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Best of Skincare TAG – Cruelty Free Edition!

Ah skincare! Something I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with. 😄 Since this may be my last post before starting Accutane (not entirely sure, but my next dermatologist appointment is around the corner!), I thought I would do the Best of Skincare TAG that’s been going around the blogging / YouTube world in recent days! It’s a really great tag (if you’re unaware what a “tag” is, it’s really just a bunch of set questions that people answer and ask others to do as well…you know, like the game of tag! 😉) that I believe was created by ttsandra and MakeupTIA on YouTube. These have been so wonderfully interesting to watch lately, so I figured why not take the opportunity to go over some of my favorite skincare products pre-Accutane! 😀 Lord knows I’ve tried a lot of different skincare over the years. So instead of rambling on, let’s just get to the question and answer portion of the post, shall we? 😜

Soft, Smooth Summer Ready Legs

The unofficial start of Summer is here and that means short shorts, mini skirts and flirty dresses…well for some people at least! J With all that leg baring happening, I thought I would share some of my tips…and really just general routine…for achieving perfectly smooth, soft, stubble-free legs!

The first step to getting smooth legs and also prepping for a closer shave is to exfoliate. Personally I don’t find the standard sugar scrubs to do a good enough job on my skin, though I’m sure they’re fantastic for plenty of you out there. My absolute favorite ways to remove the old and bring out the new is either with dry brushing or the more intense scrub that is frank. I have discussed both before, so I will just briefly touch on them here. Dry Brushing is basically a technique that requires brushing a somewhat stiff body brush (check out my review of the new EcoTools one here) over dry skin to exfoliate dead skin cells and improve blood circulation to the skin. It’s a fantastic way of getting soft, healthy skin without a huge fuss or mess. The epic scrub known simply as frank I actually find to be a bit more intense (to read all about frank, check out my review here). frank is a physical body scrub made with mainly coffee grounds, sea salt and various oils that you use in the shower. I find it to be a bit less convenient than dry brushing, but I really, really love frank! JIt smells so delicious and it also helps to moisturize the skin while scrubbing away the old skin. No matter what method you prefer, exfoliating the skin is key to getting the smoothest, softest skin.

For most of us, smooth legs also involves shaving. I actually prefer waxing, but it’s such a pain (no pun intended) to either have it done or to do it yourself. Not to mention, it’s difficult to do on the spur of the moment should a beach trip suddenly come up! Unless you’ve had laser hair removal or eschew the idea of hair-free legs, you’ll probably have need for shaving at some point in your life. So, I’ve found that to get the best shave without nicks, cuts or irritated red bumps (my constant problem before this trick!) is to use Coconut Oil in place of shaving cream. I written about this before too, which you can check out here. I haven’t tried other oils, but they would probably work as well. I just find that I really like using coconut oil because since it’s always solid when I begin, it literally melts onto my skin and sticks around until I pass over it with a razor. It seems to help the razor really glide over the skin while still being well controlled so I don’t end up with nicks or cuts pretty much ever. And those horrid itchy red bumps from irritation that I used to struggle with so badly have not reared their heads again since I’ve switched to coconut oil for shaving!
Now that the bulk of the work is done, it’s time to seal in some moisture with a good moisturizer. My favorite? Yet again, it’s Coconut Oil! You can use any moisturizer you like be it a body butter, lightweight lotion or some sort of body oil. Whatever works to hydrate your skin comfortably is really the important thing. What I find wonderful about coconut oil is that it is highly moisturizing (I onlyuse it after bathing) and it lasts. It doesn’t have a very strong scent and I know that some would find it way too heavy or greasy, but I just love the super soft feeling of my skin when I use it. It never feels softer! To apply it, I pat off excess water after bathing and while still standing in the shower, I grab my little baby spoon to scoop out the solid oil (yes, I really do use a baby spoon J) and apply it like any other moisturizer, rubbing it in until the oil has fully melted into my skin. Once that’s done, you can pat off a bit again if you’re feeling a bit greasy, but I usually just get out of the shower and go about my hair and skin routines. I love that I don’t really have to get out of the shower to apply the oil because I hate that instant blast of cold when I step out of the shower. This process allows me to kind of acclimate to room temperature slowly. Granted there are plenty of times that I just use a more traditional lotion or probably my all-time favorite body butter – Trader Joe’s Coconut Body Butter – but I find a bit of coconut oil is by far the easiest and most effective way to achieving baby soft legs. J
That’s it! Nothing special and nothing fancy, but I find that these steps have made an enormous difference in the smoothness, softness and even healthier glow to my skin. If you are a self-tanner, something that I never do because I just embrace my paleness, but that’s obviously another step that can be added as appropriate. If it’s a special day or a fancy night out and you want to just boost your skin a bit – tanned or not – check out The Body Shop’s Honey Bronze Shimmering Dry Oil. It’s basically just a slightly shimmering body oil with a hint of tint to it. It’s not going to give you a tan by itself, but it will make your skin look healthier, more glowing and just a bit more beautiful no matter what shade you’re starting with. Be warned though – it has a pretty strong fragrance that’s kind of a fruity-floral to me…and it lasts. I like the scent, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. If you don’t mind the fragrance, it also makes for a great softness boost if it’s been a while since you’ve moisturized.
I’d love to know if any of you already use any of these tips, or if you try them out, how you like them! JI used to have the worst problems with ingrown hairs and just horrible irritation on my legs before using these steps. Granted, I don’t always exfoliate and once in a while I will skip the post-shower moisturizer, but I never ever forget the coconut shaving oil if there’s a razor in my hands! That has made the biggest difference of all and I am so thankful to have finally found a way to keep my legs hair free without too much fuss and absolutely zero discomfort. I hope this has been helpful and I’d love to hear what you all think!!! As always, thank for taking the time to check out the blog and I hope to see you again soon! J

