Thursday, July 7, 2016

REVIEW: Degusta Box Comes to the United States - and I GOT ONE! (June 2016 Box)

I am fascinated by products that aren't readily available in my part of the world - so, imagine my envy when I would watch one of my favorite YouTubers 'FoundOnFilm' opening something called a 'Degusta Box'. (I've been watching her for quite sometime - that link is to her opening the June, 2016 UK DegustaBox.)

When I saw the advertisements on my FaceBook about DegustaBox - I was OVERJOYED. FINALLY! DEGUSTA BOX IS AVAILABLE IN THE UNITED STATES! I ordered one, with the swiftness, and eagerly awaited my package.

Now, this post is not an unboxing - I didn't take pictures of the packaging as I opened  box, and revel in the tissue paper... Nope. This isn't that kind of post. No, rather, I ripped into it with my usual exuberance and abandon.

Here's a pic of the June, 2016 box (for the United States):

Pic lifted from Degustabox.com

For those who don't know, Degustabox is a subscription service. For a fee ($19.99 - and that includes the shipping), you get a box of 10-15, full sized, food and beverage items that are 'new to the market'. According to the prices stated, the value of the June, 2016 box is: $33.34 (and that's just for product. It doesn't include the shipping/handling charges). These are items that I might pass by in the store, and not (ordinarily) try. 

Here are the items (17 in all!):
  • Wise popcorn: 4 snack size bags (2 sea salt, 2 'Cinnabon' cinnamon roll flavored): 4 @ $0.75/each
  • Brianna's Italian vinaigrette salad dressing (12 oz bottle): $3.99
  • Vita Coco Coconut Oil single use packs: 3 @ $1.29/each
  • Topo Chico Mineral Water: regular and 'twisted lime' flavors: 2 @ $1/each
  • Jif Cinnamon Peanut Butter Spread (12 oz jar): $2.99
  • Orchard Valley Harvest 'On the Go' Packs: Cashews & Cranberry Almond Cashew Trail Mix: 2 @ $1.98/each
  • Haribo Sour Gold Bears (9oz pouch): $2.79
  • Elmhurst Harvest Milk Alternative: (32 oz package). This one, there was a random selection from 9 flavors. I received the walnut based 'chocolate' flavored 'milk'. : $3
  • Soy Vay 'Veri Veri Teriyaki' marinade and sauce: (21oz bottle): $4.99
  • Honees Cough and Throat Drops: 20 drop package: $2.75
(They even threw in a few coupons for good measure).

It was all packaged very well, except for one, slight problem: the Soy Vey sauce leaked all over the box. Because of the way individual items were packaged, the damage was minimal...but 3-4 items had to be cleaned, and the bottle of sauce disposed. I'm not overly upset, but at the same time, in my mind, I didn't get a complete box because I had to dispose of the teriyaki sauce. I sent an email to Degusta Box customer service - we'll see what happens.

All in all, I'm eagerly awaiting the next box (for July, 2016) - according to my account, it's supposed to be here at the end of July. Something to look forward to, and getting packages is ALWAYS fun! If you would like to try your own Degusta Box, and get $10 off your first one (It would be a flat charge of $9.99) - feel free to use my referral link:
https://www.degustabox.com/us/register/ref/STEPHANIEC-4C1

 



Thursday, June 9, 2016

Review: Tangle Teezer The Original Detangling Hair Brush - and Did You Know About Sephora's 'FLASH' Subscription Service?

This brush looks odd, but it works wonders:

Yes, it's a hair brush. Yes, I know it looks odd.
Truth be told, I wasn't looking to buy another brush. I had to spend an additional $15 to get free shipping - this was before a bought a subscription to Sephora's 'FLASH' shipping service.

Are you aware of the Sephora 'FLASH' program? For a $10 fee, you can purchase a one - year subscription to this service, and that will guarantee you FREE, 2-day shipping, with NO MINIMUM PURCHASE REQUIREMENT. Regular shipping, via USPS Priority Mail (which is usually 3-5 days), STARTS at $5.95, and is free if you spend $50 at Sephora.com. If you wanted to select 2-day shipping, it would cost you $10.95. Think about it: you can guarantee yourself FREE, 2-day shipping, with no order minimum for less than the cost of (1) order with 2-day shipping. It's a great deal...

Back to the brush, though.

