Sunday, September 15, 2013

Now's The Time To Say Goodbye...

Hi everyone! 

I took the summer off from posting and giving serious thought to makeup, skin care, etc., and you know what?  I enjoyed the freedom. 

I've been writing this blog since 2006, and it has been a lot of fun.  I learned a lot, tried a ton of products, and met a lot of cool people.  But all good things must come to an end. 

My personal interests have shifted, and keeping this blog up has felt more like an obligation than a labor of love as of late.  With that in mind, I think now is the time to say goodbye and end my blog.  I am not going to delete it, so you'll be able to access all my old posts, but I won't be doing anything new.

I want to thank you all for reading, commenting, and making this blog so much fun.  I had no idea what I was getting  myself into when I started, and I never expected that I would be blogging for so many years.  You can still catch up with me on Twitter!

Again, thank you for your support over the years.

Take care,
Lydia

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Time Flies...

I fully intended to write several blog posts before my two-week July vacay, but yeah...that didn't happen.  The way I'm rolling in July (that is, with much sloth and no work ethic to speak of), I probably won't post until August.  Who knows.

Everyone needs a break, even a beauty blogger. 

So...that said, have a great summer and I'll be back when I am back! In the meantime, you can always follow me on twitter or flickr, leave me a comment, or shoot me an email if you need me.

Have fun!

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

New Goodies to Pamper Yourself

During the summer, skin is exposed to heat, sun, humidity, saltwater, chlorine, sweat, and lots of other nasty things.  The result of this exposure?  Dried out skin in need of some TLC.  Thankfully, there are tons of great products out there to help your skin get hydrated.  Here are two new products to check out...
LULAHLulah is a new fashion-fragrance brand, created by the parent company, Thymes. Inspired by today's stylish woman, Lulah features a fresh, flirty, fun assortment of strikingly luxe aromatics and skin-enhancing ingredients. Thoughtfully crafted and wonderfully irresistible, Lulah provides sophisticated fragrances at everyday prices. The Lulah Collection includes lushly enticing body wash, body lotion, body mist and hand cream. Available in Peony, Magnolia Fig, Vanilla Orchid, Citron and Tamarind Ginger, this collection ranges from $9-$13.

I really like the Vanilla Orchid body lotion.  It has enough of a fragrance to be noticed, but it is light, fresh, and quite lovely.  I've been using it after I shave, and my legs are thanking me!
CHOCO-LUSCIOUS SKIN SMOOTHIE
Vermont Soap has expanded its popular organic bath and body collection to include a new Choco-Luscious Organic Skin Smoothie. The new moisturizer is easily spread and absorbed and doesn’t leave a greasy feel or film. Certified organic ingredients include coconut oil, cocoa butter, beeswax and rosemary extract. According to Vermont Soap Founder Larry Plesent, “Your skin will love you for it! And you’ll smell choco-yummy too!”

I adore cocoa butter and this product works really well on tough places like elbows, knees, and heels. I used to live in Vermont and have visited Vermont Soap on occasion.  Their products are great, and I love giving money to smaller companies.

If your skin needs some TLC this summer, be sure to check out these products!

Monday, July 01, 2013

My Last Birchbox

Sorry I haven't posted in a long time.  I was very, very busy with work, and then I got sick (thanks to stress and my crazy schedule).  I'm finally feeling better and now I'm off work for most of July.  I need the downtime.  I am planning to do some blog updates, but since it is summer and I need a break from all responsibilities, there may be periods of no posts for a bit.  I guess what I'm saying is hang in there!

