Fashion and Beauty Tips for Busy Moms Like Me

Moms have a lot to do; I know, I’m a mom. I have two daughters (Nadia and Maia), and two step-daughters (Alyssa and Chastity). I don’t have hours to get ready in the morning. Although I’d love the time to curl my hair, tweeze my brows, and carefully apply my makeup, I simply don’t have that luxury. Maia is on the bus at 7:45, and then I head to college or home to work. I consider myself very lucky when I have thirty minutes to get ready in the morning.

Because family is first, moms put themselves last. This means, my hair is rarely combed first thing in the morning when I put Maia on the bus, but her hair is always styled in a pony or carefully combed out. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve worn sweatpants in public on more than one occasion. I hide my tired eyes behind sunglasses and my uncombed hair in a loose bun.

For us hard-working, time-restricted moms, I put together the following tips. I employ these strategies in the spring and summer, so I can walk to the bus stop with a bit of confidence. (For clarification, it’s easier to hide pajamas tops and no bra under a fall or winter coat and a knit cap.) Full disclosure: I am shameless, but these tips are helping me look and feel a bit less like Medusa and more like myself.

Comfort is Key

What’s a mother’s most precious commodity (besides her family of course)? Time. Time is what we’re lacking, and there’s little time to slip into something professional, such as a button-up. The secret is to purchase effortless clothing that looks good too, such as jersey knit tunics, jeggings, yoga pants, oversized sweaters, and no-button skinny jeans.

The truth is, sometimes I go to the bus stop in my pajamas, but if my pajamas don’t look bad then there’s no fear. My favorite go-to leggings are the Dacron Geometric Printed Leggings from Fashion Mia. They’re long-lasting, comfy enough to sleep in (wake up ready to go!), and fashionable. At $8.95 they’re a bargain.
Chic Skater dress from $8.69

Skincare in a Snap

Don’t neglect your skin. No matter how busy you are, don’t neglect it. Your face and body require hydration and moisturizers are good for you. I wash my face when I can. Most beauty experts would recommend before bed and in the morning, but maybe these aren’t good times for you.

I usually can find the time to wash my face before bed, but the morning is too busy. Carry face wash towelettes in your purse and wash on the go, if need be. Here’s some more tips for getting your skincare in between mom-duties.

  • Wake up twenty minutes before your kids to wash and moisturize.
  • Use SPF skin creams, make up, and more.
  • Never go to sleep with makeup on. Keep makeup removing wipes on your bedside table if you need to.

Hassle Free Haircare

I can’t do the low-maintenance haircut. Short hair doesn’t look good on me because I’m so tall; however, if you can pull off a bob, you do you girl because these cuts are made for minimal style time. If you’re like me and you can’t go short, then invest in some leave-in conditioners and a good detangling brush and get good at the quick and loose bun.

And, do yourself a service and schedule regular haircuts. You deserve it, and eliminating split ends ensures less frizzy hair. I found a place nearby that does wash, cut, and style for just $25. Not too shabby, and at the end of it I feel really good. That’s my time; schedule yourself some you time.

5 Minutes for Makeup

Slapping on cover-up is never a good idea. In an hour, you’ll look weathered and the cover-up will expose fine lines, wrinkles, pores, and more. It’s not a good look. Instead, slap on some primer and then dab on a bit of BB or CC cream. Brush on some mascara, and finish the look with a bit of lip gloss or Chap Stick.

If you don’t have primer, that’s okay. You can mix a bit of sunscreen with some liquid foundation. This should protect your skin somewhat. If you need to add some brow, just dot your brows with a pencil instead of filling them in completely. A little practice will have you looking good in less than five minutes.

Overall, it’s not about what you’re wearing or what makeup is on your face. It’s about confidence. I have the confidence to say, I maybe don’t look my best, but my kid looks awesome and that’s my inner beauty and it’s yours too.


Looking for a few new beauty essentials? These are products that kept me looking great throughout 2016, and I’ll continue using them in 2016 too. Some of them are old favorites, such as Fekkai’s Brilliant Glossing Cream and some are new favorites, such as Kat Von D’s Lock-It Concealer. (Pictures are links to the products).







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DIY Fashion Gifts for Christmas

For my friends who are DIYers and fashionistas, here’s a bunch of really crafty holiday gifts. These gifts are inexpensive and sweet; best of all? They’re oh-so-fashionable. These gifts will be treasured and worn for years to come. So, get in your craft closet and get ready to impress your friends and family with these homemade wearable gifts.

1. Rhinestone Bracelet

HelloGlow has the easy-to-follow instructions for this beautiful rhinestone bracelet. You’ll need scrapbooking gems (yes, these aren’t real stones; although, they look so real) and a few jewelry making items. If you’ve made jewelry before, you may already have everything you need for this project. If not, the supplies are inexpensive and will come in handy if you continue the hobby.

2. No Sew Anthropologie DIY Tea Towel

No sewing machine, no problem. This is another beautiful DIY project attributed to Hello Glow. The Anthropologie-inspired Tea Towel is easy to make, and makes a lovely gift.

3. Sequin Phrase Sweatshirt

You only need some glittery sequin trim and fabric glue to recreate A Beautiful Mess’s sequin phrase sweatshirt. This sweatshirt makes a purr-fect holiday gift. Meow! Make one for someone you love, and one for yourself. (BFF sweatshirts, anyone?)
plus size valentine's day lingerie

4. DIY Comic Book Shoes

Instructables has easy to follow instructions for a pretty-nerdy pair of comic book shoes (or heels, or boots). These shoes are the best gift for the comic book lover in your life. Project does require comic books, so make sure to choose a fandom you’re sure your friend will want to wear on her feet.

5. Super Easy Red Bead DIY Earrings

Here’s another DIY pick from Hello Glow. These earrings take just a couple minutes to put together, so they’re perfect for the procrastinators out there. Did you wait until the last minute? No problem. Or, perhaps you were invited to a last minute holiday party and you want to have something for the host. Give her these easy DIY earrings!


Christmas Wish List for the Beauty Maven in Your Life

Halloween is over, so it’s officially okay to start shopping for Christmas gifts. These are my picks for the season’s best treats for the most wonderful time of the year. This isn’t my list; I’m all about the giving, and I already own most of these products. These are just the items that are new and super cool, and will totally impress the beauty maven in your life. (Guys, I’m looking at you. Anything on this list is sure to impress your girl.)

1. Julep Light on Your Lips Full-Coverage Crème Lipstick

Holiday Light On Your Lips - Vixen

2. Madison Reed Hair Color

Check out my review of Madison Reed hair dye to see why this hair color is the best.

 

3. Marc Jacobs Beauty Glow Stick Glistening Illuminator

4. Charlotte Tilbury K.I.S.S.I.N.G. Fallen From the Lipstick Tree Mini Lipstick Charm Trio

5. Yoseng Foundation Oval Makeup Concealer Powder Brush Set

6. Graphic Water Bottle

7. GlamGlow Thirstymud Hydrating Treatment

8. Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Starter Kit

9. Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Starter Kit

10. Bareminerals Get Started Complete Complexion Kit


11. Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick

12. Benefit Party Poppers (Big 12)

13. Benefit Party Poppers (Big 12)

14. stila Stay All Day Foundation, Concealer & Brush Kit

15. SK-11 Limited Edition Butterfly Facial Treatment Essence

16. Urban Decay Naked Neutral Eye Shadow Palette

17. Kat Von D Lock-It Tattoo Foundation

18. Enjoy Shaping Lotion for Hair

Enjoy Shaping Lotion

19. Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Ultra Hydrating Body Butter (Vanilla Fig)

20. Stocking Stuffer: Maybelline New York Baby Lips Moisturizing Lip Balm Quenched


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Buy this Not that (Knockoffs and Affordable Alternatives)

Let’s be real, if it weren’t for sites like Influenster and BzzAgent, I wouldn’t have any high-end makeup products (except maybe Clinique, which I splurge on). I can’t justify shelling out $50 for a tube of lip stain or bottle of BB Cream, so I look for the deals and alternatives. Here are five of my favorite product swaps, so you too can get that high-end look for less.

1. ProFusion Contour Palette with Free Brushes

If you’re looking for budget-friendly contouring that’s as good (if not better) than some of the high-end pallets, look no further than this ProFusion contour pallet. I love this pallet. It’s got 8 highlighers and contour colors and comes with three brushes. The brushes are not bad, but I prefer my Sephora brushes. I bought my ProFusion palette at Marshalls for $9.99 (not kidding! Marshalls is the bomb). The price I found for online shoppers was via Amazon for $16.99, and the palette also comes with a free eyebrow tweezer, so that’s cool.

2. L’Oreal Voluminous Mascara

One of my favorite free products that I received in early 2016 was Diorshow Mascara, which costs more than $20. I was looking for an alternative, and found a blog that raved about L’Oreal Voluminous Mascara (waterproof) as an alternative, so I took the chance and I’m glad I did. This mascara is amazing for achieving a thick, long-lash effect. Best of all, it only costs $5.29!!!

