Tag Archives: beauty

Natural Sunscreen: Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about some natural sunscreen manufacturers that I have had the opportunity to test and review products for.  When I set out to write the article I received better responses than I had anticipated.  As such, I chose to write a second article to allow for ample time to thoroughly test all of the products that I received.

Colorescience

This is by far one of the best product manufacturers that I could direct you to.  I was sent their Colorescience Pro Sunforgettable Mineral Powder Sun Protection SPF 50 in Medium. This product is incredible!  It comes in a tube with a retractable brush.  You simply dust it on in a circular motion and are ready to go.  There’s no waiting half an hour for it to soak in.  Their claim is that it is very water resistant even after extended exposure to water.  A reapplication is recommended after 2 hours, but I put it through its paces and went 4.  I’ll tell you what, they underestimated their product.  I showed no signs of burning after my extended testing period with it.  They further demonstrate their water resistance and purity claims with a great photo of their product floating on top of the water in a picture of a beaker.

I was also given the opportunity to test their Skin Bronzing Primer Mild to Wild SPF 20.  I put this on underneath the powder sun protection.  It instantly improved the texture of my skin and it added an additional layer of coverage.  This product is so light and effortless.  It literally takes seconds to apply and it has a barely there look to it, so you can wear a little make-up to the beach or pool without looking like you’re trying too hard.

Their products protection comes from a 22.5% Titanium Dioxide and 24.5% Zinc Oxide mix.  It protects against both UVA and UVB rays.  Kudos Colorescience, I loved both of these products!

All Terrain

All Terrain was very kind to send me their AquaSport SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray.  This is honestly the first natural sunscreen I have seen in a spray form.  I was thrilled to find it.  I have a husband and 2 young sons who won’t stay still for anything…especially not in the summertime by a pool.  This product was so convenient to use.  It wasn’t 10 minutes of slathering on a cream and waiting for it to set.  I sprayed it on, rubbed it in a little and was done!  This product is excellent for athletes or any rigorous outdoor activity really.  This sunscreen also offers broad spectrum coverage with a 19% concentration of Zinc Oxide.  I loved how easy it was to use!

Most people forget about their lips when they’re in the sun.  I used All Terrain’s Lip Armor Lip Balm SPF 25.  It makes your lips very soft while protecting them during sun exposure.  My only complaint is that it made my lips look white.  A tinted formula would be the only change I’d make to this product.

They sent me their Aloe Gel Skin Relief.  This product helps relieve symptoms of chapped skin, as well as protect agains cuts scrapes and burns.  I used their wonderful sunscreen so I did not need to use this product for relief from a sunburn.  However, I live in Colorado where the air is drier than most saunas.  I grew up in Florida, so my skin is accustomed to pretty heavy levels of moisture.  It has been a constant struggle to keep it moisturized and healthy since I moved to Colorado.  I applied this product after getting out of the shower to see if it would help me to retain some moisture in my skin and it did!  It gave my skin a more supple texture and it smells great.

Thinksport

The professionals over at Thinksport sent me their Livestrong Water Resistant SPF 30 Sunscreen.  This sunscreen was formulated to help benefit Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong foundation.  Thinksport has made a promise to donate a minimum of $1.5M to the Livestrong foundation for the fight against cancer.  So, not only do you get the benefits of using a phenomenal natural sunscreen, you get to feel great about where some of the proceeds are going.  This sunscreen was superb.  It left zero white residue that is typically left behind by the natural sunscreens, it smells great and it lasted for hours without needing to reapply it.  This product is also an excellent choice for athletes.  It uses a 20% concentration of Zinc Oxide to protect your birthday suit against UVA and UVB rays.

I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring this product set.  I have been introduced to several excellent options that I have been bragging to friends about since.  These 3 brands are at the top of my list so far though.  Kabana Skin Care is up there with them as well.  Throw away all of your old, unnatural sunscreens and replace them with one of these options before summer gets here.  Protect yourself against the sun and carcinogenic chemicals.