In the midst of my feeling gross, I received my June Birchbox and a notification that my yearly subscription was up for renewal.  Here's what was in the June box:
  • Birchbox and Color Club nail polish from the Wanderlust Collection ($8 for 4 mini-bottles). I got Reign in Spain, but there are a total of four colors: London Calling (a sunny green), Reign in Spain (a fiery coral), Pardon My French (candy-colored lavender) and Mod in Manhattan (a brilliant off-white).  I am not thrilled with the color I got, but I may give it a try.  I'm pretty sure it won't look great with my skin tone.
  • Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk (full price: $18).  This is an award-winning oil-busting dry shampoo that is beloved by celebs.  I have tried many different dry shampoos and always get the same result: disappointment.  I am so not a fan of these products.  I may try this one, but I have super low expectations.
  • Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser (full size: $32.95). This is a two-in-one cleanser and exfoliator that "magically" lathers and leaves a lemony smell.  I'll give this a try, but i am not impressed by the tiny, tiny size of the sample.
  • The Laundress Wash and Stain Bar (full size: $6). This is a "lifestyle extra" for the box, and honestly, I wish it had been left out.  It smells so strong that the minute I open the box, it is all I can smell.  It is a little bar that helps remove stains.  I like the idea of this product...I just wish it didn't have such a strong scent.  Blech.
  • Also included was a sample of Something Blue, a perfume from Oscar de la Renta.  

So...this is my last Birchbox.  As I mentioned, I got an email saying that my annual subscription was up for renewal.  This email came around the same time as my June box.  I was not impressed with the June box, and haven't really been digging the samples in the Birchboxes this year.  So I canceled.  And I feel good about this decision. 

Over the months, the size of the box got smaller, and I was less and less impressed with the products I received. If I could fix Birchbox, I would include a full size product every month, have a wider variety of products, and stop sending stupid samples of perfume (the kind you get for free in department stores) in each and every box.  I seriously have a Birchbox that is overflowing with perfume samples that just need to be thrown out. 

I love the idea of Birchbox and subscribed for two years.  Yes, I'll miss it, but I think it's time to move on.  Who knows...maybe I'll check out a different monthly service, like Glossybox.  We'll see!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Beauty Product of the Week: Skin Rescuer

What is it? Kiehl's Skin Rescuer is a "highly efficacious formula clinically demonstrated to reduce the visible signs of stress on skin: skin fatigue, de-hydration, blotchiness and redness. Addresses both the short-term visible signs and long term premature aging effect that stress can have on skin. Clinical results showed that 100% of those tested showed a significant improvement in overall skin quality, dryness and blotchiness. The formula with Rosa Gallica Botanical Extract helps minimize skin's visible response to stress. Mannose, a barrier protecting rare sugar, shields and helps maintain skin to promote recovery."  Available at Kiehl's for $40.

What did you think? This has been the Spring of Stress for this poor little beauty blogger. Work has been insane.  My reward for all the long hours and loads of stress will be July off.  But that seems a long way away at the moment.

Stress does horrible, weird stuff to us.  It can make us gain or lose weight, it can make our hair fall out, and it can mess up our skin. Thankfully, this Skin Rescuer from Kiehl's seems to help.  It is a lightweight, fragrance-free formula that is just right for sensitive skin.  It absorbs quickly and doesn't make my skin feel greasy.  It seems to be improving my skin's texture, and--despite my crazy stress levels--I've had no weird skin issues to deal with.  No redness, no strange dry patches, no breakouts.

Final verdict? I really like this one!  It has done a nice job of keeping my skin calm during a very stressful time, and it's perfect for everyday use.  Another reason to love Kiehl's!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Curing Summertime Beauty Sadness

Have you ever heard of nyakio?  It is a new luxury collection of skincare products formulated with  ingredients from and indigenous to Africa. Nyakio Kamoche Grieco, the brand’s founder and namesake, is an American beauty entrepreneur of Kenyan descent. She created the nyakio brand not only to pay homage to her family’s heritage and share their beauty secrets, but also to fill a gap in the marketplace, bringing the timeless beauty traditions and sophistication of Africa to women everywhere. Just as Africa represents many cultures and ethnicities, nyakio products were formulated to benefit women of all ages, skin types and backgrounds.

This summer, nyakio’s luxurious products offer the perfect solutions to common summer skincare dilemmas.

Problem: Your regular hydration cream is too heavy for the summer 
Solution: nyakio Hydrating Face Oil with Kola Nut ($49) is a light, non-greasy fusion of African Kola Nut, Ximenia Oil, Chamomile Oil and Trichilia Oil that invigorates and hydrates for 12 hours, leaving skin with a naturally healthy radiance. The caffeine-rich Kola Nut contains more caffeine than coffee beans and is known for its skin-energizing properties. With only one-to-two drops that are quickly absorbed, all skin becomes smooth, moisturized, and more youthful-looking.

