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Shea Moisture Mineral Powder Foundation (Wet/Dry)

June 24th, 2016 · Cosmetics

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If you love Shea Moisture’s marvelous (& natural!) hair & skin products, you should definitely give their cosmetics line a try. The products are cruelty-free and made in the USA. The ever-increasing selection currently includes products for the face, cheeks, lips and eyes. Though the line seems to be in limited release (I only see it at Target), you can also purchase it online at or at

I am forever looking for a non-oxidizing foundation powder. More specifically, one that won’t only look good in my bathroom mirror, but one that will still look complimentary throughout my day. I am sure many of you can relate to the horror of seeing your face in a public bathroom mirror and realizing that your face is suddenly very, very(!) tan or a dead ringer for an oompa loompa.

Since I have combination/oily, yet sensitive skin and like to avoid talc-based products as much as possible, the ingredient list for the Shea Moisture Mineral Powder Foundation made me take notice. It was a talc-free, corn starch-based powder formulated to control oil and was recommended for sensitive skin! Score!

So, into my red cart the mineral powder went. There were only a few colors available (many were sold-out) so I picked up the mineral foundation powder in “Havasu Hazel” a neutral medium brown. (The full name of this color, “Havasu Hazel” only appears on the underside of the compact. The box simply states, “Hazel.”)

Shea Moisture Mineral Powder Foundation - HAZEL

Unfortunately, Havasu Hazel was not my homegirl. Once I got home and swiped it across my cheekbone, the color was about a shade too light and too neutral for my skintone. Bummer. Cause it seemed to be a really nice powder and I like the fact that I could use it dry or with a damp sponge as well.

What I noticed: The coverage was great. With a dry application, it gave a medium coverage that camouflaged most spots. I am sure that this powder could be built up to full coverage. Though the color was off, the consistency of the powder seemed to blend right into my skin. If the color had been a match, I think it could have looked very natural and undetectable. Especially if applied with a damp Beauty Blender-type sponge!

Another plus, it had no sheen. It was completely matte, therefore it will not accentuate issues on problem skin.

Due to Target’s liberal return policy, I will be returning this compact and will see if I can find a better color match. If I do, I will update this review.

Interested in this product? See below for specific product information. And come back and let me know what you think if you purchase it. If you currently use Shea Moisture’s Mineral Foundation Powderhat did you think about it? Please comment below.

Shea Moisture cosmetics - foundation powder

Color (Hazel) looks darker in the compact than it appears on the skin.


  • Size: 0.32 oz. vented compact case with mirror and sponge
  • No talc. Corn-starch based. Oil-control.
  • Colors available: At least 8, from Porcelain to Sable.
  • Price: $15.99, available at Target

Ingredients: Mica, Dimethicone, Magnesium Myristate, Polyethylene, Zinc Stearate, Silica, Boron Nitride, Lauroyl Lysine, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Lipids, Squalane, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch, Ethylhexylglycerin, Nylon-11, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Starch, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Sea Salt (Maris Sal), Sodium Dehydroacetate, Phenoxyethanol, Methicone, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Ascorbic Acid, Iron Oxides (CI 77491, 77492, 77499). May Contain (+/-): Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Ultramarines (CI 77007), Red 27 Lake (CI 45410), Manganese Violet (CI 77492), Carmine (CI 75470).

Shea Moisture wet dry foundation powder - skin of color

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IT Cosmetics CC+ Radiance Ombré Bronzer

June 20th, 2016 · Cosmetics, Reviews

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IT Cosmetics Bronzer

I first became aware of IT Cosmetics while flipping thru cable channels on a lazy weekend morning.  IT Cosmetics, along with its spokeperson/owner, is often featured on And I must say, the live before-and-afters on the models are quite amazing. The line includes foundations, primers, concealers, blushes, powders and more that are all supposed to be skin-friendly. This skin-friendliness is due to the addition of things like hydrolyzed collagen, peptides, aloe, colloidal oatmeal, hyaluronic acid and many, many other “good for skin” ingredients.

Plus, it is supposedly plastic surgeon recommended (for use after surgery), anti-aging and brightening. What woman would turn this stuff away? Let me rephrase that, what woman of a certain age would turn this stuff away?! Well, I didn’t, but I never purchased any; even after watching the entire IT Cosmetics segment…multiple times. (Hey, it was more interesting than reruns and sometimes I don’t feel like catching up on my DVR/Netflix queue. Don’t judge.)