Best of 2014 – Skin Care, Body Care & Hair Care

Well, 2014 has come to a close and if I’m completely honest, I think I’m really glad about that. It’s been a bit of a rough year. It started strange and ended equally odd, though there were plenty of highlights in the middle. But now is that time where we put all that to the past and look ahead to the fantastic future that must surely be awaiting, right? J However, the year wouldn’t be complete without a roundup of the Best Products of 2014 now, would it?! Because it’s so hard to include everything in a single blog post without it becoming an epic novel, I’m going to break this up a bit. Today I’m going to share my favorite picks for Skin Care, Body Care & Hair Care. I am trying not to repeat things from previous years (all of which are linked at the bottom of this post), but if I do it will be noted and it will only be done because I really haven’t found anything better. I don’t have items to fit into specific categories either – for instance, I don’t have a favorite foundation for 2014 so you won’t see one. I have just stuck to products that truly stood out to me regardless of their categories. So, without further ado, I bring you the Best Skin Care, Body Care & Hair Care of 2014! J

Something that I’ve actually never ever mentioned that has become a definite staple in my routine is up first. It is the Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil from The Body Shop. It is by far the best makeup remover I’ve tried. I use it for my entire face, including my eyes, and it makes everything disappear with the littlest of effort. Of note for quick touch-ups is the Camomile Eye Makeup Remover. Works like a charm as well, but without any oil left behind to ruin further makeup application. The Body Shop is definitely a fantastic choice for removing makeup.

I have discovered an eye cream that I absolutely adore this year as well. It is from Ole Henricksen(which is cruelty free to the best of my knowledge, but I cannot get a response from the company directly). Their Total Truth Vitamin C Eye Cream SPF 15 is everything I needed in a daytime eye cream. I am such a fan of the fact that there’s SPF included because it seems so rare that eye creams include it. I don’t need sun damage and wrinkles around my eyes when they’re already prone to such ailments! If that’s not enough for you, I swear it immediately brightens and lightens the insanely dark circles under my eyes. It’s a fantastic cream – a bit on the thick side, but it blends beautifully. I definitely recommend the Total Truth Vitamin C Eye Cream from Ole Henricksen!

