Sunday, January 18, 2015

Beauty Product Empties

Even though nobody cares, I'm going to keep reviewing beauty products I finish up. Mostly I'm interested in skin and hair care, rather than makeup. Other than mascara I have literally never finished a container of makeup. It's not that I don't use it, just a little bit goes a long way!
This Anew Genetics eye treatment was an eye cream sample I picked up 5 of at Walgreens or something? Somehow I got 5 of them. It's an Avon product that is marketed at people more concerned about wrinkles than I am. Moderately good reviews on Amazon/makeupalley, but Paula's Choice/beautypedia gives it nothing but hate. Even though I tend to agree with Paula on not believing a specific eye cream is necessary, in this small sample it felt really nice and thick and moisturizing. No other effects.

On the other end of the age concerns spectrum, I have had this travel-sized Clean and Clear Morning Burst Facial Scrub for ages. I actually think it kind of irritated my skin when it got older, but don't remember that when I was younger. However it spent a really long time in travel-product-only purgatory and my skin had more acne when I was younger and I didn't really bother with it, so who knows what effect it had then. You know how skin care people are always saying that the natural grains that some products use to exfoliate, like sugar and apricot seed bits and so forth are too harsh for your delicate baby face skin, and you should use plastic microbeads? Apparently microbeads are making their way into the waterways (duh) and it's somewhat of a problem in Lake Michigan. They get in the lake, the fish eat them, the plastic in them soaks up all kinds of "toxins" (like what? it doesn't say) and then we eat the fish/plastic, etc. They may have already banned them in Illinois. That's all well and good with me, but the oceans are already full of tiny bits of plastic from manufacturing by-products and post-consumer waste. So, fun fact. As it turns out there are other "natural" alternatives for physical exfoliating, like oatmeal, but also there's chemical exfoliation, which is a whole new (amazing) world. I recently did a lot of reading about chemical exfoliants, and am trying out this one which is a baby step into the world of chemical exfoliants (cheap and very gentle). It feels pointlessly watery going onto the skin but I do believe it made my skin feel softer and smoother right away. I haven't used it regularly due to my irregular housing situation, so the jury's still out if it helps with skin tone or mild acne.
You may or may not already know that this product, Clean and Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment, is also a chemical exfoliant. Yes, salicylic acid is commonly known as BHA or beta-hydroxy acid, although from my reading I understand it isn't technically a BHA but it's close enough and that's what everyone calls it so let's just go with it. The chemical exfoliant that I'm trying is an alpha-hydroxy acid or AHA. You can read more about it in the links provided. Anyway the main difference for your skin is BHA/salicylic acid is mostly in acne products because it is able to get inside the pores and some ability to kill the acne-causing bacteria. However in my experience this tube did not do shit. It stands to reason that salicylic acid products would work best when daily applied to the whole area that is blemish-prone instead of a spot treatment (which this was) in order to keep those pores cleared. And it is my experience that once you do get a spot you must kill it with benzoyl peroxide (and/or hydrocolloid bandages/Nexcare patches which are a whole other -- disgusting and awesome -- subject entirely). However, lots of people find salicylic spot treatments effective, and it's possible this was old or the pH was off. Here's a breakdown of the differences between these two ingredients which are the main ingredients of basically any standard acne treatment. My skin isn't too sensitive so I can nuke it with 10% benzoyl peroxide for a couple days if I have some spots and then go back to my all the lotion all the time routine. This intense moisturizing routine is dialed up to 11 in the winter, and I really feel like it keeps my skin clearer than using products aimed at acne, which are generally aimed at dry skin. So I recently gave away all the leftover cleansers for oily, acne-prone skin to a friend with oilier skin and will keep trying products for dry skin.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Beauty Product Reviews - Empties

Friends are surprised that I'm really into beauty products and hair stuff and have a membership at Sephora because I'm usually unshowered and my hair is in a five-second bun. However, I'm really into it. I read beauty blogs and everything. I find it helpful to read product reviews before I drop my hard-earned cash on products with dubious claims. Even though everyone's skin and hair is different it's still nice to know. This is the holy grail of beauty review sites but it's really too much information, and this is good if you are a crunchy hippie with some disposable income.

Anyway, even though I like beauty products I go through them insanely slowly (see: unshowered). All the stuff here I probably had for years past its use-by date. I personally think that the use-by date is a plot by the manufacturers to make you throw out perfectly good stuff and buy new ones. However, I also hate waste and eat old food and use grubby old eyedrops that make my eyes sting, so I might not be the best authority on the subject. Anyway. I didn't actually buy any of the products above with the exception of the face wash sample which was 1,000,000 years old anyway and I probably bought in high school. Most of them are things various family members left behind in the bathroom at my grandma's old house. I am trying to have a cleaner, more "green" and natural routine so as I use up old products at my snail's pace, I will replace them with more natural and organic products as budget allows.