Anyway, now let’s forward to me moving to a city where Ulta was the local “Sephora.” My previous city didn’t have any Ultas, Sephora was the local Queen. Sephora no have IT Cosmetics, but Ulta sure does. Yes, ma’am! So, I stroll into an Ulta one day after driving pass them for a month and stumble upon a large display of IT Cosmetics products. On that first visit, I purchased one product which I loooooove. Review to come soon. On my 2nd visit to Ulta and after consulting with a couple of Ulta reps, I decided on two more products. Unfortunately, I hated both of them. The CC+ Radiance Ombré Bronzer was one of them.

It seemed so promising, too! I was looking for a new bronzer. The previous two bronzers I loved had been “improved” by their manufacturers. These improvements had of course changed the products and made them no longer favorites of mine. (This happens way too much, doesn’t it?) So, when I saw the claims on the box for the IT Cosmetics bronzer, I thought I might get lucky.

Color correcting + anti-aging…waterproof, contains hydrolyzed collagen, peptides and “drops of light” technology….sun-kissed complexion….

This bronzer was supposed to give me “instant warmth, radiance…for the look of airbrushed, sun-kissed skin.” Their advetising copywriter is goooood, isn’t she? I was sold. I plopped down my credit card and walked out giddy expecting to be glowing like J. Lo the next day.

IT Cosmetics CC+ Ombre Bronzer

Not so, my chicas. Not so by a long-shot. For one, I bought the bronzer in “Warm Radiance.” The compact is supposed to literally be ombré from a light (shimmery) color to a medium shimmer to a darker matte bronzer. Since my complexion is already caramel brown, the matte color does not really show up on my skin. But girl, that shimmer sho’ does! And that shimmer is too much. Too shimmery. And too light. I know girls these days like “strobing” but I don’t like the look of bright strobe lights on my face. It was just all wrong. Strobing may work for girls, but for grown women, it’s not the look.

I saw a review online for this by a 40something woman. One of her comments was so funny. A young girl walked up to her and asked her where did she get her glitter. (She had this bronzer on.)  So I am not the only one…

Also, this bronzer has a lot of staying power since it is waterproof. This in turn makes it extremely hard to blend in. If you are trying to wear it over makeup, you will ruin it with all the blending you will have to do.

And remember the whole “ombré” thing? Well, the compacts are not consistent. Sometimes you get more of one color than another. My compact, for example, has very little of the matter bronzer and the lightest shimmer. It is mostly composed of the medium-colored shimmer.

IT Cosmetics CC+ Bronzer

I really wanted this product to be good. But, it was simply a no-go for me.

The ingredients are great, though. So if you have a fairer complexion and are ahem younger (thru early 30’s), this may very well work for you.

It Cosmetics CC+ Radiance Ombré Bronzer

It Cosmetics CC+ Radiance Ombre Bronzer

As you can see, the separation of colors in my compact looks nothing like this.

  • Retail $34 for 0.57 oz. compact (16.17 g)
  • Talc free, paraben free, sodium lauryl sulfate free, mineral oil free, petrolatum free, synthetic fragrance free, phthalates free, cruelty free
  • Mica, Dimethicone, Magnesium Stearate, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Hydrolyzed Silk, Collagen Amino Acids, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Water, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Tocopherol, Cholesteryl Chloride, Cholesteryl Nonanoate, Cholesteryl Oleyl Carbonate, Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Leaf Extract), Carbomer, Palmitoyl oligopeptide, Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7, Polysorbate 20, Retinyl Palmitate, Sodium Hyaluronate. May Contain: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77499, CI 77492, CI 77491)

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Improve your skin & boost immunity with liquid gold!

December 6th, 2015 · Food, Health, Skin Care

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After spending time with family & friends, the best part about Thanksgiving is the food. And those delicious leftovers! I love having another complete TG meal the next day! To tell the truth, I enjoy Friday’s meal more than the actual Thankgiving day meal the day before. And I always look forward to making some Southern-style ham & gravy over grits with any leftover slices of ham.

Once the leftovers are gone and you start emptying out and washing those casserole dishes, pans and bowls, please don’t toss that turkey carcass or ham bone!

Those bones you were going to dump in the trash are pure gold!

Use them to make yourself a large pot of homemade broth (stock). It will not only save you money, but beautify your skin and improve your immunity, too. Who can’t use a winter immunity boost and some glowing skin in November?

ham bone broth

The frozen broth pictured below is from this pot of “Thanksgiving” broth made from a ham bone (that still had plenty of meat clinging to it).