Problem: Your self-tanner application is uneven
Solution: Smooth, even skin is key for an even self-tanner application. Achieve this by exfoliating with nyakio Kenyan Coffee Body Scrub ($55). This scrub blends naturally energizing and exfoliating Kenyan Coffee with sugar to remove dull skin while providing antioxidant benefits. With Mongongo Nut Oil, Shea Butter, Jojoba Oil, Grape Seed Oil and Avocado Oil, this unique fusion leaves all skin moisturized, smooth and soft.

Problem: Too many late night summer soirees have left you feeling (and looking) exhausted
Solution: nyakio Kenyan Coffee Face Polish ($34) blends naturally energizing Kenyan Coffee with Jojoba to gently remove dull skin while providing antioxidant benefits. With Lemongrass and Neroli Oils, indigenous to Africa, this unique fusion leaves all skin toned, moisturized, soft and immediately radiant. nyakio Kenyan Coffee Face Polish wakes your skin up revealing fresh, more youthful-looking skin!

The products shown above are available on HSN and HSN.com and on nyakio.com

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Boots for Your Boy

Father's Day is Sunday (yikes!).  Yesterday I gave you some ideas for spiffying up your man with some great hair care products.  Today, it's all about the skin.

Have you ever tried Boots No7 products? I use Boots face wipes all the time--they're amazing. Now, Boots No7 is expanding and offering a whole new line for products just for him, the Boots No7 Men collection. Products just became available at Walgreens and all their products are super affordable – all under $25! The line includes:
  • Energising Hair & Body Wash $7.99 
  • Energising Face Scrub $8.99 
  • Energising Face Wash $7.99 
  • Rapid Revival Eye Roll On $16.99 
  • Protect &Perfect Intense Day Cream – SPF 15 $22.99 
  • Protect & Perfect Intense Anti-aging Serum $24.99 
Men need skin care products just as much as we do...and they like to be pampered (even though they sometimes say they don't!).  Give your dad or other special man some of these great products so they'll start taking better care of themselves.  It's a gift that keeps on giving!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Spiffy Your Man Up

My 11 year old nephew's last day of school is this week, and he informed me that he wants to "spiffy himself up" for the special day.  In his mind, this means slicking his hair, scrubbing himself down really well, wearing deodorant, and maybe, just maybe, a little cologne.  God help the fellow 5th graders.

I like that the kid wants to "spiffy" himself up.  That's a great way to think of it.  Just like women, men also benefit from a bit of spiffying.  Check this chart below for ideas on how to spiffy up your man...complete with products to use.  Father's Day is just around the corner--why not give the man in you life some product to spiffy himself up?


Friday, June 07, 2013

Free Beauty Events This Month

What are you doing this weekend?  Head over to freebeautyevents.com  for find free makeovers in your area, free samples, and a chance to win beauty products in the monthly contest.

This month, you can take advantage of the CVS P&G Event. Makeup artists will be giving free makeovers with the latest CoverGirl products and giving away samples and coupons. Also in June, the CVS L’Oreal Haircare Event features free samples and coupons from L’Oreal’s new Advanced Haircare line. This is a great opportunity to see which products work best for you! To find out if an event will be near you, just enter your zip code in the upper right hand corner of the home page. You can enter your zip code to find out what makeover, gift with purchase, spa open houses and sampling events are happening near your home.

Freebeautyevents.com also features a blog on product reviews (http://www.freebeautyevents.com/beauty-blog) and a monthly contest http://www.freebeautyevents.com/contest. They also do a contest each week with a smaller prize on their blog. For the month of June 2013, they will be giving away 10 prizes. Each prize will consist of Yes to Cucumber Facial Towelettes, Yes to Tomatoes Daily Pore Scrub, Yes to Carrots Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15, and Yes to Blueberries Eye Firming Treatment. The Contest runs from 6/1/2013 to 6/30/2013, winners will be chosen on 7/2/2013 and notified by 7/15/2013.To enter, all you have to do is go to http://www.freebeautyevents.com/contest and supply your name, email (only used to contact winners), and zip.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

(Shit) Shave and Shower

I love tools and products that multitask.  With peak travel season coming, I tend to hunt down products that will make my life easier when it comes to packing.  Why pack three different products when you can get one to do it all?