3. E.L.F. Essential Lip Stain

Elf lip stainsI like to wear lip stain underneath my regular lip stick. When my lip stick wears off, there’s still color there. I like Benefit lip stains best, but I’ll settle for the $2 option from ELF when I can’t afford to shell out $18 for the Benefit brand. Don’t trust Amazon for ELF products, as they’re ridiculously overpriced. Go directly to the source, elfcosmetics.com/essential-lip-stain for the lowest possible price.

4. NYX Cosmetics Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator

The best free product I’ve ever received is my Marc Jacobs Beauty Glow Stick Glistening Illuminator. If you don’t have $42.00 to shell out, NYX Cosmetics Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator is a great alternative, and it costs less than $8!

5. Maybelline Dream Fresh BB 8-in-1 Beauty Balm Skin Perfector

As far as low-cost BB cream goes, Dream Fresh is the best. The foundation is mixed with sunscreen and moisturizer, which will keep your skin looking more youthful for longer. It provides enough coverage, but isn’t heavy. Plus, it comes in a variety of shades so perfect for summer and winter wear. At less than $10, it’s a good value.

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Just a Quick Note for my Fellow #Sleeplovers about #ZzzQuil

Zzzquil voxbox

My latest VoxBox from Influenster was a sample size of ZzzQuil Liquidcaps. I don’t fall asleep easy and I rarely sleep through the night, so this voxbox was perfect for me. I took a break from my regular dose of nightly melanin to test this sleep-aid. Spoiler alert: this is a great product.

Disclaimer: I received ZzzQuil free from Influenster in exchange for my honest review.

From the ZzzQuil website:

“A beautiful night’s sleep awaits.”

“Sleep soundly with ZzzQuil™ LiquiCaps®. With just one dose, this non-habit-forming sleep-aid helps you get exactly what you need—a beautiful night’s rest, so you can wake up feeling refreshed.”

My Review:

My favorite thing about ZzzQuil’s sleep-aid is that I woke up feeling refreshed. My melanin has the adverse side-effect of making me cranky in the morning (and cranky right before bed too). I slept all night long (about 6 1/2 hours) and woke up feeling great. ZzzQuil recommends giving yourself 7 to 8 hours of sleep, but I was woken up by my child before my alarm went off. Here’s a few pictures of my voxbox, me heading to bed, and the gel caps.

IMG_5132zzzquil Collage


Sundown Naturals B12 and Melatonin 


I received this awesome kit from Smiley 360 for free in exchange for my honest review. It kit included a lot of amazing samples from Sundown Naturals, including a full-size bottle of energy boosting chocolate and coffee flavored B12 gummies. I am planning to begin a daily regiment on Monday, including taking the melanin. 

The coolest thing about receiving this kit is that my doctor actually recommended that I take B12 and melanin. And, I get both free in this kit. Score! 

What does B12 Do? 

Vitamin B12 helps ensure your body’s blood cells and nervous system are able to create DNA. B12 keeps your nerves and red blood cells healthy, which in turn keeps you energetic. People who lack B12 often feel listless and fatigued. 

It’s benefits don’t end there, B12 has a number of healthy benefits. It helps protect the body from some serious cancers, including breast cancer, colon cancers, and prostate cancers. 

It can make you pretty. B12 keeps skin bright and youthful with smooth skin, hair, and nails. This is due to the cells reproducing, regenerating, and renewing. Amazing. 

If you’re often stressed out, as I am by deadlines and family demands, B12 can help ease the stress. It assists with healthy regulation in regards to the nervous system, which can reduce depression, stress, and brain shrinkage.

Finally, B12 helps maintain healthy digestion. It can improve cholesterol levels, which helps maintain blood pressure and protect against stroke and heart disease. 

What Does Melanin Do?

Ever wonder how your eyes get their color? What about your hair; where does that color come from? Located just below your dermis (the surface of your skin), there is melanin and its primary function is to protect your skin from sun damage. 

Melanin is needed to improve the functioning of every organ in the body, including the brain and nervous system. I’m looking forward to feeling the effects with the sample provided to me. 

Free radicals cause skin damage, but increased melanin actually fights free radicals. This is incredibly beneficial in regards to appearance, but it’s doing a lot behind the scenes too. It’s protecting your organs and more from these serious threats. 

If you’re concerned at all about the dangers of UV, melanin can help your body absorb the light. It’s not a total body protector from harmful UV, but it’s good assistance. 

I’ll have more details about the benefits of both these vitamins when I begin taking them tomorrow. I like to start things on Mondays, so Memorial Day is the day I’m going to add these to my morning regiment. I’ll have a review after a week or so of taking them. Stay tuned. 


My SK-II Voxbox Review


I received a sample size of SK-II Facial Treatment Essence and a single-use SK-II Facial Treatment Mask for free in my Influenster voxbox. Both products are excellent and live up to their hype. 

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence 

From the SK-II website: 

“SK-II Facial Treatment Essence helps to improve the appearance of 5 dimensions of beautiful, crystal clear skin: spots are less visible, appearance of wrinkles is reduced, skin texture is more refined, firmness is improved, and radiance is beautifully elevated. Its irreplaceable formula gently exfoliates the face and helps moderate the skin surface renewal cycle.

Replenishes skin s moisture to help prevent skin dryness

Helps smoothen skin surface texture for soft & smooth skin

Helps moderate skin s renewal cycle

Penetrates better than a cream”

Overall, I like this product; although, some days I forget to apply it. In the morning, I take a minute to put it on. It takes just a second to apply as you can see in this video I created: 

My SK-II Essence Video Review 

I haven’t noticed a significant reduction in scars or blemishes; however, there is an instant reduction in redness that helps reduce how noticeably they are. This I like a lot. 

SK-II Facial Treatment Mask 

From the SK-II website:

“A luxurious facial mask with an indulgent concentration of Pitera in a single application. Your skin is immediately and exceptionally immersed in moisturization, resulting in a visibly radiant and crystal clear complexion.”

Although it was only a single use packet, the mask is my favorite item in this voxbox. It instantly hydrated my skin and left it super soft and supple. It made me feel like I was enjoying some spa time.


I recommend removing the mask from the packet slowly. The masks are very delicate and saturated in the signature essence. I choose to wear mine for 15-mins in the bath while leaning back to ensure it stayed on the whole time. Afterward, my skin was very luminous and so soft. 

Really enjoyed my experience with both products. Overall, I look forward to using essence products again.  


Yay! I won the Influenster YSL VoxBox brand badge 


Taken from the Sephora website,

“In just one stroke, luxurious, rich color dresses the lips with intense hydration and antioxidant care. In a signature couture jewel-like packaging, Rouge Pur Couture delivers the promise of edgy style and ultimate feminine strength.”

I won a brand badge and got these awesome lipsticks from YSL and Influenster.com for free. That’s the disclaimer, now onto the good stuff. 

I love the reflective gold packaging. I struggled to take a photo without my camera reflecting on the packaging. It’s decidedly high end, luxurious, etc. Rouge Pur Couture is definitely one of those lipsticks that when you pull it out someone is going to ask who makes it. 

The colors I received are 9 Rose Stiletto and 19 Fushia. I haven’t tried Stiletto, but a pic of Rose Stiletto is below. 


Goes on smooth, lasts all night, and is highly pigmented. Those are what I demand from a lipstick, so I’m definitely satisfied with what I received… A little giddy actually. 

I’m going out this weekend so I can’t wait to wear this color out. It definitely is one of the better lipsticks I’ve owned. It’s silky smooth and hydrating; watch out though because it does transfer to glasses, other people, etc. 


How to Pull of the Dark Lip Trend

Queen Latifah looks beautiful in burgundy

From last night’s Academy Awards to the catwalks of Fashion Week Milan, deeper-hued colors seem to be on everyone’s lips. Dark lipstick colors include, Bordeaux, black cherry, prune, reddish-purple, etc. Some consider it a moody lipstick trend that harkens back to the Hitchcock era when women set their hair in pin curls and always wore gloves. Today’s dark lipped fashionista doesn’t have to embody a sort of gothic sense of style; she can be laid-back or done-up if she wants.

How to Choose a Dark Lipstick Shade

Kim Kardashian’s makeup man, Mario Dedivanovic, recommends that you take your entire head into account, including your hair. Dedivanovic acknowledges that your color selection should be about complexion and personal preferences, but he advises that those are “only part of the equation.”

“Take the entire look into account,” he told Refinery29. “The hair color, the brows, the skin tone, and even eye color. All these things will affect what color I pick.”

Basically, you should take your time to select a color that compliments all these elements of your look. For example, plum is a great color to compliment medium skin tones with bold brows. Dark burgundy lipstick looks amazing on people with dark skin tones and fabulous long lashes, which is why Queen Latifah wears it awesome.

Plum:                                                   

Dark burgundy:

How to Apply Dark Lipstick

Dark lipstick application is basically the same as regular lipstick application. Put it on last after your hair and other makeup are done. A great dark lipstick look, according to Glamour Magazine, is to pull your hair into an easy pony tail and apply foundation in cool tones. Once you’re ready for lipstick, apply it like this:

  • First, prep your lips (exfoliate and moisturize).
  • Then, instead of applying lip liner before the color, you apply the lipstick first. Then you apply a lip liner. Take care to choose a lip liner that compliments your lip color and it’s too dark that it is distracting or too vampy.
  • Finally, check your teeth to make sure there’s no lipstick there. Add a finishing spray to hold the look.