Simmering either a turkey carcass or a leftover ham bone along with some veggies for several hours in a large pot of water will produce some mineral-rich broth that is packed with collagen. If you didn’t get the memo, collagen is great for your skin.

Bones with some meat still attached will create a more flavorful broth. Add onions, celery, carrots and a bay leaf or two to the pot and let it simmer on low heat for several hours until everything in the pot is tenderized and the broth takes on a nice color. Skim off any yuckies that float to the top. Let it cool a bit and transfer to a glass container before refrigerating or ice cube trays and/or silicone molds for freezing.

frozen broth cubes

Pop the frozen broth out into ziplock freezer bags and you’ll have broth for many upcoming meals and recipes.

frozen & bagged homemade brothIf you refrigerate the broth (opposed to freezing), it should be stored in an airtight glass or bpa-free plastic container and used within a few days. Note that the refrigerated broth will turn into a gelatin in a day or two (if you prepared it correctly) with a layer of whitish fat on top. You can actually use that “top fat” for frying, if you so desire. That is pure animal fat. The broth turns to gelatin because it is full of collagen! Broth that is gelatinous when refrigerated is the good stuff! You want that. It will turn right back to a liquid once you reheat it.

Buy the way, even if you don’t plan to use the top fat, if you are keeping a container of gelatinous broth in the refrigerator to use within a few days, keep that layer of fat there. Don’t discard it. Just scoop around it. The fat prevents air and bacteria from invading your broth and it will keep longer.

Bone broth is great to have on hand…

Use it as a base for soups.

Use it half and half with water to prepare rice, couscous, or grits.

Use it to make gravy.

Add some to mashed potatoes.

Drink a cup to boost your immunity if you feel a cold coming on.

There’s a reason Mom made you eat that homemade chicken soup when you were sick. And to know that it also gives us better skin, too? Broth is the truth. Truly liquid gold.

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Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Collagen Booster IS the TRUTH!

July 22nd, 2015 · Personal Care, Reviews, Skin Care, Skin Products

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Okay, as you may or may not know, I usually only review products once I have used one full-sized container or many times only after I have gone thru multiple containers. (You call that ‘procrastination.’) Anyway, recently, one of my gifts with purchase at Sephora was so remarkably that I have to break my rule.

Though I only used 0.25 fl. oz of this stuff in all, this stuff IS THE TRUTH. This “stuff” being Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Collagen Booster. This serum is a “potent vitamin C complex” as per the bottle:

Provides skin with the most potent nutrients from nature, revealing skin at its best. A superb hydrator infused with orange extract, green tea extract and complete vitamin C complex.

Truth Serum - Ole Henriksen

Comes in two sizes 1.7 oz. $72 and 1.0 oz. $48

If you don’t already know, vitamic C is AMAZING for skin. To keep it youthful, healthy and radiant. I once read that Halle Berry considers topical applications of vitamin C one of her beauty secrets. Personally, I have seen its magic. In my late 20s, I used a vitamin C serum by Jason Naturals everyday right before applying my makeup. Within minutes of application, I would get a natural and beautiful glow with rosy cheeks. It was a dramatic and consistent effect that I enjoyed for a few years until suddenly it just stopped. One day the rosy cheeks and glow just would not appear. And the next day and the next day also nada.

I thought that maybe the formula had changed. I wanted my Vitamin C glow back!!! So I tried other Vitamin C serums to no avail. After a period of time, I stopped messing with Vitamic C since it was an unrequited love.

Fast forward to when I get my little pump bottle of Truth Serum. By the time I bought this baby home, I had all but given up on Vitamin C serums. But, I was happy to try it because like the Lotto commercial says, “hey, you never know.”

And. How. Right. They. Are.

I am sooooo happy I got this sample. This stuff is like the reincarnation of my good ol’ Jason Naturals serum (back when it worked). I started applying the Truth Serum at night after washing my face. By morning, I SAW A GLOW. Now, it wasn’t as dramatic as that glow I got back in my 20’s, but this serum was definitely doing something. Every morning after use, my skin was looking more radiant, more alive, more glowy.

Truth Serum - Ole Henriksen review

And unlike some vitamin C serums which are so oily and tend to leave a layer of slickness on your skin, Truth Serum is not at all oily and it really penetrates. It absorbs fast and leaves no detectable residue. Perfect if you want to apply before makeup or your moisturizer.

After trying so many other Vitamin C serums and getting a big fat negative on the glow, I can’t even tell you how excited I am to find one that works again! If you feel like your skin is looking tired or drab, it’s worth trying this Ole Henriksen liquid gold out. I am not going to say it is the fountain of youth, but let’s just say it is definitely helping to move the clock back and not forward.