Moving on to body care, my absolute must have, cannot live without find of the year has to be Coconut Oil. Any brand will do, just give me some Coconut Oil if you expect me to have smooth, hair-free legs! I cannotshave my legs without it. That’s really the main reason I use Coconut Oil, though it has about 1 million additional beauty uses. For me, shaving my legs is just a no-go without Coconut Oil (I wrote all about it here).

Another fantastic find this year has been the Hang Ten Sunscreens. I mainly use them in the summer because I’m super lazy in the winter, but Hang Ten makes the best sunscreens I have ever found – and I’ve tried all of their variations, each with fantastic results. They are just so easy to blend, non-greasy, no white cast, great protection, and so on. If you’d like to read more about Hang Ten Sunscreens, I have written more about them herehere and here.

My favorite body moisturizer this year comes from Deep Steep. It’s a product that I wasn’t at all sure I would like using, but it has proven to be the nicest, quickest way to hydrate and soften my skin! What is it? It’s the Dry Oil Body Spritzer! They come in the most amazing scents – my favorite is the Brown Sugar Vanilla – and are so easy to use. Just spray, rub in and go. They actually are dry oils, so no grease here and I can’t say enough great things about the Deep Steep Dry Oil Body Spritzers (for more about them, check out my full review here).

Perhaps the weirdest find of the year comes from a brand called Flexitol and it is the Diabetic Foot Balm for Rough, Dry & Cracked Feet. Yup, you read that correctly. I still have not actually tried this on my feet, but I love it for my insanely dry and flaky elbows. It works wonders. If you want to read my full rave, check it out here and then run out to find the Flexitol Diabetic Foot Balm for all your troublesome dry spots! J

Sticking on the dry skin train, I have a hand cream love of the year. It’s not a new find this year, but I definitely fell in love with it this year. It is from Out of Africaand it is the Pure Shea Butter Hand Cream. I love the Verbena scent because it’s light, fresh and clean with a bit of zest. The cream itself is a nice thick and nourishing texture that manages to melt into the skin nicely without leaving behind a lot of grease. If your hands are dry and even cracking, the Pure Shea Butter Hand Creamwill soften them right up! It’s fantastic stuff!

Lastly, we have a lonely hair care item. I would add a couple more, but check my December Favorites here if you’d like to hear more about them and the reason I didn’t really want to include them just yet. But back to the definite hair go-to for 2014 – Giovanni’s Don’t Be Flaky! Soothing Anti-Dandruff Shampoo. Since I seem to get a touch of the white flakies now and then, I add a bit of this Anti-Dandruff Shampoo in with whatever other shampoo I may be using at the time to nix the white bits. I like to combine it with another shampoo because my hair is heavily bleached and I try to stick with color care type products for the best results (lately it’s with a purple color-correcting shampoo). I find that even without using this full strength, it does a great job at controlling dandruff. Plus it is mighty difficult to find an affordable cruelty free anti-dandruff shampoo! But this fits all bills. JIf you’re suffering from dandruff, or even just a dry or irritated scalp, definitely look into the Giovanni Don’t Be Flaky! Soothing Anti-Dandruff Shampoo.

I think that’s going to do it for my 2014 Skin, Body & Hair Care Favorites! There are a few other mentions I could add (I’m looking at you Trader Joe’s Coconut Body Butter!), but I don’t want to repeat too many prior annual favorites. Should you be interested in what some of my picks were in prior years, they will be linked at the end of this post and should open in a separate window. Anyway, I hope you found this enjoyable, as I always love writing these types of posts. It is so interesting to go back through the year and see what I’ve loved and forgotten and what’s stayed a diehard favorite day in and day out. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for other Annual Favorite Categories because more are headed your way soon! JThank you so much for joining me in 2014, and I hope to see you again throughout 2015!!! J

So Long Summer! – August Favorites

::sigh:: Well, Summer is unofficially over. Though I am dreading the chilly days, the messy months of snow and sleet, the dying leaves, and the general malaise of Fall and Winter, there are some things I’m looking forward too as well. But that’s getting ahead of myself. Today we’re focusing on the last days of Summer and what I’ve been loving throughout August! It’s been kind of an uneventful month and I don’t have much in the way of makeup to share, but there are plenty of other goodies for your reading pleasure. Let’s just get into it, shall we? J