Do you love the deeply dark lipstick look? What’s the name of your go-to color? Leave me a comment and tell me what you’re wearing and where you’re from. Make sure to include your social media links or blog, so we can connect and share beauty tips and more.


YSL Touché Éclat Neutralizer (Apricot/Bisque) Review #YSLCorrectionPerfection

ysl touche eclat review

I was so excited when I found out I was selected to receive another YSL Voxbox from Influenster. In my box was the YSL Touché Éclat Neutralizer in the color Abricot/Bisque. Overall, this is a great product and helps even out my red skin. Disclaimer: I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.

(If you’re curious about Influenster, please check out my post: Everything You Need to Know About Influenster: the Best Way to Score Free Products)

From YSL:

“Touché Éclat Neutralizer conceals and neutralizes skintone color imperfections. Bisque visibly diminishes dark circles and spots.”

YSL Touche eclat

As you can see from my before and after it did its job. In the before photo, I have on a little primer. The after photo adds only the color corrector. I didn’t include anymore makeup because I’m lazy, but seriously for so little makeup my skin looks great. I definitely love this highlighter, and it works great to smooth my skintone.

Targeted Correction in a Click

The packaging is great and it matches my other YSL products, including the mascara I previously reviewed. Check out that review here: YSL Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils Review. It’s shiny and gold with a tinge of rose.

You apply the color corrector by clicking the bottom of the pen-style corrector. The first time I used it I had to click it a bunch of times, but after that I’ve only had to click it once or twice to get the liquid I need. It’s applied much like a highlighter to the areas that need corrector. I put it where I’m a little dark or a little red.

The bristles are synthetic and soft. It applies gently, which is nice. Best of all it only takes a couple seconds, so this is a product to travel with for on-the-go use as well as daily use.

Here’s a great video explaining how to use Touché Éclat:

And, here’s my video where I try it out:

Final Verdict

I love it for a number of reasons. It’s great for those days when I want to be able to answer the door, but I don’t want to put on makeup. As you can see in the video, it livened up my skintone and it only took 30 seconds to apply. I think it’s great to use in conjunction with a bronzer and other contouring makeup. Then, you get the full glam look and all day and night color correction.

Thank you to Influenster for letting me review another YSL product. I love these products from the timeless fashion and beauty brand. If you’ve tried Touché Éclat, plan to try it, or have a question about it leave a comment and let’s discuss.


Carrie Fisher is Beautiful, Some People are Wrong 2

Carrie Fisher is a flipping awesome role model, and not because she played Princess Leia in four Star Wars films. Maybe some people love her because she sported the iconic slave Leia bikini, but I love her because she authored Wishful Drinking, a witty and honest memoir about her struggles with addiction. I also love her because she’s outspoken about her bipolar disorder, and she’s a comedienne with a delightfully self-deprecating sense of humor. Her humor speaks volumes about society’s failings and actually does little beseech her good character.
I love Carrie Fisher, so it pisses me off when other people don’t… And, it pisses me off when she’s insulted for superficial reasons…
Internet trolls (I won’t further their fame by publishing them here) took to Twitter and aired their criticisms regarding Fisher’s looks, complexion, and body. Rediculous. First of all, Carrie Fisher has aged quite well. Keep in mind, she was 19 in the original Star Wars and is currently a 59-year-old woman and she looks good. Here’s proof:
Carrie Fisher 2013
She looks exactly like an older woman with great genes. I hope I look as good as her in 29 years when I’m her age… But, people are needlessly shallow and rude, and they made their comments and Carrie Fisher, in true Fisher Form, fired back with “lacerating insight masquerading as carefree self-deprecation” (The Los Angeles Times):


To me, Fisher is deserving of much praise because she’s proof that woman are more than their figures; she was fetishesized and that’s not okay, but she overcame that and addiction to tell her story in a fascinating page-turner (seriously, I love this book). Fisher is beautiful inside and out, but especially inside where her intelligent brain resides and continues cooking up words to entertain me. The Internet isn’t so full of trolls; however, as major media outlets and thousands of Twitter users outpoured their support for Fisher. Here’s a few of my favorite posts:


Being Tall Sucks No Matter What Anyone Says…

Are you taller than 6-feet? Are you self-conscious about it? Do you have problems finding clothing and shoes that fit? You’re not alone; me too, and also a huge group of girls and women who use the hashtag #TallPeopleProblems to express just how many problems tall people have.  

I’m 6’1,” and up to 6’3” in any sort of footwear. I’m a bit taller than my husband, and a lot taller than everyone else. It didn’t used to suck, but the older I get the more it sucks. Height is a great and novel thing while you’re young, but it’s a big ‘ole pain in the ass after thirty. It’s like you get a prime age for being tall; for me, it was between 17 and 27 years old. It was a decade of being tall and happy, but everything before and after has basically sucked.

People will tell you this isn’t the case: “Being tall doesn’t suck. It’s awesome. Your height is beautiful…” Blah, blah, blah. Save it. Grow six inches and then talk to me. Here’s my arguments against all you painfully average-sized people (I don’t count short people because being short probably sucks too).

Argument 1: “But, you’ve got such amazingly long legs!”

Oh thanks for sexualizing me for being tall; I haven’t experienced that before. It’s like guys see your height first and your personality too late. And, women say it to be sweet and although it is sweet, it’s also among the first arguments everyone gives when you tell them being tall sucks. I’ve heard it a thousand times.

What I don’t say is that long legs are basically a fucking burden unless you’re a supermodel or athlete. I don’t fit into standard bus seats; men understand the struggle on this one. On a bus or airplane, I spend the trip squirming and uncomfortable. And, they’re not as sexy as they sound. I get a little top heavy and I start looking like the Grinch. And, since my cellulite came in, there’s no smoothness to my thighs; it’s basically endless dimples.

Argument 2: “You could play any sport you wanted.”

Here’s a question all tall girls are asked, “Do you or did you play basketball or volleyball?” It’s assumed that because you’re tall you’ll have a huge advantage playing sports, including basketball, rowing, and volleyball. Apparently, these sports are always on the lookout for tall women…

Except, without athletic ability, playing these sports is impossible. My phone doesn’t ring off the hook with invitations to play sports, and I’ve got some athletic friends. There’s a reason for this: I suck at sports. I grew up poor and never played an organized sport in my life. I can’t even play competitive video games without throwing a tantrum or having a meltdown, so please explain to me how tallness alone makes me fit for a team.

Argument 3: “You never have to reach for anything.”

Yes, I do have to reach for things; I own a ladder and use it to change lightbulbs. I’m not a fucking giant. Yes, I can reach a taller cupboard once in a while, but it’s not miles away from where an average-sized person could reach… And, being able to reach things doesn’t make being tall awesome. It’s not even a countable perk. I wouldn’t care if I had to pull out a stool once in a while if it meant I didn’t have leg and back pain. This is the stupidest argument for why being tall doesn’t suck.

Argument 4: “You can always see at concerts, sporting events, crowded spaces, etc.”

This one is true. I can usually see when my shorter friends can’t, and at concerts this is especially fun and useful. This is a perk I can get behind; however, being tall also means that you can’t be centered in photos, you constantly have to sit or stand in the back, and people will ask you to move.

Argument 5: “You have an easier time finding clothes.”

Um…no. Seriously? No. I have to pay extra for clothes my size, and they’re rarely found in store. I have to shop at stores that specifically cater to my inseam, and those clothes are rarely on sale. And, my sweaters are always bulky and loose because I have to get an extra-large; I’m a large, but the large arms aren’t long enough. I need extra-large arms so my sweaters go all the way to my wrists like they’re supposed to, and oftentimes they don’t…

Other variations of this argument include: Long legs look great in clothes…” “I bet maxi dresses look great on you…” “You’re like a model…” “You’re statuesque…” No. No. and, No. I can’t find pants that fit tight at the waist and are also long enough. Oftentimes, they’re too tight or too loose at the waist, unless I’m willing to part with more than $100. At 19, yeah maybe I was like a model, but that argument is lost on me after two children… And, calling someone statuesque is just a fancy way of saying, you’re like a column but a curvy, wobbly-in-heels, column.

Argument 6: “You get dibs on the tallest men.”

Ugh. Fuck this argument. I don’t hear it a lot, and not at all since I got married, but it’s the suckiest one. I don’t blame anyone from saying this to me because on paper it sounds true, but it’s not… It’s not even remotely true. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of tall guys prefer average or short women. It’s a cute dynamic and I don’t blame anyone for subscribing to it, but it sucks for a lot of tall women.

Also, tall men are a hot commodity. It’s no secret tall men are sexy and very much adored and coveted, which makes competing for one difficult. I’m not competitive (see above), and I’m not one to just pursue a guy, so tall guys rarely stayed on my radar for very long.