 I know that I am most certainly going to buy a full-sized bottle.

Ole Henriksen Truth Serum claims:

  • it’s like a daily vitamin for your face
  • smooths out lines and wrinkles
  • contains antioxidants that fight off environmental aggressors
  • moisture-binding to keep skin nourished and protected
  • absorbs instantly and penetrates to deeper layers of skin for long-term results
  • oil-free, good for sensitive skin
Contains: grapefruit extract, orange extract, green tea extract, rosehips extract, sodium hyaluronate, vitamin E and vitamin C, of course.
Does NOT contain parabens, sulfates, phthalates!
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Calcium Ascorbate, Sorbitol, Glycerin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Euphrasia Officinalis Extract, Rosa Canina Fruit Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Oleth-20, Hydroxyethylcellulose, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Benzophenone-4, Sodium Hyaluronate, Thioctic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Citric Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Limonene, Linalool, Citral, Fragrance (Parfum), Yellow 6

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Stridex Natural Control Acne Medication (toner pads)

July 21st, 2015 · Personal Care, Reviews, Skin Care, Skin Products

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Stridex Natural Control-padsI am a three-step girl when it comes to cleansing my face. Makeup Remover. Cleanser. Toner.

For many years, I was not consistent with the toner. In more recent years (as I became more consistent) I realized the difference it makes. It really helps keep your skin healthier-looking and clearer. Don’t skip that toner!

Due to my blemish-prone skin, I always try to use a toner that fights acne and/or dark marks. However, as a “grown woman” many of the formulations are just too harsh for my lived-in skin: too drying, too irritating or both. One day I came across Stridex Natural Control salicylic acid acne medication pads at Harmon’s. And I have been a dedicated fan and user ever since.

Unlike most toners (and toner pads) that have 2% salicylic acid, Stridex Natural Control only contains 1%. Less harsh! It is also alcohol-free. Less irritating! And it contains triple antioxidants (white tea, pomegranate and soy) to promote healthy skin. And you really do notice the difference after consistent use! The formula is very mild yet effective.

Stridex Natural Control back

Though there is no sting or strong smell, the formula really does help control and diminish breakouts. It takes a little longer to dry (since it is alcohol-free), but let it soak into your skin! I find that I have fewer blemishes and get this: IT FADES DARK MARKS. Yes, it fades old acne marks. Though the container doesn’t specifically say it, I have definitely noticed this additional benefit. Must be the antioxidants and that soy (soy has been proven to fade marks). My spots fade faster and my over-all complexion is brighter if I swipe my face every night with these pads.

And let me tell you about these pads…they are humongous! The size of the triangular container is the size of the pad. Stridex definitely is not skimping on these things. And there is enough solution in the container to outlast the 70(!) pads.

Stridex Natural Control review

Alcohol-free STRIDEX Natural Control salicylic acid 1% acne medication (pads) ingredients:

Active – 1% salicylic acid

Inactive – Betaine, camellia sinensis (white tea) leaf extract, decyl glucoside, fragrance, glycerin, glycine soja (soybean) seed extract, potassium sorbate, punica granatum (pomegranate) extract, purified water, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, sodium citrate, sodium phytate, tocopheryl acetate.

If you have blemish-prone skin and are 30+ you should definitely try these pads. If you don’t have blemishes, but have some uneven skin tone and are losing your “glow,” you should try these pads. And if you are under 30 with sensitive, acne-prone skin, you should also pick these up.

I know you will come back here and thank me later.

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Nude / Natural Lipgloss & Lip Balms for Women of Color

July 20th, 2015 · Cosmetics, Reviews

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Now that summer is REALLY here (this heat is ridiculous), it has made me want to lighten up my makeup routine a bit. My “go-to” lip shade for the cooler months is a medium brownish-pink as I find that this color complements my skin tone the best. I am just not that girl that likes to wear orangey or plum/purple shades. In my lipstick and lipgloss stash you will find mostly blue-reds, brownish-pinks and some metallic/iridescent brownish shades that I used to really dig at one time. (Yes, they are a little old. Yes, they are still in my stash. Don’t judge.)

My foundation at this point is kinda sweating off my face in this heat. Therefore, I am going for a lightly made-up face with “glow.” This look calls for a lighter (maybe, nude?) lip gloss. So, it was time to go shopping. On a recent Sunday, I hit up my neighborhood Walgreens to see what the drugstore brands were offering these days.

