Friday, June 26, 2015

Bath and Body Goodies that Smell Amazing: Origins Ginger Gloss + Incredible Spreadable Scrub

[Product was purchased by me, and * was received as a GWP.]

First things first: these smell amazing. They smell like ginger beer, which I love. Who doesn't want to smell like a Moscow Mule? (Um. The cocktail, that is. I don't know if there are actual Moscow mules running around, but not those, ok?)

I don't use that many Origins products, but somehow I stumbled upon the Ginger Gloss, which sounded amazing (and I needed a new body oil), so I ordered it and a toner, and used an Origins website promo code for a free, full-sized Incredible Spreadable (*giggle*) Smoothing Ginger Body Scrub.* I also needed a new body exfoliator, so I was pretty excited. Also, see above re: incredible smell.

The Ginger Gloss ($22 for 3.4 oz) is packaged as a handy spray; it's meant to be applied after a shower, when your skin is still slightly damp. The spray works well and distributes a nice, easy mist of product that you then massage into skin with your hands. AND THEN YOU SMELL AMAZING. It definitely lingers. It's not a full-force, walking cocktail kinda thing, but you will catch whiffs of it as you move around afterward, which I always love. It does moisturize nicely without leaving you greasy - the oil absorbs into skin, and my skin still felt nice and smooth the next morning. I wish the bottle was a little bigger, but it will still prolly take me a while to go through, and in the winter I need something a little heavier, anyway.

The Incredible Spreadable Smoothing Ginger Body Scrub* ($30 for 6.7 oz) is a sugar exfoliator (the first ingredient is sucrose) that has nice, functional packaging (tubes > jars) and still lathers up pretty nicely. It says it's gentle enough for daily use, but I only use it 1-2x a week for exfoliation. My skin doesn't feel stripped afterward, and it's not a harsh, rough scrub. It also smells amazing. Just saying.

Ok, so if you don't want to smell like ginger beer, fine. These scents aren't super strong, so if you're just looking for a body oil spray (so handy!) and scrub, these are still good options. I actually wish the scents lasted a bit longer. I think the prices are fair and Origins often offers promotions, so that's nice (are you using Ebates? - referral link -). A full sized body scrub with a $25 purchase was pretty sweet, in my opinion - shipping was free and fast, and I got 4% cash back with Ebates!

On the same note, does anyone have a recommendation for a perfume that smells like ginger beer? Origins makes a Ginger Essence scent that I've had my eye on for a long time, but I don't know anyone who's tried it.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Thinx: For Women With Periods (Review)

[Products were purchased by me.]

When I posted about these Thinx panties on Instagram, I got a lot of requests for reviews, so here you go: underwear on the blog (what will she do next?). This is a rather long post, as I tried to address any possible questions (i.e., all the questions I had while looking at these and ordering).
They come packaged in individual organza bags, with care instructions.

And, well, they're not just any panties, mind you. They're period panties. They're meant to replace panty liners (which we all hate) or otherwise play backup to your main absorption device (tampon or cup). There are three kinds - a thong (I know, I made that wtf face too, just wait for it), a cheeky cut, and a hiphugger cut. Each has a different maximum absorption (ranging from ~1/2 tampon's worth in the thong, to 2 tampons worth with the hiphugger). Thinx offer discounts for multiples, so I bought five, because really, my cycles last 4-6 days and if these were going to work, I wanted to have enough of them without having to do laundry every day.
On the left, the cheeky. On the right, the hiphugger. They come in both black, and nude.

I bought one thong, three cheekys (cheekies?), and one hiphugger. Four of them were black, and one was nude - a cheeky cut. The nude one is still lined in black at the crotch on the inside, but it is opaque enough that it would work with lighter pants. They are lined at the bottom (but it's thin, and not like wearing a pad - even the thinnest pad is bulkier) and made out of a nice, moisture-wicking material. It's hot and sweaty here, and it totally sucks when your underwear is also...hot and sweaty. We don't want that kind of hot and heavy, you guys.
THONGS ON THE BLOG, Y'ALL. RACY.

