Monday, December 31, 2007

Favorite Things 2007

It's that time of year again! I – and a group of fellow bloggers – have composed my list of favorite beauty finds of 2007. I hope you enjoy my list, and that you check out those of the other gals (whose blogs are listed, with links, at the end of this post)!

I'm always looking for new and fabulous beauty items, and in 2007 I actually found some! A lot, really! An advance word: a large number of my product links will take you to Not because I'm affiliated or they're paying me or anything (don't I wish!), but because I am a lazy hermit. This is where I've bought the stuff I'm linking – because why go out when I can buy from my couch and have it shipped free? – and I really don't feel like looking up every manufacturer website. If you bargain hunters want to find better/cheaper places to buy these things, please do! And send me a message where you found them :~D

I feel I should explain my own "beauty perspective" so folks reading this can see where I'm coming from and take from my post that which is relevant to them. I am a cool-toned olive-skinned gal, age (for now!) 29. I have hyper-combination skin – super oily in some spots, super dry in others – that is prone to breakouts of both acne and mild eczema. I also have seborrheic dermatitis that mostly keeps to my scalp and behind my ears. Yucky, I know, but very influential in my skincare choices! I tend to stick to things that are fragrance-free and colorant-free whenever possible, and I avoid potential irritants at all costs. This narrows my "potential finds" field considerably, but probably helps me save money! Also, my genetics make me (so far, anyway! *knocks wood*) wrinkle-resistant; so although I do some prevention, aging is not as yet something I focus too much on. So that's that. On to the list!

Eye Cream
Paula's Choice Hydrating Treatment Cream – I have been on a quest for *years* to find the right eye cream! They were all either too heavy/greasy, not moisturizing enough, or inexplicably irritating (stinging and/or setting off eczema outbreaks). This one is fabulously moisturizing, yet it absorbs instantly and doesn't leave behind even the barest suggestion of grease! And ever since I began using it a few months ago, I haven't had a single eczema episode around my eyes. This is officially a Holy Grail!

Face Wash
Eucerin Redness Relief Soothing Cleanser – I love this stuff! I went back and forth between Cetaphil's Gentle Skin Cleanser and Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Cleanser for *years*. Those are both very good, but this is better. I was already used to non-foaming cleansers, so that wasn't an issue for me. The Licochalcone (a licorice extract) feels cooling and soothing, while – unlike most "cooling" ingredients – actually acting as an anti-inflammatory. My skin feels clean and soft, never dried/stripped/squeaky. Yay!

Nail Treatment
Barielle Nail Strengthener Cream – ok, this one does leave my fingertips feeling greasy for a little while after application. But it's totally worth it! When I remember to use this regularly, my nails are infinitely more flexible and resistant to breaking. My nails have always been "hard" and "strong", but they are brittle – if I bang them into things, they either weather the blow or snap right off. Usually it's the latter. Not anymore! And with Dolly (bless her little birdy heart!) preventing me from using my other strengthening method - multiple layers of polish - as often as I used to, this is more useful than ever! It also has the nice effect of keeping my cuticles moisturized :~D

Lip Treatment
Blistex Gentle Sense Lip Moisturizer (aka chapstick/lip balm) – this is perfect! Fragrance-free (*and* odorless!), no flavor, no "medications" that actually irritate the lips. Just a nice, smooth, non-greasy balm that leaves my lips feeling wonderful! I keep 2 backups on hand at all times.

Specialty Skin Treatment
Aveeno Maximum Strength Anti-Itch Cream, 1% Hydrocortisone – remember that dermatitis and eczema I mentioned? This stuff kicks their asses! I don't know if the oatmeal in it contributes significantly, but I know that this stuff is fast! Faster than any other hydrocortisone cream I've tried. Before I switched to the eye cream I mentioned above, I had to use this a few times on my upper eyelids and eyebrow area, and it performed beautifully – the itching went away immediately, and the redness was gone within a day or two. *And* it absorbs quickly, without leaving that dreaded (by me) greasy feeling.