I recently received a sample of shhh. by Stormsister.  shhh. looks like a normal bar of soap, but it can be used for cleansing, as a shampoo, and for shaving.  That means packing one bar of soap instead of a bar of soap plus a bottle of shampoo plus a can of shave cream.  Think of how much space that will save in your traveling makeup bag, your gym bag, or your backpack if you're camping or going to a multi-day concert/festival.

shh. is a luxury grooming/beauty bar designed for both men and women .  It was created by a hairdresser for travel, gym, and home. shhh. is free of parabens, gluten, phthalates, mineral oils, petrolatum, synthetic dyes, preservatives, artificial fragrance and coloring. All packaging is 100% compostable and recyclable.

That's all well and good, but how does it work?  Pretty well, I must say!  It smells good (it has a natural, lavendar-y smell) and is fun to use.  You lather up your hair and then use that lather to clean your body, shave, whatever.  I still needed to use conditioner, but that's ok.  Like I said, it will still take the place of three products, so that's pretty awesome.

Click here to check out shhh. and other Stormsister products for yourself.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Going Coastal

Now that the cold weather is behind us, I am really looking forward to spending time at the beach.  When I was a kid I spent every summer at my grandparents' boardwalk and oceanfront condo in Ocean City, MD.  Now as an adult, I have access to my parents' beach house on the Pacific Ocean in Washington State.  I feel like I need to see the ocean on a regular basis to keep from going crazy.

I love everything about the ocean: the sound of the wave, the smell of the sand, the cool breezes off the water.  I love the way my skin smells after spending the day at the beach: a combination of suntan lotion, sand, sun, and saltwater.  It's perfect.

When I am not at the beach, I like to have things around me that remind me of my carefree beach days.  I have tons of sand dollars, tumbled rocks, and a jar filled with sea glass.  I also like using products that smell like the beach, whether it's a candle, a body cream, or a room spray.

Thymes has a new line of household and personal care products that have an amazing beach smell, their new Azur line.  Reminiscent of the ocean breeze, this collection has notes of white tea, white pepper and moist water lily combined with scents of jasmine blossoms, fruity bergamot and fresh green herbs. It's a refreshing scent that I just love.  Click here to check out the Azur line of products and pick some up to add some oceany goodness into your routine!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

(Frankie Says) Relax!

Sorry for the awesome 80s music reference...and if it made you have an earworm for the rest of the day.
As I have gotten older, I've learned a weird rule: when you're rushing around and running late, the best thing you can do is slow down.  Similarly, when you want to panic, you really need to just chill. It seems to make no sense, but it's true.  When you're in a huge hurry, you tend to make stupid mistakes that end up costing you more time in the long run.

Here's a great example: you hit your snooze button a few times and, when you finally wake up, you're running late. You respond by rushing through your shower, skipping breakfast, blow-drying sopping wet hair, and doing your makeup in the car on the way to work (which you're already late for).  All bad ideas. 

When it comes to showering, you're best bet is to turn down the temperature of the water (I love hot showers, but the hot water zaps your skin of much needed hydration) and take you time.  Give your conditioner a minute or two to work.  Slow down when you're shaving (otherwise...ouch!).  Sure, you're running late, but take a minute under the water to relax and wake up.

Skipping breakfast is a horrible idea.  There are days when the last thing I want to do in the morning is eat breakfast.  When that happens, I have a cup of coffee and something small.  It's important to eat a decent breakfast when you can.  It sets you up for a more successful day, better concentration, and a lower overall body weight. 