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Make Your Manicure Last Longer

Oh yay!  I am so excited to share this tip with you that I recently discovered.  I absolutely love having well-manicured hands and toes.  I do it myself because I’m really detail oriented and if a manicurist doesn’t paint them perfectly then I get mad that I’m paying money for it (though I don’t typically say anything, I just stop going to that salon).  My nails are extremely porous and I work with my hands a lot, so my polish usually lasts 3-4 days max.  I find this frustrating.  While I like to have painted nails, I’m not a huge fan of actually painting them.

I was browsing through Bed, Bath and Beyond about a month ago and ran across a brush-on gel resin for nails.  I feel like I struck gold!  My nails are naturally very thin.  No supplement or vitamin that I’ve tried has been able to remedy this yet.  So, not only does my polish chip nearly immediately, my nails break easily.  In desperation I picked up a bottle of the brush-on gel resin and gave it a whirl.

ibd Brush-on Gel Resin

It comes with a brush similar to what is in most nail polish bottles.  I began by painting on 2 coats of gel, let it dry and then took a nail file and buffed it to a smooth finish.  Make sure that it’s completely dry before you start filing or it will get clumpy and ruin your nail fine.  I repeated this process 3 times.  Then I went over it with 2 coats of polish.  My nails look excellent and have been going strong for over a week now.

There are special acetone-based products you can buy at the drugstore when you decide you want to remove your gel.  Though it is not necessary to do this every time you want to polish your nails.  You can simply remove your polish with your typical nail polish remover and either add a new coat of gel to insure its integrity or just paint right over your old gel with your new color.

This makes all the difference in the world for the longevity of your manicure.  I recommend trying it, especially if you’re usually hard on manicures!


Waterless Hair Care.

It’s hard to say where I learned this little trick, but I remember a time when you had to put a little baby powder in your hair to fake a wash. Not anymore! There are dozens of companies on the market that are making things more convenient for us from a beauty maintenance perspective.

Dry shampoos are one of my new favorites in the convenience department. I have color treated hair so I try not to wash it everyday for fear that I will damage it by stripping the natural oils out too often. However, throwing a ball cap or headband on to conceal our dirty little secrets is not always appropriate. Hence, the booming market for dry shampoos!

Until recently there were only a few out there, but woman are starting to turn to them for their in-between-wash needs. This has caused tremendous growth in the number of manufacturers you see out there for this product.

I personally have had the opportunity to review a few of them. Here are my favorites:

Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk

This product worked excellent!  I separated my hair into sections and sprayed it with Klorane’s dry shampoo.  It goes on white so you can really see the areas you’ve gotten and make sure you apply it evenly.  Then I let it sit for 2 minutes to absorb the oils, as recommended.  Instead of just brushing through it to remove the powder I turned on my blow dryer and took a minute to style it with a round brush.  I looked like I’d just washed my hair and it had a ton of volume!  This product works very well and doubles as a great styling product if you’re just looking for a little lift.

Rene Furterer Naturia 

This is another great product.  This dry shampoo uses clay, rice and cornstarch powders to absorb the excess oil in your hair.  They have also added colored iron oxides to make the powder less noticeable when you’re applying it.  I have fairly light hair so it’s not a big deal either way for me, but if you have darker hair this is probably a nice option for you.  I also love the way Naturia makes my hair smell.  This one didn’t give me the same volume as Klorane, but it performed just as well with regard to oil absorption.

Dry shampoos will never take the place of a good suds session, but they are most certainly a great alternative when you’re short on time!


Campaign Controversy.

Controversy and advertising: this dynamic duo has a stronger marriage than most couples in this country.  The world of fashion has some of the worst offenders.  I sometimes wonder about the state of humanity.  Has our intelligence degraded to levels so low that marketing teams have to beat us over the heads with such blunt instruments in order for us to take notice?

Let’s take a look at some of the most controversial ads in fashion history, many of which have been banned by censor boards.

