Archive | June, 2012

LORAC FACE selfTANtalizer

30 Jun

This is a perfect example of why I love samples.

As you are all well aware by now, I have vitiligo, which makes my face a blotchy mess. On top of that, for some reason, although my face and body seem to tan at the same rate, the tan fades twice as fast from my face, so I end up with a golden body and a white face. This looks not so good, especially in photographs, where I endlessly look like either I have white mime makeup on OR like my head has been photoshopped on. Excellent.

The two best solutions I have found for this so far have been Caudalie’s tinted moisturizer (which kicks ass) and Too Faced’s bronzing powder (which also kicks ass). However, with me being me and all, I continue to look for the ever more effective everything, and when I got a sample packet of LORAC’s FACE selfTANtalizer (no kidding, that’s really what this stuff is called), I thought, why not?

Okay I’ll tell you why not! When I saw on the packet that it says, “FACE BRONZING GRADUAL SELF-TANNER,” I thought, “Parfait!” I tore it open, squeezed some out, smoothed it on, and immediately looked like – you know, I literally just gazed into space for several seconds trying to think of something to compare myself to that wasn’t offensive to EVERYONE and I could not. It is brown. Not light brown. Medium, chocolate-brown. And not just that – it’s pearlescent. I think maybe if I took some shimmery dark brown eye shadow and smeared it all over my face, it would achieve the same result, and I am in no way exaggerating. If I went out that way I would surely get stares and maybe even accused of insensitively mocking another race. It was that huge of a difference. There was nothing “gradual” about it and I can’t imagine any scenario in which I could pull off a shiny, shimmery brown face. I love the fact that the back instructs you to “APPLY DAILY UNTIL DESIRED LEVEL OF TANNING IS ACHIEVED.” Aaaahahahahahahaha!!!! Frankly I can’t imagine ANYONE using this and looking sane, regardless of skin color, because of the very high shimmer content. I am not a mirage! I am a human being!

FAIL, LORAC. FAIL.

Simplify your nighttime routine!

29 Jun

If you read my previous post regarding washing my face at night, you know for awhile, I was using SpaSilk washcloths and water.

This is a great and cost-effective way to wash your face before bed. Water – free from the tap. SpaSilk washcloths – $9 for unlimited uses. Environmentally friendly because you’re not washing any soap down the drain (except when you wash them) and you’re not throwing anything away. The only con, I found, was if I fell behind on my laundry, I ran out of washcloths. Kind of a pain in the rear, and traveling with them isn’t really a viable option, either, given that I can usually barely find enough room for all my shoes in my luggage. I decided to try other options.

Enter Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water Cloths.

I got a free pack of these in a Nordstrom sample bundle. I packed them in my overnight toiletry case and started using them at a hotel overnight with some girlfriends… and then kept using them when I got back. They’re easy, disposable, soft, and get all my makeup, even eye makeup, off. However, their steep price made me decide to shop around and see what else was out there.

Next up was Korres Milk Proteins Cleansing & Makeup Removing Wipes.

I have a real fondness for Korres, and have in the past used their Pomegranate Cleansing & Makeup Removing Wipes, but they are becoming harder and harder to find for some odd reason. These wipes had a bit more fragrance than the Koh Gen Do wipes, but were also softer. I liked them about equally, but I wasn’t done yet. I decided to try one last wipe – one you can get in a drug store.

The final contender: Bioré Pore Perfect Daily Deep Pore Cleansing Cloths.

Two most annoying things about this product: the long-ass hard to remember and type out name, and the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a photo larger than a thumbnail anywhere on the internet. Otherwise, love them. Cheapest of the three, takes off my makeup, handy refillable container (other two do not offer this, just adhesive flaps), and the cloth is very slightly (deliberately) rough to aid in exfoliation. Here’s your breakdown:

  Cost* Texture Quality Organic/Natural?
Koh Gen Do $1.30/wipe Soft, non-abrasive Spa – 5 stars Yes
Korres $0.60/wipe Very soft, non-abrasive Specialty – 4 stars Maybe
Bioré $0.28/wipe Exfoliating Drug store – 3 stars No

Make your decision accordingly. If you have ultra-sensitive baby skin, you may want to splurge for the Koh Gen Do. I have pretty sensitive skin, though, and so far have been happy with the cheapo Bioré wipes. Key to all of these wipes, in my opinion, is that they are NO RINSE – you simply use them to wipe off your makeup and the day’s grime, then moisturize as usual. If it’s something I have to dampen, lather up, and then rinse off, it’s just added an extra ten minutes to my routine that I could be using to blog. So no thanks to that nonsense.