When it comes to your hair, drying soaking wet hair is going to end up costing you more time in the long run.  Wet hair takes longer to style, and dripping hair is more elastic, therefore, more prone to breakage from the tug of the brush. Instead of hitting your hair with heat as soon as you step out of the shower, start by taking the nozzle off of your dryer, flipping your head over, and blowing your hair around just enough to get rid of excess water. Then, let hair air dry while you put on your makeup and get dressed. When hair is about 80 percent dry, you can start styling (if you’re hair is coarse, curly, or dry, air-dry by only 25-50 percent to avoid introducing any frizz).

It can be hard to get yourself up and out the door in a timely manner...especially on long, stress-filled work days, but the next time you're running late, slow down, take a deep breathe, and enjoy your morning rituals.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Basking in the After Glow

It seems like more and more people have gluten allergies these days. Thankfully, I am not one of these people (because I love bread, pasta, and all things gluten), though I do suffer from my own weird food allergies.  According to some counts, as many as 1 in 133 people in the USA suffer from extreme wheat and gluten sensitivities.  I have never considered this before, but these folks have a tough time when it comes to personal care and beauty products.  I didn't know that there was a need for gluten-free beauty products, but there is.  Thankfully, companies are becoming more responsive to these unique needs.

Afterglow Cosmetics is the first (and only) cosmetics company to be certified gluten-free by the gluten-free authority, GFCO.  This is important to people with gluten issues because about 40% of the products we use are absorbed into our skin...and we apparently eat a ton of lipstick every year.

So...they may be gluten-free, but how are the Afterglow products?  Happily, they're pretty damn good.  I've received a few samples and am impressed with their quality.  The eye shadows have excellent pigmentation, and their lip products have plenty of shine and staying power.  Check out their website if you're looking for organic products, if you have a need for gluten-free products, or if you just want to add something new to your toolkit. 

Gluten-free girls: now you can have your lipstick and eat it too!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Product Preview: Foreo Luna

Instead of a Beauty Product of the Week review today, I am going to introduce you to a new face cleansing, anti-aging tool that just might give other facial brushes a run for their money: the Luna by Foreo.

What is it?
The Luna is can be used to both clean your face and help fight the signs of aging.  Here's some more info...

Activate your skin’s natural potential with just 2 minutes of use both morning and night. By applying pulsations that have been shown to improve blood flow by up to 450%, the Luna delivers sophisticated facial care that revitalizes skin and melts away the signs of aging.

The Luna’s gentle Cleansing Mode provides the essential foundation for any facial care regime. The Luna's Anti-Aging Mode works by gently directing low-frequency pulsations beneath the skin’s surface, relaxing facial muscles and promoting cell renewal, leaving your skin looking smooth, luminous and naturally youthful.

Fitting seamlessly into your daily routine, the Luna clears away dead skin cells, opens pores and drives out dirt, oil and makeup residue. The result is a much deeper clean than washing by hand, enhancing the benefits of your favorite skincare products while preserving your skin’s natural moisture barrier.

Regular use not only promises a fresher, more radiant complexion right from the start, it also lays the foundation for a lifetime of younger, healthier-looking skin.

How does it work?
Transdermal sonic pulsations, rather than standard oscillation, gently stimulate blood flow beneath the skin’s surface, cleansing from the inside out and smoothing away the signs of aging in a similar way to the Botox effect. Nonabrasive brush surfaces made from soft, smooth silicone – the first of their kind - making it ultra-gentle and actually pleasant to use on the skin.

The promise?
So effective, you notice a visible difference in skin tone after just 3 days, and your face will feel softer and invigorated after just one use. Organic design – 100% waterproof, fully rechargeable for 450 uses at a time, and it looks beautiful as well!

First impressions
I'll give you a full review later--after some more uses.  I have used this a couple of time so far, and here's what I noticed:
  • It is easy to use.  Much like my Sonicare toothbrush, it seems to have a built-in timer, so you know how long you're working on a particular area and when you need to move on.
  • Since it is waterproof, you can use it in the shower, making it convenient for use in the morning when I am pressed for time.
  • It is gentle.  
  • It seems to make my skin feel smoother when I'm done with it.
  • So far, I like it!  As I said, I'll let you know more after a longer test period.
More information is online.  I'll tell you more about my experiences later!