Sisley

Heralding the campaign title Fashion Junkie, Sisley took their ad to a whole new level of inappropriate.  The ad depicts thin models getting stoned off of the suggested cocaine-white dress.  While the execution was impeccable, the message was utterly poor.  The straw-in-hand models hover over a mirrored table with a credit card cleverly placed next to Sisley’s little white dress.  Sisley’s clothing may be addictively awesome, but their cocaine-snorting, fashion junkie ad is giving a bad impression.

Gucci

Tom Ford skirted an ad ban on this one by the skin of his teeth.  In response to a formal complaint filed with the ASA, Gucci defended that they were known for “brand leadership and cutting-edge imagery”.  Cutting edge?  Not exactly subtle are they?  I’m not entirely sure how this stands to promote fashion, as it appears to be a better Bic campaign than Gucci ad.  It diverts the attention from the clothing…and, it’s kind of gross.

Calvin Klein

Who made non-consensual sex such an attractive method for fashion marketers?  The “tactic” is employed all too frequently.  This image illustrates a beautiful young woman in a caged area pre-gangbang.  The orgy approach is popular for selling clothing.  However, the majority of instances include only a single woman.  I am hopeful that someone will shed some light on why it is thought that this sells a brand.

Levi’s

A Levi’s jeans ad…sans jeans.  I’m not sure how this promotes the benefits of wearing their jeans, but it gets your attention.  Mission accomplished.

Tom Ford

As you can see, Ford has not lost his shock value since leaving Gucci.  Are they selling his new fragrance or blow up doll?

ALL of these ads accomplished their goals and got massive attention from the buzz they created.  So, in theory they are good ads.  However, the messages and strategies leave much to be desired (no pun intended).  When the day comes for me to launch my clothing line, I can assure you subtle cleverness will take the place of overt shock value.


Naturally Protective.

Summer months are just around the corner, which means the explosion of outdoor activities and celebrations will soon commence.  Decades ago, there was minimal knowledge of the damaging effects that UVA and UVB rays have on our bodies.  People would lay in the sun slathered in iodine and baby oil to work on bronzing their bodies.  Our generation has the privilege of having information at our fingertips.  We know how harmful failing to protect ourselves from the sun can be thanks to numerous research groups and the saturation of information we have access to through various media outlets.

Not only has research been done to successfully prove that we need to be careful about sun exposure, but now we need to be more careful about how we protect ourselves.  Many of the non-natural sunscreen brands on the market contain chemicals that are carcinogenic.  Remember, your skin is the largest organ you have.  So, you must be thoughtful of what you put on it because a large portion will be absorbed by your body and broken down on a cellular level.

I have elected to test and review a number of natural sunscreen brands to help assist you in your pursuit for a healthier option.  Before I tell you more about these products, I want to share with you a couple of helpful resources the manufacturer of Beyond Coastal introduced me to.

The first is: The Natural Products Association

Their site contains a plethora of information.  You can find federal, state, international and grass roots legislation regarding the laws and regulations governing the manufacture and distribution of natural products.  They keep their legislation section updated with articles on topics currently affecting the dietary supplements and natural products industry.

The NPA has a tool called The Natural Products Buyers Guide.  You can either enter a keyword related to the product type you are looking for or search by brand name to find manufacturers who have natural product certifications.

Additionally, the NPA hosts natural products training seminars, releases educational publications on the subject of natural products and has a program which certifies companies to become natural products manufacturers and distributors.

The second is: The Environmental Working Group

One of the tools that I found to be immensely helpful on their site was the Chemical Index.  This section contains a list of toxic chemicals many people are regularly exposed to, defines each chemical, lists the health effects resulting from exposure and provides the top routes of exposure.  We see many of these chemical names, but often don’t have adequate information about them.  There is some excellent info on here!

Their health/toxics section has a variety of subjects ranging from Children’s Health to Consumer Products and Our Water.  Each section contains featured articles on public health issues to expose threats and help you find solutions.