They are also trimmed in lace, which I personally don't mind - part of the problem I have with normal panties that get consigned to "that time of the month" is that they're bulky and ugly and make me feel even worse. These are tasteful, but I know some people prefer no frills underwear, so hopefully Thinx will come out with more designs in the future to address that.

Ok, so. The big question: do they work?

Yes, yes they do. I will warn that I don't have particularly heavy days - in general I buy regular tampons and panty liners, and pads for maybe 1 day of the cycle. But I hate pads and panty liners - they rustle, they stick to you, they fold up weird and twist and leak, and you are always aware of them - and with these, I will probably never buy a pad or panty liner again. Basically, I'm a tampon girl. I used these with tampons, and I was completely fine. I did use the thong on its own on that first day, and it was also fine. I also used a cheeky alone for part of a day, to test. Fine. No stains, no leaks, no stickiness, no uncomfortable wetness, no twisting or bunching. 

My cycles are also pretty regular, but I think these are especially excellent if your cycles aren't particularly regular - you know, we all have those nervous days where we're not sure, but then we really don't want to wear a pad all day if nothing's going to happen, but then how are you going to know??? Just put on one of these. You're set.

Laundry is simple. I just rinse them by hand (in cold water) when I shower at the end of the day, and hang it to dry on the line or some out of the way spot. They're dry by morning, and then they wait to be washed when I do a load. I put them in a delicates bag for the machine, wash in cold water with the rest of my delicates/light colors and then air dry them after the wash. Easy peasy - it has to be. I'm not one to mess around with complicated domestic tasks.

I think if you have a really light flow, you could probably get away with wearing this alone here and there (I did). I was a little worried about it at night, since only the crotch is lined and who knows how I sleep, but it was ok with a tampon (oh my god, this entire post is TMI, but hey, you asked). I was also a little worried that it might start to smell throughout the day, but I didn't notice that much - and I'm really sensitive to smell. It would be just like wearing a pad.

They run $24 (thong), $29 (cheeky), $34 (hiphugger), with 10%, 15% or 20% off with 3, 5, or 7 pairs, respectively. They can currently only be purchased at Thinx (FAQ here), and if you sign up for their newsletter you get free shipping. They are on the pricey side, but they are made of a durable material and I feel they are worth my peace of mind. And they're comfortable. Just like regular underwear. Which is how it should be, right? Plus, no more pads. Ever.

Anyway. I'm on board. I'm all for feeling empowered and not like I have to be extra hesitant or uncomfortable just because it's stupid period time. Also, we're empowering other women with every Thinx purchase. Let me know if you have any questions, and I'll try to answer them. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Moisturizing Multi-tasker: StriVectin Repair & Protect Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30

[*Product was provided by PR for review. All opinions are my own. Disclosure here. No affiliated links.]

I like to have a moisturizer with SPF for no-makeup days, or mornings where I'm headed straight to the gym first. I think it's still important to moisturize before getting your workout on, and sunscreen is a must, as well. I usually prefer physical sunscreens, but this new StriVectin Repair & Protect Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30* ($89 for 1.7 oz) hit my doorstep just as I ran out of the last moisturizer + sunscreen product I was using. (Want to know how sunscreens work? I did a Beauty of Science post, way back when.)

It's described as a "lightweight, extraordinarily protective formula" that combines StriVectin's patented NIA-114 ingredient and anti-oxidants to "enhance skin's innate defenses and boost its age fighting abilities." It's meant to "reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles by enhancing collagen and elastin" and "protect against UV damage with broad spectrum SPF 30." (Full ingredients here.)
Intended to mitigate existing damage from sun + environmental factors, and also provide preventative measures.