Though I hate not being able to try on cosmetics when shopping at the drugstore, if you shop at the right places you can “try and return.” Walgreens, Rite-Aid & CVS are just some of the stores that have this policy. As long as you have your receipt (and it’s not over 30 days since purchase) you are free to return the cosmetics to the store if the shades don’t suit you. One benefit: you can try the makeup on in all types of different lighting and see what it really looks like outside. Department store lighting is notoriously bad for testing cosmetics, so I love having the freedom to try a bunch of items outside the store. (Note: Ask your local drugstore’s about their cosmetics return policy. Return policies CAN differ in different locations.)

Okay, here’s my little haul:

1. Wet n’ Wild megaslicks BALM STAIN in “Caffeine Fix” #164A

2. Wet n’ Wild megaslicks BALM STAIN in “Truffle in Paradise” #162A
(this color is darker than a “nude” but I didn’t know how sheer these would go on, so I wanted to try it)

3. Jordana Twist & Shine moisturizing balm stain in “05 honey love”

4. Jordana Modern Matte lipstick in “05 Matte Classy”

5. Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter in “Pink Truffle – 001”

Nude glosses WOC

Take a look at the colors…

Drugstore lip balms glosses

My thoughts:

1. Caffeine FixWet n Wild - Balm Stain in Caffeine Fix

This Wet n’ Wild Balm Stain felt very silky and moisturing going on. The color didn’t show up drastically on my lips, in fact, I kept applying to get the color to deepen.  It looked like a gloss when I first applied. The more I re-applied it however, the more I didn’t like the effect. Sort of a barely-there color that seemed to match my lip color yet was still slightly “off.” It also didn’t feel long-lasting. I would bet that after a meal it would disappear from your pout. Lastly, I didn’t like the tingling feeling it caused on my lips. There must be some menthol in there.

2. Truffle in Paradise

WnW Balm Stain - Truffle in Paradise

Now, this color in Wet n’ Wild Balm Stain was indeed a STAIN! Unlike the Caffeine Fix, Truffle in Paradise had some staying power. I had to literally soap it off and my lips remained slightly stained. (This was also a much darker color than Caffeine Fix so maybe the stain just shows up better.) The color is very pretty…a glossy, brownish-red. It was actually much deeper than I thought it was going to be. Definitely NOT a nude color. When I rubbed it off, the remaining stain was less intense and more of a strawberry red. My bottom lip looked like ripe fruit! If you are looking for a brownish-red gloss, this is definitely one to try. I am trying to expand my lipstick repertoire, so though pretty, this one is a no-go for me.

3. Honey Love

Jordana Twist & Shine in honey love

Don’t you love that name? Well, I am sorry to report, that that is where the affection ends. This particular Jordana Twist & Shine Balm Stain was another barely-there color. (I guess that’s why it would be considered a “nude.”) Showed up on my lips as a very lightly-tinted gloss. Super shine galore, but just a hint of color. Though this color didn’t look “off” like the Caffeine Fix.

4. Matte Classy

Jordana Modern Matte Lipstick - Matte Classy

Though this Jordana Modern Matte lipstick has a different color name it was very similar to Honey Love. Maybe that is why they both carry the same color number (#05). Just like Honey Love, it was a “blah” color on me. But it was definitely a true “nude.” Close to my lip color after it dried a little, but just too mattte.  Made my lips look nude just SUPER matte. Not a look I am aiming for and it made my lips sort of stick when I pressed them together. Now that’s a weird feeling…don’t likey.

5. Pink Truffle

Revlon Lip Butter Pink Truffle

Earlier I told you that I favor brownish-pinks in lip color. So don’t be surprised that this one was my favorite. It was the best of the bunch…on me. I have been wearing it every day since I picked it up and it compliments my light makeup nicely. I can apply it very lightly for a barely-there glossy look. Or a little heavier to tint my lips more. The gloss is just enough, somewhat less shine than #s 1-3 above which I like. And it is moisturizing, but the moistness sort of dries down the longer you have it on. This is a very nice shade that I think will compliment many skin tones of color.

It’s funny, I thought I wanted a true “nude” but I guess that look is too drastic for my liking. I think a little more color that looks “natural” is what I had been going for all along. And for me, brownish-pink is on fleek.