Estee Lauder eye makeup remover:
Honestly I am new to eye makeup remover. I wear mascara some/most days and liner maybe twice a month so it's not really a high priority. I think I used to use lotion on a q-tip before I got this little bottle. I guess this got the job done without feeling too oily like the other one I have, Clinique makeup remover (which I have a sample size of and also did not buy.) To me it feels wasteful to use all those cotton balls or q-tips. I might go full-rich-hippie and buy these reusable ones? Or the muslin cloth that came with this Boots cleaning cream from Target (which I bought because of online advice like this), or one of those microfiber cloths? When I finish the Clinique, I think I'll go with coconut oil like the entire internet says to do. I've tried it when I was traveling and it gets the job done and it's cheap and simple.

Mary Kay Time Wise Day Solution SPF 25
You know this crap is old because I can't even find the SPF 25 version online, in the bottle that looks like this one. Mary Kay in her wisdom has upgraded to SPF 35. I also have a bunch of those stashed waiting to get used up. I am aware that sunscreen stops working after it's been sitting around too long and this may be useless. However it is also my understanding that being in an opaque bottle with a squirt dispenser is ideal storage as light and bacteria don't get in there as fast to bring ruin. Whatever, I used this up and I didn't get a sunburn on my face the whole time. This tended to get tiny dried up bits in the dispenser opening that would then get on your face and not rub in, but it was also old as the hills so that could have been it. This gets the Good Housekeeping seal of approval for whatever that's worth? I feel like some minimal effort towards protecting my "milk bottle white" skin from the sun is required. Before maybe last year I never used lotion in the morning, or SPF unless I was going to be outside a lot, so a combination product is key. I know it's not quite as effective, but I am not about to put two things on my face when I can't even manage breakfast without being late for work. However I hugely prefer the Yes to Carrots lotion with SPF that I bought because of this review or a similar one.

Moroccan Oil Hydrating Conditioner
My cousin left this in the shower at my grandma's house and I swiped it. Sorry. I do not use many salon brands so I wanted to try it out. This was slightly better than bog standard conditioner. I wouldn't pay full price, but it was nice. There wasn't much of this left by the time I found it and I go through a lot of conditioner because I have long, thick, dry hair so I didn't use this more than a few times. It had a really thick consistency (unless that was just because it was the old bottom of the bottle?) that I like a lot.

Neutrogena Active Sport Transparent Sunblock Gel SPF 30
I actively (see what I did there) hated this stuff but I used it up anyway! It's a clear gel that makes horrible sounds when you squeeze it out, it smells overwhelmingly of rubbing alcohol, and it kinda balls up on your skin if there's too much in one place or you keep rubbing. If you reapply at the beach and you're already dirty and sweaty, it's even nastier. I love the beach and I hate spending money, so that's the only reason I finished this off. Ugh. Thank God it's out of my life.

Neutrogena Oil Free Acne wash sample
Like I said I have had this since the dawn of time. It lasted forever because I mostly used it on trips as I don't like using hotel bar soap on my face. I have moved on from foaming oil-free face wash, because I have dry skin with no oil to speak of, but I think this worked ok for me when I was younger and oilier. The packaging is annoying because there's no dispenser under the cap so you just squeeze it and WAY too much comes out. I think I still have about half of a full-size bottle of this or a very similar product, so I may save it for the summer.

Neutrogena Deep Clean Cream Cleanser
What is with all these Neutrogena products? I had no idea I had so many. Maybe they call to me and my family members (from whom I steal all my products) in a subliminal appeal to clean reasonably-priced Nordic values. This is slightly less drying than the foaming cleanser even though the tingly menthol is supposed to be somewhat irritating. I actually really liked using this. I like the tingly feeling, and I like using a thick cream cleanser that doesn't leave a greasy film (looking at you, Clinique cream cleanser.) I felt like my skin stayed in good shape when I was using this on the regular. Apologies for the picture, I guess the ink on the packaging started to deteriorate when I mauled the bottom of the tube trying to get out the last drops. I don't think I actually ever bought this but I won't because I want something with simpler ingredients and don't need things with potential irritants targeted at oily skin.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Long Hair

So this is the post in which I make it clear how obsessed I am by my hair, and putting weird things on it. First of all, this is my hair sometime last month, freshly brushed but not washed for about a week. I probably last henna-ed it in... I don't even know, over a year.
Then I started washing with some sample sizes of John Frieda "Go Blonder" Lightening Shampoo, because I'm trying to lighten the darker henna-ed parts and bring it all closer to my natural dark blond color. This product gets some majorly mixed reviews, but I figured I would try it since I wash my hair so infrequently, it can't do that much damage. So the next picture is a couple days later, after having my hair up all day. I tried to be scientific and take the photos with the same lighting, in my bathroom.
But then I wasn't home at the right time after a shower, and took this after what looks like a rough day, in the daylight. No wait, this was on a Sunday. Anyway, this is what it usually looks like. And this is probably after 2 washes with the lightening shampoo.  But I only wash my hair once a week, so change is slow.
Then I decided to try curling it, and I was really pleased with the results! This hair is the second day after sleeping on foam rollers, pulling them out in a fit at 3 am, touching them up with a curling iron the next night, and wearing that another day. The amount of hairspray I put in was ridiculous, so I washed them out.
This is what my hair looks like when I braid it at work. The layers don't like to stay in a braid. I think my hair looks like this 50% of the time. Not really the cutest look.
Oh my god, this is my best hair. It's so shiny! In this picture it's clean, and I put some Josie Maran Argan Oil which I got as a free sample from Sephora.
But this is what it usually looks like. I took this picture right after getting home from work on Thursday. This was taken with some natural light coming in the window, so I really don't think my hair has lightened at all... although compared to the last natural light picture, it looks like the red is really faded.
So far, I am not impressed by this John Frieda business. I don't think its particularly damaging, given that the shiny hair picture was after 3 or 4 uses, but it doesn't seem to really be lightening my hair either. I'll try a few more pictures later.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Famous on Instagram

