book before I see the movie! Anyway, I fell in love with the books from page one and by the time the movie finally opened I couldn’t imagine it would be nearly as good as the books. Wrong. It’s not 100% at the end and I still love the books better (what can I say, I’m a bookaholic), but it’s pretty darn near close to perfection. I can’t wait for the sequels.

    3. ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Technically this isn’t a movie, because I’m talking about the five-hour BBC miniseries version. It. Is. Perfection. I love Jane Austen’s novel to death and I’ve reread it over and over since high school, so obviously I have really high standards for the characters of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. I don’t think you can really get much better than Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, do you? Or do you have a better candidate for a remake?