The best of this bunch: Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter in Pink Truffle

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Garnier Moisture Rescue Gel-Cream Review

February 23rd, 2015 · Cosmetics, Personal Care, Reviews, Skin Care, Skin Products

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Garnier Moisture Rescue

I have combo skin and I hate having too many layers of product on my face (moisturizer, sunscreen, foundation, etc.) Often times, if I don’t have the right kind of light moisturizer on hand, I will skip moisturizing and just apply my sunscreen. However, I have found this detrimental to my skin. Despite areas of oiliness, I have found that using a moisturizer is an essential step not to be skipped. Especially as skin ages and during the cold, harsh winter months. In fact, not moisturizing properly can cause your skin to overcompensate and produce even more oil.

A product that I discovered some time ago that works well is Garnier’s Moisture Rescue Refreshing Gel-Cream for Normal/Oily Skin. This light gel has a refreshing, clean scent. It penetrates well without an oily feel. Perfect for application under your sunscreen and/or foundation. It seems to provide the right amount of hydration without blocking your pores or causing breakouts. Recommended use is twice a day, morning and night. Garnier makes a version for dry skin as well.

Garnier Moisture Rescue Refreshing Gel-Cream (Normal/Combo Skin) ingredients:

Alcohol Denatured
Isononyl Isononanoate
Caprylyl Glycol
Sodium Hydroxide
Vitis Vinifera Extract Grape
Xanthan Gum
Tetrasodium EDTA
Tocopherol Acetate
Ascorbyl Glucoside
Magnesium Gluconate
Sodium Citrate
Benzyl Salicylate
Calcium Gluconate
Biosaccharide Gum 1
Hydroxyisohexyl 3 Cyclohexene Carboxalde
Butylphenyl Methylpropional
Yellow 5Ci 19140
Blue 1Ci 42090

That ingredient list is long, isn’t it? That is my only complain. I wish it wasn’t full of chemicals and I wish Alcohol Denatured wasn’t so high up on the list. If I could find a comparable product that was more natural, I would definitely cheat on Garnier. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a new love. Until I do, I will stick with Garnier. I urge you to try it. You may find yourself falling in love, too.

Garnier Moisture Rescue empty

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Clean & Clear Advantage Mark Treatment = clearer skin

February 19th, 2015 · Personal Care, Skin Care, Skin Products

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Clean Clear Mark TreatmentA review…

I picked up a tube of Clean & Clear Advantage Mark Treatment because I was out of town and had forgotten to pack any blemish cream. This salicylic acid gel was cheap and the tube was small (0.5 oz.); in other words, the perfect size to fit in my “liquids” ziplock bag for my return flight.

Though I often spot-treat any blemishes overnight with a benzoyl peroxide cream, I often used a salicylic acid cleanser or toner, so I knew that s.a. was great for unblocking pores. Plus, benzoyl peroxide tends to bleach fabrics. So, it’s actually not the best thing to use on your face overnight when you are traveling and not sleeping in your own bed.

Once the purchase was made, I started using the C&C Mark Treatment pretty consistently — even after returning home. Since it was supposed to be a “mark treatment,” I started applying it to dark spots as well as to any new blemishes nightly. After several weeks of use, I noticed that it was not helping to fade any spots. But, it did seem to lessen breakouts and keep my pores clearer. I had fewer tiny skin-colored bumps (blocked pores) and I broke out a lot less. (I have super sensitive skin that tends to break out due to any little thing.)

I must say, using this leave-on salicylic acid treatment worked better than my s.a. wash-off cleanser or toner. Who knew? But, it made sense. This product was penetrating my pores all night unlike the cleanser that was rinsed off and the toner which would quickly evaporate.

Another thing I like about this product is the fact that it is a gel. As someone with combo skin, I prefer gels over creams. I feel like the gels allow my skin to breathe more. However, I should warn you about the alcohol. This product contains alcohol as the very first (inactive) ingredient and it does smell strongly of it. Because of its high alcohol content, it can potentially over-dry your skin. I would recommend that this product only be used as a spot treatment. I would not advise anyone to apply it to large areas of their face on a consistent basis. Excessive dryness = aging skin = wrinkles. No bueno.

CC Mark Treatment - empty

Clean & Clear Advantage Mark Treatment ingredients:

Salicylic Acid 2% (active ingredient)
Inactive Ingredients:
Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Leaf Extract
Glycolic Acid
Butylene Glycol
C12-15 Alkyl Lactate
Isodecyl Laurate
Sodium Hydroxide
Cetyl Lactate
Polysorbate 20
Cocamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate
Benzalkonium Chloride
Sodium Benzotriazolyl
Butylphenol Sulfonate
Portulaca Oleracea Extract

TCS gives Clean & Clear Advantage Mark Treatment (salicylic acid acne medication) 4/5 stars!