If you’ve found love with another face wipe, I’d love to hear what kind!

*Based on the unit cost on Amazon without shipping.

Genetic Testing Update

27 Jun

Okay, so, today we had another appointment. As you have probably already read if you have been following this saga as it develops, we got the quad screen blood test results back and they showed we had a 1:12 risk for having a baby with Down’s. I cried a lot because it’s a lot to process. I went back and forth regarding what we’ll do, how we’ll deal, etc. I am a TOTAL hope for the best but prepare for the worst personality. Between all the thinking and research, the support of my wonderful husband, and the incredible outpouring of love from my friends, family, and even acquaintances, I had come to a place where I was just kind of like, whatever the news, we’ll deal. I love children and I have worked with disabled adults and kids, and there are way worse things your baby can be born with than Down’s. It’s not optimal, it’s not what you hope for, but it’s certainly surmountable.

So we went in for the genetic counseling and they pretty much signed us in and sent us directly upstairs for an ultrasound. The ultrasound took FOREVER because they look for all these different markers that can indicate a problem (Down’s or otherwise), and Baby Jig was not cooperating. The one thing he DID cooperate with was gender – we now know we are having a little man. :) Anyhow, he was on his head, chin tucked in, arms behind his head – really doing a little gymnast routine. He waited till the VERY end to finally give the tech a nice profile shot, which I will scan and post here, but currently my husband I think has all the pics in his jacket and he’s gone to work. The end result of the ultrasound was a 100% healthy-looking baby with NO markers for Down’s or any other defects. My placenta is currently blocking my cervix (praevia) but the tech and the doctor both said that this early, that is not a problem and they expect it will move as my uterus stretches (I am still barely showing). Even if it doesn’t, all this means is a C-section, which again, is not optimal BUT is certainly far from the worst thing that can happen!

So after all this we went down to see the genetic counselor. She informed us that the risk after the perfect u/s was reduced to 1:24, or 4-5%. I went in this morning thinking, I am definitely going to get an amnio. I was aware of the MaterniT21 test from all the research I’d done, but I wanted the fast results that the FISH test would provide. The days have passed very slowly since Friday and I was ready for some definitive answers. However, after learning that our risk had dropped, and feeling very confident after seeing Baby BOY Jig do his tumbling routine on the u/s, I opted instead for the MaterniT21 test. It is a new test – 7 months or so old – and the results are about 98% accurate. The main benefit is that it is noninvasive – it’s a blood test, so there is no danger to the baby. Results will take two weeks, and if they do come back positive, we will again have to consider amnio for a more definitive answer. I feel really optimistic now, though – preparing for the worst helped me cope and I feel comfortable no matter what the results are at this point. Of course I hope for a 100% perfectly healthy baby, but I am glad that he seems well and is snuggled in happily doing his thing.

One other note is based on his size, we seem to be about a week ahead of where we thought, which would move our due date to around the 24th of November. So we could be expecting a Thanksgiving baby. :)

Thank you AGAIN for all the love and support! Words cannot express my gratitude, appreciation, and awe at how lucky I am! xoxo

Birchbox

26 Jun

What do I love as much as product? Getting things in the mail. So when I heard about Birchbox, a subscription service where for $10 a month you get a box of product samples shipped to you, I yelled, “ALL IN!” I did not research. I did not waffle. I did not ask around. I SIGNED THE HECK UP.

I have been a Birchbox member now for six months. Some months have been unimpressive. Some months have been pretty cool. One month I even got a free, special bonus box (in addition to my regular monthly box), full of Vichy products. Quelle belle surprise! Until this month, only one product had hooked me, and it’s actually one I have since blogged about – Orofluido’s hair oil. I got a nice little tester of it that lasted me for a good week, really enjoyed it, and ended up buying stock in the company. Okay, not really, but I should, because I have bought it for myself twice since and recommended it both personally and in my blog. I also got another product I blogged about, the Miracle Skin Transformer, which I did REALLY like but found to be a little too expensive for the size you get.