Where to start? I guess I’ll go with body products. I have absolutely been adoring my Deep Steep Dry Oil Body Spritzers! My favorite scent so far is the Brown Sugar Vanilla, and it will be perfect as the weather starts getting cooler too. It just has that warm, comforting feel to it. I’m not going to go into it much more since I literally just reviewed these, and you can check that out here. Amazing scents aside, these dry oils are just the absolute best moisturizers I have tried probably ever.

Sticking in the realm of moisturizing oils, I’ve also fallen in love with Coconut Oil, specifically for shaving my legs. Again, I recently wrote about this as well so I’m not going to drone on about it, but you can check out that review here. I’ll just say that it has totally changed the way I view shaving and my legs are thanking me for it!
Bailey likes it too! 🙂
For my hands – wait for it – I’ve been addicted to the Soap & Glory Endless Glove 2-in-1 Moisture Mask & Hand Cream. And surprisingly, I also recently wrote about this as well! In case you missed that, check out the review here. Smells good, does what it says, keep hands soft and smooth, moisturizes. What more do you need to know? Excellent stuff. J
Moving on. Something I have not written about yet (I know, crazy) is Manuka Honey. I’ve been using it to wash my face in the morning and I feel like my skin really likes it. Manuka Honey is known for it’s anti-bacterial properties, so it’s great for acne-prone skin, but it also helps soften and hydrate the skin. I actually feel like my skin looks more youthful with a bit more glow, as well as maintains a better oil balance throughout the day when I use it. I’m not going to get into all the potential benefits and what-not of using Manuka Honey here because this would end up insanely long, but I have really been loving it this past month.
Sticking with the honey theme (and making an unintentional pun), I have also really been enjoying the Amber Honey Exfoliating Scrub from CSI, which I believe is part of VitaCost’s in-house anti-aging line. It is an intense physical scrub for the face. Just a tiny little dot will be plenty to exfoliate your entire face. It will definitely get rid of any dryness or dead skin lingering about. It is not for the faint of heart and I would run the other way if you have sensitive, or otherwise irritated skin, but if your skin reacts well to exfoliants, this one is definitely great for the occasional intense scrub.

 

Hard to see, but insanely effective scrubbing granules
Finally, I have one lonely makeup item. It’s another standard black eye liner from Butter London. It is the Wink Eye Pencil in Union Jack Black. It is a standard creamy gel pencil liner in the vein of Urban Decay and the many others out there, but this one I’ve just gravitated to this month. It stays put – even on the waterline – and is a nice rich black. What more could you ask for? I would say that it’s every bit as good as the NARS pencil, which I reviewed here, plus it’s a tiny bit less expensive. I would definitely recommend checking out the Butter London pencils based on this one’s performance – and they have a number of unusual shades along with the old standbys. Well done, Butter London! J
I think that pretty much does it for August’s favorites. There are some other new things I’ve been testing out, but haven’t settled on an opinion yet, so I don’t want to include them here. Besides, this is long enough already! JI hope you enjoyed this trip through August’s favorites and I hope to see you again next month (well, preferably before that, but you get the idea)! J Thanks so much for stopping by and leave me a comment with what you’ve been loving!!!

Shaving with Coconut Oil? Remedies for Sensitive Skin

I have what seem like the most sensitive legs in the world. I’m sure that’s not really true, but when it comes to shaving my legs, it seems that every nerve ending on my legs becomes the most sensitive things ever. Waxing? No problem. Hair removal creams? Big deal. Epilators? Well, not sure I’ve really tried any, but you’re getting the idea. However the second a razor nears my skin, my legs burn, sting, get raised bumps, get red bumps, you name a negative reaction and my legs will probably experience it.  Whatever kind of shaving cream I try never makes much difference. It’s been an ongoing nightmare for most of my life. To add to the agony, the second I’m about to shave my legs, I undoubtedly end up with goosebumps all over my legs, which naturally increases the misery. I had basically just accepted my lot in life with razor burn and dealt with the irritation the best I could, but then I decided to give Coconut Oil a try. I’m not entirely sure why. I know it’s not an unknown use for coconut oil, but I hadn’t tried it before. I was completely dumbfounded after trying it just once and will never go back to anything else! J