Though it does not help with dark spots, it works great to lesser breakouts and keep pores clear. This is now my go-to “pore clearing” treatment and my preferred acne treatment to pack in my bag for travel. Please note that it must be used pretty consistently if you want to see clearer skin.

Buy it here at a great price!

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La Original Concha Nacar (Clarifying Natural Fade Cream)

November 5th, 2014 · Personal Care, Reviews, Skin Care, Skin Products

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I hate skincare products loaded with chemicals. I always seek out products that are as close to natural as possible. One thing I’ve noticed is that many brands from Spanish countries (or those products marketed to the Hispanic population) contain fewer chemicals and ingredients overall. These formulations are also often based on beauty “secrets” that are often dismissed as “old wives’ tales” here in the USA. But, you know what? Grandmas (and Great-Grandmas) were often right on the money when it came to beauty. Often the simplest natural ingredients are overlooked nowadays for the newest chemical discovery, but how SAFE are these ingredients? Only time will tell and I’d rather not be the test subject.

In my quest to diminish facial blemishes and spots, I stumbled upon a product by Perlop Cosmetics called “La Original ConchaNacar de Perlop Crema Aclarante Natural con Genuina Concha Nacar.” For those who don’t read Spanish, that translates as “The Original Mother-of-Pearl by Perlop Natural Clarifying Cream with Genuine Mother-of-Pearl.” Perlop is a family-owned company that has apparently been around since 1927. Perlop’s US base is in Van Nuys, CA. The brand’s offerings can be found at drugstores like Rite Aid and CVS or larger stores like Walmart and Target. I purchased two jars of the ConchaNacar cream at Target for $5.29/ea. (Look for this product in any store that has a Latino section of beauty products.)

What is “Mother of Pearl”? Well, it’s actually oyster shell; also called “nacre.”

Nacre also known as mother of pearl, is an organic-inorganic composite material produced by some moluscs as an inner shell layer; it is also what makes up the outer coating of pearls. It is strong, resilient, and iridescent. – Wikipedia

The iridescent part is the mother of pearl (nacre).

The iridescent part is the mother of pearl (nacre).

I have not been able to ascertain when and how Spanish people discovered that nacre is rejuvenating and clarifying, but they love this stuff. I have seen lotions, creams and soaps in stores all containing “Concha Nacar.” So, it must be working for someone, right? I figured it was worth a try.

I compared the ingredients of the Perlop brand of cream and one other brand and determined that the ingredients in the Perlop product were more natural. Here’s the ingredient list as it appears on the product box:

Ingredients: Glycerine, zinc oxide, ground barley, water, oyster shell, lemon juice, honey, witch hazel, bentonite, irish moss, salicylic acid, fragrance.

Great ingredients, wouldn’t you agree? (I already use zinc oxide, lemon juice, honey, witch hazel, bentonite (clay) and salicylic acid on my face in other store-bought and homemade products and I love them.) The product packaging claims the cream will “improve the appearance of spots and small scars and clear and brighten your skin.” It also is “ideal for cleansing pores, removing impurities…”

The cream is off-white and grainy with a pleasant light scent. To use, you wash your face first. After rinsing, you mix the cream and apply it to your wet face and neck (avoiding eye area). I like to sort of massage it into my skin as I apply. You leave on for 30-60 mins and remove with cold water. (The cream never fully dries on your face; it remains somewhat moist.) Suggested use is 2-3 times a week.


The last bit of my second jar of Concha Nacar cream

I have used both jars at this point. Unfortunately, due to forgetfulness, I did not use it consistently. I would go a week or two without using it, but when I did use it, I really liked it. I found my skin felt really soft to the touch after rinsing it off. I didn’t experience any rashes or other ill effects from using the product. Did my spots fade? I really can’t say that the cream cleared up any spots, but like I said, I did not use it consistently. However, I feel the ingredients are very beneficial to skin and considered it more of a rejuvenating treatment. I WILL be repurchasing and will try to consistently use it 3 times a week for 1 hour. I will update this review after I do.

TCS gives Concha Nacar de Perlop Crema Aclarante Natural 4.5/5 stars!

I recommend this product due to the ingredient list and its popularity among Latin women. Plus, even though I did not see blemish-lightening results, I truly feel that if used consistently the ingredients would work synergistically to improve complexion issues.