I was looking for an item that cost around $10 - but then I thought that I'd have to spend the additional $5.95 for shipping, so it was really around $15 I would spend (but then I'd hit the $50 for free, standard shipping). That was the equation: spend $10 (on merchandise) + $5.95 for shipping... or just pay the $15 for merchandise, and get free (standard) shipping. I opted to spend the $15 - but had no idea what to buy. I was at a loss.

I know I complain about my hair a bit, but I also like to say that I 'won the genetic lottery' when it comes to my hair. It's thickness and volume, I know are definite assets, even though they annoy me to no end. It also grows quickly. Given these, I like to grow my hair long, and donate it to charity. I need to keep my hair in good condition - too much breakage or damage, and it won't be accepted. I'm always looking for things to help me keep my hair in good condition. When I read that this brush was designed for use on both wet AND dry hair, I was intrigued. As strong as hair can be, it's at it's most fragile when wet. It can break easily, and brushing your hair (when wet) is a prime way to get yourself some split ends.

But...the Tangle Teezer isn't a regular hairbrush. Here are the two main reasons I think the Tangle Teezer is a vast upgrade from the regular hairbrush:

Number one: it's ergonomically designed to fit into your hand. It sits comfortably, and there's no handle that you have to grab hold on and work through your hair. You just need to hold one of these to feel the difference.

Number two: There are different Tangle Teezers based on your needs, and hair type. Specifically, the Thick and Curly Tangle Teezer. The one I have is the original Tangle Teezer, but I'm thinking about investing in the 'Thick and Curly', Why? The teeth in the Tangle Teezer are cut at different lengths, designed to glide through the hair AND massage the scalp. My hair is so thick, that I don't get the massage benefits. (Plus, the original comes in a variety of colors!)

This is something I normally wouldn't even think about buying - but I wanted something that was different, something that was unexpected. I'm not sure I would rebuy it, but then again, it is such high -quality, that, unless I decide to upgrade to the 'Thick and Curly', I don't envision myself needing a second Tangle Teezer...and I might pass along my 'original' to someone else. (Don't get grossed out - the design makes it VERY easy to clean!)

The 'Tangle Teezer' is available at a variety of locations, both 'brick & mortar' and online. I purchased mine from Sephora.com for $15.

Plus, if you haven't already, REALLY CONSIDER getting that subscription to SEPHORA FLASH - it's worth the $10. Two orders from Sephora.com will more than pay for that subscription! It really is a great deal!




Monday, May 23, 2016

My Favorite Things: Ojon Damage Reverse Restorative Shampoo

By and far, this is one of the best shampoos I have ever used, and I am so sad about it - because I just used the last of both my shampoo and conditioner:
Were you discontinued? Because you're so hard to find now, and EXPENSIVE!


This shampoo has been in my arsenal for YEARS now, and I remember that I used to buy it from Sephora.com. In fact, that was one of my 'little treats' - when I didn't know what to buy, but I wanted *something* because I wanted to use a promo code, I would get some shampoo and/or conditioner. If I needed to *bump up* my order amount, in addition to the full sized items, they would also carry 2oz bottles in the travel section for $5 each. Funny enough, if I was going to buy a shampoo or conditioner at a drug store, I would balk at paying $5 - but at Sephora? Oh, no problem! It would appear, though, that this shampoo has been discontinued - or, at least not available at the usual mass marketers. Sephora no longer carries this brand, and neither does Ulta. Sure, other places like Amazon
carry this shampoo, but then you have to worry about 'diversion', and old stock... BAH!

So, why do I miss this shampoo, and count it among 'My Favorite Things'? My hair is fairly thick, fairly dry, and wavy. It has a tendency toward poof and frizz. Volume? I don't need no stinkin' volume. Volume and fullness are not a problem with my hair - poof and frizz are the enemy:
THEY LIE!


I will be the first to admit that I should probably use conditioner all the time - but I don't. Why? Well, a few reasons:
  • I do water aerobics 2-3x/ week, so, most of the time, I'm in and out of the pool.
  • I shower before bed, 5-6 nights a week. I usually wash my hair each time, too.
  • My hair is prone to build-up. If I used conditioner each time I washed my hair, I'd have so much buildup, it would be NASTY.
I prefer shampoos that are moisturizing - or, at least *claim* to be moisturizing. In my life, so far, I've only found a precious few shampoos that are *actually* moisturizing - this Ojon one was one of them. It lathered well, and left my hair clean, shiny, SLEEK and manageable - plus, it kept my hair clean for a few days! Seriously! That silky, sleek, shiny hair would last for 2-3 days - easily - without nasty. oily, roots, either. Lovely.