Elbow Treatment(s)
There are several winners in this category, all of which I love and use regularly. I have to admit to a slight preoccupation with my elbow skin, thanks to my father – he has said for as long as I can remember that you can tell a woman's true age by her elbows. And for as long as I can remember, I've had horribly dry, rough elbows. Nothing helped. Now, thanks mostly to the AHA Soufflé (the first winner in this mini-list) they are soft and smooth! I use these on my knees and ankles too, sometimes.

  • Alpha Hydrox AHA Soufflé 12 % Glycolic AHA – fragrance-free, absorbs quickly and without greasiness, exfoliates and softens like a champ! I can't say how it would perform on one's face, but on my elbows it works like a dream. My elbows are smooth and soft, thanks to this stuff!

  • Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Concentrated Cream with Vitamin E – I usually put this on at night before I go to bed. It is *very* thick and heavy but somehow not super greasy. It smells fantastic (like cocoa) and softens pretty well. Mostly, I use it to give my skin a break from the AHAs, smell yummy, and feel nice for the hour or so before I fall asleep.

  • Bathed & Infused Body Fluff – ok, this one goes on greasy for me. Lots of their customers say it melts right into their skin and is totally grease-free. Not me. BUT it is the most moisturizing thing I found this year. When I put it on at night, my skin is super-soft the next morning. And when my elbows are starting to feel dry and irritated and potentially eczema-y and I think it might be from overusing the AHA Soufflé, this stuff soothes them instantly. I use it on my lower legs sometimes too, when they're feeling itchy and uncomfortable post-epilation. I use this stuff unscented, but B&I has a *monster* range of fragrances that this can be scented with! I bought it scented with their Turkish Delight (which I adore – like SL Rahat Loukoum but better on me), but it’s too strongly fragranced for me to use it as a moisturizer. YMMV in that regard, of course!

Nature's Bounty Biotin 5000 mcg Super Potency Capsules – I know, I know: "A supplement? Does this really count?" In a word, yes, when that supplement is biotin! I'm not a huge vitamin/supplement gal, and I've never found any specific correlation between a particular supplement and a desired response, but I'm a convert in this case! I'm not positive (I found this stuff towards the beginning of the year) but I'm pretty sure I founds recs for this on the oh-so-fabulous nail board at MUA. Biotin purportedly makes your nails and hair grow faster and better, and boy does it ever! I wanted my nails to be better, and I also wanted help growing out my hair, so I checked it out. Mine always grew pretty quickly, but now it's ridiculous!

A word of caution – this stuff works on all your hair. My eyebrows need plucking more than ever, my legs need to be deforested (I epilate and occasionally shave), etc. So that might be a deterrent for some. That being said, the unexpected and exciting benefit was to my eyelashes! You know how sharks have rows of teeth? This stuff has given me an extra row or two of lashes! Not only that, but although the length is the same (they were always long), they are thicker and fuller and just all-around making me very happy! Biotin is now a regular part of my health and beauty regimen!

Les Néréides – Impérial Opoponax – this stuff has been available for a while, but I didn't get around to trying it until this year. I didn't know what I was missing! It's a warm and soft incense scent, not too sweet, not too strong. On me, none of the notes are especially prominent – it's very well-blended. I can (and do) wear this in any weather, any mood. And for extra fun, I layer it with their Patchouli Antique, which I also discovered this year! MUA-er potionsandlotions recommended the combo, and it is divine!

Returning Champions

These are "older" HGs that managed to hang onto their titles, despite the many fights I put them through over the course of the year. What can I say? I love what I love, but I'm still always looking for the next best thing!