Basically, it's meant to be an anti-aging moisturizer with additional sun protection (StriVectin's products are helpfully color-coded by "solution," which is handy). NIA-114 is StriVectin's patented form of Niacin (vitamin B3), which was developed by two biochemists at the University of Arizona (15 Minute Beauty did a great post on this, so I will send you there). Essentially, the regular form of niacin is water-soluble (hey, I did a post on polarities, too), and StriVectin's form of vitamin B3, NIA-114, is fat-soluble. This suggests that when applied topically, it has a better chance of penetrating skin barriers and actually making a difference.

As you can see, the active ingredients are only chemical sunscreens and dimethicone. Avobenzone provides UVA protection, which is how this can be marketed as a "broad spectrum" sunscreen. It does not include octinoxate, happily (it breaks me out, and there are studies that show that the combination of the two renders one or both useless as a sunscreen - also, Tracy is doing a fabulous sunscreen feature this week, and talks about the importance of photostability here.)
I guess jar packaging makes sense for this texture, but I do have to wonder about product longevity when you are constantly popping off the top and exposing it.

So, does it work? Well, I can't speak to the anti-aging claims, as that has to be a long-term evaluation, but it's a nice moisturizer. It looks thick in the photo above, but it is actually easy to work into skin and doesn't feel greasy; it has a white floral scent and does smell like traditional sunscreen, but it keeps skin supple and moisturized, and I notice a smoothing effect (possibly from the dimethicone), so it layers nicely under makeup. It might still be a touch heavy for those with oilier skin (especially in really humid climates), but for a multi-tasking moisturizer, it's good. I like that it includes a bit of the kinds of targeted ingredients that are usually relegated to serums, so that it really is an earnest multi-tasker - you can skip everything else and just apply this to a cleansed face.

Like I said, I've been using this on makeup free days (though I did try it once under makeup, just for you guys) or early morning workout sessions, although admittedly the price point is a bit rough to delegate this to a secondary moisturizer (I would travel with this, though!). I wish it had a higher SPF rating (my daily favorite is SPF 50 and broad spectrum), I still prefer all-physical formulas, so hopefully we see something like that from StriVectin in the future.

The Repair and Protect Moisturizer can be found here on StriVectin's website - they seem to be doing a 20% summer sale right now, so if you're interested in anything, now's the time.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Vita Liberata Self-Tanning Night Moisture Mask (and Science!)

[Product was provided by PR for review. All opinions are my own. Disclosure here. No affiliated links.]

Finally! A review that wasn't scheduled in advance. I wouldn't say I'm caught up here on work and adjusting to my new place, but I wanted to share this with you, anyway, and I needed a break from reading about spin physics.

I've always been wary about self-tanning products, mostly because I am afraid of being orange and I don't mind being pale. Also, I was afraid self-tanning creams would stain everything or apply unevenly, making me blotchy and multi-colored. Fortunately, my experience with Vita Liberata's Self-Tanning Night Moisture Mask has only been positive.

I know it's summer now and everyone wants to be beautifully bronzed, but I also think this is a great product for the winter, when you have had ZERO sunshine and just want your glow back. I use a SPF 50 product on my face everyday, and various other strengths on the rest of my body, so in general, my face becomes paler than the rest of me. I thought this tanning mask might help even that all out so I wouldn't be pulling that bald eagle look when I go out in tank tops this summer.

The mask itself is a lightly, citrus/clean smelling cream. It rubs into skin nicely. I did a patch test on my wrist, first, because that's the thing to do.

That is after one night - you can definitely see where the tanning mask was applied. Nice, right? I was pleasantly surprised - it gave me a realistic, sunkissed shade. It's also not too orange, and even though I wasn't particularly meticulous about rubbing it in evenly (the cream runs in colorlessly, so you can't really tell where you've rubbed it in), it didn't look uneven or blotchy or runny. So I went ahead and applied it to my face the next night - the instructions say to apply it to a cleansed, bare face (and décolletage). I didn't follow up with any other products. I didn't notice any staining on my pillow the next morning - thumbs up (this makes sense, if you read the science blurb below).
Bare face, a day after an application. It's really subtle, but I can definitely tell a difference. Sorry that I don't have shots to compare, but really, it's hard to tell - it's much more obvious in the wrist shot. Also, I wasn't about to apply some to only half my face. I don't love you guys that much, ha!