So, there you have it: the shit everyone says to tall women that tall women are sick of hearing. If you’re reading this, I hope you know I wrote this in good fun. I came to terms with how being tall sucks a long time ago, and I’m pretty much okay with it at this point in my life. And, I’m okay with people continuing to ask these questions or utter these phrases; it’s not anyone’s fault and most of the time I’m just happy someone is giving me the time of day and attempting to have a conversation with me.


Give The Ultimate Beauty Gift: Julep Beauty Box

Julep Gift of Beauty

Spoil the beauty lovers in your life and give them the Gift of Julep Beauty Box! Julep beauty box subscribers get on-trend, gorgeous, and good-for-you beauty products delivered to their doorstep every month. Plus, subscribers get first access to new beauty collections and save 20% on any purchase on julep.com.

Simply choose the number of boxes you’d like to give, the giftee’s contact information, and tell Julep when you’d like the giftee to receive their welcome email. Julep will let you know when she redeems her gift!

A standard monthly beauty box costs $24.99 and always includes at least $40 of beauty products. By giving the gift, you save $5 per monthly box, which makes it an even better value. You can choose the following gift packages:

  • 2 Beauty Boxes for $40 ($80+ value)
  • 4 Beauty Boxes for $80 ($160+ value)
  • 6 Beauty Boxes for $120 ($240+ value)

The Gift of Julep Beauty Box makes the perfect gift for Mom, your bestie, the babysitter, and any beauty lover on your holiday gift list!


DIY Your Beauty Supply

In terms of DIY beauty, I’m not experienced. I made some hand soaps one time, and I’ve known many who’ve made wonderful creams, lotions, and chap sticks. It’s a cool hobby, but I’ve been told it takes a considerable amount of time and effort. Most busy people don’t have time for such an undertaking, but that’s why beauty boxes exist.

“The new DIY products and boxes on the market are aimed at making it easier for everyone, particularly for first-timers.” That’s according to an article on Refinery29, “The Beauty Industry Wants You To Be a DIY Expert.” The kits come with instructions, tools, and materials. That’s pretty cool, and definitely something that would get me interested in DIYing.

Refinery29 interviewed the founder of the skincare company, S.W. Basics (a line of all natural, organic, sustainable, and American-made beauty products). The company and Refinery29 believe DIY beauty boxes are on-trend and will continue to grow in popularity because people want to DIY; they simply don’t have time. S.W. Basics is releasing single-ingredients, and encouraging customers to use them to experiment with recipes.

Overall, this is something I’m interested in. I look forward to trying one of these DIY kits, and making my own organic products. If it’s sustainable, quick, and smells good, I’m almost always into it. What about you? Would you buy a kit if you had to do the work yourself?


BirchBox Customer Favorites 2015 Box

Note, this post contains referral links.

BirchBox is a monthly subscription box for beauty and skincare samples, priced at $10/monthly.  Each month subscribers get to choose between a featured curated box with all samples reviled, or a box specific to their profile questionnaire with one choice sample reveled and the rest kept secret until the box ships.

I received this box for free in addition to my profile specific box with a coupon code that was active when I signed up last month.  I didn’t find the coupon until after I had already signed up but sent an email out to BirchBox asking to add it, and they did without hesitation!  I found their email customer service quick to respond and quite helpful.

This month’s featured box was The Customer Favorites Box.

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The little informational card this month has each item’s average review stars and a little review quote from a BirchBox subscriber who has sampled the product before.

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Beauty Protector Protect & Condition
and Beauty Protector Protect & Shampoo – 1 oz each ($5.50 value)
To be honest, I’m not much a fan of shampoo and conditioner samples.  I like my go to brands and as someone with long hair, I only get one use out of a travel or trial size bottle.  It’s hard to judge results with just one use.  These smell good though and I’ll pack them away for a travel bag or pass them on to someone else.

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Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser Starter Kit
– 1 oz ($9 value)
So far all the new cleanser products are my part of these different beauty and skincare subscription boxes.  I can’t wait to try this one, I’ve read a lot of great things about the set.  The cloth is a nice muslin material and seems like it’ll add great exfoliation.

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Harvey Prince Hello Fragrance – 1.5 ml ($2 value)
I love this scent!  It’s nice and clean, with a bit of citrus.  I know  a lot of BirchBox subscribers hate receiving so many perfume samples, so maybe I’ll get burnt out on them after awhile, but I was excited to receive this.

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Marcelle Waterproof Eyeliner in Mulberry – .8g ($7 value)
When I saw purple eyeliner on the list, I was sure it was going to be unusable to me, but this is a great nutural plum color.  I love it.  I swatched it on my hand and it was really resilient, smudge proof, and took a makeup cleanser whip to remove.  I can’t wait to wear this out, it’s a nice change of pace from my stack of black eyeliners.
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The overall value of the Customer Favorites BirchBox was about $23.50, making it well worth the $10 subscription price (extra so for me, since I received it for free) and it was a nice added introduction to the service.

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October 2015 Birchbox Review

Note, this post contains referral links.

BirchBox is probably the most popular beauty subscription box out there, and I can see why.  October was my first month and I was really impressed with the value in nearly everything I received and at only $10/monthly, I  plan to remain subscribed for a long time.

Current Coupons:
BCABOX to get the featured box (Power Pose) free in addition to your first month.
subscribenow50 
to get 50 rewards points added to your account with a new subscription ($5 value in the bonus shop)

Here’s a first look at my box:

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Everything came neatly packaged with a little note about this months theme, which is “Positive Force”.

 

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Avène Thermal Spring Water – 1.76 oz
  ($9.00 value)

Canned spring water is not something I would generally buy myself, but I did give it a go and found that did give me a refreshing feeling.  The instructions say to spray a light mist over your face and then pat dry after a few moments.  I don’t really see the benefit, but the bottle claims that the mist of cool water will help clam irritated skin.  I’ll set this aside for use after a wax, harsh mask treatment, or for when the winter dry skin hits to test the soothing claims.

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W3LL PEOPLE Expressionist Mascara
 – Travel Size ($7.00 estimated value)
This was my “choice” item this month.  BirchBox subscribers get to pick one sample item a month out of a collection of available choices.  October’s choices were all travel sized mascaras – of which I am a hoarder of – so I was excited to see an option I hadn’t yet tried.
I gave it a go and found and really like the applicator.  Easy to apply, no running, and I found I could layer quite a bit on with great results.  I’ll be ordering the full size for sure once this is gone.
Here were the other options (all great in my opinion!):
Benefit Roller Lash Mascara
Stila Huge Extreme Lash Mascara
Benefit They’re Real Mascara

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MAKE Skin Illuminator
– .15 oz ($10 estimated value)
I received this is in the Llos shade and at first glance thought it would be too dark for my super pale completion, but it blends really sheer.  It’s a bit too shimmery for my tastes, but I think I can make it work if I layer it under a little pressed powder.

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Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk
– 50 ml ($6 value)
I’m excited to try this one and am saving it to pack in my travel bag for my upcoming baby birthin’ hospital stay.  I love the scent!  As an avid dry shampoo user, I find that most are way too over whelming in the scent department, but this one just smells clean and subtle.  No strong perfume-y scent.

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Dr. Jart+ Dermask Clearing Solution Ultra-Fine Microfiber Sheet Mask
– 1 Sheet ($9 value)

I’m really excited to use this!  I’m going to hold out a couple weeks until after baby comes to whip this out because pregnancy has made my skin super sensitive and I’m avoiding new cleansers until that clears up a bit, but I’ve read a lot of great reviews for Dr. Jart products, and this mask is no exception.  I love trying new masks though, so this is a great fit for me.

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Overall, I love my first BirchBox!  With the exception of the strange aerosol of spring water, everything else is a great match for me.  The total value for me this month was about $41.


September 2015 GlossyBox Review

Note, this post contains referral links.

GlossyBox is a monthly makeup and skincare subscription box for $21 a month, or less if you make the plunge and purchase a six or twelve month subscription.  I was able to get my first box for 30% off by tweeting out a link when I signed up.  This post is a little late for a September box, but that’s because I signed up the last day of the month and was expecting to start with October.  This one came as a nice surprise!

Current Coupon Codes: 
LIQUIDEYE for a free Doucce Liquid Wear Eye Liner
OCTOBERSPARKLE for 15% off your first box

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I was too excited to get into things, so I cracked into it while I was on my porch letting the dogs out.  Everything came in this pretty pink, repurposable box neatly packed with tissue paper and a bow.

 

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The first thing I pulled out was this Biossance “The Revitalizer” oil -.05 oz sample size ($5 value)
It’s a light oil moisturizer for your face, body, and even your hair.  I tried this as soon as I got out of the shower this morning and a little goes a long way.  I only needed two drops for my face and neck, so this should last quite awhile.  My skin felt really smooth afterwards and I think this is my favorite item in the box.

 

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GlamGlow Mud to Foam Youthcleanse – Travel Size, $8 Value
I haven’t tried this one yet, but I really like the way it smells.  The instructions say to apply on your dry face as a mud, then wet your hands to and massage to turn it into a lather.  I’m going to pack this in my hospital bag so I have a nice cleanser to use during my post-birth stay (which will hopefully be sometime in the next few weeks!)