Note: This is the cream with the number “3” on the box. They have a day and night cream that are numbered “1” and “2”. I have not used those products.

If you don’t live near a store that sells this product, you can buy it here from Amazon:


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Weekend Project: Glamorizing Dining Chairs (Hollywood Regency style)

November 1st, 2014 · Decorating, DIY, Home, Interior Design

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Big improvement, if I do say so myself!

One of the best ways to save money and create a unique look while furnishing your home is to buy second-hand pieces. A good piece of furniture will last basically forever. A well-made furniture piece from 1960 is still a well-made piece in 2014. In fact, some vintage and designer items are worth much more today than they were worth when they were first made. My Mom always said that you should buy “quality pieces of furniture” and not mass-produced junk.

I actually like the construction of many vintage pieces better than many of the mass-produced furniture sold today. Of course, you can still find well-constructed, handmade wooden furniture these days but you are going to pay for it. Not just an arm and a leg, but your first-born, too.

Thank God for estate sales! And garage sales, Craigslist and Ebay! One person’s junk is truly another person’s treasure. I actually enjoy perusing these places for great pieces more than I enjoy walking around furniture stores that have already been curated by someone else. Let me loose at an estate sale and let ME curate what I see and envision what a piece can become! And isn’t it great to have pieces in your home that are unique and/or vintage that no one else can buy? I certainly think so, but I’ve always been one to march to the beat of my own drum rather than follow the pack.

Okay, enough talking, let’s get down to business. If you have inherited some dining chairs you aren’t crazy about or picked some up at a garage sale and they are still sitting in your garage, I hope this post inspires you to jazz them up and create something beautiful.

A few years ago when I was shopping for 4 chairs to go with a new round table I had purchased, I wanted chairs that fell within the Hollywood Regency style. Hollywood Regency is a popular decorating style that came about in the 1930’s and was made famous by celebrated interior designers such as Dorothy Draper. It is one of my favorite design styles because it encompasses everything I love: it’s eclectic, colorful and glamorous. How can you go wrong with that? :) Anyway, I knew I wanted some Chinese Chippendale/bamboo dining chairs yet the ones I came across in current production were ridiculously priced. After searching for a bit, I found some second-hand Chinese Chippendale chairs for a decent price. They were in horrible condition but in my mind’s eye I saw how beautiful they could be.


 As you can see, these chairs were pretty darn nasty when I got them. The first thing I did was to don a pair of gloves and unscrew the seat bottoms and throw out those dirty, stained seat covers and all the old foam underneath. I also threw out all the wooden seat bottoms, except for one, which I took to Ace Hardware so they could use it to make me 4 new plywood seat bottoms.

I know most people probably wouldn’t wash wooden furniture, but I just couldn’t stand not to. I scrubbed those chairs goooood and let them sit out on a sunny day to dry. Only then did I touch them sans gloves. The chairs had some type of faux, speckled “bamboo-like” coating on them and I felt that stripping it would make the new paint job adhere better. So I proceeded to use a low-odor paint stripper to strip the paint/coating off; I used two separate coats of stripper to get the job done. After stripping the chairs down, I handsanded and used a dremel with a sanding attachment to smooth out any uneven textures on the chair frames. (Stripping the chairs created some extra unevenness; if I could do it again, I would not strip the finish, I would just sand it to roughen up the finish a bit to help the new paint adhere.)

Before and after stripping down to bare wood

Before and after stripping down to bare wood

A couple of the chairs had a few small cracks on the legs here and there, so I filled them in with wood putty and sanded them down before proceeding to apply a coat of primer. After priming and allowing to dry, I painted each chair with high-gloss acrylic paint; I applied about 3 coats letting the chairs dry in between coats.

I bought foam and batting and cut the foam to the shape of the seat bottoms.

Foam cut to size

Foam cut to size

I placed the foam on each plywood seat bottom, wrapped the batting around the foam and stapled the batting to the plywood on the opposite (bottom) side. I then cut enough of the new upholstery fabric I purchased to completely cover each seat cushion and wrap around the bottom so it could also be stapled in place.

TCS Tip: Pull the fabric very taut as you staple each side. Staple all the corners last so any necessary gathering of the fabric will be restricted to the corner areas.

Wrapping and stapling fabric around batting

Wrapping and stapling fabric around batting

After buying some new screws and attaching the seat bottoms to the chair frames, my “new” chairs looked like this:


“New” chairs! I love them!

I honestly like them much better than these chairs that are selling for $659/pair at right now…

These are selling at for $659/pair

These are selling at for $659/pair

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