Now for the results of my exploration in natural sunscreens…

Kabana Skin Care

I had the opportunity to review 2 of the suncare products manufactured by Kabana Skin Care.  The first was their Green Screen SPF 22 Organic Sunscreen Tinted and the second was their Green Screen SPF 20 Organic Sunscreen.

Let me begin by saying I LOVED their products.  They protect against both UVA and UVB rays and have 9 simple ingredients!  If you have ever used a natural sunscreen you will know that many of them leave behind a very noticeable white film after applying.  The CEO of Kabana Skin Care was kind enough to take time out of his day and provide me with some excellent insights on sunscreen.  Zinc Oxide is the active ingredient in most natural sunscreens.  To avoid diluting the valuable content provided to me by the CEO I have included a portion of it to help educate you:

“Zinc oxide is a mineral pigment – as such it’s a particle vs. the clear petrochemical oils in other sunscreen products.  Since it’s not soluble or miscible in the formula, it does typically go on ‘white.’  This is why I’ve developed the tinted formula; while many of the mineral sunscreens advertise they go on ‘clear’ zinc oxide is by nature a white pigment that stays on the surface of skin and doesn’t get ‘absorbed’. It’s also a major pigment used in today’s non-toxic white paint (in the past it was lead oxide, which is toxic).   You really don’t want sunscreens ‘absorbing’ because of the problems of bioaccumulation – search Google for “CDC study and oxybenzone” if you want more information about bioaccumulation, and some very good reasons to use zinc oxide sunscreens.”

Kabana Skin Care’s products were long-lasting.  I personally am very fair-skinned.  A poolside vacation in Texas tested the strength and endurance of their products.  I applied the Green Screen SPF 22 Organic Sunscreen Tinted to my face and the Green Screen SPF 20 Organic Sunscreen to my body every 4 hours with intermittent exposure to water and toweling.  By the day’s end my skin exhibited VERY minimal evidence of sun exposure.  I had light tan lines and zero burning.

The Green Screen SPF 20 Organic Sunscreen leaves a slight white residue, but nothing terribly noticeable.  There are days that I abandon my make-up foundation and replaced it with Green Screen SPF 22 Organic Sunscreen Tinted !  I have actually noticed an improvement in the skin texture on my face since using this product.  I love it and would highly recommend trying their tinted formula.

Beyond Coastal

Beyond Coastal’s staff was also exceptionally helpful with regard to educating me on natural suncare.

So you know, the sun emits 3 kinds of rays: UVC (the ozone and oxygen absorb all UVC Rays), UVB (primary cause of sunburn and skin cancer), and UVA (penetrate deeply and contribute to premature aging).  It is imperative that you find a broad spectrum sunscreen for your extended periods of sun exposure.

Approximately 80% of a sunscreen’s formula is made up of inactive ingredients.  You should pick a product that both protects and nourishes your skin when you use it.  Beyond Coastal’s products contain ingredients that not only protect and nourish, but repair and hydrate as well.

Beyond Coastal’s Natural Clear Sunscreen SPF 30+ worked famously.  About 5 minutes after applying there was no visible residue.  My skin is very light so I can get away with using a sunscreen that leaves a slight white film, however those of you with deeper skin tones may prefer this formula because of it’s ability to absorb without a trace.  I wore this sunscreen for approximately 3 hours to a couple of outdoor events.  If you anticipate excessive perspiration I would recommend reapplying more frequently.  This screen protected me against burning, but I was still able to achieve a little tan after direct sun exposure for 3 hours.  It is a little sticky, but that’s just an indication of how well it stays on your skin.  Another benefit that I would like to mention is that this sunscreen is very moisturizing!  I have naturally dry skin and it can be challenging to get an even application of sunscreen with some of the other brands that are not as moisture rich.  So, if you have dry skin this is a good one for you to pick up!

Beyond Coastal’s Natural Lip & Face Screen SPF 30+ was also great.  It comes in a convenient little tin that can be thrown into any bag or purse without fear of it being squished and making a mess all over everything.  This sunscreen is also very moisturizing.  I apply it in lieu of a moisturizer prior to putting on my make-up foundation.  On a typical day I only apply this product once in the morning to protect me from occasional sun exposure throughout the day.  I love the way my skin looks when I use this product.  There is something about it that gives me a very youthful, natural glow.