One caveat, though - the fragrance of the shampoo is unique. Most shampoos are floral scented, or might smell like fruit salad - but this? Nope. It has a musky, earthy, almost sandalwood-y scent. Personally, I love the fragrance, and I loved getting a whiff of it when I would take my hair down - but I remember many others complaining that the scent wasn't *feminine* enough. Please. Women aren't the only ones who wash their hair, and not everyone wants to smell like a flower shop, or a bowl of fruit salad.

The only place I've found that's selling this shampoo (at a reasonable price) is Origins, and an 8.4 oz bottle of the stuff will set you back $24 - but it might be worth it for you to give it a go. As for me, I have other shampoos in my stash that I need to use up before I'll consider buying anything new. 







Tuesday, May 10, 2016

REVIEW: Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation SPF 15 - and Explaining the Name of the Item

I have said it before, and I'll say it again: Tarte has an interesting idea of what constitutes a 'full coverage' foundation. Of all their 'full coverage' foundations I have tried, with the exception of one, (the Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Full Coverage Foundation), all have been medium coverage at best. In the interest of fairness, though, the ones I tried would appear to have been discontinued, and there are new formats to replace them that I haven't yet tried. I am skeptical, though: fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice...but you can't fool a fool again. (That quote from former President George W. Bush always cracks me up.)

Sadly, it would appear that my skepticism in the coverage claims, re: Tarte's liquid foundations, has been well earned (in my opinion).

Anywho, this is a review of Tarte's new Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation. Notice that the name isn't 'seawater foundation'? There's a reason for that: This foundation is water based, as opposed to the usual emollient/oil based liquid foundations, but that water is not SEAWATER. The product line this is from is the 'Rainforest of the Sea' , and it's water based...so Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation. Just thought I'd clear that up, for what that's worth.

Love that color gradient on the cap - the foundation brush is sold separately

Here's the copy from Tarte's website, describing this foundation:
Product performance: Deliver the ultimate in hydration-boosting coverage with tarte’s 12-hour water foundation. The concentrated, full coverage fluid formula features 20 percent water to quench dry skin as it covers and masks any redness, dark spots and uneven skin tone, while softening the look of pores and fine lines. The custom dropper applicator delivers your perfect level of moisture-rich coverage in an array of shades to match any skin tone. Powered by tarte’s antioxidant-packed Rainforest of the Sea™ complex and non-chemical SPF 15 sunscreen, the hypoallergenic formula helps restore, brighten and defend skin from free radical damage and early signs of aging for a smooth, soft, radiant complexion.

Sounds great, right? Absolutely (in theory). But, in practice, I have some issues:

  • The coverage melted into my skin, and it was lovely...but it wasn't full coverage. I could still see things I was trying to cover up through the foundation. The only 'full coverage' I got from this foundation was when I applied a full-face of the foundation.
  • Currently, my skin has morphed from 'winter dry' to combination/dry. (My upper cheeks are dry - everywhere else seems to be 'normal' - not overly dry, not overly oily.) The hydration didn't last 12 hours, nor did it provide much coverage. For all it's talk of 'hydration', my dry patches were still dry, and the foundation clung to those patches.
  • It caked on me when I tried to build it into a 'full coverage' foundation. Yuck.
  • A water based foundation usually, by definition, is generally going to be lighter in coverage - that's just the 'nature of the beast' (so to speak). Additionally, water-based foundations are generally marketed toward those who can't or won't tolerate a heavy coverage foundation. (Acne prone skins immediately come to mind as a prime example.) Even with an antioxidant cocktail, water based foundations just don't provide enough moisture for dry skins - they're better off with a more traditional, emollient, foundation.
I'm not saying it's a bad product, I'm saying that it should be marketed differently: as a sheer to medium coverage, water based foundation, for those who want a light-weight, barely-there, coverage - as opposed to how Tarte IS marketing it: long lasting, deeply hydrating, full coverage.

This retails for $39 at retailers who sell Tarte - namely TarteCosmetics.com and Sephora.com


Saturday, April 30, 2016

REVIEW: Dial Clean & Refresh Antibacterial Body Wash, Lavender & Twilight Jasmine (and Thoughts on TRICLOSAN)

I'm probably going to be writing about shower gel/body wash for the next few postings - if you've got a body wash you'd like to know more about, let me know. Heck - if there's ANY bath/body/beauty/cosmetic/makeup/fragrance product you'd like to know more about, let me know.