Anyhow, I have gotten some other great stuff, but nothing to write home about, until June’s box. June’s box has not just an eyeliner, not just a lip stain, not just a Borghese bath soak… BUT ALL THREE! And some other crap too! Not just one packet of the Borghese bath soak, either, but TWO packets of it, so you can really decide if you like it before ordering.

Damn, Birchbox. You got me. I am hooked. And I can now endorse you fully, far and wide. If you can cut out two Starbucks lattes a month, you can afford a Birchbox subscription. And if you love product even half as much as I do, you can’t really afford not to.

Quickie Update.

25 Jun

After much struggle, I finally got an appointment with a genetic counselor at Swedish for this Wednesday at 8am. They have scheduled me for an amnio directly following, which I can choose whether or not I want to do after meeting with the counselor.

Emotions I am feeling: scared, angry, frustrated, worried, sad – but also hopeful, loved, lucky, and a little peaceful. Thank you to all of you who have reached out to offer reassuring words, helpful/humorous anecdotes, and simply love. It matters more than you know, and I do thank God for having you all in my life. (If you have texted, fb messaged, or called me since I got the news, you are who I am talking about. THANK YOU. xoxo)

Genetic Testing, Down Syndrome, and the Unfolding Drama.

25 Jun

Heads up warning, this isn’t a beauty post – in case the title didn’t clue you in.

If you haven’t been following my reproductive misadventures and want to catch up, here are a couple blog posts:
Disaster Strikes
Good News

To summarize: We got pregnant, we lost the baby (and one of my Fallopian tubes in the process) in a big way, and then we found out we can still conceive because my other tube is a-okay. It almost seemed like this story was going to have a simple happy ending, as I am now 17 weeks pregnant, but nothing in life is simple, including this.

SO my husband was very, very insistent we get genetic testing for the baby – the non-invasive quad screen test. I really did not want to. His attitude was there’s probably nothing wrong, and if there is, knowing will give us time to prepare. My attitude was. these tests are not super accurate, and on the off-chance it shows there IS something wrong, we are going to have to go ahead and have an amniocentesis, because I am not going to spend the next five months of my pregnancy crying and wondering. The trouble with amnio is there is a chance it could harm the baby or end the pregnancy, so it’s a more risky procedure. Additionally, we aren’t planning to terminate the pregnancy regardless (although I have been waffling on this in my emotional upheaval the last few days), so that means five months of knowing the baby inside me is disabled if we had the amnio and it comes back positive.

I finally gave in to my husband and had the bloodwork and genetic ultrasound done. The first bloodwork and ultrasound came back normal, and I stupidly, stupidly let myself believe that meant everything was okay – this was a month or so ago. I had a regular prenatal appointment this past Tuesday where they took more blood for the cystic fibrosis test – I didn’t realize it was also for the second part of the genetic testing. Funny enough, they had a really, really hard time getting my blood out. I have tiny veins buried far under the surface – even experienced phlebotomists sometimes have a hard time with them. In this case, my midwife first tried my arm, then my hand, before calling in another doctor to help. I should have taken this as a sign.

Friday afternoon I got a voicemail message from my midwife’s partner stating that my blood results had come back, and I had tested positive for a 1:12 risk that my baby has Down syndrome. I listened to this message sitting in a nail salon after getting a mani pedi, and promptly began silently crying, humiliating myself in front of the nail technicians and all the other patrons. Awesome. I tried calling, texting, and emailing my husband, and could not get a response. I finally got myself under control enough to pay the bill and make it to my car, where I began hopelessly wailing. My midwife’s partner said in the voicemail that the next step was to contact a genetic counselor, who would discuss our options with us. I called the genetic counselor immediately. The first woman hung up on me. It really seemed like life was punching me in the face at this point. Oh, I haven’t even mentioned the best part – it was POURING rain. Like a hurricane. So here I am in my car, in a parking lot, sobbing uncontrollably, unable to reach my husband, rain pouring down – what a fiasco.

