Vanity

Trying SLS-free shampoo

SLS-free shampoo (plus conditioner)A couple of weeks ago, my bottles of my beloved Bumble&bumble Curl Conscious were running out, and taking a look at my budget, I decided that I might need to cut back on my haircare expenses for a while. I consulted with my stylist/bestie JoAnn, who let me know that, while she didn’t want to recommend anything in particular, that she’d heard Suave was less-bad than some of the other drugstore options. So, I bought a couple of jumbo bottles of my old standby, Suave Professionals Rosemary & Mint, and figured that’d be the end of it for a while.

Then I remembered that I had really wanted to find a sulfate-free option for my hair. Unfortunately, B&b shampoos, while lower in sulfates than the usual drugstore fare, were not free from SLS altogether. Now, I’m not looking to avoid sodium lauryl sulfate because I’m afraid that it causes cancer. I realize that those alarmist emails claiming that were a hoax. However, it IS an irritant, and it strips away all of the good oils on your skin and scalp, oils that do a lot to make sure that the whole “ecosystem” there is kept balanced. I’ve been doing a lot of research lately and learning a lot about skincare (some of it on the Paula’s Choice website, which I’ll post about later), and I’m learning that oils are GOOD. I don’t want to strip that shit away!

So, off I went in search of SLS-free ‘poo. One brand I found that had pretty good reviews was John Masters Organics. The smell combinations sounded good, the ingredients lists looked good, and, let’s face it, I’m at least partly hippie and am swayed by the word “organic”. Plus, all of his products are certified cruelty-free by PETA. Good enough for me. So, I ordered some up from Amazon, choosing the Lavender Rosemary shampoo for normal hair and the Citrus & Neroli detangler for conditioner.

The shampoo is seriously something to get used to. It oozes out of the bottle in a translucent brown puddle that does NOT lather up like you expect shampoo to (because of the lack of SLS, of course). Getting used to wrangling it so that it gets spread to most of your scalp can take a bit of practice, but I have slowly gotten the hang of it. The detangler isn’t much to write home about. It smells good, it detangles, whatevs. It’s not giving me a massage in the shower, so I’m feeling pretty neutral about it.

As for the effects of the new product, my usual routine is to shower every morning, but I only wet-and-wash my hair every other day. My Day 1 hair, the day I wash my hair, doesn’t seem much different than it had been on shampoo with SLS. It’s somewhere between wavy and curly, with a fair amount of volume, and a little bit of frazzly-ness, and it has remained the same. HOWEVER, my Day 2 hair is totally different! On B&b shampoo, as well as any of my usual drugstore options, Day 2 hair is greasy at the roots and generally flat/weighted down. NOT ANY LONGER! Nowadays, I’ve noticed that my Day 2 hair is actually a little more voluminous than Day 1, staying bouncy and curly and generally looking cute. I’m no expert, but I want to believe that this is because my scalp isn’t having to overproduce oil on Day 2 in order to compensate for being stripped on Day 1. Whatever it’s from, it definitely works for me.

Price-wise, this brand is not any cheaper than B&b. Boo, hiss. I got into this change with the need to lower my S&C expenses, and this does not let me do that at all. So, once this shampoo runs out, I’m going to try another option, probably the Organix Coconut Milk shampoo, which thankfully is uber-cheap and available at my local grocery store. Some of the reviews say that it’s pretty drying, so if that’s the case, I won’t be out too much and can switch to something else. Once I see how that works (and whether I like it or not), I may just go ahead and try the “No ‘Poo Method”. I’m not necessarily averse to going that route, but in the interest of time- and brainpower-savings, I’d ideally like to just find something that comes in a bottle.

Have you had experience going SLS-free? Tell me about it!

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New Set of Shades, Pt. 2

Okay, I’m still on the search for a good pair of glasses. I think I finally decided on the Sims frames from Warby Parker, but HEY, I’ve got more flex spending account money left after I buy those. I might as well buy MORE!

Whitney over at the Ugly Green Chair recently posted about getting some glasses from Fetch Eyewear, and upon reading that they also do home try-on, I had to check them out. I love the fact that they donate all of their profits to animal rescue, too! They totally know their target audience there. Their glasses are also only $125, which is slightly more expensive than Warby Parker, but they also seem to have a larger selection and many more color options.

Fetch Eyewear #1

Gretta in Mahogany

Fetch Eyewear #2

Felix in Onyx

Fetch Eyewear #3

Darby in Cameo Fade

Fetch Eyewear #4

Pepper in Cranberry Matte (I might like these better in Opal)

Fetch Eyewear #5

Tracy in Bittersweet

Fetch Eyewear #6

Sadie in Berber Crush

These frames felt much like the Warby Parker ones: well-made, substantial without being too heavy, and fitting my face well. I’ve had a run of bad luck with other online glasses sellers, with them selling me frames that are wayyyy too big for my head (and I’ve got a pretty big head!). I think the last ones, Sadie in Berber Crush, are the clear winners here. So, Sadie and Sims it is!