Badger

I will be very blunt about this one….I am not a fan.  I had the opportunity to review their Badger SPF 30+ Lightly Scented Lavender Sunscreen and first of all the smell made me a little nauseous.  They advertise a lavender scent, however it was not properly achieved.  The formula is VERY greasy.  As I said, I have dry skin, but even this formula was too heavy for my skin type.  Bees wax is listed as one of the inactive ingredients and I believe it may be responsible for the heavy residue left on your skin after application.  It is difficult to rub in so expect a whitish-purple tint to your skin.  The one nice thing I can say about their product…it stays put.  After over 4 hours of swimming, toweling and direct sun exposure there was no immediate need to reapply.  It stayed on like a champ and protected well against burning.

Bella B

Bella B is a brand that was created with expecting and new mothers in mind.  Their products are crafted with natural ingredients that are gentle enough for both babies and mommies.

I was sent their Sunny Bee SPF 40+ Natural Sunscreen.  I used the product on both myself and my 4 year old son.  He is the world’s biggest fan of playing at the park.  With hours of playtime and sun exposure under our belts, Bella B gets 2 thumbs up from me and kido!  Not all ingredients in Sunny Bee are organic, but they are all natural.  It is a broad spectrum sunscreen so you’ll be safe from both UVA and UVB rays for hours on end.  It leaves a white film, but I see this as a benefit because it is easier to keep an eye on when I need to reapply it to my little one.  This sunscreen is very gentle.  So, whether you have kids or just sensitive skin you can rely on Sunny Bee to deliver excellent results!

I will be following this article up with an additional batch of reviews on a few other natural sunscreens.  In the mean time, grab one of my recommended products and go enjoy the outdoors!


Lash Extase.

If you’re anything like I am then your make-up bag is littered with half-used tubes of mascara.  Some you use with one another, others not at all.  Fallen soldiers in the pursuit to find the best volumizing, lash lengthening miracle worker out there.  It’s a challenge to find the perfect one!

One thing that I’ve noticed is the style of brush used is key.  Some of the mascaras you buy have very widely spaced bristles.  I’ve found that this causes the application to become too heavy.  You wind up looking like you’ve gobbed on the mascara and your lashes end up clumped together.  Some have too many bristles.  In this instance you either end up with a very thin coat (it’s almost as though you have none on at all) or you have raccoon eyes from applying it so aggressively in an attempt to get more on your lashes.

I have blonde hair and in turn, blonde lashes.  So, a good mascara application is important so that I don’t look washed out.  I used to be a VERY loyal user of Cargo’s SupersEyes.  However, they made a fatal mistake…they changed their brush!  They switched to a brush with bristles that were too widely spaced.  Dear Cargo, if you’re wondering why sales fell off on this product it is because you tried to fix something that was not broken.

After months of agony and countless mascara purchases I have finally found a superb replacement to my Cargo companion.

Christian Dior has released a little beauty gem called Diorshow Extase.  No longer shall I mourn the loss of my old mascara.  This stuff is fantastic!  Not only does it have the appropriate bristle spacing, they went one step further and varied the length of the bristles.  Now your very short, newer lashes AND long, older lashes get an even coat of Dior’s well formulated black magic.  I dare say it’s the equivalent of false eyelashes in a tube!

If you are in search of a great mascara, give this one a whirl.  They have my ringing endorsement!


Hot bodies are never out of style!

Even as a die-hard health nut I can get bored with the same old routines.  One of the most common things I hear from people who want to be in shape and work out is that lacing up their shoes and heading to the gym is the hardest part of their exercise routine.

That statement could not be more true for most of us.  It is our psychology and mindset that typically create the biggest road blocks to success.  In fact, this is true for most of our goals in life isn’t it?  If we can find a way to alter our perception of something causing us pain as opposed to pleasure, there’s nothing we can’t get done!