I finally reached someone at the perinatal unit and she was super nice and sympathetic. Unfortunately, she could not find my paperwork. In a helpful manner unlike many I have encountered in the medical world, she actually offered to call my midwife and find out where the paperwork was, then call me back. In a matter of minutes she did this, and told me that they would be faxing the paperwork over shortly and I should call back Monday to make my appointment, because a genetic counselor would need to look at the paperwork first before they could schedule me – this was around 1pm Friday.

I finally got to talk to my husband and he offered to call and try to get more information from the midwife. He also said he was going to come straight home.

After the call from my husband, my midwife’s partner called me back. She had no other real information for me. I managed to get myself together enough to drive and made it home, where I continued crying and cursing myself for being talked into doing something I knew was only going to bring bad news. I was angry not just at myself, but at God (who I’ve had a pretty tenuous relationship with anyhow since my cat, my mother-in-law, and my father all died in a 6-month period), my midwife, my husband, and the baby. I was screaming in the car in rage and fear and helplessness. It’s actually lucky I made it home okay, driving that way in such awful weather.

My husband got home within an hour and we cried together and he apologized profusely for making me get the testing, repeating again and again that he was wrong. I am angry with him, I’m not going to lie, but it’s not his fault and I can’t hold it against him. He’s optimistic and I am sure he never imagined we’d actually get bad news.

At this point, as one does, I began reading shit on the internet. I would say that 9 times out of 10 – nay, 99 times out of 100 – this is a terrible idea. Typically it just freaks you out more and brings up crazy possibilities you weren’t even aware of. In this case, however, it turned out to be very soothing. Of the anecdotes I read through online, almost all of them were women who, like me, had been told they were at increased risk for having a Downs baby and ended up having a healthy baby. Some women said their “risk” ratios were as high as 1:4, 1:3, and even 1:2 – yet they’d delivered healthy, unaffected babies. Many women railed against the quad screen test, calling it inaccurate and unnecessary. I read one article that stated that of the women who test positive for “increased risk,” NINETY PERCENT end up delivering healthy, unaffected babies. In addition, if you do the math, 1:12 comes out to about 8% – which means I have a 92% chance of having a healthy baby. All this information didn’t ease my mind completely or erase my worries, but it did help me get through the weekend.

(I realize at this point I am rambling a bit, kind of scattered, and probably overusing certain words and phrases, but this isn’t an essay, it’s a blog post, and I’m a bit scattered myself. So, apologies.)

This morning – Monday – I woke up at 7 because my hens were making a hell of a racket. Of course: I instantly thought, “Call the genetic counselor,” so there was no going back to sleep for me. I tried to call and got the voicemail stating that they opened at 8. I called at 8:05, 8:12, 8:16, 8:21, and 8:28, and each time got the voicemail stating that they were closed and opened at 8. Let me interject here and say AGGGHHHHH! This is NOT the first time this has happened to me – if you open at 8, open at 8! Good grief! Finally at 8:38 I got a person and after holding forever while she searched for my paperwork, found out that the genetic counselors STILL needed to review my case before they could make me an appointment. WTF. I realize this is their job, and they do this every day, but this is my LIFE. Have some empathy!

I asked WHEN they would call me back and was told, “sometime this morning.” At this point my husband awoke and came downstairs. I got off the phone and he asked me the details and I told him and then broke down again. I spent about fifteen minutes crying, calmed down, took a shower, and then lost it again, and cried for another half an hour. The worst part of this is I KNOW all this stress and sadness and worrying isn’t good for the baby, but I can’t stop it. I have never felt so helpless and confused in my life. I have no idea what to do, and right now there’s not much I CAN do except wait, which is totally counterintuitive.

I finally called my midwife, and she was sympathetic and understanding. She called the perinatal unit and told them to hurry up and call me back already, and they said they would do so before noon. It’s not quite 11am right now and I am just watching the minutes tick tick tick away and wondering what is next.