Everybody has a *thing* - something they love, and really have no clue why they love it so much. (Or maybe they do know *shrug*.) My *thing* is shower gel. I love the stuff. Not a fan of bar soap, but I will use it, if that's the only thing available - but I love shower gel.

Today, I'm reviewing the latest bottle I've pulled from my stash to try: Lavender & Twilight Jasmine Clean and Refresh Antibacterial Body Wash.
Pretty! Smells nice, too!

 Dial is a trusted brand that has been around for AGES: 
I have this same ad on display in my bathroom!
Truth be told, I can't fathom the idea of using a deodorant soap on my face, but back in the day, that was (somewhat) recommended, because of the antibacterial properties of the soap. The thought was that if you had acne, then the same ingredient that killed the bacteria that causes body odor would also kill acne causing bacteria, too. I'm not sure if I agree with this line of logic - differing strains of bacteria and all - but I can see the logic in it. This also brings up something that gives me some (slight) pause: TRICLOSAN.

I'm not a Social Justice Warrior. I eat meat. I wear leather. I eat conventional (not necessarily 'organic') produce. Many of the items I write about on this blog have been tested on animals, and some brands that I use may still be actively testing on animals. (That does give me pause, but that's a topic for another post.) Triclosan is an antibacterial chemical additive in many consumer products, and in some circles, and it can be considered slightly controversial. (Specifically, causing bacteria to become stronger and more resistant to antibiotics, among other things.) Additionally, research has suggested that Triclosan doesn't offer any significant antibacterial properties above using regular soap and water. Plus, on a level of pure vanity, I find that items that contain Triclosan tends to make my skin feel dry with continued use. Now, this body wash has a low concentration of Triclosan: .15% for the entire bottle, but you have to consider it in terms of all the things you use in a day: hand wash? tooth paste? The percentages add up.

So - here's a rundown of my non-Triclosan related thoughts on this body wash:
  1. I don't think this smells like lavender. Jasmine? Maybe. More like 'generic, clean, soapy, floral'. It's lavender colored, though. (see pic above)
  2. The clean, fresh, floral fragrance did last on my skin after the shower. Smelled nice, too.
  3. It lathered VERY well, and the suds lasted through my entire shower.
  4. Surprisingly enough, I didn't get itchy skin after using this, nor did I *need* a body cream.
  5. I usually take a shower at night, before bed. I've still felt fresh all day.
There are other fragrances in this line, and, knowing me, I'll probably try them. If you can find it, the Pura Fruta body wash in Guava and Watermelon is just DIVINE. This is sold at most mass retailers, and the prices can vary (generally) from $2.98 - $6.99.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

REVIEW: Softsoap Body Butter Mega Moisture Hydrating Body Wash: Heavenly Vanilla

I'm sorry I fell off the edge of the planet for awhile. Work has been hectic to say the least (yes, I have a full time job in real life). Plus, a few family members have had some serious medical issues, and I've been taking off work to help them with those, too.

What's even worse: I was working on this big, beautiful, post about a kit I got from Eve Pearl via  QVC, and I took so long to post it that the item is no longer available. *sigh* I'm still going to save the post, though - you never know when QVC is going to offer the kit again, and I want to be ready!

So, to get back into the swing of things, I thought I would do a few, quick, review posts. I will get back to the Cruise Planning series, too.

Here's the first of my 'quick' posts:  a review of the Heavenly Vanilla Body Butter Mega Moisture Hydrating Body Wash from Softsoap. Wow. What a name, right?