Now, if picturing yourself on a treadmill for 45 minutes straight or lifting weights doesn’t get you jazzed, or worse, makes you cringe, you’re probably not going to take the first step towards doing it.  In fact, that’s an understatement…you won’t do it.  You do things well when you’re excited about them and look forward to them being a part of your life.

One of the best ways to keep things interesting is to change up your approach.  Take some different classes that teach you new ways of exercising and put you in more of a group environment.  Group environments are also great for building your support networks.  You will be meeting people with similar goals to your own, they can help hold you accountable and potentially give you some pointers you may not have known.

Here are a few of things I participate in that I have a blast at and genuinely look forward to doing:

Boot Camp – A fitness boot camp is a type of outdoor group exercise that mixes traditional calisthenic and body weight exercises with interval training and strength training.  It will bear a slight resemblance to a military boot camp in that you will likely be pushed harder than you would normally push yourself.  You can search on Google, Craigslist and in the newspaper to find fitness bootcamps being held in your area.  No bootcamp where you are?  Start one!  There are a ton of online tools that can help you learn the exercises you need to craft your own routine.  Click here for a good resource.  It sounds intimidating, but it’s actually a ton of fun!  Even if you’re in the early stages of your fitness transformation, there is usually someone you can keep pace with in your group.

Yoga – This is a system of both physical and mental practices.  Yoga begins by working with the body on a structural level, helping to align the vertebrae, increase flexibility, and strengthen muscles and connective tissue. At the same time, internal organs are toned and rejuvenated; the epidermal, digestive, lymphatic, cardiovascular, and pulmonary systems are purified of toxins and waste matter; the nervous and endocrine systems are balanced and toned; and brain cells are nourished and stimulated. The end result is increased mental clarity, emotional stability, and a greater sense of overall well-being.

I want to preface my strong push for you to do this by sharing my first experience in a Yoga class.  The one I attended was held in a room similar to that of a ballet studio: wood flooring and an entire wall of mirroring.  The lights were turned down very low, beautifully serene ambient noise was provided by a soundtrack of asian-style music and we all began by sitting down on the mats for some breathing exercises.  When you get rockin’ and rollin’ you’re told to try and contort your body into some seemingly impossible positions…AND control your breathing properly while doing so.  On top of it all, I got to look at myself in a mirror the entire time and bare witness to how poorly I was replicating the Yoga moves.  I felt discouraged, tired and very weak after my first session.  However, I have a competitive attitude about nearly everything and stuck with it for a few follow-up sessions.  Now I’m hooked!  This exercise makes me feel so relaxed and at peace afterwards now.  I’m glad I didn’t give up and you will be too.  Yoga has the added benefit of being something that you can do anywhere you are.  It is a great exercise for people who travel frequently or are too busy to take time out of their day to visit a gym.

Pilates  – Pilates has become very popular in recent years. Although Pilates works the entire body, the primary focus is on the core muscles (abs, lower back, and stabilizing muscles).  Pilates is very beneficial for strengthening muscles without shortening them or bulking up. In fact, dedicated Pilates practitioners are known for their long, lean look.  Pilates is Yoga’s ass-kicking older brother.  The goal of a Yoga session is to center yourself, strengthening your mind and your body equally.  Pilates has a more concentrated focus on the body facet.  This is my preferred means of exercise.  If I am looking to unwind and relax I will do a session of Yoga.  If I’m pumped up and ready to challenge my body, Pilates is my choice method.  To put it more simply, Pilates is my a.m. workout and Yoga is my p.m. workout.  If you’ve ever looked at a dancer and found yourself envying what you see…this is the workout for you!

I will stop at these 3 options so that you don’t get overwhelmed by what’s out there.  Give them a whirl and see what you think!  These are great starters because you don’t have to be a member of a gym or really buy any special equipment to get started on an exercise plan.

Try them out and share your experiences with me!  As they say in Yoga….

Namaste.