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My Daily Makeup

Now that I’m back at work, and have to be halfway presentable on a daily basis, I’ve had to get back into the routine of wearing a little something on my face so that I don’t look like a dead person moving about the halls of my building on campus. I’m still working out the kinks, but my morning routine is boiled down to 6 products, which take about 2 minutes to apply:

  1. First, I apply Eucerin Daily Protection SPF 15 Moisturizer right when I step out of the shower. I love wearing a facial moisturizer every day to stop skin damage, and I especially love how well this goes on and melts into my skin. It never feels heavy, and completely disappears under makeup. Perfect, I say.
  2. Once I’m ready to “do my face”, I use Maybelline’s Instant Age Rewind undereye concealer. Some people might be skeeved by using the little self-applicating sponge over and over again without a way to clean it, but honestly, I only use it on clean, dry skin, so I’m not very worried about it. The sponge makes it easy to apply, and it’s got a nice smooth and creamy formula that doesn’t make my undereye area all papery. The flip-side to that is that it’s not super pigmented, so its coverage isn’t quite up to par with heavier-duty concealers. I’d say it’s a fair trade, though.
  3. Next, I apply the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind “foundation”. I put that in quotes because honestly, it’s almost more like a tinted moisturizer. Again, built-in sponge applicator, and again, not as pigmented as its regular counterpart. It’s almost like it has silicone in it, it’s so creamy and easy to spread around. I basically just smear it on the various regions of my face and then spread it around with my fingers. Super easy and quick to apply.
  4. The next item is the fanciest part of my daily routine: NARS blush in Orgasm. People say that this is the shade of blush that works for everybody’s skin tone, and they’re entirely right. I love this shit. It’s the perfect peachy-pink color, and it has little flecks of sparkle that’ll light you up without making you look like a raver kid. I apply this with a regular Sonia Kashuk blush brush.
  5. I’m still looking for “that mascara of my dreams”, but for now I’m using Covergirl’s LashBlast Volume waterproof mascara, based upon the endorsement of a YouTube beauty guru I follow. So far, I’m liking it but not LOVING it. The applicator wand is pretty nice, and the way it’s shaped means that I don’t accidentally poke the bridge of my nose and get mascara all over it. I’m still on the lookout, though. Gimme your suggestions.
  6. Lastly, if I remember before jetting out the door, MOROCCAN OIL. My bestie JoAnn, stylist of the gods, got me turned on to this stuff. I pour about a dime-sized pool of it into the palm of my hand, rub my hands together to spread it around, and then run my fingers through my hair to very lightly apply. Any oil left on my hands after applying, I just rub it onto any dry spots on my skin. This stuff is the perfect product for me, to keep my flyaway hair from getting all frazzley and gross, and it makes my wavy hair look nice without being weighted down. Plus, it smells soooo good. Sort of an herby floral scent, very understated. Whenever I remember to wear it, I always yell at myself that I don’t remember it more often. It’s magical.

Eventually, I know that Clare will be a little lower-maintenance, and I’ll be able to incorporate cuter stuff into my routine (real foundation! eye shadow! eyeliner!), but for now, this is working just fine. Keeping my routine short means that I get extra time to snuggle with her in the morning before I have to leave for work, and for now, I’ll take it!

What does your makeup routine look like?

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New set of shades

Now that we’re getting towards the end of the year, I’m once again on the search for a new pair of glasses. My trek last year ended with me getting these bad boys, which I actually don’t wear on a regular basis:

I'm not sure if I like my new glasses or not. What do you think?

They pinch my nose, and I think they come down too far on my cheeks and make my eyes look tiny, like a mole.

This year, I finally decided to try out Warby Parker glasses. I’ve known about them for ages, but in the past I haven’t ever seen any pairs that really grab me. They’ve got a very limited selection, but pretty good prices, and I’ve always loved the fact that they allow a home try-on before you buy. Trying on glasses is the best part of the process! Anyway, when I saw that Anna from Door Sixteen bought a pair of glasses from them, I decided to give the home try-on a shot.

Current daily-wear glasses

First, here are my daily-wear glasses. These are Lafont (one of my favorite glasses makers) in Dallas 702.

Warby Parker #1

Zagg, in Tennessee Whiskey

Warby Parker #2

This model is Sims, in Burgundy Fade.

Warby Parker #3

Crosby in Burgundy Fade (I liked that color, evidently)

Warby Parker #4

Winston in Lunar Fade

Warby Parker #5

Ugh. These are the Fillmore in Hazelwood.