That’s the story as it stands. Generally I love being the center of attention – I danced burlesque, for God’s sake – and enjoy having a unique, interesting story to tell. In this case, however, I’d give pretty much everything I have to have a boring, no-drama, standard pregnancy. But I guess it’s too late for that now.

Caudalie Mineral Tinted Moisturizer

22 Jun

I realize I owe you a blog post on all things Caudalie, but for now, let me focus on my new favorite product: Caudalie Teint Divin Mineral Tinted Moisturizer.

I have been using Caudalie for a few months now and am absolutely in love with them. They claim to be “natural” (and very well may be, although we have since learned that can often be a lie), they’re gentle to my skin, they smell good, and my skin has never looked better (with the glaring exception of the recent outbreaks of pregnancy acne). I was using another of their moisturizers, which I will cover in a different blog, but before leaving for my recent trip abroad found their tinted moisturizer. I have never used a tinted moisturizer, and only just recently began experimenting with foundation. It all comes back to my stupid, stupid vitiligo, however – when I get tan, as I knew I was bound to do on the sunny Italian coast, my vitiligo looks especially horrid. I can handle the spots on my hands, my armpits, the one on my belly – but my face also suffers and it is honestly hard for me to look in the mirror and see all those spots staring back at me. No matter how I do my hair, what pretty dress I have on, or what sensational cosmetics I might be using, when my skin is GLARINGLY blotchy, it makes me feel really ugly. I get white patches by my mouth, around my eyes, and on my chin, and it just looks dreadful. The two things that make this worse are 1) I LOVE the sun, and 2) I tan really easily and well, and look good tan. This leaves me with three options: avoid the sun, load on sunblock and resign myself to never being tan again, or look awful. What a delightful array of choices.

I brought the tinted moisturizer along without really getting my hopes up about its abilities, and I am pleased to say I was VERY pleasantly surprised! Of course it cannot completely erase my vitiligo, but smoothing it on daily does greatly reduce the noticeability of the pigment-depleted areas, as well as give my face an overall “glow” that it sometimes lacks (for some reason, even before the vitiligo, my face never got as dark as my body – I probably sunblock it slightly more diligently or something). Coupled with my favorite bronzer dusted on my chin and around my eyes, I literally could not believe the difference! (Again, if you’re suffering from vitiligo, this does NOT treat it or even eliminate its appearance, but it did, in my case, make a huge difference.) My only complaint is I wish it was offered in a formulation that contained a light sunblock of SPF 15 0r 20 – if it did, I’d certainly use it twice a day, both before going to the beach and after showering.

It does have a slightly perfumey scent I’m not crazy about, but it disappears pretty much immediately after application. I have to give this tinted moisturizer a 10 out of 10, and if they make one with SPF, then it will be the only moisturizer I ever use – and coming from me, that’s really saying something.

Got the Blemish Blues?

20 Jun

Got the following message from a friend on fb:

hello Ms. Kate! Congrats on all your great news approaching: baby, business, seems like life is falling together well :) I had a question for the resident beauty product girl ;) perhaps you can make me a recommendation? haha i hope its not irritating that i ask you!! :)

Adult onset skin issues: blackheads and the every now and then red spot….any suggestions on products to diminish these? the daily cleaners leave my skin so horridly dry (i use the purity cleanser)…so do you know of good spot treatments? facial masks? once a week treatments? also, ingrown hairs…i get them something awful from tweezing on my face…i heard witch hazel helps to prevent the chronic issues..have you heard this or experienced anything?

by the way, mederma for scars worked but it takes FOREVER for old scars. once i get medical insurance making a dermatology apt might just need to have lazer treatment…

I actually LOVE that I am now product girl and can offer my insights and do something useful with all the product knowledge I have! Here is my response:

Hi! No it doesn’t bother me at all, and thank you for all the congrats – and congrats to you as well! So proud of you!

I have been blessed with awesome skin for most of my life. That said, pregnancy has be wreaking HAVOC on my face and I have been having terrible breakouts. My recommendations are:

Burt’s Bees Blemish Stick: Best herbal blemish remedy on the market. You can apply it a couple times a day with no ill effects.

Neutrogena On-the-Spot Acne Treatment: For more serious issues, it’s a benzoyl peroxide medication and works great.

Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque: I recommend it on my blog (http://lipglosslife.com/2012/04/01/spa-out-your-bathroom/) and I stand by it. It’s cheap, it’s proven, and it does the job – totally dries out problem zones and cleans the heck out of your skin.

Ingrown hairs: I blessedly don’t get these anywhere but my bikini line, but there, I get them BAD. I have been using witch hazel since I got pregnant but honestly it hasn’t helped much. Before that I used PFB Vanish and Whish Flawless, both of which my esthetician recommended, and both of which worked awesome. Before that I used Nufree Finipil, which works best of all, but can be hard to get ahold of.

My scars fade really fast and pretty much disappear… you almost can’t even see the one from my operation last year (again, just really lucky, I guess), but I did use Vitamin E Cream on it daily for weeks after it had healed, which may have helped.

One last note: Cleansers that dry your skin too much can actually cause more problems than they solve. I am definitely not a cream cleanser proponent – I hate having my face feel oily after washing – but if your skin feels really tight you might want to consider switching cleansers or using cold water to wash your face (if you’re not already). When your skin gets too dried out it actually goes into oil production overdrive (or so I have heard) to try to protect itself. I currently use Caudalie’s Foaming Cleanser (their whole line, actually) and absolutely swear by it.

OH one other thing, but you’re not going to like it. The best exfoliator I have found anywhere is Kate Somerville’s ExfoliKate but it is super expensive. If you want I could put some in a little tester size and send it to you so you could see if it’s worth it to you, or you might be able to get a sample at Sephora. I use it every other day and it is awesome.

Okay, whew! Hope that’s not too much info! I might post this as a blog, with your questions (anonymously) first, if that doesn’t bother you?

Kate

There you have it! Not only did she agree to let me post her questions here, she has also graciously offered to try out my recommendations and get back to me with thoughts, so we can get a second opinion on some of these products. Hope this helps someone!

Business (Ad)Venture…

20 Jun

Soooo… I’m working from home now while I await the arrival of the little monkey. For a long time, my dream has been to open a body product/home fragrance/gift type store. I have been seriously toying with the idea for the last couple years, but I think I have finally decided that I am going to start as an internet business and if all goes well, after the baby comes, maybe consider opening an actual store as well.

I have so much to think about and do – first step is reading up on starting a business, next is finding someone to do web design, getting a business license, etc. I am excited and nervous and scared and more than a little worried I will fail, but if there’s one thing I know about, it’s cosmetics/body products/candles… well, that and music.

So anyhow, wish me luck and look for future news about the upcoming venture. It has a name, but I’m not going to share it just yet. ;)

Organix Soft & Silky Vanilla Silk Shampoo & Conditioner

20 Jun

I’m not even going to make this a very long post because it’s simply not worth it. Suffice it to say, I decided to bring some drugstore brand shampoo and conditioner with me overseas so I could toss it before the trip home, thus making room for precious souvenirs. I found Organix Soft & Silky Vanilla Silk Shampoo & Conditioner, and was impressed that it was sulfate-free, reasonably cheap, and smelled great.

I tried it for the first time in England and was not pleased. It seemed to get my hair clean enough, but the conditioner did not condition my hair at ALL. I have mentioned before that I have a lot of hair, and it ranges from straight to frizzbomb. I deliberately bought Organix’s “soft & silky” formulation that claims to “instantly nourish and moisturize” because my hair needs lots of taming to make it brushable. I ended up using a ton of my Orofluido just to make my hair manageable enough to get a comb through. Still, I never give up after one use (unless a product somehow damages me), so a couple days later, when it was time to wash my hair, I tried again, this time really LOADING on the conditioner and letting it sit for awhile. Nope – same result, and used the other half of my travel size bottle of Orofluido to correct the situation (don’t worry, I thought ahead and brought three mini bottles). In the end, it turned out I’d left some Body Shop shampoo and conditioner there last time and I switched to that, and that did my hair fine, so I know it wasn’t just, like, the water or water pressure or something.

I cannot recommend this shampoo and conditioner combo and will likely shy away from trying any other hair products by Organix. Shame, because I’d love to find a drugstore-priced sulfate-free shampoo that I adore.

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