 

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Emite Make Up Artist Color Blush, #108 – Full Size, $22 Value
This has a weird rose scent that I’m really attracted to for some reason.  The color looks like it’d be way too dark for my skin tone, but it seems to blend well so I’ll give it a go or maybe set it aside until next summer when I’ve got a bit of a tan.  I’ve swatched it below.

 

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Nails Inc London Polish in 255 – $14 Value
I can’t seem to find this color on their site, but I’m a big fan.  I’ve got a couple Nails Inc shades and it’s a great formula that always goes on smoothly and lasts a long time for me.  This is a great dusty pink color and I can’t wait to try it out, once I can reach my toes again.

 

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Julep Luxe Lip Conditioning Treatment in Sheer Pink – Value $24
I’m actually not really a fan of Julep polishes (too thick for me) or lip glosses in general usually, but this one wasn’t sticky feeling at all and it did really feel hydrating.  The color is really light and adds a lot of shine.  Swatched below!

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Overall, I really enjoyed my first GlossyBox and am now very impatiently waiting the October box, which should be here sometime in the next week or two.  The retail value of everything I received is about $73, so I definitely got my money’s worth.  I think I’ll be able to use everything I received, especially the oil and the cleanser which were the big winners for me.  Can’t wait to see what this month’s Paris themed box has!


Yves Saint Laurent MASCARA VOLUME EFFET FAUX CILS Review #YSLMASCARA

Going Out to Celebrate Irish History and Irish Brews with YSL Mascara

Going Out to Celebrate Irish History and Irish Brews with YSL Mascara

Disclaimer: I received this product free from Influenster in exchange for my 100 percent honest review

I received “The most iconic VoxBox,” and I’ve had the weekend to try out the included YSL mascara. So far, I really like it. It’s a great mascara, provides plenty of volume, and the packaging is very stylish.

YSL Mascara’s Remastered Triple-Intensity Formula

From YSL:

“The most emblematic ‘false lash effect’ volume mascara, now with an all new Lash Care formula…Its secret is the triple-intensity formula: intense volume, intense color, and now intense care.”  

The formula is a secret, but what’s not a secret is the effect this mascara has on my lashes. The mascara does provide intense volume and striking black color. Lashes look fuller, and there’s no clumping after application.

Volume, Length, and Lasting Color

Last Saturday, I went out to celebrate Saint Paddy’s Day on a night that wasn’t Saint Paddy’s actual Day. It was fun, and it provided a unique opportunity to do something cool with my makeup. I opted for a smoky green eye, and some sparkly green stickers around the eyes. I finished the look with the mascara.

It’s a great look, and it currently ranks among my favorite mascaras. It certainly lengthened my stubby lashes, which is chief among things I require in a new mascara. Moreover, the color was blackest black, and really allowed my lashes to stand out, even when overshadowed (pun intended) by lots of eye makeup.


Reflecting on My Healthy Resolutions

Fitibit Flex
I can’t believe it’s nearing the end of the first quarter of the year already. My resolution this year was the same as it has been for the past several years; make healthy eating choices and lose weight. Last year I had some success; I got halfway to my end goal. (I count this as a win, since I had a rather lofty weight loss goal.) I was planning to extend that success into this year, and get through the last half… so far, things haven’t gone as planned.

I started January first with high hopes, and bought a new fitbit charge on Amazon. I waited -very impatiently- the two days it took for it to arrive via prime shipping. After I put it on I immediately found that I was more inspired. I wanted to see my fitbit dashboard with glowing green panels. (Green when you’ve reached your goal for the day for steps, stairs, etc.) I loved it. Everything was going well. I was busy at work, which really helped in meeting the daily goals. Running around a 3 floor hotel, for eight hours a day can really help you meet your steps and stairs goals, let me tell you! And then, tragedy struck. Less than one month after purchasing my fitbit, it went missing. Probably fell off while I was running errands at the hotel, or while outside cleaning the damn snow off my car.

Since then, I have not been concerned with eating well, or moving around. Who cares when it can’t be accounted for by my fitbit? I know, it seems crazy, but that little rubber watch was keeping me on track, and without it I went into a nose dive; I gained back a couple pounds and made some poor choices.Now, I’m ready to start over again. I wish I could buy another fitbit, but I don’t think I want to spend another hundred-some dollars on something with such a weak clasp. I’ll try going back to my pre-fitbit methods, and see if that works. I may keep my eyes open for another tracker that is more secure.

I find that it’s good to reflect on my progress at the beginning of each month. I generally am able to pull it together and try to get back on track. It’s still early in the year and I think I’ve caught this problem in time to turn things around and still meet my goal by December 31, 2015, if not sooner.

If anyone has any recommendations for a new tracker, any suggestions for healthy recipes, or any health and weight-loss success stories, please leave a comment below.


Sometimes You CAN Fool Mother Nature…

amir argan oil
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Are you feeling sunshine-deprived? Missing the glow of sun-kissed cheeks and shoulders? Yearning to slip into a skirt without grimacing at pasty legs? Yeah, me, too.

Mother Nature has been moody again this winter but I’ve discovered the BEST way to beat her at her own game. I clicked on over to beautystoredepot.com to take matters into my own hands and in just two days I had the solution in hand. (Shipping was FREE, too!)

At this moment, I’m all aglow thanks to Amir Argan Oil Touch of Bronze Sunless & Bronzing Moisturizer. After my shower this morning, I treated my dry skin to this silky moisturizer and got instant results! Right away I noticed a subtle bronze glow that’s streak free and actually has a coconut, beachy smell instead of the usual self-tanner chemical cloud. There’s also a touch of self-tanner in the mix so I darkened a bit more over the next couple of hours (but still very natural and not orange-y at all). Plus, since it’s an Amir Argan Oil formula, my winter-dry face and body feel fantastic!

There’s so much to love about Amir Argan Oil Touch of Bronze Sunless & Bronzing Moisturizer. It’s actually given me hope that we’ll see warm, sunny days soon. Sometimes You CAN Fool Mother NatureSo bring it on Mother Nature. Now, I’m ready.

Amir Argan Oil Touch of Bronze Sunless & Bronzing Moisturizer is only $19.00 with coupon code 20AA at beautystoredepot.com and ships free! For a limited time, you’ll even receive a FREE 2 oz. Amir Moisturizer with purchase of 2 or more Amir Argan Oil products. Check out the full line at beautystoredepot.com now!


Take Care of Your Hair at Uptown Spa

Uptown Spa

Toronto, Ontario is the biggest city in Canada. It is a cultural and entertainment center of the country and the whole region. Many Canadian celebrities made it their home and they are enjoying all the content this city has to offer. In a place such as this, people take good care of their appearance because Toronto is a fashion center at the same time. Different companies made their name by providing great services to the inhabitants. There is one place in particular that has a good reputation and it stands for one of the best salons in the city. This is the Uptown Spa and Salon. After visiting this place, you will be ready to shoot a movie.

Unlike most of the salons, this one has all the services your heart can desire. Its long list consists of body treatments, haircuts and styling, anti-age and facials for the skin, pedicure, manicure, waxing, permanent hair removal and specials. To top it all, there is a possibility for you to take special bundles. There combinations of products allow you to receive your favorite treatments and services with a nice discount. Naturally, it is always nice to share a good service with others. Whenever you are in a mood for giving, you can purchase a gift certificate. Bring your husband to a couples massage or treat your wife with a nice bundle for the anniversary.

This entire industry is customer oriented. Although the products need to be excellent, this business is mainly based on the staff and the work they are providing. Like a well-oiled machine, everyone needs to know its place and to provide maximum efficiency in order to reach the goal. Luckily for this company, this is one aspect they don’t need to worry about. All the guys and the girls are really pleasant, there is nothing they are not willing to do in order to assist you. Furthermore, it is safe to say that they are transferring their nice energy to you. You will feel safe in their hands as they do miracles with you hair, nails and body.

Solid work and quality of a product often depend on the environment in which we are. Companies all over the world are investing heavily in their work space making a better atmosphere for guests and staff. In that regard, it is worth mentioning that this place is incredible. Walls are painted in light nuances, making it a real pleasure and rest for the eyes. All the furniture is brand new and comfortable. This interior represents an important part of the overall experience and it helps you feel cozy.

Toronto is the city that never sleeps. It is a great place to have fun and relax. At the same time, it is a place where it is nice to be pretty. Nothing better than walking in downtown all dressed up and fresh. Whenever you need a boost to your confidence, visit Uptown Spa. They will take good care of you and make you as beautiful as ever.


Madison Reed Hair Color Review 1

Madison Reed Hair Color Box

Madison Reed is an innovative at-home hair color product that doesn’t include harsh chemicals, but provides long-lasting color and 100 percent gray coverage. More than other hair color brands, Madison Reed is better for your hair; in that it doesn’t include ammonia, resorcinol, and it’s PPD and Paraben free.

I was invited to try a Madison Reed Hair Color Box, and I’m super impressed with my results. One of my favorite things about Madison Reed is the in-depth service they provide. There are many ways to be assisted, which takes a lot of the effort and confusion out of purchasing boxed hair dye.