Firstly, some amazing things about coconut oil. The most basic and commonly misunderstood aspect of coconut oil is that it is often a solid block. That’s because it solidifies when it is under 76°F/24°C. Run the container under some hot, or even warm water for a minute or two and if will soften and eventually liquefy. Most oils actually do this at varying temperatures, but coconut oil is one that commonly hardens around room temperature. In the shower, it’s quite easy to warm up the oil so it can be scooped out and applied to the legs…or wherever else you may be shaving.

Another wonderful thing about using coconut oil in the shower is that it’s an oil! Since oil and water don’t mix, it will stay on your legs even with the water beating directly onto your skin! No weird positioning required to keep shaving cream out of the water and between your legs and the razor. And, as if that’s not beneficial enough, it moisturizes your skin too! Seriously, you can shave your legs, finish showering, towel off and your legs still don’t need moisturizer! They’ll be baby smooth – and stay that way for quite some time! It’s a great time saver.
Water beading up over a patch of Coconut Oil

Some things to keep in mind when using coconut oil in the shower: Because it is an oil, it is slippery. This is good and bad. It helps a razor glide over the skin like no other, but if you’re not careful and end up with some oil on the floor, it can get slippery. I rarely find this an issue, but be cautious. Another downside of sorts is that the oil can kind of clog your razor. Not to the point that it’s ineffective, but you will get a buildup on the razor blades. Simply rinse the razor regularly and it’s fine. Again, I feel like there’s a benefit to this as well…well, not the actual buildup, but the oil passing through the blades. It seems to me like it helps to keep hair and gunk from collecting in between the blades, as well as helping to prevent the blades from dulling as quickly, though I have no proof to back this up. All in all, I can’t really find a downright flaw in using coconut oil for shaving.

So on to the actual shave experience! I keep a tub of coconut oil right in the shower (I like the Nature’s Way Coconut Oil mainly because it’s in a plastic container, which is much safer in the shower and it doesn’t have a metal lid prone to rusting). When it’s time to shave, I just scoop out a bit of semi-solid or liquid oil and rub it over my legs like I would any other shaving cream. Then, it’s shave as usual. Simple as that! I don’t find my legs getting goosebumps at any point, there’s no burning or irritation when I pass over any areas and my legs, and they feel sosoft and smooth when I’m done! Plus it smells like delicious, fresh coconuts. It’s absolutely fantastic! I can run a razor over the same area multiple times without a problem, and as the hair grows back in (which to take longer than before), my legs don’t get irritated with itchy red bumps. I also have no issues when I get goosebumps post shave either, which was usually rather painful with standard shave creams. I seriously cannot tell you how life-changing this has been! That sounds so dramatic, but it really was so uncomfortable to shave my legs – and live with the regrowth afterwards – that I often found myself feeling disgustingly hairy for months between shaves…which also made the problem worse. Now it’s smooth sailing and my legs are thanking me for it! JIf you haven’t tried it already, I highly, highly recommend getting some coconut oil and replacing your current shaving cream! Your legs…or whatever else you’re shaving…will thank you for it! J


Coconut Oil can usually be purchased in most grocery store these days, and if that fails, you’re local Whole Foods or Health Food Store will definitely carry it. I buy the Virgin Coconut Oil because it maintains the most original properties, plus it is the only way to get the delicious natural coconut scent! I recently started purchasing mine from VitaCost because their prices are fantastic – also, check them out for all kinds of things for the household, cooking, beauty, pet, and vitamins. If you click on my referral link, you will receive $10 off your first order of $30 or more! It’s really a fantastic site – like Whole Foods at a discount! If you’re interested in cruelty free or natural beauty products, this is definitely a site worth checking out. 

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