What do you guys think? I don’t like the Fillmores at all, they’re too stuffy. I want to like the Crosby and Winston, but they’re just so huge! I guess that’s all the rage right now, but meh. Not on me. So, I think it’s a toss-up between the Sims and the Zagg. I have this problem where glasses sit too far down on my nose, so that the top of the frames are almost level with my eyes. As you can see, this is even a problem with my current pair. This doesn’t seem to be the case with the Sims frames, which is awesome! It’s a slight problem with the Zagg ones, which makes me sad, because they’re definitely more interesting than the Sims.

Overall, the glasses seem very well-made. They’re sturdy without being too heavy. I’m not sure how they’ll look with my actual coke-bottle lenses in them, but with a $95 pricetag you can’t really beat it. If only they were made in the USA rather than China, they’d be just about perfect.

Do I go for boring but fitting well on my face, or do I go for too low but more interesting to look at? This is pretty much my eternal dilemma.

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May 2012 Birchbox

May Birchbox

I’m still into makeup and taking better care of my skin/body, even though I haven’t posted about it in forevers. I’m gestating, not dead! Of course, between being tired/distracted and that whole “nursing school” thing, I’ve been quietly receiving my Birchboxes every month and not really using anything inside or paying attention to them at all. Boo, hiss. Let’s remedy that!

May’s Birchbox was pretty exciting, because it contained some Kiehl’s! I’ve been wanting to try some of the products for a while, because I’ve heard such awesome things about them, but haven’t gathered the shiny stones necessary to actually invest in any. Here’s the list of what I got:

  • BVLGARI | Omnia Crystalline Eau de Toilette Spray
    Inspired by luminescent crystals (so glam), this elegant scent combines notes of lotus flowers, bamboo, and Nashi pear. Full-size: $47 – $64
  • fresh | Sugar Rose Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15
    This cult favorite has a subtle rosy hue, plus natural sugar extracts to exfoliate and smooth lips. Full-size: $22.50
  • Kiehl’s | Abyssine Cream +
    A longtime bestseller, this anti-aging moisturizer uses microscopic Abyssine molecules to soften wrinkles and protect skin from free radical damage. Full-size: $48
  • Miracle Skin Transformer Body SPF 20 in Glow
    Don’t settle for anything but flawless skin – all over your body. This tinted treatment erases blemishes and scars on arms, legs, and decollete. Full-size: $34
  • Birchbox Extra: Notecards
    Text messages are no match for handwritten notes on fun, modern stationery. Set of 12: $10

Overall, not a bad haul this time. I kinda wish I could toggle it so that I didn’t receive any fragrances, though. I’ve gotten one in almost every box, and I don’t wear perfumes. Maybe they’ve changed the preference page and I can get that adjusted.

Stay tuned for one big post featuring all of the fun goodies I’ve received over the past few months!

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November 2011 Birchbox

Hooray, my November Birchbox finally arrived! Actually, it arrived last week, I just didn’t have time to go through it until today. I signed up for Birchbox (referral link) last month, at probably the WORST POSSIBLE TIME, right after the 10th of the month, which is when they ship the boxes out. That meant I had to wait until this month to receive my first one. It was rough, but I made it. For those of you who haven’t heard of Birchbox, it’s a sort of subscription service where you pay $10/month and get a little box filled with high-end samples of products that you might not get access to normally. Some of the selections in the past have been pretty great, and this month wasn’t too shabby, either. Here’s the list:

  • Avène Cleanance Soap-Free Facial Gel Cleanser
    “A European skincare star that uses thermal spring water to soothe and soften skin.”
  • Mineralogie Ultimate Cream Concealer
    “Made with finely ground minerals, this spot concealer hides under-eye circles and blemishes with zero cake-age.”
  • Thymes Eucalyptus body lotion (plus a sample of their Kimono Rose body lotion)
    “Put this one on your wish list: skin-saving botanicals and shea butter combine in a luxurious lotion.”
  • Zoya nail polish in Noel
    “This shimmery denim shade from Zoya’s holiday 2011 collection fits just right – just like your favorite blue jeans.”
  • Two Paper Dolls Ampersand coasters
    “Our favorite letterpress studio adds a hip, playful touch to everything they do, from notecards to coasters.”

Are any of you Birchbox subscribers? What did you get?

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Makeup Intro!


I decided to do a video where I talk about my makeup haul from this post, to give an update on the things I’ve been using and how I like them. Wheee!