Have you ever stood in the hair dye aisle and studied boxes upon boxes, and still felt unable to choose a color? I’ve been exactly there, which is why I was really happy when Madison Reed offered me a complimentary box, in exchange for my honest review.

*Post is sponsored; and contains affiliate links.

Madison Reed Hair Color

Speak to the Color Crew for Custom Recommendations

I began my journey by visiting the Madison Reed website. I found a lot of useful information, such as the natural ingredients they add to their hair color to ensure hair is vibrant and protected after coloring. Those ingredients include: argan oil, keratin, and ginseng root.

I also learned that I could speak to a Color Advisor, which is a service you won’t find in a store aisle. There are options to call, chat, or email their Color Crew. I chose to call, and I spoke to Kellay, who was knowledgeable, helpful, and suggested the right color for me.

Kellay began by asking me questions to build a “hair profile,” which would lead me to the best color for me. She asked me all sorts of questions, such as do I have gray hairs? Yes, I do. I also have dry, damaged hair. She asked if this was the first time I colored my hair. I laughed, and answered no. I told her that I’d dyed my hair black in October, but that I wished to return to my natural light-brown color. She advised that it wasn’t possible to lift color, but based on my hair profile I would benefit from their Venezia Brown color, which is a chocolaty brown (pictured below).

venezia Madison reed

My conversation with Kellay was quick and efficient. After a few minutes, she had suggested this color to me, and I’m glad she did.

Dying My Hair with Madison Reed Hair Color

Greys Collage

Here’s my Before photos. EEK that’s a lot of gray!

Shipping was very fast (within a week), and the hair color packaging looked very high-end. The products ship in a deep-purple slip cover, which pulls off with ease. Inside, there is a box which opens to feature the included hair coloring products. Instructions, and a letter from Madison Reed, are printed on the side flaps. It’s very good-looking package, and I was pleasantly surprised by all the extras the product ships with.

Madison Reed Box

 

 

Here’s everything I received:

  • Two pairs of gloves (one for dying, and a second pair for rinsing the color out)
  • A cap (I’m pictured wearing this below)
  • Barrier Cream
  • Cleansing Wipe
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Radiant Cream Color
  • Conditioning Color Activator

 

Following the instructions, I got to work dying my hair. As suggested, I sectioned my hair into four sections, mixed the dye, and then began dying. There was more than enough hair dye to fully saturate my long tresses. After I finished applying the dye, I placed the cap on my hand, and set a timer. Then I took a funny picture because that’s how I roll.

Madison Reed Dying kit

FYI – I love the dying cap. I was able to play games on my phone without dreading hair dye would roll down my forehead, or drip onto my phone.

My Results

Madison Reed Hair Color

My color is very true to the model’s color. Let’s be honest – that doesn’t come from a store-bought box, and it never will. I’ve tried a lot of hair dye, and I really attribute this success to the Color Team. In a few minutes, and without even seeing a photograph of me, Kellay was able to determine which hair color would work best, and she was right. The model’s color and my color are the same.

Unfortunately, my camera isn’t working that great, so it was difficult to get a true-to-life photo of the color. These pictures do it some justice, but trust me – it’s more vibrant in person. And, 100 percent gray coverage was achieved, which was something I desperately needed.

Try Creating Your Own Hair Profile Free at MadisonReed.com

The “Hair Profile” Madison Reed creates is incredible. Even if you’re not planning to purchase, I recommend checking out their website, answering the questions listed there, and seeing what products they suggest. You can take your journey a step further, and speak to a professional colorist if you have questions about their products or services, or if you want to determine (like I did) which of their lasting colors best suits you.Find your perfect hair color now!

Disclaimer: I received this product free in exchange for an honest review. I also received compensation, in exchange for before-after photos, and a detailed written review of this product and service. This post contains affiliate links.

If you’ve tried Madison Reed before, leave a comment about your experience.

If you’ve never tried Madison Reed, leave a comment and tell me your favorite hair dye brand and why.

I love connecting with fellow bloggers. Feel free to include a website in your comment, so I can follow your page too.
Madison Reed President's Day Bonus Cash Offer


Just FOUR more days until the 87th Academy Awards!

Academy Award Date

I don’t know about you, but I plan on hosting a little Oscar’s Party this Sunday. I’m inviting a couple of my girlfriends over to get glam, have a few drinks, and watch the show.

Rolling Out the Red Carpet…

The Awards show starts at 7pm here on the east coast, but we all know that the real fun starts quite a bit earlier when television stations and fashion blogs start dissecting the red carpet looks. For my party, I plan on putting up a photo backdrop with a red carpet runner for guests to stand on and have their photos taken. Then my guests can have little mementos of the party to take with them, and they can post them on Facebook, etc., if they want. I think it’s going to turn out to be a really cute and fun feature of the party.

The Most Glamorous Night of the Year

But first we have to get all glamorous and photo-ready! I’m a health and beauty product junkie, so you can bet I’ve got what it takes to go all “glam-squad” on my girls and get them all dolled up. I’ve been a Julep Maven in the past and own several of their nail lacquers. I happened to be looking over their website today and noticed that they have their own Julep Oscars page, and it’s got all of their winners. I actually happen to have their “Most Drop Dead Red” – Karissa – so now I plan on using Karissa as the nail polish for all of our manicures. Once we’ve got our red nails, make up on, and hair done, it’ll be photo time. I can’t wait to see the results!

Julep Oscars GWP
When the show starts at 7pm we’ll be munching on hoers devours and drinking champagne, all fancy-like. I’ve got little cards ready so my guests can each vote for the winners and we’ll see at the end which of us had the most accurate predictions. There’s also a “my picks” section on the Oscars official page that you can check out if you like. For me, it’s more about the fashions and the host. (For the record, I love Neil Patrick Harris, and I think his family is adorable.) I also plan to make a “Best and Worst Dressed” list.

This is the first year I’ve hosted a party for an awards show, I’m a little nervous, but also very excited. Have you ever hosted an awards show party, or been a guest at one? Please comment below, and let me know if you have any stories to share or suggestions for me!

Save the Date for this Year’s Oscars

The 87th Academy Awards is this Sunday, February 22, 2015 at 7pm ET / 4pm PT on ABC.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links

 


How I’m Avoiding Temptation and Sticking to a Healthy Diet

1-1256217176zbgkIt’s February, and thirty days since the population simultaneously committed to change. If you’re like me, you committed to losing weight and toning up in the New Year. Last year (2014), I lost 33 pounds. In order to reach my goals, I intend to lose 34 more pounds and tone my body. I want to exchange my complacent body for an athletic one. I struggle with temptation, but I’ve devised a system that helps me keep losing despite my often desperate need for salty and chocolaty snacks.

Make a List of Cravings Satisfiers

Sometimes, the things we think we’re craving aren’t actually what our bodies want. I like to keep a chart of cravings satisfiers. If I have a craving, I consult the chart and eat the healthy food instead. If you do this all the time, you’ll create healthy eating habits, and you’ll lose weight.

Salty Foods: Your body is asking for two things when it craves salty foods: chloride and silicon. For chloride, eat fatty fish and drink goat’s milk. For silicon, eat cashews, nuts, and seeds.

Chocolate: Your body is asking for magnesium when it wants chocolate. So, satisfy that craving with magnesium rich foods, such as nuts, seeds, veggies, and fruits.

Sugary foods: Sugary cravings are hard to nail down. Your body could be craving chromium, a craving that’s satisfied by broccoli, grapes, cheese, and chicken. If it’s carbon you need, you’ll feel satiated when you eat fresh fruits. If it’s phosphorus you need, chow down on some chicken, beef, fatty fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, veggies, or grains. A sulphur craving requires cranberries, horseradish, cabbage, or cauliflower. Finally, a tryptophan craving requires cheese, raisins, sweet potatoes, or spinach.

Carbs (Bread, Pasta, Etc.): Who doesn’t feel the compulsion to fill up on bread? It’s so delicious, but it is dangerous; am I right? I put on more weight chowing carbs than any other way, but it’s so hard to stop. I’ve been recognizing my body’s need for nitrogen, and replacing carbs with high proteins, such as fatty fish, nuts, beans, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and other meats.

Oily Food: Oils aren’t all bad. I use oil in my cooking, and I refuse to stop. I refuse to live in a world where I can’t add EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) to everything! I do recognize a need for oily food is a need for more calcium, and that craving can be satisfied by organic milk, cheese, and green leafy vegetables.

Keep Good Snaking Habits

“Snacking has a bad rap, but it isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, the right snacking habits can help you lose weight!” That quote is from IdealShape.com, a site that’s offering me free shakes in exchange for my honest review. I haven’t tried their shakes yet, but I’ve heard good things.

They have an amazing article, titled: 4 Slimming Snack Habits, and the article advises that you have healthy snacks on-hand to satisfy cravings. It’s important to choose snacks that are filling and healthy, such as veggies and snacks that are high in fiber. “Keeping your belly happy is the trick to avoiding BLTs (bites, licks and tastes).

Eat More Super Foods

Super foods feed the mind, and the body. The National Institutes of Health writes that “Super Foods are a component of the Balanced Choices program and will highlight foods that promote health benefits above and beyond the basic nutrients.” The website includes a comprehensive list of all the world’s super foods, and how they benefit your body.