There's a whole line of them! We're chatting about the 3rd from the right today. (Image from Colgate.com)
Ok - here's what I have to say about this shower gel:
  1. Doesn't smell like vanilla to me, or, maybe, it only smells *vaguely* of vanilla. (That's subjective, though. You might think that it reeks of vanilla. Your mileage may vary.) It doesn't smell bad, though - it's just not meant to smell like frosting or a cupcake, or whatever food smell we associate with vanilla. 
  2. That name is ridiculous. Too long.
  3. It does live up to it's name, however: It is creamy, moisturizing, and decadent. 
  4. I don't need any additional moisturizer after I use this in the shower
  5. The scent doesn't last past the shower, which may or may not be a good thing. I always wear perfume, so I don't want my body wash clashing with my fragrance. (Although adding vanilla notes would mesh with the scents I usually wear, so yeah.)
  6. The stuff is THICK. It cam be difficult to get out of the bottle, and, when you're almost done with it, squeezing the bottle produces the loudest, rudest, noises EVER. (I'll let you use your imagination.) 
  7. It's one of the few shower gels that doesn't make me itchy after a shower. Sometimes, after a shower, my arms ITCH like crazy. This is usually due to the combination of detergents in the shower gel plus water that's way too hot.
Would I rebuy this? Probably - but I have other shower gels to use first. Would I try other scents in the line? Absolutely. Awhile ago, I remember trying the coconut scrub body wash, and while I liked it, I don't think I would use it every day - occasional use, for that particular body wash, would be recommended, as scrubbing your skin raw is never a good idea. (WARNING: That one also made those nasty, RUDE, noises when you squeeze it out of the bottle - just warning you so you're not surprised. Yes, it's THAT BAD.)

This is available at most mass retailers, drugstores and online, with prices ranging from $2.97 - $7.



Thursday, March 24, 2016

REVIEW: Simply Straight Ceramic Straightening (Hair) Brush (and why my CHI Flat Iron CAN SUCK IT)

BUY. THIS. YOU NEED TO BUY THIS NOW. I AM NOT JOKING. IF IT WAS CRAP, I'D TELL YOU - BUT NO, THIS IS THE ANSWER TO MY STRUGGLE FOR STRAIGHT HAIR.


SERIOUSLY! IT WORKS! BUY IT NOW!
I'm a skeptic. If something says it works, I want to have it proven to me - if it doesn't? Nope - ain't no body got time for that. I will be on to the next thing with the quickness.

I, like most women, have a love/hate relationship with my hair. It grows quickly, and it's thick. It's a nice light/mid brown, with some (natural) highlights. The problem? It's poofy. It's also wavy in some spots. I could handle the poof, and usually I get some layers cut into it movement and to relieve some of the weight. (Those help, too.) What I find irritating, however, is how my hair is definitively wavy in some spots (mostly framing my face) and straight, to mildly wavy, in other spots - and, yes - POOFY. (Or frizzy - whatever word works for you.)

I decided to invest in a flat iron, and the one I selected was the CHI PRO G2 DIGITAL TITANIUM INFUSED CERAMIC FLAT IRON - IONIC TOURMALINE HAIR STRAIGHTENER. The price has come down significantly since I bought mine, but then, I (apparently) had a 'professionals only' kit that also included a heat mat, carrying case, hair sectioning clips, a set of full-sized hair care products and a travel - sized mini iron. The iron worked well, but with my hair, it was time consuming to flat iron it - and forget about doing the back of my head. That was out of the question. It was just too much to flat iron my hair all the time - I wished that someone would invent a heated brush (or something) to make straightening hair easier.

Well, it's here, and I BOUGHT ONE! YAAAAAAASSSS!!!!

I plugged my Simply Straight Ceramic Straightening Brush, and let it heat up - didn't have to wait long for that, either! It will automatically heat itself to one of 3 settings: Low: 365 degrees Fahrenheit, recommended for fine, thin, delicate or colored hair. Tap the '+' button, and it will heat itself to Medium (410F, recommended for 'natural' hair - presumably meaning no perm/color) and tap the '+' one more time to have the item go to High (450F - for thick or curly hair). I couldn't wait, so once the display read 350F, I started brushing my hair. It worked WONDERS! With each pass through (and I didn't need many brush strokes), my hair became straighter, and straighter - and the poof? GONE. No frizz. No poof. Just sleek, straight, gleaming hair. I let it heat to the 'Medium' setting of 410F, and got even BETTER results faster. My whole head of hair - INCLUDING THE BACK OF MY HEAD - was straightened in around 5-7 minutes. For those sections that need *extra* help in straightening, it's recommended that you pull the hair taut against the brush, and slide it through, slowly. This will give you additional heat and control as you straighten a more difficult part.

I would recommend, though, that you take things slow with your Simply Straight brush - that pink stuff is rubber, or silicone, and it can grab your hair. It's good, because it directs the heat into your hair, but not the full brunt of the heat. You get the results of a flat iron, in a fraction of the time, without the frying. You're supposed to use this on clean, dry, hair - but I've read  that you can use some styling products (like certain oils or heat protection spray) without it damaging your hair (or the brush.)

I paid around $300 for my flat iron. The prices have come down significantly since I got mine, but knowing what I know now...I love this brush. Hallelujah!