Hand Cream
Vaseline Intensive Care Healthy Hand & Nail Revitalizing Hand Lotion – this category is always up for grabs. I've tried many, both before and after finding this one, and none can compare. I need a good bit of moisture, but most hand creams are too greasy for me. This one moisturizes pretty well, absorbs instantly, and isn't the least bit greasy. I'm always looking for something a bit more emollient than this one that performs and feels the same, or at least similar, but nothing comes close as of yet. That being said, I've decided to add an honorable mention for this category:

  • Bathed & Infused Honey Dream Hand Cream – this one applies as "too greasy" on me, but in 30 minutes the greasiness is gone, and I'll be the first to admit that its moisturizing benefits exceed those of my "winner". I just personally have a hard time getting past the initial application. All that aside, I have to mention that the "original" scent for this – Spun Honey – is to die for! It reminds me a lot of PG Un Crime Exotique – it's sweet and softly spicy, in a very "holiday" (to my nose and sentiments) way. And for those fragrance-free folks (of whom I am usually one), the unscented version is quite nice too! No overwhelming smells from the ingredients, same "feel", and all that.

Zit Zappers
I go back and forth between these two fantastic products. They are both well-formulated benzoyl peroxide lotions/creams that absorb nicely, have no fragrance, and keep my skin clearer than anything else!

Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Moisture Gel – I have never found a moisturizer to compare with this. Never. I don't wear "skin makeup" (foundation or powder) so this is my finishing touch and I love it! It moisturizes amazingly, absorbs completely (without grease), and leaves a soft, almost powdery finish thanks to the silicone.

LORAC Gloss Stick in Sheer Berry – this is my HG lippie! Many have tried to unseat it, but none succeeded. It applies (and feels) like a lip balm, has a fantastic creamsicle scent, and is the perfect cool-toned sheer red/brown. My lower lip isn't well-defined, thanks to a tricycle accident at age 2 (I landed face-first on some concrete stairs and bit right through my lip) so creams and mattes are tricky to apply. Sheers are more forgiving, and this is a fantastic sheer. And did I mention the color? My prior HG was very similar in color - it was Deluxe Beauty's Tintstik in Dot, before they added SPF and totally ruined the formula. There are other lippies that give this one a run for its money – Neutrogena has several shades of their MoistureShine Tinted Lip Balm that I like (Nude and Pure come to mind), Clinique has the ever-popular Almost Lipstick in Black Honey, and Benefit's Silky Finish Lipstick comes in at least 3 shades (Ruby Vibes, Fruit Cocktail, and Raisin' Cane) that are to-die-for! I could expound for paragraphs – I'm a bit of a lippie fiend – but the end result would be the same: nothing is as all-around perfect as my Gloss Stick!

So that's my 2007 list! Be sure to check out the lists my fellow bloggers (links follow) have put together! It's a great bunch of people who have all kinds of fabulous things to share! I've found many a wonderful thing through past lists, and I'm sure they have a bunch of new things for you – and me – to check out!

  • 15 Minute Beauty Fanatic

  • Afrobella

  • All About The Pretty

  • All Lacquered Up

  • Beauty 411

  • Beauty Blogging Junkie

  • Beauty Talk

  • Beautiful Makeup Search

  • Beauty Hatchery

  • Beauty Jones

  • Blogdorf Goodman

  • Canadian Beauty

  • C'est Chic

  • Coquette

  • eBeautyDaily

  • For The Love of Beauty

  • Give Me Your Eyes I Need Sunshine

  • Getting Amped

  • Grayburn

  • HauteMommaStuff

  • Koneko's Beauty Diary

  • Makeup Bag

  • The Makeup Girl

  • Miss Whoever You Are

  • My Life,My Words,My Mind

  • Legerdenez

  • Perfumista

  • Periodic Style

  • Platinum Blonde Life

  • Product Girl

  • Shop Diary

  • Slap of the Day

  • Steeping Beauty

  • The Beauty Alchemist

  • The Daily Obsession

  • The Life Of A Ladybug

  • The Non-Blonde

  • Urbane Girl

  • Victoria's Own

  • We Love Beauty
  • Saturday, December 29, 2007

    A Considered Opinion

    Parents of overweight children who bitch and moan in consternation about the size of said progeny while refusing to get rid of the junk food in their homes ought to be shot.