For me, super foods keep me full longer, and they make me happy. Many have the ability to improve mood; how cool is that? When I’m in a good mood, I’m more prone to exercise, and daily exercise is important to me.

Here are a few of my favorite super foods:

  • Dark chocolate – It’s rich in the antioxidants known as flavonoids. Of course, it’s sugary chocolate, so you don’t want to overdue it, but research has shown that eating one to two ounces of dark chocolate per day, can lower blood pressure, improve endurance, sharpen problem-solving skills, improve the look of your skin, and reduce your risk of blood clots. Plus, it’s delicious.
  • Sweet potatoes – Have you ever tried sweet potato French fries? They’re wonderful. Sweet potatoes can be prepared in a variety of ways, and have a number of incredible benefits. Sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C, and beta-carotene.
  • Red wine – Red wine features polyphenols, which is an all-natural antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. It helps to reduce your chance of cancer, as long as you drink it in moderation. Like sweet potatoes, red wine can prevent blood clots.

Everything in Moderation and Accepting Yourself are the Keys to Weight Loss Success

It used to be hard to forgive myself after I had too much of something. I’d over-indulge, and then I’d feel worthless. Once I had some fast food, I’d feel ruined, and I’d spend the rest of the day overeating. I’ve learned to laugh off these little slip-ups, and accept them as bumps in the road.

I’ve accepted myself as I am, and I’ve learned to love my body (muffin top and all). It wasn’t easy, but once I began to see myself as beautiful, I discovered my real reason for losing weight: I am doing it for myself, so I can look and feel healthy. It’s not about outside perception. It’s not about looking good for other people. It’s about looking my best for me; for my own happiness. And, that’s what’s keeping me on-track most of all.


How I’m Planning a Valentine’s Day Makeover on a Budget

Valentine's Day Red Velvet (4359875530)
It’s the first year in a long time that my husband and I are going out on Valentine’s Day. The night isn’t going to be fancy; just dinner and a movie, and I want to look my best. (No, we are not going to see Fifty Shades of Grey; if you want to know why, just read my side-note below). I want to be ready, but I am in saving mode until mid-spring, which means I’ll have to make myself over using what I have on hand, or low-priced items I can afford.

Savings Tip #1: I save money by doing all my beauty at home during the winter, so I can treat myself to things in the summer, such as salon hair color, professional manicures, skin treatments, self-tanner, waxes, etc. I like to revamp my entire look once the weather permits me to travel in public again. (The winters here are brutal, and trudging through the snow is impossible.)

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. 

1. Trimming Hair at Home

I need a haircut, but I don’t have time before Valentine’s Day. I want to look good, and look like I’ve had a fresh trim, so I’m trimming my own split ends. You need hair cutting scissors. It’s nice if they’re salon quality, but I found a decent pair on eBay for $5.00, and they’re similar to what you can find at Walmart and other stores for around $11.00.

Trimming your split ends is really simple. Just section your hair four times. Twist the first section around until your split ends are visible, and trim up the hair, cutting off the split ends as you go. Do this to every section for healthier looking hair. I do this about once a month, and it works great.

2. Coloring Hair at Home

I’m receiving a hair color sample from Madison Reed. It shipped, and will arrive before Valentine’s Day. I took advantage of a free service they offer, and spoke to an informed colorist who helps you choose the best salon-quality hair color based on your overall hair profile. Color Advisor is free to everyone, so try it out if you’re planning to dye your hair before Valentine’s Day. If you’re a new customer, Madison Reed is offering 50% off your first box of permanent hair color with the code: LOVEHAIR. The code is good through February 15, 2015.

Coloring your hair at-home is far cheaper than going to the salon. The best advice I can give you, to ensure all over color, is to section your hair before you begin, and pay a lot of attention to your roots. Use Vaseline around yours hair’s edges to prevent dying your skin.

3. Wearing Last Year’s Clothing (Something memorable, but that he hasn’t seen in a while)

It’s been a long, cold winter. I can’t tell you the last time anyone has seen me in anything besides sweaters and leggings. I haven’t worn this black dress I own in a really long time. It’s cute, and it’s not going to cause excessive freezing. It can be paired with thick black tights, black booties and a jacket. By wearing it in a different way, I doubt my husband will even recognize it.

Besides, isn’t it what you’re wearing underneath that counts? I’m not buying any new lingerie, but I am recycling a piece I received as a bridal shower gift five years ago. If I’m not totally satisfied with my outfit, I fully plan on scouring a few of my neighborhood’s thrift stores.

Savings Tip #2: Don’t splurge on new clothing, even if you can afford it. When it’s cold outside, keep your money in your saving’s account. That way, you can spend on higher quality items come spring.

Fifty Shades of Grey Side Note:

I have no plans to see Fifty Shades of Grey. I don’t think the movie will be bad, despite what critics are saying. Based on the previews, it seems the movie will follow the first book closely. That’s not a bad thing. I read the first book, and I enjoyed it. I did not go on to read the subsequent books because the content wasn’t for me.

That being said – I refuse to see it in theaters because I find it utterly distasteful to be in a movie theater surrounded by horny couples. The thought of all those strangers being turned on, by what’s happening on screen, really grosses me out. I couldn’t be comfortable with my sweetie in that situation. Fifty Shades is a movie I’ll be renting, but I’ve never been one of those people who gets turned on at the movie theater, so that’s another hang-up.

At-Home Body Wraps, Cleanses, Etc.

I’m planning some skin treatments a few days before Valentine’s Day. I am not going to change my routine, except that I’m going to improve my diet for the next few days – meaning more water, veggies and fruits (less sugars and unnecessary fats). Then, I’m going to apply a mushroom mask, which contains plant stem cells. It rejuvenates my skin. Once completed, I’m going to apply retinol nightly to keep my skin looking good.

I’m also going to try an at-home body wrap. I found a great Pinterest page that has a lot of DIY body wraps, and I’m going to pick one and try it. I haven’t tried it before, but it seems like fun and something I would be into. All of these items are items I have on hand, so I don’t have to pay an expensive salon fee.

Things I left Out Because They’re a Bit Obvious:

  • At home mani/pedi
  • Eyebrow waxing
  • At home Brazilian (Walmart has cheap Brazilian kits.)
  • Body scrub, exfoliating, etc.

 


5 Beauty Lessons I Learned in 2014

2014 is the year I stopped doing things the way I’d always done them. I stopped wearing layers of cover-up, and opted for lightweight bronzers and moisturizers instead. I stopped wearing so much eye liner and shadow, and sometimes I even went sans makeup. It’s been a great year, but what has it taught me? The following are the beauty lessons I learned in 2014.

1. YouTube Tutorials are Addicting

I’ve been rather resistant to video. As a 30 year old woman, who’s been online since 1999, I should have embraced YouTube sooner. I’m camera shy, and perhaps that’s why I’ve attempted to avoid watching/posting to YouTube. That changed in 2014, when I discovered that you could learn to do anything by watching YouTube videos. I learned hacks for applying makeup, diet and exercise tips, and how to lifehack/DIY everything.

2. Contouring is Real Life Photoshop

I’ll let Allure.com explain this one:

“You can Photoshop your face IRL. If you didn’t already know how to contour your face, we bet you learned in 2014. On the plus side, there are now hundreds of easy contouring palettes and sticks that make creating shadows and highlights simpler than ever.”

3. Sometimes, It’s Better to NOT Wear Make-Up

I’m the sort of person who slaps on cover-up to walk the kids to the bus. In 2014, I asked myself why I was causing my pores to suffer when it wasn’t really necessary. A huge #makeupfree trend began, and all sorts of people hopped onboard. I was inspired by that campaign to begin reducing the amount of makeup I wore, and the results have been well worth it. My skin is better hydrated and my skintone is more evened because I never wear makeup at home (unless I’m making videos for YouTube). And, I try to remove any makeup I was wearing as soon as I can.

4. It’s Fun to Shop at Thrift Stores

We moved to a larger home in 2014. We replaced our small country home with a big city home. Batavia, where we live now, isn’t exactly a city, but it is larger than what we’re used to, and it’s home to three thrift stores. I don’t do a lot of clothes shopping because I’m a budgeter, and I don’t like to spend a lot of money on extra things. I found tons of thrift store goodies in 2014, such as a lightweight, sheer Vera Wang sweater for $4.00! For once, I had a fairly trendy wardrobe.

5. Take Makeup Risks

I turned 30 in 2014, and realized I’m not getting any younger. I’m not old – not by any measurement, but I’m not getting younger. Someday, I will be old. So, I decided to stop being so boring and sticking with what’s familiar. I got out of my comfort zone, and took some makeup and fashion risks. I once wore purple lipstick like Lorde, and I wore many, many colorful, printed dresses. For someone who traditionally wears black, and only black, it was quite the surprising year.

What did you do differently in 2014? Leave a comment and let me know. Also, what do you plan to do differently in 2015?


Degree MotionSense Fresh Energy Dry Spray Anti-Perspirant Review #TryDry

Degree MotionSense

Degree’s calling their new line of dry spray deodorants a “new generation of protection.” Dry spray works like a solid deodorant, but goes on easier and offers “superior wetness and odor protection.” Overall, I really like this innovative new deodorant, but I have a few complaints about the packaging.