I do think it did a nice job of adding a subtle warmth to my face, easing up the winter pallor and making my redness less obvious because of the overall blending of skintone color. I didn't use it on successive nights, because I tried that on my wrist and it didn't seem to darken the shade too much, and I would rather resume my usual night routine full of various creams and serums. The tan fades from my wrist in about 5-6 days, so if you wanted to keep it consistent, you could reapply the night mask once a week.

In addition to the self-tanning aspect, the mask is also supposed to deliver hydration (via their HyH2O technology) and anti-aging benefits. Since I've only used it a few times thus far, I can't speak to the anti-aging claims, but my face felt comfortable the morning after application - there wasn't any evidence that I had skipped my usual slew of products and just applied this. My skin was still soft, not dry. I don't think this would substitute for your hard-core moisturizing masks, but it's not drying or greasy, as I have heard some self-tanners can be. Here are the ingredients.
The coloring ingredient is dihydroxyacetone. Tocopherol is vitamin E, and sunflower (helianthus annuus - think of Helios!) seed oil contains vitamins A, C, and D. Cera alba is beeswax. Glycerin is a humectant. You can also see shea butter (butyrospermum parkii), another moisturizer.

For the curious, self-tanning products like this rely on the reaction of dihydroxyacetone (a simple sugar); dihydroxyacetone reacts with the keratin proteins (which make up the outer layer of your skin, hair, and nails) to produce melanoidins, which are pigmented molecules. This reaction of the sugar (dihydroxyacetone) plus amino acids (which is what proteins are made of) is called the Maillard reaction, the same process responsible for the browning color of bread and steak (although that proceeds faster at higher temperatures, which thankfully we do not require here).

Since it's a chemical reaction rather than a physical tint, I imagine it would work successfully on various skintones, but I have only tested it on myself, so you might want to check it out for yourself. It can be purchased for $45 at Vita Liberata or at Sephora. I enjoyed it much more than I expected! Definitely keeping this one around, especially for the colder months.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

More Sheers: Urban Decay Sheer Revolution Lipstick in Shame

[I'm on the east coast! But this is still a previously scheduled post - I'm trying to get my feet under me here in the new place.]

[Product was a sample GWP].

I showed Ladyflower here and reported that it didn't feel super comfortable. I figured since I didn't have much else to do (besides, erm, pack), I might as well go through the others and see if any of them were any better, texture-wise. The next one I tried was Shame.

It's a plummy berry; I swatched it above with Dior Lucky Addict Extreme (a bright pink on me) to show how much more plum/berry UD Sheer Shame is. Compared to Ladyflower, Shame's formula has a little more slip and makes it more comfortable for me to wear. It's in the vampy family of shades, but the sheerness makes it less dramatic. I like it, and although the color is not something I particularly need (got lots of sheer pink/fuchsias), it gives me hope that some of the other ones in the line might be winners for that ultimate everyday sheer lipstick with a comfortable formula.
On eyes: MJ Enigma palette (1, 6, 7) and L'Oreal Voluminous Butterfly mascara.

Here it is on my face. I wore it with a hat.

Also, I love when Dennison is in my photos. Or Sheeba, although she doesn't hang out with me as much (she's S.'s shadow). I miss both of them, as they're still with S.

So I haven't written these off, I guess, although I don't think either of the remaining shades in my little sample card are going to be the MLBB shade I'm looking for. Ah, well. I still want to know what they look like, ha! What's your favorite MLBB sheer shade in a moisturizing formula?