    "Regular" soda, items sold in the snacks/candy aisle, and fast food have nothing to do with pediatric health. And if you don't give enough of a shit to adjust your dietary habits to help your offspring, then perhaps you shouldn't have reproduced.

    Vegetables are just as easy to pop into the microwave as chicken nuggets, assholes!

    The end.

    Wednesday, December 05, 2007

    Hello, Dolly!

    A belated introduction...

    This is the most recent addition to our family:

    Isn't she adorable?!? Her name (which I finally chose within the last 2 weeks) is Dolly, though mostly we just call her Little Bird, which was her "interim" name that I chose when we weren't sure if she would be staying with us.

    As tends to be the case in my life, she is a rescue. My mother found her by the side of the road back in September, and since she and dad couldn't take her (quarantine issues with their own birds) I offered to. I needed/wanted something to distract and console me after losing Doe, and - as usual - the universe delivered! Mom ran a "found" ad in the paper, and a few people responded, but none turned out to be her owners. And as she settled in and I got to know her, I became (and remain) convinced that she was never hand-tamed and was probably never anyone's "pet". She's fine with people in terms of proximity (I can stand right next to her and put my face right up to her and she's totally cool with it), but she does *not* like hands. Even now if she flies around and lands somewhere she shouldn't, she'd rather step up on my arm than my hand. She was also almost completely bald (we figure due to the stress of outdoor living, or possibly other birds picking on her either out there or in her original home), and we have no clue how old she is or how long she was in the wild.

    Because of all that, I'm taking things especially slowly with Dolly. As I said, she's fine with people being near her - she just doesn't trust hands. She definitely likes having us around and listening to us talk. And she chirps her head off on the weekends if Chris gets her up and I don't make an appearance quickly! I get up earlier on the weekends now than weekdays because Chris gets up before I do, and she's a highly effective alarm clock! Thanksgiving day was great, because she flew and landed on the little table next to where I sit on the sofa. I guided her over and she climbed onto my leg, and then sat there happily for a good 30 minutes! I was tickled pink! And the next day she sat on my arm for 10 - 15 minutes, though we were right in front of her cage and she could have gone back to it at any time. So we're making some slow progress. I'd rather she make the decision to come see me than force her to move faster than she wants. She's calm and happy, and that's enough for me. If she wants to be my friend at some point, so much the better!

    As you can see in the picture, her head feathers have grown back in almost completely. She has put on weight and gone from "starvation mode" (eating everything) to flinging out that in her food bowls which does not please her! For the first few weeks she was here, she also didn't seem to understand what toys were, or what they were for. I tried a bunch of different ones, and she eventually discovered the fun of playing, and shows a definite preference for hanging toys with little plastic chains for her to fiddle with and balsa to chomp. This is her current setup of cage and playgym, which she really seems to like:

    She also likes to play with her ladders (read: disconnect them and fling them to the floor), regardless of whether she is currently standing on them or not! She's taken a couple spills that way.

    The best part about her (*knock on wood*) in terms of joining our household is that she is quiet! She chirps a bit when she gets up - especially if I'm not there and her "flock" is therefore incomplete - but for the most part, she's almost totally silent. Just a chirp or a whistle every once in a while. For a bird this is almost unheard-of. I'd be worried, if she wasn't so active and clearly happy and secure. But all her body language says she feels safe and calm and relaxed, and she does lots of climbing (and a little flying, despite her clipped wings) and playing and eating. So apparently we just lucked out that she's not very vocal! And I guess I could say that she did too - goodness knows we spoil our critters rotten, and if she was noisy we would have had to find her a new home so she would have missed out on the good life :~D

    I finally chose her name after poking around baby name websites for the past few months. I don't remember how I came across "Dolly", but I saw that it is a variant of "Dorothy", which means "gift of God". And since I really feel like she was a gift, at a time when I absolutely needed one, I went with it. So that's our new baby!