Disclaimer: I received this product free from Influenster in exchange for my honest review.

From the manufacturer:

“Degree MotionSense Fresh Energy Dry Spray Anti-Perspirant gives you superior protection that goes on instantly dry for a cleaner feel. It features a superior 48-hour MotionSense formula with a scent to jumpstart your senses with bright bursts of lily of the valley and tiare flower.”

How to Apply Degree MotionSense Fresh Energy Dry Spray

The application is simple, and faster than traditional gel or solid deodorant. Traditional deodorants require that you: uncap, twist up, and then apply. MotionSense is a dry spray, so there’s no need to twist up or wipe on. Instead, you shake the bottle and spray it onto your skin.

The spray creates a sort of cloud, but it doesn’t bother the skin or irritate the eyes. If you’re not careful, you may taste the scent on your tongue, but this doesn’t last very long and it’s not painful. The best advice I can give you is to look away during application, and keep your mouth closed.

MotionSense “Goes on Dry for a Cleaner Feel”

After careful review, I’ve come to prefer this product over traditional deodorants because you can’t feel it – at all. It is weightless, and instantly absorbs into the skin. With traditional gel and solid deodorants you definitely feel them on your skin, and oftentimes they feel wet or sticky – at least for a couple minutes (with some deodorants that sticky feeling lasts a lot longer). You will NOT have that issue with this dry spray. It instantly absorbs into skin, leaving skin soft and touchable. Plus, it goes on invisible and leave no residue, so now white marks – yay!

I do feel cleaner after applying it, but I could have done without the scent. Don’t get me wrong – it smells okay, but the scent is strong and it lingers for too long. Luckily, it’s a very fresh scent, so it’s quite tolerable and after a couple minutes it’s not noticeable. The deodorant itself lasts for up to 48-hours, and the entire bottle is said to last 8-weeks (that’s a lot longer than my other gel deodorant).

The Packaging Could Benefit From Improvement

Degree MotionSense Dry Spray

Although this is a great anti-perspirant, it doesn’t come in a perfect package. Upon first use, I thought you had to twist the top to get it to work. The top twists, but for no apparent reason. Turning on the sprayer requires a simple button press, so there’s no reason for the top to twist around and around. In my opinion, I would have found the button on top faster (cool feature, btw) if the top didn’t twist.

My only other complaint is that the instructions were lacking. I felt the instructions should specify a length of time for shaking the bottle, and tell the user should spray the product. I’ve determined that two to three sprays work for me, but I’d like to know what the company recommends. Neither of these complaints have an effect on how well the deodorant works, which is why I will be purchasing this product again.

Overall, Degree’s newest dry spray is an excellent product, and with a few tweaks to the packaging it would be perfect. If you’ve tried this product, or have questions about it, please leave me a comment.

Check out my video review for even more information about this anti-perspirant:


Health and Beauty New Year’s Resolutions for 2015

It’s time to reflect on 2014’s beauty routine, and determine what worked and what didn’t. For me, 2014 was a great year. I finally conquered my acne, and came up with a cleansing routine that keeps me clearer for longer, and keeps those painful dermal pimples at bay. I did not meet my weight loss goals, but I did lose 25 pounds in 2014.

The following New Year’s Resolutions are far less lofty than my 2014 resolutions. I believe by making more realistic resolutions, I may have more success meeting my goals in 2015. So, in an effort to look as cute as possible in 2015, here are my health and beauty resolutions.

  1. I vow to shower in the morning and wash my face twice a day…

I have acne – painful, sub-dermal acne, which scars and burns. Despite my terrible acne, I forget to wash my face twice a day. Most of the time, I wash my face when I shower, and sometimes I don’t shower until after lunch. This has to stop if I want clearer skin, so my first resolution is to shower first thing in the morning, and then wash my face a second time before bed.

From About Health: “A twice daily cleansing – morning and night – is just enough to clean away all the extra stuff hanging around on the skin, but not enough to be irritating.”

  1. I vow to put on my Retinol every night…

According to Dr. Howard Murad, the dermatologist and founder of Murad skincare, women should begin using a retinol product in their 30s. I will be 31 in four months, and started using a retinol approximately three months ago. Unfortunately, I forget to apply it most nights, and am lucky if I wear it twice a week.

In 2015, I will set an alarm on my phone reminding me to put on my retinol each and every night. Currently, I’m using Good ‘n Natural Retinol Cream. (Click here to read the review.) I put it all over my body because it reduces the appearance of my stretch marks, and I wake up feeling cleaner when I wear it. Overall, it’s a good retinol product, but I’m planning on purchasing something better for my face.

  1. I vow to kick dairy (for good this time) by June 2015…

I’ve attempted to go vegan multiple times, and had a lot of success in 2014. I began reducing red meat, and I didn’t eat dairy for three months. After going full vegan, I noticed increased energy and no weight gain. Unfortunately, a combination of stress and financial struggles resulted in a lot of backsliding. First I went back to meat, and then I went back to dairy.

My plan is to slowly reduce my dairy intake. First, I’m going to stop buying milk. For most of 2014, we did not buy milk. We will make the switch back to almond and soy milks for 2015. Then, I’m going to reduce my cheese intake, and give up yogurts and such. The hardest thing to give up is cheese because it’s so flavorful, but once spring hits (and fresh fruits and veggies are readily available) I’ll be able to give it up.

  1. I vow to start a garden this spring…

Last year, I technically started a garden. We moved into a new home, so I gave all my seedlings to my cousin, and she had a bountiful crop and shared some with me. This year, I will use the wood I have to create raised beds in my backyard, and have a great crop of my own with lots of fresh food to eat.

  1. I vow to start controlling my portions…

In 2015, I want to curb overeating by putting less on my plate. According to the article, Plate Size Might Influence Weight Gain, researchers have determined that smaller plates and portions results in less caloric intake. “The results of this study suggest that those who are trying to lose weight may have greater success when using smaller plates and serving utensils, and in a broader sense, that attention to external cues is an important part of weight control.”

There you have it: my five health and beauty New Year’s Resolutions for 2015. I believe these are goals I can definitely meet, and perhaps even exceed my own expectations. I did most of these things in 2014, had varying degrees of success. I think I can definitely make these resolutions into habits – if I’m diligent and remain focused on my goals.

Leave me a comment and let me know if you have any advice for me, and let me know your New Year’s Resolutions. I love hearing from my readers, and am genuinely interested in knowing your goals for the coming year.

 


Everything You Need to Know About Retinol 1

Are you ready to begin an anti-aging regimen? If so, it’s time to add retinol to your skin care regimen. The vitamin A derivative speeds up cell turnover and increases collagen production, which leads to smoother, more youthful skin. Read on to discover all retinol’s incredible features, as well as how you can use it to combat aging and treat your biggest skin concerns.

What is retinol?

Retinol goes by a lot of different names: Retin-A, retinoid, retinol and vitamin A derivative. It doesn’t really matter what you call it because it’s all the same stuff; the benefits are always the same. It reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as it improves the look of collagen-depleted skin. Moreover, it speeds cell turnover to treat discoloration, smoothes the skin, and clears acne. For more youthful, brighter and smoother skin, look for retinol as an ingredient in your skin care products.

Where is retinol purchased?

Retinol can be purchased over-the-counter, but prescription retinoid products are the most effective. Ask your dermatologist about retinol, and you may be prescribed one of the three prescription-strength retinoids on the market. Prescription retinoids are so effective that many users have reported positive skin changes in short periods of time; sometimes, after the first use.

Over-the-counter retinols can be quite effective, but it’s recommended to pay attention to reviews before purchasing. Some over-the-counter retinols are not as effective as others. In general, it takes approximately 12 weeks to see significant results from an over-the-counter retinol.

When should you start using retinol?

Women should begin using a retinol product in their 30s. Simon Erani, the founder and CEO of The Somme Institute in New York, warns that beginning a retinol regimen too soon can have adverse effects.

“Retin-A, Reova, Accutane, they’re great drugs in that they work,” says Erani in an article titled: Anti-Aging in Your Twenties: Too Much Retinol Too Soon. “Everyone wants to change the skin, everyone wants to prevent damage…The only problem with those drugs is that women’s skin is already considerably thinner than men’s, and these medications take off the top layer- so you’ve lost the first or second layer of your skin, and though your skin looks fresh and bright and great, it can actually get worse. With repeated use, retinol products begin to thin out your skin…”

So, ladies wait until you’re in your 30s or older to start using retinol products. And, remember to discontinue use if you feel pain, or notice redness, increased acne, or discoloration.

How much does retinol cost?

Retinol can be quite affordable. Some insurances cover (or partially cover) prescription retinols. You’ll want to contact your insurance company to ddetermine if retinol is covered, and which brands they cover. 20 grams of brand-name Retin-A is approximately $75, but generic Tretinoin is just $40. Even if your insurance doesn’t cover the prescription retinoid, you may still be able to afford it. Over-the-counter retinols are less expensive, and vary in price depending on brand and ingredients.