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Makeup bonanza

So, this happened last night after work:

Makeup bonanza

I asked my friend Amanda to do a makeup intervention on me, since I’ve never actually learned how to buy, put on, or wear makeup, and she’s a bit of a girly-girl. She suggested that we go to a fancy department store to get face makeup skin-matched, and then we can get the rest of the fun stuff at Target on the cheap. We started at Younkers, at the Clinique counter, and picked up some foundation and under-eye concealer. Then we skipped on down to Target and picked up a bunch of Sonia Kashuk goodies. As we were heading back through the mall, we saw a cart advertising “Bonus Days” at the Clinique counter in Dillards, so we stopped in there and I picked up some tinted moisturizer and got my bag of free samples. YAY, MAKEUP! Here’s the list:

  • Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm in “Rose”
  • Maybelline’s Great Lash mascara in “Very Black”
  • Sonia Kashuk’s Beautifying Blush in “Pink-14”
  • SK’s Eyeshadow Palette in “Eye on Neutral – 02”
  • SK’s Eyeshadow Quad in “Paris at Night – 09”
  • SK’s Eye Definer eyeliner in “Plummy Bronze”
  • SK’s eyelash curler
  • SK’s synthetic concealer brush
  • SK’s blusher brush
  • SK’s synthetic foundation brush
  • Clinique’s Liquid Makeup in 02 “Fresh Ivory”
  • Clinique’s Moisture Surge Tinted Moisturizer in 02
  • Clinique’s All About Eyes concealer in 03 “Light Petal”
  • Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in “Commander in Chic”

And then the free stuff!

  • Clinique Superbalanced powder makeup in 02 “Natural”
  • Clinique Quickliner for Eyes in 10 “Dark Chocolate”
  • Clinique Lash Doubling Mascara in “Black”
  • Clinique lipstick in “A Different Grape”
  • Clinique Moisture Surge extended thirst relief
  • Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2
  • A little flat Clinique brush

Yowza. That’s a lot of crap. I’d better get playing around with it!

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32 Before Thirty-Two

So far in my life, I’ve made two attempts at broad “life lists”: the 101 things in 1001 days list, and the 30 Before 30 list that I put here. Both had pretty sad, pathetic results. So I should obviously try again, RIGHT? Right. I’m even going to recycle some from the last list. Here we go:

  1. Become licensed as a Registered Nurse.
  2. Watch Arrested Development, starting back at the beginning, all the way through.
  3. Pay off my credit card
  4. Create monthly music mixes without missing a month.
  5. Mail goodies to 5 friends that live far away.
  6. Scan all of our photos and put them up online.
  7. Open a Roth IRA.
  8. Take a yoga class.
  9. Learn how to put makeup on my face.
  10. Run in a 5k.
  11. Participate in NO PANTS NOVEMBER.
  12. Make or create at least 50% of the gifts I give for the holidays.
  13. Get my first pedicure
  14. Go to a Nursing Conference, preferably about midwifery.
  15. Get rid of our Expedit bookshelf and build a FAUXDENZA!
  16. Complete the 100 Pushups Challenge
  17. Go to the Madison (Wisconsin) Farmer’s Market.
  18. Bake a rainbow cake.
  19. Learn a song on my ukulele
  20. Cull my collection of books to those I actually love and want to own.
  21. Make some infused booze.
  22. Watch the Godfather trilogy.
  23. Design our wedding invitations.
  24. Knit myself some slippers. I keep making them for others, and never for myself!
  25. Hang all of the art/photography I’ve been hoarding away in storage.
  26. Complete a juice or smoothie fast.
  27. Read 10 Banned Books.
  28. Make a braided rug.
  29. Ride in RAGBRAI (I’ll give myself a special allowance for this one, since it comes after my birthday)
  30. Make a batch of soap.
  31. Scooter camping at Palisades

I’m starting this now, with less than a year to go. That gives me 301 days, to be exact, which is plenty of time. I only have to accomplish 0.103 items on my list per day in order to be done in time. Totally doable.

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Glasses glasses glasses!

Last year, I bumped my Flex Spending account up to $600 for the year to buy a nice pair of glasses (and got a lovely pair of Lafont cat-eye frames out of the deal, at the VERY LAST MOMENT), and stupid me, I forgot to change it back down again for this year. So! I’ve got a wad of money to spend on glasses again! Something led me to check out Coastal Contacts, and man oh man, I’m yearning.

Dior 3197

Love L741 in Raspberry

Love L741 in Black Passion Fruit

Derek Cardigan 7005 in BlackLove L747 in Black

Love L747 in Black

I think I might be leaning toward the Dior frames, with the clear bottoms. I love them all, obviously, but they’re a little further from my norm than the rest. Maybe I should start branching out from cat-eye? It works for my face shape, I think, but does it get tired?

We’re also making a trip to Chicago sometime before the end of the year, partially to visit See Eyewear. I’m honestly pretty wary of buying frames without trying them on first, since my eye and nose placement make it kind of difficult to find glasses that aren’t too low. I wish See and Coastal had a home try-on program like Warby Parker! That would be awesome. And it’s too bad that I’m not really drawn to any Warby Parker frames, because that would be damned convenient.

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