My friend took a couple pictures of my apartment and put them on instagram/facebook awhile ago, I thought I'd put one up here:
haha the best thing here I didn't notice before -- her foot!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

DIY: potato prints

I was visiting my grandma this past weekend and she wanted to do some crafts. Gma has always been a master crafter. She can sew entire outfits from scratch in a few hours. She has made countless quilts, including one she made for my parents wedding that I now use in the warmer months. She was the one who taught me to sew and instilled my love for DIY.

Gma had a stroke about a year ago and her physical limitations have really frustrated her, she can no longer create and craft and garden and cook the way she used to. I was hoping that a stamping project would be something she could participate in. I thought about a book my mom gave me for Christmas a few years ago, Lotta Jansdotter's Lotta Prints. I think I had done potato printing before, but Lotta makes it an art. Anyway, we got some potatoes and dug up the acrylic paint from the basement where I also found some simple canvas. I drew a mushroom outline on some paper, cut it out, and stuck it to the halved potato, and carved out the negative space with an exacto knife (you could totally use a kitchen knife). Then I put some acrylic paint in a plastic plate and brushed it on the stamp with a paintbrush. I tried dipping it in the paint but that picked up too much paint and produced a messy outline. Then I just went to town stamping the borders of the canvas. I used the shorter length and sewed it up into a simple tote bag, using thick shoelaces for the handle, and used the long length as a table runner. Gma provided technical assistance on using her sewing machine and emotional support. We were all (me, mom, gma) very pleased with the results! 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Post-Christmas Decoration

In my house, Christmas isn't over til it's over, and by over, I mean May. So early in January I made this cute wreath (I think it's cute) out of random evergreen clippings which I likely found on the ground. The wire frame is leftover wire from the IKEA curtain hanging project, and I tied it on with dental floss. The rocks are from Lake Michigan, either the dunes or maybe from the Upper Peninsula, and I learned on a recent trip to the Field Museum that the holes are actually caused by small crustaceans slowly burrowing through! I strung them on library cord when I had that library job where I spent hours in chilly stacks shelving forgotten European dissertations and re-wrapping Indian books from the 70s.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Studio Life: A Tour of My Stuff

So I did move into my own studio -- first time living alone, etc. I now camp out at boyfriend's house a lot and use the internet, because (gasp) I don't have it at home. No internet, no smart phone (that is now a lie because I got a blackberry from work), and no TV. But really, my sweet little baby apartment is too small for a TV.  
I feel like my windowsills are too cluttered with random stuff. But I like it all! My plants are loving all the sunlight, and I can display all the glass and lantern-like things that I own. You can't really see, but I made hanging vases out of old lightbulbs like the Pinterest-addict that I am. And yeah, I have Christmas lights around the windows. I put them up during the first snow fall in November and I think I'll keep them up forever.
My wee kitchen! It fits in the closet. After much delay and frustration, and with the help of boyfriend who almost gave up, I installed a curtain wire from IKEA and put up these IKEA-via-Craigslist curtains so that when I'm not using the kitchen (aka almost always, basically all I do is use the water kettle I got for Christmas, thanks mom & dad!) I can close it away and not look at it. I think boyfriend worries about the potential fire threat of curtain near the burners but I tell him I move it out of the way (and then I don't, good thing he doesn't read this.) You can also see so many other things I like in this photo-- the great sunlight, the dishtowel I bought at the Appalachian crafts center, the green & blue painting I got at STOP thrift store, and the perfectly-sized wall-mounted dishrack I got at IKEA. We went nutz at IKEA this last trip. Oh, and the keffiya that I use to cover up the random stuff in the bottom shelves of my little kitchen storage/counter furniture PIECE. (What are those things called?) (Relatedly I think its funny to call things a "piece" like they're a piece of art. It's like when the friend of my old hipster roommates said she wanted to open a "space" for artists or performances or whatever and I made fun of her to her face, or certain old hierarchicly-superior coworkers constantly saying "utilize" instead of "use" and I died inside constantly, or basically whenever most people talk about "culture." I am a terrible snob.)
Me, the snob, picking at the broken zipper of an old (vintage. ok, it's vintage) dress I want to sell on etsy. My apartment is tiny, but not too tiny for an ORB and a vase full of Christmas tree branches that I picked up from the ground outside of Big Star. Folding chair and stool: IKEA, blue chair and plaid blanket: grandma's house, bookshelf: left from previous tenant at previous apartment. On the bookshelves are my small collections of cookbooks, journals, fashion magazines I should stop reading, thermoses, and glassware with shiny rims.